sun, 15-jan-2006, 09:34

The New Yorker DVD's allow you to create your own personal reading lists, which are lists of articles that make it easy to access the articles you want to come back to. You can even restrict your searching to your own reading list. The DVD comes with several reading lists already loaded, including one for all the articles mentioned in the hardcover book that comes with the disks.

As it turns out, the database used by the viewer program is a SQLite3 database. It's a public domain database, and the New Yorker hasn't encrypted it so you can view the data in the database with your own custom program, or with a SQLite command line tool available from the SQLite3 web site. You can also extract the data for your reading list, in case something goes wrong with the database and you need to reinstall it.

I wrote a simple Python script, that allows you to generate a formatted display of all the articles in your reading list. To use it you'll need a standard Python installation, and the pysqlite Python module.

To use is, you'll need to find the database file, which is at C:\Program Files\New Yorker Viewer\ny-sqlite-3.db in a default Windows install. I'm not sure where it installs on a Mac, but the filename is probably the same. Then just run the program specifying the database file, the reading list, and the other options the program offers. The result is a list of the articles complete with abstract and keywords.

Here's the usage statement:

Usage: ./ [-h] [-v] [-c columns] [-d database ] [-r list] [-y year]
     -v          Verbose
     -h          This help page
     -c columns  Number of columns in the output (72 defautl)
     -d database Full path to the database file
     -r list     Name of reading list (escape spaces or quote list)
     -y year     Year cutoff (negative means article before listed year)

and a sample of the output:

The Financial Page: The Catastrophe Problem. Surowiecki, James
The Talk of the Town
Jan. 10, 2005 (Disk_1_1998_2005)
THE FINANCIAL PAGE about the difficulties presented by natural disasters
and catastrophes for the insurance industry. . . Writer notes that, in
dollar terms, the recent Indian Ocean tsunamis impact was relatively
small. . .the affected countries are relatively poor and the businesses
there are less likely to have insurance. . . This past year was the most
expensive in history for insurers. . . Discusses the actuarial nature of
the insurance business: its about distributing risk over a large group
of people whose behavior is collectively predictable. . . Catastrophes
are not nearly as predictable. The same goes for man-made catastrophes
such as September 11th. Insurers can make forecasts as long as they take
a much longer view. Notes that even after September 11th, the number of
companies that purchased terrorism insurance was relatively small. . .
Keywords: Actuarial Businesses; Hurricanes; September 11th, 2001 (9/11);
Catastrophes; Insurance; Terrorism; Asia; Natural Disasters; Tsunamis;

Note that if your database did get corrupted, you'd still have to manually recreate your reading list. I'll probably write a second Python script that will generate all the SQL INSERT statements necessary to recreate your reading lists if something went wrong with the database.

tags: books  New Yorker 
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