Sunday, September 30, 2012

I've Got E-mail! Lots of It! 21COFH Week 39

So much for getting my e-mail system written up and posted "tomorrow"! This has been a challenging week to say the least. Without further delay here are my e-mail comments.

I have opted to keep genealogy related emails both in gmail and on my computer. Here's the workflow:
  • After reading an incoming e-mail, I save it (or the entire thread, if we have been corresponding back and forth).  Pdf is the format I have settled on. That way if any files have been attached, the filename and often a thumbnail of the image are included. Since pdf is an accepted standard today, it should be around for years to come. I understand Rich Text Format (rtf) is another good format to save in.
  • Next, I add tags to the metadata which might include surnames, localities and general topics (such as military, land, etc) as appropriate. I can use the description field to include additional information, including a citation, if appropriate.
  • Where? There are a couple options here. One is to save under the surname of the individual I'm corresponding with. Another option is the surname of the subject family we are discussing. Since I have a correspondence folder under each surname, that's the folder it goes in.
  • What about attachments? I've decided to go into the metadata, create a source citation, provenance or whatever is appropriate and use tags. Then the attachment is filed just as any other document or photo would be: in a surname or locality folder. I still have a way of tying the attachment and the e-mail together because of the citation included in the attachment and the pdf automatically includes the attachment info.
  • Once I'm done processing the e-mail (it sounds complicated but it really only takes minutes) and making any notes or inputting to my genealogy software, I will add tags/labels to the e-mail and file it in the appropriate surname, locality or subject folder in gmail.
Confession time. I get really far behind with this and make a point of plugging away as I am able. When I do, I am rewarded because I can easily find what I'm looking for. Motivation to try and stay caught up!

Oh yeah, one more thing. Sometimes I print this stuff out and file it. There's times when an item is so important it just needs to be on paper too!

How about you? How do you handle your genealogy related e-mail?

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Photo credit: Nieve44/La Luz

 © 2012, copyright Michelle Goodrum

Sunday, September 23, 2012

21COFH - E-mail! Week 39

This week we are going to spend some time organizing our e-mail. Don't worry about getting to "Inbox Zero." Although it's nice to dream about, some of us have a ways to go before we get to that point. This week just try to make some progress and if you haven't already, set up a system or work flow.

Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  1. Do you want your family history related e-mails to reside in the "cloud," on your computer, or both?
  2. If they are to live on your computer, what format will they take? PDF? TXT? Or another format?
  3. How will they be organized?
  4. For e-mails living in your e-mail program (gmail, yahoo, etc.), how are you going to organizing them. Or will you?
  5. What about attachments? How will you handle those?
  6. Is this a very important e-mail? Perhaps it needs to reside in several places. Use the LOCKSS principle where appropriate. (LOCKSS = Lots Of Copies Keeps Stuff Safe)
Don't forget you may need to analyze some of the information in those e-mails and enter that in your genealogy data base.

Remember you don't need to get all of your email cleaned up this week. Just get a system going, if you haven't already, and make some progress.

Questions? Comments? Blog posts of your own? You know what to do!

Now go out and conquer. Any progress is good progress.

Check back tomorrow for my approach.

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© 2012, copyright Michelle Goodrum

Monday, September 17, 2012

21COFH - Digitizing Course Materials

This week's project is to digitze some of our paper formatted educational materials. I decided to digitize four 3-ring binders full of course material from a series of classes I took. This cleared off some serious shelf space and will hopefully make the information more accessible.

I used my Fujitsu ScanSnap and fed pages in batches. The software allowed me to create one large PDF of the material from each course. Then I just named the file with the title of each course. Easy Peasy!

It felt oh so good to be able to recycle the paper and see a big hole in one of my shelves!

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© 2012, copyright Michelle Goodrum

Sunday, September 16, 2012

21COFH - Educational Materials - Week 38

Last week our project was to work with digital educational materials. This week, we tackle the paper. If you have been involved with family history and genealogy for a while, I'm betting you have a ton of handouts, syllabi, workbooks and notes from classes, meetings and conferences. It will be much easier to refer to them if they have been digitized and are searchable.

The steps are similar to last week with a couple of additions:
  1. Utilize your organizational scheme.
  2. Consider the use of metadata.
  3. Decide what to digitize (and what to even keep at all for that matter).
  4. Scan away.
I have several mini projects to choose from and I'll bet you do to. Here's what I have:
  1. Several three ring binders of handouts and notes from society meetings and seminars. All nicely organized by topic and/or location. These go back to the 1990s when I first started seriously researching.
  2. More recent notes and handouts that somehow landed in a pile instead of the file.
  3. National Institute of Genealogical Studies (NIGS) courses. Four of those 3 inch binders full of material. Why I didn't download the materials when I had the chance, I'll never know. But I could make a serious hole on a shelf by digitizing these.
  4. National conference and Family History Expo syllabi. These suckers are big and would also clear up some serious shelf space if they were digitized.
Tip: Evernote is perfect for a project like this. The free account will scan your image files and make both printed and handwritten text searchable. The premium account will also do this for PDFs.

What materials can you digitize and clean out this week? Let us know in the comments or a post of your own and leave the URL in the comments. I'll have the results of my project up tomorrow.

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© 2012, copyright Michelle Goodrum

Disclaimer: I am an Evernote Premium user. I pay the annual fee with my own hard earned money.

Monday, September 10, 2012

21COFH- Organizing Scheme for Presentations

Things are out of control on my computer when it comes to all of the handouts and notes from conferences, society meetings, and webinars. Laying out how to organize all of these files on my hard drive is critical if I am ever going to be able to refer to them again. This week I'll show you how the file folders and file names are set up. Warning: It's a work in progress!

