Google Earth for Genealogy: How to Identify Old Photos’ Locations

google searchDo you have old pictures but aren’t sure where they were taken? Sometimes Google Earth has the answer. Check out this question from podcast listener Dennis:

Q: “I am scanning slides from my only trip to my ancestor’s home in rural Germany and don’t recall the names or locations of a few people. The clue hear is ‘slides’. They were taken in 1986! I have a question regarding something I thought I heard on one of your podcasts regarding identifying a building via a picture that is uploaded to a web site. Can you give me some help with this?”

A: Yes! On my website, I offer a FREE video in which I demonstrate how to identify a building in an old photo using Google Earth. You can watch the free video by going to www.GenealogyGems.com, hover your mouse over VIDEO, and click on Google Earth for Genealogy in the drop down menu.

Another option is to use the free Google app on your smart phone or tablet. Open the app, tap in the search box, tap the Camera icon, and take a photo of the photo you have that contains the building you want to identify. (This works best with more well known locations.) It’s a long shot, but you never know – Google just may be able to identify it.

Google Earth for Genealogy BundleGood luck, Dennis–and all the rest of you out there who are puzzling over how to identify old photos’ locations.

Find more tips on using Google Earth for Genealogy in my popular Google Earth for Genealogy 2-Disk Bundle. The free video is just the beginning of what you can do with Google Earth!

Backblaze Joins the Genealogy Gems Community

backblaze genealogy gems handshakeIn the last year I’ve moved from Earthquake Central (California) to Tornado Alley (Texas) and it’s been a bit of an adjustment, to say the least! Recently I presented a live webinar on using Evernote for genealogy during a tornado watch, with my husband fretting in the background. Not long after, we spent an hour in our shelter room during torrential rains, non-stop lightning, and nearby tornado touchdowns.

All this threat of danger and destruction has reinforced my decision to bring into our Genealogy Gems family a brand new sponsor. Backblaze is now the official back up of Lisa Louise Cooke’s Genealogy Gems. Backblaze isn’t new to the genealogy space: if you’ve been to RootsTech, you’ve likely seen their booth. Backblaze is a trusted online cloud backup service that truly makes backing up all your most precious computer files super easy.

Many of you have asked me which company I use to back up my files. I’ve done my homework and Backblaze is my choice. The thought of losing my genealogy files is too much to bear. Now I can concentrate on keeping my loved ones safe through the storms of life because I know Backblaze is taking care of my files and photos! A few things to consider:

  • They back up ALL your files (or just those you select). Music, photos, data, documents, etc.
  • You have an unlimited amount of data storage on Backblaze.
  • In the event you lose data, you can download from any computer or have a hard drive FedExed to you.
  • For the price of a single average hard drive restoration (when it’s even possible), Backblaze could back up your computer for 50 years.
  • External drives are great, but if they’re sitting next to your computer, they would be lost in a natural disaster, too.
  • Backblaze serves both Mac and PC owners.
  • You can get started for free. And then it’s really inexpensive to have them continuously back you up. Only $5 per month, last we checked, or $50 for an entire year.

I invite you to visit www.Backblaze.com/Lisa and get all your files backed up once and for all!

What’s Your Computer Backup Plan? Better Than Mine Was, I Hope

Backblaze butlerNot so long ago, my computer backup plan against various calamities looked something like this:

  • Against flood: keep my laptop off the floor.
  • Against fire: grab my laptop in one hand and my youngest child in the other.
  • Against theft: hide my laptop under a different pile of blankets every time I leave the house.

 

No lie, this was my plan. You don’t have to tell me how terrible it was.

Fortunately, I’ve improved somewhat. I stash copies of important files in Dropbox. Older photos and files are backed up online and on an external hard drive. I started using cloud-based email.

But last week my laptop got sick. First it ran a fever, then shut down entirely. My computer repairman, usually an optimist, said, “Please tell me you have everything backed up.” I hesitated. He sighed.

That crash took three days to resolve and resulted in a prescription for a cooling fan and the dire news that my laptop is living on borrowed time. I was sternly instructed to back everything up, because in those three days I had discovered considerable gaps in my backup plan.

Fortunately, Lisa had just announced buy pain medication online legally Genealogy Gems’ new partnership with Backblaze. I figured if Lisa could entrust thousands of audio, video, image, text, communication and other files to them, I could do the same. So….I signed up for Blackblaze. It’s $5 a month ($50 a year). Less than I spend on Redbox movies for my kids.

