Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Genealogy Apps



I've been MIA for a bit. I was in the middle of refinishing my son's 50 year old Maple Harmony House dresser and nightstand and painting his room to try to give him a "big boy" room for his birthday. Between that and school, and ministry stuff,  my time allotted to digging for dead people has shrunk a bit. I'm happy to say I am finished! At least with the dresser. What was old is now new again! (Kind of like genealogy right?? Right?)

Tada! This is where I've been instead of digging around my family tree......


         







 ANYWAY

 I got a new phone. iphone. My very FIRST iphone.


Yeah, Who cares. I know.


 BUT



 In my in between time I've searched for a few genealogy apps to add to my new toy. And since I've had nothing to share lately, I'd like to share what I've found with you.

                                                            



  Billion Graves App.  

                        This is the one I have used the most so far. I have to say I love it. It's linked up to it's website Billiongraves.com . With the app, using your GPS it locates cemeteries close to your vicinity. And it shows how many graves from that cemetery have been contributed, if any, and where they are. Below is a snapshot of the app.  The app keeps all your photos separated by which cemetery they were taken at.

                           
         So pick your cemetery (or add one if it isn't listed yet) and when you begin taking photos of the graves there, it automatically uploads them to the Billion Graves website where they await transcription, either by you, or a volunteer. (you can help transcribe others' photos too). And the GPS in your smart phone maps each picture so when someone comes across a relative, they can see exactly where they are resting. It also gives you the option to link pictures together when taking them, which is useful for family (grave)sites or when you have a large tombstone to photograph, and you want to keep it with a close up that has the inscriptions on it clearly.
                          It's so easy. You just take the picture and it basically takes care of itself. You also have the option of saving these pictures to your camera roll on your phone, so you can upload them to other grave sites (ok, that sounds weird....) grave WEB sites, like findagrave. The more the merrier! :) ...or if you don't want all the pictures hogging space on your phone, you can choose to have them automatically deleted after they've been uploaded to the website.

      From the Billiongraves.com, (Which you can reach from your smartphone) you can find photos waiting for transcription. Sitting in the Dr.'s waiting room? Hey, contribute a few transcriptions! Waiting in the car for your child to finish football practice? Oh look, free time, let's transcribe some stones for someone! Got caught by the red light on your way to work? ..... ok, just kidding. :)  But it's the whole goodwill/pay it forward that makes the genealogy community so special, RIGHT at your finger tips. Yay! I dig this app.





       And speaking of the whole goodwill/ pay it forwardness the community embraces, Familysearch.org has an indexing app

               
Sign in to your familysearch.org account (or create one... it's free) through the app.
Choose the indexing icon on the bottom, and a little snippet will pop up for you to transcribe. You have the option of viewing only the little snippet, or viewing the entire document by the two icons at the top of the screen.
     The app keeps track of all you've transcribed under the "history" section. (although it doesn't currently link up to what you may have already indexed through the main website.) 
      In the settings section, you get to choose the difficulty level of the pieces you are indexing. This gives the app an almost game or puzzle like quality, as you get to challenge yourself here a bit if you'd like. Kind of a neat aspect. (I'm sticking with the Easy level. I get anxiety trying to figure out messes of names, thinking I'm going to get it wrong and it will be filed in a place where an ancestor of the messy named person will never be able to find them in their searching, as I have sent it into some indexing abyss they'll never locate..... )
       Another tiny cool-factor to this, is you can control how many snippets wait in your offline queue. So if you are going to be in an unconnected place for a while and you need your fix, you can change it from 25 to a nice and hefty 500. That'll keep you busy for a while.  :)

    I'm really happy with this app. I feel like it keeps me connected into the genealogy world even if the busy life has kept me from digging up my own roots. I'm still "doing something". And I like that.






Another app I have added is called the Shoebox, from 1000memories. It quickly scans photos from your iphone to add to your album which you can access from your app or the website. You can link it up with facebook, or have people "follow" your shoebox. You have the option to add dates, tags, descriptions or stories/memories that may go along with the picture or the person in the picture. And the site offers unlimited storage. More detail can be found here.


   I have used photobucket to store a lot of family photos, but I like the way the  items on 1000Memories are displayed much more.
    A down side I have found with this is that it's difficult to accurately label a document that's uploaded as a photo. (Like a birth certificate saved as a Jpeg.). It gives you the ready made fields of information to fill in like Who, When, Where, which doesn't really work when you've got a document. And then it looks goofy when you try to just put the document info into those slots. Not very nice and tidy. BUT it does keep all your stuff available online in an appealing way, making it easy to share with who you choose. (or everyone... you can fix that up in your settings.)

   I would explain more, but someone who should be napping is crying so mommy must go see which one it is. :)

     If you've tried any of the apps, let me know what you thought of them. Do you have any other genealogy Apps you have found useful? I'd love to hear about them!

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