Tag Archives: conference

Rootstech Family History & Technology Conference – Day 1.2

rootstech teaser

Here is Charleen Mullenweg’s second post on her experience at the Rootstech Genealogy Conference. Read about her previous experiences here.

After lunch Thursday, I headed for the expo floor.  We had to get a certain number of signatures from different booths in order to get the Rootstech t-shirts, so I headed down there to grab some of them before my next session.  This is where I ran into one of the few technical snafu’s of the conference: there was no time allotted between sessions for travel or visiting the expo floor.  I had left lunch a few minutes early, but still got hung up at the FamilySearch booth, and at the booth for this wicked cool scanner called a Flip Pal (I’m seriously thinking about getting one since my last scanner just went belly up). The upshot of this is that I was very late to my next session, “Toy Story: Electronic Tools for Genealogists” presented by Sandra Crowley.  Fortunately, the Rootstech swag bag offered up a full syllabus of each of the sessions, so I can still give you the skinny of the bits that I missed.

My Rootstech shirt!
My Rootstech shirt!

Sandra Crowley’s began by pointing out that while the information that we look for is essentially the same stuff our parents and grandparents looked for, the technologies and the methodologies are quite different.  Sandra began with talking about laptops, or, if the user is looking for something more lightweight and portable, netbooks.  She spoke about the various specs that each user must examine before choosing  a model based on how the user believes they will be using the portable computer.  The same applied for storage devices, which are becoming smaller and cheaper by the hour (it seems), and for tablet computers.  She covered the three types of scanners that are available to genealogists – desktop, portable, and hand held – and the technical specs to consider when you want to buy one (big hint from me to you: a minimum 300 dpi is needed if you ever want to blow up the photograph later).  Digital cameras, GPS devices, and smarthphones are all part of her toolbox.  Sandra finished her talk after discussing the importance of connectivity, and the various options that users have if they’re denied an easy wi-fi connection.  Warning, many of those aftermarket options come with lengthy contracts.  I enjoyed this session immensely, and found her advice to be helpful, especially for non-technical users.  She left her users with a helpful suggestion: visit the FamilySearch Wiki technology section for more helpful hints about the technologies that you can use!

Then I went to “Mobile Apps for Genealogy” by A. C. Ivory, of Find My Ancestor blog fame.  A. C. recommended several apps in several categories, beginning with your basic genealogical tools for iPhone and iPad; he was particularly fond of Reunion (which only works with Macintosh computers), and included Ancestry, MacFamily Tree (also for the Macintosh), Gedview (only woorks with GEDCOM, no multimedia), Mobile Tree (only for LDS currently), and Traces of the Past (from FamilySearch.org). He covered educational apps, like the Genealogy Gems Podcast App (which I signed up for immediately, and have enjoyed), and an interesting sounding one called On This Day (which I haven’t signed up for yet, but I’ll let you know if I do).  He then moved on to organization and storage apps, suggesting Research Logger, an app that manages to-do lists, the logging of research, and multimedia files, Dropbox, which works cross-platform, and has various apps associated with it, and Evernote, which allows you to access your docs and photos from anywhere.  Finally, he talked about social networking apps like Twitter and Facebook that allow you to share your genealogy discoveries with others.

When I went to go to my last session of the day, “Enhanced Genealogy through Research, Documents, Organization and Sharing,” I ran into the second technological snafu of the conference.  I found nothing wrong with Brandy Sacco’s excellent presentation, but we were not provided with a syllabus of the presentations before registration, and I was unaware that I was walking into a sales pitch for her product, Familyology.  I ended up slipping out and going back to the expo hall to pick up some more signatures and check out some more products.

Giant steps are what you take...
Giant steps are what you take…

That evening, my mother and I went to the Night at the Planetarium event, hosted by brightsolid.  We found this event to be a little disappointing – the venue was fantastic, and the movie offerings were a lot of fun.  The event was billed as a dinner, but the food offerings were poor, and there were precious few places to sit while eating.  The iced water and pink lemonade ran out by 7:30 on the second floor.  My mother and I enjoyed the 3D movie about the Hubble telescope, and my mother even  managed to snap a picture of me walking on the moon.

Thus endeth my first day of Rootstech – though it had enough packed into it that it took me until today to finish blogging it!  I hope to take lass time on it in the future posts.


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Rootstech Family History & Technology Conference – Day 1

rootstech teaser

Howdy everyone!  I know that I’m a new face on Voices of the Past, so please allow me to introduce myself.  My name is Charleen Mullenweg, and I’m from Houston, Texas.  I currently live just north of Austin, Texas, in a little city called Pflugerville (hard to spell, easy to love), where I work for one of the local hospital systems, spoil my critters, and work on my genealogy in the dead of night.  Ok, sometimes in the daytime too, but I always shut the curtains tight.  I met Jeff and his lovely wife at WordCamp Dallas a few years ago, and we all bonded over our mutual love of cemeteries. Which is why I’m here now, cluttering up his blog – Jeff found out that I am attending the Rootstech Conference here in chilly Salt Lake City, and asked me to blog a few of my views, thoughts and impressions of this new conference.  I hope he doesn’t regret it too much!

