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Monday, September 19, 2011

The Tech-Savvy Genealogist Meme–extended remix

Geniaus created The Tech-Savvy Genealogist Meme. She came up with 50 items.  John Newmark at the TransylvanianDutch blog expanded the list to 80 (items were renumbered), and also reworded two of her entries. His additions are marked by a (*).

The instructions are:

The list should be annotated in the following manner:

Things you have already done or found: bold face type
Things you would like to do or find: italicize (colour optional)
Things you haven’t done or found and don’t care to: plain type

Feel free to add extra comments in brackets after each item

Which of these apply to you?

1. Own an Android or Windows tablet or an iPad 
2. Use a tablet or iPad for genealogy related purposes
*3. Use a Kindle, Nook, or other e-reader for genealogy related purposes [My tablet functions as an e-reader]
4. Have used Skype or Google Video Chat to for genealogy purposes
5. Have used a camera to capture images in a library/archives/ancestor's home
6. Use a genealogy software program on your computer to manage your family tree
*7. Use multiple genealogy software programs because they each have different functionalities.
8. Have a Twitter account
9. Tweet daily
10. Have a genealogy blog [This one]
11. Have more than one genealogy blog
12. Have lectured/presented to a genealogy group on a technology topic
13. Currently an active member of Genealogy Wise  [I’m a member but I’ve never really taken to it so I would not describe myself as an active member]
14. Have a Facebook Account
15. Have connected with genealogists via Facebook
16. Maintain a genealogy related Facebook Page
17. Maintain a blog or website for a genealogy society
18. Have submitted text corrections online to Ancestry, Trove or a similar site [Love Trove!]
*19. Have added content to a Person Page on Fold3 (formerly Footnote)
20. Have registered a domain name []
21. Post regularly to Google+ [although not all that frequently]
*22. Have participated in a genealogy-related Google+ hangout
23. Have a blog listed on Geneabloggers [This one]
*24. Have a blog listed on Cyndi's List
25. Have transcribed/indexed records for FamilySearch or a similar project
*26. Have converted a family audiotape to digital [Don’t have any]
*27. Have converted a family videotape to digital [Don’t have any]
*28. Have converted family movies pre-dating videotape to digital [Don’t have any]
29. Own a Flip-Pal or hand-held scanner
30. Can code a webpage in .html
*31. Can code a webpage in .html using Notepad (or any other text-only software)
*32. Can write scripts for your webpage in at least one programming language
*33. Can write scripts for your webpage in multiple programming languages
34. Own a smartphone
35. Have a personal subscription to one or more paid genealogy databases
*36. Have a local library card that offers you home access to online databases, and you use that access. [If the National Library of Australia counts as a local library… it is in the same city, after all.]

37. Use a digital voice recorder to record genealogy lectures
38. Have contributed to a genealogy blog carnival
*39. Have hosted a genealogy blog carnival [Does the Australia day event count as a carnival or a meme?]
40. Use an Internet Browser that didn’t come installed on your computer
41. Have participated in a genealogy webinar
42. Have taken a DNA test for genealogy purposes
43. Have a personal genealogy website [Had my first genealogy web page 10 or so years ago, a free page hosted by Rootsweb. Now I have my own site at]
44. Have found mention of an ancestor in an online newspaper archive
45. Have tweeted during a genealogy lecture
*46. Have tweeted during a family reunion
47. Have scanned your hardcopy genealogy files [I’m well on the way but there are still too many gaps to claim I’ve scanned them all]
48. Use an RSS Reader to follow genealogy news and blogs
49. Have uploaded a gedcom file to a site like Geni, MyHeritage or Ancestry [only Ancestry]
50. Own a netbook [it’s lying neglected now that I have a tablet]
51. Use a computer/tablet/smartphone to take genealogy lecture notes

