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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
    Jul212009

    Tech Tuesday – Setting Up a Genealogy Photo Workflow, Part 1

    Professional photographers call it a “workflow',” as a mom I just called it a “routine.” It’s the standard order of doing things that results in Getting Things Done.

    Lay out the school clothes, tuck them in bed, read a story, turn out the light, go to sleep. It just works. If you forget the school clothes, things don’t go so well in the morning. And woe to the parent who tries to skip the bedtime story. Routines work.

    A photography workflow can help any genealogist or family historian process a photo collection efficiently and carefully. After reading books and blogs, posting on numerous forums, and exchanging emails with dozens of photographers and archivists, I’ve come up with a photo workflow that works for me. . . today, at any rate.

    I have broken the workflow into separate activities; this works for me because I can process the photos in smaller chunks of time. I can scan or import depending on the time available, and still make progress toward completing the project.

    Supplies and Equipment Needed --

    computer
    flatbed scanner, (Epson Perfection V500)
    2 external hard drives, (MyBook)
    photographs
    white cotton gloves
    archival drop-front box 12 x 15-inch (for oversize photos)
    archival flip-top box  8 x 5-inch
    archival sleeves, 5 x 7-inch and 8 x 10-inch
    permanent ink pen, archival safe
    Adobe Lightroom2 software

    Part 1: Scanning Workflow

    Set up --

    1. Connect and turn on scanner to warm up
    2. Connect external hard drive
    3. Put on gloves
    4. Clean scanner glass with soft cloth
    5. Start scanner software: set for color scan, TIFF format, stored on external hard drive, file name + image number; check box to open folder after scanning [this is my confirmation that I have completed the scan]

    Note: for file name, I use a general name for my current archive [aak] plus the next number in my series [045]. I will edit names in Lightroom2 when I add metadata.

    Scanning --

    Note: I scan both sides of every photo, front first, then back [thanks for that tip, footnoteMaven!].

    1. Set resolution to 1200dpi, double-check TIFF file format
    2. Preview Scan front side of image; rotate image on Preview panel if needed
    3. Scan; folder will open showing new file image with name of filename-number [aak-045]. This may take a few minutes at 1200dpi.
    4. Turn over photo
    5. Change settings to 300dpi if photo has information; if blank scan at 72dpi
    6. Scan; folder will open showing new file image with name of filename-number [aak-046]. Notice that front sides of photos are odd numbers, reverse sides are consecutive even numbers.
    7. Remove photo from scanner, place in archival sleeve and set in box lid [will be used later]
    8. Repeat steps 1-7 for each photo; I usually scan in batches of 20-25.

    This is a good place to stop working and tidy the work area. The next part of the workflow is to Import photos to Lightroom2 for tagging and jpg conversion. Visit The Family Curator next week for Tech Tuesday and Setting up a Genealogy Photo Workflow, Part 2.

     

    Thursday
    Jul162009

    Happy Blogoversary to Me!


    The 2nd Anniversary of The Family Curator came . . . fireworks exploded in the night sky . . . and went. The date is purposefully shared with two other auspicious anniversaries -- national independence and Henry David Thoreau's personal independence -- yet, this year the Family Curator was celebrating a family holiday in George Washington country rather than posting on the blogosphere.

    Anniversaries, like birthdays, are a good time to reflect on the twelve-months past, and it has been a momentous year in the life of The Family Curator. Some of the posts and events I enjoyed most included

    A Mystery in Two Acts and The Plot Thickens, the "back story" to a popular melodrama performed by a troupe of local actors, including my grandmother Arline Kinsel. I was able to locate a copy of the original script and posted a three-part synopsis of the story, as well as photographs of the "Cast of Characters" from Arline's treasure trove.

    The Family Curator Writes at Shades of the Departed was my debut with footnoteMaven's exceptional blog, Shades. "Reading Women's Lives" focused on a project I used with my high school English students where they transcribed and analyzed some of my grandmother's correspondance from 1910-1920.

    My Kind of Athletics -- The Genea-Blogger Games kicked off a great time of blog-centric events dreamed up by the official Games Committee (Thomas, Terry, Miriam, Kathryn, footnoteMaven, and Denise). Great fun for those dog-days of summer, and participants were also able to hone their varied blogging skills and win medals!

    Treasure Hunt! was a bloggers' challenge that resulted in a great find right in my own Magic Cupboard, detailed in Treasure Revealed -- a folder of black-and-white negatives to images I had never seen in print. What a find! It was so much fun to see what other bloggers found on their own expeditions Treasure Hunt Challenge Round-Up: Just Look What We Found in Our Cupboards & Closets & Boxes!

