Thursday, February 23, 2017

Digitizing Photos

This week, I started the daunting task of scanning all of my paper photos.  First, before you develop visions of a wonderful consumer-grade product that you just put a stack of photos on and it scans them into individual image files, I am disappointed to inform you that No. Such. Product. Exists.

The consumer-grade multi function printer/scanner/fax machines that have auto document feed (ADF) that we have in our homes do not have even optional feed trays for scanning photos.  Without the correct feed tray, you can't use ADF for photos because there is nothing to guide your photo though so it either jams or scans crookedly (or really weirdly stretched out.  I might have experimented.) .  Flatbed works just fine - it's just tedious with hundreds of photos to position the photo, scan it, pull it out, position the next, etc.

So, my options for photo scanning are:
  1. Send them to a service.  Going rate is an average of about .25 per photo.  That gets pricey pretty fast, plus you're sending your family photos outside your home, which has inherent risk.
  2. Single page photo scanners like this that you can feed one at a time through
  3. flat bed photo scanners (no feed).  
  4. and then Epson makes one with an auto feed for about $500, which is the cheapest I could find (average is closer to $900).  At a going average of .25 per photo to get them scanned by a photo scanning service, you'd have to scan over 2,000 photos to make that worth while
For now, I'm using a flatbed scanner.  I might try something like this, which just seems easier to feed stuff into.  I guess it would depend upon the software.  It's a whole can of worms though.  So for now, flatbed.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

I'm leaving Legacy Family Tree for the cloud

I have started the genealogy do-over over and over and I sputter out on the data entry portion after a few months, in large part, because working with Legacy Family Tree as my primary system of record just isn't working for me. That conclusion took me about five years to come to, in large part because Legacy Family Tree does so many things well.   I have loved working with the software.  But at the end of the day, it makes my data a complete silo, which can be a positive for some folks, I'm sure.  But for me, it's just not working.

I need the ability to share my data.  And if I'm going to have the ability to share it with family and friends, I would prefer that where I share it already have an active user base so that I can have easier interactions with other researchers about my data.  So, while I considered buying a domain and setting up a website for my data to make it shareable with family and friends or people I correspond with, that first, is a whole lot of work and second, it wouldn't have the community of researchers around it that I'd like for my data to have.

I need the ability to work on my data somewhere other than my desk.  Legacy Family Tree, for all of it's wonderful features, is a tether.  I've gone so far as putting my data onto a NAS (network attached storage device... like a hard drive that anyone on my wireless network at home can access) and installing the app on both my laptop and my desktop, which gives me the ability to work with it from anywhere inside my home on one of those devices.  But I salivate over the ability to do the same work on any device or from any pace, just like I can with my genealogy data that is NOT stored in Legacy... like photos and documents I store in Evernote.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Lately in Hursey/Hussey/Kelly Genealogy and Photo Preservation

I've had health stuff recently so over the last year, genealogy has fallen down a few slots priority-wise.  There are just only so many spoons to go around.  However, a few months back, I did get a bunch of papers and photos from my grandmother, which I've been itching to go through.  I made a first pass through them just to get them into safer acid free containers a few months ago and then recently, sat down to go through them.  What a treasure.

Yesterday, I sat down and actually got the photos sleeved and preserved (see below for deets).  The oldest photo dates from about 1850 and is most likely my 3rd great grandmother Sarah A Matthews (1827-1903).  I say most likely because the piece of paper that was with the photo and it's accompanying photo said 'Matthews girls, grandmother and mother, first cousin of Sarah Marie Jordan Hursey' - and there isn't any way that any of the "Matthews girls" could be Sarah Marie Jordan's first cousins... but it IS possible for them to be her aunt.  So anyways.  Some sleuthing involved in identifying some of the people and dates, which is fun work.

There were birth, death and marriage certificates, some of which I couldn't get previously, because I am not immediate family and they are less than 50 years old (or whatever the rule is in the respective states they are from), so those are gold.

Monday, February 8, 2016

How to Covert Cassette Tape Interviews to Digital

Remember cassette tapes?  It turns out that people used them for things other than mix tapes.  I got some from my grandmother in her papers and one is a cassette recording of my great grandfather, Benjamin Worth Hursey, and his son, talking about things...  the crops, who they are, the weather.  I've seen him on film, but now I've also heard his voice.  A strong, growling,  resonant voice with a South Carolina lilt and a southern slur to his words.

Getting into digital format is much easier than The Great Film Project of 2015 was.

First, I tried "cassette tape to MP3" conversion kits you can buy on amazon.  I'm not going to link to any of them because they were terrible.  Ultimately, the kits are made to be inexpensive and so the tape players (without fail, if you read the reviews) are crap.  They play at variable speeds, giving the resulting audio a warble.  One I tried even had a steady 'thump thump thump' behind the audio.  if you're working with genealogy stuff, you want a high quality recording.

So, failing an out-of-the-box solution, I pieced together a really cheap (under $40) and easy way to do it myself, which is what I'm giving you here.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

8 Things Only a Fellow Genealogy Geek Will Understand

1) I have at least 500 ancestors in my tree who simply "appeared" where they died.  I believe this to be compelling evidence of an alien colonization.

2) When I meet a new person, see the credits on a show or hear a name on the news, I mentally light up when their surname is one that is in my tree and try to remember where that name appears.

3) Thou shalt not simply send us money and get a death certificate in return!  If the death was between this date and this date go this other website, click this specific link, enter your phone number and zip code and get redirected to this other website where they might decide you don't need to pay for a membership to see the record.  If the death was between this date and this date and you are not the child of the deceased (in the 1920s) ancestor, no death certificate for you!  If the date was between this date and this date and in this specific city, they are kept in a vault beneath the earth and you need to call this phone number and speak to the nice dwarven lady to get them.  And finally, if the death was between this date and this date, mail a money order for $15 and a blood sample from your second born to this address.  All alien descendants will be disqualified.

4) I can rattle off three generations of health history and cause of death to my doctor and I am not a hypochondriac.