Notes from the past…

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Google Books Search help

Allison at Genealogy Insider has offered some advice when using Google Books Search:

  1. For best results, limit your search to books only: From the Google home page, click the more link in the top frame, then select Books.
  2. Type a surname plus subject:genealogy in the search box to look for published family histories. Not that your results will also include books authored by people with that surname, even if that family isn’t the primary focus. By searching for genealogy as the subject, you’ll avoid lots of hits on books where the word genealogy just happens to appear in the text.
  3. Search by county and local history books by typing the state, county or city name (use quotation marks around an exact phrase) and the word history in the search box. For example: ohio “wood county” history.
  4. On the results page, look at the end of each listing for Full View, Limited Preview, Snippet View or No Preview Available. This tells you how much of the actual book you’ll get to see.
  5. If the book is too big or takes too long to download, an alternative is to save it to a personal Google library you create. You have sign up for a free Google account to use this feature.
  6. For books with limited or no viewable pages, use the Find This Book in a Library link to go to WorldCat, where you can enter your ZIP code to locate it in a library near you or where you can get it on interlibrary loan.

I have found numerous references to my Kennedy ancestors in Google’s vast database of digitalized books. It is an invaluable resource that is growing daily.

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WordPress as a genealogical application

I have been using WordPress for both my research blog and my genealogy database for about a month now. What are my impressions of WordPress as a genealogical application?

There are certainly advantages and disadvantages.

The pros:

  • ease of importing my old blog from Blogger into WordPress- extremely simple, all posts and images
  • variety of themes- almost 60 to choose from, filtered according to color, number of columns (1-4), fixed or flexible width, widgets, customizable header, page navigation
  • 3 GB upload space- I have uploaded approx 150 images to my two cemetery pages, plus all the images added to my posts, and have used less than 1% of that 3GB. More space can be bought if necessary
  • multiple pages- can be arranged in hierarchies, with no limits to how deeply nested the pages can be
  • media library- convenient centralized location of all images
  • images are posted with drop shadows and thumbnail size is available
  • tabbed navigation- this feature has allowed me combine my blog and database at one site
  • paid upgrades available – purchased through Paypal, 1 credit equals $1 (ex: 5 GB space upgrade costs 20 credits per year), options include custom domain name, custom css, gifts, space upgrades
  • widgets available
  • stats- extensive charts & tables
  • help- simple and straight-forward (unlike the “attitude” that can be found in Blogger’s help files!), user forum very active, quick response from Support if needed
  • option to login through OpenID
  • the usual amenities available to other free blog sites including comment moderation, privacy options, multiple users

The negatives:

  • the media library is a bit confusing- can be difficult to add an image that is already in the library to a post
  • when posting, the options such as align center and font color do not always work as expected
  • limited variety of widgets
  • flash and javascript not allowed- security reasons (I am unable to place my footnote member card as a widget)
  • css customization as paid upgrade

WordPress has many options that I have not yet explored. But overall, I am still very pleased with it. I can now concentrate much more on research and much less on site management.