Archive | April 2014

Keyboard Maestro + Devonthink

A reader request prompts me to post screenshots of some of the Keyboard Maestro macros I’ve developed to speed up data entry. See my previous post and comments for a description of the various macros. Read More…

Quick Tech Tip: The Power of Placeholders and Cobbling Things Together on the Cheap

So you just received a whole box full of newish French books on warfare in the age of Louis XIV, but don’t have time to read through them all now, much less copy them for search purposes? Just scan and OCR the Table of Contents and Index of each book into your digitized note-taking system of choice (mine still being DTPO, thank you very much). These will serve as placeholders (a virtual index, if you will) whose keywords will show up in your search-for-a-string results, leading you to the bookshelf and the relevant pages. For even better utility, add some keywords (or group in a topical group) for metadata-powered filtering and sorting.

If you have a little more time, use a batch find/replace (e.g. in MS Word, which you can open DT documents in) and automatically split each Index entry into its own record. For example, if, after you’ve OCRed a book’s Index into a text document, each entry ends with a page number, a period, then a paragraph mark and a new line, just search (in Word) for “.^p” and replace that text string with a unique marker e.g. Replace “.^p” with: “.#####^p”. Save and close the Word document, go back to DT, then run your Explode by Delimiter Applescript (from Devonthink script forum – you can also find similar code in WordVBA online). Enter the delimiter ##### and you’ll get hundreds of records on individual topics that can then be sent (automatically via AutoClassify) to an appropriate topic group. With such automation it’s always a good idea to first skim through the results to make sure there weren’t any errors or snafus. If there are many, delete the resulting files, fix those delimiters in the original doc in Word, and repeat the exploding. Note: with DT you may need to convert the resulting documents from .txt to .rft – you can do it in a single batch though, right after the parsing process when they’re all still selected. And if you keep your provenance data in the Spotlight Comments, open the Info window and type the source info in while you still have all those documents selected.

LD Word replace

This takes several steps and is not particularly elegant, but if you’re dealing with hundreds or thousands of records and don’t want to take the time to learn Regex or Applescript or Python or the next programming-language-of-the-month, it will be well worth your while. I just used this process to import and parse 25,000 records from my old Access database into DTPO, as well as parsing 1600 letters from Marlborough’s Letters & Dispatches that I hadn’t yet entered individually into Access. As “one thought-one note” cultists already know, small chunks make searching and processing much much easier. And it makes a huge difference when using DTPO’s proximity search. Digitize, man!


Statistical Update

No, I haven’t died. But I am still recovering from Service-to-the-Department-and-University hell this semester. I can confirm the sage sayings that echo in the halls of academe: 1) you never will have as much free time as a professor as you will in grad school; and 2) your administrative burden will increase when you get promoted from Assistant to Associate prof.

Anywho, I still have lots of blog posts floating around in my head, but those pesky creatures aren’t easily wrangled – and I’m still way behind on other, more substantial, research commitments. In the meantime, I’ve discovered a formula for perpetual blog hits. Add one part criticism of academic publishers (Publishing with an Academic Press), three parts describing how to use Devonthink (see DT tag), and leaven with an Old Sports-As-War metaphor. That will apparently give you 40 visitors and 70 views every day for weeks, even if you post nothing else. Odd how the Internet works.

File Under: Didn’t get the memo

From a chapter on the early modern laws of war in an 2012 edited collection from Oxford University Press:

By 1700, siege warfare was managed according to a well-established ritual. Sieges were politico-military theatre on a grand scale, open-air stages where states could strut and demonstrate their prowess, huge advertisements of a monarch’s power, and the fate that awaited those who failed to take heed. Kings, queens, courts, and governments attended sieges as spectators – Louis XIV, his ladies and ministers watched the sieges of Lille in 1667 and Mastricht in 1673 – whereas they were not present at battles, unless by accident, and young gentlemen on a grand tour sought to widen their horizons by witnessing a great siege. …. The  ‘siege in form’ achieved its full maturity at the siege of Maastricht in 1673. It was a deadly and sanguinary martial operation conducted according to a script and sequence of actions understood by all participants, similar to the popular court masques: everyone knew the course of events, the timetable, and the dénouement. It was said that the great Vauban could predict the length of a siege, almost to the day.*

* This was relatively simple task because Vauban designed and built many of the fortresses he subsequently captured. [Cites Reginald Bloomfield’s 1938 biography of Vauban]


I could go on and on (and on and on) about this – heck, feels like I already have – but if anyone ever wondered why I wrote my Vauban under Siege book, or whether I was creating a straw man, here ya go.

Italian warrior wannabes

New publications, continuing the saga of Italian nobles and their declining predilection for military violence:

Hanlon, Gregory. The Hero of Italy; Odoardo Farnese, Duke of Parma, His Soldiers, and His Subjects in the Thirty Years’ War. Oxford University Press, 2014.
The Hero of Italy examines a salient episode in Italy’s Thirty Years’ War with Spain and France, whereby the young duke Odoardo Farnese of Parma embraced the French alliance, only to experience defeat and occupation after two tumultuous years (1635-1637). Gregory Hanlon stresses the narrative of events unfolding in northern Italy, examining the participation of the little state in these epic European events.

The first chapter describes the constitution of Cardinal Richelieu’s anti-Habsburg alliance and Odoardo’s eagerness to be part of it. A chapter on the Parman professional army, based on an extraordinary collection of company roster-books, sheds light on the identity of over 13,000 individuals, soldier by soldier, the origin and background of their officers, the conditions of their lodgings, and the good state of their equipment. Chapter three follows the first campaign of 1635 alongside French and Savoyard contingents at the failed siege of Valenza, and the logistical difficulties of organizing such large-scale operations. Another chapter examines the financial expedients the duchy adopted to fend off incursions on all its borders in 1636, and how militia contingents on both sides were drawn into the fighting. A final chapter relates the Spanish invasion and occupation which forced duke Odoardo to make a separate peace. The volume includes a detailed assessment of the impact of war on civilians based on parish registers for city and country. The application of the laws of war was largely nullified by widespread starvation, disease and routine sex-selective infanticide. These quantitative analyses, supported by maps and tables, are among the most detailed anywhere in Europe in the era of the Thirty Years’ War.

For a short snippet, there’s always:
Hanlon, Gregory. “An Italian Aristocracy in Arms: The Duke of Parma Goes to War 1635–1637.” European History Quarterly 44, no. 2 (April, 2014): 205–22.
When the Duke of Parma, Odoardo Farnese, summoned his noble subjects to join his army with a view to joining the French alliance against Spain in 1635, he was gratified by a turnout of astonishingly high proportions. Not nearly enough of them had personal experience of modern war, and so the prince appointed military nobles from much of northern Italy to fill the cadres, alongside the French officers whose contingents on loan from Louis XIII made up a third of the infantry. Unlike Spanish nobles, Odoardo’s subjects were even willing to serve in the ranks, while waiting for their advancement. The two brief campaigns turned out to be a disaster for Odoardo and his subjects. War quickly receded from Parma’s horizon, but the experience reveals that Italy’s aristocrats had not yet consigned their weapons to display cases.