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The Researchers Digital Toolbox This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial No Derivative Works

3.0 United States License. To view a copy of this license, visit nc-nd/3.0/us/ or send a request to Creative Commons, 171 Second Street, Suite 300, San Francisco, CA 94105, USA. Publisher Moultrie Creek, St. Augustine, Florida Author Denise Barrett Olson For additional information about this book and the topics discussed, visit the Book Notes page at the Moultrie Creek Gazette. The Fine Print Although the author and Moultrie Creek has made a reasonable effort to ensure the accuracy of the information contained in this publication, they assume no responsibility for errors or omissions. The information in this publication is presented as is without warranty. Every precaution has been taken in the preparation of this book. Neither the author or Moultrie Creek shall have any liability to be caused directly or indirectly by the instructions contained in this book or by the software or hardware products described here. All trademarks, service marks, product names and named features are the properties of their respective owners. Instead of including a trademark symbol at every mention of a trademarked name, we state we are using the names only in an editorial fashion and to the benet of the trademark holder with no intention of infringement of the trademark. No such use, or the use of any trade name, is meant to convey endorsement or other afliation with this title. This electronic book does not use copy protection because it restricts the buyers use of the book. We do ask if you want to share your copy of this ebook, please do it as you would a physical book. If your friend uses it regularly, he or she should buy a copy. Your support helps insure future books are also published without copy restrictions.

What is a Digital Toolbox?

The technology of research has sure changed since those analog days of the index card, pencil and library card le. Today there are a growing number of digital archives along with amazing search engines which can nd and deliver a name buried deep inside a collection physically located thousands of miles away. Even when working with paper archives, digital tools offer many types of support. Digital cameras - or even camera phones - make it easy to create your own copy of the original records you nd. There are also digital tools to help you organize and store your notes and collected ephemera for easy retrieval. This guide presents a collection of tools that will support your genealogical research efforts. These are generalpurpose tools that will help you nd, collect and organize information about your family history. I won't presume to tell you how to research. You will need to look at the tools presented here and determine if and how they can t into your workow.

Email has all but replaced postal mail as the medium of choice for business and personal correspondence. For family researchers, email provides a way to connect and share genealogical data, photos, historical documents and so much more. While more and more research - as well as personal and business information - now resides in our inbox, many of us know little about the email systems we use and the software available to manage them.

What is Email?
Electronic mail, or email, is a way to send digital messages across computer networks and the Internet. It is made up of a network of mail servers which serve as post ofces for storing and forwarding email messages. Instead of an envelope with addresses written on them, email uses a header area for this information. In addition to the senders and recipients addresses, the header also contains control information, a date stamp showing when the message was sent and the subject line of the message. Unlike postal mail, a single email message can be sent to multiple recipients. The mail servers look at the information contained in the header and move the message on its way to the correct mail server destination. Once there, it is "placed" in the appropriate user mailbox. The body of an email message can contain text, graphics, photos and document attachments.

Choosing a Service
Most of us use the email service provided by our Internet Service Provider (ISP). This is not your only email option and, especially for family research, not the best option. People move and ISPs come and go and your email address will change as a result. In the 15 years we've lived in this house, our ISP has changed four times. And, I'm still nding posts on genealogy bulletin boards from even older addresses. No wonder I'm not getting any responses! A good option for researchers is one of the large portal services like Google, Yahoo or Microsoft. Using one of these services will give you a personal address that will not change. And, because you are posting your email address in many "public" locations - bulletin boards, online family trees, etc. - which could attract spammers, it's a good idea to have separate email accounts for your personal mail and your research mail. If you are using any Google or Yahoo services (Google Reader, Google Books, Flickr, etc.), you already have an email account with the service. They, along with Microsoft's Hotmail, offer free email services and affordable premium upgrades. For example,Yahoo Mailprovides unlimited space for storing your messages but the free service only works as webmail. You need to upgrade to use a desktop client.Google's Gmailoffers desktop delivery, but you'll need to pay for online storage above their (7+GB) limit. I'm not sure whatHotmailoffers these days.

Choosing a service is mostly a matter of preference. I've been a Yahoo fan for years and the premium upgrade ($20/year) covers all our family accounts. It has served my family very well. I also have a Gmail account and while it's not my primary account, I use it quite frequently to interface with other Google products.

Email Protocols
Each email provider offers various delivery systems called protocols - to deliver your mail. The most common is webmail. It is a web-based application that allows you to view, manage and create email messages through your web browser. With webmail, you are working with the messages physically located on your service's mail server. This example shows a Gmail webmail screen.

A Gmail web mailbox

Webmail has many advantages - not the least of which is you can use it from anywhere you can access the Internet. The big providers also offer a mobile version of webmail that better ts the small screens on todays smart phones. You messages are stored on the server and

backed up regularly. The down side is that you have to be online to access your mail. Most email systems also offer thePOPprotocol. This protocol requires a desktop client. Your client app will connect to the email server every so often (while your computer is turned on) to check for new mail. If there is mail, a copy is downloaded to your desktop client. You can then read and respond to it at your leisure. It's only necessary to be online when you send or receive messages. Your email system's settings determine whether messages are deleted from the server once they have been downloaded to your computer. Using this protocol, you will manage and store your "keeper" messages on your computer. The email client software you use may or may not provide tools to help with these chores. The POP protocol only supports retrieving mail. Another protocol,SMTP, handles sending mail. Your primary concern with either of these protocols is to provide the necessary conguration information when you set up your desktop client to connect to your mail server. Once that's done, the client handles the rest. One last protocol,IMAP, is less well-known. Until recently it was used mostly on corporate email systems, but thanks to the growing popularity of portable devices, it's being put to wider use. Systems using the IMAP protocol maintain their inbox on the mail server. Users must be online to retrieve, read, write and send messages. This is handy for portable devices which have limited memory for message storage, but the protocol does put more demand on the mail server. Again the

biggest issue for the user is the initial conguration. The client takes over from there.

Mail Clients
As you might expect, there a large number of desktop email clients available. Probably the most popular include Outlook and Outlook Express for Windows, Apple Mail for Mac and Thunderbird for Windows, Mac and Linux. You'll nd a more complete directory of mail clients atOpen Directory. Don't be afraid to experiment with several systems to nd the one that works best for you.

Apples Mail app

Managing Email
As more and more aspects of our lives go digital, email is replacing postal mail for both business and personal correspondence. The challenge is how to organize, manage and protect this digital information. Like any other organizational system, there are many options and your system will be one that suits your own lifestyle. Here are a few suggestions: Take full advantage of your mail system. Learn its features and put them to work in your organizational system. For example, Yahoo Mail provides a folder-based system for organizing archived messages while Gmail uses labels (tags). Both systems have superb search facilities to help you nd specic messages. Create an organizational scheme - whether it be a tag list or a folder structure - that works for you. For those who prefer to use a mail client, you may want to keep copies of your "saved" messages on the mail server also. Even if you reach a point where you are paying for storage, it's still a very costefcient off-site backup location. Just remember that if your using the POP protocol to deliver email to your desktop client that 1) you'll have to congure it to keep copies at the server, 2) when you delete a message on your client, you aren't deleting it on the server and 3) when you send a message from your client, you'll have a copy in your client's sent messages folder but not necessarily the server's. Because I use a scanner and desktop document management system to digitize and store both

Mail Security

family documents and household paperwork, I "print" a lot of my messages as PDF les and include them in the system. The document management system provides a means of embedding metadata with the message and organizing it with other related documents. Choose a mail client that provides organization, archiving and backup features and learn to use them. You have spent money and effort to develop paper ling and organizational systems, why wouldn't you do the same for your email?

Email security can easily be a book of its own but there are four things you must do religiously. Create a secure password for your email account (more than 10 characters with a combination of letters, numbers and special characters) and change it frequently. Be very cautious about using public computers to access your mail. If you must use one, clear the browser's cache and history before you leave the computer and change your password as soon as you can get to a secure system. Do not download attachments unless they are coming from someone you know and it's something you are expecting. If you know the sender but weren't expecting an attachment, check with the person rst before opening the attachment. Backup! Backup! Backup! And, backup some more.

The Web Browser

Although there would be little online research without theweb browser, few people appreciate its importance. Not only does the right browser improve your online experience, some can be customized to provide awesome research support tools. It is probably the most important tool in your digital research toolbox and chances are good that you may use more than one.

Safari browser on a Mac

The browser is your window to the Internet. Every computer comes with a browser application installed. Windows computers haveInternet Explorer. Macs come withSafari. Linux computers have

eitherFirefoxorChrome. Like automobiles, all browsers have the same basic features. And, like automobiles, its how things are arranged and styled that make it the right one for you.

