December 19, 2014

Mobile Friendly Search Results Come to Google

Googling on the Go mobile computing mobile friendly search resultsMobile friendly search is now within reach! If you Google-search on a mobile phone (or on a small tablet), you know how frustrating it can be to navigate some websites on the small screens. The text is too small, the links are too tiny to click on and you have to scroll around to read the entire page.

Recently, Google added a “mobile-friendly” search label to their results. It’s already available for the English language; additional languages and features will roll out in the coming weeks. According to Google, “mobile-friendly” sites avoid software not common on mobile devices; use text that’s readable without zooming, resize their screens so you don’t have to scroll across horizontally (you may still need to scroll vertically), and space links so you can tap each one without accidentally tapping the one next to it.

Here’s  what the search result will look like, if it’s mobile-friendly:

mobile friendly search results

We see these labels as a first step in helping mobile users to have a better mobile web experience,” says the Google Webmaster Central Blog post on the topic. “We are also experimenting with using the mobile-friendly criteria as a ranking signal.”

If mobile friendly search results get prioritized in our searches (especially when we’re on mobile devices), imagine how that will motivate companies to make their websites easier to navigate on the small screen. It’s another leap forward for Googling-on-the-Go!

Genealogy_Tablet_iPadA Genealogy Gems Premium membership, includes access to THREE how-to videos on Google searching and another on mobile genealogy:

  • Common Surname Search Secrets
  • Ultimate Google Search Strategies
  • Digging Deeper into Web Sites with Google Site Search
  • Genealogy on the Go with the iPad

Watch and learn with Genealogy Gems Premium! Click here to learn more.

 

NGS 2015 Genealogy Conference Program Now Available

NGS 2015The FULL program and registration brochure for the next National Genealogical Society conference is now online. Browse the NGS 2015 program for some mouthwatering sessions, workshops, tours and social events!

Why read it now, right when the holiday season is kicking off? Several events have limited seating–first-come, first-served to those who register. And registration opens December 1! So set aside your Black Friday shopping lists and read this tempting list. You may give yourself a holiday gift of attendance at NGS next spring!

ALisa Louise Cooke of the Genealogy Gems Podcastmong the sessions Lisa will be teaching at NGS 2015 are NEW topics many of you haven’t heard yet:

  • Tech Tools that Catapult the Newspaper Research Process into the 21st Century;
  • iPad & iPhone Power User Techniques for Genealogy; and
  • Six Pillars to Build Your Genealogy Business Online.

The conference will take place in St. Charles, Missouri. The 16-page brochure is downloadable here as a pdf or you can read it online here.  Register at the NGS website. Can’t make it in person? They will stream 10 sessions live for you to watch from the comfort of your own home or office. (Learn more about in coming months.)

Premium Perks! Genealogy Technology Tools Video, Life Story Writing AND Scottish Research

Are you a Genealogy Gems Premium member–or have you thought about becoming one? If so, you’ll want to know about the NEW content we recently published for Premium members only:

10 Technology Tools for GenealogyPremium Video: 10 Genealogy Tech Tools You Can’t Live Without

Most of us want to use the best technology tools available for genealogy. But we don’t want to wade through every app, software and gadget out there. We just don’t need them all! This video session focuses in on Lisa’s favorite 10 technology tools that keep the focus right where it belongs: on our research, not on technology overload. In this one-hour class, you’ll learn how to:

  • organize your research notes with Evernote
  • harness mobile genealogy with a tablet or iPad
  • save, share and transfer genealogy files through the cloud
  • access your home computer from a mobile device
  • safely and securely backup all of your family history files
  • curate and consume genealogy-related content
  • and much more!

Genealogy Gems Premium Podcast Episode 116: Life-story Writing Inspiration and Scottish Roots

Laura Hedgecock life story writingGenealogy Gems Premium MembershipThe newly-released Genealogy Gems Premium Podcast episode 116 includes–in addition to news you can use and inspiring asides–two great conversations. The first is an interview between myself (Contributing Editor Sunny Morton) and Laura Hedgecock, author of Memories of Me: A Complete Guide to Telling and Sharing the Stories of Your Life. We talk about the challenges and rewards of writing life stories, whether your own or someone else’s. Learn some practical tips for writing family stories and helpful advice on what to do about family secrets.

