Notes from the past…


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The iPad Challenge!

mary-poppins1A few weeks ago, I wrote a series of posts dealing with the exclusive use of an iPad for genealogical research. I did a lot of research, decided what needed to be done to set up my newly-acquired iPad 2, then went about turning it into the “practically perfect in every way” genealogical research assistant.

But since then, I have to confess that I haven’t been using my new iPad hardly at all. I found a very nice hard case for it on Amazon.com, put it in the case and put it on a shelf on my desk… and there it has remained, collecting dust.

So, starting today, I plan to use my iPad for genealogical research, and no other computer, for one week.

I am actually doing 2 types of “research” right now. Each day I try to continue to go through my RootsMagic database, check each individual and update his/her file. This entails both looking for new data and reviewing what I already have for that person and making sure everything is entered (SOURCES!!!) correctly into the database. I am also going through my Surname folders and uploading images to the Photos/Documents pages of this blog (see menu at top of page).

But first, there are a couple of preliminary tasks to complete using my desktop HP computer:

  1. update the GEDCOM being used by the FamViewer app
  2. upload any new images to SkyDrive so I can access them on my iPad

These present some continued problems: I can’t edit my database using FamViewer, so I can do all the research in the world, but at the end of the day, I would still have to transfer everything to RootsMagic on my desktop computer. Also, uploading new images to SkyDrive is a slow process.

So how can I resolve these issues?

To be continued…


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Serious genealogical research with an iPad? (Part 4)

In Parts 1, 2 and 3 of this series, I discussed my new iPad and my hopes of using it as a dedicated genealogical research tablet. I installed some useful apps and even discovered an e-book written specifically for this purpose.

My iPad was quickly transforming into that “genealogy powerhouse”, but it still needed a few more powers!

EvernoteI need to be able to take notes, save documents and images, and then somehow get everything back to my desktop computer. For these tasks, Evernote is the perfect tool. With Evernote, I can do all these things, and then sync it all between my iPad, my desktop computer, even my iPhone. Free! I had played around a bit with Evernote in the past, but not seriously. But with the iPad, it is perfect for my needs! A couple of iPad screenshots:

EvernoteTo the left is a view of all my Evernote notebooks and to the right is a single note with data collected about my 3rd great-grandaunt, Rebecca Ann Stanley. As you can see, Evernote saves notes and images. Luv it!

I also occasionally want to print out a document or photo. Not so easy with an iPad, as I don’t have a wireless printer (no place to plug a non-wireless printer into an iPad!). But Evernote again comes to my rescue. Whatever needs to be printed is synced between all my devices, so I just open up my desktop Evernote program and print the item with my regular printer. Not a direct solution to the problem of printing, but still very workable.

My next task was find a way to research on the Internet more effectively. The native browser for an iPad is Safari, which I really don’t like. Google’s Chrome or Mozilla’s Firefox browsers are, in my opinion, much faster and easier to use. Old habits die hard… I can still use download and use Chrome, but every link on the iPad automatically opens in Safari. So it’s a lot of busywork to use Chrome.

But unless I jailbreak my iPad, which I don’t want to do, I’m stuck with Safari. Better learn to live with it! So what I did was basically force myself to use Safari and get more comfortable with it. To that end, I exported my genealogy bookmarks to Evernote for easy access and also created a second encrypted note containing usernames and passwords for Ancestry.com, Fold3.com, FamilySearch.org, etc. I’ll just have to manage…

With the “surfing” problem solved, the last item on my iPad to-do list was to have the ability to view and update my genealogy database with my new research findings. When I first began working with my new iPad, I installed an app from my iPhone called FamViewer, which gives me read-only access to my database. I can refer to it as needed, but can’t add or change anything.

RootsMagic is what I use on my desktop PC for my genealogy database and would never change, and the word is that an iOs app will be available soon, perhaps by the end of the year for RootsMagic. Until then, I can only wait… ;)

Lean, mean, ancestor-hunting machine!After a few more little tweaks (adding many of my genealogy reference books, in .pdf format, to the iBooks app that comes with iPad, installing the Nook app for more books, and adding an app for handwritten notes), my almost-new iPad 2 is now a lean, mean, ancestor-hunting machine!

Also in this series:


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Serious genealogical research with an iPad? (Part 3)

In Part 1 and Part 2 of this series, I posted about “acquiring” an almost-new iPad 2 and my thoughts of turning it into a dedicated genealogy research tablet. I then essentially returned it to a factory-new condition, and added apps for social networking, image manipulation and file storage, and also a GEDCOM viewer.

My iPad was transforming, but still…

The more I worked with this little marvel, I began to realize that there were some gaping holes that needed to be filled before it could truly function independently. I wanted to be able to take it to the library or to the cemetery or other such research trip and be able to use it as I would my desktop HP: take notes, do internet searches, download documents, even print as needed.

Turn Your iPad into a Genealogy PowerhouseMore Google searching led me to a must-have for the genealogist with an iPad or similar tablet computer:

Lisa’s book is well-written, easy to read and full of tips for using an iPad as a genealogical research tool.

The book starts out with a discussion of what Lisa calls the “tablet mindset”:

While laptops use software, the tablet leans on apps and Cloud access to get jobs done. On a laptop you organize your files into folders on your hard drive. While tablets do have memory storage, they are designed to have the bulk of your files organized and stored on the Cloud using third party tools ….

Ok, makes perfect sense!

Lisa also suggests making a Genealogy To-Do Wish List, or specifically what I want my iPad to be able to do. As I had already created my list and acted upon it, only a few items still needed work:

  • take notes
  • print items
  • research on the Internet more effectively
  • update my genealogy database

(to be continued)

Also in this series: