Technology

I’m a 2013 Jamboree Webinar Presenter!


A few weeks ago, I shared that I’d submitted a webinar presentation for the Jamboree Webinar Extension Series the Southern California Genealogical Society hosts. I am so pleased to share that my webinar was accepted!

On Saturday, October 5th, 2013 I will present “Genealogy News at Your Fingertips: From RSS Feeds to Digital Magazine Platforms.” Here is the description:

RSS feeds are powerful mechanisms for having online content delivered directly to you. With the plethora of genealogy sites available online, the information river can often seem overflowing. In this session, you will learn what RSS feeds are and how they are used, understand why they are beneficial to you as a web consumer and a web publisher, and survey the different types of RSS readers available – including the newest trends of magazine-style content delivery systems for aggregated news. Whether on your desktop or on-the-go, you can make online information work for you!

I am too thrilled!  I’ve done webinars this summer on WordPress, and I am looking forward to the opportunity to help others really leverage the power of RSS feeds.

Now, my webinar is only one of 25 webinars on the 2013 schedule, so you will definitely want to check the offerings and see which ones you can sign up for.  You can’t beat the price either – FREE! Archives of all the webinars will be made available to SCGS members.

WordPress for Your Genealogy Site

Wow! What a great couple of months it has been! I’ve recently completed my 4-part webinar series with DearMyrtle on using WordPress for your genealogy website and have been ever so pleased with the outcome.  Myrt is a wonderful hostess and everyone’s questions throughout the series really helped shape the content.  Thanks to everyone!

I have created a page on my blog in order to help capture some of my work with WordPress, so check it out if interested! I’m not sure how often I’ll post about WordPress in the future, but hopefully this won’t be the last you see of me and this wonderful publishing platform.

…and I want you to heart it too! 🙂

My State Library & Archives Going Even More Digital


Don’t you just love it when you visit a library and they are on the ball when it comes to using technology?  I visited the Tennessee State Library & Archives yesterday and was happy to learn that they now have a digital book scanner.  Scanning book pages to USB is a dream come true – ooh yeah!

Of course I had to write about it! Check out my post on the TNGenWeb blog for more details.  

Follow-Up: WordPress Webinar Part 3: Features, Features & More Features

Thanks again to all that turned out for last night’s webinar with DearMyrtle on using WordPress for your genealogy site.  In this part of the series, we focused on using the self-hosted version of WordPress.  From installing it on your server , going through the initial setup checklist, to choosing from all the plugins, it was another detail-rich session. 

I unfortunately did not have time to cover some of my recommendations for finding themes, so would like to point out that with WordPress you can use themes from the theme directory that are FREE or you can purchase Premium Themes from online theme vendors and marketplaces.  Typically, premium themes comes with increased ability to let you change theme options without having to mess with the CSS style sheet. See the slides for a few additional thoughts. Whatever you do, be cautious in using themes on your site that you find in random Google searches – themes can contain code that  does your site harm. 

Below are the slides from the session – enjoy!

Additional Resources:

Follow-Up: WordPress Webinar Part 2: Dissecting the Dashboard

Last night we had another great webinar on WordPress! We had around 75 attendees or so as I checked throughout the session.  While last week we introduced everyone to WordPress and looked at the .com hompage, this time we really spent time going through most of the features of the Dashboard.

We covered a lot, and I still didn’t’ get to go through all I wanted to! Then, Myrt continued to work on Myrt’s site, this time with an emphasis on the Appearance options. 

Here are my slides from last night.  Keep in mind that these are demo/workshop sessions, so there are not many slides here, but you can have them for reference.  See my previous blog post for slides from Session 1

Part2_Dissecting the Dashboard

Thanks everyone for joining us! Parts 3 & 4 will be July 9th and July 16th so be sure to come back for more!

 

Follow-Up: WordPress Webinar Part 1

Tonight was a great night! I completed my very first full webinar and had the opportunity to start teaching how to use WordPress!  Many thanks to DearMyrtle for offering it and extending the invitation to me to teach it.

During tonight’s webinar, I shared information on the history of WordPress, it’s overall philosphy and gave an introduction on how to get started using WordPress.com – the easiest way to get started with it.  You can view the slides below, or check back in a few days for the link to the archived version of the webinar. 

Part1_LearnTheLingo

The feedback from everyone was great so that was motivating. Not bad for my first full-length webinar huh? 🙂

Next week, we will go into more detail with the Dashboard, play around with choosing Themes, and start to make the transition to the .org version of WordPress.  Check slide #43 for resources. Join us!

I’ll be on FGS Radio to Discuss WordPress for Genealogy

Today I am appearing on an episode of FGS Radio to discuss how WordPress can be used for your genealogical society website (or, historical society, family society, USGenWeb site, etc.).  I am delighted to have this opportunity to share with anyone whose interested, my love of WordPress! The show starts at 2pm Eastern Time, and afterwards will be available for listening at your leisure.

I have used WordPress extensively for both genealogy and non-genealogy sites and I continue to be amazed at how much can be accomplished with it.  To date, I either run, help run, or offer support for about 70 WordPress sites; I gladly look forward to working with more.  WordPress offers many advantages and can truly help making your website maintenance a no-brainer while at the same time facilitating high engagement with your user base.

