Am back from a great vacation, and my head is spinning. I want to share my travel photos with family and friends, and it occurred to me that the easiest way to do that would be to simply post them online. A little investigation led me to Google's free photo management program, Picasa (which I already use in other ways), and the discovery that it has a feature called "web albums."
Why am I telling you all this? Well, the applications are not just limited to "what I did on my summer vacation" (actually it was autumn at my destination, New Zealand). Family photos, documents and charts – in fact, anything that can be treated as a graphic – could be posted in an album of this sort, complete with captions.
I will let you know how my efforts turn out, once I get those pictures off the digital camera and sorted out, determining which ones are best for display.
Another idea has been rolling around in my mind recently. Trips to libraries for research used to involve carrying loads of folders and notebooks, filled with charts and family group sheets. And good luck finding the elusive surname that "sounds familiar." I have actually seen people using wheeled carry-on bags to transport their material. I was happy to get a laptop computer a few years ago, just so I would not have to do that. It was so easy to access my genealogy data and type in notes and references. But security is an issue, even in benign places like libraries. I had to use a cable to lock the computer to the desk or table, then undo it and place it in a locker if I left the premises temporarily. I realized I took very few notes, preferring to use the copier or my digital camera to get an image of the source itself. The brief references I wanted to keep were just as easy to write out by hand as to type in.
This realization made me wish for a way to get access to my genealogy program's data without having my own laptop at hand. There are PDAs, those little personal assistant devices, which can hold all sorts of data, including genealogy material. But I was reluctant to buy yet another electronic item which would be outmoded in a matter of a year or two or three (I still don't have a cell phone).
Then, Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter came out today with an article that rang my bell! The editor, Dick Eastman, discussed at length a program called PedigreeSoft.com, which promises to store one's genealogical data online, making it accessible wherever a computer is available. I have not tried it yet, but here is what Eastman said:
"I took PedigreeSoft.com for a test drive this week and must say that I am impressed with it. I started by creating a free account and then uploaded a GEDCOM file. Within seconds, I had a fully-populated genealogy database waiting for me to use..." [GEDCOM, as you probably know, is a standard means of transferring genealogical data.]
The PedigreeSoft application works on Windows, Macintosh or Linux operating systems, and sounds almost too good to be true. It seems it would also be a useful additional alternative for backing up your data, always an important issue.
There is a free account, limited in size but useful as a demo. Then there are three levels of subscription accounts, according to Eastman. The Standard account costs $19.95 a year, allowing for five separate databases and up to 250 people in each. The Deluxe costs $39.95 annually, and allows for ten separate databases, with up to 5,000 individuals in each. The Deluxe level costs $69.96 and allows for 50 separate databases and unlimited numbers of individuals. I think I'd be very happy with the Deluxe program.
The article can be read at www.eogn.com, in the April 1 issue, and that's not an April Fool! ##