Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Technology - Hardware, software, web site

The 43rd Carnival of Genealogy topic is Technology. What technology do you most rely on for your genealogy and family history research? Resist the urge to dilute the impact of your 3 choices by mentioning several others you use and appreciate as well. This is an exercise in appraising the technology you use/recommend the most.

1) Select one piece of hardware (besides your computer)

The most useful hardware for my genealogy research, over the 20 years I've pursued elusive ancestors, is the microfilm reader/scanner/printer at the LDS Family History Center. This hardware has morphed over the years from separate machines for the reader and printer, that produced slicky pages that faded over time, to a slick reader/scanner/printer that I can use (and frequently do!) to obtain digital images of original source documents like deeds, probate records, etc. My FHC has a Canon Microfilm Scanner MS-300 hooked to a computer loaded with software that captures the document images.

2) Select one piece of software (besides your Internet browser)

In recent years, the software that I've relied on most has been OpenOffice 2. This FREE software is a suite of programs - a word processor, a spreadsheet, a presentation program, a database program, and a drawing program. I use the word processor and presentation program all the time, and the spreadsheet occasionally. The beauty of this program suite is that it emulates Microsoft Office products, reads MS Office files and permits saving in MS Office formats.

3) Select one web site/blog (besides your own) that are indispensable to you.

This is the most difficult because there are so many great web sites with genealogy data. I'm going to select the LDS www.FamilySearch.org web site because of the existing databases (Ancestral File, International Genealogical Index, Pedigree Resource File, 1880 US Census, 1881 Canada census, 1881 UK census, and the new ones on the Records Search site) and the site's future offerings. In the future (say, 5 years from now) the New FamilySearch will be indispensable because it will have original records in digital format (digitized from over 2 million microforms) that no other web site will have.

It's unclear if the question encourages citing a web site and a blog - just in case, I'll say that the indispensable blog for me is Dick Eastman's Online Genealogical Newsletter. Dick's news and technology coverage is the best available, and he has enough readers to take the pulse of the genealogy community on controversial issues.

2 comments:

FamHist said...

Randy,

I know you enjoy using technology in family history research. The annual Computerized Family History and Genealogy Conference will be on March 14 and 15 on the BYU campus in Provo, Utah.

You and your readers would probably enjoy attending.

Here's a link to the conference webpage... http://ce.byu.edu/cw/cwcompu/

Ken Spangler said...

Randy,

I don't frequent the FHC but maybe I should! It seems that it is pretty influential in your research.

By the way, I'm still investigating the Spangler side and still plan on getting back to you about possible relations.