You can listen to the episode by clicking on the image below:

I hope you find it of use! In the future, I hope to offer more information on how to maximize its potential.

For now, here are some additional resources that may come in handy:

  • WordPress.org – access themes, plugins, documentation, and the WordPress forums
  • WordCamp – meetings that occur around the country by groups of people interested in WordPress
  • Lorelle on WordPress – she blogs and writes all about the software

Additionally, here are a few examples of genealogy websites that use the WordPress platform:

I welcome communication from anyone interested in using WordPress for their genealogy site.  Just send me an email to [email protected].

You can also request access to the Facebook Group for Genealogical Society Webmasters where we share tips, suggestions, etc. – not only on WordPress, but much more.

My New (Old) Microfilm Reader

Can you say ecstatic! That is the feeling I am having this weekend after my geneabuddy Billie gave me a microfilm reader. She got it from a library that was closing several years ago. Finding herself not using it any longer, during a recent conversation we had about microfilm, she said she’d be willing to give it to me.

And I love it! Nevermind the fact that it is sitting on my nighstand in our bedroom :-). Until I get a “real” office space set up this is where it is going to remain. It is a Dukane model and I have no idea how old it is, but I know that it works. Yeah!

Thank you Billie!

Site Engagement or Big Brother-ish Stalking?

Today I learned of a website analytics software package called Woopra that is a very interesting application for sure!  The premise of it is that you install a tracking script on your site, and you are then able to view your site visitors “in real time” as they navigate around.   As a test, I set it up on the NCGenWeb site since Weepro rocks and offers a WordPress plugin.  If I were not using WordPress, like Google Analytics code, it would need to be placed on each page I wanted to track.

Upon installation, I can then log into the Dashboard where I see the number of current visitors; the number of visitors over the past several hours; find out if those visitors are just reading or potentially writing, or are idle; what pages are currently being viewed, recent search queries that landed them on the site, which sites they just left to come to NCGenWeb, and what countries they are from.  I sent out a test call to my G+ & Twitter community and had a terrific response!

Dashboard of site visitors.

There is a nifty World Map that plots visitors on the map

site visitors plotted on a map

I can see repeat activity too. Here is Visitor #47 who at the time I captured this screen shot, had visited the site 4 times within an hour.  Visitor 47 is from the Knoxville area and is a Comcast customer who uses Firefox as their web browser.

repeat visitor info

In the ultimate of coolness, I can also prompt a chat session with any specific visitor(s).  I sent out several chat requests during the test and had some fun exchanges.  This is what the chat request looks like

my initiation of a chat to a site visitor

And this is an example chat I did with Fran

chat from the user's perspective

Thanks to Fran’s retweet, I also had a brief chat with Mary who even complimented the NCGenWeb site – aww.. thanks Mary!

Mary's kind comment re NCGenWeb

Is all this cool or what?  Now, how might I use this for genealogical advantage?

Well, within the first 10 minutes of my use, I saw that one visitor was receiving a 404 message for a site they tried to access twice, so I set up a redirect from it to the new location of that page – it was one I’d missed the last time I moved things around so I was able to see that and fix it. Also, for the TNGenWeb project we are about to do a site redesign, so it may be interesting to use this as a way to survey site visitors.

There’s a lot of potential here. It is one thing to see your stats in various software packages, but completely another to see it LIVE!

Is that the ultimate in site engagement? Or is it big-brotherish?? 

Microfilm Scanners at Tennessee State Library

I heart the Tennessee State Library & Archives 🙂

This week they announced on their blog the new availability of two microfilm scanners attached to computers to allow for digital capture.  I was quite happy to hear the news because I have been wanting this for years now.   The Nashville Public Library has two stations that I use from time to time, but I go to TSLA more than NPL for genealogy research.  Besides, the TSLA has so many microfilm holdings just waiting to be explored and printouts cost .25cents/page.  I’ve tried to capture images using my digital camera and my wand scanner, but neither has given me the kind of results I ideally desired.

The systems in place are the ScanPro2000 machines.  They offer many features and the best way to get acquainted is to watch their YouTube video. Ultimately, you just need to know that this machine rocks! I kept telling the staff how pleased I was with it and how grateful I was to TSLA for having purchased them.

Here is my picture of the setup at TSLA

Microfilm scanning machine at the Tennessee State Library & Archives

In the few hours I used it, I captured around 250 digital images of old newspaper issues.  I was in heaven.

Since the installation is new, there are some features that are not enabled and I wonder if there are plans to?  For example, I noticed that this machine allows remote microfilm viewing.  With this feature, someone at TSLA could load microfilm and I could look at it and navigate it from home.  I would pass out if they implemented this  –give me access to a roll of microfilm that has a couple of hundred newspapers issues on it? Wow.  Maybe they will get to that?

Better yet – maybe the North Carolina State Library should get one, enable remote viewing, and then I could get to all those newspapers I’ve been longing to get my hands on!  Dick Eastman blogged about the machine last summer and by reading the comments I learned of several other libraries (including FHL in Salt Lake City) that have them, and even one that allows remote viewing overnight while their facility is closed.

I am still overjoyed.  Thank you so much TSLA.  You will definitely see me using these on a regular basis.