Category Archives: Technology

MyHeritage Colorizes Pictures

MyHeritage just introduced a new feature to colorize photos automatically. I logged in and had a new home page that I hadn’t seen before. I didn’t know where to look for the colorizer (today it’s at the top of the new home page; I don’t remember it there yesterday), but found it easily — and marked “new” — in the “Family Tree” menu.

I’m not the kind of person who ever wanted old photos colorized. If they were black and white or sepia, I was fine with them. But I tried it anyway for fun.

For the first few photos I tried, it really emphasized to me that we don’t need to colorize old photos because everyone was just wearing black, white, and gray, according to the colorizer. It applied more color to the backgrounds and the skin tones. Below is the first photo I tried.

Eventually, I found a photo where the colorizer added a bit of color in the clothes. And then I had one that really popped out some color. Look, red stripes!

My first photo had some green background, but when I tried another, it was even brighter. And is that really the color the uniform is supposed to be? That’s what I was looking for, but I don’t even know. Did the colorizer make it gray or khaki? The background skews it so I can’t even tell.

I tried a photo with water but wasn’t impressed with the color. A photo I took a century later from near the same place shows the water much bluer. (Taking a second look, I’d still like the water a little bluer, but it’s not as bad as I initially thought.) It did put some bright red on the flag, but it also put red on the blue field of the flag.

I went looking for a specific couple of pictures that I think were taken about the same time, one in color the other black and white. When I found them, they weren’t quite the example that I was hoping. However, I uploaded the color one for kicks. Whoa.

It looks like it lost the red in the plant, but the plant in the background doesn’t concern me here. In the same folder, I had a very orange photo, so I tried that one too.

Well now, that’s very interesting what it does with color photos.

I still didn’t have an example like I wanted, one where I knew the color it should be (besides green grass and blue sky). So I grayscaled a couple of my photos and tried them.

The colorizer did not get the colors in the clothes. It sort of kind of got the pink a little in a couple spots but did not use a solid color for some reason. It did not guess correctly on the green at all. And why is some of the skin color also gray in the bottom one? It doesn’t recognize that skin can be on both sides of a necklace?


All in all, not bad.

I don’t feel the need to make my black and white or sepia photos into color, but the colorizer was fun to try on them. Most of the time, clothes were black and white and gray with some mid-tone reds. Many times, the reds showed up in odd spots instead of coloring the entire solid colored article of clothing, which was weirder than just making it gray. According to the colorizer, no one has ever worn bright colors or blues and greens.

Feeding it sepia photos was hit or miss. Some looked pretty decent but others were not as good. I didn’t try to make the sepia into grayscale then upload them to the colorizer, which I’m sure would have changed the results.

Skin tones also missed sometimes, but only a few times. They were just off in a weird way; some had more white than peach. One photo (not included above) looked almost like it was a colorized painting, and it didn’t even make the dark lipstick look red. I’m in a white family, so I didn’t have other skin tones easily available to try.

Grass, trees, and sky did pretty well in the photos. I feel like water could have looked bluer.

The surprise to me was what the colorizer did with color photos, especially with washed out or oranged photos. I will probably try running more of those kinds of photos through it and keep them. Maybe MyHeritage should push this feature out more.

How did the colorizer do for your family photos?

Introducing CSI: Crowd Sourced Indexing

CSIL Crowd Sourced IndexingI’d like to introduce my readers to, well, part of the reason I haven’t been blogging much for the past couple of months. I’ve been programming instead. In fact, this was also my NaNoWriMo project, where I rebelled.

CSI: Crowd Sourced Indexing is written for genealogy societies, special interest groups, and other smaller research groups to manage their indexing projects.

It’s great for indexers because anyone can sign up to index and log in any time they feel like indexing. It puts the record image and the fields for indexing in the same window and it’s a pleasure to not have to juggle the image and Excel to get that done. There’s no sending or downloading of images from the project administrator or waiting for the next batch when you’ve completed the last one. Everything is on the web site waiting for the indexers. When they finish an image, they can do the next one. Tired of the project? Try another project instead.

CSI: Crowd Sourced IndexingBut CSI is especially built for project management. The project administrator can set up a project by providing basic information, uploading the files to be indexed, choosing the fields to be indexed, and then they can invite members of their society or group to index. CSI takes care of most of the administrative work of running the project from that point on. Just as the indexers don’t have to wait for new batches, the admin doesn’t have to send them out, track who has which images, keep track of which are yet to be indexed and which are completed, or determine when to give up on an indexer and send the same images to another indexer. Just keeping up with the indexers is most of the work.

CSI is written in UTF-8 so it’s compatible with every language. Right now, there are several projects going on in Hebrew, thanks to my collaborator bringing projects from IGRA. And the entire site is translatable (the code is in place, translations are coming soon).

And to top it off, I submitted CSI to the 2017 RootsTech Innovator Showdown and I have been named a semifinalist! There were 41 entries and only 10 are semifinalists, so I’m honored to be among them.

RootsTech Innovator Showdown 2017

Would you like to try it out? Visit to sign up and index a little. The easiest project is the NYC Staten Island Marriage Index, downloaded from the Internet Archive, provided by Reclaim the Records. The images are easy to read and generally don’t have too many records per page. Similarly the Queens Marriage Index is available, but that one is a little harder to read the handwriting and the pages are generally longer, some with 100 names. For these particular indexes, when they’re complete, they’ll be made available just like the images.

You can read more about CSI on Devpost where the official entry took place, along with watching my commercial. (Check out those older screenshots. It has already changed a little.)

So give it a try because indexing with CSI is fun and easy.

I’m programming more for CSI every day, so there are more features still to come. Let me know what you think of CSI. And don’t forget to vote for me for the People’s Choice award during the Innovator’s Showdown.

