Tag: Technology

From Geneabloggers.com: The meme is called “What I Do” and you basically list what you use in terms of technology to either run your genealogy business or pursue your family history as a hobby.

Why is this important?  Very often we operate in a vacuum.  We have no idea what other people are using unless they mention it in an email or a blog post.  Or we have to ask for a recommendation.

So take a look.  Copy and use the list below if you want to participate at your blog.  Use the words “What I Do” in the post title and I’ll list it here:

  • Hardware: HP Pavilion Elite m9040n Core 2 Quad Q6600 Desktop Computer with 3GB RAM, 640GB SATA with Windows 7 (I didn’t memorize that, I swear. It’s from the receipt.)
  • External storage: 1TB Maxtor USB drive
  • Online storage: None, besides some of my web host FTP space which gives me like 8GB.
  • Backup: A few things. Windows 7 backup, manual backup, and also SyncBack.
  • Firewall: Comodo Firewall
  • Virus protection: AVG Free AntiVirus
  • Spyware: None, unless I think I need a scan, than usually AdAware
  • File cleaner: None. Honestly, there is no real need for these with today’s drive sizes.
  • Printer: HP All-in-one
  • Phone: iPhone 3G (link goes to 3GS, since mine is old)
  • Mobile media: iPod Touch/iPhone
  • Music player: iPod Touch
  • Car audio: Pioneer with MP3 CD capability – iPod connector no longer works with new models, but it still charges it.
  • eBook Reader: none, unless you count Google Books for some  stuff
  • Browser: Main – Google Chrome – Also have IE 8, Firefox, Safari (on my phone) for testing.
  • Blog: WordPress Self-Hosted
  • RSS: Google Reader
  • FTP: Filezilla
  • Text editor: UltraEdit
  • Graphics: Photoshop, GIMP, or MS Paint (which is nice in Win7)
  • Screen capture: PrintScreen button (no need for a program)
  • Social media: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Foursquare, etc
  • Social bookmarking: nothing specific
  • Social profile: See “Social media” above
  • URL shortener: is.gd
  • Office suite: None usually, but if I need one, OpenOffice or Google Docs
  • E-mail: Gmail
  • Calendar: Google Calender (syncs with my iPhone)
  • Accounting: Mint.com
  • PDF generator: None, don’t really do it much and most programs do it on their own.
  • Genealogy database: Rootsmagic 4
  • Genealogy tools: The Next Generation of Genealogy Sitebuilding for my web tree, Ancestry’s “Tree To Go” and FamViewer for my iPhone to view my stuff when out.
  • Other tech stuff: Google Picasa for photos, UltraEdit for my web developing (no cheesy WYSIWYG editor for me), VSO Image Resizer for quick image resizing, and probably lots of other things I’m forgetting.

UPDATE 5/24/12: This specific widget is no longer being used on my new template, though I am working on something similar.

I had some crazy idea earlier this week on something I wanted to develop for the site. I thought, what if people were able to hover over links that I have to my family tree section and get some basic information on that person without ever having to leave the post? Well, it went from idea to (almost) finished product in about 3 days. I know it’s not a perfect implementation and I plan on tweaking it to make it work better and more efficient.

So, now if you hover over a name on my posts that link to a person’s information page, like for example, Richard ZALEWSKI, it will show you basic information about my grandfather in a tooltip. If you want the full details, you can still click on the link and go to the family tree page. This only works on individuals right now and not family group sheets, but I don’t link to them that often.

I’ve tested the implementation in most of the major browsers including Internet Explorer 8, Mozilla Firefox 3.6, and Google Chrome 5. I’m pretty sure it works in just about everything as long as you have Javascript enabled, according to the tooltip code I used.

Let me know how you like it and if it’s too annoying or clunky. Constructive criticism is good so I can fix issues with it. So, you’re my beta testers! Enjoy.

For the technical mumbo-jumbo for all you geeks or if anyone is interested, keep reading.



I recently re-installed the Family Tree area of my website. You won’t really notice anything different, but I had to do some back-end stuff. It’s been awhile since I had originally installed the site, so it became pretty confusing. A clean install is much nicer.

But, along with this new install, I also uploaded a ton of photos, documents, and headstone pictures that I had been wanting to take care of. It’s not everything that I have, but there is a lot more than there was before. Plus, everything is linked to the people in the photos! I’m working on getting some of the “Places” set correctly so that you can see interactive maps of all of these places. It’s a very powerful system that I never fully used before.

