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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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    Entries in tech (2)

    Monday
    Feb062012

    RootsTech for the Sorta-Geeky

    Although attending the RootsTech Technology Genealogy Conference was the reason I went to Salt Lake City last week, I found that the event itself was only part of my total conference experience. Some of the most rewarding sessions I attended were casual meetings in the hotel lobby, sharing a meal around a table, or trading ideas in the hallway. I tried to attend several presentations, I really did, but many were "above my pay grade" and a few were even standing-room-only.

    RootsTech is billed as a "cutting edge conference" with "something for everyone," and the scope of classes attempted to take in all skill levels of genealogists and tech users. At my house, I am the IT Department. I install and upgrade software, try to fix network glitches, provide instruction, and generally stand between frustrated users and our tech equipment. But, alas, I am not a programmer. I don't speak C+, don't know NoSQL, Neo4J or Graph API. Those words kinda scare me. This made selecting sessions a bit difficult. I figured right off, that if the session title was in a foreign language, I probably should avoid it. Later, I discovered I had missed some good topics that I might have understood. Ratz.

    I had also hoped to find someone at RootsTech working on a solution to crowdsource personal transcription projects. Last year I stumbled on an entire movement working to develop software for projects like Transcribe Bentham and Papers of the War Department. I didn't realize that I had been employing crowdsourcing four years ago when I enlisted my high school english students to help transcribe Arline's letters. . . but that is exactly what it was. Each person who indexes items at FamilySearch, annotates a document at Fold3, or adds information at FindAGrave is participating in a crowdsourcing project.

    Ben Brumfield is a genealogist who has developed an open-source program that will allow individuals to collaborate on personal transcription projects. It's called From the Page and has tremendous potential for family historians looking to advance a personal archive project. Other crowdsourcing programs like Scripto and T-Pen seem targeted for specific projects such as medieval manuscripts or academic archive transcriptions. Ben has plans to release a version of From the Page tailor-made for projects like mine, and I can't wait to see it live.

    Meanwhile, I checked out the RootsTech exhibitors looking for anyone who might have a similar feature to offer, and discovered the new Discovery Stream at Mocavo.com that might work for this use. This is an innovative idea that allows users to easily upload material. What do you say, Developers?

    When I wasn't sleuthing in the Exhibit Hall or attending sessions, I was working on a few of my own research problems, namely The Case of the Disappearing Husband and Finding Fanny. I made a bit of progress on both tangles, stay tuned.

    Friday
    Jan282011

    Remember to Label Your Gear

    I learned the hard way last year that there was a Very Good Reason we had to label our stuff for camp. Mom always said I was a bad camper and never came home with everything I packed. I guess I haven't changed much because while attending the NGS Conference in Salt Lake City last spring, i managed to lose my flash drive at the Family History Library.

    It's the way of things that I didn't realize it was gone until the next time I went to the library and wanted to save some scanned images. Suddenly, I couldn't find it. The helpful staff directed me to the Lost and Found desk where the Sherlock Holmes of lost data drives brought out a plastic shoe box (yes, an entire shoe box) filled with orphaned USB sticks.

    This young man had opened each drive looking for identifying information. Of course, all I could say was that my drive would have files with "Winsor" or "Kansas" in the title. . . maybe. Fortunately, I must have been the only one with those names because he was able to pull out a drive and double-check with me to be sure it was the correct one.

    While we had the drive open, he showed me how to make a simple Text Edit file which would identify the drive when (note, I am not saying "if") I lost it again.

    Here are three ways to help you find a wayward flash drive:

    1. Rename the flash drive with your last name.

    Labeled Flashdrive.png

    2. Use your PC or Mac simple text editor to open a new document. Give it a few simple lines with your name and contact information, and name the file something like IF FOUND. It's a good idea to use your mobile phone number or email; something that you can easily check when you are out of town.

    Lev FlashDrive.png

    3. Stick a printed label on the outside of the drive. I print labels with my P-Touch Label Maker stick them on everything from my netbook (lost that one in the airport screening) to flash drives.

    With the Roots Tech Conference fast approaching, attendees are starting to think about their tech tools and gadgets for the event. My friend Joan Miller at Luxegen has started her packing list, and I am sure she will have everything neatly labeled. I wonder if Joan was a Girl Scout?