Tech Tuesday – Photo Sharing Service

There have been a lot of developments in photo sharing services in the last year. Google merged it’s picasa service with G+ providing essentially limitless photo storage; facebook, of course, remains as popular as ever; and other cloud storage services, such as dropbox and, can also be used to store and share photos. Another newer service that I’ve become fond of is It’s got an easy user interface, is entirely browser-based, and has mobile apps for viewing/sharing on the go. You get 10gb of free storage and for every user your invite to join, you each get an additional gig of storage when they register. As it’s new, easy usernames (i.e. your name) are still readily available. Best part: it’s free and the developers intend to keep it that way. It’s not currently unlimited lik Google, but there are more than a few people growing increasingly uncomfortable with Google having all of their information. So register and try it out. Leave a comment with your impressions of the service.

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Don’t forget the card catalog

After replying to a request from an message for some information on a shared ancestor, I started doing a little more digging on that particular line. In my web searching, I happened to stumble across a county history/biography/genealogy that I thought might cover the family. It wasn’t anything Ancestry had, so I thought I’d make a quick check of the Family History Library catalog on  I was thrilled to see that not only was a microfilm copy available for request, but there was also a digital copy that could be downloaded.

What I ended up with was a PDF of an 880 page volume that had been published in 1883 and had information that went back in some cases to the late 1700s. It had information about who held various local government offices, church boards, historical information on companies that served in the civil war, and family histories. It was immediately obvious, that just extracting information that was pertinent to my family was going to be a project.

In 20 years of doing genealogy/family history, experience has shown that these kinds of finds are more the exception than the norm. However, with the rate at which various collections are being digitized, I’m hopeful this will start to happen a little more frequently.

For me, the moral of the story was that with all the focus on doing research online, it pays to still look in the old card catalog. Of course, the old card catalog is an online database, and instead of finding an old book to request, you just might get lucky and find out that some organization has scanned it for you.

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Tech Tuesday – Evernote, I’m finally using it

I know this isn’t something new to most of the genealogy community….or probably to any community by now. It just hasn’t been something I’ve felt I had a need for. Recently though, I discovered a need to keep a large amount of information organized by multiple categories. With all that I’ve heard about Evernote, I decided I’d give it a try.  Continue reading

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Wish you could share to Google+?

I’ve  been on Google+ for months now, thanks to an early invite. I’ve been using it regularly since it went open beta and there were actually other people using it also. Although I like it and have found that many in the genealogy community have quickly adopted it, because Google has not released and API, there aren’t any direct sharing options from other web pages. Well, yesterday I discovered a direct way to share links to Google+.

If you own an Android device, you can share anything (with a sharing option) directly to Google+ This includes web pages, apps, news stories, items from Google Reader or other RSS feeds, and clips from an Evernote notebook. Even though WordPress can’t share to Google+ automatically when I post, I can share a post from the Android app.

Now I understand that this isn’t going to cut it for a lot of people, but if you do much of your browsing on an Android tablet (or a large display phone), it’s easier than copying and pasting links on the laptop. I’ve found it an easy option to share feeds that come into Google Reader since I use the Android app. If you own and Android device, give it a try. Do you think this is something you’ll use or is using a tablet/phone just not for you? Leave a comment below. I’m always interested to see how (or if) people are using technology.

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You may not be searching all the records at FamilySearch

How do you use FamilySearch for family history research? Do you search from the home screen? Do you use the newer filtering search they’ve implemented? Have you ever browsed through or search their list of collections? FamilySearch has over 2 billion names in their indexed collections, but did you know that they also make unindexed record images available to the public? Continue reading

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RootsTech 2012 Sessions I’m considering

FamilySearch released their ‘first batch’ of announced sessions this week.  There’s something about each of these that interests me. Particularly, the sessions on Genealogy 2.0/social media, uses of Android technology in genealogy, QR codes, copyright law, and using the Library of Congress have got my attention.

