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    In every family, someone ends up with “the stuff.” It is the goal of The Family Curator to inspire, enlighten, and encourage other family curators in their efforts to preserve and share their own family treasures.

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    Tuesday
    Aug062013

    Archiving JPG Scans and Photos from Your Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner, Digital Camera, and Mobile Phone

    Nebraska summer

    Nebraska Summer
    JPG 614 KB vs. TIFF 9.2 MB

    It's no coincidence that compact mobile scanning devices produce only JPG files. Whether you are using a Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner, a cell phone camera, smartphone app, wand scanner, or point-and-shoot digital , the resulting digital file is a JPG image file. 

    JPG files use compression to keep the overall file size small so that more images can fit on a storage card or hard drive. Small portable devices like the Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner and digital cameras need this kind of high-capacity storage. The Flip-Pal is completely battery-powered and saves scanned images to a small SD card, probably like the one in your digital camera. The included 2 MB SD card will hold about 900 scans at 600 dpi resolution. That's a lot of photos in a very small space.

    JPG vs. TIFF

    In the world of digital imaging, JPG is a hero because the file format can compress an image to save space. This compression makes it possible to email a photo, send a file for printing, or post pictures to Pinterest or Facebook. But every time a JPG file is Saved, a bit of the information within the file is lost. Hence, JPG files are known as lossy files. For the average photo that is opened a saved a few times, the image loss is probably undetectable to the average eye. But when a photo is opened, edited, and saved repeatedly, the image can become almost unusable.

    It doesn't matter if the JPG image originated in your digital camera, your wand scanner, or on your smartphone, the JPG file will degrade with repeated Saves. How many? I tried to correct a poor quality digital photo over several sessions with my photo editing software; after more than a dozen attempts the image became blotchy and filled with pixellated artifacts. 

    Professional archivists and photographers have always had more demanding goals than consumers. They want to preserve original materials, and recommend using TIFF loss-less file format for archiving images. Unfortunately, TIFF files can be huge, and even with the current low price of terabyte storage, TIFF files are impractical for sharing and storing on portable devices. 

    In the world of digital photography, the equivalent of TIFF format files is RAW, another very-large file that requires some amount of post-photograph developing. Most family photographers don't need or want to learn to "shoot RAW."

    What Genealogists Want

    Family historians want it all. We want digital files we can

    • share with friends and family
    • post on websites, social media and sharing sites
    • print at our local big box store
    • edit and use in digital photo albums and scrapbooks
    • include in video slideshows and presentations

    AND, We want to create these digital files

    • without power cables
    • without computer cables
    • without a lot of fuss
    • wherever we happen to be at the moment

    My experience with that damaged photo taught me to use a simple workaround so I will never lose a JPG file again. Here's what I learned:

    Three Solutions

    The best advice we have today offers three easy solutions to preserving digital images for the future. The one you choose should depend on your time, funds, and personal goals. 

    TIFF is the archival gold-standard. Try to scan heirloom photos and documents in TIFF.

    When you don't have the option of TIFF, don't despair, remember C-A-N:

    C - Convert your JPG to TIFF and save all TIFF files in an Archive Folder.

    Tip: Use the same filename for both JPG and TIFF files. The .tif extension will remind you that this large, loss-less file is your Digital Master Image. If you need to open it for editing, the TIFF version will not degrade when saved.

    When you need a JPG version for email, editing, or another project, you will need to Export or Save As JPG.

    A - Archive a JPG copy of the original file and save this new JPG in an Archive Folder.

    Make it a Rule never to open the Archive JPG unless the original file is damaged or lost.

    Tip: Use a common root filename for both files --

    smith-john_1916_marriage.jpg (for the original file)

    smith-john_1916_marriageDM.jpg (for the Digital Master copy in your Archive Folder)

    N - Use a Nondestructive photo editor.

    Some photo editing programs never modify the original file. You can ALWAYS revert back to the original, even after repeated cropping, touch-ups, and enhancing. Look for this feature in your current program; not all photo editors are non-destructive.

    Popular nondestructive photo editing software includes Google PicasaApple iPhoto, Apple Aperture, and Adobe Lightroom. These programs handle files differently, but the original image is preserved.

    Go Ahead - Create JPG Images

    All this means that you CAN have the convenience of mobile scanning and photography and the security of a digital archive. In fact, mobile devices can help you easily build your own family history digital archive.

    When capturing images on your camera, scanner, or mobile phone, always use the highest quality and move the images to your computer hard drive for file renaming before backing up files to the Cloud and/or an external hard drive. 