Lisa also chats with Marie Dougan on the shores of Scotland to talk about researching Scottish ancestors. Marie is a professional genealogist based in Scotland who has been researching for more than 12 years. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (FRSA) and is currently a tutor on a range of genealogy and family history courses at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, Scotland. Marie loves to talk genealogy technology tools, which is one of Lisa’s favorite topics, too! So listen in on their conversation and see what tips you pick up!

Genealogy Gems Premium Podcast Episode 115 Features 10 Cool Things You Can Do With Evernote

Genealogy Gems Premium Membership and PodcastIf you’re a Premium member on our site, you can now access Genealogy Gems Premium Podcast Episode 115, “Newspapers, Evernote, DNA and a Heartwarming Story.”

This episode is PACKED with news and ideas YOU can use to move your family research forward now. Here are some highlights:

  • 10 Cool Things You Can Do With Evernote when you’re traveling (you have to hear these ideas–they’ll save you a lot of fuss on the road)!
  • Great advice on what to keep on your hard drive v. what to keep on Evernote;
  • A conversation with a listener who reunited lost heirlooms with the right family–the advice I gave her and how it went;
  • An interview with Genealogy Gems’ resident DNA expert Diahan Southard on a recent news story and its impact on genetic genealogy;
  • A recent news story about Canadian birth brothers who were reunited–but are still looking for their sister;
  • Updates on two great online tools, PERSI on FindMyPast sites and the FamilySearch Standard Location Finder; and
  • an update on content at the British Newspaper Archive and some great U.S. newspaper history trivia.

Not a Premium member yet? You’re missing out on the “plus” content in Genealogy Gems Premium Podcast episodes! Click here for more on becoming a member. Our low annual membership rate is, we think, the best value in genealogy education out there. You don’t just get access to these meaty podcasts: you get unlimited access to Lisa’s online video classes for an entire year. Check it out!

Ancestry App Launches With “Solid New Features”

iPad_Landscape_ss2Ancestry.com just relaunched the Ancestry App (version 6.0) for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch devices.

“This isn’t just a re-launch on a new system,” explained the Ancestry Mobile Team in a recent email. “We’ve worked hard to add some solid new features that we think you’ll enjoy.”

It was only about 6 weeks ago that we reported the last updates to the Ancestry app, but these are worth a separate mention. Here they are as described by the folks at Ancestry.com:

Prioritized Hints View

We’ve added a new section to the application which allows you to view all the hints for a given tree from a single place. We’ve added a prioritized sort order to the hints in this section so that your very best hints automatically bubble up into view. In addition to a priority sort, we’ve made it possible to view hints based on recency, with the newest hints at the top of the list. Near the top of the new hints view you will find sort order controls titled “best” and “latest” which allow you to toggle between these two sort orders to meet your needs. We’ve also included some filtering capabilities for the hints in this section which will allow you to filter hints by the last name of the person the hint is for, or to filter hints by type (photo, story or record). When you see a hint that you’d like to learn more about, simply tap; the details of the hint will come into view and you will be able to accept or ignore the hint from right there.

Comments

Every day thousands of photos and stories are added to Ancestry by users of the website and the Ancestry App. When one of these pieces of great content might be associated with a  relative of yours you will get a photo or story hint and you get to share this content and benefit from the work of other Ancestry users. Now you will have the ability to comment on these shared pieces of content directly from the mobile app – just like you can on the website. When viewing a photo or story you will notice a new comment area within the mobile app, here you will see comments from others and be able to leave comments of your own.

Comments View

The new comments section provides a running history of the new comments that have been left on photos and stories I your tree,  making it easy for you to keep up to date on the latest comments. When you see a comment that you would like to see in full context or respond to, silly tap; you will be taken to the photo or story that the comment was made on and be able to review the entire comment thread associated with the content.

Badges

You may notice a new red badge with a number in it that shows up on the Ancestry app icon. This lets you know that you have new hints or comments to review. We have also included badges on the icons representing the hint and comment sections which allow you to know exactly where the new content can be found.

