Category Archives: Genealogy

RootsTech 2013, Day 3


The keynote was quite the spectacle. David Pogue spoke about his family, and technology, and then gave us a musical performance. He did trip up a couple of times, first referring to his children’s doctor as a vet where his subsequent reaction just made it funnier, and then referring to James K. Polk as his descendent when he should have said ancestor (he didn’t notice that mistake).

David gave us a comedy routine based on technology, music parodies, and it was great entertainment. I was totally enthralled.

Sadly, it was followed by a commercial from MyHeritage. Much like Ancestry’s keynote that I didn’t pay attention to, the MyHeritage keynote was also not as engaging. It had a little more of my attention, but probably only because of the preceding speaker. (Also, I have many friends among the MyH people, so they get a little more attention from me anyway.)

I was likely one of the first people in SLC besides the RootsTech organizers to hear that Gilad Japhet would not be at RootsTech, so I wondered what they would do. Ori Soen began by explaining Gilad’s absence, then introduced James Tanner to the stage, who gave the bulk of the address. And then we got a long commercial, but instead of hearing it from the CEO, it was given by a user, so it was slightly better in that respect. I thought we were also getting a big announcement from MyHeritage, but there wasn’t one.

A few points of contention about James was that he mispronounced Gilad’s name a few times. They couldn’t make sure he was saying it correctly? Anyone who knows me knows that I will interrupt the middle of a conversation to correct someone on the pronunciation of my name. Because it is important. He also spoke about the SmartMatches, or maybe it was the Record Matches, and said “It was exactly the same person, but it wasn’t the same person.” Well, it can’t be both.

MyHeritage Record Matches

MyHeritage offered six months of access for free to the first 500 visitors to the booth after the keynote, but they actually gave more than that. (An employee told me that the CEO is generous. Nice.) Anyone who signed up at the conference would be emailed a code anyway, and if you had an account already, they had extra codes to hand out. Even I got one several hours later.

And thus, I sat at one of their computers and checked out my account for the first time in months. I did not have the code right away, so I was still restricted. I do not have the data plan and I’m well over the 250 maximum people allowed for free.

I took a look at my records matches. It found four matches in Find A Grave. I didn’t know about them. One was a living person who’s stone is ready for her next to her husband. They found six matches in the 1940 US Census. Only six for a database of almost 3,000? I found more than that on the first day when there was no index. (Or the first week, at least.) The 174 matches in newspapers looked interesting. Most of those hits that I saw were not my family but collateral lines, so I’ll have to go through them.

Daniel Horowitz joked with me that I was persona non grata in their booth after my comment on Twitter that morning about not wanting the elves to do my research for me, but I’ll take the newspaper hits on the collateral people happily; I would never try to research any of them so much. (If I didn’t like doing the research so much myself, why would I ever do this professionally?)


I finally found Hal Bookbinder at RootsTech, one of my IAJGS 2014 co-chairs, and we had a very long lunch, about three hours long. And we barely discussed the conference. So I essentially missed the last day of RootsTech, save for the keynote, visiting the exhibit hall again, and finding/visiting with a few more people.


I had dinner with the Developer’s Challenge winner, Tammy Hepps, a winner from last year, Brooke Ganz, and other friends. Now we have a plan. ;-)


All in all, the conference was a lot of fun. I saw a few friends, many genea-friends, made some new friends, and met a few new people. I attended some sessions that I was rarely impressed with, and spent lots of time in the exhibit hall, often visiting with people rather than visiting “exhibitors”.

A critique of the conference overall will follow. My daily posts have been upbeat because I enjoy the social aspect of genealogy conferences, but my overall impression of the conference itself won’t be so much.

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RootsTech 2013, Day 2 – Development


I was not impressed with the keynote today and they didn’t hold my attention to really say much about them.

Jyl Pattee was talking about story telling. This seems to be the theme this year, except that it’s developer day. They must have been even more bored than me. She asked us to think about “wow” moments, then expected those to be major life events. She didn’t know her audience very well because I wasn’t the only person to think about a genealogy find. Even though it sounded off topic from the previous day, which was about telling stories about every day life, she did kind of turn every moment into a “wow” moment, which really didn’t appeal to me.

