Posts tagged ‘Technology’

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

March 21, 2012

Almost Wordless Wednesday – iPhone Organization for Genealogy — #Mobile, #Technology, #Genealogy

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Here’s what I am doing with Mobil Tech …

Home Screen

Social Media & Media

Genealogy Page

There’s still 4 more screens  that I’ll spare you from …

On the Genealogy page, notice that  I added Dr Stephen Morse’s One-Step Website to my “home screen” as if it were an app.

I did likewise, for the web page: Yet Another Calendar Calculator.

What do you do with your iOS device?

–Stanczyk

P.S. 

If you follow my blog, you must see the constant churn on my iPhone as my software tools change the way I work.

March 7, 2012

Wordless Wednesday – Diacritcals/Cyrillic Glyphs On Your iPhone? — #Mobile, #Technology

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Here’s what I do …

Diacriticals Under The E

Russian/Cyrillic Keyboard

On the left (above), press & hold down a key like: a, e, o, c, l, n, s, -or-  z, …
On the left (below) is an Internation Keyboard for Russian/Cyrillic characters …

Do you enter diacriticals in your Family Tree?

–Stanczyk

February 22, 2012

Wordless Wednesday – What Do You Do On Your iPhone? — #Mobile, #Technology

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Here’s what I do …

Home - 1st Screen -- most used Apps

2nd Screen - Social, Genealogy, & Informed

3rd Screen - Some Tools & Some Classes

There’s still 3 more screens and part of another that I’ll spare you from …

What do you do on your iPhone?

–Stanczyk

February 16, 2012

GEDCOM “RailRoad Tracks” (aka Graphic Syntax Diagram) – #Genealogy, #Technology

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

The above diagram is what Stanczyk had been jabbering about since the #RootsTech conference. Isn’t that much easier on the eyes and the grey matter than a complex UML diagram? Who even knows what a UML diagram is or if it is correct or not?

What does it say is in a GEDCOM file (ex.  Eliasz.ged)?

A HEAD tag  optionally followed by a SUBmissioN Record followed by 1 or more GEDCOM lines followed by a TRLR tag.

ex. gedcom lines  that can be “traced” along the railroad tracks at the top.

 0 HEAD
 1 SOUR Stanczyk_Software
 1 SUBM @1@
 1 GEDC
 2 VERS   5.5.1
 2 FORM  LINEAGE-LINKED
 1 CHAR  UNICODE
 0 @1@ SUBM
 ...
 0 TRLR

OK Stanczyk_Software does not exist, but was made up as a fictitious valid SOURce System Identifier name. The GEDCOM file (*.ged) is a text file and you can view/edit the file with any text editor (vi | NotePad | WordPad | etc.). I do not recommend editing your gedcom outside of your family tree software, but there is certainly nothing stopping you from doing that ( DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME). If you knew gedcom, you could correct those erroneous/buggy gedcom statements that are generated by so many programs — that cause poor Dallan Quass to ONLY acheive 94% compatibility with his GEDCOM parser.

Have you ever downloaded your gedcom from ANCESTRY and then uploaded it to RootsWeb? Then you might see all those crazy _APID  tags.   It is a custom tag (since it begins with an underscore  – GEDCOM rules dear boy/girl).   It really messed up my RootsWeb pages with gobbledygook. I finally decided to edit one gedcom and remove all of the _APID tags before I uploaded the file to RootsWeb. Aaah that is SO much better on the eyes. Oh I probably do not want to re-upload the edited gedcom into ANCESTRY, but at least my RootsWeb pages are so much better!   The _APID is just a custom tag for ANCESTRY (who knows what they do with it) so to appeal to my sense of aesthetics, I just removed them — no impact on the RootsWeb pages, other than improved readability. [If you try this, make a backup copy of the gedcom and edit the backup copy!]

Now obviously the above graphic syntax diagram is not complete. It needs to be resolved to a very low level of detail such that all valid GEDCOM lines can be traced. It also requires me/you to add in some definitional things (like exactly what is a level# — you know those numbers at the beginning of each line).

I have a somewhat mid-level  graphic syntax diagram that I generated using an Open Source (i.e. free) graphic syntax diagrammer, as I said in one my comments, I will send it to whoever asks (already sent it to Ryan Heaton & Tamura Jones). You can get a copy of Ryan Heaton’s presentation from RootsTech 2012 and compare it to his UML diagram (an object model). I think you will quickly realize that you cannot see how GEDCOM relates to the UML diagram — therefore it is difficult to ask questions or make suggestions. A skilled data architect/data modeler or a high-level object-oriented programmer could make the comparison and intuit what FamilySearch is proposing, but a genealogist without those technical skills could NOT.

