11 December 2011

Dude, where's my diss? ''

Part III, in which I produce the document

In the second installment of this multi-post topic, I ended wondering where I might store copies of my dissertation for public download. For some reason it hadn't occurred to me to use the Box account that I have. (Box is like DropBox.) Since I have now figured this out, I present below two pdf versions. This first is to a copy of the UMI version which is, as I wrote before, essentially a photocopy of the original paper version I submitted to them back in 1998. The second pdf is a searchable version I recently created. That wasn't as easy as it sounds.

It's true that it's a trivial matter to create a pdf these days. On my Mac, I can just print directly to pdf, and this was my first approach. The problem is that the latest version of Microsoft Word renders the text slightly differently from the way version 5.1a (of blessed memory) did it. As a result the page numbering got way off. (I will refrain from the obvious rant about the problems this version issue causes.) The first remedy I tried was tweaking the margins a bit, thinking that the fonts (mainly Times) were being rendered at a consistently different width. No dice. In some cases lines were longer, in other shorter. I haven't a clue why. OK, I think, so I'll just fire up version 5.1a. Well, that requires at least Classic, which doesn't run on Intel Macs anymore. No problem, SheepSaver emulates such a machine, even on my nifty new MacBook Pro. First new problem: OS 9 doesn't allow such easy printing to pdf. Solved with PrintToPDF, which creates a virtual Chooser (remember that?) printer that really sends output to a pdf file. Great. The second problem wasn't new nor was it so easily solved.

Word 5.1a does a better job than the 2011 version at reproducing the layout of my original document, but not a perfect one. For some reason it was just not matching up and once again it wasn't a simple matter of adjusting margins. So here's what I did. I figured that the smallest unit of text I had to worry about was the page, and many of them were the same, that is, they started and ended on the same word as my original dissertation printout. Some of the intervening lines look different, but since no one was going to be citing my dissertation that way, it would be OK. Where the pages didn't line up, I went in and inserted extra spaces to force line breaks, with the occasional tweak to margins, mainly in indented quotations. That got the pages right, and let my virtual 1998 Mac create a searchable pdf.

The only remaining problem with the pdf is that the text in ancient Greek is not real text. Back in the 90s we still weren't using Unicode everywhere, so the ancient Greek is really just regular Latin character codes shown in a font that uses Greek glyphs instead of Latin ones. (In reality lots of the accented Greek characters are punctuation of some kind.) The pdf displays the font fine, but it really isn't Greek text that you can copy or search for.

Here are the links. Again, they lead to my Box account, which I haven't upgraded to allow direct downloads, so you'll have to do something else to get the pdf itself:

What I'd really like to do is make the dissertation available as an e-book of some kind. The problem remains the Greek and the page breaks. The Greek isn't a big deal, even if I had to type it all out agin (which I don't); there's not a lot of it. Also it's not difficult to turn a pdf into one of the popular e-book formats, but my footnotes mean I can't do that without some work. Ideally I'd start from the Word doc, so a little research is needed to see what the options are.

Meanwhile...where's your diss?