Category Archives: Technology

Creating a research log with Ninox Database

Ninox is an awesome application for MacOS and iOS that allows the user to create custom, relational databases.  You can store your database in iCloud, and access from your iPhone or iPad.  It’s super easy and user friendly, and I originally started tinkering with it to better track the archival boxes and files which contained original family photos.  It then occurred to me that it could replace my research logs, which had migrated from Evernote to simple Word documents.  That was fine for a summary of repository research, but was still limited.

I’m slowly adding people to the database as I have research notes to add.

My research log has five linked tables – goals, people, source/repository, record type, and results, as shown on the left handed navigation bar in the picture above.

The database was designed to focus on a research goal, and all entries relate to that specific goal.

Research Goals

To see research for a specific person, simply go to the People tab and select the focus individual:

Person view

 

Click on research goal to see details of previous searches.

Aaron has two research goals – occupation and land ownership

Click on the specific result entry to see details, including any pertinent, attached documents.

The “Results” tab allows attachment of relevant documents or images.

Shown above is the 1838 Piscataquis County, Maine grantee index attached to the research results entry.

The Ninox database was not difficult to make, and it was super easy to sync my iPad to it as well.  It’s easy to filter results to see where I’ve already searched, and the primary search field will locate matching text in a text field.  For instance, when I search for the word “deed,” I’m presented with a list of items where the word appears.  It does an all text search, and will even find names or other words that are simple comments in a notes field.

The Find option searches text in all data fields, even comments and notes.

I really couldn’t be more pleased with how this turned out, and was especially amazed how simple it was to do.  Best 0f all, unlike online research logs, there’s no monthly or annual subscription to pay, but yet it’s still cloud based!  The only negative I’ve found is there is very little in the way of manuals or user help, but I didn’t really have too many issues, as it is quite intuitive and easy to use.  For $34.99, it was quite a deal!

 


Why I love Family Tree Maker 2017

Thankfully there are many genealogy database programs to choose from, given one “size” (or application) does not fit all.  Additionally, there is no “right” program to use.  Software itself will not make you a better genealogist.  It’s the consistent use of the software – and being consistent in how you enter data – that WILL make a huge difference as you work on your genealogy.

Finding the right fit can take some time.  And even when you have a program you like, you may decide to play around with something new.  Such was the case when I decided to find a native Mac application after having used RootsMagic for many years.  I made a brief switch to Reunion 11 in 2015, but found that the software was too limited for what I wanted.  Instead, about 18 months ago I decided to climb on board with Family Tree Maker, and couldn’t be happier.  Now that FTM 2017 is out, I decided to highlight the features I love the most.

Facts, Sources and Media

The feature that I loved most about RootsMagic was being able to see if a fact was sourced or not, and if it had associated media. However, even better than that is Family Tree Maker’s ability to show how many source citations are associated with a fact, in addition to the number of linked media items.

facts

The number of sources, attached media and notes are visible for each fact in the Person view.

A HUGE advantage offered by FTM is that the media can be attached directly to the source citation itself, leaving no question about which source citation the media item belongs to when multiple source citations are linked to the fact.  A thumbnail of the media item is also visible on the source citation as well. Continue reading


Maine’s digital records explode at FamilySearch

If you were like me and initially stunned and short of breath upon hearing that FamilySearch was ending microfilm rental on August 31st, take heart!  Yes, rental is ending, but it is being replaced with something far better – DIGITAL RECORDS!  Best of all many of these records, including those found in my itty bitty, small Maine towns, are online NOW!

Yes, I spent the bulk of last evening perusing the card catalog at FamilySearch, which is where you will find these new records located.

Go the card catalog to find newly digitized records.

FamilySearch announced they are uploading browsable, digital versions of microfilmed records at the speed of about 1,500 per day, starting with films that have been requested for rental within the last five years.  In the last two weeks, they’ve uploaded the microfilms for several of the small Maine towns I’m researching, as well as several for Ipswich, Massachusetts, another area where I’ve been focusing my efforts.  Those for most of the Maine towns are available to view at home, but unfortunately Ipswich’s records do require I go to the Family History Center or an affiliate library to view.  That’s okay – at least I can see them TODAY!

Here’s a list of the Maine vital records online for the towns I’ve been working on, and a link to their collections on FamilySearch:

Franklin County:

Kennebec county:

Piscataquis County

Somerset County

Waldo County

I’m sure if you check for your areas of interest, they are likely online as well, or will be shortly.  (I’m still waiting for Manchester, Kennebec County, Maine.)  Of course, these digital images are not indexed, but hey – neither were the microfilm!  Now I can leisurely go through these records and carefully view each page to make sure there aren’t people or key pieces of information I’d missed while trying to get through the rolls at the Family History Center previously.  Another huge bonus is now I will have much better images to save to my database, and they are far superior to what I’d snapped with my camera off the microfilm reader!