I am truly asking the question, “Can a genealogist without a computer science degree or job read the above diagram?” and trace with his finger a valid path of correct GEDCOM syntax [ assuming a whole set of diagrams were published]. The idea is to see how the GEDCOM LINES (in v5.5.1 parlance FAMILY_RECORD, INDIVIDUAL_RECORD, SOURCE_RECORD, etc.) are defined and whether or not what FamilySearch is proposing something complete/usable and that advances the capabilities of the current generation of software without causing incompatibilities (ruining poor Dallan Quass’s 94% achievement). Will it finally allow us to move the images/audio/video multimedia types along with the textual portion of our family trees and keep those digital  objects connected to the correct people when moving between software programs?

 

GEDCOM files are like pictures of our beloved ancestors. They live on many years beyond those that created them. Let’s not lose any of them OK?

February 12, 2012

GEDCOM Standards – Where Genealogy Meets Technology — #Genealogy, #Technology, #Standards

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Stanczyk, has been churning since about November of last year (2011).  I have a number of ideas rummaging around my brain for genealogy apps. For over a quarter century, I have been a computer professional and used and/or developed a lot of  programs using a myriad of technologies. At my core, I am a data expert: design it, store it, query it, manage it, analyze it and protect it. It being the data.

Before going to #RootsTech 2012, I knew GEDCOM was the core of our hobby/business/research. GEDCOM is our defacto standard. It is how data in exchanged between us and our various programs. I say defacto because as a standard goes it is not a very open standard (one organization “owns”   it, and  the rest of us go along with it). It also has not changed in about decade and a half; So Ryan Heaton was correct in calling it “stale”. It does still work .. mostly. Although if a standard does not progress then you get a lot of proprietary “enhancements” that prevent the interchange of data completely — since one vendor does not know how to deal with another vendor’s file in totality.

At present, GEDCOM maxes out at version 5.5, although there are various other variations you might  see. But 5.5 was the last standard version. I counted 128 total tags and a provision for creating non-standard tags (they start with an underscore).

[Mike thanks to Tamura Jones! Even though GEDCOM v5.5.1 was never finalized, it IS the defacto max version of GEDCOM. GEDCOM v5.5.1 added 9 tags, removed the BLOB tag, so we now have a total of 136 tags.   -- I will need to update even my high level graphic syntax diagram]

Tags are like:

INDI,   FAMC,   FAMS,   SOUR,   REPO,   HEAD,   TRLR    etc.   -or-      ALIA,   ANCE

The first bunch is familiar and are probably in your family tree (if you ever exported the GEDCOM file). The ALIA tag is one that Dallan Quass said was universally used wrong by all programs. After seeing its definition, I can see how it  is confusing.  As for the ANCE, tag I do not recall seeing any program letting me do any functionality that might utilize this tag. This tag is probably one of those tags that Dallan said is not used at all.

I looked at the “MULTIMEDIA” section of the standard. It looks like it is woefully out of date and probably not used at all (at least not in any standard way), which is probably why our pics, audio, and video (or any other media file like PDF, MS Word) do not move with the GEDCOM. Has any program ever used the ENCODING/DECODING of a multimedia file? The standard seems to imply a buffer of only 32K (for a line) and even if you used a large number of  CONC tags strung one after another you need 100 lines to store a 3.2MB file in-line in the GEDCOM. I do not think I have seen that in a GEDCOM. They probably stored these binary large objects (BLOBs) outside the gedcom and refer to their path on the computer/network.  I did some noodling. I have 890 MB (or approximately  890,000 KB) in pictures and scanned source documents for about 1,000 people in my family tree. So I use nearly a gigabyte (1GB) for my family tree and all other multimedia — and I do not have any audio or video!  So I use almost 1MB/person.

If we did have this magical new GEDCOM standard that could carry all of our multimedia from one GEDCOM program to another GEDCOM program, the copying would take a long time. If I uploaded/download it to/from the Internet, I might incur an overage on my ISP’s usage charges, if this were technically feasible!   Imagine if I did this multiple times a month (as I got updates). I am beginning to understand why no vendor has tackled the problem. I would also like to store PDFs and other documents besides GIF/JPG/PNG which can be displayed on the Internet web pages natively in a browser. Those are not a part of the existing GEDCOM standard. Let me sling some jargon — I’d want to store any file type that there is a MIME type definition for,  that I can currently embed in emails,  or utilize in Java programs or that the HTML5 standard will allow for multimedia.

The GEDCOM 5.5 was in its infancy on dealing with character sets. It was predominantly ASCII with some funky ANSEL coding of characters to handle latin alphabet diacriticals, although it is not clear how I would do the data entry for those and it looks incomplete. It did mention UNICODE, but only cursory and just to remind us that the lengths in the GEDCOM standard were in  ‘characters’ not bytes –which was correct. Although those multibyte characters (say in Hebrew, Russian or Japanese or Chinese) would quickly use up the 32K byte line buffer  limit, which would effectively become about 8K characters per line. In fact, GEDCOM 5.5 says it will only deal with LATIN alphabets and leave Cyrillic, Hebrew and Kanji for some far flung future. Stanczyk  is Slavic, I need UNICODE to represent my ancestor’s names and places. Fortunately, I do not feel the need for Cyrillic (Russian, Ukrainian, Belorussian, Macedonian, etc.) or I’d be out of luck. I’ll just use the Polish version of those names in their ‘Latinized’ forms.

