The main feature on Wednesday was the Innovator Showdown with its prize of $100,000 at stake. The 12 semi-finalists had been chosen from the 40 teams that entered, and today in front of 5 judges they presented the technology ideas they’ve come up with to the Judges and the audience in the room. Each contestant was given 2 minutes to make their pitch, and then faced a few minutes each of questioning by the Judges on matters such as how do they see their idea growing, how it might be scaleable, how it might make money.

There were some quite interesting ideas, although a number of them seemed to be all related around the theme of journaling and recording family history.

1 – famicity [website | presentation] – presented by a French developer as a way to preserve family pictures and legacies

2 – GenSoup [website | presentation] – presented by an Austrian development team as a way to research and document Central and Eastern European family history. (One tidbit from this was that Captain Von Trapp – yes, that one from The Sound of Music – was not Austrian, but was Italian?!)

3 – JRNL [website | presentation] – a way to bring together blog posts, twitter, Facebook posts into a curated environment where the user can choose what to put in to a journal that will record a person’s life

4 – Kindex [website | presentation] – a service that will offer scanning and transcription of a person’s memorabilia – photos, letters and other items with a view to creating a journal – family members can work together to create the journal, but Kindex does the scanning and transcription.

5 – Tap Genes [website | presentation] – Health legacy and family future can be analysed – the example given was the preventative surgery (double mastectomy) Angela had, where so many of her other family members have died of cancer.

6 – The History Project [website | presentation] – Connect, Inspire, Delight – another method of collecting and curating to publish the record of a person’s life.

7 – Ancestor Cloud [website | presentation] – a market place that will match people looking for information in distant places to those able to provide the information others are looking for. Not dis-similar to an entry last year called RootsBid.

8 – Legacy Scribes [website | presentation] – if you inherits a collection of journals from an ancestor Legacy Scribes will preserve and make relevant the contents of them by scanning, indexing and storing in the cloud.

9 – Scribbitt [website | presentation] – social media has changed how people record their lives – Facebook, Twitter, blogs. Scribbitt will help bring this all together in a subscription based service.

10 – Studio (by Legacy Republic) [website | presentation] – have developed a scanner and software capable of scanning album pages, including those under shiny plastic and being able to remove the glare and distortion as it goes automatically, taking 20 minutes to scan and clean up an album rather than many many hours it might currently take

11 – The Family History Guide [website | presentation] – a website offering a lot of resources to help with family history. Currently have users in 88 countries

12 – Twile [website | presentation] – creates a timeline of a person’s family history, or a timeline of your entire genealogy if you feed it a GEDCOM file of your family. Then along that timeline are shown the major events, as well as links to any images or other media you link (by date derived from metadata in images, or manually entered) to the timeline.

After today’s presentation and judging, the 6 finalists for Friday’s Showdown have been chosen. They are Ancestor Cloud, JRNL, Studio (by Legacy Republic), Tap Genes, The History Project and Twile.

My two favourite as Studio (by Legacy Republic) and Twile. If the album scanner is as good as it was said to be it will be some smart technology, and the presentation shown by Twile was very intriguing.

The Innovator Showdown is described on the RootsTech site

 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday 3 February 2016 – RootsTech 2016 – Innovator Summit Day

The day started out shortly after 7am with the trek through the huge Salt Palace convention centre from the entrance right by the Radisson hotel to the far south end where Registration was taking place. Luckily at that hour, on the first day of RootsTech the crowds hadn’t yet formed, so I was able to get in and registered in just a few minutes – the fact that I have only this evening discovered that I was given the wrong Lisa Christensen’s registration ticket and bag not withstanding. (First order of business tomorrow will be to go and return that and try and get the right information for Lisa to attend a couple of the evening social functions.)

First up at 9am was Shipley Munson of Family Search with a welcome and introduction of the day’s two keynote speakers:

Steve Rockwood – CEO of FamilySearch International

Steve talked about his work before coming to FamilySearch with a company that altered the call centre business by coming up with the idea of having the call centre staff work from their homes. He helped develop the “Bidirectional Offsite Phonecall Generator” – the BOPG – or “Bunch of Phone Guts” that allowed offsite call centre workers to answer phones from their homes. Moving on to where family history is now he talked about transitioning from “Facts of the Chart” to “Stories of the Heart”, and instead of trying to bring people in to the family history world, take the family history world to them. Once example he gave would see a personal assistant like Siri being aware of a person’s family history and so able to tell them as they’re travelling that grandfather is buried just a few miles from where we are now, so that family history can enhance travel and other normal activities.