The URL of this post is:

GenAssist – RootsTech Reject

RootsTech has once again put me in a bad mood. They’re getting too good at this. This time, it’s the developer’s challenge. The challenge was to imagine and then write a brand new program in less than two months. And I got started late. Looking at the finalists, I’d say that either some of them have been working on their programs for more than two months, or I have been left in the dark ages of web programming.

I’m not sure what I was thinking. The prizes are pretty significant this year. Maybe I should have looked at this program as if it was my full time job and put that much effort into it. Maybe that’s what the finalists actually did. Or maybe I somehow knew that I would be left in the dust in the end, so I didn’t.

Either way, I created a program to help beginning genealogists: the people that have just gotten started and found sites like FamilySearch and Ancestry, or maybe a few more, but don’t really know what they’re doing; the people that haven’t been to conferences, webinars, or society meetings; the people that want to know their genealogy but either don’t know how or don’t want to take the time to learn.

Genealogy research is a puzzle. Not only are there methodologies to learn, but you must also learn what records are available. Were your ancestors in Florida? Did you know there are state censuses for 1935 and 1945? Certainly a beginner wouldn’t know. So how does a new genealogist easily find out what’s available?


In order to research your genealogy, you have to know how to do the research, to know what to look for, and to know what records are available. With GenAssist, you just enter the information about an individual and it will suggest document types in which you might find your relatives.

And while it’s telling you what records to search, it is also teaching you. It will explain why to search for certain records.

However, my program has been left in the dust of this contest. The judges found an error and only informed me when I pestered them that they were behind schedule to announce the finalists. They also hadn’t entered the sample information, because my database is extremely limited at the moment. When they finally entered the sample data, they didn’t do it correctly. (When I say to enter 1980, 1908 will not produce the same favorable results. Genealogy and programming are both more precise than that.)

Therefore, I am opening it up for you to try. Login with username “blog” and password “gjg” (without the quotes). Try the “View History” to see the two sample entries, so you can get an idea what kind of data is already in the database. Then add your own if you like. Keep in mind that your individuals are recorded and visible in the history, and this is a shared login for whoever reads this blog post, so don’t use the living. Besides, you probably won’t find much about the living in my database.

Remember that this is just what I got done in about a month in some spare time. Clearly it is nowhere near complete, nor is it incredibly pretty, because I spent my time on the cool programming part instead of the web design part. There is almost no error checking, so don’t test if it can figure out your misspellings. But let me know what you think of it and if I should keep working on it. I do have a lot more ideas for it (you’ll find some on the “RootsTech 2012” page), besides the obvious of filling in the database with genealogy record data.

Also, I will likely not leave the login open for very long. Since my blog gets a lot of spammer comments, who knows what they’ll do to my program.

So, is my program worth working on more? Or should I let it fade away into oblivion?

Android Tablets and Genealogy

Dick Eastman wrote an article on his blog that was just begging for a response. Someone was asking him about the Nook and the Kindle Fire for genealogy uses. He actually owns both of those devices, but went on to tell his readers that neither is good and they should buy iPad. He clearly hasn’t been paying attention to other genealogy bloggers who use Android devices, because we have just been raving about them and about the apps that can be used for genealogy. And because he uses devices that have crippled versions of the OS, he doesn’t understand what Android is capable of. In the end, he tells his readers that Android is no good and they absolutely have to buy iPad if they want to use them for genealogy. This blog post is the long version of my response: he is completely wrong.

Not So Expensive

The only tablet that is useful for genealogy programs without modification is the Apple iPad or possibly one of the more full-featured and expensive tablet computers that run the Android operating system.

Those “full-featured and expensive” Android tablets cost less than his iPad. And not only are they full-featured, they probably have more features than his iPad does. Just because the only Androids he’s ever used are crippled and require jailbreaking does not mean that he has any experience with Android.

He is correct that the Nook and Kindle (Fire) are aimed at the ebook reader market and are not as full-featured as the iPad. He is correct to tell the questioner that the iPad is better for genealogy uses. He is wrong to suggest that every other Android is just as useless as these crippled Android ebook readers.

Not So Incompatible

Neither Legacy nor Family Tree Maker have versions that will run on the Nook Tablet or the Kindle Fire nor on any other Android or iOS tablet computers.

Via Twitter, Caroline Gurney quickly pointed out that “Ancestry App allows you to do 2 way sync between Family Tree Maker 2012 database and Android device.” Also, there is an app called Families for both OSes that will read and sync with Legacy Family Tree.

Those apps may not run on his Nook or Kindle, but they certainly run on other Android and iOS tablets.

Not So Bad At Web Browsing

However, most tablet computers do have web browsers. If you are within range of a wireless network connection, you can access a web-based genealogy application. However, my guess is that most tablet computer owners will not be happy with that solution. None of the web-based genealogy programs look very good on a 7-inch screen.

Has he ever used a “real” 7″ Android tablet? Not only is he comparing two 7″ tablets to a 10″ tablet, it’s clear he’s never used any other Android 7″ tablets. I agree that web sites do look best on 10″ tablets, but they are just fine in 7″ and some don’t even need to be zoomed to be read if you have young enough eyes. (Dick may be too old to see any kind of small print.)

Not Needing Modification

Both the Nook Tablet and the Kindle Fire run modified versions of the Android Operation System.

This is true, but he still uses this against all Androids by saying that none of them are as good as his iPad.

Dick then goes on to discuss hacking the devices. He ran his “hacked” Nook off of a microSD card, so clearly he either doesn’t know how or didn’t try to hack it properly. My first tablet, a ViewSonic gTablet, required hacking to access the Android Market. I did not use a microSD card, but installed the mod right onto the tablet’s memory. There was no lagging like he experienced with his not-really-hacked Nook.

He then talks about sideloading. Again, having never used a non-crippled Android, he doesn’t realize that the Android OS allows you to sideload apps. Maybe the Nook and Kindle don’t, but every Android I’ve ever used has had the option to allow apps from somewhere other than Google’s market. It is not hidden and it is not difficult. The iPad does require jailbreaking to install anything not from the Apple store.

Not So Many Drawbacks

In my mind, modifying or hacking a device of any sort always includes some drawbacks. I’d suggest the better, simpler, and more effective method is to purchase a tablet computer or cell phone that is designed to have all sorts of third-party programs installed, including genealogy apps. Admittedly, this is usually a more expensive solution.

But he hasn’t actually done that. He’s comparing his iPad to these two other tablets, not to the “more expensive” Androids that cost less than his iPad and do more.

Not The Leading Candidates

At this time, the leading handheld candidates for using genealogy apps are the Dell Streak tablet, Samsung Galaxy Tab, the T-Mobile SpringBoard with Google tablet, the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer, the T-Mobile SpringBoard, the Apple iPad for Apple’s iOS operating system, and a wide variety of “smartphones” (cell phones that include complete computers).

Um, what? What’s a T-Mobile SpringBoard? How does he figure that’s a “leading” tablet and why did he list it twice? Not only do I know a lot about a lot of Androids, but I use T-Mobile and I’ve never heard of this one specifically. The Dell Streak is also not a “leading” tablet. He failed to mention the Acer Iconia, Toshiba Thrive, and Motorola Xoom; those along with the Asus Transformer (and the brand new Transformer Prime) and the Samsung Galaxy Tab are more like the “leading” Android tablets. The Acer and Toshiba both have full size USB ports for flash drive, external hard drive, keyboard, or mouse. Does his iPad do that? These Androids are more “full-featured” than his iPad.

Not So Lesser Known, And Some That Are

If you search online, you can find many more Android tablets although most of them are lesser-known devices.

Sure, to an iPad fanboy. Actually, there are a lot of Android devices, many of which are “lesser-known”. But that just means there are that many more options, so instead of being forced to buy the one and only model available, you can buy an Android that does what you want it to do and not what Apple thinks you should do with it. Given his “leading candidate” list, he doesn’t even know which Android tablets are lesser-known and which aren’t. Some have full size USB ports, some have full size SD card slots, the Transformer has an attachable keyboard making it like a netbook, the Thrive is built like a netbook will full size ports, etc.

Not So Outsold

The Apple iPad is by far the most popular tablet computer. In fact, Apple sells more iPads than all the other tablet manufacturers combined.

Is he using old information? The only reason no one model of Android has outsold iPhone/iPad is because there are so many to choose from that people can buy what they want and what they need, and not be forced to by the only model available. (Yes, I’m repeating myself now.)

While I can find multiple web sites that state Android is currently the dominant OS in smartphones (with varying numbers depending on the time frame), it’s harder to determine the tablet market. Most iPads have 3G and thus show activations just like smartphones, but the vast majority of Android tablets have only wi-fi. So counting activations is not a fair assessment. Also, Apple only reveals their shipment numbers, not their purchase numbers. Several sites said that Android has a greater market share in the US and worldwide, but many were before the iPhone 4S was finally released. Of course, many people buy the iPhone for the “prestige” and not because they’ve compared it to an Android. My favorite find, while looking for a statistics link, was this article from, well, tomorrow (according to when I first wrote this), stating that Steve Wozniak, Apple’s co-founder, prefers his Android to his iPhone for the features it offers, including Android’s voice features over the much-hyped Siri app.

Not So Few Genealogy Apps

Dick Eastman (the cause of this rant blog post) goes on to link to an earlier article of his about genealogy apps for iPhone/iPad. Tamura Jones has recently compiled lists of Free Android Genealogy Apps and Paid Android Genealogy Apps. There are a lot more apps for Android users. Maybe not for Dick with his crippled Nook and Kindle, but for the rest of us.

Not So Unrepetitious

In short, anyone who wants to use a full-featured genealogy program on a tablet computer needs to purchase an Apple iPad (which has many genealogy programs available) or one of the “leading handheld candidates” listed earlier that run Android (and will then be limited to only two or three genealogy programs). However, none of these choices can match the low prices of the Nook Tablet or of a Kindle Fire.

Again, he mentions those leading candidates that I’ve already pointed out are incorrect, and thinks they are limited to two or three programs, which Tamura proves is incorrect.

While the original question was about two tablets that Dick actually owns, the Nook and the Kindle Fire, he did not even offer a comparison of the two. Instead, he compared them both to his iPad. The two tablets are not even in the same league or remotely within the same price point as the iPad. If he wants to compare an iPad to something, he should try a 10″ Android that hasn’t been crippled by its manufacturer to be just an ereader.

He is also wrong about the prices of Android tablets. I purchased my 7″ Galaxy Tab for the same price as the Kindle Nook. Because Apple controls the iPads, they have set the prices. But Androids can be purchased from a variety of sellers, sometimes refurbished, but working like they are new.

To have a really fair comparison for Nook and Kindle, he should have compared them to other 7″ tablets. But wait, Apple doesn’t make one. There are no options in iOS for something the size of an ereader, and sometimes the size and weight of it is the big draw. No, he’d have to compare to the 7″ Samsung Galaxy Tab, the HTC Flyer, or the Dell Streak. The HTC seemed a little overpriced to me. The cell providers don’t sell the old Galaxy Tab, but there is a newer version now, that with a two year activation, would probably cost about the same as the Nook and Kindle. Does the iPad cost less with the activation like the Androids do? This I don’t know.


Just because Dick Eastman has been blogging about technology for so many years doesn’t mean he’s always right. And even if he owns the devices in question, it doesn’t means he answers his readers’ questions about them, other than to steer the reader towards a device that was not even a possibility in their mind.

