Follow Friday: Relatively Curious About Genealogy

One of the presentations that I attended at RootsTech was led by Tami Glatz of the Relatively Curious About Genealogy blog. Her presentation was called “Cool Tools to Enhance Your Online Research.” One of the tools she covered was her very own — her Internet Genealogy toolbar. I just downloaded it myself, but it looks very promising in terms of the links and resources it contains. I encourage all of you to check out her blog and the toolbar, if you haven’t already. The toolbar can be downloaded from a link at the very top of her blog. Enjoy!

RootsTech Redux

I’ve been spending the evening cleaning up my previous posts about RootsTech, which I wrote on-scene using an iPad with limited skill/ability to do things like link links and include images. Here’s the full list, in case you’d like to revisit the posts or you are seeing them for the first time:

RootsTech, Day 1: Toto, we’re not at FGS anymore.

RootsTech, Day 2.0: “Genealogy is about the experience and not proper citation format. People don’t keep doing things that make them miserable.”

RootsTech, Day 2.1: Digital Images for Genealogists

RootsTech, Day 2.2: Digitization of Irish Records

RootsTech, Day 2.3: Still more from Day 2!

RootsTech, Day 3.0: Notes from the founder of Internet Archive

RootsTech, Day 3.1: Photography Brings Ancestors to Life

RootsTech, Day 3.2: Virtual Presentations How-To

Random RootsTech Photos: exactly as advertised

I had such an excellent time at this conference. I love the chance to get to know the bloggers with whom I correspond online and I learned a lot at the various sessions. The chance to use the legendary Family History Library was fabulous.

This event had the vibe of the larger library association conferences I’ve been known to frequent. Rock music was used to introduce the keynote speakers. It also had its very own touches that really made it standout. There were recording booths in the vendor hall that bloggers could use to record video interviews. Microsoft set up a gaming area with Kinect video games, pool tables and more. All three keynote sessions were broadcast live on the Internet along with several breakout sessions. It was rather unreal.

Tweeting and blogging was encouraged and even expected — live tweets were featured on the conference homepage. Developers hung out with genealogists and brainstormed. Bending the rules and creative thinking were the norm.

It’s amazing that this event came together after only seven months. And 3,000 people came. 3,000! Some from as far away as Ireland and Australia.

I’m so excited that they’ve already picked the dates for next year: February 2-4, 2012. You can bet I’ll be there!

RootsTech, Day 3.2 – Virtually There

The last official breakout session that I attended was a roundtable on how to host virtual presentations. Thomas MacEntee led the session, which featured several familiar faces on stage and familiar voices joining virtually.

The session covered everything from what technologies to use (GoToMeeting was mentioned several times and was used to facilitate this particular session) to how to prep for such a presentation both as a speaker and as an attendee.

This type of presentation has become more and more popular in other spheres, but genealogy societies have struggled to offer such sessions either due to a lack of know-how, a lack of funds or a fear that it will leave out less tech-savvy members.

The message from the speakers was that virtual presentations are doable on any budget (partner with a venue like a library if your society doesn’t have the technology) and can be held in such a way that members who want to attend in-person can do so.

There are many reasons for holding virtual presentations–it can make the society accessible to far-flung members and can attract speakers who are unable to travel to the society’s location.

To quote Lisa Louise Cooke, who took part in the panel, “the genealogy landscape is going to change.” Societies need to step up and change with the times or risk becoming irrelevant.

RootsTech, Day 3.1 – Photography Brings Ancestors to Life

The first breakout session I attended today was “Advanced Technology Brings Ancestors to Life” by Patricia Moseley Van Skaik of the Public Library of Cincinnati & Hamilton County. She focused her talk on a panoramic daguerreotype image of the Cincinnati waterfront taken in 1848. It is considered to be the oldest photograph of urban America, including steamboats, storefronts, and more.

You can learn more about the image here.

The Cincinnati daguerreotype panorama is actually pieced together from eight separate images of the shoreline. The assembled image is more than seven feet long.

Here is another site with information about the image.

