Tag Archives: Rootstech

RootsTech 2014 is here

Innovator’s Day was kinda crazy. I managed to hit a couple classes and learned some interesting tidbits about FamilySearch’s plans for the coming year. I connected with some incredible geneabloggers, and others who don’t blog but should ’cause, wow they’ve got some interesting information to add to the discussion.

Chris Dancy’s keynote was fascinating. I crave data, and hate to make decisions on a whim, without any real basis, so more data always seems good. My fitbit has been my constant companion for over a year and I like it that way. But 11 different sensors on his body? Seriously?

We walk a fine line between getting data for ourselves and the inherent privacy risk that comes when that same data can be intercepted by others. I wanted to ask Chris Dancy about how he responds to privacy concerns. Yet I suspect the joke he made said it all — (and I’m paraphrasing) it would all be fine if the NSA would just release an API so we could all have access to the info they were compiling. What would EFF think?

Dancy also brought up some important points about how people interact with our digital footprint after we shed this earthly shell. (“Organic death is a breeze…Digital death is hard.”) I suggest you read Amy Coffin’s blog for more info about that part of his keynote.

Today is the first full day of Rootstech and it’s looking to be exciting. The class on CRMs (customer/constituent relationship managers) including Salesforce.com (did you know that they have a version for nonprofits that’s a $15k value they give away for free?) will speak to my geeky society-volunteer self. And I am personally offended that Judy Russell’s class on prison records was scheduled opposite Jen Baldwin’s panel on Online Trees.

The extra special event is the meetup with the Next Generation Genealogy Network at the Marriott lounge immediately following classes, at 5:30pm.  As far as I’m concerned, if you are not there, you are square 😉

That plenty of good for one day and I’m trying to keep my schedule loose otherwise. The expo hall is huge (in a different area than previous years) and I’ve learned that pacing myself will keep my energy up rather than petering out by day 2. Wish me luck!

Rootstech 2013 Call for Papers Wishlist

The Call for Papers deadline for Rootstech 2013 is fast approaching, and a number of folks have asked what kind of presentations attendees would like to see.  I’ve answered a couple piecemeal but I wanted to share my wish list with the community at large.

Rootstech 2012 was my first. I was one of those who found that without any advanced genealogy user topics, and a lot of beginner classes on tech, I pretty quickly ditched the user sessions and went to beginner developer sessions where I was at least learning something.  I’d like to see classes geared toward the tech-savvy non-developers.

Here is my off-the-top-of-my-head list of what I’d like to see at the next Rootstech:

1) How to incorporate APIs into personal website
I’m pretty tech savvy, but generally don’t consider myself a developer due to the cold sweat I experience when I think about integrating an API into my website.  Is that even possible? How would I start? Is that gonna piss off my website host?  Break it down folks —  demystify the API.

2) Great WordPress (.org) plugins for the genealogist
Yup, I’ve switched from .com to .org, and thanks to some recent webinars and my own googling skills, I’m getting the hang of my own WordPress install, but with so many plugins to choose from, I’m sure I’m missing some opportunities.  Show me a few must haves, a few worth considering, and a few to avoid like the plague.

3) WordPress.com for blogging
Okay, this is less for me than for others…other tech savvy folks who still say “but WordPress is so complicated.”  It’s not, and those someones just need a road map and some hand holding to convince them that, yes, it’s worth trying.

4) Techniques for teaching tech-curious genealogists
I love my genie friends.  Some are truly tech curious, but I don’t always have the tools to show them the way.  But I teach classes on tech & genealogy, so I would love to know what else people are having good successes with.  Let’s compare notes and raise everyone up.

5) iPads for presenters
We all saw them last year at Rootstech, and we’ll see more of them this year.  When I’m looking at ditching my laptop, I’m asking how do I use the iPad at a library, and how do I use it for presentations. I can’t be the only one.

6) Comparisons of Database formats
MySQL, Access, Perl, CSV…I know enough to know I’m not scratching the surface.  Designing the DB is one thing, but what are the advantages and disadvantages of using different types? What questions does a society ask when looking for a DBA to work with data that exists or is to be added via our vast team of indexers who don’t want to know the details of the backend DB?

7) Open-source & Creative Commons Genealogy
This stuff is pricey. Societies and individuals are all on shoestring budgets, so what is out there that is open-source? Why should we consider Creative Commons rather than traditional copyright.

8) TNG
Help me get into the nitty-gritty of this tempting software.  What do I need to know to install it on my own web server?  Once again, is my host gonna be angry with me for trying it?  How do I lock it down for security or make it open enough for cousin bait.  And what’s this about a WordPress plugin?  Tell. Me. More.

9) How to effectively use <insert website here> example: NARA
This is where we can fill in as many class slots as you want.  When I attended Jamboree 2012, some of my favorite classes where just people who knew a complicated and intimidating website really well.  And they broke down some of the walls that keep  me from using those sites effectively.  Show me the back doors.  Show me the stuff that I can’t get to by clicking on “advance search.”  I RTFM so show me what the FM doesn’t tell me.

10) Mac Power Tools
I don’t mean to get preachy, but I don’t own a drop of Microsoft (no really, Silverlight is probably the only MS software on all of my computers combined and that’s only because NEHGS requires it to view their databases…oh and Skype, because it was bought out after I installed it – I haven’t given a penny to MS in probably 15 years). I know MS is a show sponsor, but I want to see Mac power tools at work in ways I haven’t thought of.  And please don’t make it a class on Reunion. Cause they didn’t even bother coming to the last Rootstech and took 5 years for their most recent update. Show me how to use Keynote to lay out family history websites or any of the rest of iWork for that matter. Show me comparisons of Mac database programs (okay, okay, I guess you could include Reunion, but please don’t start waxing poetic about it).  Treat me, a Mac User, like a full-fledged geek and not someone who just doesn’t know any better.  Because all of the hardcore computer geeks that I know in the SF Bay Area have already dumped their PCs (or at least run another *nix).  And I’ll be fresh from Macworld, so give me something that will build on that. (BTW, last Rootstech did not build on that, except that I saw tons of people using iPads in every single class I was in…hmm…something you folks should think about).

I could go on.

I know it’s only a few days left before the deadline for papers.  I sure hope there are some great workshops coming through, whether we get anything from of my wish list or not.  I really do love the opportunity to hang out with other tech-loving ancestor-hunting friends.

What do you think of this list?  Have any other’s to add?

Jamboree 2012

I am just back from Burbank for the annual celebration of genealogy, Jamboree.  The folks at Southern California Genealogical Society put on a great event that I have to recommend.  I’ve yet to go to one of the national conferences, but this regional event packs a punch.  Don’t let anyone say you have to travel to the midwest or east coast for good genealogy because the west coast is where it’s at.

One thing that struck me was the quality of tech related talks.  I was disappointed with the classes designed for users during the last Rootstech in Salt Lake City.  It’s a new conference, but I felt that they offered little for the intermediate to advanced computer user, which is why I ended up leaving classes and landing in the beginner developer classes.

At Jamboree, on the other hand, many classes spoke to tech issues for researchers, like how to effectively use a certain website, or mobile options for genealogists. These classes bridged the divide between researchers and the tools available to them.  After all, technology is a means to an end, not the goal itself.

That doesn’t mean I won’t go to the next Rootstech.  But I do hope that organizers will offer more options for advanced users.  Equally, I hope that some of Jamboree’s speakers will consider submitting papers to have the opportunity to share their knowledge with a wider group.

For Jamboree, they need to keep doing what they’re doing.  I’m already blocking off the dates for next year and will do everything I can to attend this energizing and educational event.