Rootstech 2014

Rootstech 2014
Another Great Year although not in Utah!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

FGS 2014 and Hybrid Charts by You or Me



   With Boston's lock down over ending from the capture of the surviving brother involved in their marathon bombing, we can now focus back on our passion for genealogy some more...I've been putting off the Genedocs business idea until now so you may want to print and/or share this entry with all of your genea-minded friends and family.  You don't want to find out 6 months or a year from now that you missed out on perhaps the biggest genealogy new of this year, decade, or century.

   I have just completed my first presentation paper for FGS 2014 in San Antonio -  still proofing before submission of it entitled "21 of the 30 Genedocs Featured Templates" and need to time what I have to say with the Power Point to see if I can really fit it in just 50 minutes.  I know such an innovative largely unknown subject in the genealogy world at a national conference for the first time will need significantly more than 10 minutes of Q & A!  I will be try to be prepared for anything from the sound of crickets at the conclusion to a stream of critical heckling to a rock concert stampede if it is anything like what Rootstech 2013 has shown me.
                                   
                 
Over the years, the two biggest complaints I have heard from researchers both on-line and off is that existing data lacks both source document imagery that is legible and not enough data has any visual documentation of what the relative(s) discussed physically looked like.

     Documents are often easier to obtain than portraits of relatives mainly because the further you go back in family history, the closer you get to the 1839 dawn of photography.   Beyond that point, any person's physical looks could only be captured by a sketch artist or a portrait painter which were both fairly expensive in those days and thus only catered to the wealthy, famous, or family and friends of such artists who would serve as practice subjects for their trade.

     The Genedocs Hybrid Chart is available as a solution to this and other challenges we face.  With its ability in MS Excel to store both document images and personal portraits, it becomes an ideal method for preserving your family's precious and priceless legacy.



Why the Hybrid Chart from Genedocs Changes Everything for Family Researchers:

1.  First, it is available in an already globally accepted format of Microsoft Excel or even Power Point if animation or other dramatic effects are needed.

2.  The Hybrid Chart is the first "all in one" style template able to combine all of the key elements of genealogy:

 - Simplified Ancestry
   Everyone can easily understand two generations.  This is why Family Group Sheets stop at two.

 - Sibling Inclusion
   All experienced researchers know the essential truth that you will only find a fraction of the fascinating
    information in your family tree if you don't include sibling research.

 - Portrait Incorporation* 
    This is for not only images of ancestors as adults, but also room to include photos of each of them as children as well.  Additionally, an adult image of each of their siblings (up to 11) and remarkably even one image of one spouse per sibling can be added when available if you prefer. No other chart producer I have found to date dares to offer this essential feature making me wonder if I am the only one who knows how to.

 - Source Document Imagery*
   Your research becomes so much more substantiated when you share these fruits of your research efforts.
    I have felt nothing quite like that sensation inside when you know you have uncovered a great new source
    document or family portrait that no one alive has ever seen before.  It feels the opposite of butterflies!

 - New 3-D Perspectives: Charts can easily be converted to 3-D perspectives using GIMP, Photoshop,
   etc. Have you ever seen an ancestor literally standing on one of your charts?

 - Near unlimited space for Custom Compiler Comments
   with a wide array of display options for comment privacy
   Maybe you want private data embedded where only you know it is.  Maybe you want cell comments to be only viewable digitally and not when a chart is printed.  Maybe you want some cell comments to show up when printed and others not to.  Maybe you want absolutely all comments to print as displayed.  The Hybrid Chart offers all of these thanks to Excel's flexibility.

 - Chart Animation:  A digital chart can include animate GIF images, animation effects, etc. for sharing an effective clip, sketch, or short story.  When is the last time an ancestors image on a chart began to move perhaps walking across the chart, saluting you, or even speaking to you with their real life gestures and mannerisms?  This takes considerably more time and cost to generate, but why not have it available?

 - Pick your Need:  Multiple sheets/slides combine to form an entire tree or
   particular grouping; whichever you need at the moment.

3. The Hybrid Chart template is FREE in the Genedocs Innovative Forms Library (template #5)
    This allows you to try creating one today.

     I admit it may seem like it may take a good bit of effort or considerable time you may think you don't have right now, but if that is the case, I never said you can't send me your data you entered in the template, images of source docs and ancestors and hire me to do it for you.
Facebook researchers verify professional genealogists would charge you a minimum of $50 to $60 and hour these days for compiling something half as nice as what Genedocs offers.  My typical chart completion rate is nearly half of that cost and only because I care about more than the just the money that can be made.