First, lets take a quick tour of the basic browser components. In this example, you are looking at the Safari browser installed on a Mac computer. The applications menu shows two things common to all browsers: bookmarks and history. As you browse the Web, you will nd sites you want to return to regularly. You can bookmark a site, then later just click on that saved bookmark to return to the site whenever you wish. And, as you browse, your browser maintains a history of the sites and pages you visit. Should you decide you want to go back to one of the pages you visited earlier in your browsing session, you can look at the history list to help you nd it, then click on it to return to that page. Note: If you are an Internet Explorer user, you probably arent familiar with the bookmarks term. Internet Explorer uses the term favorites.

The page title is an important reference point when browsing. It tells you the site and frequently the page you are viewing. In this example, Im viewing the home page (front page) of the Moultrie Journal site. That name appears in the browser window's title bar. Notice, too, that the title appears on the tab just below it. Most browsers allow you to have more than one site open at the same time and use tabs to make it easy to navigate between them. The titles make it easy to identify which is which. A change in the tabs color generally identies the site currently displayed.Here I have several sites open.Firefox allows me to "pin" sites in the tab bar so they're always available. The tabs for pinned sites are much smaller and only display a site icon. Here you see them to the left of the current tab. To move between sites, just click on the appropriate tab. Tabs are a researchers friend. Among other things, they mean you'll never lose a screen of search results once you get in the habit of opening the links you want to explore in a new tab.

Most browsers display the address bar and search bar next to each other, as you see in this example. The address bar is used to manually enter a URL (web address) for a specic site. You can use the search bar to enter a search word or phrase for a particular search engine. Most browsers let you choose your primary search engine, but make others easily available. In this Firefox example, Google appears as the default search engine, but there is a small down triangle next to the Google icon. Clicking on it will display other search engine options for you to select. Often you'll nd additional tools in line with the address/search bars. Youll probably see two buttons with triangle icons facing left and right. These are the back and next buttons. If I click on a link to visit a new section of a site, then decide I want to return to the original page, I would just click the back button the triangle pointing to the left. A click on the next button triangle pointing to the right would take me to the new section again.

Every browser has a home page. This is the rst page that appears when you start the browser app. You can choose the site you prefer as your home page. For example, if the rst place you want to go when you get online is your Facebook page, you can make that your home page. Look at your browsers toolbar and you should see an icon that looks like a house. This is the home button.

Click it and youll be taken directly to your home page. This button may be located in a different spot depending on your browser, but it usually appears as some kind of house icon.

Earlier I discussed the ability to create a bookmark to make it easy to return to a useful site. (Reminder: Internet Explorer users work with favorites instead of bookmarks.) Many browsers have a bookmarks bar like the one you see here so you can easily access your saved pages. In this case there are so many bookmarks that most have been arranged within folders. The titles with the down triangle icon immediately after them indicate it's a folder. Click on the triangle icon to display that folder's contents. Last stop on our tour is the scroll bar at the far right side of the browser window. Web pages operate more like ancient scrolls than paged books. The scroll bar lets you roll the text up and down to read. You can drag the highlight up or down to adjust your view. You can also use the up and down arrow keys on your keyboard to scroll through a web page. Just because a browser comes with your computer, it doesnt mean you are stuck with it. Like most applications, each has its own idiosyncrasies and you may want to test drive different browsers to nd the one that best ts your research style. Its not unusual to

have more than one browser installed on your computer. I currently have three installed on mine. One works better for research, while another has features I nd handy when Im building web sites. The third makes my social browsing a lot more fun. Heres a look at several popular browsers so you can see for yourself.


Firefox browser on a Mac

Firefox[Windows, Mac & Linux - free] is an open source browser created and maintained byMozilla. Released in 2004, it broke the Internet Explorer monopoly with a browser full of new and useful features. It introduced tabbed browsing, security features, design themes and add-ons for additional functionality. There areadd-onsto

help your research efforts, share your nds with others or organize your social networks. Firefox also has a mobile browser available for Android phones. A sync feature keeps bookmarks synchronized between your desktop and mobile versions of Firefox. Although there isnt a browser available for iPhones, there is a free Firefox Home app that make your Firefox desktop tabs and bookmarks available to your iPhone browser.


Chrome browser

Chrome[Windows, Mac & Linux - free] from Google offers speed and simplicity. Its minimalist design leaves more screen room for viewing your sites content. This doesnt mean that Chrome is lacking in features. It also

offers tabbed browsing, security and a number of apps, extensions and themes to customize your browser. TheChrome Web Storeputs all these extras in easy reach. Curiously, Android mobile devices do not use the Chrome browser, although Android's default browser does have many of the features found in Chrome.


Safari browser

As Apples desktops and mobile devices gained popularity, so did theirSafaribrowser [Windows, Mac &

iOS - free]. Safari doesnt offer as many whistles and bells as Firefox or Chrome, but those it has are quite impressive. For example, the Safari Reader feature presents the current pages article as continuous text without the clutter of the sites design or distracting advertisements. The extensions gallery offers search tools, social networking functionality and many other tasks. Bookmarks can be synchronized with iOS devices (iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch) via iCloud.


Opera browser

WhileOpera[Windows, Mac, Linux & mobile - free] isnt as well-known as other desktop browsers, it has been a major force in mobile phone browsers for some time. There is an Opera browser available for just about any phone with web capabilities. Opera on the desktop

offers an impressive collection of extensions, widgets and add-ons.

Dolphin Mobile Browser

Dolphin mobile browser

Browsing the Web on a mobile device can be a challenge. In addition to the small screens, there are now all shapes and sizes of tablets too. Yes, many web sites provide mobile-friendly editions of their site, but not all mobile browsers take advantage of the site designers efforts. Fortunately there are now more browser choices and you arent just stuck with your devices default browser. One of those options is theDolphin Browser[iOS and Android - free]. Dolphin offers versions for both phones and tablets (the Dolphin Tab for Android tablets is still in beta and

requires Android 4.0) to insure that both device types get the best browsing experience possible. Each version includes features like Sonar voice search on the Android phone app making it as easy as possible to use. Another one of those features is gestures. You draw a simple character or symbol on your screen to perform an action or display a site. For example, one of the default gestures is G which will bring up the Google search page. You can easily create your own gestures to do the things you want to do.

Internet Explorer

Internet Explorer on Windows

Internet Explorer[Windows - free] has been the dominant browser since the late 1990s and while it still has the largest number of users, those numbers have been shrinking steadily as these other browsers gain popularity. With the latest version, Microsoft is nally catching up with the other browsers in functionality. However, there are still security issues requiring extra caution. In addition, users with older versions of Windows cannot upgrade to the latest version of Internet Explorer. Moving to a different browser is the only upgrade option for these users to take advantage of the latest browsing features. Speaking of updates, it is important for all users to maintain their browsers. As technology improves web functionality, only the most current browsers can deliver those features to your desktop. Check your browser regularly to see if an updated version has been released. Installation is quick and easy. Not only will you insure the best browsing experience, you will be maintaining the highest level of security available for your browser. Yes, change can be uncomfortable, but the time and effort you spend test-driving and moving to a new browser can improve your browsing and research experience signicantly. As I said earlier, you can have multiple browsers installed at the same time so you can experiment and make your move a gradual one. I think youll be pleasantly surprised with the results.

Google:The Digital Research Assistant

Google provides so many useful services that its almost impossible to do online research without it. Your free Google account gives you access to email, search, blogging, photo-sharing, news reading, and so much more. Heres a look at some of those features and how you can use them as part of your family history research efforts.

At the top of the Google list is their amazing search engine. You dont need a Google account to search, but it is needed to take advantage of saved searches and Google Alerts. These features can generate a continuous search that will let you know when something is found. Theres so much functionality available with search that Google has an entire site Inside Search devoted to describing all its features and how to use them. Google Readeris the leading news reader today. If you arent using the actual Google Reader platform to read

your news and blog feeds, the app you are using probably connects to Google Reader to manage your subscriptions. And, whether youre using Google Reader or an associated app on multiple computers, it will keep you synchronized so you wont have to process the same content twice. Bloggeris the primary reason genea-bloggers exist. Its free and easy to learn yet can grow with you as you become more procient. It also takes advantage of another Google property Picasa to store and present the images you include in your posts. Google eBooksis a huge library of current and public domain books and periodicals that are both searchable and readable online. The public domain collection includes many historical publications that the family history researcher will nd useful and many books are also offered as e-book downloads for e-reader devices. Are you looking for directions to a family cemetery or trying to nd an ancestors village?Google MapsandGoogle Earthare both mapping platforms but each offers its own features. Google Maps is available online and provides both mapped and written directions to a specic address or GPS position. Combined with search, it can help you nd libraries, local attractions or even a good seafood restaurant while traveling. And Google Maps on a smart phone is the poor mans GPS system. Google Earth requires an application installed on your desktop or device. Google Earth is more a big book atlas while Google Maps is more a road atlas, but both serve many of the same functions.

