Archive for February, 2012

February 9, 2012

RootsTech 2012 Post Conference To Do List — #Genealogy, #Conference, #RootsTech

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Stanczyk has his work cut out for him…


I guess this is what happens when you come back from a conference. Your juices are flowing and you cannot wait to get to work on using the new knowledge you acquired to further your aims.

You can see the impact that Steve Morse had and Dallan Quass, Ryan Heaton, FamilySearch Cross Platform, Amy Johnson Crow, my Family History Library research results, Brooke Ganz and Google had upon me.

I have to admit Jay Verkler had a HUGE impact upon me, but I do not see what I can do about his vision???

Did you go to RootsTech 2012? If so, please comment/email on what you are doing.

February 9, 2012

Roots Tech 2012 — #Genealogy #Conference

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Last week Stanczyk attended Roots Tech 2012. The Roots Tech conference was started in 2011 and was attended by 3,000 people. Their concept was to mash-up genealogy Users & Developers in one conference and see what would happen — a grand experiment. I missed the first one so I cannot compare 2012 with 2011, except to note that there was 40% increase in attendance — since 2012 had roughly 4,200 registered attendees.

Now I have been to genealogy conferences before. Most are smaller, much smaller and not held in Convention Centers.  This conference was also higher energy/excitement.  So what were the highlights from this year’s mash-up ?

Vision / Keynotes

Jay Verkler delivered the day 1 keynote and as I have written before he was the most effective speaker and laid out the vision for our hobby (uh industry) in a highly charged and entertaining fashion. A genealogical visionary — he should work for Apple.

Josh Coates was another impressive keynoter, who delivered the day 2 talk. His theme was Big Space and talked about Exabyte monsters. It was funny and erudite. It reminded me very much of Isaac Asimov’s essays collected into his book, “Assimov on Numbers” and in particular his essay on large numbers, entitled “T-Formation“. Josh’s only failure was to tailor his talk to the genealogical audience and topics. He was a very humorous speaker and his intelligence is unimpeachable.

There was a third day’s keynote from Ancestry.com but I did not like form nor the function of their address, although they did have some nice technology to demo. Perhaps they should stick to demoing what is new or coming.  The talking panel format (for a keynote ??)  is dead  [date of death: 4-Feb-2012,  place of death: Salt Lake City, UT].

Highlights

  • Google, their concept of the future and their yet to be released widget Microcode (a Chrome browser plug-in)
  • Steve Morse and his tried and true presentations. I was able to glean some more knowledge from this genius.
  • Dallan Quass was a surprise. His efforts to deliver an open source parser for GEDCOM files was impressive.
  • The RootsTech 2012 smart phone App (liked my Apple iPhone version) – awesome, groundbreaking
  • FamilySearch and their Cross Platform talk on developing for iOS / Android platforms and for demoing their mobile indexing app built from that tool — impressive
  • Brooke Ganz and her LeafSeek concept of using Apache Solr / Solarium to deliver home grown databases. She was one of the Developer Challenge winners and demonstrated how Fold3 or FamilySearch deliver their magic for searching within a result set. Very similar to how Data Marts slice/dice data and result sets.
  • The End Users who were really great Tech Warriors loaded down with tablets, smart phones, and laptops amongst an array of other technologies. Apple & Google should be proud at their market penetration in the Genealogy world. Samsung too had some space claiming the middle ground between tablet and tiny smart phones.
  • The Many presenters who provided at least one piece of the tech puzzle or genealogical puzzle or publishing puzzle for your family history to an audience eager to go home and try some things

Lowlights (not many,  nor greatly diminishing)

  • No Apple as a sponsor or innovator in this space which seems to have a great many Apple customers. Uh, Tim Cook you should know that Google, Microsoft & Dell were at RootsTech. Someone forward Mr Cook the memo please.
  • The Roots Tech App – not having the syllabuses/papers for the presentations available through the app. The abstract was not enough to decide what session to see.
  • Surprisingly some presenters did not provide even an abstract. They should not be allowed to present if they do not provide an abstract/syllabus/paper available for prior dissemination to attendees.
  • Salt Palace WiFi – great when up, frustrating when down — makes using tablets a problem
  • The Developer Challenge Winners should have had their winning Apps demonstrated in Expo Hall and promoted in the Roots Tech App (after the awards were given). Roots Tech Planning Committee take note.
  • Developer presenters who did not explain their acronyms / terms in case the audience was trying to learn the technology or concepts of the session.

I was pleasantly surprised that Roots Tech streamed some sessions. That was a positive thing to encourage future participation. I was also surprised that there were ASL signers for the deaf at some sessions — nice outreach. I hope they keep the Late Night At The Library going — some stayed until midnight (this jester wilted about 9:45).

