Monday, November 20, 2006

What to put on the Laptop?

I finally got the Dell Inspiron 1505 laptop (it was going to be Linda's birthday present, but it now is our Christmas present to ourselves) out of the box and running last night. I found my FTM 2005 CD and installed it, then put my databases and reports from the desktop computer on the flash drive and saved them on the laptop. I fired up FTM on the laptop and everything worked fine.

Then I copied my old family photos, my 2006 family photos, and several of my genealogy folders (ancestral reports, talks and presentations, society data) onto the flash drive and saved them on the laptop. I found the downloaded files for RootsMagic (demo), Legacy (demo) and PAF (full) on my desktop computer and transferred them to the laptop.

I took the laptop to the library and it connected to their Wi-Fi system with little problem. The thing I noticed was the poor screen visibility due to the overhead lights in the library - I really need it darker there.

I am unsure if I want to copy all of my genealogy files to the laptop. I have a lot of files in an "education" folder - articles, books, podcasts, etc. I'm not sure I want or need to transfer all of them - I probably will copy the books and the podcasts so that I can read or listen to them when I'm away from home or idling. I could play the podcasts at the society Research Group meetings.

I also have a "surnames" folder with many web pages and datasets downloaded from the Internet over many years. I think I will not copy these over just yet anyway.

Does anyone have suggestions on how to best use the laptop in conjunction with the desktop? Should I just copy everything to the laptop so that it "looks" like the desktop computer? I haven't figured out how I'm going to synchronize the two yet - if I change the database on the laptop by adding data, I need to get it back in the desktop file. I can see where this may be a significant problem down the road. Perhaps when I get the wireless network installed (tomorrow's major task), I'll have a better idea. I am not a technical wizard in much of this, but things have been pretty easy so far.


Cathy said...

I have a laptop and a desktop. My database files are up to date on my laptop and not on my desktop. With wireless in the house I can sit on the couch, patio or bed and play with the dead ancestors to my hearts desire.

The hazard of laptops versus desktops is that a laptop harddrive is more likely to quit than a desktop. No matter what information you put on your laptop, back it up frequently.

I use my desktop as the work horse for creating web pages from my gedcom and for scanning in images.

Felicia said...

Randy, Have you thought of just putting all your files on a thumb type drive and use that file from both your laptop and your desktop...I was pursueing in the FAQ on the FTM website and question 76 is about using Removeable media like thumb drives as the sources for you FTM files...It works like a charm, that way your FILES are not on either the laptop nor do they have to be UPDATED on the desktop...they are on their own thumb drive/Zip drive which you plug into both the laptop when you are using it and then into the desktop when you are using it (USB port)I have found I recovered a lot of my hard drive by deleting the FTM file off the hard drive, and yes it can be a little slow on the uptake as it updates information but this way you don't have to enter twice. Like I said this is a really simple change in the code(you remove a semi-colon) for FTM but they give better directions on how to get into the code than I would on the website. Check it out!

DI said...

My experience is similar to Cathy's. When I got my first WiFi-equipped laptop and a base station five years ago, I essentially stopped using my desktop system for anything except as a server where I back up my files.

Two tools that I've found very useful are a standalone perpetual calendar and a standalone Soundex converter. By "standalone", I mean a local web page on your laptop that enables you to use those tools while at a research facility where you don't have access to the Internet.

I use Ricky Duval's free JavaScript Perpetual Calendar which generates a simple Gregorian calendar for the month and year that you specify. (Use your browser's "view source" and then save that as a file on your system, e.g., calendar.html.)

You'll probably have less need for a Soundex code generator, especially on the spur of the moment when you don't have access to the Internet. But, on those occasions, I use Moishe Miller's free JavaScript.