TMG-L Archives

Archiver > TMG > 2002-09 > 1032300922

From: Christopher Brooks <>
Subject: RE: [TMG] v4.0d - Sentence construction and quotes
Date: Tue, 17 Sep 2002 18:28:25 -0400
In-Reply-To: <>

Simon Shaw wrote:

:With respect, I still think Cheri's idea for a new preference for
:being able to stop TMG from "intelligently" adding punctuation can
:only be a good one.
:This would be adding a feature to TMG - without taking anything
:away. Existing users would not have to set the preference and so
:would be unaffected by the change.
:To say that this enhancement (or any other) shouldn't be made
:because it wouldn't be usable by any existing user I don't feel is a
:good argument.
:Surely by giving all new users more choice can only be a good
:thing for TMG as a product.

Also with respect -- as someone who's probably written 20,000 or more
custom sentences in TMG -- I'm concerned. The key is obviously that
any new features be enabled in such a way that they can either (1) be
ignored, or (2) adopted with minimal impact. No one looked forward to
the release of 5.0 more than I did, but I do not use it because the
changes implemented have impacted negatively on my 4.0 habits.

I realize I am at one extreme of the user base here. I don't expect
any software algorithm to produce graceful and flawless English
prose, and so from the start I've either tweaked or rewritten most
sentences. I learned nearly half a century ago that the passive voice
was to be avoided, yet I see sample after sample on this list of such
sentences as "[P] was widowed by the death of [PO]." I was also
taught that the plural of Brooks is Brookses, but I couldn't begin to
count how many correspondents I've run into who can't punctuate, and
write me that they're researching "the Brook's."

If others are happy with that quality of output, fine, but I'd be
personally embarrassed to send anything like that out to anyone else.
This is not an attack on Bob Velke, or TMG, which now offers the most
advanced sentence generation features on the planet, or fellow users
of TMG. It's to say that we're asking the computer to do the job of
editing for us.

Actually, the number of my custom sentences must be greatly in excess
of 20,000, since I have 33,260 individuals in the dataset, and some
have as many as 30 tags. About two-thirds of these individuals are
"cleaned," meaning that all their sentences have been tweaked to fit
the Individual Narrative format. I never revisit an individual in TMG
without cleaning up any default sentences which remain. I bought TMG
3.0 because I saw it as the best available vehicle to both record my
data and to (eventually) output the rough text of a book.

>From 3.5 until 5.0, changes and feature additions always were
consistent with preexisting features and practice. I can't cite
chapter and verse in 5.0, because I seldom use it, but the
differentiation of the F10 key (yes, I know, it's consistent with
standard Windows practice) is one example of a change which affects
my data entry practice. I found a number of others (the fact that the
source and surety display is now buried a click or two out of
immediate sight is another) which I consider to be steps backward.
There were earlier threads here about new quick-key combinations and
keystrokes needed to accomplish familiar tasks, and the increasing
role of the mouse vs. keyboard. Finally, the cost in overhead and
program bloat of adding these features is evident and measurable.

I'm glad that such new features as nine-part place names, with
associated dates, are of use to others, but for the life of me I
can't see the merits of spending hours figuring out their use, when I
can type the place name (short, long, or in-between) as I want it in
the sentence in seconds. Maybe this just positions me as a text-head
on a list with many data-heads.

It should be a sine qua non that any new feature request be
implementable with ZERO impact on long-time users of previous
versions. I wish it could also be a requirement that any new feature
add only marginally, or not at all, to the size of the program, but
that's just wishful thinking.

I apologize if this response is tardy. I read the list in digest
format, and simply can't keep up with the volume of messages here in
any timely fashion.


Christopher Brooks
Researching BROOKS Families of New England

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