Sunday, September 25, 2011

Blogging From My Toshiba Thrive

Several weeks ago I bought a Toshiba Thrive Android tablet but I haven't really taken the time to figure out what it can and cannot do. Today I'm using it to write this blog post. I'm using the Blogger Android app but will try using Blogger directly from the browser later.

The main reason I chose the Thrive was the built-in SD card slot. The USB port is an added benefit that I think will prove useful. When I started seriously looking at tablets, I was surprised to find that those are not features found on most devices. One of the reasons I wanted a tablet was to review and backup photos on trips when I couldn't easily take a laptop - like the upcoming cruise when I'll be flying and space is limited. (Shoes are still more important than electronics.) That meant an SD slot or some way to transfer photos from the camera was a must and that pretty much ruled out most tablets on the market today.

I looked at the iPad because there is a SD card adaptor but it gets really mixed reviews. I finally decided that I didn't care if the Thrive was a little chubbier than other tablets if it could do what I wanted.

With the USB port, I can move pictures from the SD card directly to a Flash Drive and still see the pictures without taking up a chunk of hard drive space. I can also carry info on a Flash Drive that I might need to access without having it actually loaded to the tablet. (That's not much of an issue for me since all my genea-stuff is in Dropbox and I can get to it from the tablet.)

I should note that I don't think the screen resolution is as sharp as some tablets, especially the iPad, but I made the trade off for the other features. You can't have everything - at least not yet.

Things I've learned while writing this post (remember I'm using the Blogger app so these are really limitations of the app rather than the Thrive):
1. There is no preview function to review a post before publishing it.
2. There is no HTML tab.
3. Posts that I had previously scheduled are listed as "published" in the post list. (Scared me for a minute.)
4. There aren't many formatting options - can't change font but can bold and italize and add links.
5. The photo that (I hope) is in this post was loaded from the SD card. I can't seem to place a photo where I want with in a post but it's showing as a thumbnail at the end of the text during edit so I guess it will appear somewhere. Since I can't preview, I'll have to wait until it's published to see where it is.
6. There is no way to schedule a post but it can be saved in draft.

If the picture is included, you can see the SD card slot on the lower right (which is actually the upper right when using the tablet). That hot pink back cover was purchased separately (cause I liked it much better than the black cover that is standard). This doesn't even scratch the surface regarding using the Thrive but it's a start. I'm going to it publish now and see want happens.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Those Places Thursday - Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum

Springfield, Illinois

Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library

Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum

A few bloggers with the Lincoln family

I didn't make it inside the library but the museum is fantastic. If you find yourself in Springfield, it is a must see.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Tech Savvy Genealogist's Meme

This Meme was started by Jill Ball at Geniaus last week. 

Want to participate? Just copy the list and follow these simple instructions.

The list should be annotated in the following manner:
Things you have already done or found: bold face type
Things you would like to do or find: italicize (colour optional)
Things you haven’t done or found and don’t care to: plain type

Feel free to add extra comments in brackets after each item

Which of these apply to you?

  1. Own an Android or Windows tablet or an iPad
  2. Use a tablet or iPad for genealogy related purposes
  3. Have used Skype to for genealogy purposes
  4. Have used a camera to capture images in a library/archives/ancestor's home
  5. Use a genealogy software program on your computer to manage your family tree
  6. Have a Twitter account
  7. Tweet daily
  8. Have a genealogy blog
  9. Have more then one genealogy blog (It's all I can do to keep one going.)
  10. Have lectured/presented to a genealogy group on a technology topic
  11. Currently an active member of Genealogy Wise (Have an account but can't remember the last time I visited.)
  12. Have a Facebook Account
  13. Have connected with genealogists via Facebook
  14. Maintain a genealogy related Facebook Page
  15. Maintain a blog or website for a genealogy society
  16. Have submitted text corrections online to Ancestry, Trove or a similar site
  17. Have registered a domain name 
  18. Post regularly to Google+
  19. Have a blog listed on Geneabloggers
  20. Have transcribed/indexed records for FamilySearch or a similar project 
  21. Own a Flip-Pal or hand-held scanner (Wand Scanner)
  22. Can code a webpage in .html (A very simple one)
  23. Own a smartphone
  24. Have a personal subscription to one or more paid genealogy databases
  25. Use a digital voice recorder to record genealogy lectures
  26. Have contributed to a genealogy blog carnival
  27. Use Chrome as a Browser
  28. Have participated in a genealogy webinar
  29. Have taken a DNA test for genealogy purposes 
  30. Have a personal genealogy website (McCauley, Lanier, Hankins, Hopkins & Taylor Families)
  31. Have found mention of an ancestor in an online newspaper archive 
  32. Have tweeted during a genealogy lecture 
  33. Have scanned your hardcopy genealogy files 
  34. Use an RSS Reader to follow genealogy news and blogs
  35. Have uploaded a gedcom file to a site like Geni, MyHeritage or Ancestry 
  36. Own a netbook
  37. Use a computer/tablet/smartphone to take genealogy lecture notes (I need to start doing this but can't seem to give up the pen and paper.)
  38. Have a profile on LinkedIn that mentions your genealogy habit
  39. Have developed a genealogy software program, app or widget 
  40. Have listened to a genealogy podcast online
  41. Have downloaded genealogy podcasts for later listening 
  42. Backup your files to a portable hard drive
  43. Have a copy of your genealogy files stored offsite 
  44. Know about Rootstech
  45. Have listened to a Blogtalk radio session about genealogy
  46. Use Dropbox, SugarSync or other service to save documents in the cloud
  47. Schedule regular email backups 
  48. Have contributed to the FamilySearch Wiki
  49. Have scanned and tagged your genealogy photographs
  50. Have published a genealogy book in an online/digital format 
That's 40 out of 50. Not bad. 