My swag
My swag

I first heard about Rootstech late last year, and thought “Genealogy and technology! What’s not to love about this???”  I must admit, my second thought was, “Maybe I can finally see that library!” I imagine something out of a fantasy painting with a wizened old man sitting at a cluttered table in front of bookshelves that stretch into infinity in every direction.  I doubt its going to be like that, but I’ll let you know late Friday (or more likely, early Saturday) as that’s when I finally get to see it!

This morning I woke up bright and early, packed in a breakfast, and headed the 75 steps over to the Salt Palace Convention Center.  If you ever have to attend something at that center, I would seriously recommend staying at the Radisson Downtown, as it is super convenient and well priced. The breakfast ran long, though, so I missed the keynote with Jay Verkler, the CEO of FamilySearch International, and Shane R. Robison, the Executive VP and Chief Strategy and Technology Officer at Hewlett Packard.  Registration was painless, and I got a nice swag bag for my trouble, so I headed down to the Expo Hall, and killed time before the 11 a.m. session.

That first session was “Software Forecast: What Genealogists Need for the Future” presented by D. Joshua Taylor of the New England Historic Genealogical Society.  Josh was an engaging speaker and very knowledgeable about the existing, emerging, and possible technologies for genealogy. In his words (from the syllabus, and I hope he’ll forgive me the borrowing of an excellent quote), “Genealogists are at a crossroads between available tools and the ability to integrate emerging technologies into daily practice.”  As you can imagine, emotions ran pretty high in parts of this, as I’m finding there’s a faction within the genealogical community that is resistant to change for various reasons, but more on that later.  Josh began by proposing a standardized metadata set as a way to make documents and images accessible cross-platform, much like a GEDCOM is for the database itself.  Doing this would allow for open source developers to build tools in order to enhance the existing platforms.  This is where the resistant to change faction began to speak up, citing security concerns, monetization worries, or simply that Ancestry will never accept such changes, but Josh supported and defended his position well.  He also brought up several possible uses for social media, such as Twitter or Facebook, but that mostly seemed to be surrounding finding and keeping in touch with fellow genealogists, or distant family members.  Finally he spoke about cloud storage solutions and collaboration tools that could be coming down the pipe. All in all, it was a lively and excellent presentation, and one of my favorites of the day.

Ancestry.com Lunch

I scurried over to the lunch, sponsored by Ancestry.com, with a presentation on “Mobile Applications: The Hows, Whys, and Future for Genealogy.”  The speaker was Kendall Hulet, the Senior Director of Platform and Mobile Product Management at Ancestry.com, and the presentation was informative.  Kendall talked about the different mobile platforms, and compared their rate of adoption and usage to models like the adoption and dominance of Netscape or AOL. He also showed us the current market share and last quarter growth of the major players in mobile platforms.  The upshot of it was that Apple’s IOS/iPhone/iPad is holding steady, while Android seems to be eating up the users that used to be BlackBerry owners.  I’d be interested to see how those numbers look next quarter, now that Verizon has finally gained the rights to sell contracts for the iPhone.  Kendall then talked about the new developments that Ancestry has made on their mobile application for the iPhone and iPad (it looks far cooler on the iPad in my humble opinion).  He talked about and briefly demonstrated some of the other products on the market for IOS, like Traces of the Past, Reunion, and Everyday Genealogy.  He moved on to the Android products like Family Bee and Genstar Pro, ending that discussion on the high note that Ancestry is in active development of their mobile software for the Android platform.  Finally, he covered the future of what’s coming from Ancestry: he said that there will be active syncing between the online and desktop trees “very soon” (SQUEE!!) and multilingual support (same timeline of “very soon”).  I tried to push him on more definitive dates during the question and answer session, but he wouldn’t budge.

Ok, I’ve delivered my breaking news (Ancestry syncing!!!!! YAY!!!!!!!!!!), and its getting quite late, so I’ll have to finish telling you about Thursday tomorrow. Good night all!!!


Photo teaser elements courtesy of Roberta Taylor and Frangipani Photograph

FOWD: An unconventional way to present a concept

I’ve never consciously thought during a presentation “I want to speak like that person.” But such was the case with Litmus‘ Paul Farnell’s presentation on unconventional ways to promote your site.

What was more unconventional was his “every guy” conversational style of presenting. He didn’t need to be abrasive or over-the-top to engage the audience. Just a straightforward, evenly paced, well-articulated and even humble presentation of a concept. What a concept!

Don’t get me wrong–the content was great as well. Everything from the use of satellite sites to building communities by building a culture of trust was highly relevant and insightful.

I will definitely use the info. But this guy is my presentation hero.

Yet another reason to buy the Conference-in-a-Box: to study what made him so effective. Trading my southern U.S. dialect for his British accent? That’s going to be the hard part. 🙂