Technical Difficulties June 3rd, 2012
When viewing this website you may get a script error. I am aware of this problem. It is a conflict in my plugins that I’m trying to correct. You can hit stop script and not have anything in the page mess up. The problem is with the ShareThis! plugin. I think because WordPress added it into it’s Jetpack plugin and I had it installed as a separate plugin.
I just wanted to let you know I haven’t been ignoring the problem and I’m hoping to get it solved while I work on the new design.
Thanks for you patience!
Auto-Tweeting Gone Wrong March 26th, 2012
What you see above is a tweet that automatically posts to my twitter. Back when I first started the blog, I decided to automate that kind of tweeting from my website with the Twitter Tools plugin. Lately I’ve been rethinking it.
For what seems like months, I’ve noticed that my website tweets will sometimes be missing my default hashtag of #genealogy or sometimes don’t show up at all. That may not seem like a big deal, but it really is for me. I don’t want to spam my friends, family and twitter followers with multiple tweets about the same blog post. What is the point of auto-tweeting if you have to go back behind it and either delete and redo the tweet, or post a new tweet anyway. It seems kind counter productive to me.
I usually tweet from my phone, but I might have to give TweetDeck another try if my auto-tweeting is going to stop working. Oh well, I think going the old fashioned way might be better anyway. Maybe it will slow me down and make me think through what I’m doing more thoroughly.
/Random Monday Blogging
A Source Lesson Learned March 14th, 2012
One of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned during my cleanup is to always track down what the original source was. For me, I like to know what website I got each record from, but that’s not the most important part of the citation. When you’re citing your sources, it’s most important that if something crazy happens, you could actually track down that original source again if the need arose.
For example, say one day (a horrible day) FamilySearch lost all their servers and records. (I did say a horrible day.) In light of this unfortunate (and completely fictional) incident, I decide I’m going to Brown County, Ohio to research the Carter family because that’s where I am in my cleanup. Well, I knew I last left off with Daniel Moyer and his wife Hannah Carter. However, I want to look at their marriage record for more clues, or even the same time period of marriages to track down their siblings. Well, you can’t always do that from what you get from the FamilySearch indexes. They don’t always leave reference numbers.
This is where my lesson comes in. I’ve started going to the very first images in a group of images and the picture above is what I find. This gives me the exact direct source information for the marriage record of Daniel and Hannah. With this information, I would know exactly where I’m going at the Brown County Courthouse in order to find this record in it’s original form.
Not that there was much information on the original record, but you never know!
RMC: Creating a Database and Installing TNG February 8th, 2012
Alright folks, today is the big day! Are you ready to install TNG? I do have to warn you, you will have to have some kind of webhosting. If you haven’t found one yet, you just have to be sure that they support PHP and MySQL, and if you’re paying for a webhost that doesn’t support them, you should probably switch. There are great options. I use Dreamhost, but have used others in the past. I believe Darrin has some recommedations at the TNG website, so check those out if you haven’t already!
Before we start, other then webhosting you will need at least one other program for installing. If you want to delve into customization, then I recommend a second program also for editing. We aren’t going to get into that today though. Today is just the nuts and bolts of getting TNG installed for the first time.
The program you’ll definitely need is an FTP program. I currently use FileZilla, but there are many free FTP programs out there that work just the same. If you’ve set up a webhost, they should have sent you a login for an FTP program.
Ordering an Extract from Scotlands People February 2nd, 2012
On January 10th, I ordered a marriage extract from the Scotland’s People website. It came in yesterday. So it took less time and money for a record from Scotland then it did for a record from New Jersey. Okay, a record from New Jersey two years ago. I haven’t ordered one recently to see if my luck holds up. I have one ready to go though, so this will be a good test.
On the left, we have the scanned copy that I ordered from Scotland’s People on January 10th. It shows on the bottom that they printed out this page on the 21st of January. The postmark on the envelope reads the 23rd of January. I received it on the 1 February. So that means it takes about 11 days to process the request, 2 days for them to then send it out, and finally about 9 days for it to go across the pond and end up in Southern Maryland.
The differences in the images are minor. As you can see, the one on the left (mailed version) has the brightness and contrast up higher. It gives it the more xerox-y look. Sometimes it makes the fading ink easier to read, but not all the time. What is harder to tell in the pictures above is that the mailed version is blown up a little bit. I know it seems silly to say, since computer files can be manipulated, however the text is bigger without the pixelation that happens to the one on the right when I try to re-size it. The digital file is one resolution and that’s it. If you make any changes, you’re just compressing and stretching that resolution. I’m unsure if the Records Office in Scotland makes a copy of the original or prints out a digital copy from the computer. This could be the difference I’m seeing. By viewing the header on the digital copy, I do know that the images you view on Scotland’s People are the microfilms done by the Genealogical Society of Utah.
The big difference between these two is that the mailed version comes on watermarked paper with a raised seal. In the big scheme of things, it’s not that big of a deal, however, I like to have “official” records for my direct line. That’s just a personal preference for me. I think the total cost of the record on the left was $19.15. The estimated cost of the record on the right (converting from pounds to dollar and then dividing the cost of the credits) is $1.95. So that’s quite a big difference, but just know that you have to buy at least 30 credits on Scotland’s People. That comes out to about $11.08 in American dollars, then I estimate about a $0.50 foreign transaction fee. Also be aware that it takes 5 credits to view an image on Scotland’s People and 1 credit to view a page of search results.
Disclaimer: I have no affiliation with Family Search or Scotland’s People (I wish, a genea-job would be so much fun.). I was not compensated for this article, I don’t expect compensation for this article. I like finding work arounds to my home bound problem. I just got off the treadmill, and went Scotland record searching. The internet is a wonderful thing, isn’t it?