Category Archives: Conferences

IAJGS 2019, Part 3

Day Five

I began my day in Carole Vogel’s session about creating a town-wide genealogy. Currently indexing all the vital records for a city puts me in a good position to create such a project, so I’ve been considering it.

I continued to shmooze and whatnot until my second presentation in the late afternoon about CSI: Crowd Sourced Indexing. I was in the big ballroom this time and had ten people. I wasn’t expecting a huge crowd, so it was fine. If IAJGS actually had a society day like FGS or a society track, then I might get more people interested because CSI is for societies and SIGs rather than individuals.

Day Six

I started a little earlier than on other days for the last day of the conference, having found a few sessions of interest on the last day. Patricia Edmonson spoke mostly about dating photos and was interesting. Analyzing photos is not something I usually do.

I finished off sitting in on a session about the Czech Republic, but I pulled out my computer and tuned out the speaker, so I have no idea what he was talking about. I meant to listen.

There was some more schmoozing and saying goodbye, but I had scheduled my flight later in the evening. While trying to figure out what to do, another conference attendee somehow appeared, having almost the same flight time as me and wanting to share a ride to the airport, so we set out together for a few hours to see a bit of the city, hopping on the free trolley. It was good to have the company.

All Finished

And that was it. I fielded additional questions about CSI throughout the conference from a few people and I was some kind of rock star to some people over my first presentation.

I enjoyed seeing my conference friends and making some new ones, especially my cousin. I snuck out in the middle of the week and grabbed a few records I needed in from the courthouse across the street, a very convenient location for that. I got a bit from the Resource Room access, and some things I was hoping to get and din’t find. My flight left Cleveland almost two hours late, but my connection was just the right amount of late that I made it.

And now it’s weeks after the conference when I finally finish this post. I am back into my usual routine at home and the swamp cooler is still leaking. I still haven’t been through my Cleveland photos, so I have one more conference blog post in my plans.


IAJGS 2019, Part 2

Day Three

It was time to give my new presentation. I had a bad feeling about the room they put me in and I was right. When I got there, the room was already full, and I wasn’t late. My session was a fire hazard. I had people sitting up the aisles and standing in the back. I heard from several people that they wanted to attend but couldn’t get in.

So Lesser Known Online Resources was a big hit. I have already submit it to other conferences and maybe I’ll finally be accepted to speak at some of those. People have approached me since that time, for two days so far, telling me they either loved it or couldn’t get in.

I next went to the Litvak SIG luncheon. I have never been to a SIG luncheon before, but since I was forced to buy some hotel food, I chose that one for the speaker and topic, which was supposed to be about archives and digitizing. The overpriced buffet meal was a tiny salad bar. And the speaker had been switched for a different topic. I am not happy about that.

I skipped the next two sessions I’d planned to go to for schmoozing or visiting the Resource Room. I got the gravestone images I wanted but couldn’t find anything I wanted from ProQuest.

I finished the conference day listening to Judi Missel and her brother talk about seven cousins who survived the Holocaust.

Day Four

I began the day at Jennifer Mendelsohn’s presentation. Hers was a beginner level session but had lots of Jewish Next Gen support in the room. It was interesting to hear what she taught from a journalist’s point of view.

I had very few things planned for the day but ended at the Webmaster’s Roundtable BOF. We had a small group, some interesting discussion, and finished early.

Quick Summary

Overall, sessions are going well. Speakers are interesting. Everything related to food is a disaster. Well, the conference food is. Going out to eat with cousins and friends is wonderful.

IAJGS 2019, Part 1

It’s summer again. That means it gets up to about 100 degrees for a while, the weeds stop growing making the yard work a little easier, the swamp cooler leaks and I can’t get anyone to come out to my house to fix it, and it’s time for the IAJGS annual conference on Jewish genealogy.

This year, IAJGS is in Cleveland, Ohio. I have some relatives here somewhere, but I don’t know who they are. I was in contact with one person from this branch of the family, but I didn’t get a response before the conference started to help me contact the ones who still live here. I didn’t leave myself extra time to visit people or tour the city or the cemetery anyway. I usually give myself a few days at these things.

Saturday was for acclimating, walking around the hotel to see what was here, trying to figure out where we could go for food all week. And the conference began on Sunday, as it always does.

As the years have gone by, I’ve tended to go to fewer lectures, but as we head in to the third day, I’ve gone to a few good ones, even some repeats from previous years.

Day One

Ron Arons has updated his lecture with some newer content and a new title. I first heard Avrohom Krauss talk about landsmanshaftn research years ago and I think this was the first time I went to his presentation in person.

The keynote was fun, as it usually is. One thing IAJGS seems to do well is find good opening keynote speakers. This year, Daniel Goldmark spoke about Jews in popular music. There were a lot of them.

The presidents’ reception was on the top floor of the hotel. It had a nice view.

The opening reception was different this year. It wasn’t right after the keynote or free, but at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I wasn’t impressed, with what I saw at the museum or the terrible way they served the food. Apparently there are six floors of the museum. Me and friends walked around one floor and then left for dinner.

Day Two

I began my second day in the Belarus SIG meeting where Miriam Weiner spoke about her research there. I worked for her in my first year of being a professional genealogist and was happy when see she remembered me at the reception the day before.

Walking around at random after, I found myself standing in front of my cousin. We just discovered each other a couple years ago through DNA. She’s my father’s second cousin on his biological side. We sat and talked for a bit before splitting up for some sessions. I’ll be seeing her more.

Cousins Elise Friedman and Hariette Gershon spoke about their Palevsky research and a global surname study. I was hoping for some tips on the ones I’m planning on. I have or have plans for three at this point: Mularzewicz, Nosatsky, and Feldstein. One of those names is going to be a lot more work than the other two, so it might get put off for longer. In the Palevsky case, they had more than one person working on it.

I skipped a couple meetings to see an Ava Cohn presentation on identifying photos. I keep missing her and she doesn’t get recorded, so I made sure to get to one this year.

I had dinner with a friend in the hotel and then back for the JewishGen session. They’re getting a new web site, finally, was the main take-away. That didn’t sound as exciting to me as people made it out to be. They announce the really exciting stuff when I’m not there. Or maybe it’s sitting through the whole meeting that makes it not as exciting and just hearing the highlights after is quicker. The reception after was on par with the opening reception, in how disappointing and disorganized it was.

Quick Summary

So far, so good. I’ve enjoyed all the presentations I’ve been to. The food has been a mess — I’ve heard other stories too. And it’s good to see some of my friends that I only see at genealogy conferences.

IAJGS Conference – Summer 2018 Trip, Part 2

After my family reunion in Maine, I headed out to Warsaw, Poland for the IAJGS Conference on Jewish Genealogy. The two events fell on the same weekend. I missed two days of the conference. Because of that, I felt like the conference was just starting as it was actually ending.

It’s good to be the webmaster because I have access to the On Demand videos, so I will be able to watch the opening session and any others that I missed that were recorded. I’d consider buying them if I didn’t already get them. The opening sessions are usually really interesting.

I met a cousin at IAJGS this year. It’s not easy for Ashkenazi Jews to research enough to find fifth cousins, but I did that during this past year. Sady, I did not get to meet him. He was visiting with his mother and went home before I arrived in Poland. But I did get to meet my fourth cousin, once removed, Myra! We just connected some months ago. She is the first person I have found who attends IAJGS conferences who turns out to be my cousin. I have lots of DNA cousins, but we’ve never found the genealogy connection. She’s also my first confirmed Australian cousin (along with her descendents) and had an exciting story of how her ancestors went from Poland to Siberia and China. Myra found a marriage record and contacted the people in the JewishGen Family Finder with the new-to-her surname, Mularzewicz. And because of her diligence, we also made contact with three people in another branch of our family that we found online too.

I gave two presentations, went to a few SIG and BOF meetings, and attended just a few other lectures. I reprised Search as an Art on Friday and a new session called Three Adoptions and an Ethical Dilemma was on Wednesday. I think they both went really well. The BOF that I lead, the Webmasters Roundtable, was well attended; much more than I expected in Poland.

At the banquet, I received the IAJGS Award for Outstanding Project for CSI: Crowd Sourced Indexing! IGRA nominated me and made me an honorary member after the conference.

I don’t usually get a lot of photos from the conferences because my cameras don’t do well indoors, and I’m picky about good pictures. Also, crowds-at-conferences pictures never turn out the way I hope.

IGRA folks shared some other pictures that include me, but I’m just posting the ones from my camera here.

RootsTech 2018

RootsTech took place last week. I have attended every year; living in Salt Lake County makes that easy. In the early years, I was a regular attendee and probably blogged a lot more. In more recent years, I have spent most of my time in the Expo Hall in the IAJGS booth. (Last year, I was in the Innovator Showdown and had my own booth for CSI.)

Robinn Magid and Ken Bravo, IAJGS
Robinn Magid and Ken Bravo, IAJGS

This year, I again spent the week in the IAJGS booth. Once again, many people approached our booth with stories of finding that one Jewish ancestor and wanting to know where to go, or they have a small percentage of Jewish DNA. A few of those stood out and I wanted to share them.

One of the first people to approach us Wednesday night said she had .2% Jewish DNA. She went on to say that a bunch of cousins had the same percentage, and it may have been 2% rather than the two-tenths the story started with.

Another one had some interesting results where she showed me that her father was 2% Ashkenazi, her mother was 11% Mizrahi (Iraqi/Iranian Jew), and she was 6.4% Ashkenazi. I recommended she ask at the MyHeritage booth, since those results came from their site, and I went over to ask about it myself.

One person said that her father had 2% and her mother had none, and she had 4% Jewish, so it must have skipped a generation. We tried to explain that that’s not possible. You can’t inherit DNA that your parents didn’t have, but she insisted it was like other traits that not everyone gets (like hair color).

The Tree came by our aisle a few times
The Tree came by our aisle a few times

I was invited by MyHeritage to a focus group session to talk about DNA testing. We had a small group of four participants. We ended up speaking more about the ethnicities than the matches, but I have had some great match results. It’s just how we answered the questions.

I visited a few of the other vendors for various reasons, including the Italian Genealogy Group, where I made sure to mention that I had 3% Italian DNA, according to MyHeritage. :-)

All in all, we had a good time talking to people about their possible Jewish family and trying to help them, directing them to our upcoming conferences and their local societies. As always, many Utahns stopped by and we hope to see them someday at Utah JGS meetings.

I attended the closing performance at the conference center, which was lovely. And the blogger party at DearMyrtle’s is always a great way to unwind at the end of a hectic week.

Pretty good seats in the Conference Center
Pretty good seats in the Conference Center

And then, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the live streamed videos were available immediately after the conference. They had eliminated the Innovator Showdown for an Innovation Showcase, which was nothing like what they advertised it as. I didn’t see them showcasing any programs but instead they had conversations about technology. I ended up skimming and skipping much of it.

I didn’t see the new DNA Innovator Showdown in the videos, so maybe they didn’t stream it. I watched the main keynotes first and enjoyed them. Henry Gates had a similar presentation to what he did last year at IAJGS. Scott Hamilton told a wonderful story.

I plan to watch a few more of the videos from various lectures, but it was time to finally publish this post.

DearMyrtle's Blogger After Party
DearMyrtle’s Blogger After Party

 

PWMF Innovation Award – Thank you Gesher Galicia

In my haste to write a conference blog post, I missed one of the big highlights of the week.

PWML Innovation AwardAt the IAJGS Conference in Orlando, I received the Pamela Weisberger Memorial Fund Innovation Award from Gesher Galicia for CSI: Crowd Sourced Indexing.

“The Innovation Award given in her memory is to recognize outstanding individual contributions that shape the future of genealogy research.”

I am honored to be the first recipient of this award, which is a $2,500 prize in addition to the lovely trophy in the photo.

Pam Weisberger was a friend of mine since 2006 and she is greatly missed.

IAJGS 2017

I intended to blog a few times during the week, but here I am, back home from the conference.

As usual, I didn’t really make it to very many presentations this year. I went to my own, the two major keynotes, several meetings, a couple films, and I popped into a couple sessions briefly.

I think my lectures went well. The crowd was a reasonable size for my presentation about CSI: Crowd Sourced Indexing, which was immediately followed by the IAJGS Management Series session where I spoke about the same thing along with Daniel Horowitz and Shipley Munson who both spoke about indexing. My presentation on Search as an Art went well, though it had a smaller crowd than the previous two years.

The keynotes were excellent. I missed the mid-week one, which I was told wasn’t so great anyway. It was on Live!, so I can watch that later if I want. (It’s good to be the IAJGS webmaster.)

Avrami Groll did about a day of history presentations. I caught most of the one he did last year where he told a folklore story that I wanted to hear again. I amazingly happened into his session this year just before he told it again.

I had a few films in my schedule this year, which I haven’t paid much attention to for years. I ended up seeing two of about four or five I had marked, so that was good.

A late night visit to the Resource Room (which wasn’t even locked that night, whoops) revealed a gravestone for someone I’d been searching for. I need to follow up to verify it’s the right person, but I’m pretty sure it is.

Tuesday was my birthday and I got lots of birthday wishes throughout the day. A group of us headed to EPCOT that evening and that was a blast.

After the conference, I hung out with my best friend from college. He brought me to karaoke the first evening and an escape room the next day before dropping me at the airport. What a great ending to the week!

I owe photos to people so here are some of the best ones. Plus a few bonus ones from Facebook.

I had fun.

I’m Still Here

Did you miss me? Holy cow, have I been busy.

A woman approached me rather oddly a month or more ago at the Family History Library. She returned a couple times and finally figured out she recognized me from my blog, and mentioned she liked reading it.

“Thank you. I haven’t written in a while.”

But that was OK with her.

I wanted to write just after that, and yet I didn’t. One of the difficulties I have with this blog is that I often write posts that take a long time, like the Nitpicker’s Guides to WDYTYA, but I feel guilty spending so much time writing on my blog when I’m behind on my client work, most especially writing their reports. I haven’t been behind for a bit, but I’ve been busy helping the IAJGS Conference.

That’s right, they pulled me in again.

So tonight is my flight to that conference. I’m just taking a random few minutes in the middle of packing and last minute prep to write a quick note to my readers. I’m sure I have some left. You wouldn’t have deleted me from your feed if I disappeared from it. :-)

And, as always when this happens, I will try to write more. I have a conference next week, so that should give me something to write about. Maybe some short bits. Those are easier to write and publish anyway.

OK, back to the prep work. My main computer is a desktop, so there are things I can’t do once I leave. See some of you in Orlando.

RootsTech 2017 Wrap-Up

I have attended every RootsTech conference. For the past couple years, I’ve mostly spent my time in the Expo Hall at the IAJGS booth. This year’s RootsTech experience was quite different for me than all other years.

This year, I was a semifinalist in the Innovator Showdown for CSI: Crowd Sourced Indexing.

I spent much of Tuesday in Provo at BYU for the Family History Technology Workshop. It was my first time attending that one-day workshop and I spoke about CSI. That evening was the RootsTech Media Dinner. I’d never been invited before. The semifinalists were set up around the room to demonstrate our entries, but I didn’t feel like a lot of people were interested in that. We had some showdown rehearsal time afterwards.

The next morning, we started at 7am. I was joking about being up at the crack of dawn, but it was actually before dawn. And just for fun, I ended up on the red train and got my morning exercise, running around in the dark to get to the convention center. We received a schedule that morning which filled the entire day.

The semifinalist showdown was at noon. While it seemed like they were hyping it up to make us more nervous, I was only worried about going over my two minute time limit. I put my entire script right into the Powerpoint and just read it. If I started improvising, I always went well over the time. When I finished, I finally looked down at the clock and it was at 0:00. I have no idea how long I may have gone over, but judging by my practice runs, it was probably only seconds at most.

The finalists were to be officially announced at the party that night, but we had a secret meeting at 2:30. Where I previously had the entire afternoon full, I was suddenly free, as I was not chosen as a finalist. It was good that I had another booth to help with to get me out of the convention center; I only had to deal with a couple people who asked me what was next for the showdown, when I knew it was already over for me.

I spent the next three days at my table in the Innovator’s Alley talking about CSI. I had a lot of comments from people saying I should have been in the finals. I agreed with them. :-) Many asked about the program and if it could do certain things. I already had a lot in mind to add to the program and they gave me so many more ideas.

I went to the showdown finals but just long enough to vote for the People’s Choice. I heard who won a little later. I think it says something when the People’s Choice did not win any other prize. The people and the judges were not judging by the same rules. The questions from most of the judges were about business structures and money, and some really basic things about the genealogy industry that they didn’t understand, but the contest is called Innovator’s Showdown. I think FamilySearch needs more genealogists among the judges and fewer random entrepreneurs who know nothing about what is innovative in genealogy.

I enjoyed the evening events, the Wednesday night party, the Thursday night music event at the Conference Center, the MyHeritage party Friday night, and the blogger dinner hosted by DearMyrtle to finish off the week on Saturday.

All in all, even though I didn’t win, it was a good experience. I got some good exposure for CSI and a lot of people are interested in using it. That said, I have a lot of programming to do.

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 http://csi.idogenealogy.com/ 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: http://idogenealogy.com/2016/12/16/introducing-csi-crowd-sourced-indexing/.