a local copy, part II – Ravelry

If you aren’t on Ravelry you might not find this post very interesting, but the lesson I hope to teach in it is applicable elsewhere online.

So you’ve taken the time to input all your needles, your stash, and your projects. You’ve marked items in your queue. Sure you know how to print your needles and queue and download a spreadsheet of your stash. But you don’t yet see a nice button to let you take your project out of ravelry and save it.

Today I will write briefly on one way to make a copy of your projects. It’s not perfect, but it’s a step and will let you get some of your information out. It’s the method I use.

Since I started using Ravelry (two years ago tomorrow — wow, time flies) I have written less and less in my traditional, paper-based project journal and started to type my project thoughts only into the notes field of my Rav project. While I don’t see myself rewriting this information, I can see myself eventually pasting a copy into my project journal. I’d also like to be able to email some of my projects to people who aren’t on Ravelry, such as my mom.

Here is a screen shot from my mac of what my February Lady Sweater project page looks like today in a web browser, how it’s designed to be seen.

Well, isn’t that nice? Oh dear, I can’t see everything. I’d have to scroll to see it all, that’s my mac (an older one). Sure, I could go over to E’s machine which has a higher resolution and take another screen shot but that’s not always possible or desired.

What can I do now while waiting for the ever-so-busy Casey (Rav code monkey) to close out issue #660 and make it easy to download a copy of my Rav Project Page?

I see two options.
1) Screen shots.
2) Create a PDF.

Both options have benefits and disadvantages.

Option 1 will create the prettiest solution — it will keep the colours and style sheet nice. But you may need to install simple software to help if your computer doesn’t support a very large screen resolution. Or you could just scroll around and take multiple shots and then stitch them together in an image editing application (I’ve done this in a word processor, you *can* do it, but it’s time consuming).

I actually prefer the second option, creating a PDF. Depending on your computer you may not need to install anything, and there are free software options out there for you. While it may not create a perfect copy, for how I like to create and store things, PDFs make the most sense to me.

An example of what my mac created today can be found as a PDF here. See, it’s ugly — but for what I want, it works. What do I want? I just want to have a record of the start and end dates, yarn, needles, and any notes I made. I’m actually not very concerned with the images. I plan to deal with them separately.

I’ll come back to screen shots and images in future posts.

If you want to go the PDF route it’s super easy and once you learn how, pretty much whatever you can print you can turn into a PDF.

For Macs really easy, as it’s built into the print dialogue:
Go to the page you want to PDF. Select Print (either apple-P or File -> Print). Then save as PDF with a file name that makes sense and in a place that makes sense for you. I like to save them by the date they were finished so this file name would be 20090515-FLS.pdf. An image of what my dialogue box looks like (I have 10.4) is available here.

But you see I miss something. By doing this I don’t get the blog post or the comments (on other tabs). If I want to retain this information I’ll just click over to those and go through the process again and name the file something different, perhaps for the comments it would become 20090515-FLS-Oxford-Rav-Comments.pdf.

For PC’s — something I assume most of you use, at least my web stats say 75% of you are– then if you don’t have a PDF writer installed you need to do that first. I recommend PDF 995 or Cute PDF. What these do are create a printer that will make the PDFs. So you would select print and then choose not your paper printer but the PDF one. If you click on the image to your left, it will be bigger and you can see in a bit more detail what I mean. See how the printer name says “PDF995”? That’s going to run the program to make the PDF. After you say print it will bring up a dialogue box to name the file. These applications are free, but at least PDF995 has a nag screen unless you pay them, I haven’t used CutePDF very much and can’t remember if it has any nagging features. There are other applications out there, but these are two off the top of my head. Please see my disclaimer below about them. ;) I could go into an in-depth explanation of how these things work, but let me summarize it as: they print to a PDF instead of a piece of paper.

Oh wait, so does that mean you could print to paper instead of PDF? Of course you can! You could then cut it into whatever size you want and paste it into your journal. Then you could include a yarn sample, a swatch, the ball band, a thank you note, really whatever you’d like. Or you could put it into an envelope and mail it to your little sister who refuses to go online ever. You don’t have to keep it electronic.

Yes there are other applications that cost lost of money and may (or may not) result in “prettier” PDFs. I’m not going to go there today. Trust me, you don’t want me to.

I hope this is helpful and gets you thinking about different ways you can create a copy for yourself of your online life.


a local copy, part I

In recent months I’ve heard an increase in the number of friends and friends-of-friends who have lost some part of electronic/internet-based data that was important to them. It might be the failure of a hard drive, a usb key that suddenly stopped responding, or a blog from one of the free-hosted services.

Today’s post will be the first in a multi-part series to start to help you begin to understand how to — at the least — make another copy of the information and keep that copy in a different place than the original. Eventually I’ll get to the importance of backing up and migrating old files to other places and lots of complex stuff. I’m a fan of keeping extra copies of stuff, to a degree. I’ll probably also begin to migrate this sort of post to another place. I have a small readership here so I’ll use it.

Today I’m only going to provide some basic instruction on how to export your information from several popular free-hosted blogs. It’s a nice list of links to the instructions written by these companies.

Next week I hope to have finalized a nice easy-to-use step-by-step worksheet for you to take and use, but for this week I will provide other links I’ve found of people who have written the documentation before I have.

These instructions focus more on the text, images are a finicky animal depending on how you did them. I will treat images separate and discuss them in later posts.

You will see that most of these links discuss exporting your blog. What does that mean? We are taking it from the blogging software format (most likely it’s a database) and converting it into one big long file that might not mean much to you, but means something to others. For today that’s all we want to do. We want to export it out of the web and save it elsewhere. In future posts I’ll talk about how often I think you should do this and my suggestions for how to do this if you don’t have a computer of your own.

I’ll add to this list and try my best to keep the links updated and current. All links worked as of Thursday 21 May 2009.

In any case, when you save these files, you may need to rename them, I suggest keeping the file name something meaningful and somewhat short. While we aren’t as limited in length anymore, I am frustrated when I’m emailed a document named “This is my awesome paper that i wrote in october ’07 and I hope you like it.rtf“. I’ll discuss my personal preferences for file names sometime in the future, I’m pretty picky.

In this case I personally would use something that includes the date and a short description, perhaps blogtext. I like to write my dates YYYYMMDD but you could do YYYY-MM-DD so the filename might end up 2009-05-22-blogtext.xml. Just choose something and try to be consistent.

Right now you don’t need to care what an xml is or means. We’re just making a copy. Store it somewhere on your computer where it won’t get in the way and where you won’t delete it too quickly.

That’s it! That wasn’t too painful was it?

– – –
Upcoming topics: what can I delete?, what if I don’t have a computer of my own? keeping a copy of your Ravelry information, naming files, photos… and other items still to be determined.

Finally, I offer all posts in this series with the following disclaimer:
1) I cannot guarantee that prior results will predict similar performance.
2) At this point I am unable to offer free extensive support for you. If you would like me to help you out and make sure that you have a good system in place to manage your blog and other documents, please contact me and we can talk rates and time-frame. I’m reasonable and while I would love to be able to offer all my advice for free and help everyone who needs it, there is only so much of me to go around and I need to be compensated — as everyone should be — for my work and in offering advice and assistance. That said, you’ll probably find I’m pretty giving if you just ask.