Unlock the Past at Parramatta Pt 1 – Thomas MacEntee’s TECH Stream – February 13 2014

Following on from an Unlock the Past themed cruise along Eastern Australia, a UTP Seminar “Thomas MacEntee (of Geneabloggers) and Chris Paton (British Genes) Down Under was held at Parramatta RSL.

There were a number of us present who are listed on Geneabloggers’ Almost 3000 Genealogy Blogs, including mine : The Hicks Family Blog.


Above : Geneabloggers at Unlock the Past Parramatta RSL – source Helen V Smith (@HVSresearch)

A lot of what Thomas MacEntee presented on The Cloud and Tools was not really new to me,  as I had been using these ideas for the last 5 years after being exposed to them at Knowledge Management  conferences like the ACTKM annual conferences.

Initially I’d resisted all the hype on The Cloud around 2009, but as a then Quality Manager,  I couldn’t ignore its ramifications for Records Management. So I’d even blogged on Cloud & presented case studies on using “Tools” at a number of conferences (2010 – 2012) and seminars (see my Cloud blog posts 1 – 2 – , my Tools  preso & ACTKM 2012 preso). Likewise the concept of organising bookmarks/social bookmarking was not new to me,  (viz I’ve long been a fan of William Jones’ “Keeping Found Things Found”).

However we can all use reminders of  good practices. And I did pick up a few things – like the broken link checker and reminders to back up your data …. so here are my notes ….

Thomas MacEntee – Morning Session : The Genealogy Cloud – Which Online Storage Program is Right for You   

Why did they call it The Cloud ? Because years ago the shape on flow charts for 3rd party off site data storage was a cloud.

The promo ?

“Genealogy cloud computing – Tired of keeping your genealogy research data on multiple CDs, DVDs, flash drives, hard drives and in different locations? Cloud computing – the practice of storing data on a remote server – is a practical solution for genealogists. Learn not only how cloud computing works, but also the latest cloud programs and how to keep your data secure and private.”


  • Clouds in Genealogy? What is the Genealogy Cloud?
  • How the Cloud Works
  • Basic Cloud Computing Concepts
  • Cloud Programs for Genealogists – Some key examples of cloud application used in Genealogy : Google Drive -Drop Box – Evernote – Ancestry
  • Security and Privacy Issues – they do occur eg Dropbox had 7 hour period of no passwords needed so be careful – don’t put data that risks identity theft or financial data – Google alerts:  have your name set as an alert to monitor if something comes up
  • Genealogy Cloud Best Practices – Read the terms of services and understand the limitations – max file size allowed – avoid multiple accounts with the same provider– Have an exit strategy if the cloud provider stops providing service- ask about their frequency of backup –  how do they handle file recovery

    Cloud Advantages

    – Instant Backups – Multiple Devices synchronise (Ability to synchronise files is key to cloud) –  Collaborate – free or low cost

    Cloud Disadvantages

    – Lack of access at times eg during bad weather so best to use a program that allows a local copy

    – Be careful who you collaborate with as they can delete your data, even if unintentionally

    – Can be use it or lose it eg  Dropbox – if you don’t use it for 6 months then you may find your data deleted / SkyDrive-OneDrive – 7 gb  90 day file expiration if you don’t use it for 90 days you will lose your data – THIS WAS NEW TO ME & VERY VALUABLE TO KNOW !

    – GoogleDrive– qualified free – do this by by tracking your content and look for keywords so they can give your advertise -will show 2 lots of changes -5 devices max ??-  check  terms of service – Google may use your content even after you stop using it – they can keep a copy of your content

    – Not all Cloud apps allow unlimited synchronisation with an unlimited number of devices – check to be sure

    – QandA : If in slow Internet area – you can turn off synchronisation and just synchronise every few days

    POSTSCRIPT – I’ve just seen an Eastman Genealogy Blog Post on Ancestor Cloud for Genealogists in my Feedly RSS Feeds  – looks interesting !

    Thomas MacEntee – Afternoon Session : Building a Genealogy Research Toolbox – What is a Genealogy Research Toolbox ? Why would you set it up ??

    Working  smarter not harder ! We all are different researchers so not everyone will use exactly the same tools or toolbox.

    The promo ?

    Building a genealogy research toolbox – Are you overwhelmed with the number of online resources for genealogical research? Are you constantly working with unorganised bookmarks or favorites? Printing out lists of websites you use most? Learn how to build a research toolbox that is organised, easy-to-use, and can be accessed from almost anywhere.


    • Containers – research tools and content live inside “containers” eg Can have  put bookmark – favourites inside  Word document, Excel spreadsheet, on a Web or Blog page (you can have a private Blog , in Diigo Social Bookmarking site, a in Evernote, Google Drive, Dropbox, Wiki’s
    • Contents – Lists in Word, Excel (information is sort-able in Excel but not Word), Web page or Wiki (good for collaborating), Bookmarks in Diigo or Web Browser, Notes in Evernote or OneNote, Web Clip pages into Evernote
    • Organizing Content – organise your bookmarks into folders and/or into social bookmarking sites like Diigo where you can tag each bookmark – toolboxes that allow you to label-tag things are great – organise your toolbars or create your own eg Toolbar  Wibia create a customised toolbar which is good for societies

      • Accessing Content – local or virtual from the Cloud – nb people take usb sticks to research libraries and many forget to take the usb home – so you can put your toolbox on a blog or set it up as a wiki on pbworks wiki or Zoho wiki – or a document in Google Drive or Dropbox
      • Updating Content  what about links dying aka Zombie links – Linkvalet which is a link checker for your site
      • Glossary
      • Resource List – http://bit.ly/hdgtoolbox  http://bit.ly/gentoolbox – Cyndi List links & calculators eg Cousin Calculators, go to your favourite sites and see what their favourite sites are – Google Books, Family Search Online Books

      – QandA : on URL shorteners – bit.ly vs tiny.url – Gmail strips out tiny url but not bit.ly because of people using tiny url to spam

      Key Tips

      • If using usb sticks  in genealogy research library etc –  identify it – eg word file or text file and call it “If Found”
      • Back up your Genealogy Data Regularly – I read Thomas MacEntee’s blogs via Feedly RSS Feeds and every month there is a backup reminder.

      Note from Kerrie Anne Christian (@SteelyGenes) :

      I found it interesting that RSS Blog Feeds with RSS Readers (eg Feedly), Twitter and Google Plus were not included as tools for monitoring the Genealogy universe ? For me, these have been crucial items in my Toolbox over the last 5 or 6 years. However the presentation was more focused on – “Well, you’ve found some great info, so how do you make sure you don’t lose it and that you can find it again!”



About Kerrie Anne Christian

Interests - Travel, Photography, Developing Websites, Social Media, Writing, Local History, Researcher, Genealogy
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