The schedule of classes here at RootsTech 2010 is so interesting, but I've yet to have time enough to attend even one! My morning started early today, at a VIP Breakfast put on by the nice folks at FamilySearch.org. I considered turning off my alarm and sleeping in, but decided it would be fun to talk with other folks there, and went. Glad I did - we had assigned seats with name cards, and it was very obvious who didn't come! The idea with the seating chart was for folks to talk with people they probably hadn't met yet. Funny thing was that I was seated next to Laura Prescott, president of the Association of Professional Genealogists. I'd met her last year, but we've gotten to know each other much better at this conference - seems every time I turn around we're bumping into one another! I also got to sit at the next table over from some other dear friends, Lynell and Fred Moss from Plano Texas, and also Gena Philibert Ortega, from GenealogyWise. Anyway, the FamilySearchfolks gave us each a flash drive with lots of good info on it, and a printed program that contained the photo and bios of everyone there. It was very casual, great conversation and a wonderful way to start off the day.
After breakfast, I wandered the exhibit hall just a bit, and talked with Louise St Denis of the National Institute for Genealogical Studies a bit, about the classes that she offers through her certificate program.
I talked with Grant Brunner from Geni.com, and decided I'd really like to learn more about their website when I get some free time, and I think I convinced him to try out Second Life and maybe come and talk to our genealogy community there about what Geni.com has to offer. Yeah, thats me, always thinking of SL...
I think I convinced another fellow of the same, but i'll be darned if I can remember his name. He was at the booth with this really cool iphone/ipod ap called Traces Of The Past. He admitted that right now, for $3.99, the functionality is a little bit limited, but, he assured me, that there next software update, which will be included in the current price if you buy now, will be AWESOME! I saw a demo, and, well, gotta agree with him there on the AWESOME part! With this app, from your ipod or iphone, you will be able to search the Historical Records being indexed on the FamilySearch.org website - and actually bring up the images! You will also be able to access your family files if you have them stored at either new.familysearch.org, or Geni.com.
And speaking of FamilySearch (again), yesterday a fellow mentioned that they are working on an INDEXING APP for mobile devices! Imagine how cool -- waiting in line, you can index a couple of names and get one step closer to having all those 2.5 million rolls of microfilms indexed and accessible. Sounded like a great idea to me at least...
Anyway, after wandering the exhibit hall just a bit, I headed to the the Blogger's media center, where I ran through my afternoon class's powerpoint one last time and saved it off to my new flash drive. How convenient was that?
At 11:30, I'd been asked to meet with some fine folks from FamilySearch.org. They are sincerely interested in the opinions of users, and I really felt my comments were noted and appreciated. One of these gentlemen, Craig H. Miller, Senior Vice President of Family Search, gave me a little peek at one of the products they are thinking about developing. It would be a search tool, where you enter the name you are searching, then hover your cursor over an area on the map rather than choosing a specific state, or county. Imagine the possibilities this means - rather than having to search specifically through every adjoining county to find where that errant ancestor ran off to get married, this "hover" feature will look for any record that includes your search term name, within a given distance of your cursor, irrespective of county or any other type of boundaries. I thought it was a really cool feature and I certainly hope they pursue it.
Shortly thereafter I was interviewed by blogger, Joan Miller who authors the Luxegen Genealogy Blog (http://www.luxegen.ca/). It was "interview Tami" day, I guess, considering later in the afternoon I was also interviewed by Drew Smith, author of Social Networking for Genealogists, and half of the 'Genealogy Guys' podcast. Drew is also a part of our group of genealogists in Second Life, and I think I've convinced him to speak to our SL chapter APG group in the near future.
My only class today was at 1:45 and I spoke on "Finding Your Family Stories Online", a lecture I love giving, as it I really love putting "flesh on the bones" so to speak, by finding stories about ancestors and the times they lived in, so they aren't just names and dates on a black and white pedigree chart. But oh my gosh! They had me presenting in the same room that Curt Witcher had given the opening talk in this morning - you know, the one with the tiled shower stall backdrop? (still chuckling over that comparison). Its a HUGE room, with a stage, and geez, must be a dozen big screens all over the front of the room. But the really weird part was just the minute before my presentation was to start, what sounded like it could only have been the "voice of God" booming through the room that "the presentation will begin in one minute". At least I didn't trip walking over to the podium!
My presentation was very well received, and among the folks who came up to ask questions afterwards was a small group of women who apologized profusely that they hadn't been able to make my class yesterday on Cool Tools, because (and they seriously sounded annoyed) they'd had to attend a funeral instead. Gosh. I felt honored in a weird sort of way! So I invited them back to one of the unconferencing areas later in the afternoon. RootsTech has set up all these awesome areas for people to get together and share information - like the one we met at, with a few sofas set up together, and a laptop I could pop my flash drive into, projecting my presentation on a large TV screen. I had my interview with Drew Smith coming up, but we raced thru the Powerpoint, covering the highlights. It was really fun. I love the opportunity to share great internet tools and websites with folks any time that it works out to do so!
The HIGHLIGHT of the day, though, was being able to hold our SL chapter APG meeting in the computer lab at the Family History Library. DearMYRTLE was a lifesaver, as she helped with the technical end while I worked at getting the meeting in order. We had a bit of technical difficulties at the start, but with the help of the incredible staff there at the FHL, we were able to project a laptop screen of Second Life to a live audience, and have the sound on speakers. Craig Scott, CG, owner of Heritage Books and military records expert, spoke to our group as his avatar, Krag Marriner, on Civil War research. It was a wonderful presentation, packed with great information. Not only did folks learn about how to find information on their military ancestors, they got to see how we operate in Second Life, that we learn AND have fun too.
I've got a few things up my sleeve for tomorrow, but nothing I have to set my alarm clock for, fortunately. I'm hoping to get to at least one class tomorrow, but if not, I'll get some more vendor information at least - there are some really cool products out there in that vendor hall, that's for sure!