    Flip-Pal Summer Sale

    The Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner is the only fully-portable scanner that features a unique, gentle flat-bed operation for digitizing fragile family photos, documents and heirlooms. It's really two scanners in one: a traditional glass flat-bed scanner with flip-down cover and a unique see-thru scanner for digitizing oversize and awkward items.

    The see-thru feature is especially helpful for capturing images from photo albums and bound books. Remove the scanner cover, flip the scanner, and position the device to scan your item.

    Use the C-A-N method to add your image to your family history digital archive.

    Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner bundles are on sale this summer. Get ready for your family reunion and the upcoming holiday season. Save $30 on the Flip-Pal mobile scanner Picture Keeper Bundle! Coupon code: SAS725

     

    P.S.: I bought my Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner over three years ago and have used it for all kinds of digitizing projects. It's not my only scanner, but it's certainly the most fun to use! Yes, I am an Affiliate; I like it that much!

    Wednesday
    Jul312013

    The GRIP Report: Vol. 2. No. 2 Photo Collage

     

    Not-so-Wordless Wednesday -- Photos from the Genealogical Institute of Pittsburgh 2013.

    Top Row, from left -- Convent cemetery, La Roche College, campus tower.

    Middle Row -- Class Photo, Determining Kinship Reliably with the GPS, Dr. Thomas W. Jones Instructor

    Bottom Row, from left -- Dr. Jones with Denise Levenick, Lecturers Noreen Manzella and Cathi Desmarais, evening lecture with Angela McGhie.

    Monday
    Jul292013

    Heads Up! More GeneaFiction On the Way from Steve Robinson, Author of In the Blood

    Steve robinson

    Fans of Jefferson Tayte will be happy to know that the American genealogist will be back next spring with more family history sleuthing in Great Britain. Author Steve Robinson let the word out recently via Twitter that he is planning another past-narrative adventure for Tayte, and it's my guess that the fourth novel in the series will also be set in Great Britain.

    In answer to my email query about the new release, Steve would only say:

    . . . it will have a past and present narrative again this time, much like with To the Grave in that it will be told from a single point of view from a woman, this time in the Edwardian era.  It will also be linked to some true events from the period. . .

    Of course, the English setting makes it great fun for the reader, because we can well-imagine J.T.'s inner voices as he tries to conquer his fear of flying to  move forward with his research "across the pond."  If you haven't met Tayte yet, summertime may be the perfect time to catch up with the storyline. But, also know that each of the novels is a also great stand-alone read.

     In the Blood   introduced Jefferson Tayte, a professional American genealogist who is sent to England by a wealthy client to track down the truth behind a family mystery. Tayte discovers more problems than undecipherable handwriting or misplaced records, he finds an entire legacy founded on deception. And, of course, J.T.'s meddling puts him in the middle of a dangerous situation. Read my review of In the Blood and my exclusive interview with author Steve Robinson here:

    Book Review: In the Blood Genea Fiction and Exclusive Interview with Steve Robinson

    Within a few months of its release, In the Blood was selected by Amazon UK as one of the "Best Books of 2011" and has gone on to be a 'Kindle Customer Favourite' on both sides of the Atlantic.

    J.T.'s adventures continue in To the Grave (Jefferson Tayte Genealogical Mystery) , a poignant story of love and family relationships revealed through the narrative set in England of the 1940's and the present day. Real-life genealogists challenged with adoption research will recognize some of the problems J.T. encounters as he attempts to reunite his client with his birth mother.

    To the Grave was awarded the Family Tree Magazine 'Seal of Approval' in June 2012 and recommended by Goodreads and the Kindle Users Forum.

     The Last Queen of England  , Robinson's most recent novel in the series was published last fall, and quickly moved to the top of the Kindle book charts. The ebook was followed by the paperback edition and selected as a UK Amazon Kindle Forum Book of the Month for February 2013. 

    Described as "the ultimate heir hunt," I found The Last Queen of England to be a fast-paced thriller in the style of the Da Vinci Code with a genealogical twist. Tayte is visiting in England when his best friend is murdered, and Tayte becomes the killer's next target. It's hard to put down this book; plan for a late night as you near the hair pulling conclusion.

    Catch up with J.T. this summer, and be ready for No. 4 in the Jeffereson Tayte Genealogical Crime Mystery Series.

    Read More About Author Steve Robinson

    Steve generously joined me at The Family Curator for two interviews last year:

    A Chat With Steve Robinson About The Last Queen of England

    Exclusive Interview with Steve Robinson, Author of the Genealogical Crime Mystery Series

    Visit Steve Robinson website for more. All three books are now available in eBook or paperback editions.

