RootsTech 2012: Day 1

Day One of RootsTech got off to a great start with breakfast with Denise Levenick, Footnote Maven and Jenna Mills.

The opening session included reps from Google speaking on new search capabilities for genealogy that got everyone excited. I’m sure my fellow bloggers will cover this in more detail.

The first topical session I attended was on Mining Newspaper Archives, presented by Tara Carlisle and Kathleen Murray. You can view their slides at goo.gl/6rt7D

The session started out with a whiplash-inducing overview of metadata and the digitization process.

Interesting takeaway: in the 1990s, standards for microfilm were finally adopted; anything before that probably won’t be very good.

They focused on Chronicling America (newspaper directory, chroniclingamerica.loc.gov), which has lots of information about a publication. Especially helpful among the data is who is holding each publication.

The Portal to Texas History also was covered. This free resource allows you to search or browse by county. Use the calendar view to choose a specific date. I can’t wait to use this to search for my Bexar County ancestors.

In the session on Using Advanced Photographic Techniques to Recover Content from Damaged Documents, presenter Jack Reese gave a fascinating look at how to salvage information from burned or water-damaged documents. It was great to see that there is hope.

The talk started with a brief overview of NARA 1571, guidelines for paper documents i.e. maximum temperature of 65 degrees F and 35-45% humidity. Keep documents at least 3 inches off ground and not below grade. Storing documents in a room with vinyl tiles or carpet subjects them to off-gassing and fumes, which is a no-no. Likewise, unpainted concrete walls create dust.

By working with the non-visible spectrum of light, researchers can view documents in a way not possible with the naked eye, or even most cameras and scanners. You can use a filter on a camera to show reactions that are not in the normal spectrum in order to see missing text. For instance, shooting fluorescent light onto a document can cause faded ink to emit photons that can be seen using a special camera and lens. Astronomy-related cams will have the right type of filter for doing this kind of work.

The speaker also discussed forensic document analysis, like that on CSI, but this has its drawbacks. The devices are small and really don’t accommodate large documents, resolution is limited and it is expensive.

So, he and his colleagues set out to build their own gadget, a document-restoration camera that is a combo of a specialty camera, lens, filters, and lighting.

He showed us examples of inspecting documents using infrared and UV examination. It was very cool to see how the writing is revealed!

This type of work requires an investment in equipment and some learning, but this can be done at home.

The final session I attended today was on The Power of Evernote. I have used Evernote before to keep track of citations, but that’s about it. Tevya Washburn and Kurt Francom taught us how to create Notebooks, tags, and use the browser extension to clip from web.

One of the great advantages of using Evernote is that if you clip from a page, it will be available to you even if the page goes away online. Text is searchable within Evernote, even if it’s in a clip.

The interface is slightly different for tablet users, but Jenna Mills of SeekingSurnames said you can still email clips from your iPad to your Evernote account.

The speakers suggested journaling in Evernote and tagging your daily posts for a summarized history by individual, for instance.

One of the best tie-in apps they discussed was If This Then That, which can even pull in Gmail emails and blog posts.

Go to fiddlerstudios.com/evernote for the presentation, links and more.

That’s it for now! Time for dinner and a comedy show!

Association of Professional Genealogists Professional Management Conference 2012

Today was the 2012 Association of Professional Genealogists Professional Management Conference in Salt Lake City. I had a great time seeing old friends and learning at the sessions.

The first session speaker was J. Mark Lowe. He spoke on creating an advanced research plan.

Lowe covered a lot of ground, including recommendations for several products to help you collaborate and report back to clients. He mentioned LiveBinders.com to create a three-ring binder on the web that can be private or public with PDFs, web resources, notes, etc.

Another suggestion was Oneeko (one echo) to share with up to eight users. ScreencastOMatic allows you to record video from screen with audio, annotations and animations.

On the research side, one tip that struck me was to look for doctor journals for evidence of births, etc.

Next, I listened to Thomas MacEntee talk about giving virtual presentations. He had a ton of advice on everything from gadgets to services to dos and don’ts (as a presenter and as an audience).

The last presentation I attended was There’s an App for That by Laura Prescott. She had a great idea to use iMapMyWalk, which allows you to add photos to a map and can be handy for walking a cemetery.