Oh that is another area the standard needs to be enhanced. NAMES. Dallan mentioned that Personal Names do not get a thorough treatment in the standard (I am refusing to read the data model and I am a Data Architect). Location Names get almost no treatment — they do give you a place to store your locations  (PLAC tag). What language should I use, after all my ancestors are from POLAND for God’s sake. Besides the obvious Polish, I have German, Russian and Latin to deal with and being American I prefer English. Slavic names often do not translate well. For example Wladyslaw is Ladislaus in Latin, but in English there is no equivalent — maybe that is why my ancestors use ‘Walter’ instead. But the point is, how should I store the name? Can I store all of the equivalents and search on any of them? Nope.

Damn, Russian is Cyrillic.  GEDCOM doesn’t deal with non Latin alphabets;  And even though I can read the Russian genealogy records, I ‘d rather not nor would I want to try and do data entry that way either. Besides, the communists reformed the language in 1918 (making War & Peace considerably shorter in Russian); That reform eliminated several characters. Most modern software is not aware of the eliminated characters  much less able to generate them. This whole Language/Unicode/Name thing is complicated and I have not even mentioned the changing borders or the renaming of cities in different languages or over time or their changing jurisdictions. I cannot fault GEDCOM for all of these woes. I have them in my own research and I have not yet found any satisfying way to  handle them. I find it helps to have a very good memory and keep these things in my head — but there is no backup for that.

How are we ever going to arrive at the vision Jay Verkler put forth at #RootsTech?  GEDCOM needs to become an open standard. Once it is standardized again, then it needs to become modern again and deal with the current technology, so we can get around to the tough problems of conforming: names, places, sources/repositories, calendars/dates  and doing complex analyses like Social Network Analysis as a way to gather wayward ancestors into a family for which we lack documentation to prove (Genealogically). I hope the future includes Bieder-Morse phonetic matching and can deal with folding diacritical characters into a base character (ex.  change ę into e) for searches.

FamilySearch, if you are going to register GEDCOM tools, then please do a few more things for the NEW standard. First, make each vendor add to an APPENDIX the name and complete definition of their NON-STANDARD tags, in case anyone else wishes to implement or deal with them. Put a section in the header (HEAD tag) that lists all NON-STANDARD tags (just once each) along with its vendor so that someone else can go look at the standard and see what these tags mean and possibly implement the good ones. Forget that two byte thing before the HEAD tag. Just make the HEAD tag ‘s  CHAR sub-tag indicate the character set (ANSI | ANSEL | UNICODE ).  Please administer a #RootsTech keynote to vote on annual changes to the GEDCOM standard. Provide a GEDCOM validator and also a GEDCOM converter webpage to allow users/vendors to validate/convert their gedcom file(s).

Make multimedia be meta-data and allow users to define “LOCATIONS” where multimedia files can be found using either a PATH or a URL (or a relative path / URL). Make it a part of the standard that the meta-data must move, but the multimedia files can optionally stay put. Multimedia should be able to be placed on a LOCAL/NETWORK, or on the INTERNET or on a multimedia  removable volume(s) [thumb drives, CDs, DVDs, etc.]. Make the multimedia “LOCATIONS” editable so a user can switch between LOCAL/NETWORK, INTERNET, or REMOVABLE including using some of each type of LOCATION. Allows these files to exist or not (show “UNAVAILABLE” or some equivalent visual clue, if accessed and they do not exist).  The mapping between an Individual (INDI) or a family (FAM) or some other future GROUP and its multimedia file(s) must move as a part of the meta-data (even if the multimedia file(s) do not). That way the end-user need only edit his LOCATIONS meta-data (and ensure the files are in that/those location(s)) when he runs the software.

Define an API for GEDCOM plug-ins so that new software can access the GEDCOM without parsing the gedcom file. The API should give the external plug-in a wrapped interface to the underlying data model without having to know the data model, just the individual, family, or location, or a name list of individuals, families, or locations. This will allow new software to provide additional functionality to a family tree or to provide inter-operability between trees/websites. Obviously security/privacy rules would limit this kind of  plug-in access.

That’s Stanczyk’s vision of the GEDCOM future!

November 25, 2011

Books, eBooks, and More Books – Bibliophiles/Bibliophages Beware !!! #Books

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Stanczyk is very old … My portrait by Jan Matejko dates back to 1862 alone. So perhaps you can forgive me if I blog about an antiquarian notion today … BOOKS. First off, I hope everyone had a Blessed and Family/Food Filled Thanksgiving Holiday (4th Thursday in November in the USA).

