RootsTech – Day 1

I just got home, after 10pm, from the first day of RootsTech. I didn’t sleep last night, knowing I’d never be able to wake up early enough, and I still didn’t make it downtown as early as I wanted. I watched the webcast of the keynotes.

Keynotes from Home

I found my mind wandering quite a few times during Shane Robison’s (of HP) talk on A World of Information, but I think I got most of it. That was followed by the “cool-down” from Jay Verkler, CEO of FamilySearch International, Turning Roots, Branches, Trees into Nodes, Links, Graphs. My favorite part was near then end when he listed the similarities between technologists and genealogists. I am both!


I arrived downtown a bit after 11am, checked in as a volunteer quite a bit early, then wandered around the vendor room. I stopped to say hello to Daniel Horowitz at his MyHeritage booth, then headed for Blogger Central. I saw Thomas MacEntee, Schelly Dardashti, a couple others I didn’t actually speak to yet, and met Amy Coffin. Yeah, I’ve met another one of my geneatweeps! (I have two more days to meet more. Oh, and now I’m officially listed on GeneaBloggers, finally!) I collected some ribbons from Thomas’s stash and headed around the rest of the vendor room, finally making it to the FamilySearch booth, where they have you visit all the sponsors to get a free T-shirt and enter the iPad drawing, so I had to go back to a few, finishing just in time to get a shirt and get to my afternoon session.

Volunteering is Sometimes the Way To Go

Having decided there were only a few sessions I really wanted to attend a month ago, I asked if there was a possibility of volunteering for entrance to those, which there was! I found out when I arrived that they were quite short on volunteers. If I had known a few days sooner, I would have tried to recruit from UJGS.

Session 1 – TreePad

So my first session was to oversee the computer workshop from Jan Gow, Create Your Own Family Reference Library. Having finally read the description, unfortunately the title sounded more appealing to me than the actual topic — how to use a certain program. I had a list of pre-registrations and a crowd of about 30 people. The three on the list got in first, then I just let the rest pile in and it was standing room only. I didn’t catch much of the presentation, but Jan was teaching what she loved about the program TreePad. Unfortunately, Jan is so excited about the program, she spent 45 minutes on her PowerPoint and only 15 on the hands-on stuff. She had to repeat it later, so I hope she switched the times a little.

Session 2 – Browser Plug-ins

I was told to stay on watch at that room, so I was there for David Lifferth’s Lessons from Building Browser Plug-ins. I didn’t even realize it wasn’t supposed to be a computer lab, even though the topic was programming. I actually found his talk very informative, though it wasn’t on my must-hear list. Some people found it a little beyond their skill level. In my previous life, I was a computer programmer, so I followed along just fine. (OK, yes, I’m still a programmer now.)

Session 3 – No SQL

From there, I went to another technical presentation. When I registered, I chose technology “user”, but I think I chose wrong, especially given my lecture choices. Jimmy Zimmerman was teaching about No SQL – Exploring the Super Powers of Graph and Document DBs. He mentioned they were kind of new, but I somehow recall vague mentions from college, making them not quite so new. He reviewed three document databases and one graph database, then listed a few others that he wasn’t so familiar with. Some of the information from the document databases sounded interesting for genealogy use, but I don’t know that I want to reprogram my entire database. But I may keep it in mind for the future.

Fun Time!

From there, I collected Daniel Horowitz and we arrived at the planetarium at 6:30. He had the 5:30 ticket and I had the 7:30, so we were right on time. Hubble 3D was first. I know my brother hasn’t gotten that close to a shuttle launch and he lives in Orlando and has gone to them often. We were actually in the steam as the shuttle lifted off! Yeah, it was a good film. The second film was about Saturn, but after over-stuffing the larger theater before, the smaller theater couldn’t hold all the people who wanted to see the film. The only other option at that time was Hubble 3D again, so we grabbed a bit of food and walked over to Gateway so Daniel could do some shopping for his kids. (Sweet, right? He bought them shoes.)

We made it back just in time to run upstairs to the Laser Light Show, Rock on Demand, again in the smaller theater. It wasn’t crowded that time. I enjoyed that one too, but not as much. The crowd got to choose the artists. At one point, someone yelled out “Justin Bieber”, to which the host replied, “I’m sorry sir, but I’ll have to ask you to leave now.” They played a lot of classic rock.

I must say that for the problems they are encountering, which isn’t bad after only having seven months to plan this conference, if nothing else, doing the planetarium night was awesome.

We took Trax back to the Radisson and parted ways for the night. Day two is tomorrow and I need to catch up for skipping a day of sleep. I want to meet some more of my tweeps, so be visible. I’m hosting 1:30-4pm, but the rest of my time is mine.

Disclaimer, because I think it’s one of those rare posts that I need one: I am attending the conference for free because I have volunteered my time to help. I am not otherwise being paid for my service or for promoting anything on my blog.

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