Then Tim Sullivan spoke about, beginner research, and collaboration. He announced a new Ancestry/FamilySearch collaboration of probate records. As he did the lead-up, I was expecting a different announcement, due to things I’ve been told. While it sounds like a perfectly decent project, I was hoping for something better; it’s likely not to affect my research at all. I may have missed something, but the whole thing felt a little like a commercial about his site.

As the Developer’s Challenge winners were announced, I paid attention because I knew a finalist. I didn’t even look up if the finalists were listed anywhere on the web site. As the description of the third winner barely began, I could tell Tammy Hepps had won for TreeLines.


Dear Myrtle Interviews Tammy Hepps after her Developer's Challenge win.

It snowed on the drive, but the traffic problems of yesterday did not repeat. I even had time for breakfast before my first session.

Developer Sessions

The Genealogy Workflow Model was about how FamilySearch graphed the genealogy research process. I thought it was supposed to explain how they programmed based on that model, but not so much. It was still kind of interesting but not what I was expecting.

After lunch, there was Modern Databases for Genealogy. We heard about various databases, then focused on MongoDB. I remember this one mentioned from last year. The code looked clear enough to me. I couldn’t figure out how to get it on my shared web server last year, so that’s likely to be an impediment this year too. It was interesting to get a taste of it, but I still don’t know if I’ll ever get to use it for a long time.

A Graph Based Family Tree was a disappointment. I couldn’t follow what he was talking about and he couldn’t hold my interest enough to figure it out, so I left early.

I ended the day listening to Crowdsourcing: When the Power of Many Benefits All. It didn’t sound technical enough for the developer track, and it really wasn’t. It attracted a lot of users. But it was interesting to learn how MyHeritage was handling its translations with crowd sourcing. I had no idea. I didn’t originally have it chosen to attend, but the speaker, Daniel Horowitz, is a good friend, a good speaker, and I had nothing else to do anyway.

Thomas MacEntee threw a big party in honor of his birthday in the evening. It was loud and a little crazy and fun. I was already exhausted but still enjoyed it. I finally drove home late and in the snow.

Thomas MacEntee chats with someone at his party.


As a user and a developer, I am in a unique position at this conference. There are some other people who are both, but I only know a couple of them. I know the bloggers, the Twitterers, and the Jewish genealogists. My experience is a little different because I don’t talk to the developers as a user, and I can go to the developer sessions without getting in so far over my head.

Even so, I didn’t really talk to any developers (except when they were selling to me as vendors) and I only went to developer sessions all day. What did everyone else do? Did the bloggers speak to anyone besides the developer’s challenge winners? Last year, it was a point of contention that there was little interaction between the two groups, and this year could only have made it worse.

And tomorrow, they have invited about 2,000 children to attend, as if 7,000 people didn’t already feel like a madhouse sometimes. One more day left of this.

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RootsTech 2013, Day 1 – Gaming

A Bad Start to the Day

I got almost no sleep, but I was expecting that. No, I wasn’t overly excited. I just haven’t been sleeping well lately. Or at night.

So I watched the keynote from home, and I already blogged about those. They were good. Then I headed downtown. The snow had stopped and the sun was shining. Until I was partway there on 201 and, to the right in my forward view, were the Wasatch mountains. To the left, gray. Just gray. I saw the snow storm I was driving into before I got there.

To make matters worse, I realized that even with everything I grabbed on the way out, I left my conference badge at home. I was not in a position to turn around for a long time, so I decided to just go. Then I got stuck in traffic just on a couple of streets downtown which doubled my commute time. I was not a happy camper.

Arrival and Things Improve

Registration was great, they gave me a new badge, and I headed to the exhibitor hall. I was just in time to hear the quick overview of Janet Hovorka’s Zap the Grandma Gap presentation, so I got some popcorn and sat down for a bit to hear her top tips of getting kids involved in genealogy.


I then wandered around the exhibit hall, just in time for the lunch break, so I had quite a bit of time. I visited the media center and chatted with the bloggers a couple of times, and collected my beads and ribbons. I stopped at several other booths to get chocolate, or pick up goodies, or to talk to the vendors. Yes, I actually did talk and not just go for stuff and food.

I always visit my friends at MyHeritage, many times, I chatted with Dean at Genlighten (I’ve been a provider on his site for years), found out what ReelGenie is about, asked why the FHL doesn’t yet have, chatted with someone at the FamilySearch Indexing booth, found out that APG ran out of ribbons yesterday, and plenty of others.

FamilySearch Indexing Counters. But... they don't match.

I headed out for a session, but couldn’t find the room. My alternate had a crowd around the door, so it was back to the exhibitor hall for me.

I was already pretty disappointed after reading the syllabus this morning. I didn’t do that last year. This year, I saw that all sessions were marked either everyone, beginner, or intermediate. I thought the users complained last year that there were no or too few advanced sessions for them, and this year there are none? So I didn’t think I was really missing anything anyway, since just about everything I read for the day looked too simple to keep my interest for long.

Gaming Genealogy

I did eventually make it to a session, where I listened to Joshua Taylor again, one of the keynote speakers, talk about Gaming and Virtual Realities: Attracting the Next Generation of Genealogists. He said some things that got me thinking about how genealogy could be gamified, but I doubt I have the programming skills to write a serious game on my own. He did a lot of comparing between genealogy and games, and genealogists and gamers: we are both geeks, form communities, are easily distracted by our obsessions (eg. skipping dinner), we have conferences, and he even compared cosplay to reenactments. We both work on strategies to succeed; we track, hidden features of games vs. research logs; both are very addicted; we love gadgets; we’re quick to adopt new technologies; and more.

He continued to give small examples of gaming ideas that were very specific to his family or other ideas he had, but I think a game would have to be quite a bit more generic. But he compared parts of games to researching genealogy in ways that gave me some interesting ideas. I’ll have to let my brain simmer on them for a while.

It seemed to him that one of the trickiest parts is that a game should have an ending and genealogy never ends. To that, he joked that the ending just might be: “Now you’re completely addicted to family history. Good luck!”

We then had a preview of a game that findmypast has been working on. He logged in to Facebook to access it, and almost immediately someone started chatting with him. The game loaded very slowly, but he did show us just a bit, repeating a few times that his game family was so hungry because he hadn’t fed them in a week.

I’ve heard Josh speak before, even before the keynote. He is a great speaker, comfortable behind the podium, and humorous. I talked to him just after and told him he should give that presentation to the developers, because they are the ones who would have to write it. He was planning on it, just not at RootsTech.


I continued the day with an unconferencing session for genealogy societies. It was an interesting discussion between a small group of society leaders about using technology. I really have to look into one of the things we discussed, for UJGS.

Evening Special Event

Exiting that room, I saw a gathering of people, some of whom I knew, joined them for dinner, then for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir performance.

Mormon Tabernacle Choir


Tomorrow is developer day, another downgrade from last year, in my opinion. Along with the the lack of advanced user sessions, there was a lack of interaction between users and developers. This year, the advanced sessions don’t exist, and the interaction might not either, with developers only around for one day. I’ll read through the syllabus again before I get there and see which sessions I’ve marked that really sound interesting. Hopefully they won’t all be at the same time, with nothing else the rest of the day.

One more critique about the app. Trying to find the name of a vendor for this post, I found a handful of vendors bookmarked that I never bookmarked. What is going on now? And as I type this, there’s another update. Is that maybe 20 today? At least three since I got home.

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RootsTech 2013, Day 1 – Keynotes

I can save this for a full day’s blog post or put something out that’s shorter and quicker. I’m opting for the latter.

I thought I’d go to the keynote in person; what was I thinking? But I was just out of the shower as it began and I listened to all three speakers.

I have a few whisper to my neighbor comments about the keynote speakers.

Dennis Brimhall had some staggering facts and great stories. He said, “People don’t really exist until we know their story.” Also, “If there is no record, they don’t exist,” when talking about the 40% of people in the world today that will be born, live, and die, and leave no documentation. Well, actually, they will still exist, they just won’t exist in the future for anyone to find them. Just like those stillbirths buried in the cemetery behind my great-grandparents, along with others from her family. There are no names and no parents’ names on those graves, and no telling if there are more buried there than the two stones. Will I ever know who they were? Actually, I probably will someday. I just don’t have easy access to stillbirths right now. But if there were more, will I find them all? How many other children were born and died before they showed up in the census so I don’t even know to look for them?