As I was saying I want to write about books today. I provided a handy photo for the reference of my younger readers who may need a refresher on the concept. Before you run off … Here’s my list:

No Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble today, although they are worthy purveyors — nor will I speak of Antiquarian Books, though I reserve that topic for another day.

Google Books (books.google.com/books) – I adore to find public domain books or snippets of books under copyright that I can search and perhaps get at least a snippet view of my search topic. Google now lets you keep the public domain books on their “Cloud” (no space on your hard disk). At present, my Google eBooks include:

Historya Polska w Ameryce by Wacław Kruszka. So you can find resources that are valuable to your genealogical or history research. Although you cannot download them to your iPhone, it is still portable since it is in the “Cloud” (enough with that Internet meme). So as long you can surf the web with your iPhone (or other smartphone) your genealogical resources are portable.
Google Books will also help you locate the book in a local library (or the closest library) or help you locate it via their cadre of booksellers in case you still need that tactile sense of holding a book or where an eBook is not an option.
They also have magazines too! Feel free to browse (get some good Sumatra coffee ready).
 
The Internet Archive (http://www.archive.org/details/texts) is more than just books. It also about the Web, Moving Images, Texts (books), and Audio. All intriguing in their own right. In fact, the Web portion has the infamous Wayback Machine for viewing websites as they used to be. As I read somewhere this month, the average website changes about every 28 days. Obviously, blogs skew that average. So in a sense, the Wayback Machine backs up the Internet or should I say the “Cloud”. Oops, I did promise to stop dropping that meme today. But books are what we are about today. Obviously, they get their books from Libraries and also Project Gutenberg. Also it should be obvious that these are public domain books. They store each book in a variety of formats (HTML, PDF, and various ebook formats). So you can download a book to your laptop and import that into your iBooks App (or whatever smartphone App you use) for true portability. Classics .. check, Genealogy/History .. check, Children’s Books .. double check, and Foreign Language Books too. What eBooks are on your smartphone? Perhaps we should ask that question to the famous (instead of what music is on your iPhone). Don’t be embarrassed .. go to the Internet Archive or the Next Topic (Project Gutenberg).
 
Project Gutenberg – has been around a long time. But it has taken eBook formats, eBook readers and smartphones to bring this valuable resource to major relevance. I daresay that most smartphone Apps that have free books, probably use this website. Project Gutenberg has 36,000 books to download. Skip those Apps, use the free iBooks App that came with your iPhone, Project Gutenberg to locate the books YOU care about, download the eBook format (epub or pdf work), import the book into iTunes, find some book cover art, and synch the whole package to your iPhone/iPad for true portability and reading on the beach or in that research archive or at the museum or that archaeology dig you have been promising yourself.
 
LibraryThing (www.librarything.com) -  You must be a bibliophile or bibliophage or why else are you reading this post. Well here is a website that is a bit different. LibraryThing will allow you to upload your library (200 books for free). Now you are not uploading books, but the data about the books or possibly its cover. You can enter the data or specify the ISBN and allow the website to locate the metadata that describes the book in your collection. If that is all it did, it would be mostly useful to libraries and librarians — which it is useful for and they provide a way to bulk load their entire catalogs. But it is a kind of social-network for bibliophiles or for authors trying to sell books to readers of their genre. I like the Zeitgeist feature for understanding what is out there. I also like to compare my books to others and wonder about what others users whose books overlap with my book collection are like and what that says about me. There are also book groups and local ties to bookstores, libraries, museums and other book events. There are so many ways to use this website collaboratively.  Take a peak.
 
Enjoy the books and the other book readers too!
November 21, 2011

Roots Tech – Ancestry App v 3.0.1 – #Genealogy, #Technology, #Meme

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Yesterday (20th-November-2011), Stanczyk’s iPhone flagged his attention that his Ancestry.com App had an update available (Version 3.0.1).

What’s New in Version 3.0.1

  • Now the App has Shaky Leaves! The “Shaky Leaf” hints point you at possible new discoveries.
  • A simple merge tool helps toadd new relatives & info to your family tree
  • A new in-app purchase option with special  pricing  for Ancestry.com.
  • This new version also automatically adds information to photos
  • It allows you to change your tree privacy settings in the App
  • Adds an integrated user feedback & support feature
  • Its faster and more stable (Time will tell)

I tried it on a new tree with a few people. When I download the tree and used Roots Magic 4.x to display the Gedcom, I still get a tree without the proper family linkages. This bug appeared before iOS5 and still persists. I do not get it on my older pre-iOS5 trees that existed on Ancestry.com (before the bug). This bug is not an Ancestry App bug. So early adopters will not see this bug unless you create a new tree and download the Gedcom file for use in another family tree program. The tree appears just fine on Ancestry.com and also in the Ancestry App. I am not certain what is happening in the GEDCOM format of the file. I can use Roots Magic 4.x on older Ancestry.com trees (downloaded Gedcoms) and the family relationships are fine.