Also, as of the posting of this blog, he has not approved of any of the comments that have been left, as I know for a fact that there have been at least three. Does he not like to be told he’s wrong on his own blog? Possibly. I don’t know. Maybe he’s been busy since sending it out into the social networking world.

If the reader of EOGN wants to buy a more inexpensive and smaller Android tablet for genealogy uses, I recommend the 7″ Galaxy Tab, which can be purchased refurbished for about the same price as a Kindle Fire. If willing to spend a bit more, and wanting a 10″ tablet, the Asus Transformer refurbished is available as of this moment for only $300. Take a little time to research the tablets and find the options that you want. I have purchased all of my Androids on and; I purchased each from a different seller whose deal was listed on that site.

Sorry Dick, but in this case, you should have asked your readers to answer for you. You just don’t appear to have enough experience with real Androids to answer.

Review – MyHeritage App

MyHeritage released an API and started a programming contest for it a few months ago. I considered trying for it but knew it was probably a waste of my time because they were likely working on the app that I had in mind. And today it was released. I immediately downloaded it after their Twitter account sent out the link to the press release. I wonder why they sent out a link to a tech site before the press release on their own blog. I didn’t see a link to the market in the press release until I checked the one on their blog, but I found the app in the market.

On the first try, the app told me I needed Adobe AIR. Especially since the press release mentioned HTML5, and their other apps all require it as well, I knew that was going to be the case. But they failed to mention that in the description. Sorry, if I require some other app on my device to run yours, you have to tell me before I try yours. This is one reason they’ve gotten some negative reviews for their other app. Not only do people not like AIR, but they don’t even tell you that you need it.

So I installed AIR and the app loaded very slowly. I thought it had crashed because the screen was black for so long, but it got faster after the next restart. I imagine it was setting up files on my Android but didn’t tell me what it was doing. I don’t even know if it was AIR or MyHeritage that took so long to start.

I think they’ve combined all of their apps into one. There are three main options: Family Tree, Share Photos, and MyCeleb.

Family Tree

I went for the first option, logged in, and had access to my tree. This seemed to work well, though the usual zoom in and out gestures did not work and I had to click on the + and – symbols. It is a little slow loading, so I think it fetches my tree every time I open it. The main view is similar to the main family tree view on their web site, showing the graphical interface of the tree. Tapping on an individual brings up a different view with three options for Info, Events, and Family. The family list shows, in order, spouse, children, then parents, and you can click on each of them. I checked someone with two spouses and it listed them out of order. The database doesn’t have marriage dates for either, but they are in order in my program.

There is an option to turn off the upper menu and the search function to see a little more of the tree at once. This also flips to landscape mode as it should.

I shut off the wifi to see if the app cached any information, but it did not even let me into this part of the app without a connection. Because my Androids are not phones/have no data plans, this would not be helpful anywhere without wifi, for instance, if I was in a cemetery and found curious gravestones nearby and wanted to investigate my family tree. Assuming a constant Internet connection is a regular occurrence among Android apps, unfortunately. In my opinion, if you need the Internet, why bother programming an app? How about just do a mobile-specialized web site?

Share Photos

The Share photos section brought up the pictures that I’ve uploaded to the site. The camera icon lets me take a photo or choose from the library on the device. The share icon (though Android usually uses a different icon; maybe this is a standard iOS icon) gives me the options to share photo or save to camera roll. I don’t know what the second option actually did. The first doesn’t do anything for me. It seems that the option is for sharing with people who can already access the tree on the web site but I have no other people there. It gave me the option to add emails within the app, but I didn’t follow through.

Flipping to landscape mode here lost all the functionality of sharing or taking photos and I could just look through the photos. On the Galaxy Tab 7″, the photos fell off the side of the tab. On the Galaxy S Wifi 5.0, they were centered properly.


MyCeleb let me choose a photo or take one. I had my usual photo on my Android and it matched me the same as the web site had. I don’t want to discuss the results I got from snapping a picture, but it seemed to work. This part of the app works exclusively in portrait mode.

Programming Issues

Probably in part, or entirely, because it’s programmed in AIR, it doesn’t always work like a regular Android app. The back button often doesn’t do anything, though in every other app it either closes whatever has opened, it goes back to the previous view, or it eventually closes the app. Sometimes it did go back, but very often it did not, for instance, any smaller pop-up windows did not close and I could not exit the app via the back button. The Android menu button also does nothing in the app. To close the app, I had to use the in-app menu button.

I Have Email

While writing this review, I received an email from MyHeritage, likely activated when I logged in via the app. It states “now the whole family can contribute to your family site… and stay in touch via iPhone, iPad, and Android.” Well, how? I guess they mean mostly the photo sharing, because the email specifies that v1.0 is read-only for the family tree section. They also claim more features are “in the works”. I assume they mean writing and editing abilities in the tree, but they don’t say what else. We’ll just have to watch for that.


Overall, the app seems to work pretty well. Some things lagged, in part probably because it was setting itself up or it had to access the Internet. My tree showed up and I was able to move around it and view individuals’ details. It doesn’t remember my data for offline use. I didn’t log out, so it remembered me each time I restarted it.

I still have a lot more information in my own program that wasn’t in the GEDCOM that got uploaded to MyHeritage. I don’t know how much more data would show up in this app if I had all kinds of odd events and notes in there; it might show those or it might just show the “normal” events, like the ones I included. I still want to try out some of those options on the web site, so I will remember to check out the app again when I do that to see if it can access more data.

Android Wars

This post was originally called Tablet Wars. Then I forgot to post it before I ended up with a third tablet. Now I’m on my fourth Android, and the latest isn’t a tablet.