    Ten Tips for Making Family Connections highlighted some of the ways blogging can help family historians and genealogists connect with other family members. The article grew out of a guest column at Shades of the Departed entitled Making Connections which chronicled some of the family members I've met through my writing at Shades. Now that's a winding road!

    and in January 2009, The Family Curator initiated a new weekly column, Tech Tuesday, a regular feature highlighting technology related reviews, ideas, tips, and information. It's been a challenge to post every single week, not so much on due to lack of subject matter, but just to "do it." My goal now is to post more family history to balance the content and share some of the great treasures in my Magic Cupboard.

    It seems fitting that my anniversary date follows one of the highlights of the year, the Southern California Genealogical Society Jamboree, because this year I was able to meet so many bloggers face-to-face at SCGS Jamboree 2009. I hope that this annual event will bring even more bloggers together next year -- both virtually and physically.

    Of course, it wouldn't be nearly as rewarding or interesting to write in a void, and I am extremely grateful to readers of The Family Curator for comments and suggestions, and to fellow bloggers who so generously share blogging wisdom, encouragement, and enthusiasm. Thank you, you know who you are!

    Monday
    Jul132009

    Tech Tuesday: Easy Photo Tagging “Facebook Style”

    Have you ever wanted to tag your genealogy or family photos “Facebook style” to identify people in a group photo? Or maybe you just wanted to add balloon captions to your son’s prom picture. A recent listener of The Genealogy Guys podcast asked about software with this feature, and reminded me that tagging was a pretty fun summer activity.

    Prom Crew Merged 

    Your dates for the new millennium: Prom 2000.

    While not quite “Facebook style,” FotoTagger is a nifty little tool that features labels and balloon-style captions. This free software program allows you to add tags and captions, import/export tags, and email, save, or blog your tagged photos.

    CatinBowl Merged

    Taggers can define a more “Facebook style” look with mouse-over labels using the Passage Express multimedia presentation software. This product builds “projects” and allows the face labels as part of images used in the projects.

    Tuesday
    Jul072009

    Tech Tuesday: It's Okay to Play Favorites

    Was your mom like mine, insisting that you include all your siblings or classmates when you played a game or planned a party? Did you secretly long to not invite the class bully with a mean streak as wide as the Mississippi? Take heart! When it comes to creating a first rate photo collection, “It’s Okay to Play Favorites.”

    Recently I attended an Adobe Seminar presented by Photoshop Guru Scott Kelby focusing on how to use Adobe Lightroom2 to optimize photo workflow. I am definitely not a Pro in this field, but Scott demonstrated several easy techniques that are just as useful if you are using Mac iPhoto, Windows Microsoft Picture Viewer, Adobe Photoshop Elements, or Adobe Lightroom2.

    As I thought about establishing a photo workflow, I realized that these same techniques are even useful if you are working with a shoebox of family prints. Any photo collection will benefit from judicious sorting. As a bonus, your family will come to thank you that the slide show features 8 minutes of fabulous photos rather than 29 minutes of marginal memories.

    Professional photographers know that in order to survive they have to master the business end of taking pictures. This means photos cannot languish away on memory chips. They have to be uploaded to a computer, sorted, minimally touched-up, and then presented to a client for selection and (hopefully) purchase. Customers also want to see only The Best, after all that’s why they hired a Pro.

    When the family photographer begins to think like a Professional, it becomes easier to realize that Playing Favorites is not only Okay, it is necessary to building a quality photo collection. Of course, the family historian has other considerations as well. An out-of-focus or poorly framed shot of Aunt Mildred may be the only photograph of her at all. By all means, this one is a Keeper.

    So, your images are in front of you – either in a software program like iPhoto, PS Elements, or Lightroom, or spread out on the dining room table. How do you select The Best?

    First, pull together the “Photo Shoot” or set. This would be the Rehearsal Dinner, the Birthday Party, or your walking tour of Paris. From this set of photos you want to choose the best, which also means dumping the worst. Why waste time and effort with bad photos? Some photo programs tempt you to use Star Ratings, but why? As Scott Kelby notes, do you think you will ever want to look at one or two star photos? Those should be the ones that are out of focus or have heads cut off. Even three star photos? The Star selection system is slow; pros would never earn a living if they spent their time deciding if a photo was worth two stars or three stars. If you think you might want the picture some day, there is a way to keep it without inviting it to the party. Read on.