Google Maps

Should you want to collaborate with a research cousin on a writing project or just share les,Google Docsoffers a platform for both. Using Google Docs, you and your collaborators can even do all your editing online. The word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation software are web-based applications built into the platform. It doesnt matter that you use Microsoft Ofce on a Windows system and Cousin Jane has a Mac with iWork. The document youre working on resides at Google Docs and is edited using the appropriate Google app. As soon as you create your Google account, you automatically receive aGmailaccount. It is a very nice web-based mail system and if you already have a personal email account, this could work well as your research address. As discussed in the earlier section on

email, having an account with one of the large portals is preferable for research because your email address will remain the same even through changes in physical addresses, Internet providers, and computer systems. All of the services discussed here are available at no charge. There is, however, a limit to the amount of storage (for messages, docs, and photos) in free accounts. Storage upgrades start at $5.00 a year for 20GB. For all these services, its a very reasonable price. These are just a few of the many services Google offers, but they are all indispensable tools for the online genealogy researcher. Yes, Google will serve you well as a diligent and hard-working research assistant.

Research Delivered: The News Reader

One of the most useful tools a researcher has is the news reader. It is an extremely efcient way to keep up with a large number of information sources. Unlike your email inbox where you must physically action everything that lands in it, with a news reader you only have to "touch" the items you want to keep or action. Everything else is marked as read and removed from your view automatically. And, with a good news reader and a little effort, you can set yourself up to have a surprising amount of research delivered right to your desktop.

Google Reader

The news reader is designed to nd and display new content from any number of news feeds you have subscribed to. A news feed is content arranged in a

standardized format to support this online distribution process. As a result, web servers worldwide can recognize not only that content is being published as a news feed, but will also recognize the components of each article (title, author, source, summary, contents, etc.). News feeds come from a continually growing number of sources. Most news sources publish content as news feeds. All blog platforms have been designed to allow their content to be distributed as feeds. Many research archives announce updates to their collections as news feeds. Some search engines offer the capability to save search criteria, have the search platform automatically re-run them at specied intervals, then present the results as a feed. You build the search, subscribe to the results feed and forget it. When results are found, they will be delivered automatically to your news reader. Unlike email, a news reader doesn't deliver content from unknown sources. Only feeds you've subscribed to will appear in your newsreader. In addition to displaying all this goodness, the news reader makes it easy to manage it. Your news reader will help you nd and subscribe to any number of feed sources, organize them into categories and provide features to help you process the information you receive. Processing the information is what makes a news reader so useful. With email, you must manually remove unwanted items from your inbox. With a news reader, as you scroll past items they are automatically marked as read and removed from the display. You only need to "process" content you want to keep or action in some

way. For example, you're scrolling through your latest collection of news items and you see one about a new online database that you think your friend, Margaret, would nd useful. Click a button, insert Margaret's email address and hit Send. It's on its way to Margaret and, as you keep scrolling down, it's off your desktop. The news reader arena continues to change. Most browsers have some form of news reader built into them, but they are not the most efcient processors of content. A web-based news reader is useful, especially when you regularly work on multiple computers. In this category you'll ndGoogle ReaderandBloglines. Both have signicant support for research-friendly features that support your efforts.

Bloglines newsreader

There are a growing number of platforms using the Google Reader engine to manage subscriptions and content but providing a prettier interface. Using Google Reader for subscription management means you can keep your news synced between multiple applications or devices. These range from web services

likeFeedlywhich present your feeds in a magazine-style view to desktop apps such as Feed Demon (Windows) and NetNewsWire (Mac) fromNews Gator. In addition, there are mobile apps for the iPhone, Blackberry, Android and other smart phones which use Google to keep your feeds synced to whatever reader you're viewing at the moment. I like theByLineapp [link opens in iTunes] for the iPhone/Touch because it actually downloads my Google Reader content so it's available to read ofine. iPad users will ndNews Rack[link opens in iTunes] handy. It syncs with Google Reader and makes it easy to process large numbers of feeds. News Rack also includes features for forwarding news items via email and many popular social networks. If you're a feed junky like me, it's well worth the $4.99 price tag.

Feedly newsreader

Finding Feeds
News sources and blog platforms generally distribute their content using a standard known as really simple syndication - or RSS - and are commonly known as RSS feeds. As you wander around the Web, you've probably noticed RSS icons similar to the one you see below. When you see it, you know some or all of the site's content is being distributed as a news feed. Often, all you need to do is click on the icon to start the subscription process. If you don't see the icon anywhere, use the site's search box and search for "RSS". Larger sites often have multiple feeds available. In this case, they may have a page listing all their feeds. Your search will help you nd both a single site feed and/or the feeds list page. Some browsers can detect when a web site contains a news feed. In the example below, the Safari browser displays an RSS box in the address bar when it detects a news feed on the displayed site.

Once you've found a feed that you want to add to your news reader, you need to capture the feed's URL and add it as a new subscription. This can happen in several ways, but the basic steps are quite similar.

Feedburner subscription screen

If the site uses a service like Feedburner to manage their feeds, the service often provides a simple subscription page similar to the one you see here. It appears when you click on the RSS feed icon and all you have to do is click on the button for your news reader and off you go. Usually, however, subscribing to news feeds is at least a two step process: 1) copy the address of the feed and 2) paste it into your news reader's subscription form. In the example below, clicking on Safari's RSS icon in the address bar displays the feed's screen. Select and copy the entire address from the address bar.

Sample view of a newsfeed

Now, open your news reader site - Google Reader in the example below - and click on the Subscribe button. When the address eld appears, paste the feed URL into the eld and click the Add button.

Paste the feed address here to add it to Google Reader When you rst subscribe to a feed, your news reader will initially display a default number of the most recent feed items. From then on, the news reader will check each of your subscriptions every so often to see if new

content has been published. If so, it will collect that content and feed it to you. Each news reader has settings you can adjust to determine things like how often the news reader should check for new content and how much content - either just an excerpt or the entire article - should be displayed.

Organizing Feeds
As your subscription collection grows, you may nd you want to group them by topic or priority. Most news readers offer either a folder or category capability to help you do this. The example below shows a sample collection of folders as they appear in the Google Reader settings pane. Once the folders have been created, subscriptions can be assigned to them either as you set up your subscription or through the subscription list displayed when you click on the Subscriptions tab shown here.

Google Reader folders sample

This feature is especially useful when you have limited time to read and you just want to look at your favorite

topics. It serves much the same purpose as sections in your daily newspaper.

Managing Your Content

Both web-based news readers such as Google Reader and news apps like Taptu provide tools for managing the content delivered to your news reader. Most will automatically mark content as read once you have scrolled past it. You do, however, have options for saving and sharing content items you nd interesting. Most readers offer the ability to forward items to your favorite social networks and as email messages. You can often "star" a content item to save it within the reader for later reference. If your reader provides the ability to send an item to Evernote, that's always useful. If not, you can put the Email to Evernote capability to use. Once you get comfortable with your reader's management tools, you'll nd you can quickly process the mundane items which then gives you more time to focus on the content most important to you.

Google Alerts form

Since news readers can collect information from any RSS source, they open up even more opportunities for researchers. Take advantage of Google Alerts to save a search and have Google perform it regularly for you. You can choose to have any discovered results delivered by email or - even better - by RSS feed. It's also quite possible that your favorite archives announce their latest additions via RSS feed. Are you using eBay's saved search function to get notied when books, postcards or old photos go up for sale? Why not have those results delivered to your news reader instead of your inbox? Soon you'll nd you're looking for that RSS icon whenever you nd an interesting online source so you can have your research delivered to your news reader.

