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ericwebb

Naval & Military Press - War Diaries DVD-ROM

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ericwebb

I'm tempted, very much tempted, but even at the special offer price I should have to mortgage the cat! It's been my experience too that not all of N&M's 'digital' offers have met expectations - mine at least. Have we any 'insider' or 'early adopter' knowledge on this project? How well - or at all - has it resolved some of the filing and page-order muddles to be found in the original National Archives material? Are these fresh scans, or the old ones re-presented? How well indexed? (And if it's all 'cloud-based', whence the problem with MAC compatibility?)

The cat is giving me a very old-fashioned look! All feedback gratefully received!

Eric

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Tom Lang

Eric,

They didn't meet my expectations, and worse...

You might be interested to read this:

http://1914-1918.inv...&m +trench +map

Kindest Regards,

Tom.

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Terry_Reeves

Eric

I had not seen Tom's post (link above) until now, but I can confirm from my own experience that if you have problems don't expect them to admit any liability - there is always an excuse. Once they have your money they are not interested.

TR

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Guest

How well - or at all - has it resolved some of the filing and page-order muddles to be found in the original National Archives material? Are these fresh scans, or the old ones re-presented? How well indexed? (And if it's all 'cloud-based', whence the problem with MAC compatibility?)

Eric

Eric

I don't have the DVD but I have the online NMA subscription . For an annual fee of £49.95 I believe you can get the similar levels of access. The maths is simple (assuming the access is the same): You can subscribe online for seven consecutive years before buying the DVD makes sense. The advantage of having web access is that updates are online of course.

I note your profile shows you have interest outside the Western Front. The online access (and the DVD I believe) are the Western Front only - reflecting TNA's focus and digitisation prioritisation.

To answer your specific question: The files are the same as TNA's. NMA has unknowingly imported some disorgansied files. The 2nd Bn York & Lancaster Regt file for Aug 1914 onwards being a good example. A file in complete disarray. Reported to TNA months ago and when I last looked at the NMA online access the file was the same. Ditto one of the Middlesex Regt battalions for 1914. The number of files with faults runs into a few dozen in my experience. It is unclear to me if TNA sends NMP any files that have been fixed. I reported the 15th Inf Bde file (1914) some months ago (Dec 1914 was missing). TNA very kindly sent me an updated version after a few weeks. This updated version is still not on NMA's website. The medal rolls (accessible through the same subscription) are sometimes in a mess. Yeomanry very difficult to find, Yorkshire Hussars turns out to be the Yorkshire Regiment etc.

The indexing on the website leaves a lot to be desired (I am assuming NMA has no re-invented the wheel and developed two different softwares for the search function). NMP might do well to get the index sorted as it can be quite difficult to use. Like most of these things one needs to develop some esoteric skills to navigate the website. It could be much better in my view.

A slight word of caution based on a related product.. The NMa also published a Medals DVD for rather a lot of money (£350). A few weeks later Ancestry made the medal rolls available at no extra cost to subscribers. I was very close to buying the medals DVD and was grateful that I held off. The Ancestry site provides access to the original images and the ability to scroll through the medal ledgers. Brilliant.. The NMP website provides access to a transcribed summary.

I am a few thousand names into transcribing another medal roll and I can safely say that NMAs transcriptions leave a lot to be desired - simple things like confusing T with J hundreds of times. I slightly sympathise as I have done a small amount of transcription work and understand the challenges well. The bar is not high as Ancestry's transcription is notoriously quirky, however I spoke to NMP/NMA on their medal rolls when I was considering buying the product. I was told that all the entries were double-keyed.ie two transcribers worked on each. The results are compared and the differences checked. They claim that the error ratio is minuscule - a tiny fraction of a per cent. This may be correct over a large body of data but has not been my experience. I have transcribed a few medal rolls and have access to a few more provided by kind GWF members. When these are compared to NMPs product the error ratios become quite apparent. To be fair even the original material has errors, so some are understandable. I have no doubt that the NMA was double-keyed, but unless it was done by two different companies, I am not sure how one stops two transcribers colluding. The error ratios I am experiencing (2.81%) suggest to me something is not quite right. For commercial transcription work this is very high. I am pushing well over 100 errors in slightly over 4,000 names so far. This way higher than I was led to expect. Why would two transcribers make the same mistakes so many times I wonder. Some are simply missing the last letter of a name, or a middle letter of clearly written material. I could understand it if the words were blurred or smudged. Unlikely that two people make the same error. Possible but improbable.