    Lightroom2 Compare Window
    Select Left or Right as Keepers

    How to Play Favorites with your Photos
    1. Assemble Photo Shoot pictures
    2. Ignore typical Star Ratings; instead quickly select the Best, reject the Worst. Use stars (or flags) to assign one star Keep and five stars Reject. That’s it; two choices. Keep or Reject. (Using stars or flags allows you to create a group which can be easily selected later.)
    3. Can’t decide which of six is the best? Place two similar photos side-by-side (Lightroom2 and PS Elements allow this comparison view.) Choose the best of the two, reject the other. Bring a new photo in to compete with the winner. Audition each photo against the winner. Try to move quickly; don’t let yourself get bogged down in selecting; go with your instinct.
    4. Make a New Collection Set and drag all the Keeps into this set. Label it Rehearsal Dinner. (You could call it Rehearsal Dinner Keeps, if you like).
    5. Now, you have to make one more decision. If you want to get rid of the bad photos, select the Reject group and Delete. If you just can’t throw them away, make a second New Collection Set and drag all the Rejects into this set. Label it clearly Rehearsal Dinner Rejects. There, you saved them, but no one has to look at them ever again if they don’t want to!

    Playing Favorites will eliminate bullies from your photo collection and give you the best and the brightest to work with for your slideshow, album, or web page. You may even gain a reputation as the Family Pro Photograher.

    More Photo Tips and Tech-Tricks next week at Tech Tuesday.

    Monday
    Jul062009

    Tech Tuesday: Tech News the Genealogist Can Use

    Summertime is photo-time and if you are like The Family Curator, your digital camera is staying charged and ready for any photo-op. With longer days and holidays, you might also be thinking tagging and organizing your digital photos or catching up on a family heritage photo scan project. Visit The Family Curator on Tuesdays throughout the month of July, when Tech Tuesday will focus on tips and tech-niques for photo collections, beginning Tuesday July 7 with "It's Okay to Play Favorites" a look at how to winnow a photo collection so that the stars really shine.

    Monday
    Jul062009

    Yankee Savings at the New England Historic Genealogical Society


    The New England Historic Genealogical Society once again sent a team of experts and staff members to the recent Southern California Genealogical Society Jamboree in Burbank and made themselves available for research assistance as well as presenting special sessions on New England topics. Their tables were always lively and crowded; I learned that it is wise to purchase books on the first day as they sold out as the weekend progressed.

    An email from Tom Champoux, Director of Marketing, confirmed NEHGS' popularity. Tom noted that at Jamboree 2009 the team enrolled 53 new members, almost double the typical conference record, but this year's registration for new members topped even that number at 80 new memberships. It looks like a lot of Southern Californians are anxious to research their New England roots.

    If you missed the NEHGS booth or didn't attend Jamboree, you may want to consider a terrific discount offered during the month of July for new memberships. The regular research membership costs $75, but new members can enroll through the end of July for $60 -- a savings of $15. What thrifty Yankee wouldn't like that?

    More information about membership benefits is available at the NEHGS website. If you have New England ancestors or if you just love American history, this society is well worth the price of admission. With more online collections added all the time, membership at NEHGS is on the top of my renewal list.

    Tuesday
    Jun302009

    Tech Tuesday: Tremendous Tweets

    This past weekend's Jamboree conference was a true showcase for social networking with Twitter and Facebook. Geneabloggers and Thomas MacEntee worked with Jamboree chair Paula Hinkel to set up a Twitter hashtag #scgs09, and twitterings prior to the event suggested that it would be well utilized.

    On arrival, tweeters found that a huge video screen had been set up in the foyer of the conference hall to show a projected image of scrolling tweets bearing the Jamboree tag. I was a bit startled the first time I walked into the room and saw my words rotating over the big screen. It really drove home the point to be careful about what I wrote!

    At each session I attended, and especially the Blogger Summit, attendees were tweeting ideas and responses throughout the program. During the Summit, the panel members as well as the attendees tweeted comments, creating a kind of "discussion within a discussion." Our teachers, probably would have called it "whispering" and rapped our hands, but it served a useful purpose of allowing side-conversations to develop without interrupting the main speaker or topic. Some of these comments also came through Facebook, genearating comments from non-attendees as well. I am sure we will here more about some of those topics in the weeks to come.

    It quickly became obvious that some folks have a gift for listening while typing, and I was one who relinquished the field to Randy Seaver when it became obvious that he was doing an excellent job of tweet-casting play-by-play action from the Blogger Summit.