In the folder hierarchy on my hard drive, in Dropbox, is a folder called Education. Within that folder are subfolders for the various organizations whose presentations and webinars I have attended, such as National Genealogical Society, Family History Society of Arizona, etc. This is where I put both the handouts or syllabi and my own notes.

The file naming convention is as follows:
  • LastName_FirstName_YYYY-MM_Title
The title is usually abbreviated and I add "notes" or "handout" or "syllabus" to the end of the file name.

This way all lectures by Tom Jones are grouped together and sorted by date. If I search my computer for "Tom Jones" all of his lectures will appear no matter whether they are stored in an NGS, SLIG, FGS or some other folder.

It occurs to me that tags could be added to the files to get them to appear in certain searches. For example, lectures on the Civil War would come up if given that tag. I don't plan on going back and tagging all of my files but there might be times when doing this could be extremely helpful. So I'll do it on an "as needed" basis.

As for podcasts and conference recordings, since those files are huge, for now I keep them in the defaul folder "Music" that Windows 7 has. Probably a little weird but the file size dictates not putting them in Dropbox.

I'm very interested in how my genea friends have set up their organizing system for these types of files. Please, leave a comment or a url to your own post! This inquiring mind wants to know. Seriously!

This post is in response to Educational Materials - Week 37.

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© 2012, copyright Michelle Goodrum

Sunday, September 9, 2012

21COFH - Educational Materials - Week 37

Have you accumulated a ton of educational materials from society meetings, seminars, workshops, and conferences? Would you like to clear up some shelf floor space? We are going to take a couple of weeks to do just that by digitizing these items.

These days, educational material can come in more than paper form. You might find yourself with:
  • Syllabi on CD or flash drive
  • Your own lecture notes in Word or some other format
  • Audio recordings
  • Podcasts
  • Webinars
Not only are we being overrun with paper but also digital content.

This week take some time to get your materials that are already in digital form organized by taking the following steps:
  1. If you haven't already done so, decide on an organizational scheme. Educational materials will probably be organized differently than the rest of your genealogical files.
  2. Remember to consider metadata, like we discussed last week. It will make it easier to locate files on your hard drive.
  3. Get your educational files into your organizational system and add metadata.
Check back tomorrow to see how I have organized my digital educational materials.

Next week we will tackle the paper.

You can read about my project at Organizing Scheme for Presentations.

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© 2012, copyright Michelle Goodrum

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

21COFH - Metadata

Metadata (data about data) is important if we are digitizing our photographs, family papers, and documents. I'm learning every week about this topic. Here's the framework I'm using right now.


I'm in the process of switching over to Adobe Lightroom but right now I use Adobe Photoshop Elements. Whether it's a picture or an old family photo, and regardless of the file format (almost always either jpg or tiff), I use the following fields to add important information about the digital files I have.
  • First, I use templates to automatically fill in my name as the Author, the Copyright Notice and contact information as appropriate.
  • Second, I use the Description field in a number of ways:
    • Write a caption.
    • Reproduce what was already written on the back of a photograph.
    • Create a citation.
  •   Assigning Keywords (or tags) helps to find a photograph or group of pictures later on.
Family Papers & Documents Obtained Through Research
As documents are digitized, I add metadata as described above, paying particular attention to creating a citation.

If you are saving these types of documents as pdf files you can add the same types of metadata as well. I'm using Adobe Acrobat Pro X. I'm not sure which versions do or do not allow for this.

I also like to annote the front of the document with a citation, if it can be done in an "out of the way" place on the document.

Adobe Lightroom
I've been playing with Lightroom on and off this summer in order to learn the program and decide what the workflow should be. An advantage of this program is the ability to handle files in batches, eliminating the sometimes painful process of doing the same thing over and over with many files. Also, the ability to add keywords or tags makes it easier to locate files later.

Denise Levenick at The Family Curator has a great post today called, "Using Adobe Lightroom to Manage Genealogy Images." I hope she writes more in the near future!

© 2012, copyright Michelle Goodrum

Sunday, September 2, 2012

21COFH Is Back! Week 36

After a hiatus for summer vacations (weeks 27-35), it's time to get back to organizing for our 21st Century Organized Family Historian project. This week we are going to ease into it (sort of) by repeating a previous project. It's one that needs repeating, especially after vacations and research trips! This week we are going to catch up with processing digital files.

Select at least one (more if you have time) of your digital gadgets and do the following:
  1. Transfer the files to your computer (or wherever it is you store such digital items).
  2. Remember to use your organizational and file naming scheme.
  3. If you have decided to utilize metadata for citations, tags and other information, be sure and include that into your workflow.
  4. If some of your items need further processing or analyzing, add it to your to do list (unless you have time to take care of it this week).
  5. Make sure this work is backed up. Always make sure your work is backed up! If you don't have a backup plan, there are numerous resources at GeneaBloggers.
Remember, the main objective here is to get your files organized in such a way so that you can easily and quickly locate them.

Here are links to my original project for this assignment. If you are new, you might find them helpful.
Our last project had to do with metadata. It might be helpful to review this. Since I got busy with family and vacations, I totally dropped the ball on posting my project for this. I WILL be posting it this week. Really, I promise!

Good luck! As always, you can complete this week's mission by leaving a comment or writing your own post and leaving the url to your post in the comments section. If you don't have a blog, keep your own journal!

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© 2012, copyright Michelle Goodrum

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Flip-Pal Coupons

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