Syd Lieberman had some interesting stories to tell. I don’t have much in the way of comments for him. I loved the one quote where his mother had a date and called him to say, “In case you’re gonna call me tonight, I’m not gonna be home.”

Josh Taylor’s stories about his two grandmothers was interesting. I didn’t have a fantastic Grandma Taylor like he did. I did get to speak to both of mine around age 11 or 12 and get some of their family trees, but I didn’t know what I was doing and nobody told me more. After collecting the first round of data, I knew nothing about asking more questions, getting more details, collecting stories, or that there were genealogy societies to teach me more about what I was trying to do. I wish I had that.

One critique I had about his talk was saying that we needed technology to be able to translate old records. Why? There isn’t technology like that now and we learn to read the records for ourselves. Why must future generations have it so much easier? ;-P

Josh also told us not to disregard Twitter. Does that mean he intends to tweet more often? Because we rarely hear from him on there. Psst, hey Josh, tweet more. ;-)

And now I’m going to finish getting ready and head downtown to experience RootsTech in person. I don’t have my blogger beads yet.

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RootsTech 2013, Day -1

It’s RootsTech time again.

I had some regular research to do today so I spent some time at the Family History Library. It was more crowded than usual. And the Internet cut out before it closed (an hour late for the conference). But the outage was bigger than just the building, so I heard on the way out.

Someone here for RT lent me a microUSB cable to copy my files to my Android, since I forgot my flash drive (again?!). And I helped someone else on the way out who had coincidentally visited this week and had a fabulous old photo album. I suggested she try to get a consult with Maureen Taylor at RT and did a bit of sleuthing on my cell phone to show here where to look for more info.

I still haven’t seen any of the Twitterers and bloggers that have been gathering together. I must keep missing them during meal breaks or something. Or I’m walking right past the ones I don’t know well enough to recognize.

App Updates

A little follow-up on the RootsTech app. Things have changed since my review. The main icons have grown to number 16. I’ll skip the details. Updates are pretty constant. Hopefully they’ll get the unconferencing in there quickly so I don’t screw up and add something I want to go to on the wrong day again like I did last year. I will likely be using my phone this whole conference, since I’m expecting the same behavior as last year from the provided Internet. In that case, at least, I’ll be connected more often and get any updates in a more timely fashion.

The bad updates are when it tells me to download a new version, then takes me to my browser. I’m not logged in to Google Play in my browser and I have to go out and back through the app store app instead.

App Syncing

They activated some syncing between devices. I set my phone as device #1 and my 5″ as #2. My schedule was on #2. Two days moved to #1 and deleted from #2. Day three disappeared from both. Later, probably after some update, day three reappeared and the others vanished. Eventually it was all wiped out, so I had to go through it all again. I did it again on #2 and it appeared on #1. I didn’t double check everything, but it looks about right.

More App Stuff

Exhibitors no longer looks bad with the one category and all are just listed. I’m pretty sure they changed the look of each exhibitor screen, and they removed the phone numbers entirely.

There are some Conference Documents and App Tip Sheets that, when I have clicked any of them, try to download or email. I haven’t bothered to download or email any of them, so I can’t say what they are. It’s just not important enough to me to bother at this point. Maybe if I run out of other things to nitpick, but I doubt that could happen.

Day -1

I arrived at my typical time to the FHL and got some work done. I didn’t see anything on Twitter, so I asked about crowds at registration. A couple of replies made me feel like I wouldn’t be stuck in long lines, so I went for a walk to the Salt Palace. A certain sign greeted me as I walked into the side door.

At least I knew I was in the right place. The registration line was nothing. I knew to stay away at first and I showed up about three hours after they began.

Registration at 7pm

Jeanette Rosenberg (our Tuesday night UJGS speaker) and Mark Nicholls were hanging around so I said hello to them, then headed to the Exhibitor Hall. I was kind of expecting more security but I just walked right in, but not before being greeted by a certain sign.

The previous registration picture, I posted on Twitter, to which I got a fabulous reply from Alex Coles, @wychwoodnz: “my eyes! #carpet”. I later realized it hasn’t changed since last year. Also, I prefer that wild one to this one.