So I am leaning towards this being an Ancestry.com bug (not a Roots Magic bug).

There was NO mention of whether this makes the Ancestry App iOS5 compatible. It says, it requires iOS4 or later to run the App. It is a 15.9MB download so it takes a bit of time and bandwidth to download. Still it is under the 20MB that forces an iTunes on the computer download. Synching works fine in both directions, so you can create or modify your family tree on the web or in the smartphone App and both sides stay in synch. Because you update to 3.0.1, your entire tree will need to be downloaded. If you get to be about 1,000 people this does take a noticeable amount of time. For 100 people trees or less the delay is miniscule.

Download the new version. Portable Genealogy is back. But please Ancestry, can you fix the Gedcom issue, so I do not need to see people complaining on the Ancestry-app-mailing-list any more? Your website should work interoperable with other genealogy programs that support the GEDCOM standard or Ancestry should remove the feature “Supports GEDCOM”.

October 31, 2011

iOS5 More Bad News – A Blow To Portable Genealogy

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Besides all the issues I have previously detailed in my last article (iOS5 First Impressions), I have a new issue. This is my sternest recommendation:

DO NOT UPDATE to iOS5 if you use Ancestry APP or CAMERA APP !

On the Mailing List:  ANCESTRY-TREE-TO-GO-APP , people have been complaining that Ancestry APP does not work. Now Stanczyk knew it worked and it worked well … But that was BEFORE iOS5 came out.

I confirmed the problem exists on iOS5. It does not download the tree / GEDCOM properly (you get a synch error). If you had a previously downloaded a tree (before iOS5) then you can use that tree. Obviously any changes made on ANCESTRY.com will not be able to synched to your iPhone/iPad.

HOWEVER, if you update your family tree on the iOS5 device, then your changes can be synched in that direction and saved on the Internet and accessed at Ancestry.com.   In fact, after you do that you can then get around the above problem. But you had to have a tree on your iOS device BEFORE you upgraded to do this work-around. After synching from iPhone to web. I am NOW able to synch in both directions again.

I suspect this is an Ancestry problem and not an Apple problem. However for portable genealogy this is a PROBLEM. This is a case where an early adopter is fine and the person who just got his/her first iOS device and it came with iOS5 is not able to participate in the portable genealogy revolution.

ANCESTRY.com when will you update your APP for iOS5 ?

–Stanczyk

October 28, 2011

Minutia

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

mi·nu·ti·a(e) –

a minor or trivial detail(s,  trifles)

Stanczyk has been mired in minutia or since it is a plethora of minutia, then perhaps minutiae is appropriate. However, I like the sound of minutia, while  minutiae sounds like a Japanese anime character. You see, I am mired in a mountain of minutia — even my writing has been infected by the minutia.

I Tweaked the Blog Again …

  1. I deleted a redundant page and now have the TABs (really menus, although not properly used that way) at the top. Down the side I now have: About StanczykGazetteers, &  Maps
  2. Gazetteers is now complete (or at least no longer under construction) and is a credible resource to start your work on gazetteers.
  3. The other two pages had slight tweaks to them.
  4. I am evolving the top TABs (Dziennik Polski, Biechow, Pacanow, etc.) in true menus, with menu items. I hope this will organize my materials for faster finding and utilization and to provide for more content, easily found and to make better use of that scarce real estate at the top.

Keep your eyes peeled.

Roots Technology …

Stanczyk has been trying to get his Roots Tech organized and ready to be deployed. As you know technology is slippery as an eel and hard to master/muster into a kind of electronic Swiss knife. My focus is portable genealogy — taking my research & tools with me into the field (uh, libraries, archives, churches/synagogues, courthouses, vital records offices, and cemeteries). So the smartphone and the cloud have been an emphasis. My latest tool in my bag of tricks is the iPhone app: ImageToText . This little application allows you to take a picture of a page of text, it recognizes the text (in the picture just taken), and then you can email that text to yourself (or anyone else really). So now you do not have to scribble down that paragraph of text or that page from a city directory. Just (1) start ImageToText, (2) Take a picture, (3) Send an email. What comes to your mailbox is NOT the image but OCR’ed (OCR is optical character recognition) text in the body of the email message. I like that a lot.

LDS Films Online …

I have mentioned this a couple of times before. It was a concept that was coming. It came. OK I tried it, but I could not use the first implementation because they could NOT return a list of MY Family History Centers (why would I want to order a microfilm that was only for other states, i. e. UT). Ok ,they have finally fixed their problems and I can now report that My Account is working. So go to familysearch.org/film  and create an account, set it up and start ordering microfilm.

https://www.familysearch.org/films/customer/account/ - Keep this handy (Bookmark it / Make it a Favorite). This is the link to your Microfilm/Account Dashboard.

read more »

October 4, 2011

#Genealogy & #Technology – Google News

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Stanczyk, likes using Goggle technology for genealogy. I use Google’s Translator to translate  Russian/Polish/German/Latin to/from English. I use Google Books for hard to find reference materials. I use iGoogle to create a personal “Genealogy-Newspaper” to read every day and also add a few genealogy widgets too. I use Google Maps to create cemetery maps with data. Obviously, I use Google as a search engine. Now I use all of these tools on my smartphone.

