Survey Results

by JL Beeken on 11-30-2007

Thanks again to all of you who answered the survey. It’s given me a sneak-peek into who you are which is a great relief after a year of writing ‘blind’. I hope I’ve answered some of your questions over the past month.

There was not a lot of response overall so I can only make my conclusions and comments based on a relatively small sampling. Most of you have many years experience with both computers and genealogy which makes me wonder what I could possibly have to offer. At the same time, I seem to have satisfied most of the people some of the time. (But not all the people all the time. And some people were just plain cranky. So, about how life goes… )

A few of you are less experienced, although I don’t think anyone is suffering quite as much as my cousin, Sam, who as you may know by now is utterly bewildered.

Cut, copy, paste, move to, copy to, make a new folder and start a new document are the alphabet of modern computers. If that kind of thing is wearing you out you can’t possibly be enjoying anything else. And there’s a lot to be enjoyed.

If that’s you, you could perhaps think of signing up for some classes at your local library or community college, buying a book or looking for online tutorials. The search engines are your friend. Here’s one: Introductory Windows XP Tutorial Index. I think the best idea of all is to borrow a kid. Teenagers mentoring ‘old’ people on computers and we oldies paying it back with our hard-earned common sense, wisdom and all those wonderful things. There’s nothing as good as someone sitting right next to you.

I studied programming back in the day when a single computer was the size of a small house and it was my job to tell it how to solve physics and calculus problems. It would have been way easier with a pencil. We’re not there anymore. If you can left click, right click, scroll and keep your eyes open, you’re pretty well on board. Computers now are like Christmas morning. All you have to do is sit in front of the tree, open your boxes and look. Not entirely, to be fair, but thinking simply without fear and going with the obvious will take you a long way.

Yes, we all love good free software. For me it comes down to necessity and time. Once I have the basics there’s no motivation to go out looking for more. Off the top of my head, software I use every single day no matter what: EverNote. Neck and neck with Scrapbook. And PDF Creator. I do not have software reviews and new tricks up my sleeve on a daily basis. I’m doing the same that you are – researching my family, organizing my data, trying to keep myself from drowning in paper, keeping up on my email, working on my projects. There aren’t enough hours in the day and I’m already an insomniac.

People particularly mention being interested in ideas for organization. Paper organization I’ve already covered in my ideas for the MRIN Filing System. Not everyone wants to go that route. In which case, Legacy News has a collection of other methods suggested by other users. I think any system that rings a bell for you is the right one.

As for digital files, I recently purchased MediaDex because I think it has, by far, the best potential for covering all the bases. If you have ideas for how you’d like to organize your files, but software design usually gets in your way, MediaDex is as open-minded as I’ve ever seen it.

I ran into a problem with my digital Source Library when I wanted to email all the documents for a particular family line. Because the files are listed by MRIN in random order, there’s no simple way to gather up one line. A few ideas ran across my mind: Printing out a list of MRINs from Legacy and cross-matching them. Way too slow. Windows File Properties (I’m not that desperate) or splitting up the files into my Genealogy folder tree by family line. Too confusing. It was the last straw. I ran over to MediaDex and paid up.

By categorizing all the source files in MediaDex I can do whatever I want to. You can create as many catalogs as you want there and as many sub-categories and keywords within. It also does everything you could want IPTC-wise. Besides graphics, video, audio and text in virtually any format, the professional version also handles PDFs, MS Office documents and RAW photo files. It also has its own media player, and the ability to create slideshows and web albums. It’s every organizer I’ve ever seen, and then some, rolled into one and shot up with steroids. It’s not easy software to get onto at first but, if you count yourself amongst the organizationally-obsessed, give it a try.

2010 update: MediaDex has been defunct since 2008. It’s now called Canto Single User. I don’t recommend it. If you’re looking for good IPTC software, try Photo Mechanic or GeoSetter.

Opinions of my website design ran the gamut but, surprisingly, came out at Good+. Some days I like it because it’s quiet and simple. Some days I’d like to trash every page and start over. But, it is the way it is for a reason: my utter lack of knowledge about how to do it differently. I intend to learn CSS, it’s just a matter of when. I did recently go through every single page in Internet Explorer trying to fix the chronic viewing problems there. Some of you stubbornly persist with using it, and I don’t want to keep beating you over the head with Firefox.

… OK, just one more time …

Firefox

On earlier advice, I set most links to open in separate windows. I recently read that it’s a really bad thing to do. There seems to be a divide of opinion. What do you think? I think I already know the answer (works great in Firefox, is a pain in the butt in IE) but surprise me.

I so appreciate that you took the time to answer. Whether I keep writing or not is still unknown. As it’s been most days since I started. There’s so much else I want to do and learn. As of today I have been writing here for exactly one year, and have posted over 100 articles. Beyond my wildest imagination.

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