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1.5 A Quick Tour of the SOIC System

We assume that the SOIC System has been installed on your computer following the guidelines in "Appendix A: Installing the SOIC System on Your Computer," and that you are using one or another version of the Microsoft Windows environment. Because not everyone using the SOIC System will prefer to use a mouse, in this introductory tour we give keyboard commands where possible.

1.5.1 The Help System

At any time that you are uncertain about what to do next or what command you should issue to accomplish a certain result, you can use the SOIC Help System. The Help System is available from all parts of the program except the message boxes. No matter which of the program's windows are currently open, you can access the Help System by pressing the F1 key on your computer's keyboard.

The SOIC Help System is "context sensitive." That means that when you ask for help, you will receive a variety of different messages. The Help System checks to see where you are in the program, and provides you with information tailored to your actual circumstances. The Help System is therefore "sensitive" to your "context." In addition to displaying a topic that responds to your immediate circumstances, the Help System allows you to browse through an index covering all the help topics. Once you have spotted a topic in the index that you want to read, you can open the topic.

1.5.2 Starting the SOIC System

To start using the SOIC System, locate the SOIC System icon. Installation places the icon in the SOIC2 program folder under Programs on the Start menu, but it may have been moved or copied after the program was installed. The icon looks like this:

Icon for SOIC application.

Double click on the icon to start the program. After start up, you see an empty Data Entry Form labeled "untitled:"

SOIC data entry form.

The screen may look slightly different if you have set Windows to a special color scheme. In all important ways, however, the screen should look the same.

Most people will use the SOIC System to apply occupation and industry codes to already existing data files. If you want to enter data directly into the SOIC System from paper copies of health records, however, you can begin entering data immediately..

Whenever the SOIC System is opened, the system opens a special table named "untitled." This is a special "dummy" table. You cannot use the untitled table to permanently store your data. When you leave the SOIC System, the untitled table is emptied. To store your data permanently, at some point before you leave the program you must save your data to a different table.

1.5.3 Opening a Table

At the top of your screen, above the Data Entry Form, is a line containing the words File, Field, Record, Code, Tools, and Help. This is the menu bar. The menu bar is the gateway to all parts of the SOIC System other than the Data Entry Form. Note that the first letter of the first word-the F in File-is underlined. This is a sign that you can use the letter F with the ALT key to access the File menu. Let's open the File menu. Press the following: ALT+F. (If you're not sure what ALT+F means, see Section 1.4 "Conventions Used in This Manual" .) After you press ALT+F, the menu looks like this:

SOIC Drop down menu. File menu displayed.

If you were to click on the first line of the open menu-the line that says "New..."-it would appear in reverse colors from the rest of the menu. The reverse colors are called "highlighting." Highlighting is a sign that the highlighted element is the focus of attention for the program. At any point, one or another element in the SOIC system is always the focus. Highlighting is one way of marking the focus. (If the element is a text entry box, the focus is marked by the appearance of a vertical text cursor.)

Commands that you issue act at the focal point, unless the command affects the entire program-for example, you can use CTRL+N to choose the New option from the Data Entry Form, no matter where the focus is located.

The New option on the File menu is the option we want. The New option allows you to open a new named table. If you wanted to execute the Open option instead, you could move the highlighting down to "Open..." by pressing the DOWN ARROW key once. Try pressing DOWN ARROW once. Then press UP ARROW to return to the New option. Now press the ENTER key. Pressing ENTER executes the option that you have highlighted. A new window appears, covering part of the Data Entry Form. The window, which is called a dialog box, looks like this:

Table dialogue box. This dialogue box is for a new table.

(This dialogue box is just an example - the dialog box you see probably has a different list of table names.)

Notice the small box beneath the words "Table Name." This is the Table Name text entry box. There is no name in the Table Name box. When you open the dialog box, the text cursor is initially located in the Table Name box. Therefore, you can immediately begin typing in a name for your new table.