Notifications

If you have enabled the Ancestry App to send you push notifications you will now be notified when the very best new hints or comments are available. When you are ready to view the new hint or comment, simply tap; the app will open and you will be taken dirtily to the hint or comment.

Tree Viewer Enhancements

In addition to family and pedigree views, you can now view your family tree in a list view. From this view you can filter the list of tree persons by name or using a number of useful filters (Direct Ancestors, End of Line, Living Relatives, People with Hints, and People with Recent Hints). We’ve also added a dedicated person search within the pedigree and family views. Tapping on the search icon In the top left corner of the tree viewer will allow you to enter the name of the person you are looking for. When you see the person you are looking for, simply tap; the tree will be refocused on this person and you will be taken directly to his or her profile details.

Navigation

We’ve simplified and updated the navigation within app. You will notice prominent tabs along the bottom of the app for Hints, Comments, Tree, DNA, and Settings. Getting around the app will now be quicker and easier than ever.

In addition to the major updates highlighted above we have worked on smaller touches within the app that enhance the overall experience. As you use the app in more depth you will likely notice other changes like: quick links to web content, side-by-side comparisons between tree and record data, quick access to profile information from hints and updated colors and styling. We hope that the new version 6.0 app experience will be a good one, and that the Ancestry Mobile App will become an ever more integral part of your Ancestry experience. If you have ideas, thoughts or questions please feel free to submit feedback by tapping on the “Feedback” tab within the Settings section of the app.

BillionGraves: Easy Family History for Kids!

BillionGraves

Belle M Graves on BillionGraves!

I’ve been wanting for awhile now to help with BillionGraves’ efforts to photograph the world’s cemeteries. And recently I was looking for a “date” idea with my 9-year old son. Something outdoorsy (for me) and technology-friendly (for him). Well, I realized there’s a perfect app for that combo–BillionGraves!

First we created an account (from the BillionGraves home page). Then, from the Get Started page, we downloaded the app to my iPhone/iPad, watched a quick video about what we were doing (great intro for my son) and then watched another quick video about how to take good gravestone photos.

We were ready to go! But where to go? Which cemeteries near us needed imaging? The BillionGraves app told us!

BG screen shotThe “Cemeteries” section shows, in order of distance from our house, the names and locations of graveyards near us and how many images have already been taken at each. I was surprised to see that of 15 cemeteries within 6 miles of my house, only 2 had been imaged at all (and only partially, by the small number of images mentioned). There was plenty for us to do!

Using the link to Google Maps provided within the app on my iPhone, my son navigated us 1.5 miles to a little village cemetery. We took turns taking pictures on my iPhone. (Next time we’ll bring both the iPhone and iPad and split up, now that I know he can take good pictures.) We stayed only about 25 minutes because it was so hot. But we got nearly 60 images taken and committed to return and image the rest.

During those 25 minutes, my son saw the world in a whole new way. We saw a big tombstone for someone whose last name matched that of a main street near our home–was this an early settler? He commented on how sad it was that so many babies and kids were buried there. We sneaked a peek at two letters placed on a child’s grave, written by kids a few days earlier with their own thoughts on life. And–this last gave us a laugh–on the very first row we imaged for BillionGraves, we photographed the headstone of Belle M. Graves!

To me, this was a perfect introduction to family history for kids. I’d advise it for any kid old enough to take a good picture with a mobile device (just supervise them for quality control).

Are you a BillionGraves volunteer, either in the “field” or as an online transcriptionist? Tell us how that’s been meaningful to you on the Genealogy Gems Facebook page!

Genealogy Gems Premium Podcast Episode 110: New FREE Apps and More

Genealogy Gems Premium MembershipLisa found a few minutes before heading out to play “mother of the bride” to publish Genealogy Gems Premium podcast episode 110

There’s lots of fun stuff on there for you lucky Premium members, like:

  • Lisa talks about great FREE new apps she loves, including Magnifying Glass with Light, which we posted here about;
  • Advice to a listener on finding a home for some orphaned family memorabilia in the Mailbox section of the show notes;
  • An inspiring family history use for Twitter.

