HymnsoftheSpirit.org is back

I had some site problems this last week. My old main blog, BoyintheBands.com, was badly hacked and in the process of hardening the other sites against attack, I ruined the WordPress install for my homage site to the 1937 “red hymnal” HymnsoftheSpirit.org.

I had to trash the old system and completely reinstalled it. Easy, but I misplaced the theme (no great loss) in the process. So the site is there, if plain.

Restored link to readings and propers page

About three years ago, I started a project where I compared the one-year lectionaries, with accompanying collects (prayers), of a nineteenth-century Universalist prayerbook and an English twentieth-century work that tried to restore liturgial worship to historic dissenter churches, project that reminds me of the work of James Martineau.

And here’s a direct link to that.

It is largely complete, but I realized that in moving the content from Boy in the Bands to this domain, I let the links to this and other liturgical resources vanish. I’ve fixed that, and this week will fill in the missing propers for the days after Christmas.

Moving the ministry to RevScottWells.com

From here on, the focus of my writing ministry will be at RevScottWells.com, and that is

  1. interpreting Universalist Christianity for today, particularly in practical and popular ways, and
  2. identifying and developing methods to operate churches and other ministries more efficiently and economically, including worship and leadership development,

plus short notices and news as appropriate.

An archive of my writing, to date, will be mirrored at BoyintheBands.com, which will continue with miscellaneous religion news, pop culture and opinion. UniversalistChristian.org will continue as a documents archive, and will grow slowly to support my work at RevScottWells.com.

The name “Boy in the bands” started as wordplay on the stage play and film The Boys in the Band, and the Geneva bands I wear when preaching. The play doesn’t match my experience as a gay man (and never has), I’m hardly a boy, and I only preach occasionally (though I do still wear bands) so even if the name ever made sence as a public persona, it doesn’t now.

Changing domains means a hit to readership, but in time that heals. That said, I’d appreciate you reading my blog here, and sharing the word.

Thanks.

Crossposted at BoyintheBands.com

Transcription workflow notes

So, it’s been a while since I’ve written a blog post, but I’ve not been inactive. And since I have the day off today, I thought I’d catch you up. Over the next couple of days, I’ll be putting up two chapters from the 1946 Parish Practice in Universalist Churches as text; I’ve previously posted it as a scanned PDF.

I want to discuss my workflow. I can do the odd report, but I’d like to see more Universalist and other documents transcribed, and to have typographic errors discovered and corrected. I shouldn’t be the bottleneck.

In the past — going back twenty years or so — I would photocopy a book, carefully crop it into a single column, rephotocopy these onto letter size and take them to a central computer center where they would be processed by Optical Character Recognition (OCR). I’d get a file back, and then edit it.  Later, I would use a flatbed scanner at home and OCR software at home, but some documents required the images being edited to one column. These processes were very time consuming. Sometimes, transcribing by keyboard was more efficient!

Image capture and OCR software have improved markedly. Today, instead of scanning, I take a picture with my phone, and use a graphical front-end to powerful OCR software to process the text. It’s not always clean — a second snap and process is sometimes necessary — but the improvement over twenty years ago is striking.

In particular, on my Ubuntu Linux (14.04 LTR) machine, I use YAGF — “Yet Another Graphical Front-end for cuneiform and tesseract OCR engines” with the tesseract engine.

Changing the character set, or trying to

So, my blog is old enough that the character set is all goofy. Translation, when I try to write something in Esperanto with circumflexes, I get question marks or oddments in their place.

Example: ĉiutaga preĝejo. This will not do. This blog needs to display in UTF-8, but doesn’t. And converting the database is not risk free.

This notice is in case I ruin my blog for a few hours or a few days.

UniversalistChurch.net reclaimed

Short update: I lost my oldest domain — universalistchurch.net — because I don’t have the email addresses I used to register it years ago. I feared I might have to transition to universalistchristian.net, but lo! I got the original domain this week. Whew! (I transferred it to a new owner: me.)

Universalistchurch.net reads as universalistchristian.net now — both addresses work — and in time I hope to move the content to a simpler, faster platform. And maybe add more documents!

Long live UniversalistChristian.net

Well, I can’t seem to reclaim the universalistchurch.net domain, despite my repeated appeals to the registrar. (I don’t have access to either email address with which I registered it aeons ago.)

But I own universalistchristian.net, so after some tinkering I’ve moved the site dedicated to the “Christian hope in the final restoration of all souls, and those who believe it” there. It’s largely historical and liturgical material.

But this episode has shown me the limits of WordPress for what should be a simple site, so I plan on converting it (with all the text) to a simpler, easier-to-maintain and (I hope) faster loading platform like Pelican. And now that I have a functioning site, I can try.

 

Interested in Universalist scholarship?

So, I may pivot towards longer form, evergreen writing; at this phase, everyday short blogging is too much work and not terribly rewarding. I particular, I want to write Universalist theology and other works demonstrating scholarship.

So, a request. Who out there would be willing to review ideas? And what would you like to see addressed? I’m still working through this.

 

Plans for 2015

I’m not much for resolutions: I rarely start well, forget them quickly and then late in the year reproach myself for failure. Why bother?

But I will make plans for the blog. I mean it both as a notebook for me and (more importantly) a resource and commentary for you, the readers. A review of blog traffic, feedback and my own thoughts lead me to focus on:

  • practical, ready-to-use resources for churches and individual believers
  • fresh interpretations of Universalist Christianity
  • skills to cope, survive and thrive in a changing world without snark or finger-wagging

I’ll also work on building readership, and would appreciate you help though referrals, plus links on blogs and in social networks.

Ah: I could write on boy bands, as so many seek them here, but I won’t consider that right now.