September 23, 2017

Record (and SAVE!) Audio Interviews: FamilySearch Memories App

familysearch memories app record oral history interviewsWith the FamilySearch Memories app, record conversations on your mobile device, automatically upload them to your FamilySearch tree–then save the master audio file to your computer.

The free FamilySearch Memories app helps users capture family memories, photos and even conversations. You can use it to take pictures of history-in-the-making or images of old family photos, documents and artifacts. You can also use it to record audio files, like an oral history interview with a relative, or your own re-telling of classic family stories or jokes. The app is available for iOS and Android users. Click here for a tutorial on how to use the app.

But there’s a catch: the FamilySearch app is built to sync all that content automatically to your tree on FamilySearch.org. For the sake of an extra file backup option and for sharing purposes, this is just fine. It’s definitely nice to be able to tag those files with your relatives’ names from your tree and have the files show up in their individual profiles.

But Lisa is constantly teaching genealogists to keep their master genealogy files of all kinds on their OWN computers, and to back up that computer securely. This includes photos, GEDCOMs tree files, text files, digitized documents–and oral history audio files. That way, you’ve always got a copy and you’re not relying on anyone else to back up your precious files. (Because, bottom line, you’re the one who cares most about them.)

We asked FamilySearch specialists to share with Genealogy Gems how to retrieve audio files from the app or the online tree, so users can have their own copies. Here’s what their project management team had to say:

About the FamilySearch Memories audio file type:

“Audio files that are uploaded from the Family Tree mobile apps, both iOS and Android, are uploaded in the original file format from the device which is called M4A.  So the file name would have an extension of .m4a such as: sample.m4a. This is important is so you can: 1) understand what files to look for when you want to copy, download, etc. AND 2)  When you want to play the audio file on another computer you may need to know the file type and convert it to MP4.  Most audio players and web browsers will play a .m4a file just fine, so for most people it is not an issue, but still good to know. (Click here for a free online file converter.)

How to Download FamilySearch Memories Audio Files from FamilySearch.org:

This applies to users of both iOS and Andriod apps: “When a user is in the FamilySearch mobile apps, you can open the audio file and tap the SHARE icon and it will share a web URL to the audio file. If you open the audio file on a web browser such as Firefox, you can click on the DETAILS icon on the screen and there is a DOWNLOAD option that will let you download the file to your computer. So once the audio has been uploaded to FamilySearch you can download the audio from any web browser by going the the audio file, open, click details and Download.”

How to Download FamilySearch Memories Audio Files from Your Mobile Device:

For iOS users: “The Apple OS system does not currently provide a way to retrieve an audio file on your phone/ipad like a photo.  There is not an audio library that you can see or open a folder like for photos.”

For Android users: “The app will save the audio file locally to the device to a folder called FamilySearch. With a utility or app that is a type of ‘File Manager for Android’ (you can download those from the Google Play store), you can navigate to that FamilySearch folder and copy, transfer that file to another computer or share with others, if the app provides a share function.

The name of the file folder and location on the Android device should be as follows or similar based on the manufacture: In the file manager app go to DEVICE than tap on Android/data/org.familysearch.mobile.memories/files/FamilySearch. That is where the audio files are stored.”

mobile genealogy bookGenealogy Gems: your home for learning about the best genealogy apps! Lisa’s book Mobile Genealogy: How to Use Your Tablet and Smartphone for Family History Research will teach you about top apps (most of them FREE) for all those important genealogy tasks we do on the go: note-taking, file storage and management, photos, reading, collaborating and communicating, genealogy website apps and more. You’ll find recommendations for both Apple and Android device users. Why not pick up your copy today?

 

How to Reconstruct Your Early Childhood Memories and Stories

Most of us don’t recall our early years well. How can we tell our life’s story if we don’t remember the first chapter?

I’ve learned to use whatever scraps the past gives me. That’s what I did in a scrapbook I put together a few years ago that reconstructs my early childhood. I realized when looking through this album that I actually cobbled together the past from four different sources, only one of which was my own memory:

my childhood my parents memories1. The family slide collection. I grew up in the 1970s, when slide photography was all the rage (at least with my dad). Several years ago, I scanned all the slides. My digital copies of the slides became the main narrative for the album.