Diigo: Bookmarks Go Social

As you discover online web resources related to your genealogy research, youll nd the collection of bookmarks youve saved in your browser quickly becomes an organizational nightmare. Even if you spend the time and effort to organize your bookmarks into folders, you will still nd yourself looking at a bookmark and wondering why you saved that one. Fortunately theres an online platform designed to help you nd your way around the research waypoints youve saved on the Web and a whole lot more. Its calledDiigo. When you bookmark a web page in Diigo, that bookmark is saved in your online Diigo prole so it is available to you whenever and wherever youre online. Unlike the bookmarks saved in your browser, your Diigo bookmarks are available from any computer. And, if you want to share the bookmarks youve collected on Huguenots in South Carolina with a research cousin, all you do is check the items you want to send, then select Send To and enter your cousins address. If this is all Diigo did, it would be an impressive tool. Fortunately for us, this is just the beginning. Lets take a look at how Diigo can make your research life easier.

A Diigo bookmarks library

Heres a look at my bookmarks library in Diigo. Each item includes a title that links back to the original web page and several tags or keywords used to organize my links. Several of my bookmarks have additional notes describing the contents of the page at the other end of the bookmark. In the sidebar on the left is my tags list. Instead of folders, Diigo uses tags to organize bookmarks. Actually, tags are much more efcient than folders. Often a bookmark ts into several different categories multiple surnames, places or types of information. With folders, either you put a copy into each related folder or build some sort of indexing system to document which folder you used. With tags, you just keep adding the keywords needed to describe the item.

Finding specic items is just as easy. If I want to see all the bookmarks Ive saved on Florida history, all I need to do is type those keywords into the search box at the top of my bookmark list.

Using tags to find bookmarks

Diigo does the searching for me. Here Diigo has presented me with a collection of 162 items matching my Florida and history tags. Now, look at the Related Tags listed in the sidebar. It displays additional tags associated with the bookmarks included in this link collection. I can use them to narrow my search even further. Notice the military tag with a 10 in parentheses. This means there are ten bookmarks tagged with Florida, history and military in my collection. If I click the plus sign in front of the military tag it will be added to my Selected Tags list and the displayed collection will be redrawn to just show those bookmarks. While the Related Tags have plus icons in front of them, the

Selected Tags have minus icons. I can click the minus icon to remove a tag from the selected list and redraw the list of bookmarks again. Each bookmark in my library has a checkbox in front of it. These are used to perform functions on several bookmarks at one time. If I want to send the three archaeology links to my sister, I just check each of those items then choose the Send To item from the More Actions drop-down menu at the top of my bookmarks list.

Diigo Send To box

When the Send To box appears, I add an address and note, then send it on its way. Now that youve seen what the Diigo platform looks like, its time to see how you can get started in Diigo. The rst step is to set up your free account. If you

already have a Google, Yahoo, Twitter or Facebook account, you can use it to register. This means youll only need to remember the one login. Once youre set up and logged in, go to the Tools page (the link is located at top of every Diigo screen) to install the appropriate toolbar/extension for your browser. The tools page knows which operating system and browser you are using and will recommend the best choice for you. When thats done, youre ready to start bookmarking. In these examples, Im using Firefox on a Mac with the Diigo plugin. While the basic operation will be the same, the appearance may look a bit different from one browser to another. In my browser, Ive chosen not to display the Diigo toolbar to save space. Instead I have a single button in the navigation toolbar. Youll see it as the blue button with a white d to the right of the back/ next buttons. When I nd a page I want to bookmark, I just click the down arrow on that button and choose Bookmark this page.

Diigo Add a Bookmark panel

The bookmark form appears with the URL and page title already included along with several recommended tags. The page title comes from the web page and while this one does describe the page nicely, that may not always be the case. You can change the title to something more descriptive. The title becomes the displayed title of your bookmark in your library. The Description eld is extremely useful. It can be used to describe what you found on this page or it can be a note pointing to where that information is. You can also copy/paste text excerpts from the page. This is the text that appears under the bookmark title in your library. To use the recommended tags, just click on them. Add more by typing them in the Tags eld separated by a space. If you want a multiple-word tag, it should be surrounded by quotes. The checkbox at the top of the form will make this bookmark private. This means it will only be visible to you in your bookmarks library. If you look at the rst library screenshot at the top of this article, youll notice the rst bookmark has a tiny padlock icon to the left of the title. This is a private bookmark and only appears when I view my list. You can come look at my library at any time, but you wont see any of my private bookmarks. That being said, I would not recommend using Diigo or any other online bookmark system for truly condential bookmarks such as your online banking, insurance or medical providers. Back in the bookmark information pane, you can expand the More Options section, youll see additional

options for this bookmark. Notice the checkbox to share this bookmark with a group. More on that later. Click Save and your bookmark is added to your Diigo library. You can use the Save & Send button to save it to your library and send the bookmark information on to others. As we are about to see, Diigo is a very collaborative platform. When the complete toolbar is displayed, you can use it to highlight text on the bookmarked page, add comments and even capture all or part of the page.

Sample highlights and sticky note

After clicking the highlighter button on the toolbar, just drag your mouse across some text to highlight it. Now, every time you come back to this page you will see the highlight. You can also add comments, which are visible in the sidebar, and sticky notes, which display a note icon directly on the page that opens when you click on

it. In the sticky note form displayed above, youll notice the drop-down button lets you determine if this will be a private or public note.

This example shows there are annotations associated with this bookmark. Annotated bookmarks appear as such in your Diigo library as you can see here. Click on the annotations note to display their contents as shown below.

Annotations displayed

By combining the indexing data inputted when bookmarking a page with annotations, you can build a very useful library of bookmarks for your research. You can use these tools to highlight the text you nd interesting and add notes about its relevance or even point to other sources related to this one. And, when you share bookmarks with others, you choose whether you want to include these annotations or not.

Diigo offers an impressive collection of tools for the researcher, but this is just the beginning. Diigo Groups give people sharing the same interests an opportunity to build a collective directory of resources. And, as you might imagine, the genealogy community is quite active here. TheGenealogy Research Resourcesgroup has over 400 members and more than 2500 bookmarks with more being added regularly. A search for genealogy in Diigo Groups returns more than150 groups.

A sample discussion in a Diigo group

The commenting feature is especially useful in groups, giving group members the opportunity to discuss the contents found at a source site or evaluate its reliability. Every group offers an RSS feed that publishes each new addition to the group library as a news feed. Just

subscribe to the feed in your news reader and youll have this research delivered to your desktop. Diigo offers both free and premium user accounts. With a free account, you enjoy unlimited bookmarks, a maximum of 1000 highlights a year and 30 cached pages. A basic account ($20/year) offers unlimited bookmarks and highlights plus full-text search. The premium account ($40/year) adds unlimited cached pages and screen captures to the basic plan. There is also an educators plan available giving teachers handy tools for working with their students. Diigos bookmarking, annotation and sharing features make it a powerful research tool. With it, youll quickly nd your way around the Internets vast collection of content. Its easy to get started and youll soon nd any number of ways to put it to work for you.

Research Notes Management

Can you imagine research without notes? Neither can I. Taking notes is as personal as it is imperative. We all have our own style and habits which impact how we take and organize our research notes. I was taught to use index cards with one card for each bit of information I uncovered - along with its source. That format suited me well in my analog youth, allowing me to rearrange my notes both for analysis and to organize my thoughts when I was ready to start writing. The digital world has made note-taking a lot easier.Evernoteis an amazing platform that makes it easy to capture all or part of a web page and save it to a virtual notebook. Add a few tags and let Evernote's search function pull together your notes on a particular family, location or topic in a matter of seconds.In addition to capturing web pages, you can email notes, images and documents to your Evernote account and you can even manually type notes when needed. Got a microphone or headset attached to your desktop or mobile device? You can record an audio note and include it in your Evernote collection.

Adding a note from the browser.

Your notes are maintained in your online account and there are desktop and mobile apps insuring access to your research wherever you are. Install Evernote extensions in your browser and you can capture web content with just a click on the Evernote button as shown in the example above.

A note displayed in the Evernote desktop app for the Mac.

Notes and clippings are organized into notebooks, but tags are also used to make searching easy. Common searches can be saved and new notes matching the search criteria will automatically be included in that saved search. Evernote offers both a free and premium service. The premium service [$5.00/mo or $45.00/yr] gives you more storage, more upload volume, more collaboration and more security. It also allows you to take your notebooks ofine so you can access your research information even when you aren't connected to the Internet. As impressive as Evernote is, there are times when computers, tablets or even smart phones aren't appropriate for the event or venue. There's still an awesome digital tool that can support your note-taking efforts even in the most austere circumstances. TheLivescribedigital pen and companion notebooks let

you take handwritten notes while recording audio conversations or presentations. Both your notes and the audio canthen be transferred to your computer once you get home. And, both the text and the audio are synchronized so that when you tap/click on a word in your notes, Livescribe will play back the audio that was recorded at that point in your note-taking.