Three Tablets and a Small Android

My first Android was the ViewSonic gTablet that I bought from woot for about $280. When that died, I graduated to the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7″ from Best Buy, on sale for $300.  When I returned that, I couldn’t bear to leave the store without another Android and bought the Asus Transformer for $400. Then woot, usually the ones to get rid of old stock, had an exclusive sale for the Samsung Galaxy S Wifi 5.0 for about $180, which isn’t yet released officially in the US. (I’ll refer to this later as the S5 for brevity.) So here is my comparison, what went wrong with the first two, why the last two are the best, and why I can’t stop buying these things.

Hungry for an OS?

The Asus is the only one running the Honeycomb OS, version 3.2, made specifically for tablets (3.x is for tablets). All the others have Froyo 2.2, which I discovered is shorthand for frozen yogurt. (Who already knew that?) All the OS versions have food names: cupcake, donut, eclair, gingerbread, and the future ice cream sandwich.

Size Matters

The gTablet and the Asus are both about 10″. These are measured on the diagonal, so the 7″ Tab seems about half the size of the 10″, and the 5″ is possibly a quarter of the size.

I bought a bag for the gTablet, which also suits the Asus. The Tab fits in my purse. (Not that I use a purse, but I do own a couple. So I used one for a couple weeks for that.) The S5 slides easily into my back pocket. It is the same width as my Palm TX and a little taller. I was not the only person to notice that someone had finally created an Android replacement for the PDA. Palm OS is unfortunately obsolete, but I still rely on my PDA. Once I get all my data out of that and into the S5, I’ll be sad to retire it.

Because the S5 is not a phone, some people are calling it a tablet. I prefer not to, after having three others. I consider a tablet to be much bigger. It’s, you know, tablet sized.

Monitor Matters

The biggest complaint from everyone about the gTablet is it’s viewing angle. As one person put it, for something that is entirely a screen, and from a monitor manufacturer, it should have been better. I really only noticed it while playing games in bed, propped up on my elbow, with the gTab lying flat on the bed.  It did offer more privacy where my neighbors couldn’t see it so well, like on a plane. Other than that, I think they all have beautiful displays.

Charging Matters

The gTablet died just as I started traveling with it. I really wanted to use it all week at a genealogy conference. (I wanted to not bring my laptop, but didn’t feel confident that the gTablet would suit all my needs. Of course, if I didn’t have the laptop, I might not have dropped and killed the gTab…) It was charging, fell off the chair, and the AC plug just disconnected itself from the circuit board. (I dissected it later.) It never charged again. Very sad. But it uses a standard plug and if it was the charger itself that had broken (like I initially thought), I could’ve gotten a replacement at Radio Shack.

The Asus has a proprietary connector for charging. The wire just beyond the connector feels a little flimsy to me. I saw a few complaints online that it stopped working for other people, and a replacement is expensive.

The Galaxy Tab has an apparently very rare but not proprietary plug. The S5 has a standard micro USB.

Market Matters

The gTablet has to be hacked to get to the Google Market, where too many Android apps can only be found. Even then, I still didn’t have access to many apps. The other three come with the Market. I read that the Tab had limited access, and I noticed a couple things missing. The Asus probably has slightly different access also, because it’s a different OS version. The S5 seems to have almost everything.

There are a few apps I’ve found that Market says are incompatible with all of my Androids. The requirements match, so I have no idea what they’re doing.

Typing Matters

All three tablets, even the 7″, are easy enough to use with the on-screen keyboards. The gTablet needs an app to use the bluetooth keyboard that I purchased specifically to use with it. Even then, it has some trouble.

The wifi Tab has the bluetooth keyboard support deliberately deactivated by Samsung. This really bothered me, especially after avoiding the Verizon 3G version (for $100 less) because of the same problem. The 3G has better hardware than the wifi version. I was ready to live with the lesser hardware, but not when I discovered the keyboard issue, which was the reason I returned it.

So when I returned the Tab, I brought my keyboard to the store. I was really there to check out the Acer Iconia because I’d just read there was a 7″ version and I was loving the size of the Tab. I knew the store didn’t have it, but they had the 10″. I ended up turning on the bluetooth on both the Asus and the Acer, and both paired up flawlessly. I decided not to leave the store without another Android and bought the Asus. (The two were virtually identical with only a couple of differences.)

I was incredibly pleased when the keyboard also paired right up with my S5. I learned quickly how to type with the on-screen keyboard, but can’t fathom how people with even smaller screens can type so much.

The Asus does have one advantage when it comes to the bluetooth keyboard. When the keyboard is paired, the on-screen keyboard is hidden. I don’t know if there’s a setting for that on the S5, but I’m sure there’s a hack somewhere. Especially with a smaller device, on-screen real estate is more precious.

Hardware Matters

The hardware inside the gTablet was compared to the Motorola Xoom, which I assumed was good given the higher price of that one and the other geeks who raved about it. The wifi Tab has lesser hardware than its 3G siblings. It lags on its home screen with the included launcher. Once I installed LauncherPro, it worked better. The other two are wonderful. The S5 has the same processor of the 3G Tab. I’m skipping the technical details, so I won’t look up the processor GHz and such for each. (But the S5 has the 1GHz Hummingbird processor, if you know what that means. It’s the only one I know about without looking it up.)


The gTablet is the only one with a regular USB port so I could plug in a flash drive or just about anything. (The Acer Iconia has one also.)

The Asus is often reviewed with its keyboard, which practically doubles the battery life and includes an SD card slot and two USB ports. But I had no plans to buy their keyboard since I already have one.

