Computer Users’ Group

May 20, 2009


There are so many ways to communicate and stay up-to-date these days that it’s hard to choose just one approach. We’ll cover methods of staying up-to-date and in touch with a view toward the genealogy aspect of each method. And genealogy cannot be totally separated from social networking since staying in touch with family members allows them to share their latest finds with those who care. So we’ll cover many types of sites including blogs, photo sharing sites, message sharing sites and family tree sharing sites. But before you join a site, learn what you can about it by going to the help file, looking for a tutorial or tour, and especially, going to the bottom of the home page and click on privacy to see whether your email address is protected. Most Blogs won’t have such a notice. Perhaps social sites can be summed up as Blogs, Tweets, Flicks and Faces and we’ll visit a few of each.


You can subscribe to a Blog or other service which is required if you want to post something but it not required of most of them just to read the Blogs or posts. My preferred way to start is to spend a few days seeing what’s there before I join or subscribe. And most Blogs list many days of material and also have archives that you can look at and search through so you can go there at your convenience and see several days worth of material at a time without subscribing.


Genealogy Blogs:

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One way to get the latest news in the world of genealogy is to subscribe to or frequently check out blogs that cover the subject. The best way to find out what is out there is to visit http://blogfinder.genealogue.com/genealogy_news.asp which lists 100 blogs on genealogy. There is a description of each Blog and a link to see the content. There’s such a wealth of information out there that everyone will find something of use. Finding one or two and subscribing to them is the best way to stay up to date. There are some Blogs specific to certain areas and subjects so check through the list to see if there’s something that is of interest to you. I noticed Blogs specific to Connecticut and to Maine. Once you find something of interest, you can just visit it and go through the archive or you can subscribe to it as well. Click the RSS symbol and you can subscribe. How that happens depends on the browser that you use. In Firefox, it becomes a Bookmark that’s updated with each new update. In Internet Explorer it becomes a Favorite that is updated when new content is released. Click on the Star on the left and then click on Feeds and select the one you want. In both programs, you can delete what you don’t want to save.


Here are a few of the best non-specific Blogs.

George Morgan had a Blog called Along Those Lines but he discontinued it but still writes for Dick Eastman’s Blog but only for the paid portion. Dick Eastman’s Blog has two aspects; a free portion and a paid portion. Dick Eastman used to be the genealogy coordinator for Prodigy on the Internet before the World Wide Web and now writes a Blog/newsletter that can be accessed here: http://blog.eogn.com/ The newsletter includes articles by George Morgan but you only get a small sample of what he has to say in the free version.


Another blog is that from Ancestry entitled 24-7 Family History Circle written by Juliana Smith. It can be found at http://blogs.ancestry.com/circle/ .


Leland Meitzler still has his very informative Blog going and you can get it by going here. http://www.genealogyblog.com/ . He was the editor of Everton’s Genealogical Helper until last February and now he and his wife Patti run the Blog and Family Roots Publishing full time.


The latest news is that Everton’s has been bought out and Leland will go back as editor. Sale still being negotiated.


Another good Blog is from About Genealogy. You can get it here. http://genealogy.about.com/ . There are several items in the May 4 Blog that cover writing your family history, questions to ask relatives, how to conduct a family interview and a lot more.


Social Networking-Facebook

Everybody seems to have a Facebook page and it certainly is a way to stay in contact with family members. I have a Facebook page but don’t actively use it. Those who have family spread around the country or the world will find it more useful. By posting something on your page you notify all of your friends what you’ve done. In the context of genealogy, every new find a family member made could be spread among all of those interested. Go here: http://www.facebook.com


There are genealogy groups that have a Facebook presence: New England Historic Genealogical Society has a page that you can get by going to the link below.

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Boston-MA/New-England-Historic-Genealogical-Society/25596854450?ref=ts#


For news of interest in the area, the Orlando Sentinel has a facebook page that has breaking news and stories of interest.

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Orlando-Sentinel/5779052556?ref=ts


Footnote has a Facebook presence called I Remember where people from the past are written up. You can see it here: http://go.footnote.com/iremember/ . Footnote on Facebook asks:

            Who do you remember?

