Notes from the past…

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Thomas and the Meme

Thomas MacEntee of Geneabloggers has come up with another great idea!

bob The What I Do meme:

you basically list what you use in terms of technology to either run your genealogy business or pursue your family history as a hobby.

What fun! I use all sorts of wonderful gidgets and gadgets that I am very happy to share with everyone!

These are the categories:

* Hardware: Dell 1011 Netbook. Yes folks, the only computer that I use is my little baby Dell Mini 10. I use it daily in my genealogical research and for the rest of my life’s activities, too. It is big and strong enough to do anything that I want, including manipulating and storing images and enjoying my iTunes library. It is small and lightweight enough to fit in my purse or backpack and go with me where ever I go. I absolutely love it! Windows XP, 160 GB hard drive, the processor is pretty fast, too… the only drawback is that it has no disc drive, but I have discovered that just about any program that I want can be downloaded from the Internet or loaded on a USB drive (from my granddaughter’s Toshiba laptop), then transferred to my Mini.

* External storage: several USB drives for temporary storage and transporting, and a Western Digital 250GB external drive for the important stuff. I have all of my genealogical records, all of my personal stuff, plus ALL of my digital photos on the WD drive and still have tons of room left!

* Online storage: My website. I have a hosted site with unlimited bandwidth and storage for $8.95/month.

* Backup: again the WD drive, my website and I also have a RootsWeb site where I keep my most current .ged. Also Backupify and a WordPress plugin, WordPress Database Backup. You just can’t be too careful!

* Firewall: Windows firewall that comes with XP.

* Virus protection: Panda Cloud (free). I originally wanted to try it because everything resides online (the ”cloud”) and doesn’t take up hard drive space on my Mini. I have used it for almost a year with absolutely no problems.

* Spyware: Don’t really use a specific program. Between the XP firewall, Panda and Glary Utilities, my baby stays pretty neat and clean!

* File cleaner: Glary Utilities.

* Printer: HP 1315 all-in-one. I’ve used it for several years, it’s just like the Energizer Bunny.

* Phone: Blackberry 8900 Curve. Just got it about a month ago, still trying to figure out how to work it… :)

* Email: Gmail, what else!

* Mobile media: the Blackberry, I also have a iPod Touch 32 GB, works as another backup for my genealogical data

* Music player: iPod Touch

* Car audio: The radio that came with my Honda 2005 Civic, works just fine for me… :)

* eBook Reader: don’t really use one, read a lot of pdf stuff.

* Browser: Firefox, of course!

* Blog: (self-hosted) LUUUVVVV IT!

* RSS: FeedBurner, Google Reader

* FTP: Filezilla, very simple to use

* Text editor: plain ole’ Notepad, or OpenOffice for heavier stuff

* Graphics: Paint Shop Pro 7, Anniversary Edition. Older than dirt and I wouldn’t use anything else!

* Screen capture: the little button at the top of my keyboard that says Prnt Scrn…

* Social media: Facebook, but I don’t spend much time there (not since I broke free of FarmVille!). A little Twitter.

* Social bookmarking: Diigo

* Social profile: nothing

* URL shortener: don’t really use one

* Office suite: OpenOffice, the best!

* Calendar: Google Calendar

* Accounting: I use Buddi for my checkbook and to keep up with my bills. Simple, free.

* PDF generator: I use PDF XChange Viewer to read pdf’s. Very handy because it will export a pdf file as a jpg, so I can upload all of my GenealogyBank newspaper clippings as jpg’s to my website and also to my RootsMagic program. Seems most genealogy programs can’t handle pdf files.

* Genealogy database: RootsMagic 4. Over the years, I have tried just about every genealogy database program and RootsMagic is hands-down my favorite

* Genealogy tools: PixelRuler (great for reading census pages or other original docs), Transcript (transcribing docs), Windows Live Writer (the most wonderful program for writing blog posts offline, then uploading to the live blog, especially good at handling images), ToDoList (need I say more… a little fancier that what RootsMagic produces)

* Other tech stuff: My webhosting company is wonderful! Very, very pleased with these folks. I rarely-to-never have problems, but when I do, these guys almost immediately respond to my hysterical pleas and walk me through whatever crisis that I’m currently having! They set up WordPress for me using their Easy Mode. Works great, no problems. Then about a month ago, I decided to try my hand at setting up a graphics program (Gallery2) for my tons of genea-images and a wiki for my research notes (MediaWiki) through my webhost using their Advanced Mode (more themes & plugins than with the Easy Mode and installation and maintenance is a tiny bit more involved”). I didn’t know if I could do it, cuz I’m not terribly techie, but even the Advanced Mode was pretty straight-forward and really rather simple to complete, Again, I thank my webhost for that!