2. My parents’ memories, captured in an oral history interview. One day, I got both my parents on the phone at the same time. I asked them to look through their CD of the family slides as I looked through my copy. As we looked at each picture–even the not-so-great ones–I asked what memories surfaced. Different things came to mind for each of them, which was fantastic. They captioned the photos for me, filling in the stories behind the pictures.

my childhood my baby book3. My baby book. My parents already had my 11-month old brother by the time I came along. So Mom didn’t have a lot of time to write much down. But there are a few gems in my baby book: my mom’s memories and memorabilia from when I was born. These filled in more gaps in my childhood story.

my childhood my memories4. My own vague childhood memories. All these pictures and memories jogged loose fragments of my own memories. They are still fragmented; some don’t make much sense or tell a whole story. But taken together with everything else, they help reconstruct my childhood enough that I have a much better sense of it now.

The family historian in me made sure I identified the source of each story in the album. My parents’ memories are tagged as such, as are excerpts from my baby book. I typed up my own memories and put them in my own voice.

Who is living who knows something about your childhood? Parents? Step-parents? Grandparents? Aunts or uncles? Friends of the family? What family artifacts or albums may be in the attic, basement or on a shelf? Ask them to help give you back your own past!

Resources:

Family History for Kids Starts WITH the Kids

Family History Genealogy Made Easy PodcastOur free Family History Made Easy podcast offers great episodes on topics related to this post: Lisa covers finding family history at homeinterviewing skills, and how to contact long-lost relatives (episodes 13 and 14).

Genealogy Gems Premium members can listen to Premium podcast episode 116, which has an interview with Laura Hedgecock, author of Memories of Me: A Complete Guide to Telling and Sharing the Stories of Your Life(Click here to learn more about Premium membership.)

 

 

Use Skype Translator to Speak Another Language

Skype translateDo you use Skype or another video chat service to keep in touch with loved ones? Have you considered using it for long-distance oral history interviews or collaborating on your genealogy with a faraway cousin? Language barriers can sometimes become a problem. Skype Translator offers a solution!

Last December, online communications giant Skype announced the debut of Skype Translator. The service launched with two spoken languages, English and Spanish, and more than 40 instant messaging languages. Customers could access it who signed-up via the Skype Translator sign-up page and were using Windows 8.1 on a desktop or device.

The Skype blog has proudly announced that they’ve added Italian and Mandarin to the list of spoken languages in Skype Translator. “As you can imagine, Mandarin is a very challenging language to learn, even for Skype Translator. With approximately 10,000 characters and multiple tones, this is one of the most difficult languages for a native English speaker to master.” The list of instant messaging languages has also expanded.

The post acknowledges years of hard work and testing required for the Mandarin application by Microsoft researchers and scientists in the U.S. and China. “Skype Translator relies on machine learning, which means that the more the technology is used, the smarter it gets,” stated the initial release. “As more people use the Skype Translator preview with these languages, the quality will continually improve.” Here’s a video demonstrating Mandarin translation:

“The focus of our updates in this preview release is to streamline interactions between participants, so you can have a more natural conversation using Skype Translator,” states the recent Skype release. They describe these key updates:

  • Text to speech translation:
    • You now have the option to hear the instant messages people send to you – in the language of your choice
    • Continuous recognition – Recognized text translation as your partner is speaking
  • Automatic volume control:
    • Your partner can speak while the translation is still happening. You will hear the translation at full volume, and your partner at a lower volume, so that you can follow the translation, which will help make conversations more fluid.
  • Mute option for translated voice:
    • There is now an option to easily turn the translated audio on or off if you would prefer to only read the transcript.

stick_figure_ride_mouse_400_wht_9283Want to learn more about using video chat services like Skype for family history? Click here to read tips about collaborating with other family history researchers via Skype. We’ve blogged about how to use third-party apps to record Skype conversations (click here to learn how). Our free Family History Made Easy podcast features an episode on interviewing skills (episode 2) and a 2-part series on how to contact long-lost relatives (“genealogy cold-calls,” episodes 14 and 15).