I have been a complete and total slacker this week. Even though it’s just a 2-hour time difference, traveling to Salt Lake City and back has wreaked havoc on my internal clock. I think next time I go out there, I’ll leave myself a 2-day buffer to recuperate and reset my sleep cycle. Or just stay out there forever. That’ll work too.
From the time I spent at the FHL last week, I racked up about 800 images from microfilm, microfiche, and books. Unfortunately, I’ve been too exhausted this week to take the time to do anything with them. This weekend though – after I’ve played catch-up on my sleep, all bets are off. We’re supposed to have some “wintry mix” coming through, so I’ll likely be housebound … which will give me plenty of time to work on my blog posts, my do-over, and all the other stuff that I’ve let fall by the wayside in my post-vacation pseudo-coma.
Fortunately, this week’s do-over was relatively easy for me.
Objective: Review Genealogy Database Software
When I began my research in B.I. (before internet), I used paper and pencil. Of course, I was all about the pretty forms and not so focused on citing my sources. It was the early 1990s when I finally opted for genealogy software in the form of Family Tree Maker (I think it was made by Broderbund at that point), but the “deluxe” version came with all these snazzy CD-ROMs with scads of information on them (for which I continued to ignore the source citations) and I just started plugging all my information into the software. I continued to upgrade the software regularly until around 2008 (which is when I think FTM switched formats, and right after they became an Ancestry property). I upgraded once more in 2010, became familiar with the concept of source citations (and that I had been doing everything wrong since the beginning) and realized that FTM and I could no longer play nicely together.
That was when I went on the hunt for new software. I tested every Windows-compatible genealogy database software out there. Some decisions were made within a few minutes, others took days or weeks. I finally chose RootsMagic and never looked back. It was at that time I performed my first Do-Over. I managed to scale back my tree from several thousand individuals to around 800 individuals. Unfortunately, I got lazy and was not very diligent in my entry of source citations — which is why I’m doing it again, the right way, this time.
I continue to try the new database programs as they are released, and still have not found one that works with my brain better than RootsMagic. I’m not sure that’s the glowing endorsement I intended it to be … but it works for me.
I also continue to have only one online tree: WikiTree. WikiTree is the only one that doesn’t try to get me to buy anything, it’s available for everyone in the world to view, and I have to give other researchers permission to change the individuals in my tree. I’m able to share my work without giving the world carte blanche to “fix” it.
Objective: Digitize Photos and Documents
Through this Do-Over, I have made it part of my process to digitize every document and photo that I have. Yes, it’s tedious and time-consuming, but when I look back at the 5 individuals I have completed in my tree, it motivates me to continue. I have a Canon Pixma MP620B wireless all-in-one scanner/printer at home that I use to scan the occasional document or photo. The one drawback that I notice is that if I have a legal-sized document, it doesn’t fit on the scanner and must be scanned in two parts. Annoying, to be sure. When that happens, I have two options: I can use my handy-dandy Flip-Pal mobile scanner (which has saved my cookies more than once), or I can take the documents to work and scan them on our high-speed color scanner. Unless it’s something I need right away or if it’s a fragile or tremendously oversized document (like a newspaper), I usually opt for the high-speed scanner. (C’mon … 40 pages per minute? Who wouldn’t?)
That’s not to say that I never use my Flip-Pal. Au contraire! Nearly all of the newspaper articles that I use for my #TBT posts are scanned with my Flip-Pal. When used in conjunction with the Eye-Fi memory card, all I have to do is stitch the ones that need stitching and voila!* Blog-ready images. I keep my scanning resolution on the Flip-Pal at 600 dpi.
Unfortunately, the Flip-Pal will not scan as TIFF, but once my images are cropped and the source citation applied digitally to the front, I rarely do anything else to them. Most of the time I forget to save my other images as TIFF too, but again – I rarely do much editing to my images, and I don’t move them around too much either, and any time I need to use them for something, I create a copy. So – for me – the JPGs are sufficient. I’m sure this goes against everything we’re taught, but I’m kinda rebellious that way.
One of the topics this week was converting image text to searchable text. While OCR (optical character recognition) is definitely easier, I’m opting to simply transcribe every document instead. I’ve seen some of the wackiness created by OCR’d documents and it’s not pretty. If I’m going to have the spend the time editing the OCR, then I might as well just transcribe the document anyway. The benefits are two-fold: I feel more confident about the accuracy of the transcription, and I have no choice but to fully read the document, which means I miss fewer details than if I let the computer read it for me. For transcribing my documents, I use Transcript software (freeware).
Next week’s objectives are to (1) conduct collateral research, and (2) review offline educational options. Hopefully I will have fully recuperated by then!
How is your Do-Over progressing?
*and with that … you have seen the extent of my fluency with the French language.
Do we share any ancestors?
Please email me at lostancestors [at] gmail [dot] com
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