Many of the buildings in the image are no longer there, but researchers studied the photos in 1947, when many were still standing. At the time, they used magnifying glasses to see leaves on the trees, determining the season, and used other clues to determine that the year the photo was taken was 1848 (evidence of drought, etc., confirmed this date). Names of the boats in the water also helped date the photo.

Fast forward to today and Eastman House made hi-res images of the daguerreotypes that allowed for closer inspection. They stitched the images together to create the panorama available at the links above.

They didn’t stop there. Using microscopic images, they were able to determine it was 1:50 p.m. by zooming in on a clock tower in the photo. They discovered signs on the buildings and were able to read them. The level of detail available upon close inspection of the original images is quite impressive.

Taking the information from the signs, researchers then turned to census records, deeds, city directories and more from that time to learn more about the store owners and their businesses. They also learned about some of the residents of the buildings as well.

Enhanced images and detailed information will be online later this year. The crew working on this project hope to hang the daguerreotype for public display once again. It has been down for conservation work.

Using CrossOver to Get RootsMagic Working on a Mac

I waffled over purchasing RootsMagic recently because I really wanted the software, but I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to use it on my Mac laptop, where I do most of my personal genealogy research. After talking with the RootsMagic staff at their FGS10 booth though, I was informed that a program called Wine could make running RM on a Mac possible.

I visited the Wine website and quickly became flustered. Luckily, there is a neatly packaged version for newbs like me, created and maintained by CodeWeavers. It does cost money to permanently install this easy-to-use version of the software, but I’ve tried the trial version and am sold after getting both it *and* RM4 up and running on my Mac in less than 15 minutes.

The process to get them both working was quite simple. I clicked on the Try Now button here. Then I filled out the form and clicked on the resulting link to download Crossover. After the .dmg file downloaded, I clicked it to install per usual. After it installed and launched, I was prompted to load the installation CD for the Windows software I was trying to run.

I popped in the RM4 CD and Crossover told me it didn’t recognize the software but that I could continue to install it as “Other Software.” This I did and before I knew it, Windows-esque install screens were popping up, prompting me through the process to install RM4. I was a little weirded out when I was asked whether I wanted to install RootsMagic on my C: drive (does my Mac have a C: drive?), but I kept on rolling as if I were truly on a PC and before I knew it, RM4 had launched!

Now I’m following the tips in the RM4 guidebook I also bought at FGS10 and everything has run super smooth. I hope this helps anyone else who wants to use this software but also has a Mac!

52 Weeks to a Better Genealogy — Week 34: Flickr

Here is the challenge this week:

Week 34: Browse Flickr (http://www.flickr.com/). This is a photo-sharing web site allowing users to upload their photos, tag them with specific keywords and share them with the public if desired. Images pertaining to your genealogy research interests may be on this site. For example, one user has photographed and compiled a set of Texas Historical Markers (http://www.flickr.com/photos/texashistoricalmarkers/sets/). Experiment wi…th Flickr for this week’s challenge. Use different search terms related to locations, surnames and cemeteries. Notice how people label their photos. If you have a genealogy blog, describe what you find, or how this tool can benefit genealogy researchers.

I’ve been a Flickr user for quite a while and often will post scans of my family photos on there. You can tag photos with your surnames, place names and other information so that others who share these details with you can find you easily. You also can tag people in your photos and add them to a map. A cousin found me after finding one of my photos.

Other times, I’ll upload the images I’ve used in my blog posts and link back to my blog from Flickr. Using tagging as mentioned above, it’s another way to drive traffic to my blog and to find others with common interests.

APG PMC & Twitter

I am just back at my sister’s house after my first day of genealogy conferencing here in Knoxville at the Association of Professional Genealogists Professional Management Conference. The sessions were informative, I got to see an old friend and met several more that I had only known online up until this point, in addition to making new acquaintances.

I had a grand ol’ time Tweeting who I was sitting next to and what sessions were up next until after lunch. That’s when a request was made to refrain from texting or Tweeting as each of the afternoon speakers was introduced.

What a disappointment! I had heard this was an issue at last year’s APG conference too, and thought that perhaps they’d opened up to all the benefits Twitter can bring to a conference. I know that of which I speak, having run the PR for the past two Association of Independent Information Professionals conferences.

