Friday, September 30, 2011

A Comedy of Errors (or How Not to Convert Keynote to PowerPoint)

So you have a presentation that you've prepared in Keynote.  But it turns out you don't have Keynote anymore, your computer crashed, or you want to send it to someone who doesn't have Keynote.  What then?

This was the dilemma when Frustrated Sue ... er, I mean SFSuzi (that's her SecondLife name ... used to protect the innocent) asked for my help in converting her Keynote presentation to JPEG files so she could use them during her SecondLife book club presentation next week.  

First problem: Suzi's Keynote was an old version and would not save her presentation as JPEG files.  Not a huge problem, since I have PowerPoint and it will open Keynote files and can save as JPEG ... or so we thought.

Second problem: Suzi was in the midst of packing to go out of town tomorrow and would not return until Sunday.  (This really didn't seem like a problem at the time since it would only take a couple of minutes to convert these files, right?)

Time check: We started at around 5:30 p.m.

First, Suzi tried to email it to me but it was too big (34MB).  Not to worry!  We created a file in Dropbox and went from there.  Suzi originally gave me the first 4 slides, and it - quite literally - took me 2 seconds to convert them to JPEGs and save them in Dropbox for her to retrieve.  Then we realized that her presentation had 8 slides.  She then gave me the entire presentation (43MB).

So I open PowerPoint and try to open the file from Dropbox.  Nothin' doin'.  PowerPoint does not recognize .key extensions.  Hmmm ... what the heck?  It worked a minute ago.

Off to the internet I go, looking for a Keynote to PowerPoint converter.  I found one.  It redirected me to some Blackberry program that seemed like a scam.  Dead end.

No worries ... iPad to the rescue!  I have Dropbox on my iPad, so I'll just open it on there, convert it to PowerPoint, get back on my PC and open it in PowerPoint, and then we'll have JPEGs.  Nope.  Turns out I don't have Keynote on my iPad.  I can order it for $9.99, but the iPad version doesn't convert files anyway, so what's the point?

I know!  GoogleDocs!  Surely that can convert ANYTHING!  Wanna bet?  Only option it gave me was to save it back to my PC as a .key file.

I was starting to get worried that I wouldn't have this presentation converted before Suzi left town.  I was absolutely not going to let this file defeat me!  SUZI MUST HAVE HER SLIDES!

I recalled a post that Dick Eastman made about LibreOffice, an open source suite of programs much like Microsoft Office.  Maybe I can download that and it will open for me in there.  Nope.  It works JUST like Microsoft Office.  It doesn't recognize the .key extension either.  I had been meaning to download it anyway, so at least it wasn't a waste.

All this technology and no one has figured out how to get Keynote files to open in PowerPoint?  Seriously?

Then I grew a brain.

I realized that the first batch of slides Suzi sent had already been converted to .ppt (which is why it was so easy to make the JPEGs).  So I sent her an email and asked her to convert the presentation to .ppt and drop it back in the folder.  She sent me back an email and said "I thought that's what I sent!  I'll fix it immediately!"  By this time, I'm actually LOLing.  This is Suzi's first presentation, and I offered to help (being the seasoned professional that I am ... see my post about that here).  But it has turned into the blind leading the blind.  She dropped the converted file into the folder, and 2 seconds later I had converted the slides to JPEGs and dropped them back in the folder.

Time check:  8:39 p.m.  (Yeah, that's 3 hours).

Moral(s) of the story:
1. Never try to convert files while packing for a trip.
2. Simple tasks become brain teasers after a long day of work.
3. Genealogists do it until they get it right!

... and to answer my original question, "what then?"  Basically, you better make friends with someone who has a Mac or you're screwed.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

I survived!

My name is Jenny, and I'm a hot mess when it comes to public speaking.  (Hi, Jenny!)  So it makes perfect sense that I would volunteer to do a presentation to a group of people, right?

As I've mentioned before, I am a member of Genealogists in Second Life.  We started a book club in which we are reading The Researcher's Guide to American Genealogy by Val D. Greenwood (2000).  At our meeting in August, the call was made for volunteers to present the next two chapters.  Sometimes I think my mouth (actually, in this case it was my hands because I was typing) reacts before my brain has a chance to catch up ... but I volunteered.  In my mind, it was justified because I only offered to do one of the chapters.  Follow me so far?
I presented Chapter 4 - Evaluation of Evidence.  Given my background as a paralegal, I thought talking about evidence would be right up my alley.  It was a very interesting chapter, to say the least.  It truly gave me a new perspective on how to evaluate genealogical evidence.  I even had nice little PowerPoint slides!