52. Have a profile on LinkedIn that mentions your genealogy habit
53. Have developed a genealogy software program, app or widget
54. Have listened to a genealogy podcast online
55. Have downloaded genealogy podcasts for later listening [That’s how I motivate myself to do the ironing! If Lisa Louise Cooke ever gives it up, my family will be getting about in crumpled clothes.]
56. Backup your files to a portable hard drive [But not as often as I should]
57. Have a copy of your genealogy files stored offsite
58. Know about RootsTech
59. Have listened to a BlogTalk radio session about genealogy
60. Use Dropbox, SugarSync or other service to save documents in the cloud
61. Schedule regular email backups [I should get on to this]
62. Have contributed to the FamilySearch Wiki
63. Have scanned and tagged your genealogy photographs [Well on the way, but I have a better scanner now so I am redoing them]
64. Have published a genealogy book in an online/digital format
*65. Brought a USB device to a microfilm repository so you could download instead of print. [That’s so old school. I upload to Dropbox so they sync straight my home computer.]
*66. Have a wearable USB device containing important files. (Watch, keychain necklace, etc)
*67. Created a map on Google Maps plotting ancestral homes or businesses.
*68. Recorded the GPS coordinates for a tombstone, or ancestral home
*69. Edited the Wikipedia entry for an ancestor, or their kin
*70. Created an entry at FindAGrave for a person
*71. Created an entry at FindAGrave for a cemetery
*72. Uploaded the MediaWiki software (or TikiWiki, or PhpWiki) to your family website.
*73. Have downloaded a video (for genealogical purposes) from YouTube or other streaming video site using, or in some other fashion
*74. Have transferred a video from a DVR to your computer for genealogical purposes
*75. Have participated in a ScanFest
*76. Have started a Genealogy-related meme at least one other geneablogger participated in.
*77. Have started a Genealogy-related weekly blogging theme other geneabloggers participated in.
*78. Have used Photoshop (or other editing software) to ‘clean up’ an old family photo
*79. Done digital scrapbooking
*80. Printed out a satellite photo from Google Maps of a cemetery, and marked where a tombstone was located on it.

Thanks to Geniaus (and John) for a great meme!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Ten years ago today – remembering 9/11

Ten years ago today it was a beautiful, sunny day in Christchurch, New Zealand. I was nearing the end of a holiday with my sister and my fiancé. We had spent the previous fortnight travelling New Zealand in a hired car, finding our accommodation as we went along.

Two weeks wasn’t long enough to see even our limited itinerary and I didn’t want to waste a minute of our last days there. When I emerged from the shower ready to go and found my fiancé and sister glued to the television, I reacted with impatience.  My fiancé was a news junkie. I knew he had felt disconnected from the world on our trip, but seriously… what news could be so important that it held up our holiday?

Then I saw what had happened overnight in New York.

I have scheduled this post to coincide with the approximate time that I saw the news, on the morning of September 12, New Zealand time, several hours after the events had taken place. Ten years ago at this moment I was stunned. Like the rest of the world I was mesmerised and horrified by the news footage, not quite able to take it in.

We were outside of Australia, yet in a country where we felt very safe. Even news reports about the imminent failure of our airline hadn’t worried us (Ansett stopped flying the first time just three hours after we landed at home). We didn’t know anyone likely to be in New York, but we mourned the thousands. We watched the news for a while that morning but it was still the same limited footage repeating with no new information coming through. We spent the rest of the day quietly, exploring Christchurch.

I can’t imagine what it must have been like to be in the USA when the planes hit, let alone in New York. The stories were heartbreaking.

I have written this post to mark the day.

Monday, September 5, 2011

99 Things Genealogy Meme – Aussie style

Geniaus has ‘dinkumised’ (see end of post for explanation*) the ‘99 Things Genealogy Meme’ that Kinexxions put together in 2009, and has thrown open the challenge to both Australian and foreign bloggers to join in.

It sounds like fun!