Note that some of the info may be wrong, sometimes my tree export picks a non-primary date from the list (like a date that was different from most records, but I entered it as alternate data.) Also, some special characters in certain locations and names may show up as a “?” or another weird character. I’ve worked out most of those, but there may be a few rogue ones. I have only exported my direct ancestors (and their children) and the same for my wife, Darcy. I used to export everything in my tree, but then I got a lot of weird emails asking me for info about some 18th cousin that I only had a name entered for. I plan on exporting some other non-direct individuals that I deem interesting, but I have not yet gone through that process.

Thanks to everyone who helped me build this. Take a look.

Photo courtesy of Bart van Damme on flickr

Today I was browsing some of the professional genealogy society-type websites. I hope to one day become certified in some sort of genealogy-related area. I know that I’ll enjoy doing genealogy for the rest of my life and hopefully I’ll be able to help others.

The first one I came to was Board for Certification of Genealogists. I was curious as to what it took to become certified. It actually seems in reach since applicants are sent a photocopy of an historical document that relates to the geographic areas and time periods in which they normally work. I read over one of their example that dealt with an area I’m familiar with, an 1870 Wisconsin Deed. Everything that they went over would be something that I would normally ask myself or make notes on. I don’t have much experience with deeds, but I can figure out the basics of what I’m looking for. Have any of you readers become, or tried to become, certified?

I know that one of my weak points right now is probably sourcing. Don’t get me wrong, I add every possible source to everything I enter into my family tree, but I’m not hip on the lingo. Does anyone know of any good references of how to write out your sources, preferably free? BCG has a book, but they want me to spend $45 on it.

I also looked at the National Genealogical Society’s website. This is not really a certification, but it is a central location that a lot of genealogists go to. Is anyone here a member of NGS? Are the online courses worth the money? I’d like to become a member, but I want to make sure I get my money’s worth. I hope to one day be able to go to one of their genealogical conferences. I’d love to meet other genealogists.

I do plan on becoming a member of a local genealogical society, the Milwaukee County Genealogical Society. A lot of my family lived and died in the Milwaukee County area. Plus, it’s pretty decent deal at $12/year and you get some access to helpful local information, etc. Plus, it’ll make me go out and meet other people doing research in the same area. Maybe I can help them get their website into the 21st century, too. What are your experiences with local genealogical societies?

Photo: amyc500@flickr

My Tree

You’ve been doing all of this work on your family tree in your software of choice like Rootsmagic or Family Tree Maker. You’re in contact with some people via the Internet about different people and generations in your tree. You find it annoying that you need to type the information into emails and message posts all the time. Plus, when you update the info, the posting is still old. What do you do?

Setting up your family tree onto your own hosted website isn’t very difficult today. There are tons of hosts out there now that are extremely cheap compared to few years ago. For example, my host, Dreamhost, gives you more space and bandwidth than you’d ever need for like $9.95 a month (depending on how much you pay at a time.)

There are a few options out there to host your own family tree website. I’m currently using The Next Generation of Genealogy Sitebuilding for my family tree hosting. I had used a free, open-source program before, but it had some issues with my current host so I looked for something else. TNGGS has worked wonderfully for me and it’s very powerful and customizable.

Most Linux-based hosts have all of the items you need to run TNGGS. MySQL and PHP are almost standards in web hosting. A Windows-based host may have these capabilities, also, but your mileage may vary.

The only caveat to using TNGGS is that it’s not free, but I wouldn’t hold that against it. The developer, Darrin Lythgoe, has put a lot of work into it and has answered any questions that I’ve sent to him. I’ve also received free updates since I purchased my original copy.

There are other options such as Ancestry’s online tree and dynastree.com, etc but you don’t have a ton of control over these. The pro for them is that you can search and connect to other people’s trees, which I do also. For example, at Ancestry I wanted to update my online tree with some new information I had. Unfortunately, if I would do this than I would lose all of the items (census, records, etc) I have connected to my family tree.

Now when you need to put some information into an email or a message posting, you can just paste in a URL. The person on the other end can just visit your online tree and see the latest info. Or, if you enable the option, they can log in to your site and add their own info or edits.

Feel free to email me about my experience with TNGGS or stop over at the official site and take a look. I definitely recommend it. I can also help you set it up or answer any questions about hosting, etc. I have a bit of experience.

*This is just a personal opinion. TNGGS has in no way, shape, or form paid for my review.