What To Do When Technological Changes Get You Down

Feeling frustrated by changing technology? Here’s a look back at a post I originally wrote in 2013 that addresses the mayhem tech changes can cause, and how a visit to a fast food restaurant changed my perspective on a particularly rough day.

The “Mayhem” commercials from Allstate are a riot, but of course all that mayhem isn’t all that funny when it’s happening to you.

Allstate Raccoon Mayhem Commercial

Sometimes it feels like technology companies are having a little mayhem fun with us when they get us up and running with their software program, or app, or phone, or tablet, or whatever, and then *BAM* they change it all up.  Mayhem!

It’s not really that we don’t want new technology, it’s just that:

1. We sometimes get very little if any warning that it’s coming

2. The change requires investing time in learning all new ways to do something.

3. The change seems to be suspiciously benefiting the changer and not us – the “changee.” 

4. We have to shift out of auto pilot into manual drive
…which means it takes longer to do tasks, and we tend to make mistakes more often because our brain, our eyes, and our fingers are all trained to quickly complete the task the old way.Technological Frustration

I’m usually pretty excited about new technology and I love seeing what it can do for our genealogy efforts, but don’t think that I don’t have my moments when I just want to run screaming into the street and chuck my laptop in the gutter. We all have our moments. And I’m here to tell you that I feel your pain and have suffered myself, some mayhem this week, in fact, I call it:

Mobile Mayhem

See, the thing is, folks love their smart phones. Walt Mossberg, principal technology columnist for The Wall Street Journal just tweeted that according to an Experian marketing survey the average America spends an hour a day with his or her smartphone. And iPhone users spend more time than Android users.

Smart PhoneGoogle, and specifically YouTube which they own, has definitely taken notice of all this smart phone savvy-ness, and they’ve decided to turn my world, and all the other YouTube Channel publisher’s worlds out there upside down.

I launched my YouTube channel way back in the stone-age, 2007, before Google even owned YouTube. And I have over 60 videos on the channel, and we’ve been diligently working on getting prepared for a while new phase of video production here at Genealogy Gems. So I have had my hands quite full on the video front.

YouTube has implemented a total redesign of YouTube channel pages. The goal is to make the channels mobile friendly, while still accommodating the wide range of full size computer screens that are out there. But in order to accomplish this, we as channel publishers have to scramble and get new artwork for our banner, produce a new introduction video and rearrange the video layout.

So how did I respond to this change you ask?

I ignored it, of course, until I had about a week left before they were set to flip the switch. And then this week all of a sudden it was an emergency to get my channel ready.

So I finally broke down and hired someone to create the new artwork, then I spent hours one morning trying to get all the changes made. My frustration level was growing a little because I just wasn’t happy with how the design of the new artwork was fitting the new layout. And there were so many other things I wanted and needed to be doing that week.

Then my sweet neighbor came to the door and my dogs, who think every knock on the door is a masked marauder, went totally ballistic, blasting through the room knocking over my morning coffee on their way to the door. So now I had coffee all over the carpet.

After my neighbor left I got the portable steam cleaner out to clean up the coffee stained carpet and it worked for a total of 45 seconds, then dribbled to nothing. So I went to the kitchen and set it on the counter to look at it and when I took the nozzle off it dribbled dirty water all over my freshly cleaned kitchen floor.

I spent the next two hours cleaning the kitchen floor, fixing the steam cleaner nozzle, and cleaning my carpet.  And my YouTube channel was still not quite right, and I wasn’t sure how to fix it. Panic started to set in. All of a sudden I feared I would never figure it out, or get it done, and on top of that I was getting further behind on everything else I needed to do.

When my husband got home we went out for fast food because I hadn’t had a chance to do a thing about preparing dinner. So he listened to my day as we go through the line, and then I went to get my soda and I set my tray on the counter by the soda machine. Unfortunately I didn’t notice that the counter top was about six inches shorter than the tray, and my tray of shanghai beef and cream cheese won tons unceremoniously hit the floor.

At this point I was feeling pretty sorry for myself and pretty sure it was all YouTube’s fault.

Then, a woman my age came into the restaurant with her daughter and husband. She sat and waited while they ordered the food because she was in a wheel chair. And needless to say my perspective made a big course correction.

Maybe I don’t really know what frustration can be. And…get ready for it…maybe I over-reacted all day long.