Example. The original 1914 Star medal roll has a 8299 C/Sgt E Scardifield (R Sussex Regt). The NMA website shows him as Scarfield for his 1914 Star. Two independent transcribers missed the same two letters in the same name. Interestingly Ancestry's transcription for the Index makes exactly the same error. What are the chances of that? Extremely low. Even more interesting the NMA website has his name correctly spelled for his BWM and VM. Remarkably so does Ancestry. I think this is extremely unlikely that 3 random transcribers make the same two mistakes. In case you are wondering, the MIC spells his name correctly, so that is not the source of the errors. I have lots more examples but this illustrates the point well. I wonder if there is a separate central transcription service that both are using. Did Ancestry simply buy the same data from the company that did NMA's transcribing. My only guess is that transcribers sometimes make deliberate mistakes, to protect their data. If this medal roll appeared elsewhere with the same mistake, and this was repeated time and time again, it would point to database copyright infringement. The problem with this argument is that the chances of two companies tagging exactly the same word are so small as to be almost impossible. Food for thought. One data set costs £350, and one costs nothing if you already have Ancestry.

I think the gigantic challenges of relying on transcriptions are the reason why Ancestry has chosen to provide access to the image, rather than a transcription. A good thing in my view. No extra cost and people with Regimental or Battalion interest can scroll away at their leisure.

The challenge for all these companies and material held by the National Archives (TNA) is that TNA can't make exclusive arrangements as it is a Govt body. So, anyone spending £££ on the rights to give access to a TNA product risks one of its rivals doing the same. I don't know anyone who bought the medals DVD (£350 now), but anyone who did who has an Ancestry subscription has my sympathy. Similar levels of information for no extra cost for Ancestry subscribers.

Despite the above, the NMA online access is extremely good value as most of the files are in good order. I would not hesitate recommending it, but one just needs to be aware of its limitations. Since Ancestry came out with its access to medal rolls I no longer use NMA's website for this feature

MG

PS. I have no economic interest in either company.

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Guest

I would imagine the 10 year guarantee applies to this product also? They have a bit to do to convince me that I need it. I subscribe to the online diary site. Not sure if I get a refund if I buy the disk? I might well buy it, if they can convince me that the Index with it is better than that with the online diaries. The search does not work. the images are very good. It would appear that they have just uploaded them the way they received them.

Hopefully the search with the diary disk, will be as good as the one with the OH. (pity the disk is so temperamental, but that's a windows fault?)

Mike

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westkent78

I do wonder if Ancestry, or FMP, will have these war diary images in the near future. I knew about the medal rolls appearing on Ancestry, but not exactly when, but haven't heard any rumours regarding the War Diaries. I'm thinking of a subscription to NMA rather than the cd until things become clearer. Either way, I need to find a decent program to 'sew' the individual images together into single documents.

By the way Martin, I've found that Ancestry appears to have employed two transcribers, as some of the files I've looked at where there is a 'difficult' name or number have provided two versions in the online index you can bring up.

Matthew

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Guest

" I do wonder if Ancestry, or FMP, will have these war diary images in the near future "

I wonder? That would be good.

Mike

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BFBSM

I do wonder if Ancestry, or FMP, will have these war diary images in the near future. I knew about the medal rolls appearing on Ancestry, but not exactly when, but haven't heard any rumours regarding the War Diaries. I'm thinking of a subscription to NMA rather than the cd until things become clearer. Either way, I need to find a decent program to 'sew' the individual images together into single documents.

By the way Martin, I've found that Ancestry appears to have employed two transcribers, as some of the files I've looked at where there is a 'difficult' name or number have provided two versions in the online index you can bring up.