    What a wonderful tool! I had to leave the Summit early for another appointment, and knew that I could catch up on what I missed by reading Randy's twitter report later. Wouldn't similar interaction be great with other kinds of groups? We saw it working this weekend, and felt that using Twitter and Facebook helped share our Jamboree experience with other bloggers not attending the event.

    Monday
    Jun292009

    Jamboree Thank-Yous

    The Family Curator and Mom Suzanne
    unload Blogger Welcome Bags at SCGS Jamboree 2009

    Before we move too far away from Jamboree 2009, I do want to say a heartfelt "thank you" for the surprise additions to the Blogger Welcome Bags. My email box started pinging when Thomas put out the word that out-of-town bloggers would be receiving a "swag bag" on check-in.

    The initial idea was just to give travelers a bit of fortification for the three-day extravaganza. Mom and I packed bright yellow tote bags with water, fresh fruit (a California orange, of course!), chips, chocolate, fortune cookie, and a welcome note. The Family Curator added a bit of shameless self-promotion in the form of a bright green highlighter pen, and then we had the fun of adding

    Geneabloggers Thomas MacEntee helped coordinate distribution of the Welcome Bags as well as sponsored the Bloggers Summit and organized the First Bloggers Banquet.

    Randy Seaver took on the role of roving reporter, play-by-play newscaster with Twitter feeds, with able assistance from Amy Coffin, Kathryn Doyle, Susan Kitchens, footnoteMaven, Elizabeth O'Neal, and so many many others.

    Thanks everyone (Mom too), for all your help! See you ALL next year!

    Sunday
    Jun282009

    Home from Jamboree

    We are home from the three-day Jamboree extravaganza... exhausted but energized. For the second year, my mom came from Arizona to join me for the conference and we had a great time. The So Cal Genealogical Society put on a great conference, and the blogger contingent was enthusiastically represented. The room was never quiet when two or more bloggers were together, and at last-night's blogger dinner, the table covers were soon covered by pedigree charts.

    It was especially fun to meet bloggers from so many different venues -- volunteer, professional, commercial, and personal. Everyone found a common ground in genealogy and family history, and the conversation easily turned to sharing tips and stories.

    In fact, it was so much fun to chat with fellow bloggers, that I had trouble tearing myself away to attend the Jamboree sessions. I am glad I managed to attend several; the presentations and topics were outstanding, including:

    • Writing Your Research Plan, Betty Malesky
    • Writing Your Family History, Lisa Alzo
    • Blogger Summit 2
    • Tracing Ancestors Who Lived in Cities, Arlene Earkle
    • Roots Magic4, Bruce Buzbee
    • Understanding the Probate Process, Jana Broglin
    Randy Seaver at GeneaMusings did a top-notch job as play-by-play broadcaster via Twitter for the Blogger Summit. I think Randy has an unrealized dream to call play-by-play games for the Padres!

    Thomas MacEntee organized a fantastic blogger banquet and was the perfect blogger-host. I had a great evening with table-mates footnoteMaven and Kathryn Doyle, and enjoyed chatting around the room to match faces to names and blogs.

    Throughout the weekend, bloggers Kathryn Doyle, Amy Coffin, and footnoteMaven filled in the details at Facebook and Twitter as well. In fact, I was there when Penny Dreadful and footnoteMaven met face to face for the very first time, and a more touching moment has never been witnessed.

    Of course, a highlight of any conference is the exhibit hall and vendors. I was able to meet Lisa Louise Cooke, host of Genealogy Gems Podcast, who interviewed me for a forthcoming program; the Genealogy Guys, George Morgan and Drew Smith; as well as share a toast to genealogical success with my friends from NEHGS.

    (Almost) too much fun for only three days.

    Thursday
    Jun252009

    Welcome to Jamboree, Geneabloggers!

    It's been fun following various Geneabloggers this week as they packed and planned for this weekend's SCGS Jamboree in Burbank. And it has been even more fun following their travels on Twitter. Amy Coffin (We Tree) appears to be driving west from Texas, Kathryn Doyle (California Genealogical Society and Library) is driving south through Ventura, Randy Seaver (GeneaMusings) is coming by train from San Diego, and Thomas MacEntee (GeneaBloggers), footnoteMaven, and so many others are coming by air. We are a far-flung bunch.

    If you can't attend, join the fun by posting blog comments, tweeting, or sending Facebook messages. I'll try to share as much as I can, and am glad to pass on questions or comments.