She smiled at me and I smiled back and then I got to thinking back on my day. And I realized it’s so often not the change itself that causes the mayhem, but it’s our knee jerk response of fear to it.

If you have ever found yourself gritting your teeth as the next big technological roll out happens, or sometimes worse yet, the closing of a favorite tool like iGoogle or the Google News Timeline, here are some things to keep in mind:

First: Stay Calm and Carry On
Just like the famous saying from World War II Britain, we are much more effective in difficult times when we take a breath and stay calm, and then we continue moving forward to the best of our ability at our pace.

Often times it’s our lack of calm that causes us not carry on as usual, and in the end, brings more trouble down on our own heads.

The older I get the more I can see how human beings bring a lot of stuff on themselves. I didn’t start picking away at the new artwork and design until the last week before the change implementation because I was focusing on how they shouldn’t be changing it. And yea, that kind of thinking wasn’t hurting anyone but myself, because YouTube wasn’t about to call a halt to it because some channels didn’t like the idea.

And simple things, like I knew better than to set my coffee where I did, but I was so freaked out about the YouTube design I carelessly set it at dog level. And it was just silly to pull the nozzle off the steam cleaner over a clean floor rather than over the sink.

Second: The Technology Folks Probably Have a Good Reason for the Change
Sometimes it’s a financially driven change; they just can’t make it sustainable as is. And I would much rather see an inconvenient change than a complete disappearance of a Google or an Ancestry.

And sometimes it’s because the technology folks do have their eye on the future, and they see the big picture of how you and other users use your technology today. In the end the change will meet a pressing need, and they are striving to stay ahead of the game so we aren’t moaning down the road. YouTube’s change is a great example of that. They’ve made the case that a large percentage of users watch video from mobile devices and they challenged us as channel publishers to check our own analytics. And you know what, they’re right! I wasn’t keeping an eye on that but YouTube was.

Third: A Little Investment in Education can Go a Long WayEducation Investment
It’s OK if you have to slow down for a little while and spend some time getting re-educated. I decided to sign up for an online class YouTube offered channel publishers and in the first hour or so I came to better understand how my channel was going to benefit. And understanding the benefits will give you the motivation to take on the change.

I know, it’s hard to imagine that you can find even more time on education. But as I’ve said before on my Genealogy Gems Podcast, I think as genealogists we need to actually be budgeting a certain amount of time for education. Don’t leave it to be squeezed in in a panic. Allocate 10% of your research time for reading and education, and another 10% on staying organized, and I guarantee you remaining 80% will be much more productive!

The truth is, if my YouTube channel doesn’t look perfect yet, I trust that you guys will still be watching, and it certainly won’t stop me from publishing new videos.

And it’s sort of funny that this has been on my mind so much this week and I’ve been personally facing the YouTube change here at Genealogy Gems, because I just had the opportunity to sit in on a conference call with Ancestry.com where they provided a behind the scenes look at some of the changes they are working on for the upcoming months. Listen to Genealogy Gems Podcast episode 156 to hear the details.

After all I struggled with and all I learned from it last week, I found myself being much more open to the Ancestry changes. I was more focused on spotting the benefits to the genealogist, and I found myself admiring their commitment to continuous improvement. See the thing is, whether you are an individual genealogist or a big company like Ancestry, if you aren’t striving for continuous improvement you will fall behind, and the work will become more difficult because you are working harder than you have to.

 

Snagit Part 2 – Advanced Clipping Techniques

Even if you don’t use Snagit, or if you’re a newbie or still deciding whether you want to use it, this video will give you tangible examples of what it can do for you. If you are already using Snagit, this session will definitely take your skills to the next level.

snagit part 2

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What You’ll Learn in this Episode

In Elevenses with Lisa episode 66 Lisa Louise Cooke will discuss how to use Snagit:

  • for problem-solving, such as errors in your Ancestry family tree
  • capturing unique records
  • creating family history videos
  • PLUS: answers to your Snagit questions

You can also watch at the  Genealogy Gems YouTube channel. 

Episode 66 Show Notes 

Elevenses with Lisa episode 61 was a tutorial for beginners on how to use Snagit, and specifically how I use it for genealogy. I think it really resonated with genealogists because accurately and completely capturing the family information that we’re finding is absolutely essential for good source documentation. It’s one of the most important things we do as genealogists.

