31 March 2015

My photo scanning journey #1: High-speed scanner

Many of you mentioned you have been putting off scanning your old photos for years because you know that scanning photos takes hours, days, weeks, and maybe even months.

That was true a few years ago. Now you can scan boxes of photos in just minutes.

At least fourteen major FamilySearch Libraries have these special scanners available for use.

It is so much faster here that I actually paid for an extra checked bag on my last flight back from my parents' home so that I could fill it with family photos for scanning in the Salt Lake City Family History Library. I have completed scanning all our known extant photos that we had as prints. It took me less than 5-10 days with just 2-6 hours each day, and I went through over 4,600 scans, mostly scanning at the slower rate of 600 dpi for recommended high quality (while 300 dpi is unbelievably fast).

Not all of you will live close enough to Salt Lake, but might live close enough to one of the other major libraries that has these. Ask your local major FamilySearch Library if they have one.

Read about the technology and deal with FamilySearch: http://graphics.kodak.com/DocImaging/MY/en/Industry_Solutions/Photo_Scanning/Photo_Scanning/FamilySearch/index.htm

Here are examples of scans that came out of the high speed scanner from my own family photos:

The author lifting weights
My parents and older brother


These are the same special scanners (among others) that are brought to RootsTech each year for 2-3 years now. If you do not live near a major library, you may want to gather your photos for scanning when you fly in for RootsTech next year (at least you might consider it, RootsTech is a wonderful conference).

If you have a huge project, you might even find it worth renting one of these scanners for a few days. It might be a few hundred dollars, but you will be able to finish your several boxes of photos in just a few days, when you have been possibly waiting years to have time to do it the old fashioned flatbed way.

Note: Oversize and extremely delicate photos will still need to go on the flatbed, but even the paired flatbed (attached to this special scanner) is faster than most other flatbeds. The high speed feeder is delicate enough to handle most photos (including many types of old photos) and even standard newspaper (which is a good example of delicate paper). You may want to test it on some types of paper and photos to get a feel for what it can handle before putting your most delicate items through.

Warning: Other high-speed scanners that were made for scanning documents in an office setting will tear up all photos. Don't assume those will work the same.

This is #1 in a series about my photo scanning journey. Future posts may include how I organize my photos, and turn them into photo books. This project is about recent prints from the 1970s through about 2004, but the same ideas can be applied to old prints in some circumstances.

19 February 2015

My #RootsTech & FGS 2015 impressions

Warning: This may not mean anything to genealogy beginners or even some experts. The following are some of my rough impressions from RootsTech, and some of what I felt were highlights. This is not intended to be authoritative or all encompassing.

Two of the major genealogy conferences in the United States, RootsTech and FGS conference, combined this year resulting in the largest reaching genealogy conference in the world.

This year the theme of the conference (in my opinion) seemed to be big, international, and together.  

I have been attending each year since 2012, so I will not talk as much this time about the free soda, popcorn, and mini-arcade. I will not talk as much about the stellar keynote speakers, the incredible energy of the crowd, or meeting up with other enthusiastic genealogists. Note: These things--even if everything else was taken away--make the conference worth attending every year.

Another major highlight every year for me is the opportunity to hear about the most groundbreaking technology (or collaboration) for genealogy. There is always exciting news, although much of the cutting edge technology is the same discussed during previous years. Some large genealogy organizations announced exciting plans a year or two ago, and these very technologies are still in beta this year. Examples of long-time-still-coming technologies include the new FamilySearch Indexing program, handwriting recognition, and the ability to clean up some large FamilySearch Family Tree profiles that have bad data. The excitement about some of those has worn off a little for me, since they have been promised for two years or more in some instances.  I'll still be excited when the improvements come, but hearing about them each year is less of a novelty.

Now I am much more interested in the collaboration aspect of RootsTech. This year there was a major new theme in the collaboration that was going on, fostered further by the presence of the Federation of Genealogical Societies conference (FGS). Much of the most exciting news (in my opinion) was related to collaboration between societies and societies collaborating with major genealogical organizations. 
  • Affiliate LDS member access for New England Historic Genealogical Society's website
  • BillionGraves Rewards Program for your genealogy society
  • Findmypast Partners with New York’s genealogical society for access to records
  • Robert Charles Anderson of the NEHGS spoke alongside David Rencher of FamilySearch and others, to developers at the Innovator Summit. This panel of society experts and FamilySearch executives encouraged developers to design tools for serious genealogists.
Collaboration falls under the overarching theme as part of together, but often also ties into big and international. Here are some other announcements or items that demonstrate one or more of these themes.
  • Many quoted a figure of 22,000 attendees on the busiest day (Saturday). This surpasses Who Do You Think You Are Live, a conference in the UK that has been reported to garner about 17,000 attendees. More than 150,000 are expected to watch the recordings in several countries worldwide. The recordings are translated into nine additional languages. 170 exhibitors had booths in the expo hall.
  • FamilySearch and FamilyTreeDNA announce partnership at ? "DNA in SLC"
  • 80 million Mexican vital records will soon be available because of our partnership with . Amazing! (Tweeted @FamilySearch)
  • "This fall Ancestry will release more than 170 million name-searchable images of million Probate and Wills records" (Press release)
  • Apps allow reaching a wider international audience: Devin Ashby of FamilySearch says smartphones are Family History Centers of today. BillionGraves testing new Windows app, beta announced during
  • Strathclyde University from Scotland brings a booth about their online genealogy master's degree to the RootsTech expo hall.  
  • David Archuleta sings in Spanish to an audience of some twenty thousand during the RootsTech closing social: http://youtu.be/2wWwXJnV56Q
  • Tan Le, originally from Vietnam, gives one of the best talks of the entire conference http://youtu.be/VK74LRhXaac
  • The Vice President of International for FamilySearch was the person to introduce most keynote speakers
There is a lot more that could be said about RootsTech, and the international collaborations. I hope this conveys the theme in general. The community is growing, and we are learning that collaboration is key to that growth.

For further reading I recommend:
Even all the posts on these blogs and sites cannot cover the experience, but it gives you enough to think about what you might have missed. Even if you attended, you cannot possibly soak it all in.

Note: Looking for themes can be fun. One theme from FamilySearch was partnerships, and one uniquely promoted undercurrent this year was that Indexing powers Hints. Some noted that it was more of a FamilySearch conference than a technology conference--although having FamilySearch front and center is good for the community. They are doing amazing work!

Another blogger noted that nothing too innovative came up in the innovator challenge event--even though the conference is RootsTech. While it may be true that most of the technology was not new, the finalists did present things in new ways that will be helpful to the community. I listed some of the most exciting things (in my opinion) above. These were not specifically part of the innovator day or challenge. Those innovator events seem more like ways to try and get developers started or discuss APIs. A developer who is just starting is unlikely to release huge record collections or never-heard-of technologies that would get serious genealogists jumping for joy. Having 80 million Mexican records indexed by the end of the year is enough to get a serious genealogist jumping for joy though.

FamilySearch, Ancestry, Findmypast and others mentioned a few more features or technologies they have under development. I mentioned a few on my Twitter feed. Some of them are too vague, small, or too early in development to get very excited about right now.

What did you find exciting or as a theme at RootsTech?

22 January 2015

I'm an Accredited Genealogist®!

I'm an Accredited Genealogist®!

See my ICAPGen profile by clicking here.

For those few loyal readers who have been following my blog closely for a couple of years, you will know that I set a goal way back in 2012 to get my AG® credential.

It did not work out that year, as I let other goals and my intimidation of doing such a big project block me from it at the time. I did accomplish some other huge genealogy goals back then.

In 2014 my genealogy employers got behind the idea that I should have the credential. That did a lot to motivate me!

If any of you are struggling in the same manner as I was or have questions about the credentialing process with the International Commission for the Accreditation of Professional Genealogists, please feel free to find me on social media or comment to this post.

By the way, my accreditation region is the Mid-Atlantic US. I chose it because that is the region where I did the most research for the first ten years of my life as a genealogy lover. I do research in other places more often these days. 

Note: I am not accepting clients, but I do like to network/educate.