We talked about how we need to be neutral and objective in our evaluation of evidence.  Elizabeth Shown Mills, in Evidence Explained! (2007) says "our role is not to defend or to prosecute.  Our objective should not be to promote any certain image or any particular point - only to discover and explain."

We discussed Greenwood's descriptions of the different types of evidence (direct, indirect, collateral, and hearsay) as well as different types of information (primary and secondary).  Primary information is not always direct evidence, and does not necessarily warrant more weight in your analysis than secondary information that is direct evidence.  James Tanner at Genealogy's Star has several terrific posts discussing evidence and proof in detail.

One of the big points I wanted to make during my presentation was this:
Truly, this cannot be stressed enough.

We ended with a discussion about the standards of proof and the Genealogical Proof Standard set out by the Board for Certification of Genealogists.  

It seemed to go pretty well.  I was glad that we were only in voice chat during the presentation, so no one could tell what a nervous wreck I was.  I have a whole new level of respect for you folks who get up in front of hundreds of people time after time.  I would be a drunken mess.  But all is well ... I survived (thanks to my fellow genealogists in Second Life, who are wonderfully patient).  Now I have to get ready to do my first in-person presentation to my genealogical society in November (yes, another volunteer request).  Seriously, is there a 12-step program for people like me? 

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Sorting Saturday - Honeymoon Postcard

Yep.  I'm still sorting through all the stuff I scanned while visiting my grandmother a few weeks ago. I happened across this scanned postcard that my grandmother sent to her mother-in-law (my great grandmother, Mary Alice Schneider) while the couple were honeymooning at Lake Okoboji, Iowa, in August 1944.  Yes, I had already forgotten about it.

I need to get the story behind my grandfather's apparent foot injury and why my grandmother wouldn't go in the water.  Guess that's something else for the to-do list!

A recent photo (2005-ish) of Lake Okoboji can be found here.  It's a little scary how similar the view is to the postcard above.

Friday, September 16, 2011

What I did for summer vacation

I mentioned earlier that I scanned a bunch of photos, newspaper clippings, and other stuff from my grandmother's photo albums and scrapbooks while I was on vacation a couple of weeks ago.  Well, one of my goals for this past two weeks was to sort and organize all of those items.  Epic failure.  I think I simply bit off more than I could chew.  All told, after I stitched and culled, I think I have somewhere around 250 images.  Nearly all of them have been labeled (the ones I can remember), but I still have to attach them to their namesakes in RootsMagic.  That is taking significantly longer than expected.  Let me explain why ...

I think I have contracted that not-so-rare disorder called Genea-ADD.  The way I have my files set up, in order to put images in RootsMagic, they all get dumped in one folder (the media folder from Family Tree Maker - since that's where they were when I transferred everything).  It turns out that if I dump them all in that folder at one time, I can't remember which photos I've done and which ones I haven't.  See the problem?

So in the process of trying to do the right thing, I've created a whole other set of tasks for myself - design a filing system for my images in RootsMagic, and create the folders to make that design a reality.  Sure.  Piece of cake.

Needless to say, I'm nowhere near done (sorry, Laura!).  However, I wanted to share one photo that I discovered that has become my absolute favorite of all the ones I scanned:
This is my grandmother and my late grandfather at a picnic around the time they were married (1944).  What I love is that this is a candid shot and shows how much fun they were when they were young (that really didn't change all that much as they got older), and how in love they were.  And check out gramma's gorgeous gams! 

There are a lot of photos that I am going to share over the next several weeks, including a surprise about my grandmother that I never knew until I went through those scrapbooks!

Stay tuned ...

Other things I DID manage to get accomplished over the past few weeks:
1.  Registered for the Family History Expo in Atlanta and reserved my hotel room;
2.  Ordered my first microfilm from the Family History Library;
3.  Prepared my presentation on Chapter 4 of The Researcher's Guide to American Genealogy for the Genealogists in SecondLife Book Club.

