Sunday, February 12, 2012

Making My Job Easier!

Making my job easier, and yours, too.
Over the past 15 years, I have entered many thousands of records of Odonata into the MOS database. Others have also done the same. After each season, I have many specimens submitted to me, most with computer-generated labels of some type. Now, it may seem trivial, but getting everyone to use the same system instead of idiosyncratic methods is harder than it looks. In terms of work-flow, it would be much easier if everyone used the same template. A few years ago, it was a Microsoft-office dominated world, with a few folks using something else. Now, we have the free Open Office suite which is available for Windows, Macs and Linux users. I have been using OO for years, even though I have MS Office installed on computers at work and at home. I like the interface and the fact that it opens and saves documents so that MS Office can open them.

Here is what I would like you to do:
Download Open Office:
Download my data entry template from here - this is a zipped file.
You can also download the 2011 version of the county records spreadsheet as a pdf file.

See how all the fields are arranged? If you can fill those fields in when you submit your specimens and send me a copy, all I have to do is check the IDs, enter the MOS Number, and upload to the database. In addition, I can print out 3x5 cards from the data. This saves me a ton of repetitive work that need not be done. The Collection Number is your number system that you use for your field notes. Some people use a sequential number for each collecting event event for that year, others use my method of initials-yy/mm/dd-event no., as in, MFO-990618-3.

An example from a bit of acme mapper. The nearby landmarks are good information.
If you did not use a GPS device to get lat and long information (in DECIMAL degrees, by the way), go to and use Acme Mapper. It has become one of my most-used tools. It has USGS topo maps as an option, which is really, really, helpful. This way, you can georeference your own specimens, which is probably more accurate than me (or someone else) doing it later. Also, please enter the data for Township, Range and Section in this format:
T34N R4W S16 If you wish to indicate the quarter section, use SE, NE, SW, NW as S18SW
Dates are entered as MM/DD/YYYY as in 06/21/2012

Open the OO spreadsheet – MOS Data-entry template. It will create a new file. Label the file with your initials and year when you submit it.

Another tip – if you are using a PC, Alt-11 is a ♂ symbol, and Alt-12 is a ♀ symbol. This is a unicode symbol, so it does not rely on any specific font family to show. I just found this out a few months ago, and it has been very, very, useful.

If there is anything I missed, please let me know.

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