She reminded us that the Ancestry app features those infamous leaves, which allow you to check out potential records related to your ancestors.

I definitely need to check out DocumentsToGo, which features many useful tools like word count and others. It looks very handy.

Finally, I downloaded Photoshop Express. It’s free! I had no idea!

I skipped the last session of the day (I was feeling antsy and decided to take a gym break). Then, I headed over to the Salt Palace to register for RootsTech and met up with a bunch of friends that I had heretofore only known online: Footnote Maven, Elyse Doerflinger, Russ Worthington and Denise Levenick (whom I had met briefly the day before). Kim Cotton joined us too. We all went out for a great dinner at PF Changs and then several of us hung out in the lobby of the Radisson, gabbing and having fun. I can’t wait to see more folks tomorrow as RootsTech gets underway!

My Take on Genealogy Conferences

The GeneaBloggers community is abuzz about conferences this week. It’s only within the past year and a half or so that I’ve been able to attend national and local conferences, but here are my observations:

I’ve been thrilled with the quality of the information presented at every conference I’ve attended so far. Our community members have so much to offer each other and I have had a very hard time picking which sessions to go to more often than not because there are usually several offered at the same time that I’d like to attend.

I am willing to travel far and wide if there is more to do beyond just attend the conference in the location where it is being held. I’ve not attended NGS yet because it hasn’t been held in a location where I either had friends or family to visit or where I could do research. I attended FGS last year in part because I could visit my sister in Knoxville at the same time. RootsTech has the draw of being in Salt Lake City where the Family History Library is located. I would love to go to FGS this upcoming September in Springfield, Ill., because I have family history there and could do research at the same time. Alas, the timing won’t work with my schedule this year.

At local Family History Conferences held by the LDS church, the use of social media hardly gets a mention. At FGS/APG last year, the organizers regrettably asked attendees to refrain from blogging, tweeting or even having laptops open during many of the presentations. RootsTech got it right. They had a hashtag that attendees could use to Tweet about the conference and openly embraced the use of social media. I hope other events soon follow suit.

As with any type of conference, the part I value most is meeting and hanging out with other attendees. I often joke that I would come to a conference without any sessions if I had still the chance to meet and talk with so many diverse and talented people. I make a point of scheduling meetings and meet-ups at nearly every break and meal during conferences. Those opportunities are not to be missed.

I would love to have the opportunity to attend portions of FGS and NGS remotely, since I can’t make either one this year. I’d even pay for the privilege, especially if sessions were archived and offered after the fact. RootsTech webcasted many of its sessions and those who couldn’t be there in person flocked to their computers so they could take part too. This made the social media interactions that much richer and I think encouraged many more attendees to make an effort to attend next year.

For those who struggle with what to do with all of the material you accumulate during a conference, you might want to check out a series of posts I did after surveying folks on what they do with everything after they get home.

Mostly Wordless Wednesday: Anyone Recognize This Flowering Tree?

One of my AIIP11 conference roommates and I happened upon this tree on the way back from Fort Vancouver. Most trees in the area had yet to pop their leaves, but this one was going bonkers. And look at the flowers!

It has a trunk and size like a crepe myrtle (@walnutresearch in the foreground):

Mystery flowering tree-bush-plant-thing in Vancouver, WA. Fellow conference-goer trying to smell one of the flowers to see if they smell like roses.

And waxy leaves like ??????:

And flowers like roses (but they don’t smell strongly):

AIIP11, Day 3

Day 3 of AIIP11 began with a panel discussion on using social media. Scott Brown, president-elect, discussed LinkedIn. I’m already using this site, but not to its full potential. Scott reminded me that I can use the Publications tool to include blog entries. There’s also a WordPress app I need to investigate. Finally, he discussed company pages. I did not even realize you could create those on LinkedIn. I may create one for that site, but I also will probably do one for Facebook, which is good if you have a locally focused business like I do, as he mentioned.

Next, Ellen Naylor, discussed blogging. I need to explore some of the resources she mentioned:
Social Media Examiner – make your blog social
Hubspot.com for statistics
Remarkablogger
Virginbloggernotes.com

Lark Birdsong talked about Twitter. I already use this extensively, but I got some good tidbits from her too:
Use Tweepi to reciprocate
What the Hashtag – I tried using this site yesterday and it seems to be gone… (UPDATE: Yep, it’s toast)
Twittradder.com

Next, Cindy Romaine, president of the Special Libraries Association, presented on SLA’s FutureReady initiative.