The Livescribe desktop on a Mac

In the above example, you're looking at the notes I took at a conference after they had been downloaded to the Livescribe Desktop app. The text in green has audio associated with it. By clicking on any word in those notes, Livescribe will start playing back the audio from that point. The pane that appears to oat over the desktop provides control of the audio.

Sending a page to Evernote via Livescribe Connect

Livescribe Connect provides access to their own MyLivescribe cloud where your research can be uploaded for easy access and sharing. This makes it easy to synch notes with mobile devices too. Livescribe notes can also be forwarded to your Evernote account, adding even more functionality to your research system.

Displaying content stored at Livescribe Connect

In addition to Evernote, Livescribe Connect supports connections to Facebook, GoogleDocs and Microsoft's OneNote, making it an impressive addition to your research toolbox. Some of the connections require a

premium version of Livescribe Connect [$14.99 for Pulse pen users and 2GB Echo pen users - free for 4GB and 8GB Echo pen users]. When notes with recorded audio are uploaded to any of these platforms, they are sent in what is called Pencast PDF. The latest version of Adobe Reader supports reading/listening to these les. Livescribe Echo pensstart at $99.95 and until April 30, 2012, they are including a one-year premium subscription to Evernote in the package. I'm using a rst generation Pulse pen, but it's sound quality is quite quite. I use it not only in conferences and workshops but also when interviewing family members. It isn't nearly as intimidating as having a microphone or digital recorder sitting between us and since I'm using it to write notes, it doesn't appear as a recording device at all. I'm only just beginning to experiment with posting Livescribe content to Evernote and I'm very pleased with what little I've done so far. Both platforms offer some level of handwriting recognition which I've yet to explore. I do hope my hen-scratch is legible enough to become yet another improvement on my current system. Having searchable handwritten notes will add tremendously to my research efforts. As you can see, both Evernote and Livescribe offer impressive functionality to support any research effort. When combined, their potential offers amazing possibilities. Taking notes will never be the same again.

Screen Capture Apps

Why includescreen capture appsas part of your digital toolbox? There areany number of reasons ranging from quickly capturing a citation for use later to grabbing a screen shot of an image when you dont have time to transcribe it. It can save you a lot of typing if youre trying to explain how you did something. And it might be the only connection you have to a site that has gone dark. While the Print Scr button in Windows will capture an entire screen and ALT/Print Scr captures just the active window [Mac and Linux also have built-in capture applets], screen capture applications give you much more exibility in what you grab. Many also include editing tools to crop and resize your image and annotate it with text and highlights. These simple graphics can have a signicant impact on your writingsonline or otherwiseby quickly describing something visually that would otherwise take paragraphs of words. On the Mac side, there are lots of screen capture applications available if youre not happy with the builtin Grab utility, but few include editing/annotation capabilities. My favorite isSkitch from Plasq[free - Mac & Android]. The editing tools are fun and easy to use. Skitch [and Jing, discussed below] are a new breed of capture applications which also provide easy options for sharing the results of your captureincluding saving to your drive, uploading to your web site, to your Flickr account, or to an online space hosted by the application. When you use Skitchs hosted space, they

provide quick buttons to copy the appropriate code for pasting your image into your blog post, a forum message, email or whatever. The embed code includes a link to the images page online at where visitors can leave comments or grab code to share the image themselves. Skitch can also perform delayed captures. This means that it wont take the shot until a couple of seconds after you select what will be captured. This feature allows you to capture things like the popup menu shown in the example below. Skitch is a free download for Mac and Android users. It was recently announced that Skitch has been acquired byEvernote, the online note-taking service. .

Skitch used to capture a search command

Jing[free and pro - Win & Mac] also offers both image and video capture and basic annotation tools plus several options to share the results of your capture. You can choose to save it as a le on your computer, upload it to your web site using FTP or SFTP, upload it to your Flickr account, or upload it to their hosted space atScreencast. Although Jing is a simpler application than

Skitch, Screencast is a more professional hosting service.Yes, the free account does provide limited space at Screencast, but will include logos and ads with videos you share. This would be suitable for sharing temporary thingspost it until all the family can get a look, then delete itbut not for signicant posts on a blog or web site. The pro version costs $14.95/year and offers the ability to record your screen in MPEG-4 as well as SWF formats, instantly upload to YouTube, and record via your webcam. Whether you use the pro version or not, Jing is still a very worthwhile application. The sample screenshot shown below was edited and then quickly uploaded by FTP to my site all from within the Jing interface.

Jing used to capture and annotate a web page

The folks atDiigohave built an impressive plugin for Firefox, Chrome, and Safari calledAwesome Screenshot. Working inside your browser, it can capture either the visible part of the web page or the entire page. It gives you the ability to annotate itincluding a very nice feature to blur sensitive information you dont want to shareand either save it to your desktop or upload it to their cloud storage for instant sharing with social media and email services.

A sample capture from Diigos Awesome Screenshot

As mobile devices become more prevalent, capturing content on their screens also becomes an issue. You can easily capture a screenshot from your iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad by pressing the Home button and On/Off button at the same time. Android dont have a built-in capture feature, so your best option is to install the free Skitch app. You may not think you need a screen capture application, but once you see what they can doand how easy it is to do ityoull soon wonder how you ever lived without it. Im living proof.

PDF for Research and Publishing

One of the most useful digital tools a genealogist/family historian can have is PDF creation software. PDF (portable document format) was created byAdobeto allow the sharing of digital documents regardless of the software used to create them. As long as a user has a PDF reader application installed, she can read any PDF document with all the formatting and design elements intact. Adobe offers their PDF reader (Adobe Reader) free for Windows, Mac, Linux and Solaris desktops along with a number of mobile devices. Their PDF creation software, however, will cost a pretty penny. Adobe released the PDF standard to the open source community, making it even more accessible to developers who have started to include it in their own software. Mac users can print any document to a PDF le as well as export to PDF from many applications.OpenOfce.orgincludes an export to PDF option in each of the suites applications. Take a look at your word processing, desktop publishing or image editing software to see if they include the ability to export to PDF. If not, Windows users can choose from a number of free apps (PrimoPDFandCutePDF, for example) to create simple PDF publications from apps that dont offer the capability. Creating a PDF document is just part of the effort. You will likely nd situations where you need to combine two PDF les into one or pull out several pages from an existing PDF document. And, then theres the question of converting the PDF document back to a format that

can be edited. There are some affordable tools available to help with these tasks. On the Windows side, there isPDF Create 7($49.99) from Nuance. If that name rings a bell, its because they are the people who also bring us PaperPort, OmniPage and Dragon Dictation. PDF Create 7 will provide both creation and manipulation tools. Nuance also offers afree reader applicationthat can ll in and save forms (Adobe Reader cant) and convert PDFs to editable text while using less disk space than Adobes reader. Another company,Foxit, offers a wide range of affordable PDF products for both Windows and Android users. Mac users will ndPDFpen($59.95 standard/$99.95 pro) quite handy. The standard version supports merging and splitting documents, lling in forms and saving them, adding notes and even performing Optical Character Recognition (OCR) on scanned documents. The pro version adds the ability to build your own PDF forms. They recently released PDFpen for the iPad ($9.99) which can sync with the desktop version via iCloud. With the Portable Document Format becoming a universal standard for distributing publications of all kinds, offering your family history projects as PDF les ensures they can be viewed with all your format and design elements intact. That also includes most of the ereader devices on the market today. As we all know, a digital document has global reach and can be found by any search engine. Distributing it using an easily viewed format only expands its reach. Why wouldnt you want to take advantage of these tools?

Connect and Collaborate with Skype

Skypeis an Internet communication service that provides both voice and video calls along with screensharing, text messaging and le-sharing capabilities in one very nice package. Skype costs you nothing to use, works on Windows, Mac, Linux and a growing number of portable devices, and gives you the ability to connect to any other Skype user worldwide for free! It is a must-have tool for any family history researchers digital toolbox.

A text conversation in Skype

What can you do with Skype? How about talk as much as you want as often as you want with family and friends anywhere in the world? With a webcam, you can enjoy video conversations and even participate in special

events like birthday parties. Skype also provides a text messaging platform thats great for virtual collaboration just leave the message box open and ask questions, provide updates, share les or comment on document reviews as needed throughout the day.

Adding people to an existing call is easy.

Should you need to add another to the conversation, its not a problem. Skype supports conference calls both audio and video and group messaging. The Add People command shown in the menu above is used to include others. In this example, it will add the selected contacts to the current text session. If I had been in an audio conversation, the Add People command would bring the selected contacts into the audio call. Regardless of the type of conversation, I can easily share les and photos while Im talking or texting. The sender chooses the Send Files command, selects the les, then hits send. The receiver gets prompted that les have been sent and is asked to accept them. Its that easy.