Now You can be a Genealogy News Aggregator (using  Google News) …

Louisville Courier-Journal - ‎2 hours ago‎

6:20 pm Jeffersonville Township Public Library will hold two genealogy classes in October in the library’s Gates Computer Lab, 211 E. Court Ave.
ABC News - ‎8 minutes ago‎

and PBS’ “Faces of America are helping fueling the trend in genealogy. But for many Hispanics, tracing the family tree hasn’t been so easy.
StandardNet - ‎Oct 2, 2011‎

When they run into those inevitable brick walls in search of their ancestors, more and more genealogists are turning not to census data, military logs or death notices.
Iron County Reporter - ‎7 hours ago‎

IRON RIVER—On Thursday, Oct. 6, the Iron County Genealogical Society will meet at 1 pm in the J. Patrick White Conference Room at the West Iron District Library.
Mail Tribune - ‎1 hour ago‎

A five-part series of beginning genealogy  starts Thursday, Oct. 13 at the Jackson County Genealogy Library, Phoenix.
Green Valley News - ‎Oct 3, 2011‎

Virginia and Pennsylvania are considering easing restrictions on vital records in response to pressure from genealogists, and are soliciting comments from researchers.
Carmi Times - ‎17 hours ago‎

By Anonymous The annual noon luncheon meeting of The Genealogy Society of White County, Illinois will be held Oct. 29 at the American Legion Hall in Carmi.
MarketWatch (press release) - ‎Sep 29, 2011‎

Traditionally, genealogists have been forced to manually re-enter vital information, such as names, dates and locations, on every site they visit for every person in their family tree.
ABC News - ‎3 minutes ago‎

and PBS’ “Faces of America are helping fueling the trend in genealogy. But for many Hispanics, tracing the family tree hasn’t been so easy.

The Jersey Journal – NJ.com (blog)
LubbockOnline.com - ‎Sep 29, 2011‎

The South Plains Genealogical Society will feature George Schweitzer as speaker for its Fall Seminar from 9:30 am to 1:20 pm Oct. 8 at First United Methodist Church.
Appeal-Democrat - ‎Oct 2, 2011‎

A free basic genealogy workshop is scheduled at the Yuba County Library, 303 Second St., Marysville. The program is slated from 2-5 pm Saturday.
TCPalm - ‎Oct 3, 2011‎

FORT PIERCE – Local historian and genealogist Patti Kirk is returning to the Morningside Branch Library with her genealogy series for October.
Tbo.com - ‎Oct 2, 2011‎

Genealogy is so simple and easy to do that it can be done in five minutes.” That’s the very misleading introductory remark on a video on the popular Mormon Church website, FamilySearch.
FOX19 - ‎Oct 3, 2011‎

In addition to running her own business, Key Genealogy, and volunteering with the Butler County Records Center & Archives, she is also a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists and holds a Professional Learning Certificate in
Chicago Daily Herald - ‎Oct 2, 2011‎

He started out with a modest interest in his own family genealogy, but when Jerry Becker was done, he had more than 800 names on the family tree and relatives from around the world meeting each other for the first time.
Wired (blog) - ‎Oct 2, 2011‎

But without a lot of experience, those new to genealogy might not be sure what materials exist, or how or where to find them.
TCPalm - ‎8 hours ago‎

Genealogy Dept. Tours: Learn what is available for family history research. IRC Main Library, 1600 21st St., Vero Beach. Tuesdays and Oct. 15.
The Republic - ‎Sep 30, 2011‎

When they run into those inevitable brick walls in search of their ancestors, more and more genealogists are turning not to census data, military logs or death notices.
Patch.com - ‎Sep 30, 2011‎

Tracing her history is hard work, so she is attending meetings of the recently formed East Greenwich Genealogy Society. During the Society’s recent meeting at the East Greenwich Free Library, the library’s Diane Hogan showed members how to find and use
September 24, 2011

Technology in #Genealogy – Google Books, iPhone/iPad

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Stanczyk wanted to elaborate on a few new ideas for incorporating Technology into your genealogy:

  • Roots Tech 2012 – registration is open. Get all your tech on Feb 2-4, 2012 in Salt Lake City
  • Google Books – Many good books are in the public domain, road map to the rest
  • iPhone/iPad – genealogy on the go
  • Hash Tags in your blog, blog title and link your blog to Twitter

The second Roots Tech 2012 conference is coming up soon. If you are trying to make better use of your scant genealogy time, then perhaps using more technology to organize, find, backup or present your research may be the order of the day. This year many big tech companies will be there, as well as genealogy software vendors. Here is your chance to learn and to try out new ideas.

