Thursday, February 21, 2008

43rd Carnival of Genealogy - Technology

Well being back from vacation means catching up on not only reading posts but posting posts. And this is one which has been submitted to the 43rd Carnival of Genealogy hosted by Jasia over at Creative Gene.

The topic is technology and how it is used by genea-bloggers in researching their genealogy and family history. As some of my readers know, I am in the Information Technology field and have been in this line of work for over 10 years and using desktop computing applications since 1984. My area of expertise is developing solutions for law firms, specifically with Microsoft Office applications such as Word, Excel and Outlook. Currently, I manage technology projects which allow me to follow the entire life-cycle of an application from design, to needs assessment, to acquisition, to testing, to deployment, to training, to documentation and then to support and maintenance.

Here are the items of technology without which I simply could not function when it comes to my family history research:

Hardware

I am a strong believer in frequent backups of data and currently use a SimpleTech 250GB external drive for all my storage needs. I purchased mine through Costco on their website but the item is also carried on Amazon as well as other websites and in some brick and mortar stores.

Features include USB 2.0 and a one-touch backup procedure. What I like most is the size: it is about 5" x 7" and I can lock it up in the safe when I go on vacation or I can grab it in case of a fire, tornado or other emergency.

Besides my genealogy databases, I have scanned photos, articles and books in pdf format locate here. And my library of 12,000 mp3 files so I can be serenaded whilst researching!

I, as well as other genea-bloggers have had discussions about backing up data and if you haven't yet made a New Year's resolution, this is a good one to have!

Software

I am partial to Family Tree Maker and am currently using version 16 for entering my genealogy database. Lately, I've been wondering if I stay with FTM simply due to familiarity and not because it is the best program. I will admit that it has its quirks and can be frustrating but for the beginning genealogist it is a fairly easy application to learn and use.

One caution: I have not heard great things about the 2008 version of FTM especially from users who upgraded from version 16 - many did not see any great improvements. Also be aware that if you have Windows Vista installed as your Operating System, you will need to download a patch from the FTM site in order to produce reports in PDF format.

Website/Blog

A very difficult choice since, like other researchers, I tend to rely upon certain websites for days or weeks on end depending upon my research tasks, and then won't visit that site for months. But if I had to pick a website that is most useful and consistently used on a weekly basis, it has to be NYGENWEB.

Both my mother's family (Austin and Putman lines) as well as my father's family (MacEntee/McEntee and Krom) can be traced back to the early days of New York when it was a colony and a state. The NYGENWEB site offers links to each county's website all of which are maintained by a dedicated band of volunteers.

4 comments:

Apple said...

Hmmm. Now it's going to appear that I simply copied your post. lol

Ken Spangler said...

I've thought about getting an external hard drive for a back up but have not followed through on it. Perhaps now would be a good time to do so. They are a lot less expensive now than they were a few years ago.

How interesting that you chose NYGenWeb. That is where I spent a large portion of my first months of research. My ancestors were in the Mohawk Valley region of New York.

Sharon said...

Good tip on the backups. I have to admit I'm one of the guilty parties who doesn't backup often enough. I have a portable hard drive. Maybe if I installed a USB card in the front of my computer I'd backup more often (no more crawling on the floor to get at the USB ports).

Janice said...

Tom,

I'm glad you mentioned USGenWeb. The New York project particularly offers some amazing information for anyone researching their genealogy in New York State. Since some of mine came from there, I've visited a few times!

Janice
Blog: Cow Hampshire