Monday, September 19, 2011

FGS 2011 - Sessions - Friday & Saturday, September 9 & 10

Even though I spent several hours in the Exhibit Hall at the Media Center and exploring the vendor booths on Friday and Saturday I still managed to attend these great sessions.


"After Mustering Out: Researching Civil War Veterans" presented by Amy Johnson Crow, MLIS, CG: "If you get no other Civil War record for an ancestor, get the pension record." Union vets were to register their discharge with their county so those records may still exist in local courthouses. Widows pension applications will have proof of marriage and death of the veteran. Confederate pensions records are not at NARA, check the Confederate state where the veteran lived when he applied. A lady in the audience at this session saw an ancestor listed in a record on one of the slides! Now that doesn't happen everyday.

"Somewhere in France: Researching World War II" presented by Tony Burroughs, FUGA: Unit and regimental histories can put your ancestor's World War II experience in context. It's extremely important to find a discharge certificate because it gives the service number that can be used to find other records. Military records are available from St. Louis National Personnel Center if it has been at least 62 years since the veteran's discharge - make an appointment before visiting or order the records by mail. Veterans Administration (VA) has records that can be released through Freedom of Information Act. 

Dr. Jones (on left)
"Using 'Correlation' to Reveal Facts That No Record States" presented by Thomas W. Jones, Ph.D, CG, CGL, FASG, FUGA, FNGS:  "Correlation is the process of comparing information items to identify connections and contradictions." No record type is always accurate. A key to using correlation is to identify two completely independent sources. If two records have the same basic source, they are not independent. For example, if the same person provided information for a death certificate and for an obituary, then those are not independent sources.   

"GenSpiration Session: Blogging Best Practices" facilitated by Amy Coffin: "GenSpiration" sessions were new to FGS at this conference and if this session was any indication, they are a great idea. About 15 people attended. The discussion included the ins and outs of running ads on your blog, information that should be available on blogs (about me/blog, disclosures, surnames) and how to promote your blog. This discussion could have easily gone on for another hour or more. (I can't believe I failed to get a photo.)


Mark Lowe (on right)
"Developing a Basic Research Plan" presented by J. Mark Lowe, CG, FUGA: "Only believe what you see with your own eyes and have your eyes examined regularly." Having a precise statement of research goals and reasoning for the process increases the probability of a successful research project. Identify the focus of the research, recheck what you think you know, determine if you are working with any undocumented facts, decide what you need to find and where that information could be located. A research plan is really an ongoing process. Once you have an answer to your question, summarize the new findings, add them to what you already know and develop a plan for the next step.   

(This was one of seven two-hour workshops offered for a small fee. Having an extra hour allows the speaker to delve deeper into a subject. I will definitely schedule other workshops in the future.)

More photos from FGS 2011.
DisclosureI was an Official Blogger for FGS 2011.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

FGS 2011 - Luncheon and Sessions - Thursday, September 8

After the Keynote Session and Exhibit Hall Grand Opening, this is how I spent the rest of Thursday.

International Society of Family History Writers and Editors (ISFHWE) Luncheon "Get Off That Fence and Start Writing!" presented by DearMYRTLE (and her great-grandmother): This was my first conference luncheon and (in case you can't tell from the photo) it was great fun. We were "urged" to start writing or risk the rath of Myrt's great-grandmother and her pitch fork. 

