Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Genealogy in Unity Mode

Having recently purchased a new 27" iMac, I have been slowly migrating all of my data and projects from a Windows-based desktop to this new environment.  Not wanting to create total havoc, I've taken the migration process more slowly than some, moving files in bits and pieces, learning the iMac and iWork programs before using them exclusively, and carefully choosing which programs I can completely  leave behind.  So far, so good.

Since all of my genealogical research notes and data have been stored in Windows using Windows-based software, I considered my options for transfer of these files quite carefully.  I presently have data in three different programs--Ancestral Quest, Roots Magic, and Legacy--all Windows-based programs. While I have heard good things about Reunion for the Mac, I have yet to try it; my initial impression of MacFamilyTree is that it doesn't have strength of sourcing and other important functions; and I have yet to try the new Family Tree Maker for Mac by Ancestry.com.  That said, my first goal was to simply be able to do the same things on the Mac that I was able to do before, without a lot of trauma in the transfer.

The answer for me came by running both Windows and Mac programs on the iMac in a virtually seamless environment.  Using VMWareFusion, I installed Windows 7 as a virtual machine on the iMac.  I know some die-hard Mac users would panic at that thought, but it really is quite comfortable.  I have it set up so the Mac and Windows share the same files, eliminating the need to look in multiple places and making the transfer much easier.  And by running VMWare in Unity Mode, I have a completely seamless environment on my screen, a nice Mac dock at the bottom, with a Windows dock extended to the right and left.  The screen is large enough to have the internet browser open on the left, my database software open on the right, and an electronic research log open in the background.  I am in genealogical heaven!  Not to mention the fact that my iCalendar, iMail, iChat, and Skype are all right at my fingertips as well.

That said, I have run into a few glitches in the process.  For instance, I had two family trees open in RootsMagic, one to export a GEDCOM and another to add and edit facts and sources.  While I could literally only perform one task at a time, I did somehow manage to get the system confused such that about one hour of work was lost in RM, something I promise you should never happen based on how the program is written.  Therefore, I can only assume it has to do with my multi-tasking, shared-file on the Mac approach.  After all, none of these Windows-based software programs are written to function in a Mac environment.  For that reason, I have changed to a more safe approach: 1) having only one database open at a time, 2) closing the database each time I finish with it, and 3) actually exiting the software rather than minimizing to the dock.  The last two actions assure the database is not open for use, action, or confusion.  For now, I believe that has solved my problem.  And I'm back to running my genealogical software programs in heaven mode.


Thursday, September 30, 2010

Fun Software to try.

Just back from the good old US of A with some fun software to play with here in India. While in the states I picked up Family Atlas, a genealogy mapping and publishing software, as well as GenSmarts, an automated research assistant.  Both were easy to load and initiate into my research.  I really enjoyed the mapping program, as I have always wanted to see the trail my family followed after coming to the United States. You can then print the maps in PDF.

The research assistant hasn't provided any new yet but then I have only played with on a very well researched line.  I am hoping that it will help me document some of the lesser researched lines. The two programs can be found here:  http://www.rootsmagic.com/family-atlas/ and for GenSmarts  http://www.gensmarts.com/ . One of the things about GenSmarts is that you can try before you buy.  I always appreciate it when a company has enough confidence in their product to let you try before you get out your credit card.

I also thought that the tutorials were very helpful and well done, after watching them I was able to jump right in and use the software.  In fact, I need to run so I can use it some more.  Have a great day!


Monday, September 27, 2010

Free Webinar and Online Course for Newbies

Family Tree University has just announced a free how-to course for beginning genealogists.  Discover Your Family Tree:  Genealogy for the Absolute Beginner will focus on "how to begin, where to look for information to extend your family tree, what to do with what you find and how to put it all together". 

The course begins on October 11th and continues for two weeks.  It is touted as providing self-paced lessons, quizzes or exercises to check your progress, and email feedback from an instructor as well as message board discussions with the instructor and other students in the class.

In addition to the on-line course, Family Tree University is offering a free webinar: 10 Steps to Discover Your Roots:  How to Get Started in Genealogy.  The webinar is targeted toward those who are completely new to genealogy as well as those that have dabbled a bit or need a "refresher".

The live webinar will be held on Saturday, October 16, 2010 from 2:00 - 3:00 pm Eastern Daylight Time (don't forget to adjust your calendars for your local time).  Pre-registration required.

Interested parties may register for both.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Newbie Post

OK, so I'm a "newbie"; not in the genealogical research realm, but in the blogging world.  Other than reading the blogs of others occasionally, or watching the feeds on blogs related to genealogy scroll past my eye on the screen, I'm as green as they get.

It is an awkward stage but one I'm not unfamiliar with.  After all, I probably personally raised the national average for the number of times an adult changes careers in their lifetime.  That is another story.  The point here being that as one embarks upon learning something new, there is always what feels like a very steep learning curve.  Then it gets better over time, and we begin to build on the foundation we have built along the way.  At some point in time, we are able to share with and help others, and amazingly enough, as has occurred at least once in my life, we might become an "expert" (which, by the way, a former colleague says is just a drip under pressure).

Blogging is like that for me.  Mary Jane had to literally sit me down at the computer and tell me where to point and what to click on in order to get started.  Not unlike my first experience with Facebook, where my daughter did the same thing.  I consider myself fairly computer-literate, but on these two fronts, I'm back at building that foundation.  I don't foresee myself becoming a blogging expert any time soon, but I'm really looking forward to this project....where we share our genealogical experiences and escapades from two different perspectives and two different places in the world.

I'm sure in the process, I'll learn something about blogging.  And hopefully any readers we have will find something to help them with their genealogical research.  If nothing else, it will be great fun.