Ken Krogue – Founder and President of InsideSales

Ken Krogue talked about his experience going “from Startup to Unicorn” with his company InsideSales.com and outlined a set of steps that can make your business better focussed and more successful. For one example he showed a picture of a Makita cordless drill and asked what that picture was selling – it wasn’t power tools, or a drill – it was selling a hole – the end result of using the drill. He talked about the “price-quality-speed – pick 2 dilemma”, and noted that Costco seem to have managed to pick all 3. He also had some good points to make on the relative successes of different message media, with blogging now being one of the most successful means of getting a message out, and he talked about the expectations in this modern web connected age of response times – a 39 hour response time doesn’t work any more, but if you can shorten it to 5 minutes you’ll have a 92% closure rate. Ken also talked of the story behind the movie “MoneyBall” about the Oakland A’s baseball team and their turn around in management style to managing almost solely based on player stats and numbers. The top media is blogging, and Content and Distribution are King.

The session ended with an outline of the rest of the day, and everyone dispersing to the first classes, or to just hang around and socialise.

 

Seventh day in Salt Lake City – it’s almost been a week already…

On Thursday I had been given an “FGS Ambassador” ribbon for my name tag by some of the team at the FGS Booth, and Friday morning a message from Laurie Desmarais informed me that I could sit in the Media and Ambassadors area in the Keynote Hall – quite the honour as we’re talking about a block of seats within 10-15 rows of the front right in front of centre stage, and a huge improvement from about 10 rows from the back where I’d sat the previous day. So I made my way in and ended up sitting with Dick Eastman, J Paul Hawthorne, Thomas MacEntee and others with a much improved view of the stage.

Today’s keynote speakers were D Joshua Taylor – President of FGS and Director of Family History at FindMyPast, and then former First Lady Laura Bush and her daughter Jenna Bush Hager.

Josh talked about some of the things FindMyPast is doing, including digitising the records behind PERSI (PERiodical Source Index), and then taking us on a wee trip back in his past, including the tale of how as a young boy he would take the cheese grater and cheese in to his bedroom because he loved grated cheese, and then a connection to a distant relative – one William Heaps –  who was transported to Australia for stealing cheese!!

Dennis Brimhall of FamilySearch introduced former First Lady Laura Bush, and quipped that if he messed up in front of the First Lady it will be recorded in the Presidential Library. (For some reason Friday’s Keynote was NOT streamed live as Thursday’s had been, and Saturday’s would be.)

Laura Bush took the stage next with an interesting address that talked about the years her family spent in the White House – both as a son and daughter-in-law of a President, and then 8 years later as President and First Lady – and the importance of family to their family. Her and President Bush are proud grandparents now, and she noted that Grandpa and Grandma seem to be going out of fashion now – she’s “Mimi Maxwell” and George wants the baby to call him “Sir”.

She talked about the events of September 11, 2001 and noted that they were taken to a location beneath the White House furnished “during the Truman years”. One other thing I scribbled down as she spoke was that she’s had to tell George “Turmoil in East Timor is no longer an excuse to not pick up your socks”. And at the first baseball game at Yankee Stadium after September 11, where President Bush threw out the first pitch, Derek Jeter told President Bush to “be a man – throw from the mound, but don’t bounce it or they’ll boo you”.

The second part of the session saw Jenna Bush Hager come to the stage and interview Laura Bush in a more informal manner that also had a few family tales thrown in.

After the Keynote session was over there was a mad crush to leave the hall and descend on the Vendor/Exhibitor Hall.

I spent a short while in the Exhibits Hall, and then went back into the main Keynote Hall to watch the finals of the “Innovator Showdown“. Continue reading »

 

After the excitement of Wednesday, Thursday was going to be more of the same, albeit with a slightly later start. The Keynote was to start at 8:30am. At 8:15am there was a loooooooooong line of many hundreds of people still waiting to get their name tags and paraphernalia from the Registration Booth.

The keynote started off with a senior vice-president from Family Search making some introductions. Then the faces of “Genealogy Roadshow” – FGS President Josh Taylor, Kenyatta Berry and Mary Tedesco appeared on stage to talk about Federation of Genealogical Societies and the Preserve the Pensions project, which Josh proudly announced has now reached 50% of the $3,200,000 needed to complete this project.

Dennis Brimhall from FamilySearch then gave a presentation on some of the exciting new things that FamilySearch are doing, and demonstrated the “Museum of Me” which uses a lot of new technology to help people be interested in researching their families. This is well summarised in this article.