When my gTablet died, I considered buying an identical replacement. However, since I was already started with Android, I realized why I shouldn’t. There are numerous apps that require a camera or GPS. I want to use them and the gTab doesn’t have them. (I had a couple of GPS-faking apps, but when I hacked it for the Market, they stopped working for me.) Specifically for genealogy purposes, both the BillionGraves and RestingSpot apps require GPS, BG requires the camera, any scanning of QR codes needs the camera, etc.

All of my Androids since the gTablet have had GPS and camera.

No Cell Phones

None of my Android devices has been a cell phone or received 3G or 4G signals. They each require a wifi signal to connect to the Internet. This does put a damper on things sometimes, like apps where you check-in wherever you go or if you want to be in constant contact with people via Twitter or instant messaging.

I bought a 4G wifi hotspot for my trip (the one when the gTablet died) but did not buy a long-term plan. I can activate it whenever I want and have done so. It has a very short battery life, compared to the Androids, but it will allow any of these devices to connect online wherever I can get the 4G signal (in all major US cities). Also, it allows five devices to connect at once. Many Androids allow tethering (using the cell phone signal to connect another computer to the Internet), but sometimes the cell plans do not allow it.

The Winners

I definitely improved on my device with each purchase. The gTablet was my introduction to Android. The Galaxy Tab was my introduction to what an Android should be able to do. The Asus Transformer is what an Android can do. And the Galaxy S Wifi is the replacement for my Palm.

I loved the Tab, and especially the size of it. It’s similar to the Kindle and the Nook, smaller, easier to hold. It was the lesser hardware than the 3G version and especially the lack of keyboard support that made me return it.

I loved the Asus. It is a little bigger than the gTablet. But it has the newest version of the Android OS and does not need to be hacked to work. I almost kept it, but I anticipate a drop in price when the next version comes out. I’ve already seen some early evidence of that. If it wasn’t for buying the S5, I have no doubt that I would have kept it.

I love the S5. I also love that I have a device that hasn’t been released in the US yet. Several other purchasers tried to research it; one person determined that we have the Central American and Caribbean version. For once, I’m actually ahead of the technology, sort of.

I Keep Coming Back

Once I had my first Android, I was hooked. When it died, I was crushed. I almost couldn’t replace it fast enough; I just needed to have another. I was hoping to transfer my affection and my data from Palm OS to Android. My affection is certainly there, but I haven’t finished with all of the data quite yet.

I don’t remember when I bought my first PDA, but it was a Visor Handspring and the 1990s. When that died, I replaced it with a Sony Clie, and then the Palm TX in 2006. The Palm is still going strong. When I leave the house and make sure I have everything in my pockets (wallet, phone, keys, etc.), I always check my back pocket for my Palm. Well, now it will be my S5 instead.

When you hear advice that you should always have pen and paper or a smartphone to record people’s phone numbers or other information, that back pocket is what I reach for.

I might have been happy with the Palm forever had I not tried Android. But the TX would have eventually died and the only replacement would be someone else’s 5+ year old used PDA. It was time for something new and I’m thrilled to find that Android is an excellent successor.

I’m not the only one who instantly fell in love with their Android, am I?
(Well, OK, iPhone users can comment too.)

I Hope The Third Time’s The Charm – Another Android Tablet

I was really liking my Samsung Galaxy Tab 7″. I loved the size of it and how light it was. I could pull it out of my purse and it didn’t seem like some large, unruly thing. I even forgave that the wifi version had inferior hardware to the 3G versions; once I replaced the packaged launcher with LauncherPro, it rarely lagged on the home screen.

The gTablet, my first tablet, had a USB port. I could have bought a USB keyboard, but I thought ahead to any other gadgets I might use with it and bought bluetooth. The keyboard was working with the gTablet, some of the time; there were some quirks. I had avoided buying the Verizon version of the Galaxy Tab, having seen clearly that Verizon disabled the bluetooth keyboard support. Surely, if everyone was blaming Verizon, Samsung wouldn’t do that to their wifi version, right? Wrong. After trying to connect the keyboard, I found the answer online that it had been disabled.

And back to the store it went.

About the same time, I read of another 7″ tablet. I really liked that size tablet, so I wanted to check it out. I knew it wasn’t at the store, but they had the 10″ and the very little research I did suggested similar hardware. Arriving at the store, the Asus Transformer and the Acer Iconia were on display next to each other. Before doing almost anything else, I pulled out the keyboard from my back pocket and turned on the bluetooth in each tablet. The Asus found the keyboard and paired up beautifully. Next, the Acer did the same thing. OK, so what was the difference between these two? I really like having an Android now, so I didn’t really want to go home without one. (It seemed my idea of another 7″ was gone already, but it was the Acer that I was looking at for that.)

I compared and contrasted, and a saleswoman helped. We each took one tablet and looked it up online. For the most part, they were almost identical. The Acer had a better forward facing camera and a flash on the back one, and a real USB port. The Asus has a pricey keyboard attachment that just about doubles the battery life, has 2 USB ports, and an SD card reader. I messed with both, finding other very small differences. In the end, the saleswoman went for the “expert”, who happened to be the same salesman from two weeks before who told me the Asus over the Acer, which he reiterated. His biggest reason was the wifi, that the Asus had better hardware and the Acer had wifi troubles more than anything. (I had seen complaints in reviews about it already.)

I would have liked the USB port, but I went with the Asus. Then, after all that decision making time, they were out of stock. The store in Murray had it, where I drove directly and bought it. I had already checked online and it wasn’t much cheaper, so I sprung for the slightly higher price to avoid the wait for shipping.

Magically, Android Market started downloading my apps as soon as I set up my gmail account. It only missed one that I noticed, but it was easy to download again. I quickly went through the Amazon market and got the good ones out of that too, tried out some of them, and plugged it in to finish charging.

