Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Genealogy Revelations and Secrets

This post is brought to you by the letter Truth and a befuddling (to me) response of consternation from family members when some new piece of history emerges.

In my genealogy research, I have learned that it's common for families to not want to know a thing.  I believe that many people kind of want a very idealized version of family history and ancestry and are not comfortable with ripples in their set in stone family image. I suspect this is because we take quite a bit of who we think we are from where we think we came from.  A change in that brings to the surface existential questions related to 'who am I'.

As someone who has spent most of their life chasing that question, I can attest to it not being  comfortable to consider, but the discomfort of not knowing is worse, for me.  I was raised largely away from extended family.  I met my father's parents and siblings when I was very small and I saw parts of my mother's family here and there through childhood, but that side of my family never stays put for long so we were pretty far flung for most of my childhood.  I don't believe I ever, in my entire childhood, had an understanding of people who were passed.  So anything beyond grandparents were a complete mystery to me.

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.