Monday, September 12, 2011

99+ Genealogy Things

This was originally a meme created by Becky over at kinexxions back in 2009.  I wasn't a blogger back then.  Fortunately she has resurrected it for 2011, so here's my list:

Things you have already done or found: bold face type
Things you would like to do or find: italicize (color optional)
Things you haven’t done or found and don’t care to: plain type

  1. Belong to a genealogical society.
  2. Researched records onsite at a court house.
  3. Transcribed records.
  4. Uploaded tombstone pictures to Find-A-Grave.
  5. Documented ancestors for four generations (self, parents, grandparents, great-grandparents).
  6. Joined Facebook.
  7. Helped to clean up a run-down cemetery.
  8. Joined the Genea-Bloggers Group on Facebook.
  9. Attended a genealogy conference.
  10. Lectured at a genealogy conference.
  11. Spoke on a genealogy topic at a local genealogy society.
  12. Been the editor of a genealogy society newsletter.
  13. Contributed to a genealogy society publication.
  14. Served on the board or as an officer of a genealogy society.
  15. Got lost on the way to a cemetery.
  16. Talked to dead ancestors.
  17. Researched outside the state in which I live.
  18. Knocked on the door of an ancestral home and visited with the current occupants.
  19. Cold called a distant relative.
  20. Posted messages on a surname message board.
  21. Uploaded a gedcom file to the internet.
  22. Googled my name.
  23. Performed a random act of genealogical kindness.
  24. Researched a non-related family, just for the fun of it.
  25. Have been paid to do genealogical research.
  26. Earn a living (majority of income) from genealogical research.
  27. Wrote a letter (or email) to a previously unknown relative.
  28. Contributed to one of the genealogy carnivals.
  29. Responded to messages on a message board or forum.
  30. Was injured while on a genealogy excursion.
  31. Participated in a genealogy meme. 
  32. Created family history gift items (calendars, cookbooks, etc.).
  33. Performed a record lookup for someone else.
  34. Went on a genealogy seminar cruise.
  35. Am convinced that a relative must have arrived here from outer space.
  36. Found a disturbing family secret.
  37. Told others about a disturbing family secret.
  38. Combined genealogy with crafts (family picture quilt, scrapbooking).
  39. Think genealogy is a passion not a hobby.
  40. Assisted finding next of kin for a deceased person (just joined Unclaimed Persons).
  41. Taught someone else how to find their roots.
  42. Lost valuable genealogy data due to a computer crash or hard drive failure.
  43. Been overwhelmed by available genealogy technology.
  44. Know a cousin of the 4th degree or higher.
  45. Disproved a family myth through research.
  46. Got a family member to let you copy photos.
  47. Used a digital camera to “copy” photos or records.
  48. Translated a record from a foreign language.
  49. Found an immigrant ancestor’s passenger arrival record.
  50. Looked at census records on microfilm, not on the computer.
  51. Used microfiche.
  52. Visited the Family History Library in Salt Lake City.
  53. Visited more than one LDS Family History Center.
  54. Visited a church or place of worship of one of your ancestors.
  55. Taught a class in genealogy.
  56. Traced ancestors back to the 18th Century.
  57. Traced ancestors back to the 17th Century.
  58. Traced ancestors back to the 16th Century.
  59. Can name all of your great-great-grandparents.
  60. Found an ancestor’s Social Security application.
  61. Know how to determine a soundex code without the help of a computer.
  62. Used Steve Morse’s One-Step searches.
  63. Own a copy of Evidence Explained by Elizabeth Shown Mills.
  64. Helped someone find an ancestor using records you had never used for your own research.
  65. Visited the main National Archives building in Washington, DC.
  66. Visited the Library of Congress.
  67. Have an ancestor who came over on the Mayflower.
  68. Have an ancestor who fought in the Civil War.
  69. Taken a photograph of an ancestor’s tombstone.
  70. Became a member of the Association of Graveyard Rabbits.
  71. Can read a church record in Latin.
  72. Have an ancestor who changed their name.
  73. Joined a Rootsweb mailing list.
  74. Created a family website.
  75. Have more than one "genealogy" blog.
  76. Was overwhelmed by the amount of family information received from someone.
  77. Have broken through at least one brick wall.
  78. Visited the DAR Library in Washington D.C.
  79. Borrowed a microfilm from the Family History Library through a local Family History Center.
  80. Have done indexing for Family Search Indexing or another genealogy project.
  81. Visited the Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
  82. Had an amazing serendipitous find of the "Psychic Roots" variety.
  83. Have an ancestor who was a Patriot in the American Revolutionary War.
  84. Have an ancestor who was a Loyalist in the American Revolutionary War.
  85. Have both Patriot & Loyalist ancestors.
  86. Have used Border Crossing records to locate an ancestor.
  87. Use maps in my genealogy research.
  88. Have a convict ancestor who was transported from the UK.
  89. Found a bigamist amongst the ancestors.
  90. Visited the National Archives in Kew.
  91. Visited St. Catherine's House in London to find family records.
  92. Found a cousin in Australia (or other foreign country).
  93. Consistently cite my sources.
  94. Visited a foreign country (i.e. one I don't live in) in search of ancestors.
  95. Can locate any document in my research files within a few minutes.
  96. Have an ancestor who was married four times (or more).
  97. Made a rubbing of an ancestors gravestone.
  98. Organized a family reunion.
  99. Published a family history book.
  100. Learned of the death of a fairly close relative through research.
  101. Have done the genealogy happy dance.
  102. Sustained an injury doing the genealogy happy dance.
  103. Offended a family member with my research.
  104. Reunited someone with precious family photos or artifacts.
So ... I have done 46 out of 104.  Not too shabby, I suppose.  How'd you do?

