Rootstech 2014

Rootstech 2014
Another Great Year although not in Utah!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Digital vs. Hardcopy Saturday


Throughout our careers in various fields of work, we each gain level of expertise in the specific segments of business that we are relied upon.  As a genealogist, I have found tremendous value in the unusual overlap of my fields and segments of work since my honorable discharge from the Air Force in 2000:

2000 - 2001:  Family Services Counselor with Service Corporation International
2001 - 2003:  Cemetery Office Manager with Service Corporation International

2003 - 2005:  Van Driver with Docuvault records management company

2005 - 2006:  Army Casualty Office Contract Lead with Chugach McKinley Incorporated

2006 - 2008:  Branch Supervisor with Docuvault

2008 - 2009:  Operations Supervisor with Iron Mountain records management company

2010 - 2010:  Office Clerk with the U.S. Census Bureau

2011 - Now:  Archives Aid with the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration

Many people viewing such a work history on a resume' would simply be hesitant, afraid, or perhaps even intimidated by such a broad array of titles and mixed organizations.  However, each position worked in has one factor in common.  Each involved working with information and records on some level or another.  I was writing sales agreements for nearly a year with SCI and then reviewing and approving or rejecting over a million dollars worth of the same business contracts over the next two years.  The following two years I carried tens of thousands of boxes full of records in both hard copy and digital format to and from clients all over the Colorado Springs and surrounding area.  The next year, I found myself supervising not only a staff of three casualty contractors working with the reporting and tracking of combat and non combat related deaths and the entire gamut of GWOT injuries, but also benefits applications for survivors and the often completely unprepared officers selected to perform line of duty investigations on their comrades for determinng similar benefit eligibility.  I gained a new found respect for the value of a current DD Form 93 that hadn't been realized while I myself was in service of Uncle Sam.  My return to Docuvault to supervise opened up new perspectives on physical and digital records management as I strengthened the solid founded relationships with many key client organization contacts.  When Iron Mountain purchased Docuvault, the job changed little other than the tools and processes of a new international parent company.  The next year, the 2010 Decennial Census reminded me of the importance of details in records as hundreds of thousands of enumeration questionnaires passed through our hands with record breaking efficiency in only a few months.  A new job at NARA seems only natural with even more remarkable learning of how our nation handles all federal agencies' hardcopy and digital records. 

     So what is this experts oppinion on hardcopy versus digital records?  I deeply respect the value of the traditional hardcopy document with its feel and look and smell of decades or even sometimes centuries of authenticity just as truthfully as I hold my ancestors hardcopy files organized by individual in a few containers that would surely be at the tope of my list of things to grab in case of a fire.

     I also truly understand and appreciate the astounding recent capabilites and those yet to come from the digitally preserved documents scanned and preserved for people to be able to view perhaps thousands of years from now.  It is nothing less than completely remarkable that we can now store dozens of Gigabites on a thumb/flash drive USB that fits on your keyring or even in your wallet and absurdly phenomenal that you can hold a device with a few terrabytes in the palm of your hand or pocket.



    The honest answer I have for which is better or more necessary is that for now they certainly both are equally needed.  One day I envision when the documents we type up from templates and save will not ever go to a printer, but only be saved to a computer drive with an ultra secure backup copy elsewhere.  All documents will be e-mailed or skyped or whatever the next technology affords.  One day we will all go digital, but for now enjoy the ancient seeming hard copy documents that may one day end up on Antiques Roadshow or in museums around the world.  We are bound and determined to digitize all the information of our world and existence.  It is an unstoppable wave we must continue to ride.

Friday, January 25, 2013

How to Cut Your Genealogy Conference Costs


     Technically, Rootstech 2013 will be my third genconference event after one at the LDS Stake in Colorado Springs which was great and the November Texas Genealogy Society Conference in my back yard of Fort Worth.  They just keep getting bigger and better! At first I wasn't sure I could manage to budget the conference, but then applied some assertive qualifying and price fishing tactics that made it possible.  I think other conference goers and especially many want-to-go-next-timers will find this analysis useful in making a possibility into an exciting actuality on their genealogy desired to-do lists.  Personally speaking, I was so excited in 2010 and 11 to keep up with the first conference, but also bitter sweetly depressed that I couldn't be there to offer the thousands of tech savvy genea-cohorts there the most amazing and innovative tools that genealogy has seen since the designing of the first pedigree chart and first family group sheet!  It pushed me though to compete from home in 2012 in the Developers Challenge which I sadly didn't place in.  So my resilience and a holiday loan at the last minute made it possible for this grass roots innovative style of free genealogy tools to launch in a few months into the biggest brightest genconference in the entire United States!

First Cost Estimates:
Registration (early bird)................$149
Lunches 3 days of conference.......$75
Air Fare......................................$1,055
Lodging.........................................$370
Total...........................................$1649

     It was looking like I'd need a few book publishing deals to even start to afford this estimate.
Then I dug deeper...

Final Cost Pricing:
Registration
(early bird Student rate at DeVry......$39  Great! - cut $110!
Lunches 3 days of conference...........$75
Air Fare......(via priceline)...............$394 WOW - saved $661!
Lodging..........................................$370
Total..............................................$878 = Phenomenally more affordable!

So if you get frustrated with pricing, be sure to TRY AGAIN especially with airlines and double check if you can qualify as a presenter (who may still receive FREE lodging as was provided in 2011), student, vendor of key conference services or products, etc.

If you are headed to Salt Lake in March, I can't wait to see and talk with you!