You just scrolled back up to check out the carpet, didn’t you? :-)

In the Exhibitor Hall, it turned out that the person I was looking for was the first one I saw, and closest to the door, talking to someone. We walked back to the FHL, but not before I snapped a couple more pictures.

Unconferencing Schedule

It appears that Unconferencing is already about half scheduled even before the conference begins. There are two boards, and the other is similarly filled.

Little Things

I like the bag colors better this year than last. And the style of it too. I looked through the ads in it and found the card for the usual iPad giveaway, but with no mention of T-shirts. Did they skip them this year? I saw tweets about 6,800 registered attendees, not counting almost 2,000 children. Last year, they said they had limited shirts, fewer than the attendee numbers, and still had some left near the end.

The badges are a different type and smaller, so the usual ribbons do not fit properly. Daniel Horowitz already had a MyHeritage ribbon on his for me to see that.

I had some more nitpicking here, but I could write whole blog posts about those topics (and I’m sure I will), so I’ve deleted them and saved them for future articles. Thus, I’ll end here and see lots of genealogists tomorrow at RootsTech.

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I Hope This Wasn’t Your Relative

The title of this blog post goes out to all genealogists.

I was recently looking for a death certificate that had been indexed online, but the certificates on film were not in order, so I had to look through many of them to find the one I wanted. I happened past this very sad death certificate. How many people are we looking for that could possibly have ended up with a record like this?

Unknown Person. Would this say John Doe in a more recent time period?

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Revelations from Rutki, Part 1

In the process of organizing and reorganizing all of my genealogy documents, I’m finally getting to the records I brought back from Europe.

I’ve started with my Mularzewicz family. I have been going through the records I already had, incorporating their data into my database, looking up more records that are online or indexed and easily findable on microfilm, in addition to carefully adding the new records from Poland.

The Mularzewicz family originated near Rutki. I can no longer say they came from Rutki, since I’ve found a couple of earlier records. Rutki kept separate records for a short while, but many are in the books from Zambrow and Łomza; all of these records are held in the archive in Łomza.

I tried to do as much research as I could before I went on my trip so I was prepared with as much as I could know. Pages of Testimony (PoT) from Yad Vashem had filled in some more of this family and the indexes on JRI-Poland pointed me to a few more records. Additionally, I searched through records that were not indexed and found a few more documents about my family.

From the nine known children of Lejba and Necha Mularzewicz, I was able to find the marriage records for three of them on this trip: Chaja, Chana Sora, and Juszk Szlomo. I learned a lot about the family just from these three records.

I descend from their son Zyskind, who came to America and brought all of his children. Several of his brothers also made the journey and brought their families: Pesach, Abram, Jankel, and Juszk. Shejna died as a child and Ester died in childbirth. That left the two sisters, Chana Sora and Chaja, who I learned about from those Pages of Testimony.

Chaja married Moszka Leiba Jedwabinski. Their son Josef was the person who filled out the PoTs for these families. Besides learning a bit more about Moszka, I finally learned the maiden name of Necha: Sokol.

I’ve had the name Ginsburg in my database for years, but the only source for that name was Zyskind’s death certificate.

Chana Sora married Izrael Zeborowsky. On his PoT, he was listed as Zabrowsky; he lost a vowel in translation. This marriage certificate not only confirmed the name Sokol, but Izrael’s mother’s maiden name was also Sokol. There is a nearby village of Sokoly, so they may not necessarily be related; but they could be.

And finally, the marriage of Juszk to Chaja Sora Koziol. She was a tricky one. I had her maiden name listed as Beckman, finding her brother with the family in a US census. He was actually misspelled and was Beckerman.

What gets more interesting is that Beckerman is the only person in my family who came with a story of a name change at Ellis Island. The person who told me the story thought the name was changed from Mularzewicz, but it was actually the family of the wife of a Mularzewicz. His story was that when asked his name, he thought he was being asked his profession and said Beckerman — he was a baker. I have found more information about the Beckermans, and they were all bakers. I wonder if this story has a modicum of truth to it. I don’t believe they were misunderstood at Ellis Island, but did the name change happen because of a misunderstanding? Or did they change it to match their business?

From a collection of ship lists for unidentified as well as badly misspelled Mularzewiczes, I easily found Chaja and her eldest children arriving, listing both her husband and her father, further confirming the name change from Koziol to Beckerman.

Continuing on my research, I discovered that one of the brothers arrived in America as a single man. He was a tricky one to find. In fact, before very recently, I had no evidence of him in America. Once I finally found the 1940 Census, I was able to find his family in earlier records, including his New York City marriage. If I hadn’t known the correct mother’s maiden name, I would have discounted it as incorrect.

Jake Miller Marriage, Lejba and Necha listed as Louie and Annie

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RootsTech App 2013 First Impressions

RootsTech 2013 is approaching and the app is finally out. The Google Play store says it came out on the 21st, but I didn’t see any mention online until the 26th.

Once again, the app comes to us from Core-apps, a developer of conference apps. The app was pretty glitchy last year, so I was hoping it would be improved this year; they’ve had at least a year more to learn to program it. So far, it’s doing better.

Main Screen. Do you love the "screen captured" message that shows up *during* the screen capture?

The bulk of this article was written last night, but some things changed overnight.

There were eleven icons on the main screen last night, but this morning, there are twelve. And I’m pretty sure the background color changed.


The exhibitors seemed empty at first. Under the categories, there was only one: movie theatre. Only when someone online mentioned checking on the exhibitors in the app did I realize that no one was categorized and they were all in there. Several are listed twice. Each can be bookmarked and marked as visited. There is also a space for notes, with an option to email those notes. I’m not sure about the schedule option. Can I schedule through the app to visit with the vendors? Title is required. Title of what? That part, I don’t get it.

I didn’t check all of them, but my favorite exhibitor listing right now is MyHeritage: their phone number is 9.73E+11. Yeah, try to figure that out. I guess the app is US-only and not adaptable.


The map for the Salt Palace is typically confusing, as it always is. The downtown SLC map looks familiar. Did they really have to include the QR code in the scanned version? Is someone going to look at the map on their device and use another device to scan the code or something? Things like this are the reason why some people write articles saying that QR codes are dead — because they’re used in dumb ways.

Thursday Schedule. What am I doing sometime after 4pm?


This is the place to find the schedule. I don’t see the keynotes or any special events. Are there special events this year? I can’t even remember hearing about anything.

The events take some time to get through, especially when you want to bookmark overlapping events. You get a pop-up warning that you’ve scheduled multiple things, and you get a separate one for each, so you can’t see anything behind it while that’s cycling through each time. I don’t need a warning when I can clearly see on my calendar that I have multiple things marked.

There are a lot of typos in the schedule. I haven’t checked the RootsTech web site lately, but some seem familiar, like they were also on the site. A simple spell check would probably fix half of them.

There are an awful lot of sessions without a speaker listed. That’s a really bad omission. It’s common to find multiple sessions of interest at the same time and sometimes the tie breaker is the speaker.


Friday Schedule. Does that come with lunch and dinner breaks?

My Schedule

This is a very useful part of the app, as long as it works.

There was an issue last year where I was adding an unconferencing event by hand and the white board showed the wrong date, so I added it on the wrong date. An update that came too late showed those sessions and would have added it into the schedule for me, hopefully on the correct date, so I wouldn’t have missed it. I hope that information also ends up in the app again with a more timely update than last year. Obviously, that can’t be in here yet since those are set up after the conference begins.

After going through the schedule and marking some of the sessions, I have four time slots marked with sessions on Thursday (image above). One has six sessions, so the ones I marked are: Conte, Curati, Findin, Mappi, Next, and Beyo. No, that doesn’t help me much to see what I’ve selected and I have to tap through to each one just to see the title. There probably isn’t any better solution to programming this, other than giving me more information to narrow down my choices.

Friday gets much more interesting, with sessions running from 9:45 AM to 10:45 PM — three of them. Is there a lunch break?

After going through all three days, I noticed that some sessions repeat. Having this somewhere in the description would be helpful. Maybe I have more time to attend on the other day. Or I might mark it for both days and not realize I’m repeating a session, since there are several similar sessions. Maybe telling me the speaker will help me choose which I want to attend?