Friday, April 12, 2013

Genedocs Rootstech Article in Upcoming NARA Newletter



The following is an article I have submitted for inclusion in the May 2013 National Archives Southwest Region Newsletter.  It hasn't been edited yet, but will post later what the final product looks like as well.

   This is significant because this year NARA has cancelled the annual genealogy conference in D.C., but the genealogy world still goes on!  Enjoy!

Genealogy Technology Conference, March 21-23, 2013
By Eric Jelle
   Dreams can come true sometimes.  However, they also do require dedication, some follow through, and often times sufficient funding on your part.  At the left is yours truly with fellow face-booking genealogist Heather Wilkinson-Rojo from March 22 in the Rootstech Expo Hall at the Salt Palace Convention Center of Salt Lake City, Utah.  Heather was just one of many great genealogy minded people I finally met in person at Rootstech at the three day March event.  It was my first national conference and worth every penny and precious minute spent to be able to attend!

     For a quick bit of Rootstech history, it is important to mention Anne Roach with the LDS organization Familysearch who began organizing the first Rootstech conference for 2011 at at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City as an ideal forum for family researchers and genealogy based technology developers to meet and share what would be the most useful for the industry and rapidly growing passion across the nation and the globe.  That first year over 3000 attendees were present.  In 2012 the conference easily added over 1,000 more people with live attendance at about 4,300 and 50,000 people around the world chiming in via streaming of keynote speakers presentations and some regular sessions.  Some attendees even have participated virtually via the Second Life web application. 

     In 2013 the conference organizers expected a little over 5,000 live attendees and were astonished recently when registrations exceeded 6,700 people investing hundreds of dollars between registration fees, lodging, and travel costs to attend the now largest such event in the United States.  According to Dick Eastman’s blog “If you add in the teen-agers, the total attendance at RootsTech 2013 in Utah had to be nearly 9,000 individuals.”  Coincidentally, the Rootstech planners also held a trial mini-Rootstech in the Kansas City area this year to gauge if serious interest was enough to expand to other major U.S. cities.  The success of that sub-event has yet to be shared on-line as of April 9, 2013.

     I had dreamed of attending in 2011 and 2012.  With a last minute holiday funding approved this year, I decided there would be enough funds to attend with the student discount, pricelines.com’s reduced airfare, and a little higher hotel rates for remaining available lodging within blocks of the Salt Palace Convention Center.   With a marketing class at DeVry scheduled as my first course in 2013, my class project naturally became oriented to how Rootstech could be the best opportunity to promote Genedocs with live “geneaholics” as well as other technology developers who could also provide invaluable insights and tips.  Vicariously, Rootstech 2013 would also help prove if Genedocs would ever be considered as a successful future business opportunity.

      So what great things happened at Rootstech 2013?  Some of the biggest news came from the big players in the genealogy field and industry;  Ancestry.com committing $100M over the next three to five years to work with Familysearch.org digitizing billions of estate/probate related records from 1800 through the early 1900’s was a huge announcement followed by MyHeritage.com unleashing their plans to consolidate Smart matching of individuals and source documents adding to the desired “elves that do all the work overnight as we sleep” and leaving us thousands of matches to verify with over a 95% level of accuracy per one geneablogger filling in with the experience using this amazing recent technology.  Every keynote speaker present was phenomenal with their own remarkable message to takeaway from the event. 

Crowd sourcing has redefined productivity after the amazing success indexing the 1940 U.S. Decennial Census after its momentous release by NARA to the public in April of 2012.  If you haven’t located your ancestors or other relatives yet in the 1940 recorded enumeration, then take a few moments to use Steven Morse’s amazing search tool at this link:  http://stevemorse.org/census/unified.html.  As a reminder, you can search the census free at Familysearch.org and as a NARA employee at Ancestry.com/institution via the Archives AAD path to genealogy via the NARA homepage.  Just be sure to do it on your break or lunch time unless you want to stick around after your work shift as a new genealogy nerd in the NARA staff library.  

     Since Rootstech this year closed with an onslaught of about 1,500 children attending beginners’ sessions, they were seen supported in the Expo Hall computer area beginning documentation of their family tree with pedigree charts, calling their grandparents for an interview to gather precious information that may otherwise be lost forever, and preserving this key family history on digital and internet locations to share with others for decades if not generations in a meaningful and priceless legacy that would help define a key part of their own identity.