"Immigrant Cluster Communities: Past, Present and Future" presented by Lisa A. Alzo: Immigrants often settled in clusters with others from their home country or a previous location. Researching those friends, neighbors and relatives can sometimes break down brick walls or help identify your ancestor's country or specific location of origin. Researching a cluster community can also put your ancestors' lives in historical context. 

"The Curious Case of the Disappearing Dude" presented by Debra Mieszala, CG: We all have people who seemed to vanish into thin air at some point. And the answer to that problem is basically the same as any brick wall - identify the problem, develop a research plan, carefully analyze findings, re-evaluate the problem using what you found, come to conclusions, rinse, repeat.

"Going Beyond the Bare Bones: Reconstructing Your Ancestors' Lives" presented by Thomas W. Jones, Ph.D, CG, CGL, FASG, FUGA, FNGS: "The more records you find, the richer will be your ancestor's story." That pretty much says it all when it comes to reconstructing your ancestors' lives. Don't stop with the basic birth, marriage and death dates and places. Arrange your information in chronological order to see the holes in your story and start weaving the information together.

More photos from FGS 2011.
DisclosureI was an Official Blogger for FGS 2011.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

FGS 2011 - Keynote Session - Thursday, September 8

Time flies when you're having fun!

That is especially true when you are attending a genealogy conference. This time last Thursday, FGS was in full swing and it's been over for several days but I'm just now getting around to writing about most of the great sessions and activities I attended. Part of the reason I'm so tardy is the research trip I tacked on to my round about trip home from Springfield. By the end of those days spent in courthouses and libraries, I didn't have enough energy or brain power left to write.

The Keynote Session included a Civil War Color Guard, a welcome from the Hon. J. Michael Houston, Mayor of Springfield, announcements about fund raising efforts for Preserve the Pensions and the presentation of awards.

David Ferriero, Archivist of the United States, delivered the Keynote Address. He talked about his family history and about placing his hand on an old family Bible when he took the oath to become national archivist. He also talked about the National Archives and Records Administration's social media presence. NARA is everywhere - blogs, Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, FourSquare, Tumblr and YouTube.

There was also something about the 1940 census - people seemed really excited about that. In case you haven't heard, it will be available online 2 Apr 2012 and it will be free. I'm sure there will be future announcement from NARA through some of the above social media outlets.

Following the Keynote Session, which was held at the Springfield Hilton, the Color Guard led attendees across the street to the Prairie Capital Convention Center for the grand opening of the exhibit hall.

More photos from FGS 2011.
DisclosureI was an Official Blogger for FGS 2011.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Lula Can't Always Be Trusted

I'm taking a break from FGS posts for a public service announcement for genealogists planning research trips. When I left Springfield yesterday, I headed to Paducah, Kentucky to work in a little research before going home. The plan was to research in Pope County, Illinois today and Livingston County, Kentucky tomorrow. Neither place has a motel (that I could find) but Paducah is sorta between the two. 

The untrustworthy Lula isn't a friend or relative traveling with me. Lula is my GPS. (You named yours didn't you?) She got her name a couple of years ago when I was on a research trip to Mississippi with three cousins. Someone in the crowd decided she should be named for our grandfather's sister that we can't find after the 1900 census and it stuck. (We still haven't found the real Lula.)

On that trip to Mississippi I learned that you need a back-up for Lula in case of a major thunderstorm - satellite signals don't work too well during those. Before I left home I printed directions from Google Maps for every leg of my trip so I had directions from my hotel in Paducah to Golconda, Illinois where the Pope County Courthouse is located. Problem - I didn't look at them. I admit that I should have stopped and pulled the directions out of the laptop case in the back of the car when Lula made me turn into a park a few blocks from the hotel. (She seemed to think there was a road out of there that connected to the road she wanted me to take but I didn't find it.) Anyway, I got out of the park and found the road she wanted. (You notice I'm not calling that the "right" road.) 

In a few minutes I saw a blue bridge looming in front of me. Have I mentioned I don't like heights? Well, this was a pretty high, narrow, two-lane, singing bridge. And there was traffic coming at me so I couldn't drive down the middle of it. Across the Ohio River is a long time to hold your breath. I told Lula we were going to find a different way back.