The screen feels much bigger than the gTablet, though both are about 10″. The whole unit is bigger. From what I remember, the resolution of the Asus is higher than the gTablet. I have a newer version of Android OS now, made especially for tablets. So far, my usual apps are working. I’ve only found one that didn’t run, but it was replaceable; another crashes, but only if I try to access it from the notifications link. The Asus came with a picture frame widget so I was able to put some family photos on the “genealogy” home page.

Visiting the FHL with it, I was pleased again with its use. The 7″ felt easier to walk around with, but the 10″ doubles as a tray to carry the films on.

My next Android? I still wanted something smaller and was shopping for a phone at a cheap price, though not to use as a phone. And then today woot had something brand new, which I just ordered.

The Tech Savvy Genealogists’ Meme

I’d started my post for the 99 things genealogy meme but wasn’t ready to post it. I was still making some adjustments to suit Jewish genealogy when Jill Ball at Geniaus came out with the Tech Savvy Meme. This is one I can do.

The list should be annotated in the following manner:
Things you have already done or found: bold face type
Things you would like to do or find: italicize (colour optional)
Things you haven’t done or found and don’t care to: plain type

  1. Own an Android or Windows tablet or an iPad
  2. Use a tablet or iPad for genealogy related purposes
  3. Have used Skype for genealogy purposes
  4. Have used a camera to capture images in a library/archives/ancestor’s home
  5. Use a genealogy software program on your computer to manage your family tree
  6. Have a Twitter account
  7. Tweet daily
  8. Have a genealogy blog
  9. Have more than one genealogy blog
  10. Have lectured/presented to a genealogy group on a technology topic
  11. Currently an active member of Genealogy Wise
    Define “active”. Have a current and “active” account? Yes. Using the site? No.
  12. Have a Facebook Account
  13. Have connected with genealogists via Facebook
  14. Maintain a genealogy related Facebook Page
  15. Maintain a blog or web site for a genealogy society
  16. Have submitted text corrections online to Ancestry, Trove or a similar site
  17. Have registered a domain name
  18. Post regularly to Google+
  19. Have a blog listed on Geneabloggers
  20. Have transcribed/indexed records for FamilySearch or a similar project
  21. Own a Flip-Pal or hand-held scanner
    I have a reasonably portable scanner, 1 inch thick. I used to have one that was like a giant mouse, but those are hard to use. I think a Flip-Pal is still in my near future.
  22. Can code a webpage in HTML
  23. Own a smartphone
    Shopping for one at the moment, not for the phone, but just to have a more compact Android device.
  24. Have a personal subscription to one or more paid genealogy databases
    I can get most of these free at the Family History Library. But I have access to some at home, does it count if I didn’t actually pay? This doesn’t specify. ;-)
  25. Use a digital voice recorder to record genealogy lectures
  26. Have contributed to a genealogy blog carnival
  27. Use Chrome as a web browser
  28. Have participated in a genealogy webinar
  29. Have taken a DNA test for genealogy purposes
  30. Have a personal genealogy web site
  31. Have found mention of an ancestor in an online newspaper archive
    I can’t remember anything specific. All my grandparents are immigrants, so finding something would be very recent, or in a foreign language.
  32. Have tweeted during a genealogy lecture
  33. Have scanned your hardcopy genealogy files
  34. Use an RSS Reader to follow genealogy news and blogs
  35. Have uploaded a gedcom file to a site like Geni, MyHeritage, or Ancestry
  36. Own a netbook
    Thought about it, but went for a tablet instead, with a portable keyboard. More of a coolness factor with the tablet.
  37. Use a computer/tablet/smartphone to take genealogy lecture notes
  38. Have a profile on LinkedIn that mentions your genealogy habit
  39. Have developed a genealogy software program, app, or widget
    I wrote my own program years ago when I couldn’t find one I liked.
  40. Have listened to a genealogy podcast online
  41. Have downloaded genealogy podcasts for later listening
  42. Backup your files to a portable hard drive
  43. Have a copy of your genealogy files stored off-site
  44. Know about RootsTech
  45. Have listened to a Blogtalkradio session about genealogy
  46. Use Dropbox, SugarSync, or other service to save documents in the cloud
  47. Schedule regular email backups
    I had SugarSync backing up email, until it sucked up all my bandwidth during vacation and I couldn’t get it to stop. Have to get that back up and running.
  48. Have contributed to the FamilySearch Wiki
  49. Have scanned and tagged your genealogy photographs
  50. Have published a genealogy book in an online/digital format
    I started turning my family book to a PDF format. I need to update/rewrite and then I’ll have this done. I do have my family newsletter online.

New Technology

If you’ve kept up with my IAJGS conference blogs, especially the ones before the conference started, you know that my Android tablet died on the way to DC. I was glad I’d brought my laptop along because I was not planning to. Of course, if I hadn’t brought the laptop, I probably wouldn’t have dropped the tablet and killed it. C’est la vie.

Last night (as it’s now morning here), I bought a new tablet. I found the gTablet online for $250, but just as I was about to buy it, I stopped to think again. I loved that tablet, but it had a couple of major flaws. Once I owned it, I realized how much you need the back camera and the GPS. I had hacked Google Market enough, but it still could have been better.

The fire sale on HP TouchPads started while I was still in DC, so I didn’t pay enough attention or jump fast enough to buy one. I’m still waiting for those to be available again and I will still buy one then.

So before buying an identical replacement tablet, I decided to go see what else was out there and went to Best Buy. Luckily, I didn’t see the store right away (it’s an odd mall) and went to OfficeMax first, where they had two tablets and I played with the Samsung Galaxy Tab. It was nice. Best Buy only had two 7″ tablets out, the HTC and the Blackberry. I tried the various 10″ models, even looking at the iPad when someone was trying to sell me on it. The Asus Transformer was a really nice one, and recommended, but twice the price of the gTablet.

