May 25, 2015

Think Outside the Box at NGS and Jamboree

NGS Outside the box schedule

Click this image for a crisp downloadable version to print and keep

Major genealogy conferences like NGS and Jamboree can be both invigorating and overwhelming! It’s tough to catch all the classes I want by my favorite lecturers on the topics I need most. But at some point each day, I’m also done sitting in a boxy classroom for a little while.

We at Genealogy Gems suggest a proven “fix” for these problems: Outside the Box Sessions! We partner with favorite fellow exhibitors to schedule short live presentations on our hottest topics at our extra-large shared exhibit space. Those who attend any Outside the Box session can sign up to receive a free e-book of handouts from all the sessions.

From what you’re telling us, Outside the Box works for you! Bonnie wrote to us: “I attended several of your [Outside the Box] sessions, at least one from each of you and often more. They were terrific, at least as good and often better than conference  sessions. And the e-book of session notes, with the myriad of internet  links, is frosting on the cake. Thank you.”

Ad_RevisionA packed and lively schedule of Outside the Box sessions will run at the following upcoming events in the free exhibit hall:

National Genealogical Society conference (13-16 May)

Southern California’s Jamboree (5-7 June).

Click on the conference names above to see the full scoop on each, including classes on:

  • Google searching,
  • family reunion ideas,
  • DNA,
  • German research,
  • Google Earth for genealogy,
  • identifying and caring for old photos,
  • Evernote for genealogy,
  • using your iPad for family history
  • and more!

Since the exhibit hall is free, this is a wonderful opportunity to stop by and see what genealogy conference are all about, and pick up some excellent free training sessions while you’re there!

Ancestry App for Apple Watch

Ancestry app Apple WatchAncestry’s new app for the Apple Watch brings new meaning to the idea of giving our ancestors “the time of day!”

The Ancestry blog reports that while the Ancestry app for Apple Watch doesn’t offer full-service genealogy research capabilities on its small screen, you can do two major tasks:

“1. Get notified about important events in your family history. You can see important ‘on-this-day’ events in your family history including birthdays, anniversaries, and death dates of your direct ancestors and close relatives. Plus, we will let you know when we find records about a possible new parent or spouse, or birth, marriage, and death info missing from your tree.

2. Keep on top of new hints and comments. Take small steps to discover more about your family anytime, anywhere. A simple tap to review new hints or comment by voice dictation can enrich your family stories step by step. Within the watch app, you can scroll through a feed of meaningful hints, important dates from your tree, and comments about photos and stories. If there’s a hint that looks interesting, you can easily open right to it by pulling out your phone—if it’s a photo hint, you can save it to your tree directly from the watch.”

The latest version of the Ancestry iPhone app includes the watch app.

how to start a genealogy blogInterestingly, responses posted to this news announcement seemed most excited about the ability to have fingertip access to family birthdays and events. This feature is already available (without having to purchase the Apple watch!) from MyHeritage: you can opt to receive text alerts for living relatives’ birthdays and anniversaries, along with any other family events you put on your own private family calendar. We blogged about it recently: check it out!

Here’s Why You Should Use the Genealogy Gems App

get the app genealogy gems appThe Genealogy Gems App  lets you listen to the Genealogy Gems podcast on your mobile device which is great. But there are more specific reasons to use the app over just listening online or using iTunes.

Recently I heard from podcast listener Kay, who wondered about listening to the podcast on her phone without using data in places where she doesn’t have wifi (like the gym).

My answer to her: use the app! By default, it streams the episodes via an Internet connection. However, if you tap the star for an episode, you will download the episode. Then you can listen to it offline.

The Genealogy Gems app turns 5 years old this month and continues to offer even more great perks like:

  • Stream episodes from anywhere
  • Receive updates with the latest episodes and an archived back catalog
  • Playback resume (when interrupted by a call or other distraction)
  • Access exclusive extras like PDFs, Wallpapers, and Bonus Content
  • Quickly access all the contact methods for the show
  • With the iOS version (compatible for iPad, iPod Touch and iPhone, you can follow the show on Twitter
  • On iPhone, there’s a call-in audio comment feature (We LOVE when listeners leave comments and questions!)

Click here to get the Genealogy Gems app for Apple, Android and Windows devices.

BillionGraves Apps: iOS Update and Windows Beta

billiongraves appBillionGraves has announced an overhaul to the BillionGraves app for iOS (to be released shortly) and a new Windows app that’s ready for beta-testing (keep reading to see how you can test it!). 

The following is quoted from a BillionGraves press release:

BillionGraves app iOS 4.0

“This isn’t just a new app with a few new bells and whistles. This app completely changes how users can utilize the app to perform functions that have been found only on the website. 

In the past the app was primarily designed for users taking photos while providing minimal tools for the researchers who are looking for their ancestors. This release adds tools to better search, edit, add, and manage BG records from the mobile device! Make sure you have enabled the auto updating feature on your iOS device to get the new version the second it is available! We will have new tutorials and support explaining every step of the way! Join us on our community page for helpful tips and tricks as the new app is released by Apple!

BillionGraves for Windows in Beta

“After countless requests from our users around the world for a Windows version of the BillionGraves app, we have one ready to release to the public for testing! This is exciting news as many of our overseas users have a growing increase in Windows based phones. This will greatly assist in the world-wide expansion of the BillionGraves index.

Now that we have a Windows app ready for testing, we are putting a call out to all our users with a Windows phone to help us test these new features before putting it on the Windows store. To participate, send an email to windows@billiongraves.com with your full name, type of windows device (Nokia phone, etc) and Windows email address. Once we receive your email, you will receive an invite to our beta testing group and given a link to download the application. Then visit the cemetery and report any feedback from your experience so we can make quick adjustments and release our Windows app to the world!”