I knew it was supposed to take about 45 minutes to get to Golconda and Lula was estimating my arrival time along that line. I made every turn she told me to make until she thought a gravel road was a good idea. That just seemed wrong to me so I didn't turn and looked for a place to pull off. Before I could do that, Lula recalculated and decided that my destination was just 2 miles straight ahead so I kept going. When she said I had arrived at my destination, this is what I saw.

Having been to a lot of courthouses, I was pretty sure that wasn't one.

At this point I did pull off and dig out the printed directions. Problem - wherever the heck I was, wasn't on my printed map. I checked the GPS for service stations and found that the nearest one was almost 10 miles away. I set a new course for it, hoping Lula actually knew the way there. A few miles before I got to the service station, I came to an intersection that was on my map and was exactly where I wanted to turn. From there I followed the directions and arrived at the Pope County, Illinois Courthouse almost 2 hours after I left the hotel. 

Oddly enough, even though Lula couldn't find the courthouse, she had no trouble finding her way out of Golconda and back to Paducah on the exact route that I had printed (and which took me across the river on the I-24 bridge, a much better choice than the blue one). Go figure. 

So. If you are taking a research trip to an area you are not familiar with, do not think you can trust your GPS - no matter what her name is. When I leave here in the morning for Livingston County you can bet I'll take a good look at the printed directions first and they will be right beside me for the whole trip. 

P.S. It was a really good research day once I found the courthouse. 

Sunday, September 11, 2011

FGS 2011 - More Photos - Exhibit Hall

Until I can get some posts about FGS written, here's a few more pictures from the Exhibit Hall.

KDLA is my favorite archive but then I'm a little biased since
I live in Kentucky and have several families who settled there
by the very early 1800s. If you have Kentucky ancestors
you should definitely visit them - the staff is great. 

FamilySearch had a big presence in the Exhibit Hall with 
an area that equaled 10 booths and they were always busy. 

1000memories sponsored a breakfast panel on Thursday morning
featuring DearMYRTLE and Josh Taylor along with Jonathan Good
from 1000memories. The discussion center on involving the younger 
generation in genealogy. Before FGS Caroline Pointer took a look at 

A Y DNA test from FTDNA proved that a suspected 
surname change in my family did, in fact, happen.

This has been a great conference and 
I will talk more about that in a later post.

You will find more FGS photos here. The album is still a work in progress as there are a few more pictures to add and all haven't been captioned yet. Hopefully it will be finished later today.

DisclosureI am an Official Blogger for FGS 2011.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

FGS 2011 - Photos - Exhibit Hall

The Exhibit Hall seems huge to me - bigger than what I remember from last year, but maybe that's just because I decided to take a picture of every booth. I'm only about halfway through at this point but here's a quick look at the Exhibit Hall. For more pictures check out FGS 2011 - Springfield, IL.

GeneaBloggers Radio was broadcast from the Media Center. 
Thomas MacEntee, Randy Seaver, Caroline Pointer, 
Amy Coffin, Terri O'Connell, Jen Holik and Lisa Alzo

Who knew they had a genealogy program?
The USCIS Genealogy Program is a fee-for-service program
providing family historian and other researchers with timely access
to historical immigration and naturalization records of deceased immigrants.

RootsTech is offering a discount during FGS and today
is the last day to take advantage of that. You don't have
to be at FGS to participate. Amy Coffin has the details 

NARA is here but you don't need me to tell you about them.

Did you know NEHGS has lots of 
online databases for their members?

Janet Hovorka, owner, with Julie Cahill Tarr

More from the Exhibit Hall coming up later.

DisclosureI am an Official Blogger for FGS 2011.

Friday, September 9, 2011

FGS 2011 - Photos - Thursday, September 8

Keynote Session

Color Guard

Pat Oxley, FGS President

Hon. J. Michael Houston, Mayor of Springfield, IL

Conference Co-chairs, Paula Stuart-Warren and Josh Taylor

Michael Maben, President of Indiana Genealogical Society,
announcing the results of the IGS fundraiser for War of 1812 
Preserve the Pensions. IGS raised $12,117 from donations 
which they matched for a total donation of $24,234. is then matching that amount so the 
IGS effort raised over $48,000.

Keynote Speaker - David Ferriero, Archivist of the United States

Color Guard leading attendees from the 
Opening Session to the Exhibit Hall Grand Opening

DisclosureI am an Official Blogger for FGS 2011.

FGS 2011 - Old Fashioned Prairie Social

A large crowd attended the sold-out Old Fashioned Prairie Social on Wednesday night. Ice Cream and fun was had by all.

"Abe Lincoln" speaking at the Social.

Disclosure: I am an Official Blogger for FGS 2011.