So, this video is sort of a “Part 2” session where we dig into more ways to use this amazing screen capture tool and I answer some of your most pressing questions.

Save 15% on Snagit with Code GENEALOGY15

Even if you use a different snipping tool, I’m going to give you tangible examples of how you can clip more effectively.

I received the following email from Anne W.: “I very much enjoyed your recent Elevenses with Lisa episode on how to use Snagit. I love the screen clipper on my Mac but this does so much more.  I used your link to purchase Snagit and I have found the tutorials very helpful as I figure out how to use it on my Mac with my files.  The first thing I did was go back to several newspaper pages I clipped recently in chunks and used Snagit to capture the whole page.  It worked like magic!  I would love to see another episode about the features of Snagit. Thank you for your regular and premium podcasts.  I listen to both regularly.  I have learned so much that I can apply to my genealogy research.”

Oh I love hearing how you’re using what we talk about here at Genealogy Gems! And yes, Snagit is fantastic for clipping those squirrely newspaper pages, and so much more!

Let’s get started –  I’m excited to show you 5 more problem-solving screen capture projects that you can do with Snagit, and then we’ll wrap up with answers to your Snagit questions.

 Using Snagit for Problem Solving

Bill in San Antonio, TX wrote me last week and told me about a problem that he was having with his online family tree at Ancestry  It turns out that some ancestors had duplicate profiles. He didn’t put them there. He asked Ancestry about it but was getting what he called “boiler plate” answers that didn’t solve the problem.

In situations where you’re trying to communicate a complicated problem to someone else, or you’re just trying to work through it yourself, it can really help to visualize the problem, and Snagit can help you do that very effectively.

Bill says: “I am seeing duplicate FACTS in profiles of siblings, parents, and children of a person and cannot figure out where they originate. I go to the profile which seems to be generating duplicate information, but it is not there.”

As I read through all the details that he wrote up about the problem, I found myself getting confused. I asked his for access to his family tree so I could take a look and he wrote back

Bill went on to say, “The duplications I see are all in my tree. I have reviewed each of them to be certain that the data is not coming from a profile, even though it appears in duplicated form elsewhere. 

Here is a screenshot of one such issue, showing two siblings with repeated data. Note that in each case, the birth location is slightly different, as in “Texas” vs. “Concho County, Texas”.

ancestry tree problem of duplication

Ancestry Profile –  problem of duplication

Bill had annotated his screen clipping to help me zero in on the problem. “(I used SnagIt for the screenshot — thanks for suggesting it!) I see this issue in other profiles, so your suggestions for solving it will be useful in other parts of the tree.”

Here are just three examples of ways you can highlight or call out an item in an image:

  • Lines
  • Highlighter
  • Shape (set to transparent center, red outline)

Styles

After you select and customization a style (such as a red outline shape) you will see that Snagit provides a “ghost” version of it in your list. It’s greyed out and ready to add. Simply click the plus sign to add the style to a theme. There are several themes available and you can create new themes.

Favorites

I like to make it even faster to find the styles I use the most by adding them to my Favorites. It’s super easy to do. Just click the star on the style. You’ll find your Favorites in the star menu at the top of the screen. 

As a side note, I  do think this is a bug in Ancestry’s system. I recommended that he do the following to zero in on the problem: 

  1. Search the tree – is the person duplicated in the pedigree view somewhere. Answer: No.
  2. Check the URLs – Are the tree and person numbers in the URLs the same for each “Fact”? Answer: Yes.

Again, you can use Snagit to help work through things like this. Here’s how to see if you’re indeed looking at the same person: Right-click on each ancestor profile to open it in a new tab so you can compare and capture them. In this case it was Willie (the ancestor) and James and the duplicate of James. Each will have a URL address in your browser bar that will end in person/420009496764/facts. The number in red is the unique number for that person.

Had the tree number or person numbers been different, that would be the likely source of the problem. However, in Bill’s case, they are the same, so that’s more evidence that it’s a bug in Ancestry’s displaying of the information. 

After screen capturing each profile they can be combined into one step-by-step document that can then be shared.

