Mario called the meeting to order at 7:12pm.
While we troubleshooted some network issues, those present browsed the table of “oldies but goodies” – items of tech that Mario and Jenny brought, and Bob showed the group a photo of his first granddaughter. She is only 14 hours old!
Our Treasurer, Ed, called on members to submit dues! It’s a new year and time for $20 to help support the lab and purchases by the group.
Bill began tonight’s discussion about genealogy. Most of us have heard of Ancestry.com, and they are very good, but they’re also a little pricey. Luckily, you can go to Alameda County Library’s genealogy resources on their website and access the library version of Ancestry for free! You can search for people in a smaller number of databases than the full subscription and you can download records, but records aren’t saved to a personal family tree online. When you save family trees to Ancestry (or other services) and make them searchable, it helps people connect to each other who may be distantly related to you.
The databases that Ancestry has are things like census records, birth and death indexes. They often have images of the physical document that you can download, or a method to order the original document. Mario has found copies of his relatives’ Ellis Island immigration records, and it is amazing to see the preservation of these records.
One competitor to Ancestry, MyHeritage, is based in Israel and is European focused. Ancestry is heavily focused United States (though they do have subscriptions that include searching international records), and was originally founded by Mormons. In fact, there are over 10 Mormon-started Family Research Centers here in the Bay Area. Another online genealogy system, Family Search, syncs with RootsMagic, a PC-based genealogy program that runs in Wine on the Mac, and its major features work fine in the Mac version.
Reunion ($99 at: http://leisterpro.com/doc/buy.php) is one of the oldest Mac genealogy programs, though one of its cons is it doesn’t synchronize live with Ancestry. (You can import any GEDCOM file into Reunion.) Bill demonstrated how to use Reunion to browse an existing family tree and to enter information for people. Reunion creates very customizable charts, which charts can be fun to display at family reunions or holiday parties. Bill knows Reunion best out of the main Macintosh genealogy program, and he runs a genealogy user group MacGen that meets twice a month.
Jenny then showed off Mac program Family Tree Maker ($39 on the Mac App Store: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/family-tree-maker-3/id871254880), now owned by Ancestry’s company. FTM can tie in directly to your Ancestry account, download all of your trees and attached files for offline use, and sync any changes back to the servers. It generates the same charts as Reunion, but they aren’t quite as colorful or customizable. Using an Ancestry account with FTM makes it very easy to save records, search for new records (an animated green leaf appears by a person’s name when the system thinks it has found a match), and connect with distant relatives.
All of the major genealogy programs support mobile use or have a mobile version of their software in the iOS App Store.
As the year gets started, we want to brainstorm ways to boost attendance. Ideas mentioned were to bring family and friends, and place listing in the newspaper. If we had enough virtual attendees, we can start a Google Hangout and chat with members live, no matter where they lived.
The meeting was adjourned at 8:30pm, after which several members reconvened at the local Denny’s.
The next meeting will be Thursday, February 5th, at which Ed will showcase the DiskWarrior bootable USB stick (among other topics to be determined).