Ah, the joys of technology! I’ve only been doing genealogy for 8 years now and I am so glad that I have had a little technology to help me along the way. Of course, I have to be careful not to let technology keep me from forgetting to go to those old dusty courthouses and look up wonderful information that can’t be found on the great, awesome, ever-powerful (blah, blah, blah) Internet!
So, what technology do I find useful? Well, I guess I could make a great big list but I will refrain from such mish-mash!
When it comes to hardware it is a very interesting toss-up. I enjoy making hard copies of my files and doing newsletters and such but I think that the most USEFUL tool I have is definitely my HP ScanJet! Yes, I’m sure that there will be a lot of folks that will have the same answer but really, what other tool can do so many wonderful things for you? It can preserve old photographs, it can preserve newspaper clippings, and it can preserve your birth, death, marriage and other vital records! Look at my last blog post. Would it have been as interesting without the pictures? Well, if I hadn’t had my scanner I would not have been able to add those photos! I must admit that there are probably a lot better scanners out there but for me this one works just fine. For years I had to work with a Umax something or other and it was the worst scanner possible. Everything turned out dark and it took forever to scan. When I invested in a new scanner last year (or was it the year before, I’m getting old!) it was the best investment I have made in a while, at least in the genealogical field!
But what about software? Now that one is a hard one to figure out. Which software do I rely upon more than any other? Well, the answer may surprise you! It’s Microsoft Office 2003! Yep, that’s right. To bring it down even closer to home, it’s Microsoft Word! I depend upon Word for just about everything. I use it to create my newsletter (which I need to revive again!), I use it for my letters and mailings, I use it to creat business cards to give folks at the reunions so they can remember the URLs and contact info, and last but not least I use it to do a lot of my webpage stuff! Yep, that’s right. I’ve never invested in Front Page or any other fancy HTML editors. I use Word to get a basic layout of what I want and then go in and edit the HTML by hand in Notepad. Of course, it is a little easier now that I have my site up and running and my CSS files in place. I also have made a few templates to go by but for the most part I find Word is very easy to use to throw together a web page very quickly!
Wow, how nice to not have to worry about going to a copy store and pay out of the wazoo to have them make copies for me. With the thousands of pictures I have scanned I would be running from my bill collectors right now! It’s also nice to save a little money by using Word to do my work, from desktop publlishing to web site development. Yes, it is a little harder to do but it is cheaper and I am all for that!
How about web sites? What site would be the most valuable site I have ever encountered? Hmmm, that one is a hard one. I find so many so very helpful. Well, let’s stick with the surprises. My favorite web site is ………….. MySpace! Yes I know that is a terrible choice. However I must confess that I have found so many wonderful things through MySpace. Yes there are great genealogy databases out there but I am not in a place where I have the cash flow to pay out so many fees. I have experienced a lot of them and after a month or so they are just stale! However, I have found many of my cousins, nieces, nephews, and even stay in touch with my son through MySpace. Wow! I bet none of you saw that one coming! Let me fill you in on some of the things I have discovered through MySpace. I have found a cousin who I haven’t been able to locate and talk to in almost 10 years. Now we can stay in touch and I can see her grown children’s MySpace sites and get to know them also. I have found the son of my Uncle’s long lost half-brother and have been able to reunite my Mom’s side of the family with him. I have been able to meet cousins who I have never known and would probably have never gotten to know if not for MySpace. I can regularly communicate with my son and my sisters, nieces, nephews and others through MySpace. To be honest, I tried to start a message board on my site but it never took off. Through MySpace I have no problem. I can send a bulletin to all my friends (mainly family) and let them know what is going on in my genealogy research. I once used it to let everyone know of a family reunion being cancelled and of a sickness in the family. It has been a great communication tool for me to reach those who are in Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, California, Wisconsin, Oklahoma, Washington, Idaho and other places. I rarely get away from Texas so you can see how handy it can be!
So, am I crazy or what? I think the only thing folks would agree with me on is the scanner part! Well, perhaps some of you can pass on your secrets to this poor, lost soul and help me to find my way to a great discovery that I may have right in front of my eyes and cant’ see. That is usually the case in my life!
Time to go check my MySpace page and see what is happening in the world!