Where Were You on September 11, 2001?

I was at work at the MIT Media Lab when one of the students in my research group shouted to me from her office next door that her husband, who was in Brooklyn, had just seen a plane hit the World Trade Center.

“Oh my God, Missy, it just happened again!”

Then I knew.

I think we all knew.

I remember that it was just a beautiful, crisp, clear morning in the Boston area. Just like it was in NYC. Just like it was in Washington, D.C.

The frantic stories started pouring in. Planes were unaccounted for. There were reports some were headed for Capitol Hill (where many of my friends worked). For the White House. The Pentagon was hit.

The Pentagon was where my grandparents met.

I couldn’t reach my friends in D.C. I did, eventually, reach my grandmother in Alexandria, Va. She was quite distraught. I so wished I could have been closer to my family on that day.

A former coworker called me in the midst of the chaos because “she wanted to hear the voice of reason.” I’m afraid she didn’t find it in me that morning. By that point, I was panicking too.

MIT closed early that day, but I did decide to stay at work. What were all of those students to think if all of the staff abandoned them? Besides, it was comforting to stay and talk with others who had witnessed the horrible images that were replayed over and over on the television.

When I did eventually make my way home, what struck me was the quiet. I lived under one of the usual flight paths for Logan Airport at the time. But not a single plane was flying.

It was so quiet.

The above is what I remember about that horrific day. I also remember the colossal amount of goodwill that poured in from across the globe in the days that ensued. I hope we never have to face such a dark day again, but I was very impressed by how everyone came together afterwards to help each other recover and heal.

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!

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.

Happy 101 Award

Thanks to Gini at Ginisology for sending me a Happy 101 award — what a nice surprise! Per the award’s rules here are my 10 things that make me happy:

1) Finding an elusive ancestor.

2) Cooking something that comes out well

3) Making and sharing memories with family and friends.

4) Puppies and kittens

5) A mug of Irish Breakfast Tea

6) Helping others

7) Chocolate

8) Taking photos, especially outside.

9) Scrapbooking

10) Water, be it a creek, a tide pool or the ocean.

And, here are 10 other bloggers whom I feel should receive this award.

Desperately Seeking Surnames

We Tree


Family Tree Writer


Lessons from My Ancestors

Tonia’s Roots

The Family Curator

Tina’s Genealogy Wishlist

Kinfolk News

All of the above are active members of a blogging community that I am happy to be a part of!