We’re talking about computers & technology in US-REC Study Group. We have chapters to read in Researcher’s Guide to American Genealogy and in The Source, but honestly, I learn more tech tips from my genea-friends than books could ever cover. So, in the spirit of sharing, here are some of the tech tools I use and how I leverage them for genealogy, if that is not their primary purpose.
Online storage: I have a free Dropbox account that I keep filled up with genealogy photos and docs – particularly those that I might want to access on my phone. Then, of course, there is Tonia’s Roots, which could be considered another form of storage as it has a copy of my genealogy database and most photos and images. I’m also moving more and more of my research notes and plans to Evernote, so that I can access them across various devices.
Backup: I’m a little obsessive about backups, because I have lost stuff before and I have worked too hard rebuilding my files to let it happen again. I use Mozy for automatic backs of my entire hard drive. I also make a manual backup from time to time and store it at my office. Oh, and I keep a copy of my RootsMagic file on a flash drive that is almost always with me.
Phone apps: Evernote and Dropbox (see Online storage above); Gedview, which is just a great tool; Scanner Pro (although honestly, I find myself using this more for work than genealogy); and Ancestry. I also have Tonia’s Roots pinned to the screen, so I can access it with one tap.
eBook Reader: Kindle. In addition to traditional genealogy books, I also convert genealogy journals that I receive electronically to Kindle format, so that I can read them on the go.
Tablet computer: Not yet, but there is an iPad in my very near future.
Text editor/word processor: I use Microsoft Word for traditional word-processing and Notepad++ if I’m doing anything code-related.
Spreadsheet: I use Excel – a lot. Spreadsheets are my go-to resource for anything that needs to be presented in tabular form and especially for information that would be more easily analyzed if it were sorted or filtered.
Downloadable forms: CensusTools – I use a modified version the CensusMate spreadsheets and have used the Census Tracker. Most other downloadable forms I have found are in pdf format, so I usually download forms for ideas and then create my own version in Word, Excel, or OneNote, depending on how I plan to use it.
Screen capture: Windows snipping tool.
Social bookmarking: Diigo is currently my favorite social bookmarking site. I love that I can highlight text when bookmarking.
PDF generator: Bullzip
Podcasts: I love genealogy podcasts! I commute a couple of days a week, so by listening to podcasts, I feel like I haven’t lost those four hours. I listen to the Family Tree Magazine podcast, Genealogy Gems (both free and premium), Genealogy Guys, and have recently added Geneabloggers Radio.
Mailing lists/message boards/online groups: I subscribe to the TNG user group, Rootsmagic user group and Transitional Genealogists mailing lists. I have RSS feeds for the Rootsweb message boards for many of my surnames and ancestral locations. And, of course, the US-REC study group on Facebook.
Online classes/webinars: I have watched several Legacy and FamilySearch webinars and I’ve done some of the online classes available through NGS. I want to watch some of the SCGS webinars, but haven’t worked them into my schedule yet (there is one coming up on February 4 that I really want to see).
Online publishing: WordPress and TNG
This is not an exhaustive list, but I think it covers the main tech tools that I use on a regular basis.
Any suggestions on other things I should try out?