I’m really interested in new ways to use technology to get more mileage out of my research time. I’m also a technology junkie, so I like feeling that I’m out in front on the developing uses of technology. I’m also a strictly Android only user, so I’m glad to see some presentations on its use.  After all, we’re not all as enamored with iOS as some content providers seems to think. Continue reading

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I’m going to RootsTech 2012

I got my registration finalized today for RootsTech 2012. I’m really excited about attending. Last year I tried to participate online as much as I could with web streams, but it was clear I was missing a lot that was going on. I’m hoping to get to meet lots of new people, including those I’ve been able to interact with online.

I’m already working on getting my list of books put together for FHL night. I’ve read a little about not just conference swag, but stuff attendees were passing out to each other. It will be interesting to see what it feels like to be the big fish taken out of his little pond and plunked in the ocean. No matter what, I’m sure it’s going to be a blast.

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New Display for FamilySearch?

Last week I received an email invitation to take part in a research survey from FamilySearch.  It concerned the way information would be displayed for an individual and their family members.  It’s easier to show you the two proposed displays than explain them so:

Option A                                                    Option B

genealogy family history pedigree

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family history genealogy pedigree

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The questions were all designed to see which view was liked more.  I generally favored option A….with a few changes. The first and main reason I favor option A is because it has the most information displayed on it.  If you’ve used new. before than you know how much waiting is involved in clicking between individuals and the various view options. Option A largely eliminates the need to click back and forth because the relations are all displayed on one page. Effectively the Parents & Siblings and the Spouses & Children tabs have been merged.  For me, this is a good thing.  Additionally, all of the selected individual’s spouses and children are also displayed, eliminating the need to click through spouses to see all the children and marriage information.  When you hover your pointer over a spouse, the related children are highlighted to help keep it all straight.

What strengths does Option B have? Well, clearly it’s the cleaner view.  The many lines clutter up the view, in my opinion.  Given the highlighting built in to the option, I don’t think the lines are necessary and option B proves this. However, there is much less information displayed in option B and for me, that’s the difference.

What do you think of the new displays?  I’m very interested in your comments.

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Legacy Family Search now works with Windows 7

I posted about my work-around to get Ancestry data into NFS a while back and a friend suggested Legacy to me as an easier alternative, so I decided to give it a shot.  The reason I’ve sworn off genealogy software is because of the cost. I have frequent opportunities to teach people about doing genealogy and I like to make sure they know it can be done without spending a lot of money….or even any.  In order to do that, I decided I needed to take the same approach myself so as to not feel hypocritical-and to really be familiar with free sources and research methods. Since Legacy was free, I decided to see what it could do.

I watched some of the videos on their site to become familiar with the FamilySearch integration feature and I was really impressed.  It seemed that someone had finally simplified the process enough to make it usable.  Unfortunately, it didn’t play nice with Windows 7.  I was able to install it on an old Windows XP machine and it did work, but it was too slow to be usable for me.

However, last week Legacy updated to a new version.  Although their update notes didn’t mention anything about resolving this bug, I figured I’d download it and give it another try.  I was very happy to learn that the bug was fixed.  Now I can download from NFS into Legacy and then merge a gedcom of my ancestry data into the same file.  The software takes care of uploading the ancestry source info back to NFS for me.

This is a huge advantage for 2 reasons.  First, I can finally get all of my Ancestry source info into NFS without a 23 step process; Second, I don’t have to go through the needlessly tedious process of adding source information into NFS.  Adding sources to NFS, in my humble opinion, is its most glaring weak spot.  Although I can’t be sure, I like to pretend that this is why it seems most NFS users don’t seem to include sources for their information. Anyway, it seems more palatable than thinking about a lot of folks just copying the same wrong genealogical data from each other and passing it around.

Download, the standard (aka free) version of Legacy 7.5 now and give it a spin.  This is a feature you won’t want to be without.

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BYU Conference on Family History & Genealogy

This conference takes place over 4 day in late July. Registration is $175/person with a $25 discount for church family history consultants. If I could just get away from work, I’d seriously consider going.

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