How to Combine Captured Images with Snagit

  1. Click on the first image in the tray at the bottom of the page.
  2. Hold down your shift key and click the last image. (If you need to pick from the tray, hold down the Control key on your keyboard and click each desired image.)
  3. Right-click on the selected images and click Combine in Template – or – at the top of the screen click Create and select Image from Template – or – Press Control + Alt + Con your keyboard.
  1. Select the desired page layout. Custom Steps or Steps Portrait.
  2. Click the Next button.
  3. Give your document a title, captions, etc.
  4. Click the Combine button.
  5. Remove steps if desired, add annotations, etc. as desired.
  6. The combined image can then be saved to your computer and shared such as by email.

My guess is that at some point Bill viewed someone else’s tree or a hint that included this conflicting information, or he may have attached a record that had conflicting information, or rejected information from a record. In any case, some sort of action may have gotten “stuck” in the virtual stratosphere. The system has hung on to something it should not have. Bill says he’s finding more instances of this happening in the same tree, so it definitely needs to be addressed. It would be a shame to keep adding to the tree only to have that glitch continue to duplicate itself in other profiles. 

I suggested looking through the records he has attached to James Kalloup Sparks to see if any of the attached records mention Concho, TX as his birthplace. I doubt there is one, but if there is, it is likely somehow linked to the problem.

It’s very odd that on Willie’s profile it shows James Kalloup Sparks’ birthplace as Concho in the duplication, but when you click that profile it doesn’t say Concho. It’s must surely be an Ancestry glitch.

If it were me, I would try downloading your tree and then creating a second tree by uploading it and seeing if the error still occurs. Here’s the Ancestry Help page

Also, if by chance Bill was syncing his Ancestry online tree with genealogy software on his computer, there’s a possibility that could cause the problem. 

Annotations

Questions from Kelly: “Hi Lisa!, I would LOVE for you to create a very simple tutorial for adding in arrows and any text in “bubbles or boxes”. I have tried to do this and am missing something – I just LOVE Snagit but I am so technically challenged and would love to not become so annoyed when I am missing the simplest of steps.”

The most important thing to remember as you use annotations like text bubbles, shapes and text is you must select what you are working on. The font, color, sizing and other formatting features can be applied to every kind of annotation. You must select the item before applying the formatting.

If you’re ever confused about what “mode” you’re in, look at the top of the screen and note which tab is selected. In the example below, we are in “Shape” mode.

And if you try and try to make a change to an annotation and nothing seems to happen, you probably haven’t selected it. Click on the item to select it before attempting to make any changes.

If you want to move a item such as a shape or a selection of text, again you will need to click it to select it. You should see the “Move” selector handle that looks like this:

If you don’t or you’re having trouble, click “Move” in the toolbar at the top of the screen and then click on the item.

Most of the time if working with annotations or formatting them is presenting a challenge, it’s because the item hasn’t been properly selected before you begin.

Using Snagit to Capture Unique Sources

Many of the most popular genealogy records websites offer a hinting feature that suggests records to you based on the information in your online family tree. Many of those “records” are quite unique. I recently came across a Photo Hint at Ancestry that was a screen capture of a story in a public Facebook group of the descendants of a particular couple. It was interesting information but I didn’t really want everything that was captured in the image. I used Snagit to capture and then edit the image the way I wanted it so I could then save it to my computer. This included erasing or removing unwanted areas. The following Snagit features can help you accomplish this easily:

  • Select and delete
  • Shapes recolored to match the background
  • The Eraser tool under the More menu in the toolbar

 Answers to Your Questions about Snagit

Answers to your questions from episode 61 which was my beginning tutorial on Snagit. If you haven’t used it before stick with us in this video to see all the cool things it can do and then go back and watch that episode which is perfect for beginners.

Pat M.: ​Will OCR work for non-English newspapers?
Answer: Snagit doesn’t translate, but the OCR will Grab non-English text. Learn more here. You can then copy and paste it into Google Translate.

SHB:​ Don’t see Evernote on the list, how easy is it to save to EN?
Answer: If you have Evernote installed on your computer you should see it in the Share list. You can also download Evernote to add it as a Share destination. In fact, there are loads of programs you can download.

Cyndy B.: ​Are all these features in older versions?
Answer: No, like all software, each version introduces additional features.

SHB: Curious about printing… if you print a long article, will it print out readable?
Answer: Yes! You can set the resolution. And use Print Preview to make adjustments so it prints exactly the way you want it.

CA Sanders​: if I bring a photo into Snagit and work with it will save IN Snagit, not in my original placement…so I would have to “save” or “move” to the folder it was in to begin with my changes.
Answer: After making your edits, use File > Save As to save it in the desired format to the desired location on your computer hard drive. You can also save it to replace the original if that’s your goal.

