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!
Friday, February 11, 2011
Thursday, February 10, 2011
This kind of conference is so long overdue, and it's absolutely amazing. RootsTech has barely just begun, and already has proven itself to be the most cutting edge of the convergence (catch word of the day) of genealogy and technology. The exhibit hall is bursting with technology companies, genealogy services and products to streamline and make your research and preservation seamless and simple. I'm so excited about all the possibilities being presented, and can't wait to talk to as many vendors as I can here, and hopefully report back here, and in some of our Second Life discussions. That's all I have time for right now... there's sooo much to do - and when I'm done, I think I'll head to the microsoft playground and play some pingpong.
Thursday, February 3, 2011
The Association of Professional Genealogists (APG) is an organization for, well, obviously, professional genealogists, but really, it is an excellent organization for anyone who strives for professionalism in their research. Whether you take clients or not, if you follow the rules and guidelines for APG members, you will be the best genealogist you can be.
I learned so much from the first APG chapter that I joined. I met so many excellent and friendly genealogists, and developed friendship and camaraderie with them, and appreciate those relationships that helped shape my professional career.
The downside to that chapter was that we only held about two meetings a year, and I had to drive over four hours to attend those meetings.
As I became active in the genealogy community in the virtual world Second Life, I was excited about the possibilities that this format offered for relating to other genealogists. I met genealogists from all around the world. In addition, I met genealogists who were women with small children, parental caretakers, or those with health issues that precluded their getting out for meetings. I met those who appreciated meeting with other genealogists in Second Life because it was too difficult to get to real life genealogy meetings - the wrong side of town, too far a drive, too long away from home... many reasons.
When two of my Second Life mentors, Clarise Beaumont and Krag Mariner brought up the idea of an APG chapter meeting in Second Life, I knew it was an important step to take. Despite opposition from people who didn’t understand the virtual world setting, or those who still shied away from computer use at all, we somehow were able to convince the decision makers that this type of chapter was, not only cutting edge, but also an important direction for the APG to embrace. The SL chapter of the APG was approved in the Fall of 2010. Our members come from all around the world, from many backgrounds, and many levels of genealogical experience, from those who are wanting to learn to be professionals, to those with 20, 30 or more years experience. We are a friendly inviting group, and try to make everyone feel welcome.
The upcoming February 2011 meeting marks the anniversary of our very first organizational meeting. It is also planned to be a very major event. We will be holding our monthly meeting, as always, in the virtual world Second Life, at the Just Genealogy fire pit. But what is extra special is that we will be projecting our meeting to a live audience at the very first RootsTech conference in Salt Lake City. Our speaker in our SL meeting, will be the real-life Craig Scott, CG, military records expert and owner of Heritage Books. While our meetings are usually held in text, February’s meeting will be a voice presentation, so plan on turning up your speakers!
While we strongly encourage membership in APG, our meetings are open to anyone. February’s meeting will be Friday, February 11 at 6:30 p.m., as I said, at the Just Genealogy fire pit, in Second Life. If you plan to be at RootsTech, find us Friday night in our assigned room at the Family History Library, at 6:30 pm Pacific Time (that will be 7:30 p.m. there in Salt Lake City).
If you want to join our genealogy community, sign up for a free account in Second Life at www.SecondLife.com. And if you’d like a little practice in-world beforehand, come to the weekly “Meet & Greet”, held Mondays at 5-6:00 p.m. Pacific Time, in Just Genealogy. I’m Genie Weezles in Second Life, and I’d love to show you around. Add me to your friends list, or email me your Second Life name and I’ll add you to mine (firstname.lastname@example.org). I'm Tami Osmer Glatz in real life, and president of this awesome chapter of APG.
Hope to see you in Second Life.