After setting up the schedule on my other Android to take a proper screen capture, those pop-up warnings went on for about a minute, even after I closed the app. I don’t need warnings that I’ve set sessions at the same time. I can clearly see it when I go to the schedule.

Twitter, Facebook

Twitter is already pulling up the hashtagged posts, Facebook apparently goes to the mobile version of the Facebook page. My Android browser is not logged in to Facebook. (I’m not sure the app is either, since I don’t really use it on the go.)


News looks like an RSS reader of selected blogs — not all official bloggers, at least not all of the official bloggers. The problem is that tapping on an article opens up a web browser. Not only that, but I tapped on the first article on and the browser went to an article on The Ancestry Insider. I tried tapping on the article it actually brought me to and nothing happened. Trying several others at random mostly did nothing, so this part of the app, which should be pretty simple, is really bad.

Photo Gallery, Videos

Photo gallery is empty for now. Videos was added overnight and is already populated with videos from 2012.

Friends, Attendees

I’m pretty sure that last year’s app had these features, but didn’t run them very well. It used the app Bump to add people in proximity, but the app wasn’t working well for me. (It could have been the non-phone Android I was using.) There were also randomly-generated six digit codes to add your friends, but when people posted their codes to Facebook or Twitter, they would quickly expire and you’d have to post them again. That was not good.

Error. "Yes", there was an error. No, I can't do screen captures from this Android. Yes, it was 2:25AM.

This year, the attendees can add themselves to an app directory, listed by name. You can then add them to contacts or add them as friends. Dear Myrtle was the first person to show up twice. Having installed the app on two Androids, I thought that I should be listed twice as well, but maybe I’m not seeing myself listed, so I only see myself on the other Android.

I had some trouble adding a friend, or rather, a friend adding me. Jill Ball was, well, on the ball, and quickly sent a friend request, which when I tried to accept, I just got an error. However, this morning, trying it again, it did add her as my friend, and a couple more who had added me since.

The problem is that there is no connection between my two Androids in this app. It doesn’t even recognize that I have identical contact information between them, so the friends I have in one app do not show up in the other. The same goes for the schedule and all the marks I have made. I think this was mentioned by others last year and I think there was eventually a solution that allowed syncing somehow, but it doesn’t seem to exist now. Will they add it before the conference?


This is not a main icon but an option from the top of the screen. The menu button should take you to this, but the developers have ignored the Android buttons. Within the settings, you can edit your profile and send emails — either inviting friends to download the app or email all of your notes. I haven’t added notes to try this, so I’m going to imagine that it works.


The glitches of last year’s app seem to have gone away. I can’t remember specifically what they all were, and don’t want to reinstall it just to find out again, but this one works much smoother, save for the adding a friend that didn’t work last night, but does now.

The problem with the typos in the schedule is a serious problem. Some, if not all, of those typos have been around for months. Are they going to fix them before the conference if they haven’t already?

Not syncing between devices is also a problem. I am not the only person with multiple devices. Lots of people have a smartphone and a tablet these days. The app needs a way to either sync online or import/export the data between devices. I certainly don’t want to edit my schedule on two devices constantly, or add everyone as a friend twice. And what if I decide to put this on my tablets?

That’s about all I’ve got to say about the app for now, but that last paragraph didn’t seem a suitable ending to this article. I look forward to seeing my genea-friends next month at RootsTech.

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Most genealogists get to the point where they realize that they have a lot of information and it’s not well organized. We start out trying to be organized, or we don’t really know what we’re doing. And then one day, the idea of how to get better organized hits us.

Then we have to actually make it happen. After a lot of years of research, that gets even harder. I have long put off my own research in favor of my clients’ research, as rightly I should, but I still often snuck in some work on my own family. The problem is, while I’ve gathered records over the years, I haven’t been adding information into my database.

I have a folder on my computer called “Documents To Do” inside of my genealogy folder. It has over 3,000 files in.

OK, so about 1,000 of them are Chicago birth records that I began indexing. But then Cook County went and indexed them all, so I didn’t have to do that anymore. Maybe I should delete those, because I didn’t find my cousins’ records until that other index showed up.

