this is to sort the records in ascending alphabetical order and to view the records in a display format where each record occupies one line and there are up to 20 records on screen simultaneously. An aberrant entry will become much more apparent this way. Alternatively a page printout may reveal errors – for some reason they are much easier to spot in a printed document than on a computer screen. If MycoRec has been used spelling mistakes should not be a problem as the checklist it uses will ensure correct spelling of all fungus names and associated organism names. Particular care should be taken when entering essential fields e.g. the date, locality, grid reference, and the name of the recorder should be added so that entries can be queried. The program should be instructed to export (i.e. transfer electronically) in a database form acceptable to the recipient, whether this is done by e-mail or by sending a copy on a diskette or CD in the post. Most modern computer systems will accept data produced by a range of programs but is important for the recipient to know which program has been used. Where the program output is unsuitable for loading, the data can be exported to a file in various compatible formats.
If a large number of records is to be submitted they may exceed the capacity of a diskette. In this case it is possible to export to the hard disk and use a ‘zip’ program to compress the data onto one or more diskettes. Such a program is also available from the BMSFRD Database Manager. Alternatively it may be easier and less expensive to copy the records to a blank Compact Disk (CD) and send this through the post.
In practical terms, a single diskette, when zipped, provides a manageable amount of data (a few thousand records) to submit to the BMSFRD. Anything more than this and the task becomes rather daunting for the recipient. A list of full names corresponding to the initials used in the fields of Collector, Identifier and Confirmer should be enclosed, and any codes or initial letters that have been used to indicate books used for identification should be clarified, if these are not the usual ones.
Past records may not include all the information now required for the BMSFRD. They are very welcome, nevertheless. Although of less apparent value than a full record they may be important historically and they could reveal sites where rarities are still to be found today. They should, however, be entered into a computer file of some description, as this is the only practical way of transferring them to BMSFRD. When posting a diskette or CD it should be sandwiched between two stiff cards to avoid damage in the post. The recipient should be given the titles of the files indicating what they contain. Records can be sent on the Internet as e-mail attachments, preferably zipped to speed up transfer from a PC to the email service provider.
Saving and back-up
Files can be lost for inexplicable reasons – an accidental keystroke; a quite normal operation which quite suddenly refuses to operate; a power supply hiccup. Sometimes a screen will lock- up and nothing will release it. With some database programs hours of unsaved work can be lost so it is wise to save work every twenty minutes or so. Some programs can be asked to save work automatically at pre-determined time intervals. Back-up is a precaution against losing work already saved. If a virus or any other event damages a hard disk all the contents may be lost. Work which is valued in the long term should always be copied to a diskette or other media at frequent intervals. Such back-ups are stored and can then be used to replace data lost from a hard disk (when the problem causing the loss has been resolved). It is easy to fall into lax habits; most computer users have lost work at some time, or have heard of someone who has. Don’t be complacent. There are two sorts of computer users: those who have lost a hard disk, and those who haven’t lost one yet….…!