The list should be annotated in the following manner:
Things you have already done or found: bold face type
Things you would like to do or find: italicize (colour optional)
Things you haven’t done or found and don’t care to: plain type

Here is my contribution:

  1. Belong to a genealogical society.
  2. Joined the Australian Genealogists group on Genealogy Wise
  3. Transcribed records.
  4. Uploaded headstone pictures to Find-A-Grave or a similar site.
  5. Documented ancestors for four generations (self, parents, grandparents, great-grandparents)
  6. Joined Facebook.
  7. Cleaned up a run-down cemetery.
  8. Joined the Genea-Bloggers Group.
  9. Attended a genealogy conference.
  10. Lectured at a genealogy conference.
  11. Spoke on a genealogy topic at a local genealogy society.
  12. Joined the Society of Australian Genealogists.
  13. Contributed to a genealogy society publication.
  14. Served on the board or as an officer of a genealogy society.
  15. Got lost on the way to a cemetery.
  16. Talked to dead ancestors.
  17. Researched outside the state in which I live.
  18. Knocked on the door of an ancestral home and visited with the current occupants.
  19. Cold called a distant relative.
  20. Posted messages on a surname message board.
  21. Uploaded a gedcom file to the internet.
  22. Googled my name.
  23. Performed a random act of genealogical kindness.
  24. Researched a non-related family, just for the fun of it.
  25. Have been paid to do genealogical research.
  26. Earn a living (majority of income) from genealogical research.
  27. Wrote a letter (or email) to a previously unknown relative.
  28. Contributed to one of the genealogy carnivals.
  29. Responded to messages on a message board.
  30. Was injured while on a genealogy excursion.
  31. Participated in a genealogy meme.
  32. Created family history gift items (calendars, cookbooks, etc.).
  33. Performed a record lookup.
  34. Took a genealogy seminar cruise.
  35. Am convinced that a relative must have arrived here from outer space.
  36. Found a disturbing family secret.
  37. Told others about a disturbing family secret.
  38. Combined genealogy with crafts (family picture quilt, scrapbooking).
  39. Think genealogy is a passion not a hobby.
  40. Assisted finding next of kin for a deceased person.
  41. Taught someone else how to find their roots.
  42. Lost valuable genealogy data due to a computer crash or hard drive failure.
  43. Been overwhelmed by available genealogy technology.
    (No! Bring it on!!)
  44. Know a cousin of the 4th degree or higher.
    (We haven’t met in person though, does that count?)
  45. Disproved a family myth through research.
  46. Got a family member to let you copy photos.
  47. Used a digital camera to “copy” photos or records.
  48. Translated a record from a foreign language.
    (I found someone else to do it for me)
  49. Found an immigrant ancestor’s passenger arrival record.
  50. Looked at census records on microfilm, not on the computer.
  51. Used microfiche.
  52. Visited the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. 
  53. Used Google+ for genealogy.
  54. Visited a church or place of worship of one of your ancestors.
  55. Taught a class in genealogy.
  56. Traced ancestors back to the 18th Century.
  57. Traced ancestors back to the 17th Century.
  58. Traced ancestors back to the 16th Century.
  59. Can name all of your great-great-grandparents.
  60. Found an ancestor on the Australian Electoral Rolls
  61. Know how to determine a soundex code without the help of a computer.
  62. Have found relevant articles on Trove.
  63. Own a copy of Evidence Explained by Elizabeth Shown Mills.
  64. Helped someone find an ancestor using records you had never used for your own research.
  65. Visited the main National Archives building in Washington, DC.
  66. Visited the National Library of Australia.
  67. Have an ancestor who came to Australia as a ten pound pom.
  68. Have an ancestor who fought at Gallipoli.
  69. Taken a photograph of an ancestor’s tombstone.
  70. Can read a church record in Latin.
  71. Have an ancestor who changed his/her name.
    (If I have an ancestor who changed their name I’d like to find them, but I don’t wish for an ancestor who changed their name)
  72. Joined a Rootsweb mailing list.
  73. Created a family website.
  74. Have a genealogy blog.
  75. Was overwhelmed by the amount of family information received from someone.
  76. Have broken through at least one brick wall.
  77. Done genealogy research at the War Memorial in Canberra.
    (Seems a bit silly that I haven’t since I live in the same city… but there you go…)
  78. Borrowed microfilm from the Family History Library through a local Family History Center.
    (Almost, I borrowed it through a local family history society. I don’t mind who I borrow it through, so long as I can borrow it)
  79. Found an ancestor in the Ryerson index.
    (No, but I have found relatives)
  80. Have visited the National Archives of Australia.
  81. Have an ancestor who served in the Boer War.
  82. Use maps in my genealogy research.
  83. Have a convict ancestor who was transported from the UK.
    (I don’t mind either way, so long as I have the proof)
  84. Found a bigamist amongst the ancestors.
  85. Visited the National Archives in Kew.
  86. Visited St. Catherine's House in London to find family records.
  87. Taken an online genealogy course.
  88. Consistently cite my sources.
    (You’re not going to check this, are you?)
  89. Visited a foreign country (i.e. one I don't live in) in search of ancestors.
  90. Can locate any document in my research files within a few minutes. (See 88)
  91. Have an ancestor who was married four times (or more).
  92. Made a rubbing of an ancestors gravestone.
    (That would be naughty)
  93. Followed genealogists on Twitter.
  94. Published a family history book (on one of my families).
  95. Learned of the death of a fairly close relative through research.
  96. Offended a family member with my research.
    (Not that I know of… perhaps I’m just insensitive…)
  97. Reunited someone with precious family photos or artifacts.
    (I hope she’s looking after it)
  98. Have a paid subscription to a genealogy database.
  99. Edited records on Trove.