The highlight of the keynote was undoubtedly the presentation by Tan Le – a co-founder of the company Emotiv Systems – an Australian electronics company developing brain–computer interfaces based on electroencephalography (EEG) technology. She didn’t talk much about this, but instead told the completely spellbinding tale of her escape from Vietnam as a girl aged 5 years in 1982 with her younger sister, their mother and grandmother, the perils of the journey in a small boat, and eventual arrival in Melbourne, Australia where she grew up and went on to become Young Australian of the Year in 1988 – just wow!!!!! Continue reading »

 

Dateline Wednesday 11  February 2015…

Our 5th day in Salt Lake City (counting the Saturday we arrived), FGS Society Day, and the day before FGS 2015 / RootsTech gets underway.

Up earlier than normal today since I had to get to the Salt Palace in time to check in as an FGS Volunteer, and then be ready to attend the opening session “Focus on Societies Day Opening Session: Successfully Embracing the Future” at 8a.m. That was all accomplished and I took my place in Room 355E with several hundred others to hear what Curt Witcher, Deena Coutant, and Jen Baldwin had to say about ideas for societies. Prior to the speakers, there was an introduction from Josh Taylor and then the presentation of some FGS Awards. There were awards to a number of the people who have put on previous FGS conferences as well as to Illinois and Indiana genealogical societies for their contributions to the War of 1812 Pensions Project and to a couple of groups from New York – the German and Italian genealogy societies. Then a very nice surprise – an award for Me!!! A “Distinguished Service Award to Roger Moffat in recognition of exemplary and outstanding service to FGS Member Society, the Western Michigan Genealogical Society”.

FGS Distinguished Service Award to Roger Moffat in recognition of exemplary and outstanding service to FGS Member Society, the Western Michigan Genealogical Society

FGS Distinguished Service Award to Roger Moffat in recognition of exemplary and outstanding service to FGS Member Society, the Western Michigan Genealogical Society

Then Deena, Jen and Curt made their presentations about the health and growing of societies with some very interesting points made (which currently are several pages of chicken scratch in my notebook). Continue reading »

 

I’m here in Salt Lake City for the combined FGS 2015 / RootsTech with Lisa (and many hundreds of our closest friends). We arrived a few days early so that we could do some sightseeing, and spend time researching at the Family History Library.

Into the second day of research at the Family History Library at Salt Lake City, and things hadn’t been going too well. I had set one mission for this research – to try and prove or disprove Grandma’s assertion that her brother John Robert Dewar “married Gladys Kathleen Plunkett, a relative of a former Governor-General of New Zealand“. Previous research had determined that John Robert Dewar had married Gladys Kathleen Plunkett in Tasmania, Australia in 1911, Gladys’ parents were Robert James Plunkett and Ellen Rogers, who had married in Hobart, Tasmania in 1879. Attempts to find the parents of Robert James Plunkett had been unsuccessful in the past.

The books in the 994.6 section of the Family History Library about Tasmania contained a lot of indexes and listings of records, but nothing helped. Online searches revealed a death date for James Robert Plunkett of 24 March 1931, and I was able to find an indication of his burial in cemetery and undertaker records, but still any hint of his parents remained elusive. They were not named on his marriage certificate or the burial records.

Jenny Joyce of Australia suggested looking at FindMyPast.com since they had digitised some of the vital records from Australia, and sure enough there was a database for “Tasmania Deaths 1803-1933“. But it didn’t turn up the death of Robert James Plunkett. There were death records for 11 people called “Plunk*” (to cover Plunket, Plunkett, Plunkit etc), but none of them were after 1900.

11 Plunket(t)s shown in the Tasmanian Deaths 1803-1933 database. The highlighted line shows the pay dirt line.

11 Plunket(t)s shown in the Tasmanian Deaths 1803-1933 database. The highlighted line shows the pay dirt line.

So I took a look at the entries for these 11 people to see what other information, aside from their name and age might be included – e.g. who was the informant. Starting at the top of the list, the first 5 showed that the informant was the Undertaker (and this was very common on the multiple records on the page. But the 6th image revealed the answer I had been seeking – the death of Jane Plunkett, born 1828, died 1898 was “Robert James Plunkett – Son”. Whoo Hoo!!!!!!!

ANZ_BMD_TAS_007368150_00419

The highlighted entry shows the death of 70 year old Jane Plunkett in 1898. The informant on her death was her son Robert James Plunkett

Robert James Plunkett - Son, Informant

Robert James Plunkett – Son, Lisdillon (a place in Tasmania, Australia).

