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ECN-L  February 2012, Week 1

ECN-L February 2012, Week 1

Subject:

Re: Calling all Specify 6 users!

From:

Division of Entomology <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Division of Entomology <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Fri, 3 Feb 2012 22:54:23 +0000

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (45 lines)

All-

As promised, here is a (belated) update/synopsis of the Specify 6 subject I brought up at the beginning of last week.

I received about half a dozen responses from people either representing (or mentioning) 7 institutions using or about to use Specify 6. Of those, only a few of them are explicitly entomological collections, the rest being herbaria, vert collections or some combination of collections. This suggests to me that Specify really hasn't penetrated the entomological market yet and that there must be a LOT of collections still on the fence about which data base platform to adopt.

One respondent explicitly mentioned having no problems with Specify so far, others didn't mention having problems one way or the other (or were too early in the process to detect them) and several did report "technical difficulties", though no-one seemed to be having the particular issues we were encountering.

A few people voiced interest in some sort of informal Specify-related listserv/blog/forum to discuss data basing issues. On the one hand, I would point out that Specify has an existing forum to discuss issues ( http://specifysoftware.org/forum ) and there exists at least one non-official mailing list as well. On the other hand, entomological collections appear to use the program *very* differently than smaller vert collections do, consequently we have much different needs and problems than other types of natural history collections. On the third hand, I'm not convinced I'm the person to begin such an informal, ento-centric Specify discussion, and it appears that the number of people using Specify for large entomological collections can comfortably sit around my dining room table, perhaps negating the need for an "organized" discussion venue. I'll have to think about that some more...

As for our immediate problem of Specify crashing upon returning query results- it appears to have been fixed (though there are numerous other, unrelated issues known to us). I'm not sure why no-one else had been having the freezing problem (it was unrelated to the size of our queries), but I suspect the next release of Specify will contain an updated specify.jar file that will (hopefully) eliminate the freezing problem. You can thank us later for fixing a problem that you didn't know you had (yet). We have also made significant headway in re-formating our data entry windows to maximize efficiency this past week, but we still have a long, long wish-list of changes to make.

Lastly, a few details about our use of Specify: we have 816,543 specimen records, 18,240 localities (counting perhaps as many as 2-3,000 duplicates) and over 3,500 agents. We have Specify installed on 7 machines (soon to be at least 8 or 9) and at least 9 (soon to be 12 or more) regular users. Needless to say, our usage needs and patterns are significantly outside the norm for most current Specify users (i.e. vertebrate and plant collections). If, when and how we can adapt ent-sized projects to Specify (and vice versa) is the question of the hour...

cheers,
zack


________________________________
From: Division of Entomology
Sent: Tuesday, January 24, 2012 9:29 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Calling all Specify 6 users!

All-

As you may be aware, the SEMC is on the cutting, bloody edge of technology in using Specify 6.4.04 to run our specimen-level data base. Unfortunately, we have been experiencing certain "technical difficulties" with Specify that we've found difficult to convince the programmers (also here at KU) to acknowledge and address- if they can't re-create the issue for themselves, apparently it doesn't exist.

Specifically (no pun intended), the program has a seemingly random tendency to freeze on us (requiring manual force-quitting via the Windows Task Manager) as we attempt to open a particular record (individual specimen, locality, collection event, what have you) after a given query. Long story short, I was hoping to glean some wisdom/experience/evidence from the ECN community in an attempt to solve this rather vexing situation.

So, please, I was wondering how many of you are using Specify 6: please raise your hands (or email me individually- I'd love to know who you are). Of the people/institutions using Specify 6, have you ever had instances of the program freezing and crashing while trying to open a query result? If so, I'd really, really love to hear from you...

Thanks for any and all assistance, and cheers!
zack

Zachary H. Falin, Ph.D.
Collection Manager
Division of Entomology,
KU Biodiversity Research Center
1501 Crestline Dr., Suite #140
University of Kansas
Lawrence, KS, USA 66045-4401

phone: 785-864-3034   fax: 785-864-5260
[log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]>    http://www.nhm.ku.edu/ksem

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