    Tuesday
    Jun232009

    Tech Tuesday: Follow Me at Jamboree


    Annual Church Mother-Daughter Breakfast
    Suzanne (center, back) with daughters Denise and Deanna
    (center and center front)
    all in matching striped dresses
    about 1961-62

    The Family Curator is in the thick of preparing for the Southern California Genealogical Society Annual Jamboree to be held this coming weekend, June 26-28 at the Burbank Convention Center. I am looking forward to meeting the 32 or so Geneabloggers slated to attend the event, and also planning to Tweet and blog about the event for those unable to attend.

    Check here for photos, updates, and more throughout the weekend. You can follow me on Twitter by clicking the "Follow Me" link in the left-hand column.

    My mother will be flying in from Tucson, Arizona this week to attend the Jamboree as well. I wonder how many mother/daughter teams will be present? We probably won't be wearing matching dresses as we used to do at the Baptist Church Mother-Daughter Tea, but we will be wearing our nametags and "Welcome to California" grins. If you are a blogger attending the conference, please make sure to say "hello."

    Wednesday
    Jun172009

    I'm My Own Domain!

    The Family Curator is now blogging at a custom domain: www.thefamilycurator.com. Blogger will redirect bookmarks and searches from the old blogspot domain name, or you can update your browser and blog reader with the new name.

    Thanks for reading and commenting.

    Tuesday
    Jun162009

    Tech Tuesday: Transcript 2.3.2 Now Supporting Side-by-Side Windows

    Jacob Boerema is the kind of software programmer that users truly appreciate. A few weeks ago, I wrote about Transcript 2.3, his thoughtful tool for transcribing documents, in Tools for Transcribing Documents. Transcript eliminates the need to have both image viewer and word processor windows open when transcribing a document. A host of helpful features make transcriptions faster and easier, from the synchronized scrolling of both image and typed transcript, to the many image enhancing options available.

    I found the program to be well-conceived overall, but added a wistful request for side-by-side windows; my landscape-oriented monitor limited the vertical real estate available for actual viewing and typing.

    When I emailed Jacob Boerema to ask if I had missed such an option, he replied that the program just didn't have that capability at present, but it would go on the "feature request" list. He is obviously very active with Transcript, because I received an email a few days ago notifying me that the a new beta version now supports this feature. Wow! I am impressed. I've never had a quicker response to "I wish. . ."

    Anyone who works with document images can benefit from Transcript's features, and now it is even more custom-rich with side-by-side window support. The newest feature is part of a beta update is 2.3.2 build 77, and can be downloaded at http://www.jacobboerema.nl/en/TranscriptBeta.htm.

    It's worth noting that the basic version of Transcript does just about everything most genealogists need and is available as Freeware. The registered version costs only 15 euro (about $20.00) and adds multiple projects, time tracking per project, auto-replacement, auto-correction, plus many more features. I am upgrading to the registered version, as much to support responsive programming as an excellent software program. Thanks, Jacob.

    Tuesday
    Jun092009

    Tech Tuesday: Book Collector for iPod Touch and iPhone

    Good news for collectors who have asked for mobile access to their collection database -- users of the Collectorz suite will soon be able to view their books, movies, games, music, and/or comic collections on their iPod touch and iPhone. I wrote about the Book Collector application a few weeks ago, Organizing a Book Collection with Book Collector, and have been following company press releases as they prepared and submitted the apps for approval with the Apple iPhone App Store.

    At present, the Movie and Book applications are available at the App Store; Games and Music are currently awaiting approval. Programs will work on both iPhone and iPod Touch and are available for $9.99 each. Users also need the latest Pro version of the Movie Collector or Book Collector. Currently the Windows version is available; the Mac edition is expected by August 2009.

    For Book Collector, while the app is "viewer only," users will be able to search for books already in their collection avoiding duplicate book purchases, manage a book Wish List, and view facts about the book.

    If you purchase a lot of books and can't always remember what is on your shelf, Book Collector and the mobile version could be a very useful tool for genealogy conferences and exhibit halls. Right now, I don't know of other apps that offer both a Windows and Mac database and an iPod Touch/iPhone application. If you know of a similar software situation, please leave a comment; I'd like to hear about it.

    Saturday
    Jun062009

    So Very Dreadful

    My dear friend, Penny Dreadful, knows that it's always great fun to take a break from hard evidence and do a bit of daydreaming. Thank you footnoteMaven for providing today's storyline at Shades of the Departed.