* ‘dinkumised’ will immediately be understood by any dinkum Aussie to be derived from the word ‘dinkum’ - which the Australian Concise Oxford Dictionary, 2nd ed., 1992 defines as a colloquial expression meaning ‘genuine, right’. Australian’s will further understand that the genuine or rightness referred to is most frequently used in reference to the Australian-ness of the item being described. So, when Geniaus says she has ‘dinkumised’ the list she means that she has made it genuinely Australian.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Changing genealogy software – how it’s going

I recently mentioned that I’m changing genealogy software. Three weeks on, I’m still happy that I made the right decision.

The most surprising thing to me has been feeling like a newbie! I’m used to being very proficient in the software I use – not expert, but better than average. I knew there would be a learning curve but I didn’t anticipate the newbie feeling that came with it. I’ve got a lot of clicking on menu items and trying things out to do!

The transfer itself was reasonably smooth. I found that 232 people had been detached from their parents on import. I think this was due to a flaw in the GEDCOM export for some (but not all?!) of the people in my old database. Fortunately I had an error listing which told me who the people affected were, and their parent families. It took me about 1.5 hours to link everyone up again. That was not how I wanted to spend my time, but not the end of the world, either.

That was the only unexpected hitch, and the most serious one. The other hitches were all expected…

My main challenges now include:

  • Deciding how to handle all the witnesses to other people’s events. Genbox had a “witness” feature, Family Historian doesn’t, so I will have to re-input that information… but how? For now I’m taking my time about it, reading up on forum posts and other internet discussion to see how people handle witnesses in software without “witness” features before I commit to an approach.
    Any comments on how others do this would be welcome.
  • Adding details back into the source information. In most cases all the critical information transferred, but there are a few instances – mostly references to BDM index entries – where the detail, such as it was, didn’t seem to come over.
  • Hooking up all my multimedia properly. This isn’t the fault of my software, I’ve obviously rearranged things without telling my database about it! Broken links are a bit more obvious in Family Historian and to some extent can be batch fixed. Again, I’m taking my time about this and trying things out before I rush in.
  • Correcting errors in my information. Again, these are clearly not the fault of my software. With a slightly different view I’m spotting little errors that, I guess, used to be like part of the furniture to me.

The best surprise about Family Historian is its amazing capacity to query your data. I knew that its querying was good when I bought it, but as I’ve played with it more I’ve been thrilled with its ability to set up complex queries that run in a flash. I’m also realising just how customisable many of its other features are.

So yes, there was a little pain but I think the gain has been worth it.