In the end, I bought the Galaxy Tab wifi model that I knew was on sale. It has GPS and a back camera. There is no USB port like the gTablet (which I found very useful), but only one or two of the tablets had them. The Galaxy Tab 10″ didn’t even have a microSD slot. (This does.) I’d also read that the wifi version has lesser hardware than the 3G version and not the full market. I’m still concerned about this as I’ve noticed some lag (especially on the main screen), but not enough to return it yet. I have two weeks to test it out before the return window is over.

I like how much smaller and lighter it is than the 10″ tablets, except for the web browsing. I haven’t noticed anything else that feels squashed besides that yet. I have two bags suitable for 10″ tablets, but this is dwarfed by those bags. It actually fits into my purse, but will need a case to protect it if I put anything else in with it.

(I am totally not a purse-using person unless forced to be by lack of pockets. I actually own two purses, but I’m not sure where the other one is. In a drawer maybe. It would fit in that one too.)

I spent some time downloading the apps I regularly used before and was happily able to get Google+ right out of the market. It also gave me Twitter but not Facebook, and MACU but not ING Direct (my banks). So it’s an odd selection from the market, but better than the gTablet, as I couldn’t get any of those five before.

As I said, I’m still testing it. The worst of the lagging was from the launcher and the Twitter app. I’d been using Tweetcaster before for Twitter, preferring it to TweetDeck on Android, so I just loaded that on instead, and it seemed to be better. I also have no idea what some of the preloaded apps do yet, but I have some time to find out. I wonder if I can delete them if I don’t want them?

Google+ – What’s Missing

Not long after my last blog about Google+, I realized I missed a few things. While it takes hints from Facebook and Twitter, and lessons learned from Wave and Buzz (though I never used Buzz), it’s missing a lot of things. Hopefully some will be added; we know that some things are in the works already.

In no particular order, except that the Twitter comparisons are first…

1. Verified accounts. There are a lot of celebrities on Twitter. There are even more fake celebrities. I’ve seen posts questioning Mark Zuckerberg and Nancy Pelosi profiles on Google+. How will we know if they’re real or fake? Mark was verified via Twitter. Felicia Day posted her own G+ profile on her verified Twitter account. Twitter seems to have stopped verifying, but enough celebs are around to let us know about the newer joiners. G+ needs to get a handle on this.

2. Muting. This is kind of a feature in Twitter, but G+ needs it. Sometimes I may want to mute one person for a while without removing them from my circles or blocking them. Another option that would be great is even more selective muting. When Felicia Day posts something to Twitter and gets 200 comments, I don’t see them unless I deliberately search for them. She has 30k following her on G+ already. I would like to see her posts but not see any of the comments unless I choose to view them.

3. Events. Google already has a Calendar, so they need to integrate it into G+. I noticed that my Calendar doesn’t show the +You link or the notifications in the toolbar, but someone said that his does. Maybe they’re still working on it.

4. Businesses. G+ accounts are specifically for individual people. There are no fan pages like FB and no business pages. They say this is in the works, though many business have already created accounts. Will they make it easy for them to switch to business accounts?

5. Photo Uniformity. Adding a photo album is easy; adding more photos to an existing album looks like it will be simple too. A few people have needed help finding where to upload their profile photo (under Edit Profile). Adding photos onto your profile page is kind of a nightmare compared to uploading to an album. There was no drag and drop and the “manage” option took me to Picasa, which I’ve never used, and even when I put photos in the Scrapbook album, they still didn’t show up until I fought with G+ some more. It needs a little more consistency with the various ways of uploading photos.

Also, when I uploaded an album, in one view, they appear in the correct order while in another view, they appear in the order they finished uploading, which is out of order.

Felicia Day uploaded an album in a way that posted each one to the stream separately and she had to apologize for spamming everyone. But that might have been entirely due to the third party app that she used.

6. Exclusions. This is something that FB has. If I post something and want to share it with all circles except one, or hide it from one person, I have to individually choose every other circle or every other person instead of just specifying not to that one.

7. Games. Currently. I understand these are coming so enjoy it while it lasts. Hopefully G+ will have a way to block games better than FB, where you have to block every game and every quiz separately. I think I have hundreds if not thousands blocked. If G+ can do a block all games option, that would be nice.

8. Edit, delete, disable comments. This is not missing. When you leave a comment anywhere, you can easily find the “Edit” option. But if it’s your post, the problem is finding the edit option because it’s a tiny, light gray button on the right of the post. People keep asking how to edit. There are more options in there too. Maybe they should make it a blue arrow?

9. Instructions and Updates. Wil Wheaton asked how to show who is in some of his circles and not others. He probably has about 100 replies, many with instructions to do exactly what he wants. Instead of following all the Google employees, maybe they should have set up one account to announce as they changed things. I didn’t remember seeing that functionality, but I know I have seen some changes the past two weeks. Maybe they’ve changed something I was looking for but I haven’t gone back to look for it. If they announced all updates somewhere, that would be nice. Or is there a blog with all of it? Does anyone know? I need instructions to find the updates.

So far, I have only noticed one person complain about privacy issues. G+ suggested friends to him and he kind of freaked out that it would know who he knows. But Facebook does the same thing based on who your friends know; I think he’s never seen that on FB. I have been invited to a Huddle, so I got to use that. It’s a slow, quiet huddle, but cool nonetheless. I’ve used the Hangout a couple times and used the chat function because a friend’s computer is in the dark ages with no microphone or camera. (The chat function was basically Gtalk in the browser. My Gmail tab picked up some of the conversation, Pidgin connected to it also.)

Now, if someone would just teach Google to open up their market to ALL Android devices so I could easily upgrade the app they just upgraded. (Both Twitter and Facebook recently updated their apps and I can’t get those either.)