Matthew

Matthew, I use NitroPDF which can combine individual images/documents into one. In fact any of the PDF production programmes should do this, and it is possible to do so online, http://online2pdf.com/. I haven't tried this, and it does have limits - but there are ways around it I am sure.

Other online options: https://pdfburger.com/combine-to-pdf, http://www.convert-jpg-to-pdf.net/.

Mark

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westkent78

Thanks Mark.

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Guest

This is the latest from N & MP on the Diaries disk Click

Have any any pals actually bought the disk, and if so, is the search function any good? I have subscribed to the Website version, which, although the images are excellent, actually finding what you are looking for is not straight-forward. It all seems very complicated with cloud technology in conjunction with a disk. There is a ten year guarantee though.

Mike

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ericwebb

Thanks all, this has been very helpful. I'll go for the subscription instead. The cat is looking most relieved! I think I may invest my savings in N&M's 'Other Theatres' DVD - which will save me both money and shelf-space as compared with the paper editions. (I wonder when the Histories will appear on Kindle?!)

Eric

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Rollerbeadle

War Diaries DVD finally arrived today....2 months after they took my payment in full.

First impression - not good as it refused to load onto my PC until I turned my anti-virus software off

Second Impression - not good as it refused to download any information until I turned my anti virus software off again

Had a quick look at one diary - and it appeared to be all over the place in terms of chronology

then I had to go to work...grrrrr

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Tom Lang
Rollerbeadle, on 20 Jan 2015 - 07:24 AM, said:Rollerbeadle, on 20 Jan 2015 - 07:24 AM, said:

War Diaries DVD finally arrived today....2 months after they took my payment in full.

First impression - not good as it refused to load onto my PC until I turned my anti-virus software off

Second Impression - not good as it refused to download any information until I turned my anti virus software off again

Had a quick look at one diary - and it appeared to be all over the place in terms of chronology

then I had to go to work...grrrrr

It is infuriating, isn't it?

But I did try to forewarn everyone in my Post No 2.

Tom.

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Rollerbeadle

Well its now 21.30 later that day...and its finally working correctly and am able to download with a degree of ease....

There are gremlins.....such as... the index.... which is terrible....some regiments are mixed in with others.....

Once downloaded the diaries are then available to view only in the order in which they were downloaded.....no effort seems to have been put into any kind of file management capability.

For the sum of money they charged for this I was expecting something a bit more user friendly..

I saw your warning Tom...unfortunately too late, I had ordered it by the time I read your post.

we live and learn.....

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Guest

I believe consumer law in the UK allows you to return goods bought online within 14 days of receipt i.e. it is not from the date of order, rather the date of receipt. Just about every payment portal insists on this such as WorldPay (used by NMP) as do all major credit and debit card companies. Some payment portals withhold monies from the vendor as a contingency. Consumer law in the UK is quite strong. Worth checking with your card company assuming it was bought online. MG

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Guest

It's also worth contacting N & MP, and asking them if it will function exactly the way you want it to. The Official History search is excellent. (if you can get the disk to run)

You have only had it a few hours, it may be more searchable than you thinkit is, at the moment?

The online version search is poor. If one enters "6th Black Watch October 1916 " or similar, for the price, one should be able to find it?

Mike

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Guest

I have nearly 500 diaries downloaded from the TNA over the years. In the fair number that are disorganised - pages out of order, reverse order,diaries mis-labelled etc - the same errors are replicated in the NMP's online diaries. Where TNA has split diaries into unit volumes, NMP appears to have bundled many - i.e they are similar to the old TNA diary bundles. I find that using the online version is cumbersome as the first page one is taken to by the search function is often not even the right unit. In many cases it is simply the first page of a set of diaries of units in the same Brigade and one has to slowly plod through pages to get to the right unit. It is quite tiresome at times and the indexing leaves a lot to be desired. Unless one already has a detailed knowledge of the ORBAT one might be forgiven for thinking one is in the wrong place altogether. It is extremely poor and I suspect the layperson will often struggle with the indexing.

The other challenge is that the page turning is very slow (despite state of the art upload/download speeds on my home wifi) and cumbersome... and the navigation buttons are all at the bottom of the page so one has to keep scrolling down to get to the navigation. Equally tiresome.