        What did Rootstech change in 2013?  For all attendees, it was perhaps the most memorable such event they have ever had; from the first Keynote Speaker, to the moment the Expo Hall was flooded with attendees looking for collectable pins, vendor swag, and prizes ranging from custom wall charts up to big screen monitors/TVs, to the first session, to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir’s live performance dedicated to the attendees from around the world, to the night at the LDS Family History Library spent researching, to the final day’s ruckus to squeeze in as much as possible while the next generation of researchers flooded our midst on their new quest to learn better who they are through the identities of their ancestors.  

      For me, attending this year solidified my need to simply be more to my fellow genealogists than a mere attendee at future such events.   I have been egged on plenty at Rootstech by a few professional contacts to finally be a presenter at next year’s 2014 FGS Conference in San Antonio.  My own research, conducted passionately since 1995 and entirely since 1985, started when my sister first interviewed our father about the origins of our unusual Jelle name while I created my first poster descendancy chart.   Of course I took full advantage of Rootstech’s networking potential as I provided over 1500 contact cards and a few handfuls of Genedocs T-Shirts with random people who made my “firsts” lists; first to greet me, sit next to me, introduce themselves, recognize me, have lunch with me, first recognized from Texas, etc.  I proudly wore the same T-Shirt the first day with its reverse (shown below) displaying some of the visual evidence of my many successes spanning seven generations in the past 22 years which also helps memorialize my ancestors and motivate other attendees to press on in their endeavor and uncover the priceless past. 

     It was a pleasure to wear so many hats at one big event; researcher, developer, veteran, student, and I also did get to wear my National Archives one for a few moments for our SW Region Archives point of contact referrals.  I can’t sufficiently describe the elation you feel when you learn something completely new about an ancestor, but it is unlike anything else to discover that an ancestor who was so well documented as a classmate of a U.S. President, a Postmaster, an educator who brought a pistol to school in the 1870’s to deter unruly students, a newspaper publisher, and father, actually had nothing whatsoever listed in the county History book biography about his service in the War with Mexico in 1846-1848.  We have powerful tools like Google and hoards of genealogy minded friends on facebook to help us uncover these new tidbits of worthwhile family history, but if we don’t look, then we won’t find anything new or anything at all.  For someone whose father never filled out a resume’ in his entire life, I am happy to say that using new technology of facebook for family research actually ensured that I could even be here working with you at NARA today.   

     As for Rootstech 2014; if you are interested in attending, it is scheduled for February 6 – 8, 2014, at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City. Next year they will stream selected conference sessions to more than 600 sites around the world. They expect that more than 120,000 people will be able to attend RootsTech 2014, either in person or via the internet.  That is more people than went to see President Obama in St Louis.  My recommendations for anyone wanting to attend is to start planning now, budget early, use priceline.com for travel unless you have a cheaper means, and seek out the most affordable accommodations within walking distance with a shuttle to the FHL or Convention Center.  Archives employees can request free time off while FRC staff will need to utilize regular annual leave.  

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Roostech Genedocs Report Continued

My apologies go out to my blog readers for the stall on posting, but a nasty ransomware/spyware/malware program snuck on to my computer that required some obvious priority!

Did I also mention Thomas MacEntee had a wonderful session at Rootstech on backing up your Computer ?  Well this is exactly why.  He doesn't promote USB thumb/flash drives as much as I do because they can get lost being so portable, but if you attach them to your key chain or within a wallet (something you ALWAYS make sure you have with you!) then they are a wonderful backup.  Here I have posted a few of my favorite such images:


On to my Rootstech experience...Friday is where I left off.

My first session was kind of boring after the astounding keynote from Jyll Patee so I meandered down to the Expo Hall and crossed paths with KathyMeade who is the American representative for the Swedish Firm ARKIVDIGITAL.  It was hard not to get sidetracked into their area with the astounding image quality on their two sided Acer computer screens for wonderful presentations (I so want to have a monitor with that capability!), but I stepped in to say hi to Mr. Swanson who I was chatting, sitting, and joking with in the seats at the registration area prior to the day's keynotes commencing.  He seemed to be getting some great help from the Swedish lady there an invited me to sit next to him.  She told us to watch Kathy's presentation coming up in the BackBlaze sponsored demo area.  Kathy did a great job so I returned to that seat to see if she could do a quick lookup on my Swedes in Kalmar from Hogsby and maybe get me one more generation of ancestor names to work with...

