News about this site and other Pepys-related events.

The new Background Info section

No doubt you’ve noticed the new section by now. Hopefully it’s pretty self-explanatory. It’s a directory of pages each devoted to a specific topic. These pages can then be annotated with information or links to other sites. The information should stay rather more “current” than that posted to diary entries which tend to “fade away” as we move through the diary. The People and Places pages are now integrated into this section.

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Steve Coogan to play Pepys in BBC drama

The Mirror has a brief story about Steve Coogan playing Samuel Pepys in a one-off drama as part of a BBC 2 series about “famous literary figures.” Filming is in the summer. For non-British readers, Steve Coogan is best known for his comedy character Alan Partridge, a TV presenter who falls on hard times and presents an early morning local radio show. It’s great stuff but his other work often doesn’t quite hit the mark (in my opinion).

How to support this site (not that you have to)

A while ago a few people asked how they could support this site. To be honest, there’s no need — it only costs me time and this is what I enjoy spending my time on. However, if you do feel the desire to make some kind of contribution, I recently put up a page that details how you can do so, hopefully by donating to parties other than myself! But really, don’t feel you have to.

(I hesitated in pointing this page out to be honest, but a couple of people have just noticed the new link to it and suggested I did so.)

More background reading pages?

Several people have suggested something I’ve been thinking about for a while: general pages for background information in addition to the People and Places pages. Given the amount of general information that is posted to diary entries that will be of use again in the future it seems an extremely sensible idea. It should help people who are new to the site find out common information without it having to be repeated too often (although we should accept this will happen nevertheless!).

There are two questions however: What pages should there be? And what should be the policy on annotating the pages? To address these in order…

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More Pepys Diary press

There was a bit about the site in the issue of Web User that just left the UK newsstands; I didn’t read it, so I’m not sure what it said. I’ll also be interviewed by Valerie Richardson on WPKN in Bridgeport, Connecticut at around 10.30am local time today.

New Recent Annotations page format

I’ve been working on improving the Recent Annotations page format, as it was rather unwieldy. I’ve now set it so that rather than listing the last 30 annotations chronologically, it lists the last 10 entries ordered by whichever has the most recent annotations. I hope that makes sense! There didn’t seem much point in the previous listing where most of the comments were on the current diary entry. This way, it’s easier to keep an eye on new annotations appearing on older diary entries.

I’ve also worked out how to include the start of each annotation, which makes it a bit more interesting. I’ve changed the recent People/Places annotations list to the same format too (I’m trying to split this into two separate lists but haven’t worked out how yet). I hope you feel this is an improvement; let me know!

What to do about plot spoilers...

David Quidnunc has suggested we should discuss a general policy on plot spoilers in annotations. Sometimes it seems necessary to divulge something that happens in the “future” to explain a point, but given that most of us don’t know what’s coming up for Pepys this might spoil any suspense. He says:

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New York Times article on weblogs and Pepys

The New York Times has an article which is mostly about Pepys, this site and comparing weblogs in general to Pepys’ style. Be a bit careful though; some huge interactive GE advert on the page locked my browser up for several minutes until I could get Back off the page (using Mozilla on Mac OS X); I resorted to Lynx. (Thanks Gerry.)

More footnote pages?

Up to now we’ve been reading entries for January that I entered some time ago, and it’s now time for me to enter the next batch. So I’d like to know how people feel about the amount of links to People and Places pages. At the moment I create a new page if the 1893 edition has footnotes for an item, if a reader requests a page, or if it seems obvious to me that it might be useful.

Would you like more of them? While I could make every person and place into a link I don’t think this would necessarily be a good idea. We don’t know anything about some of the people and there may be little if anything to say about some of the places. If a lot of these pages have little content I can imagine one might get frustrated with clicking links that often end up with nothing at the end of them.

So, is the current amount of links about right? If you want more, any thoughts on how to judge when a new person or place deserves a page? Thanks for your thoughts.

Question and Answer with Claire Tomalin

The Guardian has a Question and Answer with Claire Tomalin, the author nominated for a Whitbread Award for her Pepys biography. Strangely, the page doesn’t say when Tomalin will be fulfilling the Answering part of the deal, so you’d better rush over and ask your Questions now. Unfortunately you need to log in or register before you can submit questions, but don’t let that put you off; follow the “log in” link on the page to register. (Thanks for the tip mum!)

Local press about the site

The local newspaper from where I grew up has published a short piece about the site. The Witham and Braintree Times isn’t online in any useful form so here’s the article for your entertainment and my embarrassment:

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HTML changes... CSS guru needed

Please excuse a technical note… I made a few tweaks to the site today to try and handle a few glitches that had been pointed out to me. The basic font size had been measured in pixels, something I’d never done on a site before. I now remember why I hadn’t done this: Internet Explorer on Windows doesn’t allow the user to resize a page’s text if its size has been set in pixels. So it’s now set in ems. This may make the default text size look larger or smaller for you — if it’s completely unreadable let me know your browser and operating system.

I’ve also tidied things up a bit for those using versions of Netscape 4.x. It’s not pretty, but at least it’s readable! One problem though… I’ve managed to make the form for adding Annotations appear, but it still doesn’t work. The div below the textarea is mostly being displayed behind the textarea, rather than below it. This hides some text and on the Preview page the buttons don’t work. If you know CSS and can work out how to shift the text following the textarea down, do let me know! I was using Netscape 4.7 on Windows XP.

Nice words about the site

Among many weblog entries about this site over the past few weeks, this one by Greg Elin is perhaps the most enthusiastic. Pointing this out might seem like I’m blowing my own trumpet, but that’s not my intention… the feature Elin raves most about is the annotations which, with a handful of exceptions, are not my work. The point is it’s the willingness of you to research and post useful information and links that makes this site, and the rest of the internet, quite so interesting. I was able to take some free text (from Project Gutenberg), publish it using free technology (such as PHP and Movable Type) and enable people to share knowledge. This is what it’s all about.

Pages for Hawly and Will's

I created new pages for Hawly (an employee of George Downing along with Pepys) and Will’s (Pepys’ favourite drinking house). These seemed to be cropping up a lot so it made sense to stop any confusion and give them separate pages. If you have other nominations for their own pages, let me know.