How can you put Skype to work? Are you collaborating with a research cousin on a genealogy research or writing project? Get together online via Skype to discuss your work or leave the text line open to ask questions, share links or make comments as you work. Use the screen sharing functionality to demonstrate a feature in your genealogy program or walk through a process. Add some Skype Extras to extend your capabilities. With the simpleCall Recorderaddon [Mac, $19.95], I can record long distance interviews with family members. Windows users can use thePamela[Win, free and pro versions] platform to record calls along with many other functions like call forwarding, reminders and as a personal answering service. Skype offers service upgrades to include video conference calls and the ability to call regular and mobile phones at a very affordable price. All you need to start calling is a computer with speakers and microphone (or you can use a headset), a broadband connection and the freeSkypesoftware. Many of todays smart phones and tablets have Skype apps available and there are even Skype-enabled televisions to get the whole family into the video conversation. Its delightfully easy to use and a great way to stay in touch with those you love.

A Photo Archive
Most family historians have amassed a large collection of photos, documents and ephemera. Many of us have spent hours scanning those treasures so we can share the digitized copy while protecting the original. As a result, we have a growing archive of priceless images which leads to the need for a backup plan to protect them. One look at recent headlines describing res, oods and tornadoes shows us that online storage provides a way to add an extra level of protection for these irreplaceable family treasures. Yes, you can use an online backup service to protect your photos, but using a photo-sharing service can be very affordable and include many additional useful features. Today, many family historians are looking at online photo-sharing services as an affordable way to not only protect our heirloom photos and scanned images, but also to organize and share them with family. And, by having them online, you may well attract a research cousin or two. Theres a growing number of photo-sharing services available. You may already be using one. Not all services are equal and not all offer the tools needed to maintain a proper archive. My minimum requirements are: high-resolution image storage. Some services want to reduce the resolution on your uploaded images to save storage space. For archival-quality images, high resolution is a necessity.

organizational tools. I want to be able to quickly nd images when I need them. In addition to organizational tools like albums, I want to see search-friendly metadata-like titles, tags/keywords, categories, etc. privacy. While much of my collection is public available for anyone to see - I want the ability to limit access to some or all of my images. Although there are any number of photo-sharing services, Im going to focus on four of them here: Flickr, Picasa, Photobucket and SmugMug. I chose them as a representative sample of the different kinds of services available to you.

A Flickr collection page

Flickrhas been dening photo-sharing for years, with thousands of photos being uploaded every minute. As a result, several archives are using Flickr to present some of their collections. Flickr built a special section for them calledThe Commons. The Library of Congress was one of the pioneers in this project and they were pleasantly surprised with the results. They wanted to see what the public could tell them about the initial photo

collections presented at Flickr, and in the rst nine months they had more than 10 million views, 7,166 comments and more than 67,000 tags added to those images. Visitors were able to identify people, places and events in the photos adding greatly to the archives knowledge about them. Today there are more than 50 archives, libraries and museums presenting collections in The Commons. For both public and personal collections, photos are organized into sets and the sets arranged in collections. Flickr will automatically capture any data embedded in digital photos, such as date taken, geo codes and camera used, plus you can add titles, descriptions, tags and location manually. You also set the privacy level and licensing you wish to assign to each image. Flickr has made it easy for software designers to develop tools based on Flickr. There are any number of apps to upload to and display images from the site especially on portable devices such as the iPad. Platforms such asLuluandBlurbmake it easy to build photo books and calendars by pulling the images directly from your Flickr photostream. You can even order high-quality prints through Flickr. Flicker offers both a free and premium service. Both provide unlimited photo storage, although the free service does limit the number of photos uploaded each month and the number that can be displayed. The premium service is $24.95 a year and offers unlimited storage, uploads, sets and collections. It is a very affordable option to protect and display your collection.

A sample photo page on Picasa

Picasais a Google property that consists of both the Picasa Web Albums online storage facility and a very nice photo editing application. The Picasa app [Windows and Mac] is free. Every Google user has 1GB of free storage that is shared between Gmail, Google Docs and Picasa photos. If you are blogging using Blogger, that storage is also used for the photos and images included in your blog posts. Storage upgrades are available beginning at $5.00 per year for 20GB. Picasa uses albums to organize photosbut does provide facilities to include tags, captions and location information. There is a face-tagging feature that can be useful to identify individuals in a group photo. Viewers can leave comments and the images can be shared at a number of social networking platforms. Access levels are set when images are uploaded, and there are several tools to organize photos once they are uploaded. As I mentioned earlier, Picasa is fully integrated with Blogger, making it easy to include your photos in blog posts. It is

also supported by many of the photo book services like Blurb.

A sample Photobucket photo page

Photobucketalso offers unlimited storage, but limits monthly uploads for free accounts. The premium account is $24.95 a year and removes those limits along with advertising on your photo pages. Photobucket uses albums to organize photos and captures the embedded metadata from your digital camera, but has limited tools to provide more than simple captions for organizing your images. It does provide easy access to social networking sites to share photos.

A sample SmugMug photo page

SmugMugqualies as the most gorgeous platform for displaying photos with a number of beautiful themes and the ability to create your own custom gallery. There are no free accounts in SmugMug and paid accounts begin at $40/year. All offer unlimited photo uploads and storage of high-resolution images. A Power ($60/year) account is needed to include video in your collection. Photos are organized into galleries and include titles, descriptions and keywords, along with the metadata captured by your camera. Photos can be displayed in the standard gallery (shown here) or in a slideshow or journal view. And, because all accounts are paid accounts, there are no ads displayed in the platform. There are plenty of social sharing options available, and you can sell your prints and other photo products from the platform. SmugMug supports photobook platforms like Blurb and Lulu, has portable apps available for iPad, iPhone and Android devices, and images can be uploaded directly from many popular photo apps like iPhoto, Picasa, Lightroom and more.

These are just a sample of the many photo-sharing platforms available. They will give you an idea of the options and prices that will inuence your choice. Having your photos stored online not only provides an extra level of safety for your treasured images, it offers a way to share both todays events and yesterdays faces with family and friends. Take advantage of free and trial accounts to look into the workings of several photo platforms. Im sure youll nd one that ts your needs and style.

An Online Presence
These days, an online presence is one of thebest genealogical research toolsyou can have. It serves so many purposes: A place to publish your family history, in the order and at a pace that suits you. A place to document your research efforts. A place to meet and network with other researchers for both information and support. A search-engine friendly advertisement of the surnames, regions and ethnic groups you are researching to attract other researchers. If you have posted to a genealogy message board or belong to a mailing list, you have the experience needed to expand your online presence. Todays options are easy to use and each of the ones discussed here are free. The time required to maintain your online presence will bring you many rewards. Lets take a look.

The best way I can describeFacebookis the virtual equivalent of a community center. Once you set up an account, you can visit pages built by organizations and businesses. If they are something you nd interesting or useful, you can choose to like them. As a fan, you will receive their updates in your Facebook news feed, your main area on the site. For example, I follow several

restaurants in my area and get daily updates listing the specials of the day, which is helpful for making lunch choices. I am also a fan of other businesses, government agencies, genealogical and historical associations, and some of my favorite causes. Only those companies and organizations Ive chosen can put updates on my news feed, so Im getting the information I need on software updates, sales, and upcoming events without being bombarded with things I dont want.

A Facebook profile page

Keeping up with businesses and organizations is useful, but the joy of Facebook is friends. While you like businesses, you become friends with people. For privacy reasons, a friend request is a two-step process. Once you nd another Facebook user you would like to connect with, you send her a friend request. She must accept your request before you are both digitally connected in Facebook. When any of your friends posts an update on their wall the Facebook equivalent of a bulletin board that update appears in your news feed. Updates could be a weather report, a birth announcement (with photos even), a link to an interesting article or video, or a

research request. You choose how often you wish to stop by Facebook and scan your news feed to see what your friends are doing. You can reply to an update, or not. Its your choice. The result is sort of like the conversations at a party. Youre wandering around the room, stopping when you hear something interesting, adding your thoughts, then moving on. As your list of friends grows, you can organize them into groups, such as family, friends, research support, etc. This allows you to target updates to specic groups. If the local fresh market has the seasons rst strawberries, this would probably only be interesting to your neighbors, so you can direct your update just to them. You can also send private messages directly to individual Facebook friends. Facebook requires much more than a couple of paragraphs to describe all the things it does, but its denitely a great place to keep up with friends, family and the many people, organizations and businesses that support your research efforts. Here aresome Facebook pages you might nd useful: Genea-BloggersFor those who blog about their research efforts, and those who think they might want to. The National Archives The National Genealogical Society FamilySearch


WeRelateis becoming one of the most amazing resources for family history online. It uses the same

concept and system as Wikipedia to provide a platform where everyone can build their family tree, document their research, write biographical sketches, and even build on existing documentation by others. All WeRelate users can add pages and edit any existing pages. You may well nd that once you post your research notes on Great-Uncle Matthew, a research cousin shows up and adds a tidbit or two that lls in some of the blanks in your research. After a while, those collected tidbits are building a more complete history of Matthews life.