February 8, 2012

Meme: Church Metrical Books … Embellishments, Oddities, & Notations #3

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Last week Stanczyk was combing through the LDS Library in Salt Lake. I was perusing the Tumlin parish (LDS Microfilm # 939955). Whilst I was in 1763 covering the Death Records, I found my current Embellishment (or is it an Oddity).

Embellishment

Now in the older Latin records, the Latin paragraph and not the Latin Box Format, it is not uncommon to see the local priest embellish the new year. They usually write the number and perhaps adorn it with some dots around the digits or some small doo-dad or dingbat (in modern parlance).

But clearly in 1763 this priest had a lot of free time and the Creative Spirit overcame him.

Notice the two skull & crossbones. Each is surrounded by floral designs. This seems to this jester to be some kind of All Souls Day motivation whereby the cemeteries are adorned with flowers and the deceased are celebrated.

I have to wonder do other European countries have such Embellishments in their church books too or is this a uniquely Slavic predilection?

February 7, 2012

1876 Marriage of Walenty Paluch to Magdalena Major – #Polish, #Genealogy

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Genealogical Finds @RootsTech 2012

LDS Microfilm # 1192352 – Pacanów 1876-1877

Stanczyk’s, first find (after some time) was the 1876 Marriage of Walenty Paluch to Magdalena Major. I research mostly: Eliasz, Leszczynski, Solomon, and Wolf (my grandparent’s lines & my wife’s grandparents lines). Of a necessity, I record affiliated families and siblings in order to break through the brick walls, but mostly I trace direct lineage, with additions for lineages of 2nd/3rd cousins’ lines who are genealogists (since we work collaboratively and I wish to record these genealogists in the tree and preserve the connection to me). Also since my Social Network Analysis experiment proved out,  in my mind,  I keep an eye out for the affiliated families now.

Well when I saw a marriage record (Akt Małżeństwa/Брак запись) index in 1876 Pacanów parish (parafia) that names: Paluch & Major — I was very interested to see  who might be involved.

Record (in Russian/Cyrillic)

#15 – Paluch Walenty

Major Maryanna

Pacanów

The names are written in reverse order (fairly common in this parish, but not quite universally done).

On 15 March 1876 (Gregorian date, 2nd date of the double dates) there was a marriage between Walenty Paluch age 20 (born about 1856), born in Beszówa and the son of Jan & Agnieszka Paluch — wait a minute Jan & Agnieszka are my great-grandmother Maryanna Paluch Elijasz ‘s parents, therefore Walenty Paluch is my great-grandmother’s brother.

Ok so now this affiliated family name is of interest to me! Who is Walenty Paluch  marrying ?

Magdalena Major, age 18 (born about 1858), born in Dobrowodzie, but living in Pacanów parish, who is the daughter of Martin & Katarzyna Major — wait a minute these are my great-grandmother Aniela Major Leszczyński  ‘s parents. That means that Magdalena Major is my great-grandmother Aniela’s sister!  Wow this is amazing that two of my great-grandparent’s siblings are marrying each other!

OK so this is a marriage between an Elijasz great-grandfather’s affiliated  relative (brother-in-law) and a Leszczyński  great-grandfather’s affiliated relative (sister-in-law). I guess that Social Network Analysis pays another dividend to my research.

So how cool is that? If I had ignored Paluch and/or Major as not in my direct lineage, I would not have found this record and found two previously unknown siblings to my great-grandmothers. I also see that I need to research Beszówa parish for Paluch family data and that Dobrowodz village (I do not know this village or if it is a parish) is a place to go search for Major family data.

– RootsTech 2012 Treasure

February 5, 2012

Google Me Some Shiny New Genealogical Data

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Google was at RootsTech 2012. Google was a Keynoter, Google was a Vendor and Google was a presenter. Google was in the house. The tech gear had some Android devices in the audience too.

Only Apple had more technology there. Unfortunately, it was among the users, developers, and presenters. Tim Cook bring Apple to RootsTech 2013!!! Your customers deserve Apple to give the same presence as Google. As I said in my last article, iPads, iPhones, MacBooks (mostly Pro, but some Air) — the attendees were so tech laden you would have thought Ubiquitous Computing had arrived. Isn’t there a recession? Where did all these tech warriors come from? These were users a bit more than developers. Bloggers were numerous, most wore Mardi Gras beaded necklaces so they were recogizable. Then you had secret bloggers such as Stanczyk. Everyone was a genealogist. Users encouraged Vendors/Developers with praise and requests for more/better technology. Oh and make the tech transparent.

But this is about Google. Before the conference I had written the Google tech off as too low brow to bother with. Then Jay Verkler showed up — who is apparently the Steve Jobs of genealogy. He was the Keynoter on day one. Stanczyk is a genealogist and I have been to genealogy conferences before. These are usually staid affairs. Genealogists are … how should I put it … umm, old. It is not unusual to see octogenarians and nonogenarians (90’s). But the energy in the auditorium of 4,200 conference attendees was electric. These were not stodgy, Luddites. Notebooks and pens were almost nonexistent!! People were excited and very much anticipating — what, I do not think we had a clue, but expectations were off the charts.