I now only use the online diaries to have a quick look and then simply download the necessary diaries from TNA. While it costs a bit more, the downloaded pdfs are much easier to use particularly in terms of speed and being able to see the thumbnails.

I would be interested to hear from anyone with the DVD ROM if the indexing and search and navigation is any different to the online version.

I had a look last night on NMP's website and the DVD ROM for the War Diaries does not appear anymore. Have they withdrawn it or am I not looking in the right place? All I can find online is old adverts for it.

MG

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Tom Lang
Martin G, on 21 Jan 2015 - 04:26 AM, said:

<snip>

I had a look last night on NMP's website and the DVD ROM for the War Diaries does not appear anymore. Have they withdrawn it or am I not looking in the right place? All I can find online is old adverts for it.

MG

That looks like another great example of customer service...

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Rollerbeadle

Rang the NMP today....spoke to a very polite man who agreed to accept the return of the product for a full refund.... no argument.

Back to onlining again..... hey ho .....such is life.

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Tom Lang

Well done!

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ericwebb

A brief addendum: I eventually scraped together the pennies to buy a copy of the Other Theatres DVD-ROM in N&Ms latest 'sale'. For the benefit of any who do not yet possess this, or its 'Western Front' equivalent, I'll record that it turns out - on the whole - a worthwhile purchase. There is some saving on the cost of the equivalent books and a bit more on the bookcase which would be necessary to house them - not to speak of floor space, potential domestic disharmony and suchlike!

The maps are in N&M's familiar .ecw format, readable in their ER Viewer which is also provided for installation. The text comes as standard .pdf files, with embedded OCR which appears - on a few experiments - to be accurate. It is therefore searchable, which is tremendously helpful. However the .pdfs turn out to be is some fashion encoded / protected as they are not readable unless the disc is in the drive, ie. they can be copied across onto the hard-drive or wherever but will not then open independently. Nor for example is it possible to annotate them then save them onto the hard drive in annotated format. While I can understand the commercial thinking behind such protection it is nonetheless a nuisance, in making the material unusable on - say - a tablet, a Kindle or other readily portable device short of a full-blown laptop+DVD drive, unless by laborious copy and paste as a Word document or whatever.

Cheers all!

Eric W

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Marco

Never ever again. With each new Windows version Trenchmap, Soldiers Died, you name it stops working. Fixes (which will or won't work), running your PC in old Windows version modes etc. Never had that problem with books.

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Roger H

Well, my trench maps have worked on both Windows XP and 7

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Rollerbeadle

My NA Trench Maps are fine on Windows 7 & 8, but SDGW only runs on XP.

To be fair, the NMP have recognised the incompatibility of their older software with Windows Operating Systems to be a weakness, and have pointed out that the recent Diaries DVD-ROM is guaranteed to run for 10 years.

I know that doesn't do much for those of us that have older software but it's a step in the right direction.

In post #17 Martin G asked the following:-

I would be interested to hear from anyone with the DVD ROM if the indexing and search and navigation is any different to the online version.

The answer is............ its the same.

cheers

Steve

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JimSmithson

Just to make some kind of defence towards N&M. I have the disc which installed without a hitch without turning my anti-virus off. It worked fine until the first attempt to download at which it failed. Contacted N&M by mail as it was late in the evening. Phone call next morning which turned into a number of calls as they tried to fathom out what was wrong. It turned out that the clock had to be set for UK time and the language for the date range also had to be in English. I live in France so I failed on both. Changed the settings and worked fine. The software now updates to get rid of these problems. They could not have been more helpful and I was glad I could help them around the problem.

I find the indexing quite good as I can put my hands on a particular unit on a particular range of days within a few key strokes. I am on a very slow broadband out in the sticks of France but find download times are acceptable as is moving from one page to the next which is only a few seconds and must be faster if you are on a very fast link. Maximising the window makes the page easy to see and enlarging if required seems pretty easy to me. Yes, I can see where things could have been better but their service when things did not pan out at first was excellent, with email contact afterwards to make sure I knew the update was live and to see if all was now fine.

Jim

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