It’s taken Backblaze a few days to process my initial backup of over 120,000 files. It’s running continuously in the background and will continue to do so as I work. Like a little data butler, waiting to tidy up after me and be there for me when I need it. Backblaze will even backup my external drives, too (“no extra charge, madam”).

It’s so comforting to have Backblaze that I’ve stopped hiding my laptop under blankets when I leave the house. Because I was still doing that.

If your backup plan needs a little help like mine did, consider Backblaze. It’s easy to sign up, it’s comprehensive and it’s just a few dollars a month. Click here to check it out: www.Backblaze.com/Lisa. Whatever your backup strategy, watch our blog for more on disaster planning and prevention.

Midwestern Roots Registration Starts Today!

I have roots in Indiana and have longed to travel to Hoosier state to conduct some much needed genealogy research. So you can imagine how happy I was to be invited to keynote at the upcoming Midwestern Roots 2014: Family History and Genealogy Conference being held August 1 and 2, 2014, Indianapolis, IN, at the Indianapolis Marriott East.

This year’s theme is a timely one: Exploring Frontiers: What Would Your Pioneers Have Tweeted? This conference promises to be a glorious melding of old and new with deep history sessions and the latest technology.

Here’s the scoop on the Midwestern Roots Conference:

Registration Opens March 26 with a $99 registration special price March 26-29, 2014.

Includes the two day conference and lunches.

Additional fee for banquet and some pre-conference activities.

Register online at www.indianahistory.org/midwesternroots or

call (317) 232-1882 from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Thursday through Saturday during the special offer.

The Midwestern Roots 2014 Conference is your chance to get updated on the latest technology changes in family history research, resources and methodology, and I’ll be exploring that in my keynote  Future Technology and Genealogy: 5 Strategies You Need. You’ll also experience:

• More than 30 stimulating lectures from nationally known speakers Warren Bittner, Lisa Louise Cooke, Joan Hostetler, Amy Johnson Crow, Thomas MacEntee, James H. Madison, Anne Gillespie Mitchell, Daniel S. Poffenberger, Curt B. Witcher and more

•  The Great Google Earth Game Show presented by Lisa Louise Cooke (this will be an interactive, FUN, outside the box kind of session topped off with prizes!)

Hoosiers and A New History for the Twenty-First Century presented by James H. Madison

A Guided Tour of Ancestry computer lab taught by Amy Johnson Crow and Anne Gillespie Mitchell from Ancestry.com

• Genealogy Resources Library Workshop

• Writing, document preservation and photo preservation workshops

• Family History Market and Book Fair – open to the public

See you at the Midwestern Roots 2014 Conference!

The Recommended File Formats for Long Term Preservation

You have precious family history files, both physical and digital. Have you ever wondered if they are in the proper form for safe, long term preservation? Consider taking a cue from the United State’s oldest federal cultural institution and the largest library in the world, holding more than 158 million items in various languages, disciplines and formats.

According to their announcement today the Library of Congress today released “a set of recommended formats for a broad spectrum of creative works, ranging from books to digital music, to inform the Library’s acquisition practices. The format recommendations will help ensure the Library’s collections processes are considering and maximizing the long-term preservation potential of its large and varied collections.”

The recommended formats can be viewed here www.loc.gov/preservation/resources/rfs/ and cover six categories of creative output:

  • Textual Works and Musical Compositions
  • Still Image Works
  • Audio Works
  • Moving Image Works
  • Software and Electronic Gaming and Learning
  • Datasets/Databases

What I like about this recommendations is that they rank the various file formats on the digital side of things in order of preference. So even if you aren’t in the position to change your digital file’s format right now, you will know where it falls in the spectrum of long-term preservation.

For example, here are the recommendations for digital photograph files formats in the order of preference:Family History Photos at www.GenealogyGems.com

Formats, in order of preference

  1. TIFF (uncompressed)
  2. JPEG2000 (lossless (*.jp2)
  3. PNG (*.png)
  4. JPEG/JFIF (*.jpg)
  5. Digital Negative DNG (*.dng)
  6. JPEG2000 (lossy) (*.jp2)
  7. TIFF (compressed)
  8. BMP (*.bmp)
  9. GIF (*.gif)

Download the PDF of recommendations from the Library of Congress here

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