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Using Earth Point to Find Your Ancestor's Land

As I was catching up on my vicarious attendance at FGS2012 blog reading this morning, Shelley at A Sense of Family mentioned attending an FGS session given by Jane Halderman (“From Land Records to Google Earth: Mapping Your Family’s Place”).  During this session,  Earth Point was demonstrated using the township and range from land records or deeds to "fly" to the land identified with Google Earth.

It sounded pretty neat, so I thought I'd give it a go.

I had low expectations -- not because I have doubts about the website or its creators, but because my ancestor's land is in South Dakota and historically it's one of the last states to be included in anything -- but I was pleasantly surprised when I plugged in my numbers.

First, I located the section used to convert township and range to longitude and latitude.  I plugged in the requested information, which I obtained from the land records of my 2nd great grandfather, Joseph Zenophile Lanctot (my blog review can be found here):
After you input the information, you have two options: you can view the conversion data, which looks like this:
or you can "fly" to the location on Google Earth.  The image you receive will show a pin with the section number on it, indicating the area of the land.  
From the records, I knew Zeno's land was in the northwest quarter of section 13.  I'm sure it has changed somewhat since 1885, but I feel pretty confident that the placement of the house and farm is the same.

Some things that should be mentioned about the website are: (1) some states have limited BLM coverage.  Whether this means that Google Earth won't fly there, or if Earth Point can't convert to long/lat, I don't know.  Check the list of states on the website and see if it applies to you.  (2) Earth Point is a subscription site, but only the enhanced features are restricted.  The conversion tools work without a subscription (I do not have one).  However, without a subscription, you will receive a popup message every 10 minutes of use when you are viewing in Google Earth.  I did not encounter the popup message because I was not using the image for longer than 10 minutes, so I cannot attest to how annoying it may be.  

The subscriptions appear to be around $50 per year, but discounts are offered for multiple users (might be beneficial for a society to check into this as a perk of membership).  There is also another option for more infrequent users, which is to deposit funds into a pre-paid account and the costs are deducted as you use the service.

I only played with it for a few minutes, but it seems like it would be a neat tool to keep in your toolbox!

The FGS sessions are being recorded and will be available on CD and MP3 sometime after the conference at Fleetwood Onsite.  I'm definitely putting this one on my list.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Wedding Wednesday: Huber-Rothmeyer

Joseph Huber & Emma Rothmeyer
Joseph and Emma (Rothmeyer) Huber are my 2nd great grandparents.  The couple were married on 9 Oct 1892, but I am unsure if they married in Iowa or South Dakota.

Joseph Huber was born in 1866 or 1867 in McGregor, Iowa, the fourth child (of 15) of Peter S. and Theresa (Reisinger) Huber.  Peter and his family moved to South Dakota to stake their claim on some land, and Joseph remained in Yankton County (likely Utica) until 1930.  

Emma Rothmeyer was born 20 Jun 1870 in Elkader, Iowa, the third child (of 6) of Joseph and Christina (Wagner) Rothmeyer.  