I do not know with whom the decision lies to ban or discourage Twitter at the APG events, and thus have not been able to find out why they don’t approve of its usage, but want to address some of what I think may be their concerns here:

First of all, Tweeting will not discourage attendance at a conference — yes, some audience members may tweet a key point here or there from a speaker, but this is a filter through which potential future conference attendees will become interested in the conference. Attendees are not going to be able to give away any secrets 140 characters at a time. They are going to provide free advertisements about the great sessions and speakers your event attracts, which could net new attendees in the future.

Secondly, it will not disrupt the session. Go ahead and admonish folks to turn down the sound on their phones to prevent beeps and rings from interrupting the speaker. If I were a speaker, I would ask my audience beforehand who is Tweeting. That way, I’ll know (or hope) that someone looking at their phone or laptop instead of me while I’m talking is perhaps Tweeting what I have to say. That’s instant gratification for a speaker — an audience member finds a tidbit interesting enough to share with their online followers.

Twitter is a necessary tool to use in event planning and marketing these days and the best part is, that your audience can do most of the work for you. If you set up a hashtag to promote a conference before the event, buzz can be generated before the first speaker takes to the podium. The conference organizers need only sit back and watch as attendees Tweet about what they’re enjoying about the conference and the takeaways they found most valuable. Yes, some may complain about the food or that the session rooms are too cold — great! That’s instant feedback you can act upon to improve the conference right then and there or at least to plan for in the future.

I can understand that event organizers may fear losing control of the message and content of the conference by allowing Twitter and other social media activity. There are proactive steps you can take to manage this, however. Firstly, set up that hashtag and advertise it early so that all your attendees include it on their posts. Not only can their readers follow along then, but so can you. Second, many organizations advertise a social media policy for their events, including guidelines on what’s appropriate to Tweet and post. There are other bloggers, out there (ahem, Amy Coffin), who can speak to this better than I. Third, monitor the posts about your event — retweet the stellar ones, revel in your successes and plan to fix anything about which your audience members may have complained (and then advertise that you’ve done so). Create the impression that you’re on the ball, not behind the times.

Using Gist to Keep Up With It All

Recently, an Internet meme began on the topic of what kinds of technology we use to get things done. I’m not sure how comfortable I am sharing all the gadgets and settings that I’m using, but it has spurred me to write this post about a really neat service I just found out about.

Sample Gist Profile Page

I’m using Gist to keep track of my contacts these days. One of the most valuable aspects to Gist is its ability to track a variety of web content by  your contacts. This could include articles they write, blog posts, tweets, etc. All of these items appear in one place when you view a contact on Gist. This is particularly handy for keeping track of contacts with multiple online identities (*ahem* Thomas MacEntee).

Gist Dashboard Highlighting One Contact

You can connect Gist with Gmail, Outlook and Lotus Notes to keep track of the folks you email the most. You also can link it to your Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter accounts and it will start tracking your connections on those services too. In addition, you can upload a .csv file with contacts who may not be covered by the services above.

Gist Contacts Tagged with "genealogy"

The result when you are done is a one-stop shop for finding out what all your contacts are up to — from Tweets, to blogs to articles to Facebook posts. I’m going to start using it to keep track of the blogs I follow.

By connecting Gist with your email account, it also can help you track your current conversations with each contact. Alternatively, if you haven’t heard from someone in a while, you can look them up on Gist to see what you’ve missed.

I’ve set up two separate profiles on Gist — one for my genealogy business (to help me keep track of blogs and my clients) and one for my work at the University of Maryland (mainly to help me keep up with my press contacts).

You can customize how you view your contacts by tagging and rating them. Gist can store email addresses, phone numbers and multiple links associated with each contact.

You can create a public profile and then start connecting with other Gist members as well. I have not gotten this far yet, but assume it would lend yet another layer of depth to the amount of information this tool can offer to you.

There are several tutorials available on using Gist features. I recommend checking out the Gist blog and Twitter feed if you’re interested in learning more. You should read their privacy policy too, if you have concerns about giving access to your information.

Here’s my public profile on Gist: http://gist.com/baysideresearch