Kathy is AWESOME!  She knows their databases of various records so well - adeptly popping between various screens and duducing why my Swenson and Thunberg ancestors wern't showing up and more importatnly where esle we could look.  This short query soon ran into lunch!  That's how dedicated Kathy is!  I need not banter about how she also was multitasking to add new clients throughout our several hours of browsing their sites crystal clear images of Swedish Church, State, Tax, and various other key vital resources.  Did we find my ancestors?  Not quite - I needed lunch and she needed to handle a few more paying customers, but assured me if I e-mail her that she will be able to narrow them down in Wirstad 1,2 3 4 or whereever we left off!  Of course she wil be able to find them faster when I send the initial research findings of
Ruth Ellen Manness' work that was surprisingly published in an issue of Heritage Quest Magazine back in 2005.

     If you have Swedish Roots - give Kathy and her team an e-mail an check out their site:

kathy.meade@arkivedigital.com              www.arkivdigital.net

Kathy advised us that at Arkivdigital hey are still working on some of the translation materials like an English  Users Guide, but are very helpful with such things when you hit a bump and aren't we all already using Google translator? LOL!  many Current users popped in to thank her personally for their wonderful digital clarity and assistance with finding more about their Swedish roots which I found very reassuring as we sifted through the Wirstad address connected records online.

   You all (y'all for my fellow southerners) may be wondering "Did Eric ever get lunch?"  The answer is a resilient yes.  The folks at the salt palace didn't see me coming, but had one warm meatloaf plate left for this attendee as I bolted upstairs and into another presentation beginning in the sponsored meal area.

    I sat down at a table of friendly looking fellows with the only remaining available seats.  A particularly familiar face across the table just kept giving me this very friendly smile as we all chuckled at the luncheon speaker's jokes.  I was busy stuffing my face with salad, meatloaf, and potatoes so I didn't inquire who he was to avoid choking or making a scene during the presentation.  After the presentation was over, the man stood up and came right over saying Hi Eric, you are the Genedocs Founder" (Finally! someone gets the T-shirt for being the first to call me by my title, I'm thinking), "I'm Paul Hawthorne from California" he concluded.

I apologized for not identifying his face to his name and welcomed him warmly with his well earned Genedocs Swag for beating me to the punch in that area.  We hit it right off talking about how the conference was going, how I wished I could have made the presentation deadline, and before you know it he had us in front of some other friends confirming when and where the FGS conference for 2014 was so I could present in San Antonio - WOW!

    We compared schedules and were both heading to Randy Whited and his Metadata Presentation on the floor below so teamed up for that presentation. here is a picture of Randy - well his forehead at least :-):


After Randy had begun,I realized I hadn't called my wife, so I departed and ended up not returning since I had caught the presentation earlier in November in TX.  The next Session...

    I got back on track after a quick trip to the restroom (all conveniently placed by the way) and was in Robert Raymond's Excel Timelines presentation.


 He had a tough crowd in there asking why he was going through all of these steps to format the spreadsheet which he countered fairly well.  I tried to help with the negativity be shifting to some positive alternative solutions which he seemed to appreciate.  I am glad he left the presentation open to questions before the Excel Gods had to intervene;-).  He did really well and it was very eye opening for me to see what kind of formatting critics attend these events waiting in the wings to punch holes in your presentation flow if you use an alternative method - for Genedocs presentations, I will shut that stuff down immediately if it even surfaces the teeniest bit!


We are there to learn not critique with negativity.  Anyway Robert knows his stuff in Excel really well and pointed out some formatting options we may want to use especially with dates that i was completely unaware Excel was so particular about.

    As the day's sessions concluded, I ended up like so many others, wandering the Expo Hall, drinking a free Coke, and pumped into Randy Whited again who was headed to the FHL for research so we walked together talked about what changes he was planning for Saturday's improved metadata session, had some Pizza and drinks upstairs at the FHL with his buddy Mike from Mocavo, and went off to do some actual research.  I am not kidding when it came up again that i should present in San Antonio at FGS in 2014 - this time from Randy! I ended up with a splitting sinus headache and headed back to the room for my Advil Cold and Sinus after some painful bumbling attempts on the FHL terminals - bummer!  But within about an hour you know who was at the computers in the lobby of their hotel plugging away again ;-)  (Included for those of you who live, eat, sleep and breathe genealogy too!)  How could I complain?  The day had gone practically as amazingly as Thursday!!

Stay tuned for Saturday's Astounding Conclusion to Rootstech 2013!