Haven’t become a Premium member yet? Did you know you’re missing out on not just podcast episodes like this one (and 109 archived episodes) but a growing online collection of Lisa’s video classes on her most popular topics. She adds a new video class every month! Check out the benefits of Premium membership here.

SCGS Jamboree 2014: Get the Free App

SCGS Jamboree 2014 appAre you going to the SCGS Jamboree 2014 (June 6-9)? The conference app  is now available for download!

The app works on all web-enabled platforms, including iOS (iPad, iPad mini, iTouch, iPhone); Android; BlackBerry; Windows. Laptop and desktop users can also make use of the app.

The app is your personal conference guide. According to conference organizers, here’s what it helps you do:

Plan your weekend at Jamboree.

  • Preview all of the classes by reading the descriptions.
  • Browse day by day, or do a search by topic or experience level.
  • Download the dozens of syllabus articles available through the app and print them for use.
  • Look up your favorite speakers and review the sessions they are teaching.
  • Select your sessions and add them to your own personal schedule to keep organized.
  • Explore the exhibit hall from the comfort of your couch long before the doors open.
  • Do you have questions for speakers or exhibitors? Ask them in advance.

Stay in touch before, during and after Jamboree.

  • Create your profile so others know you’re attending
  • Connect with your friends and send messages.
  • Share your class schedule if you’d like others to know where to find you.
  • Receive breaking news texts from the Jamboree staff about schedule changes, etc.
  • Sync the app across multiple devices.
  • Twitter users, send and read tweets from within the app.
  • Keep up with the Jamboree blog.
  • Provide your feedback on speaker sessions directly from the app.

Download the app today and give it a test run. Can you find Lisa’s classes in the Speaker section and her booth info in the Exhibitor section? It’s worth a look because there are two downloadable pdfs there for you!

FREE FGS Webinars: War of 1812, Using Twitter in Genealogy

FGS logoFor a limited time, you can watch FREE genealogy webinars from the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) 2014 Webinar Series. These are top-notch experts in their fields who have a lot to share. These three caught my eye:

“Discovering Local and State Militia Records” by J. Mark Lowe, CG, FUGA is available only until Sunday, April 27, 2014:

So is “Researching in the Post War Records of 1812″ by Craig Scott, MA, CG:

Interested in social media? Don’t miss this webinar: “Capturing the Community: Using Twitter to Connect, Engage and Educate in Genealogy” by Jen Baldwin:

Check out the full webinar series here.

Magnify Your Genealogy Research with this App and Your Smartphone

Magnifying reading glassesSometimes when I really need to read something my arms just aren’t long enough and my reading glasses are buried in the bottom of my purse. But one things that is always within reach is my smartphone.

My favorite mobile app that comes to my rescue  is Magnifying Glass with Light by Falcon in Motion for the iOS. I use it on both my iPhone and iPad. (Android users can grab Magnificent Magnifier HD for the same sort of tool.)

Magnifier mobile app for smartphoneMagnifying Glass with Light is a handy free tool that I find myself using quite often. The first time, I was coming home at night, and the porch light was off. Not only was it dark, but I didn’t have my readers handy so I couldn’t have read the number pad on the front door lock if I wanted to (which I did!) I whipped out my iPhone and not only did the light illuminate the situation, the magnifier made reading those little numbered buttons a snap.

Safely inside, I continue to use this handy tool to inspect old family photos, read small print and other genealogical activities.  In this screenshot (right) you can see what the app screen looks like as I inspect the tiny writing at the top of an street car in a old photo of my Great Grandfather (below.) Sweet!

San Francisco Street Car Great Grandpa Burkett Family History

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s what’s new in Version 3:Magnifying Glass with Light mobile app iphone

  • LED light level control
  • Image Stabilizer
  • Crystal Clear Mode
  • High Contrast Mode
  • Auto-Focus Lock
  • Save photos to exclusive album

Bottom Line:

Price: Free

Ease of Use: Easy

Relevance to Daily Life: Daily Uses

Download: Yes!

Further Reading:
British newspaper Archive App: Here & Then
Using Evernote on the iPad, Android, Tablet & Smartphones
Turn Your iPad into a Genealogy Powerhouse