Find My Ancestor Blog
14Dec/100

FamilySearch Makes the Transition

For months now FamilySearch has had a bar across the top of the page informing people of their beta site, beta.familysearch.org. FamilySearch has now moved the beta site over and taken place of the old website.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with this new look, there is a video explaining some of the changes and new features to the website. This video is found on the right hand side of the webpage.
This new look and feel to the FamilySearch website gives more functionality and easier access to the many records that have already been digitized and indexed.

Even though FamilySearch has moved to this new site, it is still different than the "new.familysearch.org" website that many of you have heard about over the past year or so. This website is still in it's own beta testing and only available to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and a few others. As far as I know, there is still no news on when this is going to be integrated for all to use.

If you haven't already had the chance to view FamilySearch's new look, be sure to check it out - http://familysearch.org. There are millions of digitized records and images, and the best part about this website is it is 100% free to use!

Let me know what you think about the new look and feel to FamilySearch.org by leaving your comments below!

2Aug/102

Mobile Monday – MobileTree

Disclaimer: The following reviews may have personal opinions in them. At the bottom of each review there is a link to purchase and download the app reviewed. By clicking on the links below you are helping support this free blog and Find My Ancestor. Thank You!
The following post continues the Mobile Monday Series reviewing various apps for mobile devices that help doing genealogy while you are on the go. If you haven't been following this series be sure to check previous posts:
MobileTree
[Disclaimer]
Before I continue to review this app I need to make it very clear that this app will only work if you have a NEW.FAMILYSEARCH account. This is NOT the same as other FamilySearch accounts. For the time being, new.familysearch accounts are only applicable to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. At the time this website is in beta mode to the members only. I have heard of a couple people who are not LDS that have been given access to review and help with some technical aspects of it. Hopefully the website will be available to everyone shortly. But in the mean time, please do not download this app unless you have a new.familysearch account because it will NOT work for you. As soon as non-members receive access I, along with many others, will let you all know when you can get access and so you can download this great app.
MobileTree is a great app to access the new.familysearch database showing all your ancestors and family  within the database.
When you first start the application it asks for a username and password. This is your new.familysearch username and password. If you have not yet registered to new.familysearch, go to the homepage (http://new.familysearch.org) and click on "Register for the new FamilySearch". You will need your membership number and confirmation date. This can be obtained from your Ward Clerk.
Once you are logged in, it will bring you up as the Home Person. Since you are obviously living, the only event it will show is your birth. On this page it also shows your Person Identifier Number on the right-hand side below your name.
This is an example of what the "Person" screen looks like which will pull up with you when you first start the application. This is my great-grandfather and since he has passed away it shows more detail including LDS Ordinances and more Life Events.
By clicking on the arrow right below your name or your ancestor's name it brings up a little tab with four icons. The first icon is Map Events. All the events belonging to your ancestor will pull up with little pins on a map.
When you click on the pins they bring up the event.
The second icon on the tab is the Add to Favorites. You can add specific people to your favorites for easy access down the road. If you have an ancestor that is 4 or 5 generations back you don't have to go back generation by generation, instead you can add them as a favorite and have quick access.
Next you have the Media Center. When you click on that it brings up the following menu.
You can add photos, audio, movies, and notes. You can also browse all available media. If you have other family members and cousins who have added media, you can download it to your iPhone for easy access and sharing. It really becomes a great collaboration tool.
On the bottom of the screen is four other icons - Family, Pedigree, Search, and More.
The Family screen shows the spouse and children of who ever is in the Home position at the time. By clicking on someone else's name it moves them to the Home position so you can view and add media and view their Life Events.
The Pedigree screen shows the Home person, parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents. You can have a quick view to 4 generations on one screen. This screen gives basic birth and death information. It also shows each person's Personal Identifier Numbers. If you are unfamiliar with Person Identifier Numbers, they are unique numbers given to each person in the whole database. If makes if very easy to find someone in the database if you have their Person Identifier Number(PIN).
If you turn your iPhone on its side while in the Pedigree view the orientation will change and show more of a tree view rather than a list view the other screens show.
You can also search for anyone in the database. You can search by either name or the PIN number.
The More screen gives you options for login, favorites, FamilySearch Wiki, Wikipedia, and Google Search.
I find MobileTree to be a great app to hurry and look up an ancestor when I don't have access to a computer. There have been quite a few times I have been in the car with my grandpa talking about genealogy and it was so simple and fast to just find them in this app. If you are a member of the LDS church I highly recommend downloading this app. And if you are not a member, keep your eyes out for announcements of when newFamilySearch will be available to everyone.
MobileTree

5May/100

Opening Session of NGS – Jay Verkler

The following are my tweets from the opening session of the National Genealogical Society conference held last week in Salt Lake City. I am re-posting my tweets from the conference just in case you missed them and would like to know about some of the classes I attended.