The name can be up to 64 characters long. You can use any combination of letters, numbers, or other keyboard characters for the name, with a few restrictions. You can't use the period (.), exclamation point (!), back quote (`), or brackets ([]). Also, you can't use leading spaces or control characters. Table names can contain either capital or lower case letters, and are stored with the capitalization you choose. You cannot distinguish two tables from each other by capitalization, however. Once you have a table named "Mytable" you can't save a new one named "mytable."

The tables are not stored as separate files. In fact, all SOIC data tables are stored in a single file, called Userdata.mdb. We explain how the SOIC System stores tables later in this manual, in Section 2.3 "How the SOIC System Manages Tables and Files", and Section 2.4.2 "The Open Option".

For now, let's open a new table. Let's say you type in the following name:

Table dialogue box. This dialogue box is for a new table.

If you decide that you don't actually want to open a table, you can close the dialog box at any time without creating a table by pressing ESC or clicking on the Cancel button with the mouse. Let us say, however, that you do want to use the table "Mytable." To do so, press ENTER. The Open dialog box closes, and you return to the Data Entry Form. At the top of the form, the name of the open table is displayed:

The Title Bar.  The title bar displays the name of the table currently being used by SOIC.

There is another way you could have chosen the New option, and opened a new table. Immediately below the menu bar near the top of your screen is a row of buttons. If you move the mouse pointer over any of these buttons, after a brief delay a label appears identifying the button: "New Table," "Open Table," "Save Table As," "Import," and so on. With the mouse, you can click on one of these buttons and activate an option. Clicking on the New Table button has the same effect as pressing ALT+F, N on the keyboard.

1.5.4 Moving About the SOIC System

Now that you are back in the Data Entry Form, notice that the text cursor is again in the Local ID field. When you close a dialog box, the focus always returns to the field that was selected when you opened the box.

Let's say you want to enter data into "Mytable" manually, from a stack of paper death certificates. You've been told that for this case, not all of the fields in the Data Entry Form need to be filled in. You need to enter the following data, contained in three records:

  Record 1 Record 2 Record 3
Local ID 1001 1001 1001
Certificate ID 50001 50002 50003
Date of Death 11/13/1989 09/16/1987 08/19/1988
Date of Birth 07/11/1927 05/09/1906 02/03/1938
Occupation sales clerk housewife miner
Industry department store farm coal mine

Notice in the bar at the bottom of the screen is the statement:

Record 1 of 1

A message similar to this is always present when the Data Entry Form is active. It lets you know which record is displayed, and how many records there are in the table. Because you have opened a new, empty table, there is only one blank record, and it is displayed.

Because the text cursor is in the Local ID field, you can immediately enter the first item of the first record. Type 1001. If you make a mistake, you can use BACK SPACE or DELETE to erase your error. You can use LEFT ARROW and RIGHT ARROW to move the cursor backward or forward through the text to insert characters. Characters are inserted immediately after the cursor.

Once you have typed 1001, you will want to move to the next field in which you need to enter data, Certificate ID. To do so, press TAB twice. The text cursor moves to the Temporary ID field and then to the Certificate ID field. The first Certificate ID is 50001, and you can type 50001 into the field.

You can now move to the next field with TAB. You must press TAB six times to get to the next field for which you have data, the Date of Death field. Isn't there an easier way to move the focus? There is. With the mouse, you can move the focus to a new field by placing the mouse pointer inside the new field's text entry box and clicking the left mouse button once.

The Date of Death field already contains a number of characters-two slashes to separate the month, day, and year. As you type in the digits, notice that your cursor skips over the slashes. When you are done, the Date of Death field should look like this:

  • Date of Death: 11 / 12 / 1989

You can now move the cursor to the Date of Birth field with TAB or the mouse. Type in the following numbers: 07111927. The field should look like this:

  • Date of Death: 07 / 11 / 1927

By this time, you know all the commands you need to finish entering the last two items into record 1:

SOIC data entry form.

To fill out record 2, press CTRL+INSERT. This adds a new, blank record to the table, and takes you to the new record. If you press CTRL+INSERT again, the third record is created.

To return to the second record to finish filling it out, press PAGE UP. Notice what happens to the focus. PAGE DOWN and PAGE UP keep the focus on the same field as you move from record to record.

