Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Mulling it over

I haven't blogged for a bit here, but I have been doing some family history research. For about three weeks I was obsessed with climbing a little further out on the branches of my s-i-l's family tree...and was there some adventure there! My ancestors tend to be sedate farmers who live quiet lives in the country, attend church and occasionally send a daughter out on the mission field. His ancestors lived in the city and two met untimely deaths at the hands of another person. It was a lot of fun to research and I'm not done yet, just taking a break...because...yes, my name is Mary and I'm a geneaholic...a co-worker innocently mentioned something about not knowing much about her family history and I told her I'd see what I could find on the internet. Knowing that her mother passed away recently, I was able to get some info there and start climbing HER family tree! Does that make me a genealogy stalker? Should I seek help?

This has all been a good experience (although it sure looked a whole lot like I was an obsessive compulsive who gave up Frasier re-runs for a whole new obsession!). It was a good test to see just how far a person can go on the Internet. An enlightening one, too, when it comes to genealogy software. I used PAF in the old days on our first computer. I jumped on the Family Tree Maker bandwagon about version 2 or 3 and I've upgraded, sometimes grudgingly, ever since.

I bought the 2008 version last year and this was a good test of all it's bells and whistles. I found it fairly easy to navigate around, but when I got to the point of printing out my findings to give to my friend, I realized they had replaced the bells and whistles with noisemakers and kazoos. I wanted to print a book for my friend, but where's the book feature? Why is the ahnentafel chart dissed so badly, "This report is not used as frequently as the other Genealogy Reports for formal presentations of pedigree because it records two family lines in the same report." Well, I don't make formal presentations, but I DO want all of my ancestors in one report, beginning with me, just like a pedigree charts starts with me and fans out to my ancestors. Why is it considered an upgrade when they take away features like printing a book with an index and letting you choose where to insert notes on the Ahnentafel chart (ok, maybe it's there and I missed it, but I'm a pretty savvy software user and if it's there, it's well hidden.) I'm sure there are others who have put this more intelligently than I could, but let's just say that I think Family Tree Maker will eventually become Internet only software, available through (I am a subscriber), much like Photoshop Express is now internet based. However, since reading the fine print and realizing anything I upload to Photoshop Express can be used by them to make money for them, it's another "software" product I will not be using. I'll continue to subscribe to, but I think Family Tree Maker and I are at the end of our relationship. And therefore I am mulling over the switch to Legacy 7, when it become available.

And when I do, I have decided to start fresh with my own family history. I have notes and files and family group sheets, but I did not cite my sources at all well in the beginning...or, well, ever. So this will be a chance to go through all the files, like I've wanted to do, and to pitch anything not relevant. Everything else (originals of certificates, diaries, etc. as well as photocopies) will be filed as well as digitized, with sources noted on everything.

A big job. But there's nothing like new software to get the excitement level up there again.

PS. I totally can't wait until someone creates the software described here: That will be awesome. I hope someone is already at work on it! This is the way genealogy software should be in the 21st century.

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