Jay did not disappoint. He was personable and masterful in his presentation skills. Mr Verkler is a Visionary like Steve Jobs and the audience knew it and responded. It was Jay who weaved the vision which everyone now wants ASAP. He brought up Google and my eyes were prepared to glaze over. I did not even record the Google execs’ names [shame on me]. They were good! They had prepared for RootsTech and they showed brand new tech and also Microcode. I do not have words to express what I saw, but everyone in the audience wanted it.

Google showed Microcode which would be a Google Chrome plug-in and appear as a widget/icon in the address bar that can do amazing search/exchange tricks in a Web 2.0+ way. It would utilize Historical-Data.org in some unspecified way to do this genealogy magic. It was beyond amazing. Google created a genealogy plug-in!! Google is apparently also coordinating in an API-like way to transfer these search result magics into other websites like FamilySearch, Ancestry, etc. that put this magic into the beyond amazing realm.

Firefox and Safari take note if you do not want to see a massive shift to Chrome. I am pretty sure all genealogists will use Chrome when Microcode widget arrives.

February 5, 2012

Is GEDCOM Dead? Date/Place of Death, Please?

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

The RootsTech Conference is living up to its name. Everywhere there was a sea of: iPhones/Androids, iPads (in huge numbers), and laptops. Even the very elderly were geared up. Google, Dell, and Microsoft were at RootsTech. — why not Apple, especially since their customers were present in LARGE numbers??? [note to Tim Cook have Apple sponsor and show up as a vendor.]

According to Ryan Heaton (FamilySearch), “GEDCOM is stale.” He went on to speak about GEDCOMX as the next standard as if GEDCOM were old and/or dead. They were not even going to make GEDCOMX backwards compatible! In a future session I had with Heaton I asked the Million dollar question, “How do I get my GEDCOM into GEDCOMX”? After a moments pause he said they’d write some sort of tool to import or convert the existing GEDCOM files. Well that was reassuring??? So they want GEDCOMX to be a standard but FamilySearch are the only ones working on it and they have not had the ability to reach out to the software vendors yet (I know I asked).

My suggestion was to publish the language (like HTML, SQL, or GEDCOM). I asked for “railroad tracks“, what we used to call finite state automata, and what Oracle uses to demonstrate SQL syntax, statements that are valid with options denoted and even APIs for embedding SQL into other programming languages. Easy to write a parser or something akin to a validator (like W3C has for HTML).

Dallan Quass  took a better tack on GEDCOM. His approach was more evolutionary, rather than revolutionary. He collected some 7,000+ gedcoms

GEDCOM Tags

and wrote an open source parser for the current GEDCOM standard (v5.5). He analyzed the flaws in the current standard and saw unused tags, tags like ALIA
that were always used wrong, custom tags and errors in applying the standard. He also pointed out that the concept of a NAME is not fully defined in the standard and so is left to developers (i.e. vendors) to implement as they want. These were the issues making gedcoms incompatible between vendors. He said his open source parser could achieve 94% round trip from one vendor to another vendor.

Now that made the GEDCOMX guys take notice — here was their possible import/conversion tool.

The users just want true portability of their own gedcoms and the ability to not have to re-enter pics, audio, movies over and over again. RootsTech’s vision of APIs that would allow the use of “authorities” to conform names, places, and sources would also help move genealogy to the utopian future Jay Verkler spoke of at the keynote. APIs would also provide bridges into the GEDCOM for chart/output tools, utilities(merge trees), Web 2.0 sharing across websites / search engines / databases (more utopian vision).

GEDCOM is the obvious path forward. Why not improve what is mostly working and focus on the end users and their needs?

FamilySearch get vendors involved and for God’s sake get Dallan Quass involved. Publish a new GEDCOM spec with RailRoad tracks (aka Graphic Syntax Diagrams) and then educate vendors and Users on the new gedcom/gedcomx.    Create a new gedcom validator and let users run their current gedcoms against it to produce new gedcoms (which should be backward compatible with old gedcom to get at least 94% compliance that Quass can already do)!

Ask users for new “segments” in the railroad tracks to get new features that real users and possibly vendors want in future gedcoms. Let there be an annual RootsTech keynote where all attendees can vote via the RootsTech app on the proposed new gedcom enhancements.

How about that FamilySearch? Is that doable? What do you my readers think? Email me (or comment below).


P.S.
       Do Not use UML models to communicate the standard. It is simply not accessible to genealogists. Trust me I am a Data Architect.

Tags: ,
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 431 other followers

%d bloggers like this: