Saturday, 24 January 2015

I actively dislike Evernote

"Elephant Crossing" sign

I hate actively dislike Evernote.  There, I've said it.

I started off several years ago with stacks and notebooks and a few tags.  And I didn't dislike Evernote, but I could take it or leave it.  Couldn't get up the energy to hate it.

Then I caught onto the idea of having 100,000 tags instead of 250 notebooks, and went the whole hog and tagged everything in sight, deleting notebooks once they were empty.  And now I loathe Evernote (and I'm not that keen on OneNote, either, before you start).  But others are raving about it, especially genealogists.  I am a real clutterbug at home; I keep EVERYTHING, including old bus tickets, out-of-date magazines, the lot.  So why would I hate something which saves everything you want it to and makes snipping from the web...well...a snip?

Maybe it's because it's so organised.  At home, those old bus tickets can float around and land wherever they want.  Evernote tags 'em, files 'em, makes 'em searchable, and BAM! there's no such thing as clutter any more.  Maybe that's what it is.  It's giving me an inferiority complex.

If you like Evernote - fine.  If it's the most perfect solution in the world to your life's problems - fine.  If you simply couldn't live without it, and don't know what you did before you found it - fine.

So what's wrong with me? Why don't I feel the same way?

© 2015 Ros Haywood. All Rights Reserved

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Genealogy Do-Over Week 3: The Research Log - Use It!

Now that we are in the third week of Thomas MacEntee's Genealogy Do-Over, I feel able to sit back and review exactly what it is that I intend to put into it - and get out of it.  I have been able to read many other people's Facebook comments and blog posts, and compare and contrast (remember those English essays in school? LOL).  And I am surprised - so many people have not cited their sources at all.  Ever.  OK, my online tree at FamilySearch is barely sourced. My online tree at WikiTree is only 90% sourced.  But my tree in my genealogy program at home is sourced to within an inch of its life!

So many people complained about the IGI, how the information on there was Very Suspect Indeed (verging on the completely wrong).  When I started my genealogy with the Church over 35 years ago, you had to have PROOF in your hot little hand, and two independent verifiers to check your work before it could go anywhere and do anything.  So I started with Prove It First tattooed across my brain.  And Cite It Second was a close runner-up.  So that part of the Do-Over does not churn up any fears for me.

What I am going to have to do is follow a Research Log.  A checklist.  A streamlined procedure.  I have always taught my genealogy students to avoid the 'scattergun approach' like the plague, but haven't followed my own advice.  Physician, heal thyself.  My research procedure (and thought process) went like this:

In Theory
Goal: Find Aunty Mary's birth registration.  Note it down (with source).  Send for the birth certificate.
Place: FreeBMD and GRO.

In Practice
Goal: Do some Genealogy.
Place: Wherever life takes me.
Go to FreeBMD, find Aunty Mary's birth registration, note it down (with source).  And while I'm here...Find birth registrations for all her brothers and sisters.  And parents.  And spouse.  And his parents.
Remember that funny anecdote about Uncle Freddie. Open word processor.  Type it out.
Check Uncle Freddie's "To Do" list.  Oh yes, I was going to go to another site to find his death information.  Go to other site.
Check Facebook for new Do-Over posts.  That one looks good, telling everybody about a new World War One site.
Go to WWI site.  Remember a cousin 4 x removed who might be on the site as well.  Yes, he is.  Note him down (with source).  Wonder if he was in the newspaper?  Open FMP site, search for him.  Yes, he was.  Download clipping.
Hmm...clipping.  Wonder if there were any new free books on Evernote today?  Back to Facebook; yes, there were: go to Amazon.  Author of new book is called Smith.  I have a Smith in my family tree.
Go to Sarah Mahelia Smith (3 x great grandmother).  Search for her in all censuses to firm up her background.
And so on.  (Whatever happened to Aunty Mary?)

So my Do-Over is going to be a Do-Over of methodology.  I need to streamline my research procedure; create a checklist.  Like going shopping - it goes easier and quicker if you have a shopping list and stick to it.  My problem is that I love making lists, but rarely stick to them.  (Hmmm.  I saw a fantastic 'genealogy checklist' on Facebook...)

Enter the Research Log, where I can keep in one place a) what I want to do, b) what I did, and c) what I found.  Just love those spreadsheets.

© 2015 Ros Haywood. All Rights Reserved

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Genealogy Do-Over Week 1: Establishing Base Practices and Guidelines

Don't beat yourself up; write things down; make backups

All right, I admit it.  In my previous post, I said that this one would be following 'tomorrow'.  Well, 'tomorrow' would have been several days ago.  And that brings me to my first Base Practice and Guideline of the 'Genealogy Do-Over' proposed by Thomas MacEntee:
  • Don't beat yourself up if you cannot get to your researching/blogging right away.
Maybe you were expecting (even hoping?) to see something more along the lines of research strategies, logs, plans, and checklists.  I will come to them later.   But this particular practice-and-guideline is something which is so basic, it needs to come in at No. 1.  While it may be allowable to be mildly annoyed at the fact that you have to work/go grocery shopping/whatever, which is keeping you away from your research, haven't we all had the experience where we don't do some genealogy, then beat ourselves up about it and put off doing anything constructive for a few days more?  By which time, we have forgotten where we got to, and it takes all our precious genealogy-time just to find the jumping-off point.
  • Don't pretend you are young and have superpowers (any more) - write it down.  Make lists.
You do all that yummy research and find trillions of juicy facts *coughs*, throw it into the genealogy database and go off and celebrate.  Or make dinner.  You come back the next day, and have completely forgotten where you found those trillions.  Or you downloaded a cracking good file, and now can't find it (because it's still called 'GBPRS_DEV_007341934_00046' or 'BL_0000328_18481019_011').  Or you look at your 4 x g grandfather's record and know you were going to look for his birth date, but you can't remember for the life of you where you were going to look... Where are your checklists? Where are your research logs?  Where are your research plans?
  • When you have done your researching/blogging, ALWAYS back it up.
I'm not talking proving-it-with-a-document here (although that's pretty essential, too).  I'm talking about backups, here.  On paper, on an external hard drive, in the name it.  But don't just name it.  Do it.

Doubtless, more base practices and guidelines will make themselves felt over the next 13 weeks of this Genealogy Do-Over.  But that's the whole point.  It's time to stop Knowing.  Slow Down and Start Learning.

© 2015 Ros Haywood. All Rights Reserved

Saturday, 3 January 2015

Genealogy Do-Over Week 1: Preparing to Research

Like others, I got excited at the prospect of Thomas MacEntee's 'Genealogy Do-Over', and immediately flung myself into the first three topics he is covering this week:
  • Setting Previous Research Aside
  • Preparing to Research
  • Establishing Base Practices and Guidelines
Yesterday's post covered the first part: Setting Previous Research Aside, so here's today's:

Part 2: Preparing to Research

Prepare to Research

And this is where I (and, probably, many others) fall down in spectacular fashion.  This is probably why I spend so much valuable research time chasing BSOs (or Bright Shiny Objects, as Thomas MacEntee calls them *grin*).  Not because I am bored, but because I have not prepared well enough.  If I had prepared, then I wouldn't feel the need to go off chasing a better software, a better this, a better that *coughs*.

No, if you prepare beforehand, you shouldn't find yourself spinning in circles because you forgot you needed something.  This is 'futureproofing the past'...

Software I will need
Legacy - for the people; it would take too much time to learn something new
Custodian - to put the sources in and record those unlinked people's sources
Genscriber - to transcribe the censuses, so I don't need to guess again and again
Evernote - to keep the project emails and research logs in
Dragon Naturally Speaking (speech recognition software) - train this up in case my hand gets worse and typing becomes painful

FreeBMD - to get the BMD references from (in case I can afford certificates!)
FindMyPast - to get the parish register info from (images, in some cases)
Google Drive - to backup 'reference library'
Dropbox - to backup Do-over database
Sugarsync - to backup everything

And, if I have time after my full-time job:
FamilySearch indexing
FamilySearch - get those sources in my tree

Part 3: Establishing Base Practices and Guidelines follows tomorrow.

© 2015 Ros Haywood. All Rights Reserved

Friday, 2 January 2015

Genealogy Do-Over Week 1: Setting Previous Research Aside

Like others, I got excited at the prospect of Thomas MacEntee's 'Genealogy Do-Over', and immediately flung myself into the first three topics he is covering this week:

  • Setting Previous Research Aside
  • Preparing to Research
  • Establishing Base Practices and Guidelines
Part 1: Setting Previous Research Aside
There have been many ideas for paper, moving digital files from here to there, labelling things, committing not to look at them and so on.  I realised I was wasting precious Do-Over time reading all the helpful posts on Facebook about what everyone else was doing with their files, and took a good, long, hard look at my files.

I don't actually have too much of this.  The reason is not because I am super-organised and have scanned everything to within an inch of its life, but because, at the point where I was most fascinated by genealogy, I was also unemployed and in debt.  This, unfortunately, continued for years - and meant that I could not afford to go to places and order things and buy things.  So I have ended up with one box of bits of paper, two binders of BMD certificates (from my younger days, when I had money) - and that's pretty much it.

Software, electronic stuff, digital files
Computer mouseHere is my downfall.  I can be researching in a very grown-up way, and as soon as I see a new piece of software/program which helps you catalogue your lists of Great-Aunt Ethel's recipes, I'm there, drooling over the keyboard as I download the free trial.  It is only then that I realise I haven't got a Great-Aunt Ethel...

So, while others are (literally) 'setting aside' their research, I will be 'setting aside' my magpie-like longing for shiny new programs.  I will be turning my 35+ years' worth of research into a reference library, rather than heaving it all into an encrypted folder on my hard drive and throwing away the password.

Part 2: Preparing to Research is for another day.  Might even be tomorrow, if I don't get distracted by the latest-and-greatest genealogy software...*grin*


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