Saturday, May 14, 2016

Yes, You CAN Download Your Tree From – Here’s How – Family History Daily

I don't have a tree on, but I've found that a lot of people who do don't know how to download their data, so some may find this useful.

Yes, You CAN Download Your Tree From – Here’s How – Family History Daily:
Can you download your family tree from The answer is yes. We see this question quite a bit so we thought we’d quickly show you how you can easily download a GEDCOM from Ancestry that you can use as a backup, or to import in to virtually any family tree program or family history tree website.

Monday, May 02, 2016

Instant Messaging for genealogy?

I recently got a message from someone (no names, no pack drill) extolling the use of Instant Messaging for genealogical research.

It seems that some people think that Instant Messaging is the best thing since sliced bread. I hate sliced bread, except when I have to make a snack in a hotel room far from home late at night. That happens to me about once every 17 years.

Anyway, here is what they said, and my response. I'd be interested in knowing what other people think about this kind of thing.

> Would you be interested in using a real time mobile/cell phone instant
> messaging tool to help your family history research and contributions to
> Xxxx.


> Messaging is like email but a lot simpler, quicker and is in real time,
> so you could be texting or sending pictures to a Xxxx member on a
> different continent and on different time zones.

One of the great advantages of e-mail is that it is NOT in real time. I
can send someone a message and it won't interrupt whatever they are doing
(often at a very inconvenient time).

Instant messaging is great for messages of the "I'll be late for lunch"
variety, but those have lost their value by late afternoon, and I hope my
genealogy research is less ephemeral than that.

For anything other than ephemeral stuff like that, I find instant messaging
clumsy, inconvenient, and very hard to use.

Have you ever tried copying an instant message from your phone to a
computer? You get it on the phone, type the first word, and then the phone
switches off. In trying to switch it on again you press the wrong thing
and find you are adding the person who sent it to your contacts or
something else you don't want to do. You have to undo that (which often turns out to be even more difficult and time-consuming), and then find the message again, and start typing with one hand, and our other hand poised over the phone to press something the moment th screen dims, and hope that you don't set off another unwanted chain of events. Getting genealogy messages  on a cell phone is time-consuming, annoying and horrible.

> It is best used for free via a wi-fi connection otherwise mobile/cell
> service provider could apply data roaming charges.
> My preference is to use Facebook Messenger. There are other tools but I
> think Facebook Messenger would be our best option because group sizes
> are limited to 250 users and you may also benefit from using Facebook
> itself for communicating with close family and friends. If more than 250
> Red1st members accept this invitation I will set up multiple groups of
> 250 users.

When people send me genealogy messages on Facebook messenger, I ask them
to contact me by e-mail, which is simpler, easier to use and manage, and a
lot more convenient.

> If you wish to be take part in one of these groups please ensure you are
> registered with Facebook Messenger (find the mobile/cell app on Google
> Play) then reply to this email requesting to join a group and I will fix
> you up.

I've just learned how to turn off Facebook notifications on my cell phone,
to my great relief. I only look at Facebook on my cell phone when I'm away
from home or if there is a power failure.

Among other things, note how e-mail (as copied above) allows you to reply to a message point by point, and gives you a record of what the other person has said. Instant messaging doesn't let you do this, which can lead to ambiguity and misunderstandings, and often means that you have to type long-winded explanations of which point you are replying to. 

If I am communicating with someone about genealogy research, then the means of communication are, in order of preference:
  1. Face-to-face
  2. E-mail
  3. Snail mail
  4. Voice phone call
  5. Instant messaging 
Ideally, e-mail should be used to prepare for and follow-up a face-to-face meeting. Snail mail can also be used for this purpose, but is more expensive and less convenient. In this situation, Instant Messaging can be useful for things like "I'm in a traffic jam and will be late for our meeting", but for little else.

Obviously a face-to-face meeting is not possible for people living on different continents who are unable to travel, but then the best method is e-mail alone.