B Latham​: How do we keep the SnagIt program up to date? It sounds as if other viewers here are saying they purchased the program a few years ago and may be outdated. Isn’t there a way to keep it up to date?
Answer:  Yes, you can buy a maintenance plant that will include future updates at a reduced fee. Use our link and discount code, and the option will be available at checkout.

Barbara C.​: For 2 different laptops, would we need to purchase Snagit twice?
Answer: TechSmith software is licensed per user, so how many computers can I install it on?
Each user may install and use one copy of the software product on up to two computers for their sole use, provided only one computer is in use at any given time. This includes home and work, or a laptop and desktop.

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Here’s our link for purchasing your copy of Snagit (screen clipping tool) Thank you for using our link.  Use coupon code: GENE15 (We will be compensated at no additional cost to you, which makes the free Elevenses with Lisa show and notes possible.)

Resources

These show notes feature everything we cover in this episode. Premium Members: download this exclusive ad-free show notes cheat sheet PDF.  Not a member yet? Learn more and join the Genealogy Gems and Elevenses with Lisa family here

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U.S. Passport Applications for Genealogy: Find Immigrant and Traveling Ancestors

passport applicationsHave you ever thought to use passport applications for genealogy–to search for your immigrant or traveling ancestors?

Passports were issued in the U.S. beginning in the late 1700s, but weren’t required except during times of war until 1941. These records can be an excellent place to learn an immigrant’s date of arrival, the arrival ship and date of naturalization (if naturalized).

Two Quick Tips for Researching U.S. Passports for Genealogy

  • Passports expired every few years, so people reapplied. You may find multiple applications for those who traveled abroad more than once. Subsequent applications will refer back to a prior one.
  • In earlier years, look for married women and minor children in group passports issued under the name of the head of household.

Where to Find Passport Applications

Passports Genealogy

Resources

A Page of History: Passport Applications  by Phil Golfarb

Genealogy Gems Premium Podcast Episode 124 interview with author Phil Goldfarb on the history of passport applications and celebrity passport stories. Available to Genealogy Gems Premium members.

Family History Made Easy podcast for free, step-by-step beginner and back-to-basics genealogy education

Share BoldThanks for sharing this post with your genealogy buddies and on your local society social media channels.

Write Your Family History: A Printed Book or Digital Archive?

print v digital archive write your family historyIt’s time (maybe past time!) to write your family history. Should you write a book or throw everything into a digital archive?

Recently Joyce attended a genealogy conference I taught that was sponsored by the Central Arkansas Library System. She wrote to us that she went home with a newly-resolved plan for how to write her family history:

“I thoroughly enjoyed hearing you speak. I learned a lot also. There was a question asked at the conference that I had also thought a lot about: how to leave your legacy to your family. With technology changing every day, I have decided that the old-fashioned way is probably the best. Technology will not change the fact that we can sit down to a paper book. So I will keep my CDs, DVDs, and flash drives; however, I will print out books for my family to have, whether they have access to the computer or not.

 

A Combination Approach

I certainly agree that paper and books are certainly a solution for genealogical information being accessible for generations to come. I like a combination approach. Since paper can deteriorate and become damaged like anything else, having a cloud back up service (I use Backblaze) and digital items like flash drives is also a good plan.

Part of leaving a legacy also involves finding ways to share that help the next generations (particularly those not interested in research) understand the value of the family tree. That’s where a Google Earth “family history tour” or other innovative sharing comes into play. If you can click click, copy, and paste, you can create an exciting multi-media story that looks like a video game that will captivate the next generation!  (Learn how to create a Google Earth family history tour in my 2-volume Google Earth for Genealogy CD). The combination of sharing the info in fascinating ways and preserving the info in reliable multiple formats is a comprehensive strategy for the future!

Resources

How Cloud Backup Helped One Genealogy Gem Get Closer to Living a Paper-Free Life

Recommended File Formats for Long-Term Digital Preservation

Why I Use and Recommend Backblaze Cloud-based Computer Backup Service

email thisReady to make your own plan to write your family history and preserve it digitally? Share your resolve–along with this post–with someone else! Use the handy icons at the top of the page to share on Facebook, Pinterest or your favorite social media site, or email the link to this article to a friend. Thanks!

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