Saturday, December 31, 2011

Genealogy Resolutions for 2012

1.  Organize My Online Life
I have a miniscule presence online.  I have a website, blog, online family tree, Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and Tumblr. There may be others I have forgotten ;)  I need to streamline and coordinate these into an organized structure.  Until I had time to spend creating and updating content, I have been reluctant to post these "out there".  I will get past my fears, digitize my life, and create a small online presence.

I have no grand illusions of publication, expertise, or other motives.  I feel I can communicate well and hope to use my online accounts to connect with distant cousins, and researchers and historians in places my family resided.

1a.  Improve My Blog
I anticipate using this blog as the focal point to my above-mentioned online presence.  I will find time to write and publish posts on a regular basis, starting with once a week.  I will spend time tweaking my blog...and leave it alone.

2. Organize My Offline Life
I will keep up with my paper filing.  I will create a better physical workspace, as our current setup of computers and folding tables can hinder smooth research. I will stop using genealogy as my reward for finishing offline chores.  I would never have time for research!  I can afford at least couple hours each week to myself.

3.  Continue Digital Projects
Since Santa was nice enough to bring me a new laptop that doesn't take 10 minutes to fully boot, I will take time to transfer and re-organize my genealogy data from my old laptop onto this one.  I will begin in earnest to connect and organize my digital photos and records to my Legacy Family Tree master file.

4.  Help Others
I spent time over the past two years photographing three area cemeteries and helping to update and upload photos to FindAGrave.  I will digitize the 2,000+ photos to donate to the local history department at my public library.  I would like resume to transcribing records for Family Search.

5. Help Myself
I will work on my own brick walls in 2012, either by continued online research or by learning more about the geographic or historic facts of the areas in which these ancestors lived.

Major Brick Walls:

Find Asa SPENCER's parents
          (Asa c1783-1859, lived Shaftsbury, Bennington, Vermont)
Find Irish origins of my McBRIDE line
          (emigrated to County Durham, England then to Illinois)
Find Irish origins of my KERR line
          (emigrated to Kilbirnie, Ayr, Scotland then to Illinois)
Find Carolina EBINGER's parents
          (Carrie born 1849 in Tafern, Backnang, Wuerttemburg, Germany)

I think that's a good start!

Happy New Year and Happy Researching!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Genealogy, Technology and the Cloud

Today I read with interest an entry on Marian Pierre-Louis' "Roots and Rambles" blog (read it here) about difficulties in the "cloud".  The cloud is current terminology used to explain how our online email, files, and other cyberactivities are stored away from our own computer.  An example is Google, where the user is able to access their email or other content on any computer, rather than only from home.

I have been a Google products user for many, many years. I have several Gmail accounts, this Blogger account, and joined Google+ earlier this year. I love Google.  Offering terrific, simple products for FREE is awesome. Over time, I never had a problem with any of my Google products until earlier this year.  I attempted to access my genealogy-specific Gmail account.  I received a warning that it was suspected of being hacked and was therefore unavailable.  Nothing I could do could gain me access.

Using, coincidentally, Google to search what happens when an email account is locked down, I learned I had two options: enter information demonstrating I am the owner, or providing a cell phone number.  As an inheritently private person, I was very leery of the phone number option.  Off I went to try to prove the account was really mine.  I tried to complete the Account Recovery Form.  The information requested was almost impossible, especially with some of the answers "locked up" inside my Gmail account!

I relented and provided my cell phone number.  I almost instantly received a recovery code and had access to my account within minutes.

What did I learn?

1.  Hackers and spammers are everywhere..

2.  I changed my password and backed up my blog posts immediately.

3.  I learned how to view and be alerted when my Gmail account may have been opened in an unfamiliar location.  In the bottom right corner of your Gmail page is a "Details" link.  Click it and see the last 10 IP locations where your account was opened.  Mine usually shows the same two: home internet connection and smartphone access.

I am keeping my Google products, as an informed consumer.