I also have some other records that I’ve meant to index, or do something with. I have been collecting Feldstein records for a one name study that I haven’t really started. I have about 300 census images, but I only finished gathering those up to 1910.

That still leaves at least 2,000 files. So how am I going to go about organizing that?

One file at a time.

And that’s what I’ve been doing this month, instead of blogging. I’ve been meaning to blog. I found someone in a census seven years after she died and thought that might make for an interesting short blog post. I got to work on my 1940 census entries and found two in a row that had the supplemental question — I hadn’t noticed that I had any before. And I just keep digging away, slowly, at the records. I even added a new person to the database, when I found an uncle in someone’s household.

I actually started this bout of organizing last year, or was it the year before, so I have to figure out where I left off and continue that part also. I was working on replacing my paper files with digital copies; where they came from the Family History Library, I am scanning from the microfilm again instead of just scanning the old paper copy.

I’ll be doing this for a very long time but hopefully I’ll make a serious dent. I’m trying to avoid finding any more records until I’ve gotten all the old ones straightened out. So far this month, I’ve been pretty good about that. But I have no doubt that I will be adding new documents as I find them. I just have to make sure they go straight into my database so I don’t have to revisit them to figure them out again.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have more organizing to do in my own database, right after I deliver some things to my clients.

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Genealogy Goals for 2013

Just as I hit my first goal last year, it seems I forgot to blog about my goal progress. Maybe this year I’ll remember a little better. It also seems, even before I’ve written this post, that my goals this year will be very much similar to last year’s. I did, however, create a new goal during that down time of my goal reviews, and I finished it too.

So a quick review of last year’s goals. I went to Europe! I think I blogged more. Business related, I think I did a little better on both emails and invoicing, but better on the former. I didn’t get pictures on my family web site, nor did I get back to organizing my documents since Europe (I did a lot before the trip). I haven’t indexed much lately either. An added goal never blogged about that I did finish was posting pictures from my Europe trip; I created one page for every city/town/village.

So here goes… my genealogy goals for 2013.

1. Go back to Europe (and let the clients pay). I’m already trading emails with a few people. I don’t know if they’re serious enough to realize the added costs of the trip versus paying for me to do research locally, but I’ll stay hopeful.

2. Organize my genealogy documents. I have been scanning papers like crazy, creating a stack of recycling about one foot high. Just a few folders are left unscanned, then onto all the genealogy files.

3. Blog more genealogy. This will be easy. I didn’t count posts in previous years to know if I really blogged more last year, but I can definitely blog more about genealogy. I will soon begin analyzing the documents from Europe, in addition to the previous goal.

4. Publish a family newsletter. This should be a relatively easy goal, but I didn’t make it last year. First I have to figure out how to email all of my relatives. Was I using the mailing list program?

5. Keep up with business. The new computer should make this one a little easier. Now that QuickBooks doesn’t take so long to start up, and it can run in the background easily, I should be able to invoice more often. I’ve been doing pretty well with keeping my email inbox to reasonable levels too.

6. Keep up with UJGS. I’ve slacked off a little. I need to meet individually with my board members to get them to work. When I have less that I have to do, I’ll probably do more that I’m supposed to.

7. Learn Russian. Last summer, I had a working knowledge of Polish, enough to get by in the country. I barely got started on Russian and felt quite lost in Ukraine. (Yes, they use Ukrainian there, but everyone also knows Russian, and it will be useful in more countries.) The great thing about this goal is that I just got started again on my Russian lessons in the last week, so already off and running.

Yep, very similar to last year. I do have a few specific projects I’d like to work on also. Maybe listing them here will get me to work.

8. Create research reports for everyone. I mean this for the people in my own database. While writing reports for clients, I always find things that I missed and have to go back for them. It could be very useful to do for my own family.

9. Begin my Feldstein one name study. I have been collecting Feldstein records and indexes for years but I haven’t actually done anything with them. I’d like to.

Those last two will be the harder ones to get done because they’re big. I already have the organizing to do.

I think I got more work done when I first moved my office into the living room. And now with a new desk, I’ve been inspired to get a lot of things done again. I sometimes forget how much I require change. If I start to slow down, maybe I’ll paint the room a different color to get me going again.

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