David Meerman Scott, the Roger Summit Award winner, delivered a lively talk on marketing and PR. He wrote “Real-Time Marketing & PR” and encouraged us to keep up with things as they happen. It’s okay to plan for the future, but don’t forget about today.

UPDATE 4/11: Egads! I forgot to mention one of the sessions. Current AIIP President Cynthia Hetherington presented on loving promoting yourself (well, both, actually). It was a super-funny presentation with lots of good tips. I arrived late to the session, sans iPad, and didn’t get a chance to take notes except by Tweet.

I played hooky during the last session to explore the local farmer’s market and pack for my flight home. Before heading to the conference gala, I attended a lovely soiree hosted by another AIIP member in her swanky suite. They even had a dining room table! I was quite jealous.

The gala was quite fun. I sat at David Meerman Scott’s table and he was interested to hear about the Friends Album project. I had really nice chats with fellow AIIP members Mary Doug Wright and Michelle Bate as well.

Unfortunately, I had to depart early this a.m. (Sunday) and am typing this from O’Hare airport as I await my connection to Baltimore. I can’t wait for the next AIIP conference in Indianapolis in 2012.

UPDATED: Did you miss Day 1 and Day 2?

AIIP11, Day 2

The second day of AIIP11 began with Sari De La Motte, who is a body language expert. She coached us on using effective breathing in our conversations with others, especially when delivering bad news. She had really interesting insights into human behavior. She counseled us to take a breath and consider your options before reacting to something. A very hard thing to learn, but I can see how it would help make difficult situations result in better outcomes.

Next, John McQuaig led a session on pricing. He had helpful advice for gaining insight from clients in order to better meet their needs.

After that, Mary Ellen Bates gave a talk on marketing. I liked her advice about establishing three goals for the year and tracking your success. Her one-day makeover advice regarding your online presence is very effective as well. I’ve seen the benefits of doing just that very recently.

There was a tips session in the evening where we discussed various topics in small groups for 30 minutes each. I joined discussions on participation-centered presentations (by Linda Stacy), e-newsletters (by Lorene Kennard) and working with non-profits (by Marge King). I learned a ton – this is one of my favorite parts of the conference.

Deschutes Hefe

Then it was time for fun. Some folks went on outings arranged by the conference organizers. I went into Portland with friends. We had an amazing dinner at Deschutes Brewery and ended the evening at Powell’s Books. I found the local-interest section and bought books on the Oregon Trail for my own genealogy research. I also found a book on the Alamo, which mentioned my ancestor John Smith.

Powell's Book Cart (Tormentum Malorum)

UPDATED: Recaps of Day 1 and Day 3 are also available.

AIIP11 Day 1

Tulips in Esther Short Park, Vancouver, WA.

Excellent first day here in Vancouver, WA. I started my day walking around Esther Short Park across from the hotel, taking pics. Thankfully, the promised rain held off and we had nice weather all day.

I attended a vendor training session on the new ProQuest interface for Dialog searching, which looks to be much more intuitive for Dialog newbies, but still has the old command line search capabilities for tried and true users. I want to start exploring the possibilities for genealogy research in its databases when all are online later this year. Bonus: met a potential client at this session.

Building at Fort Vancouver, WA.

Next was lunch with several attendees. Then, Lorene Kennard and I walked to Fort Vancouver to tour the historic site. I took lots of pics, which I will post later. Next, we met up with more friends for ice cream at a local gelato place.

Brownie and strawberry gelato from Dolce Gelato in Vancouver, WA.

Then, it was time to get ready for the poster session on topics from book publishing to Paypal to enewsletters. This was followed by the opening reception, where I met many conference first-timers and talked genealogy at length with the incoming editor of AIIP Connections. Oh yeah, we managed to find time to visit the hotel bar to try out the AIIP conference cocktail too.

The Silver Bullet: Absolut mandarin + Cointreau + lime juice, shaken + Chambord pour

What a great start to the conference. Can’t wait for the first full day tomorrow!

UPDATED: Read all about Day 2 and Day 3.