           

     

    Wednesday
    Jul242013

    The GRIP Report Vol. 2 No. 1: Hit the Ground Running

    Angela Packer McGhie, evening presenter at GRIP

    Jet-lag just "doesn't work" here at the Genealogical Institute of Pittsburgh. Attendees converged at La Roche College Sunday afternoon and were in the classrooms early Monday morning for the first sessions. I wasn't the only one who traveled across time zones to get here. The daily conference newsletter reported that genealogists came from 34 states and one foreign country:

    • Pennsylvania: 38
    • Ohio: 15
    • New Jersey: 10
    • Maryland: 9
    • Virginia, Indiana: 8 each
    • Colorado, Massachusetts, New York: 7 each
    • Washington: 7
    • Michigan: 5
    • Texas: 4
    • Delaware, Georgia, Ilinois, Minnesota, West Virginia: 3 each
    • Arizona, California, Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Missouri, South Carolina, Wisconsin: 2 each
    • Italy, Arkansas, Florida, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, North Carolina, NewHampshire, Tennessee, Vermont: 1 each

    The institute sessions this year include six courses taught by a roster of outstanding genealogy educators. I'm taking Dr. Tom Jones inagural course based on his new book, Mastering Genealogical Proof. 

    Genealogy Camp

    I've heard a few people refer to GRIP as Genealogy Camp, and it does have a bit of the Camp atmosphere because of the small group setting with 150 students. The classrooms, dorms, and cafeteria are all situated together at LaRoche -- convenient and congenial. But the atmosphere is more like graduate school, with "focus and discipline" (as Dr. Jones notes) as the goal.

    That is, except for MOVIE NIGHT! I remember those much-anticipated evenings at summer camp, and Tuesday evening, GRIP directors Elissa Scalise Powell and Deborah Lichtner Deal arranged a special showing of the season premier of Who Do You Think You Are? following the evening genealogy presentation by Angela Packer McGhie.

    It was great fun to follow Kelly Clarkson on her family history journey and watch her reaction to learning about her ancestors. But, the biggest round of applause was reserved for GRIP instructor and WDYTYA researcher Josh Taylor. You don't always get to go to camp with a movie star!

    Sunday
    Jul212013

    Orange County Summers ca. 1960

    What's Are You Doing for Summer Vacation?

    La habra library

    I remember when the big question during the final weeks of the school year was always the same, "So, whatareyoudoingforsummervacation?"

    "Nuthin'"

    My friends were carted off on exotic camping vacations to Yellowstone, or spent weeks visiting relatives in Omaha. Hardly anyone I knew went to summer school; it seemed mostly for kids who had to make up classes after they were out for weeks with mono, or for anyone who had the misfortune to flunk chemistry.

    Summer in Orange County, California was hot, smoggy, and wonderfully dull. My mom planned just enough activities to keep us out of trouble (so she thought), and the rest of our days were spent playing with friends, reading, and inventing stuff in the backyard. With four years between us, my sister may remembers those days differently, but I loved the gift of freedom and the challenge "Girls, go find something to do."

    B-O-R-E is a Four Letter Word

    Summers were never boring. We spent days building elaborate Barbie houses and then whined because we ran out of time to play with them. On hot afternoons, we kneeled in the dirt along the shady side of the house and collected iron filings. What do you do with iron filings? I don't know, but they're cool.

    As a pre-teen I babysat for neighbors, ironed hankies for pocket money, and was the driving force behind a variety of start-up businesses. We sold lemonade, lemons, and avocados. We printed out a newspaper using an office mimeograph master and a tray of Knox gelatin. We put on plays, talent shows, and musicals.

    The 60's were good years to keep teenagers busy. I have more memories of psychedelic sunsets at scout camp than I do of concerts and music. Our groovy skits provided campfire entertainment and the best camp crafts were candles and love-beads.

    The activities changed with the years, from iron filings to scout camp to camp counselor, but one annual event remained as popular when I was 15 as when I was 5 -- the public library summer reading program.

    Every June the public library promoted summer reading with a themed program filled with contests and activities. It was the best part of summer for a nerdy girl who loved to read. The only problem was the 10 book limit on how many titles you could check out. Ten books is hardly enough when you are whipping through the Bobbsey Twins, Cherry Ames, and Nancy Drew series.

    I haven't collected iron filings in a long time, but I still see summer as a time to try something new and to read my way through the heat. I mark the end of the school year with my own list of summertime goals, although goals is too business-like to suit the mood of summer. Dreams would be better. Summertime is dream-time. A time to master a new skill, discover a new talent, or read a new book.

    This summer I'm working my way through a stack of new books, learning to make my step-mom's Texas fried chicken, and working through Dr. Tom Jones' Mastering Genealogical Proof. Oh, and I'm going returning to the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh (GRIP), or Genealogy Camp as I've heard it called.

    "So, whatareyoudoingforsummervacation?"

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