WeRelate profile page

When you create a free account at WeRelate, a prole page is automatically built for you. Not only is this a good place to get comfortable with the editing and formatting features of the platform, but it also serves as your research business card. Here you can list the families and locations youre researching, provide links to external content, and if youve uploaded your family tree, WeRelate provides links to it. This is probably the most important page youll maintain on the site because every other page you create or edit will list you as a contributor and link back to this page. If a research

cousin nds your content,she can then nd and contact you through WeRelate. There is all kinds of user-created content on WeRelate. In addition to specic family histories, theres a lot of research support content added daily. WeRelate has pages for thousands of locations worldwide and users are encouraged to use those pages to post historical information, links to research resources, and other content supporting researchers. Youll nd a growing collection of research guides covering locations, ethnic groups, religions, cemeteries, and any number of other topics. Each day users are adding more bits and pieces which build the knowledge base for all of us. You dont need to be a WeRelate user to access any of the information on the site, but I do encourage becoming a part of this community-built resource to support your research efforts and help all of us in the process.

A Blog
Blog is a funny name for a very simple online platform where you can post articles large and small, as well as photos, news items, and even videos if you are so inclined. The word blog is short for web log because blog platforms maintain the articles in chronological order similar to a journal. There are dozens of blogging platforms from the ultra-easy to full-service, multi-user systems. This means youll be able to nd a blog platform that suits your style.

Many genea-bloggers use the freeBloggerplatform run by Google. If you have a Google account, you can have your own blog up and running in minutes. Looking for something with a few more options? TryWordPress, another free platform. Concerned that blogging requires learning a bunch of new stuff? No problem. If you can email, you can blog with eitherPosterousorTumblrwhich are also free.

A WordPress blog

Blogging is a great way to tell your family stories,document your research, and connect with others. The genea-blogging community on Facebook (see link above) has over 1,000 members. They are active with online events that are fun and help develop both your research and writing skills. Youll be amazed to nd how well blogging and family research support each other. The three online platforms discussed here are each very different in structure and purpose, but they all have one thing in common, a way to connect with other family

historians. Not only will these platforms help you nd your research cousins, you will also discover an awesome genealogy community that is both friendly and supportive. I hope to see you there soon.

Going Mobile
While online research opportunities continue to increase, there's still a need to visit families, courthouses, cemeteries and research libraries to learn more about our ancestors. Fortunately, many of today's digital tools can travel with us and support our research efforts - even in the most remote locations. One of the rst concerns while on the road is staying connected. While your smart phone can use its cellular connection to help with directions, trafc, weather and even searching the web for a good place to eat, its size can limit its use as a research tool. If your tablet only supports Wi-Fi connections, it will limit your functionality while in the eld. Finding an affordable happy medium is a challenge, but with a bit of advance planning you can make the best use of your connectivity when you have it and insure you have the data you need when you don. Take advantage of reputable public Wi-Fi hotspots whenever possible. Hotels often have Wi-Fi in the lobby area. Most public libraries now provide Wi-Fi service and several national chains - Barnes & Noble bookstores and Starbucks cafes, for example - are known for having Wi-Fi service. Mobile providers such as AT&T, Verizon and Clear offer devices and data plans which can be used on the road. There are also Wi-Fi hotspot providers like Boingo offering affordable connections to a large number of fee-only Wi-Fi hotspots.

Be cautious when using free public Wi-Fi. Even the most reputable provider can be monitored by hackers who are scanning the data trafc passing through the hotspot to capture personal and nancial information from hotspot users. A public hotspot - reputable or otherwise is not a good place to perform banking transactions or make credit card purchases. Although many hotels now offer free Internet access, this seldom includes Wi-Fi in your room. That's okay if you're traveling with a laptop, but not so good for tablet users. There are a number of small and affordable wireless routers that you can take with you to create your own private wireless network right in your room. Yes, you will need to congure your router before you leave home, but that also means you dene the security parameters for your network. Devices such as Apple's Airport Express [$99] can easily tuck into a suitcase, yet be ready to connect as soon as you plug it in.

Cloud Services
The growing number of cloud storage platforms and other cloud-based services make it easy to keep your research within reach. I've already discussed how platforms like Diigo and Evernote can be accessible from anywhere. In addition, a growing number of applications are using cloud storage platforms like Dropbox to keep data synchronized between their desktop and portable versions. In addition, you can take advantage of online photo-sharing and document services to not only serve as an off-site backup for precious les, but also as an easily-accessible photo

album or document archive to share with your cousins during a visit. Most cloud storage providers offer both free and premium options. Take advantage of the free accounts to test drive several services until you nd the one that best ts your needs. Check the online Toolbox Resources section for an upto-date listing of available providers.

A Mobile Phone
One of the most useful tools for mobile research is the camera phone. Even the most basic camera phone can take a photo and email it to your inbox, photo-sharing platform or even Evernote. As such it can be used as a scanner to capture records in a research library or photograph a family headstone in a remote cemetery. The more advanced "smart" phones have apps for even more functionality. Yes, these phones - and their service plans - can be pricey, but there are more and more payas-you-go services offering many of the same features at a much more reasonable price. There are two predominant mobile operating systems: Apple's iOS and Google's Android. Each supports both phones and tablets. Although you'll only nd iOS on Apple devices, Android can be found on a growing number of phones and tablets. Many apps have been adapted to work on both operating systems and even when the same app isn't available, a very similar one is. In addition to the systems and apps discussed here, you'll nd a comprehensive list of services, systems and applications attheToolbox book pageat my blog, Moultrie Creek Gazette.

So, just how can a mobile phone help you with your research on the road? Getting there. Most phones have at least a map app that can show you where you currently are and where you want to go. Many offer GPS functionality with spoken "turn-by-turn" directions and some even include trafc reports. Thanks to improvements in speech-recognition technology, there are now several voice-controlled search apps that can help you nd restaurants, entertainment and other necessities without taking your hands off the wheel. Gathering information. Take advantage of Evernote's desktop and mobile apps to save to-do lists, research locations and operating hours and other notes as you prepare for your trip. On the road, use Evernote's audio note feature to dictate notes and use your phone's camera to send photos to your research notebook. Let apps like CamScanner for Android or Scanner Pro for iPhone save you some cash by turning your phone into a portable scanner. These apps will scan, crop and enhance the image before saving it as a PDF or image le. You can then email the image to your research notebook at Evernote. Travel information. You'll nd a growing number of travel guides to help you discover more about the areas you are visiting. If you are traveling overseas, you can use phrase book and even translation apps to help deal with language differences. Connecting with others. You can take email, Twitter and Facebook with you wherever you go. Many genealogical

conferences are now providing conference apps making it easy to keep up with schedules, nd venues, connect with venders and even download conference materials. Apps like Bump are handy for exchanging contact information with other attendees and scanning QR codes is a quick way to capture web addresses and other information.

Tablets can do just about everything the smart phone does (except the phone part) while providing a lot more screen space to make your life easy. The ip side is that its size means you can't just tuck it into a purse or pocket. People are nding tablets better suited than laptops for traveling. Not only are they easier to carry, but they often have a much better battery life.