Google Books may help you locate material specific to genealogy, such as a gazetteer or a heritage book like the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR). It can also help you with reference materials, such as Latin. Look for “Free Books” (i.e. public domain), such as, “The Poles in America” By Paul Fox. If you are looking for a book that is in copyright, Google Books can help you locate the book in the nearest library/archive or a vendor who sells it.

iPhone/iPad – Genealogy has gone portable with the advent of smart phones. Laptops were fine but smart phones are now better. I have grown fond of the Ancestry app for iPhone. It keeps getting better. I use it to shoot an image of a document and then attach it to a person in the tree. So now you can take pictures of the microfilm and attach the document in the tree. It synchs virtually immediately so you can see in on the web at Ancestry.com as soon as the upload from the phone has finished. I have one of those public domain Latin books from Google or the Gutenberg Project on my iPhone in iBooks app. So you have your family tree software, digital camera, and reference materials all in one device –  your phone.

#HashTags – You see them in twitter all of the time. They are like Key Words in a library catalog. Twitter can produce “What’s Trending” from these hash tags. But you can hook up your blog to twitter and so you should put Hash Tags in your Posting’s title to help people find it on Twitter or in Google. I even use them in Facebook.

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.

April 22, 2011

The Meme is My Theme

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

The May 2011 Smithsonian arrived recently. In it was an article by  James Gleick on Memes. This is the same Gleick who in 1987 wrote:  Chaos: Making a New Science, and who has a new book this year called: The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood. In fact, the Smithsonian article is adapted from that book. The word, meme was coined by Richard Dawkins, in his 1976 book,  The Selfish Gene (see page 192) . So this article is a meme upon the venerable meme, a kind of meta-meme, which I will coin as: meme-meme.

Dawkins defined a meme as, ” … a name for the new kind of  replicator, a noun that conveys the idea of a unit of cultural transmission.” Dawkins said the analogy was:  Cultural Transmission = Genetic Transmission. And so by Dawkins’ utterance, a meme was born (created). He said it sounded vaguely like gene, rhymes with cream, and might even conjure to mind the word memory. So we have gene, cream, memory as the Mnemonic device for remembering the word meme. He originally wanted to use ‘Mimeme’, but then decided upon a monosyllabic word (how atomic) meme. However, this jester thinks, Dawkins writings and ideas are all about, ME, not my me, but his (Dawkins’) me. Notice how meme is a self-replicated version of the word ‘me’. Hence, my meta-meme is meme-meme; So it naturally follows that it is all about me and he (my me first, then his me). Well it was defined in the Selfish Gene (uh Meme), so perhaps, me-me-me-me should be an understood pun? Stanczyk does not know, having never met Dr. Dawkins and thus unable to pose the question.

Why is the CHAOS guy writing about the MEME (uh Gene) guy? After reading the adaption of Gleick’s book in the Smithsonian article I am not certain. It was very interesting. But I am not certain I even agree with Gleick’s article. Gleick said that  Hula Hoop ® (an object) is not a meme. Although I suppose his article and mine writing about the Hula Hoop are a meme. Why can’t an object be a meme? One could suppose a Hula Hoop is a cultural unit and perhaps our parent’s purchase, was the cultural transmission. Obviously the Hula Hoop was the latest evolution of the hoop as a toy, when in 1958 Whamo waxed Alliterative and tying the hoop to the Hawaiian dance (soon to be a state in 1959) and we had a fad whose meme is legendary. So let’s wax philosophical…

If a Hula Hoop is in the woods (without anyone around to hear it) is it still a meme? What if there is also a child in that woods? How about we add an Ad-Man? But still with only a child and Ad-Man to witness it perhaps there is no cultural transmission. Perhaps we need to add another child to watch the first child play with the Hula Hoop — are we getting anywhere near a meme yet? If so what is the meme: Hula Hoop, child (1st), Ad-Man, child(2nd), watching a child play ? Is the dark matter between the two children the meme — some kind of quantum cultural transmission? Perhaps we need a TV to broadcast the the two children in the woods to other children (elsewhere) to have a meme. Is the TV  or the broadcaster the meme; perhaps it is the commercial being broadcast that is the meme? And who was meme creator? What if the other children did not want to play with the Hula Hoop;  Would the concept of a Hula Hoop have been a meme, would these articles still be meme(s)? When are two memes sufficiently alike to be considered the same meme?

Why did the Journal of Memetics become extinct and yet the venerable meme (not to be confused with my meme about the meme) continue to live on?

Please keep the  meme alive and also my meta-meme (aka meme-meme) alive  and tweet and re-tweet this article. Share it on Facebook with your friends. Write about it in science Journals. Send it in emails. In order for me to ensure its survival I am including the hash tag: #Viral.

