Posts tagged ‘iGoogle’

March 21, 2013

RootsTech 2013 … — #Genealogy, #RootsTech, #Technology

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

iGoogle

iGoogle as customized for Stanczyk

Today is the start of RootsTech 2013. So in honor of the conference I will blog today about  Genealogy, and Technology.

Last year Google announced it was getting rid of iGoogle and now this week it said it was getting rid of its RSS Reader (hence probably why they announced iGoogle was going away). So I have decided how I will replace these two tools in my portable genealogy toolbox. My Solution … the FlipBoard app.

FlipBoard

FlipboardThe screenshot above (at the top) shows a portion of my iGoogle (still available until July). As you can surmise, I used it as a newspaper dashboard for keeping me abreast of the genealogy news in my focus areas. You may have noticed it is quite TEXTUAL. As such, it lacks appeal and ease of scanability. This is where Flipboard app comes in.  Now Stanczyk was not using Google’s Reader … that is directly. I think iGoogle probably was a tool that used its own Reader (RSS feeds). It gave me the ability to have a genealogy dashboard (or portal as we used to say). Flipboard will however import your Google Reader. There are other alternatives like Pulse or even WordPress that can import your RSS subscriptions for you. But this jester likes FlipBoard.

As you see, Flipboard is visually appealing and easily, quickly scanable. What you may not realize that these Flipboard “blocks” are the same feeds I had in the iGoogle tool. However, now my Eastman Online Genealogy and my GenealogyBlog are visual. Notice I was able to also get my Ancestry Member Connect Activity feed too! So I have everything I had before in a kind of retro “Life Magazine” visually appealing way  updated for the Internet age ! I actually think of Flipboard as my Internet Magazine that is finely attuned to MY interests. But as you see, you can use it as your genealogy dashboard of what is going on currently in genealogy (or any topic you are interested in).

You may not have noticed in the Flipboard image, I have my own blog in the lower left corner. When you click on that “block” it takes to my “section”. Where my own blog posts are very attractively displayed in the Flipboard magazine style. Very nice!

FlipBoardStanczykBlog

Flipboard runs on your smartphone or your tablet. I really like how it looks on the tablet (iPad in my case). Seeing my blog in Flipboard changed my style of writing a blog. I wanted my blog posts to look good and be visually appealing in Flipboard. So now I take some extra measures to make sure it will  look good, but I have to admit that Flipboard does most of the work and it does make your blog look good.

Flipboard can take your Twitter feed, or Facebook or Blog or even a custom RSS Feed like my Ancestry Member Connect Activity. It even takes Flickr or LinkedIn or just about anything you may use in your social networking / media creation world.

So I am no longer sad that iGoogle or the underlying Google Reader are going away. I have evolved and I am using Flipboard and I am much happier. I can keep tabs and I can keep informed and I am frequently entertained too. What a great app!

Hey add “Stanczyk Internet Muse” to your Flipboard. Enjoy RootsTech 2013 too!

July 17, 2012

iGoogle is Going Bye-Bye — #RootsTech

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Stanczyk is sad. Google is planning on phasing out a service that allows millions of people to personalize its home page with applications such as weather updates and stock quotes. The customization service, known as iGoogle, will be turned off in November 2013. So we have about 16 months to find a similar replacement for these capabilities …

Unless you mainly use iGoogle-mobile which will be retired sooner. The mobile version will be retired at the end of this month, on July 31, 2012. More details/suggestions are here on Google’s site.

If you have been on your iGoogle page you should have seen the following on your page:

Now the reason this jester is sad is that I used this web tool as a search engine and a kind of genealogy aggregator of news/announcements from sources that are very helpful to my personal research or to keeping me informed in general on genealogical matters. It also was a landing page (portal)  for some web widgets that performed useful tricks (date calculators, language translation, etc.).

Long time readers will recall that I recommended they use this tool. So if you use iGoogle let me know. Also please let me know what you intend to do for a work-around. Google won’t you please reconsider keeping the iGoogle tool and if you need a few ideas for making it a hit web app — email me. I have a few ideas.

Stanczyk

July 8, 2011

#Genealogy & #Technology – #1: iGoogle To Keep Tabs On Genealogy –

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

How do you keep the pulse of the Internet? At present (and for a good while now), there are over a billion websites. You can Google/Bing searches and possibly save the searches for future use or make them a Bookmark/Favorite. That is ok. But I want to go somewhere and see what my agents dug up for me to look at and examine. It is almost a Genealogy Newsletter (ok, but I want more than Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter). But I want it is tailored to my needs and interests. Eastman is broad,  but seldom specific to Slavic (Polish, Russian, Czech, Ukraine, Belarus, etc.) research, or to a specific locale: Detroit, Toledo, Buffalo, Philadelphia, etc.

Enter iGoogle. I have been using it for a year or two now and  have steadily tweaked it to my purpose and tastes. iGoogle is what we techies call a customized portal (similar to Yahoo or AOL, but more like My-Yahoo). People may be vaguely aware that Google has more software available than its iconic Search Engine. But where is this software? The Google products are located:

http://www.google.com/intl/en/about/products/index.html

iGoogle is near the top (presently second). Ok, so now you register for an account and login to Google and igoogle.com instead of google.com (for both search and portal capabilities). You can use Classic Google or iGoogle (so you are not locked in to the new search portal) and go back and forth. Now you need to add TABs (I pick one per subject: Genealogy, Science, Financial, etc.). So create a “Genealogy” Tab.  Now you can add gadgets or feeds. I have a mix of some of each on my Genealogy TAB. I like to have Google’s Translator gadget and Sirius Genealogy Date Calculator as handy gadgets. Useful tools to my research right at hand.

Next we need to define the blogs or RSS feeds of websites that we need to cull information from on a “regular” basis. Now a blog is just an article (or web log) that an author creates with useful info/data. The RSS thingys are just the Internet’s way of broadcasting to you what has changed at a website, but you must subscribe (no fee). This is how I can stay on top of what is happening elsewhere on the Internet (without intensive googling, web surfing or reading many emails/newsletters or magazines).   HINT: you may want to subscribe to this blog if you are a Polish Genealogist or a genealogist with some Polish ancestors.

OK, I did add Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter to my Genealogy Tab as he does one of the finest newsletters on genealogy. I also subscribe to Tracing The Tribe and many other Polish genealogy websites. Libraries, Genealogy/Historical Societies,  and Archives specific to locations where my ancestors lived are excellent candidates for my Genealogy Portal that I am creating in iGoogle.  Here’s a winning tip, I use what’s changed in Ancestry.com (in my shared area) as a feed. That is the essence. Tailored like a nice suit.

Now left-brain people will thrill that you can arrange your page and set how many lines each feed gets or how many columns you can have (1,2,3 or 4). You can even “skin” your page to improve the esthetics (eye of the beholder). Now I put my feeds up near the top and the gadgets near the bottom, so I do not have to scroll to see info. I do in fact tweak my page periodically to get the most useful feeds near the top or to get rid of feeds that are not useful or are too static (unchanging). Since I am researching ancestors across the ocean, I do have foreign-language websites too (hence Google Translator). Here’s what a finished product looks like ( a partial screenshot) …

So now iGoogle is my Hubble-Space-Telescope into the vastness of the Internet taking snapshots and presenting me a daily synopsis of what is going on far and wide that I may want to apprise myself of. That’s it,  a technological solution to information overload and time management — as this is my window and I make it a discipline to make a quick daily check of what is going on.

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