Digital image of marriage of Aaron Daye and Patty Tibets in Embden, Maine

Below is the copy I’d photographed from the microfilm reader:

Same image, but photographed off the microfilm reader.

Yup, this gal is a happy camper!  Thank you FamilySearch!


The Future of Family Tree Maker

Family Tree Maker at NGS 2016

Family Tree Maker at NGS 2016

The genealogical community was certainly rattled when Ancestry announced the imminent retirement of Family Tree Maker (FTM) in December 2015.  Many people breathed a sigh of relief two months later when Ancestry shared:

Software MacKiev, with whom we have a long-standing relationship, is acquiring the Family Tree Maker software line as publisher for both Mac and Windows versions. Software MacKiev has been the developer of Family Tree Maker for Mac for more than six years and is thrilled at the opportunity to publish future versions of Family Tree Maker for Mac and Windows.

So then, what exactly IS the future of Family Tree Maker?  I had the opportunity to explore this with Judy Wright, a volunteer and beta tester manning the Family Tree Maker booth at NGS, and asked her how Software MacKiev will ensure that the program remains solid for serious genealogists.  Will they consider the needs of the genealogy community as the add (or, gasp, remove) features?

Software MacKiev, according to Ms. Wright, has taken their acquisition seriously.

    • They are already investing in the future of FTM, and have doubled their design/programming team.
    • Beta-testing for FTM’s Window’s application is underway.  Ms. Wright is one of eight beta-testers, and related that the designers really consider the feedback the beta-testers provide.  She encourages those that wish to participate in future beta-testing to sign up on the FTM site.
    • Visibility is important to them, as well as the ability of getting feedback from users.  Their booth at NGS is part of that visibility.
    • Users of FTM are also encouraged to visit the Family Tree Maker FaceBook page where feedback, questions and comments may be voiced.  Not only will developers see your comments, but the page is also monitored by Software MacKiev’s president, Jack Minsky, who has been at the helm of the company for the last 21 years.

It appears that Sofrtware MacKiev is committing the resources to ensure Family Tree Maker remains a solid genealogy application for current and future genealogists for years to come.


eBay, an overlooked resource for finding rare books and other stuff

Recently I was chatting with some members of my genealogical society, and I was surprised that not everyone thought of using eBay to locate items of genealogical value.  Not only do I sometimes find books there, but my mom once purchased early 19th century letters written by our Stanwood relatives of yesteryear.

This morning, however, I awoke to an email alerting me to a new item added for a saved or “followed” search.  This is handy when the item you are looking for isn’t on eBay, but you want to receive notification if someone posts it online for sale or for bidding.  Such is the case with this rare book I wanted – The History and Genealogy of Chester, Maine (which I snagged after receiving this email notification this morning!)

Email notification

Email notification

I also used saved searches for geographic areas.  For example, I’m interested in just about anything pertaining to Ipswich, Massachusetts, where John Day resided.  So I do not have to search manually when sellers add items, I have set this as a followed search.  To do this, simply click the “Follow this search” link that is show to the right of your search criteria:

Click the Follow Search to receive notifications when new items that match search criteria are added

Click the Follow Search to receive notifications when new items that match search criteria are added

So what items have YOU found on eBay lately?


The new and improved Legacy Family Tree Webinars

New and improved Legacy Family Tree Webinar page

New and improved Legacy Family Tree Webinar page

Legacy Family Tree recently announced major changes to their web page, and the ability to listen to webinars on smartphones and mobile devices.  Whoo hoo!  With a 2 1/2 hour round trip commute daily, I immediately thought of the possibility of playing broadcasts while driving.  This morning I gave it a test run, listening to Warren Bittner’s excellent session titled, “Complex Evidence – What is It? How Does it Work? And Why Does it Matter?”

I was worried that my iPhone would lose connection and that the webinar would be challenging to listen to.  While there were occasional pauses while listening from my phone, they were exceptionally brief and were barely noticeable.  I’m thrilled that this ability is now offered, as I do most of my podcast and gene-learning in the car these days.  It’s now worth having an annual subscription, as previously I found I just didn’t have the time to listen when at home.  (Subscriptions are a great deal at only $49.95 per year, allowing complete access to the entire webinar archive, and yup, I’ve already resubscribed!)

Just as cool, their new website got a huge face-lift and is really user friendly.  It’s easy to find what you want to listen to.  I’m looking forward to a lot more learning!


Books and more books: using Trello to track them

trello book board

Trello can be used track stuff, like your genealogy (or other) books

Have you ever found yourself at a genealogy conference wondering if you already own a book?  Ever gone a step further and purchased a title you already have on your shelf?  Argh – I have!  And I’ve been looking for a free method to manage my bookshelves so I don’t ever do it again.  Trello seems to meet this need.  (You can click here to view my actual Trello board see what’s in my personal genealogical library – at least what’s been loaded so far.  Note: this board was set to “public,” but in most instances you will set your boards to private unless you wish to share with others.)

It didn’t take long to upload these books.  My workflow: Continue reading