Saturday, January 7, 2012

Can I Survive . . .

.  .  .  for nine days of researching, conferencing and traveling with only a tablet and a smart phone?

The thought of that makes me just a little nervous.  

In three weeks, I'm going to Salt Lake City to research at the Family History Library and attend Rootstech 2012. All of my previous research and conference travels have been road trips so I've never had to limit what I take. My usual packing policy is "if there is the slightest possibility that I might need want it, take it." That doesn't work when a plane is involved so I'm hoping to get by with the tablet and phone.

I don't have any doubts about using the tablet at the library. I've successfully used it at other repositories but I also had the laptop to use back at the hotel so I've never depended on these smaller devices for absolutely everything. 

Here's the list of things I will need or want to do and the results of my testing. (Don't hesitate to let me know if you think of something I forgot.) 

  • Access my genealogy database and files. 
    • Check. My database is loaded to both devices using the Families app (purchased for $14.99). I'll load an up-to-date file right before I leave home. All of my genealogy files are in Dropbox so they are also accessible from both devices. 
  • Access To Do List and other files in PDF.
    • Check. Adobe Reader app takes care of that.
  • Load FHL copies from jump drive or camera and back them up.
    • Check. The tablet has a USB port and SD card slot. Files can be transferred to the tablet and then to Dropbox or loaded directly to Dropbox from either media.
  • Use Evernote.
    • Check. The Evernote app works even when there is no wi-fi connection. Changes will sync the next time a connection is available. 
  • Search Ancestry and FamilySearch.
    • Check. Both websites work in the tablet's browser including downloading copies of records. There is no opportunity to name the files or select a location. They go to the tablet's "Download" folder by default but can easily be renamed and copied to Dropbox or some other location from there.
  • Search the FHL Catalog.
    • Check. That works fine from the browser on the tablet.
  • Create, read and update Word and Excel docs.
    • Check. Quickoffice Pro app was purchased for $14.99. 
  • Post status updates, links and photos to social media.
    • Twitter - check. Hootsuite app covers that and can also be used for Facebook. 
    • Facebook - check (with a caveat). I think FB works better through the browser than the Android app. If you paste a link to a blog post (or anything else) through the app, it just shows that link - no blog title or picture like when you post from a computer. Using the browser, it works just like on the computer. 
    • Google+ - check (with a bigger caveat). G+ has the same issue with links posted through the app as FB does. However, the problem can't be skirted by using the browser for G+ because you can't paste a link (or anything else) in the browser version of G+ on the tablet. This is apparently a problem within G+ because things can be pasted other places using the tablet's browser including Google Search. Annoying but not a big enough problem to warrant taking a laptop.  
  • Write blog posts.
  • Read blogs.
    • Check. Google Reader app has that covered.
  • Upload photos to SmugMug.
    • Check. The SmugMug app handles uploads. (The app is free but you need a paid SmugMug account to use it.)
  • Minor photo editing.
    • Check. Photoshop Express app will crop and make some other minor adjustments. To edit a photo, it must be in the tablet's camera folder or the app will not find it. There is no way to browse other folders for photos. Changes are saved as a copy of the original photo, which is a good thing since it severely reduces the file size. That's OK for my purposes here because I'll only be editing something I want to upload to a social media site. The smaller file will be fine for that and will take less time to load. 
  • In flight entertainment. 
    • Check. I can read a book through Kindle or Nook apps, listen to a book through app, play games and listen to music. (These apps are free but most books and music aren't.) Or sleep. That is probably a better idea since it's going to be a very busy week. 

So. Unless I missed something big, it looks like I can survive. I guess we'll see what happens. 

*All apps listed are free unless otherwise noted. I have no affiliation with any of the companies involved with any of the apps. All opinions are my own and the results are from my own testing. 


  1. Excellent post Linda! Thanks for sharing and I will be adding some of the apps you mentioned to get my tablet Rootstech ready!

  2. Hey Linda...just how long do you plan on being in Salt Lake City? I hope you don't mind me following you around because I want to see ALL of that in action!! Good luck!

  3. Hey Linda...just how long do you plan on being in Salt Lake City? I hope you don't mind me following you around because I want to see ALL of that in action!! Good luck!

  4. Thanks, Valerie.

    Jenna - I'm leaving home on 1/28 (airport to far to drive up the morning of my flight) and will be in SLC 1/29 to 2/5.

    See you both there!

  5. You are braver than I. I am bringing Android tablet but will be taking either laptop or netbook as well. Smart packing is needed as we are going from SLC to Caribbean!

  6. Sounds like you've thought about it from all angles, Linda. I don't see any reason why your plan shouldn't work. Have fun and hope you learn and find lots of great stuff!

  7. Excellent post, very well thought out. Can I be your groupie too? See you there!

  8. Jill - I don't even know how you pack for a trip that long. I'm pretty sure I would require my own plane.

    Thanks, Shelley.

    Nancy - Look forward to meeting you.