For God’s sake save the meme (and the meme-meme), just like the Whale, snail-darters, and Yellowstone Wolves. A Meme is a terrible thing to waste — Pass it on. Thank you for reading my theme (uh meme, uh meme-meme). I am hopeful that some other blogger or writer or researcher will write about my meta-meme (aka the meme-meme) and create his/her meta-meta-meme. I replicate therefore I meme.

March 11, 2011

Portable Genealogy … Ancestry.com’s iPad/iPhone App … An Update

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

In the last week Ancestry.com has updated their iPad/iPhone App. In the prior release, I could never get the edits to work (i.e. to edit on the portable device) or to have the edits synch without error. I am happy to report that you can now edit on the portable device or you can edit on the Internet at the Ancestry web site. In both cases, it works and it synchs.

I did find that editing on the portable device resulted in immediate or nearly immediate synch with the web site. Edits on the web site were slower to be synched back to the portable device.

I am rather fond of the UI and find it is very usable even on the iPhone’s small screen. Now I may even leave the laptop at home when I go researching as I can bring prior research with me and even collect and edit the new research into my family tree. So now like  Jack’s beanstalk, my family tree is in the cloud.  This gives me easy access everywhere and a nice offsite disaster backup in addition to my portable freedom of bringing all my ancestors with me all of the time.

Nice job Ancestry. I next hope I can try out the Mac software, Reunion, and get their Reunion iOS device App (when I get some discretionary income) to review. After that I will compare the two products side-by-side.

Prior Review -> here .

February 10, 2011

Portable Genealogy … Ancestry.com ‘s iPad/iPhone App

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Stanczyk waits on pins and needles and has his passions carried aloft in many directions as he waits for the arrival, God Willing, of Aleksander Benjamin & Chase Joseph.

So I thought I would take a shot at seeing what moje zona’s iPad could do for me in genealogical pursuits. Stanczyk was aiming at making the family tree more portable, so I could take it to archives and libraries and other genealogical venues.

Review. Well I liked the portability and having my research with me. It scores big points for portability. I give it even bigger points on the iPhone itself which seems almost ideal as a portable platform.  It downloads to the iPad/iPhone and you can use it even without being connected to the Internet. Cost: $0.00. That’s right, it is free !  That is even bigger points in this jester’s book. But how does the software work? It is an excellent rendition of the software you’d find at your ancestry.com, family tree. It works about identical so no learning curve. And if you supplied pictures of your documents and linked up your evidence and added notes to your various ancestors, then all that is available to you! You can navigate the family tree from the home person or do a search just like online. Click on a person and there is his/her details. You can see the info (events) of his life, or family members(mom/dad/sibs/spouse/kids). As I said previous, your photos are there. Evidence is there too (i.e. links to ancestry.com documents). You can edit the info (add a mother/father/spouse/child/sibling). I have not tried this feature out, so I will not comment on this feature. I was impressed with the easy install. When I navigated to their website it detected that I had an iPad and asked me if I wanted to download their app. Downloading was fast and easy. In fact, it was so natural, I did not realize I was at the Apple Store. It handled the fact that I had multiple tree and lets me work with whichever one I want.

 

More later as I get brave and test editing and verifying it works across all platforms (iPad, iPhone, laptop and iTunes — that all are in synch).

October 10, 2010

10/10/10 Doomsday?

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Some say that 10/10/10 is a doomsday date. Others say 12/21/12 or 12/12/12, when the Mayan calendar is said to end. I say all this pressure of not knowing is stressful.

This fixation on Doomsday reminds me of the plethora or Protestant prophets who went around America, predicting the date of the end of the world. Some even re-computed and re-predicted when their doomsday rolled around and the world failed to expire.

This device to my left is an authentic doomsday device. It can be purchased here:

http://www.thinkgeek.com/computing/accessories/9116/

The good thing about this doomsday device, for budding megalomaniacs, is that when it fails to bring about the end of the days, you can still use it as a four port USB hub. Thus I find this more useful, then say, Glenn Beck ( a modern doomsday prophet), because it serves some other purpose besides what it purports to be.

William Miller was one such preacher. His predicted date was 10/22/44. 1844 that is. Needless to say, Miller and his Millerites were wrong! Do you know what 10/23/1844 was known as?  “The Great Disappointment”. Perhaps we can re-purpose that label for Glenn Beck or any other of these modern day doom and gloom sayers. Here are 220 “Date Setters” all of whom were wrong.

Sadly, unlike the Hale-Bopp comet that came and went, Beck and his ilk have not made like Heaven’s Gate Devotees and disappeared. Perhaps in 2012 or in 2016 they will disappear from the airways when they will no longer have a Barrack Obama to rail against. Every yin must have a yang. And so it is true for every ding -dong.

Have a Happy 10/10/10! See you next year on 11/11/11 and by all means do not forget to look me up,  12/12/12. After that we should be good for another century.

 

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