  • Opening Session - Jay Verkler, CEO of FamilySearch, is talking about technology and how it is advancing so fast.
  • Genealogy community is using more and more technology like social networks, digitization, organization and sharing
  • FamilySearch's goal since the beginning in late 1800's - collect and copy, preserve, and distribute.
  • Verkler is showing a video of the Granite Mountain Vault outside of Salt Lake City
  • The microfilm in the vault holds about 3.5 billion images!! And there is more room to grow!
  • Some records in the vault are the only copies that exist! Now they are working on digitizing these records.
  • Digitization was going to take over a century, but with new technology it will take about 10 years!!
  • Over 300,000 registered indexers that help with the digitization process!! Learn more at familysearch.org
  • 300 million new records on FamilySearch!!
  • In 1984 the GEDCOM standard was set
  • FS(FamilySearch) has been working on a collaboration effort called Family Tree
  • He is talking about using the iPhone to "pinpoint" his location in a cemetery for reference. <3 the iPhone!
  • Even "deep experts" need to collaborate with other "deep experts"
  • Now talking about the FS Wiki. "Fundamentally designed for sharing"
  • Encourages to contribute to the wiki. Learn more at wiki.familysearch.org
  • Register at beta.familysearch.org
After Verkler's presentation the exhibit hall opened with a LOT of different vendors, products, technology, and more. In my next post I will be talking about a few of the exhibitors and following that I will be posting more of my tweets from the first class of the conference. If you would like to keep up-to-date with future tweets from conferences, be sure to follow me on Twitter.

23Apr/102

New FamilySearch and Their Cloud Computing

Recently Randy Seaver of the Genea-Musings blog had an interview with David Rencher, the Chief Genealogical Officer for www.FamilySearch.org. In the interview Randy and David discussed the New FamilySearch(NFS) website and database. They talked about some of the process that has taken place for the NFS to become available to members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and how NFS is going to become available to non-members.

For quite a while we have been told that they are working on making NFS available to non-members but we have never been given an exact date. In January when I was in Mesa for the Mesa Family History Expo, Bryce Roper, Product Manager for FamilySearch, said that they were working on it. Then again in February at the St.George Family History Expo I asked him if there was any new information regarding when it would be available. This time he said that they were hoping for sometime this year. I wonder if any new developments will be announced next week at NGS? I will definitely keep you posted if I hear anything new next week.

Later on in the interview they are talking about some differences in their new "rollout" of NFS and David mentioned something that I think many genealogists don't agree with, including me. He states:
The other major difference is that it removes the need to have your own personal desktop data management software. You can manage all of your data now on New FamilySearch. Where I've used Personal Ancestral File for years on my laptop, I don't have to have my own Personal Ancestral File database any more. I can simply go to New FamilySearch and manage all of my content there. So that's a pretty radical departure from the way most genealogists have learned over the years to manage their data.
I noticed there were a couple of comments on this post, one by James Tanner and another by DearMyrtle. They pretty much both said that they don't think genealogists will give up their desktop databases anytime soon. I agree with them. Even though cloud computing is becoming the new way of storing data, I believe that there are a lot of people out there like me who want their own database that they can add media files to that they may not necessarily want shared with everyone on websites like Ancestry.com or MyHeritage.com. I know in my personal desktop database I have birth certificates, marriage certificates, and other documents that are "sensitive" information that the individuals would not want shared online and accessible to anyone and everyone. Granted, there are options in these online databases to decide on the privacy levels, but in the end I think it is safe to say that most people would still feel better knowing that the sensitive information isn't out there on the web but rather on their personal computer.

I am very interested in knowing how others out there feel about what David Rencher said in his interview. Do you think cloud computing will take over our desktop genealogy applications? How safe do you feel about putting sensitive information online even though you have set your "privacy filters" on these online databases? In your opinion, what are some of the advantages/disadvantages of storing your genealogy database online versus your personal computer?