New Interactive Exhibit Brings Family History to the Public: FamilySearch Discovery Center

FS Discovery CenterWouldn’t it be great if you could bring your loved ones to a state-of-the art, museum-quality interactive exhibit that introduces them to their own family history?

Now you can! A “prototype” FamilySearch Discovery Center was unveiled yesterday in downtown Salt Lake City in conjunction with RootsTech 2015. Visitors are handed a tablet computer and sent around to seven stations. At each they dock their tablet, which has their FamilySearch login programmed, and experience different aspects of history with their own family history data.

You can see your family’s international migration through the generations; superimpose yourself in historical costumes from several nations; check out the history and popularity of your first and last names; and enter a “time machine” with 3D historical re-creations of ancestral kitchens throughout the years. One of my favorite stations was one I almost skipped: the personal history interview in a private booth. You choose your life season, from child to senior, and a virtual interviewer appears on the screen and asks you a series of questions, which are recorded. All the data is later sent to you through your FamilySearch/email accounts.

For now you can only experience this in Salt Lake City. But this exhibit is meant to be replicated in major venues, and indeed has been booked for at least two so far in Seattle and Philadelphia, says FamilySearch CEO Dennis Brimhall. He chatted with me as I toured and confirmed that they are experimenting with this exhibit in different sizes and scales. He hopes to see versions of the FamilySearch Discovery Center one day in museums, libraries, archives, and heritage centers around the world. “We haven’t done a really good job of bridging the general public into family history,” he admitted. This exhibit concept is a big step toward changing that.

As for myself, I love what they’re doing. I would love even more to see them customized for regional audiences, which it sounds like is part of the plan. If you’re in Salt Lake, it’s absolutely worth checking out. Just bring your relatives–preferably the ones who are now the LEAST interested in family history!

NEW! Updated Tips for Using Your iPad for Genealogy

ipad videoAre you using your iPad for genealogy? Or a tablet computer? You should! There are SO many family history-friendly apps out there! And the list of what you can do with your iPad or tablet just keeps getting longer.

That’s why I’ve updated my Premium Video, “Genealogy on the Go with iPad.” The iPad is built for hitting the road and is ideally suited for family history due to its sleek lightweight size, gorgeous graphics and myriad of apps and tools.

In this class I teach you “the tablet mindset,” the best apps for the tasks that genealogists want to accomplish, and my updated Top 10 list of iPad Tips and Tricks. By the end of class you will be able to turn your iPad into a family history powerhouse!

Genealogy Gems Premium members can watch my newly-updated video class (53 minutes) and download the updated handout. Click here to learn more about Premium membership.

If you’d rather read a book on this topic, check out one of my best-selling books, Turn Your iPad into a Genealogy Powerhouse.

If you like this post, you’ll also love posts like these:

Search for more posts on apps, iPad, mobile genealogy and related topics on my home page. Just search by topic in the lower left corner!

Find Genealogy Apps with the FamilySearch App Gallery

custom_app_icon_15153Do you ever wonder whether you’re missing something when you browse iTunes or Google Play  for genealogy apps? Well, FamilySearch has created a space JUST for family history apps: The FamilySearch App Gallery.

According to a FamilySearch press release, the gallery helps people “more easily find the right application from FamilySearch’s many partner applications, or services, to enhance their family history efforts. With just a few clicks, patrons can now begin to search partner apps to find those that meet their specific need.”

For example, you can search the App Gallery by:

  • what the app does (family tree software, find ancestor, photos and stories, charts and tree views and tree analyzing);
  • platform (web, windows, Mac OS, Android, iPhone/iPad and Windows phone);
  • price (free for everyone, one-time payment, subscription, or free trial);
  • language (English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and more);
  • and FamilySearch compatibility (reads from FS, updates into FS or FS account not required).

Remember, the nature of apps is usually very specific. The BillionGraves for Android (or iOS) app, for example, lets you image and index gravestones for the BillionGraves website. But you may not have ever come across some of these apps before–and may find them very useful for your current or future research. For example, Historic Journals lets you run your own indexing project with your own  group. You can tag, index, share or archive historic documents in a public or private environment.

Genealogy Gems Podcast and Family HistoryI’m pleased to report that the Genealogy Gems Podcast app for iOS and Android are in the FamilySearch App Gallery! In case you don’t already know about the Genealogy Gems Podcast app, it brings the free Genealogy Gems Podcast to your smart phone or tablet along with exclusive bonus material. And in January the app celebrated it’s 5th anniversary! In addition to getting access to the show, you’ll also receive access to special features like PDFs with tips and ideas from the show; Genealogy Gems wallpaper; bonus audio and video content; the ability to follow the show on Twitter; and call-in audio comment feature (iPhone only). (Not all features available for all episodes.)

Turn Your iPad into a Genealogy PowerhosueWhile the FamilySearch App Gallery is a great resource, it isn’t a comprehensive home for ALL family history related apps. And a lot of genealogy-friendly apps aren’t categorized as such in Google Play or the App Store. Learn more about TONS of apps to further YOUR family history in Lisa’s book Turn Your iPad into a Genealogy Powerhouse. This book introduces you to the tablet/iPad way of “thinking” (it’s different than how you use a computer). It gives you an in-depth look at over 65 genealogy-friendly apps, 32 fabulous tips and tricks and links to online videos where you can watch things for yourself. Got a tablet? No problem–apps available in Google Play are included, and the tips include clues about features to look for in your brand of tablet.

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!