Kindle Fire Tablet

Tablets come in two general varieties - Wi-Fi only models or 3G and Wi-Fimodels. The 3G and WiFimodels can connect to the Internet using either a

cellular connection (that's the 3G part) or a WiFiconnection. Users will need to pay for a 3G data plan with one of the mobile phone providers. Some tablet models include both still and video cameras making them handy for scanning documents as well as making video calls (usually only via Wi-Ficonnection). Once again your choices revolve around the iOS and Android operating systems although Windows-based tablets are beginning to appear. In the tablet market, the iPad maintains a commanding lead with the Kindle Fire following as a distant second. The iPad also leads in apps that will support your research efforts. In addition to the free Ancestry app, you'll nd several desktop genealogy applications have been ported to the iPad. This will allow you to edit your data on either device and then perform a synch operation that keeps both databases updated. Livescribe's Pencast Player, available for all iOS devices, gives you access to any of your pencasts located on Livescribe Connect's cloud storage. The tablet's biggest advantage is its screen size, making it a lot easier to view notes, images and family group diagrams. You can carry an enormous amount of reference material with you and quickly nd the information you need by using the search and bookmark functions included in your tablet's reader applications. From books to PDF documents to your own notes, all of this information is now within easy reach wherever you go. Tablets that include cameras can be used with scanner apps to capture documents and images so it's

possible to add even more reference material during your trip. Two very handy apps for iPad users are Good Reader and Notebooks. Good Reader [iPad and iPhone - $4.99] is a document reader with signicant annotation functionality making it easy to add digital versions of bookmarks, sticky notes and highlights. It can read and annotate PDF, Microsoft Ofce and iWork documents as well as HTML and image les. It can organize the documents stored on your device and synch with many cloud storage services. It can even download les from web sites. Notebooks [iPad - $8.99, iPhone - $5.99] makes it easy to write, capture and organize all the notes, todo items and details that make up your research. Notebooks can sync with Dropbox, an online storage service, to easy share your notes between your devices and your desktop computer. Android users will nd ezPDF Reader [$2.99] a handy reading and annotation tool. It also offers a voice reading option that can come in handy while traveling. There are a number of note-taking apps including Note Everything [free] which support text, audio and sketch notes and can send them to Google Docs, as email or SMS or share them with Facebook and Twitter. In addition to the systems and apps discussed here, you'll nd a comprehensive list of services, systems and applications attheToolbox book pageat my blog, Moultrie Creek Gazette.

The Little Scanner That Could

Although I've talked about using both a smart phone and a tablet as a scanner, it's hard to beat the real thing. The folks at Flip-Pal felt the same way so they built a portable scanner small enough to carry with you but big enough to do its job properly. It runs on batteries and saves your scans to an SD card. Items can be scanned at 300 and 600 dpi resolution and are saved as JPEG les.

The Flip-Pal Scanner

The "ip" in Flip-Pal identies one of its best features the ability to take the cover off and ip the scanner over to scan non-moveable objects. With this feature you can scan photographs without risking damage by removing them from the photo album or frame. You can also take advantage of the included stitching software to reconstruct large images from a series of scans. Last, but not least, is the price - a very affordable $150. As you might imagine, the genealogy community has become quite attached to the Flip-Pal scanner making it

one of the most popular exhibits at genealogy conferences and events.

eReader as Research Assistant

My eReader is quickly becoming one of my most useful research tools. Using it, I can carry an enormous amount of research material with me at all times and quickly put my ngers on the information I need. In addition to purchased and public domain books, most devices can read PDF documents too so I can include documents like research notes and reports generated from my genealogy software in my reader's library. While all readers have some of the same features, each has its own special functions and methods for implementing them. Here I'm focused on the Kindle Touch for several reasons: price, size, battery life and the eInk screen which is readable even in the bright sun. One other very important feature is Amazon's Personal Document Library available to every Kindle user. Here's a look at those features and how you can use them: Search. Kindle's search functionality works on both ebooks and PDF documents. When you tap the top of the screen on any page, the search box appears front and center at the top of the screen. On the Touch, tapping inside the search box displays an on-screen keyboard to type your search criteria. You can tap Next and Previous to nd every instance of your search within the book or document. Dictionary. Tap and hold on any word in a book to display the built-in dictionary. It gives you a denition

for the word and offers buttons to display the full denition, highlight the word, add a note or share it. Tap anywhere on the screen and it all goes away. Locations vs. Pages. This is a relatively new feature on Kindle readers and one researchers will nd quite useful. Since ebooks are owing text rather than paged, it's difcult to use an ebook to nd a cited reference that includes a page number. Of course you can search, but now you can go to page numbers on selected books. This feature isn't implemented on every book but there's an easy way to see which are. Look at the Product Details section of the Kindle book (in the Amazon store) and you'll see a eld titled Print Length showing a number of pages. Underneath it you should see a eld showing the ISBN for the book used as the source for dening the page numbers in the Kindle edition.When you're reading one of these books, you'll see both the Loc and Page references at the bottom of the screen as you move through the book. Bookmarks. Who doesn't love bookmarks? On any page, tap the top of the screen then tap Menu to display the menu options pane. Now tap Add a Bookmark and a virtual dog-ear is added to the top-right corner of the screen. Display the menu again on the same screen and you'll see Delete Bookmark. Use the View Notes & Marks command to display all the notes, highlights and bookmarks you've added to a book. Highlights & Notes. To add a highlight or note, tap and drag across some text in your book. A popup menu appears with Highlight, Add Note and Share buttons. Tap Highlight. The text is now highlighted on your

screen and you can easily return to it at any time using the View Notes & Marks command from the Menu. Should you want to add a note, tap the Note button and a Note box appears on your screen with a small keyboard below it. Type your note, then tap the Save button. A note icon appears in your book at the point where the note was added. Tap it to display the note. Public Notes. You can share your notes and highlighted text with your social networks on Twitter and Facebook (when you're online) using the Share button. A link to the shared passage along with an optional short note is posted to your registered social network accounts. You must rst go into the settings for your Kindle and set up your accounts with Twitter and Facebook before this function will work.

Annotations are saved to the users library at Amazon.

Social Sharing. Using Kindle's Public Notes feature, you can share your book notes with your connected friends or family. This requires that you rst nd and follow others via, then turn on Public Notes in the Reading Options settings on your Kindle. This doesn't give your followers access to every note or highlight you added to every book. You check Make

Reading Status Public from your book list on the site which then activates the checkbox for Public Notes which you then also check. You can change a book's status at any time.

Sharing capabilities in your Kindle library.

These capabilities also work in the Kindle apps for iOS and Android devices as well as the Cloud Reader and your annotations will be synched between devices as soon as a device comes online. This means that anything I add via the Kindle Touch is also available through the Kindle reader app on my iPad, my Android phone and on my desktop computer. The eInk Kindle readers have a couple of advantages over other devices. Their small size makes it easy to tuck them into a bag or cargo pocket and their eInk screen can be read in the bright sunshine, making them the perfect companion for eld work - like a trip to a cemetery. And, if you spend the extra $50 for the 3G version, you have access to your document library at Amazon from all but the most remote locations - with no monthly data fees!

It doesn't take long to get comfortable with these features. By maintaining a collection of reference material - with annotations - in your Personal Document Library, you can now have your research with you whenever and wherever you need it.

Toolbox Resources
The digital world is constantly changing. Providing a list of links to the systems, services, applications and devices mentioned in this book is an almost impossible task. Links that work today may be gone tomorrow. Apps, services and devices are constantly being updated. It's for these reasons I don't like to include a resource page full of links in my publications. Instead, I invite you to visit the Toolbox book page at my blog, Moultrie Creek Gazette. Here you'll nd links to the platforms, services and products discussed in this guide and much more. When something new and amazing comes along - and it will - I'll let you know about it there.

Moultrie Creek Publications

At Moultrie Creek, it's all about family history - both the research side and the publishing side. At Moultrie Creek Gazette you'll nd articles discussing how to take advantage of today's technology to improve your research as well as new and fun ideas for sharing the information you discover. And, once you've published your family's story, I'd be delighted to spotlight your effort at Moultrie Creek Books - a family history bookstore. You'll also nd Moultrie Creek on Facebook and Twitter.

Other Titles by Denise Barrett Olson

The Future of Memories: A digital publishing primer for the family historian What are you doing with your family memories? Are you looking for new and creative ways to share your family history research with others?The Future of Memoriesis an idea book showing how you can put the applications you already have to work with affordable services to share your family history. Some of the project ideas mentioned in the book include: Create your own Ken Burns-style photo documentary using software already on your desktop. Add narration, background music and the zoom-and-pan effects Ken Burns made famous. Learn how a busy mom can build an amazing baby book using only her iPhone.

Discover the secret to get your family to show up for a family portrait and create a photo full of personality. This primer introduces new technologies and shows how to take advantage of the opportunities they offer to produce quality histories at a reasonable price. It discusses the skills needed to create production-ready projects and suggests resources to help you get started. The project section is full of ideas and examples. Details at Moultrie Creek Books.

Behind the Alligator Farm A collection of memories about growing up behind The Alligator Farm on Anastasia Island in St. Augustine, Florida. Like most family projects, this is a work in progress. Details at Moultrie Creek Books.

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