Also my little pink Sony Cybershot DSC-W220.

By the way, almost all of the software listed above is open-source (free!). I have found over years of trial and error that open-source software is very reliable and practically never contains garbage (spyare and bloatware). It is usually backed up by massive online documentation and an active and involved user community.

P. S. The best and safest place to find software online is Very reputable. The first (and usually the only) place I go to when I need something!

P. P. S. I recently found an excellent (and free, of course!) ebook that explains, in simple terms, the main points of creating and maintaining your own website. Plain English, folks! Wonderful! Seriously, this is a really great reference. Check it out.

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What to bring on a trip to the library

I’m planning a trip to the downtown Fort Worth Public Library on my next day off. This is the main library and houses the Genealogy Department, as well as the Fort Worth Star-Telegram newspaper archives. I have several obituaries and newspaper items to look for, so I’d better make a list.

My RootsMagic software will create a very nice To-do List, but there is another program that I use that also works quite well.

ToDoList is an open-source program, billed as “a simple and effective way to keep on top of your daily tasks”. It is certainly that. This is my to-do list for the library trip:


You may notice there are 10 tasks listed. I usually only have a couple of hours to spend at the library (free parking for 2 1/2 hours!), so I have learned to make a short, concise list of what I want to accomplish. With this list, I can go straight to the microfilm section and start looking for my clippings.

And I always bring my digital camera, since the printers don’t always create readable copies!

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Daily Journal 31 Oct 2009: Dovie needs a timeline!

I spent most of the day looking at my great-grandmother Dovie C (Ruby) McBurnett Hall Stanley Epperson Priddy Bailey Copeland. Can you see my problem here? She wasn’t born with all those names, folks!

“Everyone needs a hobby” and Dovie’s hobby seems to have been collecting husbands! I have definitively documented the existence of 5 of these six husbands, and the order of these marriages. What I haven’t totally figured out was how they all became unhusbands. Did they all die mysteriously? Was she a “Black Widow”? Wouldn’t that be exciting! Now that would be a Black Sheep Sunday post!

But apparently that wasn’t the case, at least for 2 of the husbands. I spent several hours yesterday searching the old Fort Worth Star-Telegrams issues that are available at GenealogyBank, and was rewarded for my efforts:

this on page 23 of the 26 May 1920 edition:

Stanley divorce

I also found a similar article from 19 Sep 1920 for 3rd husband LW Epperson. These articles are only 4 months apart!

Dovie was a busy lady and some lawyer was getting rich!

Interestingly, Dovie is still living with Epperson in the 1930 census, so I guess they musta made up.

Want something even better than that? In the 1920 census, LW Epperson was Ollie and Ruby Stanley’s next-door neighbor! He is enumerated as the next person on the sheet after Ollie and Ruby…

Ok, by now all these name and dates are swirling around in my poor little Dr Pepper-nourished brain and I’m getting really confused! What I need is…

A timeline of Dovie’s marriages! All the names and dates on one piece of paper (or computer screen) in front of me, all together.

My RootsMagic program can create a timeline, but I don’t like it. I have also tried TimeToast and a couple of other online apps, but they’re not quite right, either. Too fancy. I just need something simple to clarify names and dates.

Some time ago, I read an article online about creating a genealogy timeline using Microsoft Excel. As I recall, I tried that, but never could get it to work right. It wouldn’t work with OpenOffice, which is what I use instead of Excel.

So last night I searched for a satisfactory timeline program, but still wasn’t happy with what I found. Kinda picky, ya know?

Ok, maybe I’ll try the Excel thing again. It’s been awhile, maybe it’ll work this time.

I got the directions from the Microsoft site, and tried it again with OpenOffice. And this time…it worked great!

Dovie's Marriages Timeline(click on it for larger view, please)

Nothing fancy, but it does exactly what I want: a direct and simple view of Dovie and all her husbands! Much easier now to figure out when and where to look for records on all these ex’s!