The couple had a total of 8 children: Clara, Anna (my great grandmother), Ellanora, Martha, Joseph, Mildred, Alice, and Paul.  Joseph died, after an 8-month battle against prostate cancer that spread to his intestines, on 19 Oct 1930 around age 63 in Los Angeles, California, where they lived for 2 months.  He is buried at Sigel Cemetery in Yankton.  Emma moved back to South Dakota, and died on 1 May 1947 at the age of 76 in Yankton, and is also buried at Sigel Cemetery.

This photo really grabbed me when I saw it ... maybe it was the fact that her dress wasn't white, maybe it was that she looked like a deer in headlights ... no idea.  In any case, I think it's a pretty cool wedding photo.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

2011 Genealogy Goals - September update

It's nearing the end of the 3rd quarter of 2011, and I thought I'd see where I stand with my goals.  I'm not altogether discouraged ... 

1.  Plan (and execute) a trip to the National Archives in D.C. 
Check.  You can see the "results" of my efforts here.

2.  Request NARA files for my military ancestors.
I requested 2 files from NARA and got letters back … no records found for either of them.  This fire in 1973 in St. Louis is really going to cramp my style, I think.

3.  Break down the brick wall that we call my grandfather's biological parents!
I sent a letter to the NY Adoption Registry this week to see if they could at least point me in the right direction to go about unsealing my grandfather's adoption records.  I received a
 form letter response from them basically saying “we don’t do that” … but no ideas on where to start.  No help there.  I have joined a few mailing lists for NY adoptions just to get some ideas of where to begin, but so far no luck there either.
4.  Scan and organize all of my photos.  
I said in my last update that I would be at the August Scanfest.  Unfortunately, that was before I planned a trip to see my grandmother on the west coast during the last week of August.  As it turned out, I had my own sort of Scanfest – with all the scrapbooks and photos she has, and my handy-dandy FlipPal!  Now I just have to label and organize them all.  Then there's the box of photos in the closet ......

5.  Re-source all of my research ... well, some of it is sourcing for the first time, but I just need to make sure everything has a source!  
All of my known direct ancestors have been entered, documented, sourced, and media-ized in RootsMagic.  Still working on my collateral folks.

6.  Keep a to-do list in ONE place, and actually work on it!  
I continue to transfer my to-do list to RootsMagic as I transfer all of my data.  I've checked off a couple more items on that list since July! (of course, I've added more than I've checked off, but who's counting?)

7.  Increase my FamilySearch Indexing output by at least twofold.
Now that school is out and vacations are over, I will have some time to get back on top of this.  My goal is to schedule at least 2 hours on the weekends to do some indexing.

8.  Finally take a trip to the Family History Library in Ooltewah, TN 
Done!  I actually blogged about that here, and I have gone back a few times since then as well.

9.  Transcribe all the documents I have obtained (and will obtain).
I am still going through all the media I transferred to RM4 to make sure everything has been transcribed, so this is still a work in progress.  

10.  Last but not least ... start writing my family history!  Note: it will probably be 2064 before I actually FINISH it, but at least I can start writing it.
In addition to the three individuals I have already completed (as much as possible), my GGGrandfather, Joseph Zenophile Lanctot, is now a work in progress.

Now I just have to make sure I continue to keep this list in front of me so I'll remember my long-term goals for this year!  I feel pretty sure that I won't have to transfer many of these items to my list for 2012, even though many of these have no "ending."

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Now I just have a bigger to-do list!

Well, I got back from vacation last night and now I really have my work cut out for me!  I spent the entire week with my family in Portland, Oregon.  I was able to spend some real quality time with my Gramma and my uncle, and we had some good talks.  We laughed, we cried.  I scanned the equivalent of about 5 photo albums and scrapbooks and have a few hours of recorded conversations with her and with Aunt Marie (my late grandfather's sister), who will be celebrating her 96th birthday tomorrow.

We had a barbecue at my aunt's house (who is an excellent hostess!) with all of her kids and their kids.  You want good photos of the kids being kids?  Give them a camera and let them take the photos!  Another aunt and uncle had a grown-up dinner at their house, which was amazing (and I'm totally envious of their vegetable garden ... and their ability to grow things in general).  I got to see almost everyone ... except one cousin and one uncle.  We even went to see my Grampa at the cemetery since I couldn't be there for the funeral.  That was a sad time.

I will be posting some of the photos and other goodies in the near future ... as soon as I match up the faces with names.  No easy task when you have over 500 photos to go through.  So, if I don't surface again in a few days, you might consider sending out a search party.  They will probably be looking for a middle-aged female in a fetal position on the floor under the desk.