    * Family * Teachers & Classmates * Fallen Soldiers * Friends * Coaches & Mentors

    * Coworkers * Ancestors * Religious Leaders * Celebrities

You can share your memories with all of your Facebook friends and relatives.


Twitter

Twitter is a free service wherein you can create an identity and then follow others and have others follow you. Messages are limited to 140 words so brief messages about what you are doing, what’s happening or links to further information can be posted. Everyone who follows you will receive the message immediately. To learn a lot more about Twitter, go to Etan Horowitz’s writeup here

http://blogs.orlandosentinel.com/etan_on_tech/2009/02/twitter-101.html


He says that the more you use it, the more useful it becomes. But the only way to get the feel of it is to use it. You can search Twitter for a subject of interest and read “Tweets” without registering. The Orlando Sentinel Tweets are an example of something you can follow and not subscribe.

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/community/news/twitter/ .

 Many politicians, communities and sports figures have Twitter accounts. Dwight Howard of the Orlando Magic has an account with 45, 956 followers.


You can go to http://www.twitter.com and ignore the Please Sign In and just navigate to the bottom of the page and click on Search. You can enter anything you want to search for such as Genealogy and you’ll find listed with the newest one first. Many genealogy Bloggers post latest information on Twitter as they get it.


Digital Cameras

One of the uses of a digital camera is copying a document in a library or other archive. Instead of bending the back of a book to make it lie flat so that you can reproduce it on a copy machine, you can open a book half-way so that the part that you want to copy is flat and the other part is vertical. Having a helper to hold it is useful. Your helper can flip the pages so that you can continue taking every other page and when you reach the end, turn the book around and photograph the pages that you missed. If you photograph all of the odd pages first, for instance, you can print them consecutively and then put the pages back in your printer and print the consecutive even pages on the back of the odd pages that you took. Just be aware of how your printer handles pages and how you have to put them in to do it right. Start by printing 2 odd and 2 even pages and see if they come out right.


In setting the camera to take the images, find out if your camera has a text mode. If not find out how to set it to macro that lets you get within about two feet of the subject. Also see if your camera has a Black and White mode that will use less space on your memory card. But you can convert to B&W in your computer. Then hold the camera a foot or two above the document and use your zoom to nearly fill the view on the screen. Press the photo button half way until the image is in focus and then press it the rest of the way. Flip the page and repeat.


Once you have the images in your computer, improve the brightness and contrast if necessary. You can do it all at once; in Picasa you open the image and click on I’m feeling Lucky. Once you have adjusted the images for the best appearance and readability, if only text is involved, you can convert to Line Art which is truly Black and White and not Grayscale as a Black and White camera images are.


If you want to make the pages that you took consecutive, select the odd pages one at a time and rename them as subject1, subject3, subject5 etc and repeat for the even ones and you’ll have them line up in the proper order. If there are more than 9 images, use 01, 03 etc.


Many of the newer laptops have a built-in card reader so you don’t need a separate card reader to read images from your camera. Check yours to see if it has a small slot for a card or even read your documentation! What you get when you read a card depends partly on how you have your camera setup to create folders. You can usually select to have all images numbered consecutively no matter how many times you’ve read and erased the card. You can also set it up to create a dated folder with images numbered consecutively only within each folder. When you read a card, the first folder is DCIM which I suppose stands for Digital Camera Image but I don’t know. In that you may find one or more folders with images in them. It’s best to plan ahead before you read the card to create a new folder for each set of separate images that you have. If you have images from Mary’s party and 4th of July you can create a Mary folder and a 4 July 2009 folder to hold the respective images. To create a folder, go to My Computer, click on My Documents and then My Pictures. Then click on File and then New. If New is not the first item in the list, you have another folder selected and the folder you create will be in that. Unselect the folder before creating your new folder. Once the New Folder appears in the My Pictures Folder, type the name for your new folder and press Enter.


Now insert the card and select the images you want to go into each new folder that you created. You can select consecutive images by clicking on the first, then hold down the Shift Key and click on the last image.To select non-consecutive images, hold the CTRL Key down as you click on each one. Then either Move or Copy the images where you want them. If you copy them, as soon as you are sure the copy was successful, you can select all of the images on the card, Right Click and select Delete.