Image from FindMyPast.com “Tasmania Deaths 1803-1933” http://search.findmypast.com/record?id=anz/bmd/tas/007368150/00419&parentid=anz/au/tas/bmd/d/0000100361

So this adds a generation to what was known. Jane Plunkett is almost certainly Jane Pritchard, who with Robert Plunkett had 3 children:

  1. Eveline Plunkett born 19 Jun 1850
  2. Robert James Plunkett born 10 Mar 1853
  3. Ada Cora Plunkett born 29 Feb 1856

I’ll update the database with details and sources when I get a chance.

The Death Entry shows Jane was born in Liverpool, England in 1828. Now to find out who and from where Robert Plunkett came from.

Whoo Hoo!!!!

 

Dear WordPress Blog

Well it’s been a while since we had a new roof put on our house in October 2012!!! For much of the past several years my “blogging” has been carried out on Facebook where it’s so easy to write a quick status, link up a couple of photos and post it, or to create a photo album in iPhoto and then post that directly to Facebook.

Saturday 7 Feb 2015 saw us on what is becoming a familiar drive – the 3 hours to Chicago O’Hare airport to fly away somewhere – it’s much cheaper to do this than to fly out of Grand Rapids. This time we’re off to Salt Lake City for research in the Family History Library and the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) 2015 conference being held in association with RootsTech put on by Family Search (the genealogy and family history part of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints).

Having left home with about 12″ of snow covering the ground, it was somewhat surprising to see much of the middle of the country devoid of snow – even the mountains around Salt Lake City only have snow on their upper reaches – not a good scene if they were trying to run a Winter Olympics here right now.

Upon arrival, picked up a rental car so we’d have a car for Sunday to be “bloody tourists” and headed off to the Radisson Hotel. Got checked in there and met up with Australian genealogist and blogger Jill Ball and headed out for dinner. The Red Iguana gets great reviews so we walked the mile or so (downhill) to there only to find it was standing room only out on the footpath of people waiting to get in – wait time at least an hour. So we caught the Trax back into town and went to the Blue Lemon for a delicious very reasonably priced meal.

Next up is Sunday. We’re going in the aforementioned rental car to head out of town, on a couple of trips – up in to the mountains to the south to the Timpaganos Caves area and then to Antelope Island – the “island” you can drive to that’s out in the Salt Lake. Stay Tuned!

 

After more than 20 years, the roof on our house was getting a bit tired – the shingles had lost much of the gravel on them, and for some time there had been a few mysterious leaks that I could never completely find. So we bit the bullet and have had the olde shingles torn off and a new roof – with 50 year non-prorated warranty – put up. Day 1 saw well more than half the job done. I set up my two Canon digital cameras with the CHDK software on them to enable the Intervalometer and had them each taking a photo every 60 seconds during the day. I put these together with “Time Lapse Assembler” in to two time-lapse movies at 4 frames per second, so the videos are going at 240 times actual speed. Here they are:

 

 

 

 

The deadline is approaching – on 30 June 2012 Apple is closing down the MobileMe service, including any webpages you have published at homepage.mac.com.

Below are listed the steps I’ve figured out to allow you to move your whole homepage.mac.com website to another server and have it continue working as it has until now with the same designs and themes. This follows on from an earlier post  – http://lisaandroger.com/2010/11/fixing-your-mac-homepage-sites/ describing how to keep them working after Apple made the Pictures folder go away. Hopefully the following steps are in time to help someone else:

  1. Open your iDisk folder on your Mac. This will help you plan what needs to be done.

    iDisk Folder Contents

    Contents of iDisk Folder

  2. Continue reading »
 

Today amidst massive hoopla, overly optimistic expectations, and totally unimagined demand, the 1940 US Federal Census was made available online.

I’m doing my part towards this by helping out FamilySearch Indexing with getting this indexed. I’ve indexed 1 batch so far, and arbitrated 3 batches – first note:

Make sure the “Highlights” are lined up correctly on the page so that they fall on the proper field to be indexed each time.

One of the pages I arbitrated was because Indexer A correctly indexed the 3rd column “Number of Household” while Indexer B incorrectly indexed the 2nd column “House Number” – possibly caused by the “Highlights” grid not being correctly aligned.

Examples of  of this are shown here – click the images to open a larger view

You can adjust this grid by clicking on the View menu and choosing Adjust highlights. This puts a grid over the image and you can grab each of the 4 corners of the grid to get it correctly positioned.

Have Fun!!!

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