There is another way to move from record to record, in addition to using PAGE DOWN or PAGE UP. On the button bar at the top of your screen are four buttons that look like the controls on a VCR:

Buttons that look like the controls on a VCR

You can use these buttons by clicking on any of them with the mouse. The first button moves to the first record of the table. The second is equivalent to PAGE UP. The third is equivalent to PAGE DOWN. The last button moves to the last record of the table.

Whenever you press PAGE DOWN or PAGE UP to move to a different record, or use the VCR buttons, the SOIC System automatically saves the record you have just left. If you open another table, the SOIC System closes the first table and saves all records. Any other method of leaving a record-through the Find option, for example, or by coding a table-also saves the record. If for some reason your computer should loose electrical power while the SOIC System is running, the only data you can lose is whatever changes you may have made to the currently active record.

Special note: The SOIC System's ability to save all but the current record in the event of emergency power loss should not be relied upon during everyday use. In years past, some people habitually turned off their computers before they closed active programs and before they closed Windows. This was always a dangerous practice that could lead to corrupt files, loss of free disk space, or the destruction of Windows configuration data. Under Windows 95, 98, or 2000, it also results in extended delays the next time the computer is started, as Windows attempts to repair the damage caused by the unexpected shut down. Always take the time to exit your software properly!

1.5.5 Coding a Record-and Then the Whole Table

Now that you have put data into the three records of the sample table, let's use the SOIC System to do the job for which it was written. Let's obtain industry and occupation codes for these three cases. First, if the program is displaying the second or third record, return to the first record. You can do this through the data control, or you can do it through the keyboard by pressing CTRL+HOME. (You don't have to be at the first record to code the table, but starting there will make it easier to follow our example.)

Now that you're back at the first record, you can find the coding commands under the Code pull down menu, on the menu bar at the top of your computer's screen. Remember that ALT+F pulled down the File menu. The first letter of Coding-C-is underlined, so ALT+C pulls down the Code menu.

There are four options on the Code menu. The one we want to try first is Code Record. Because Record is highlighted when you press ALT+C, you can execute this option by pressing ENTER immediately.

Alternatively, you could execute the option by pressing the "hot key" listed to the right of Record on the option line-CTRL+R-directly from the Data Entry Form. You can't use the hot keys while the menus are open, so if you want to use CTRL+R you must close the menu. You can do so either by pressing ESC twice (represented by ESC, ESC) or by clicking on the Data Entry Form with the mouse.

An additional way to choose the Code Record option is to click on the Code Record button with the mouse. The Code Record button is immediately to the right of the VCR controls.

Let's use the Code Record button to code a record. If you haven't done so already, close the Coding menu with ESC, ESC or the mouse. Then click on the Code Record button. When the coding is done, the screen looks like this:

SOIC data entry form.

The occupation code is now in the occupation Code field, to the right of the Occupation field. The industry code is in the industry Code field, to the right of the Industry field.

Note the "balloon" located immediately below the industry Code field that says "department stores." This is a definition of the code 591. You can see definition balloons for industry and occupation codes by placing the mouse pointer in a Code field and waiting about half a second. The definition balloons only appear when there is actually a code in the Code field. You cannot display them by using the keyboard.

Recall that on the Code menu, the hot key for Table is CTRL+T. Let's use CTRL+T and code the rest of the table. With only three records, coding takes place quickly. When the coding is finished, the system displays the following box:

Message box displayed by SOIC notifying users that coding process has completed.

Click the OK button to return to the Data Entry Form. You can use PAGE UP and PAGE DOWN to view the results of the coding.

1.5.6 Leaving the SOIC System

The command to leave the SOIC System is listed on the File pull down menu, and you can see it by pressing ALT+F. The option is Exit, and you can execute it in several ways. While the menu is open, you can press X to choose the Exit option (note that the X in Exit is underlined). From anywhere in the program, you can issue the standard Windows exit command ALT+F4. (If a dialog box is open, ALT+F4 will only close the dialog box. You can then press ALT+F4 again to leave the program altogether.) Other standard methods of leaving Windows programs also work. This includes clicking on the box with an X in the far top right corner of the screen.