I Created an iPhone App!

I just can’t do anything with it.

Inspired by RootsTech I finally decided to further investigate something I’ve been curious about – how to go about creating apps for Android & iPhone.   I am so not a programmer/developer but I’ve heard of programs that allow non-developers to create apps and tried a few of them.   What type of app was I going for? An app to consolidate the feeds I have listed for the NCGenWeb Project on blogs/twitter/facebook accounts relative to North Carolina genealogy – the NCGenealogy 2.0 page.

Round 1:  Android App Inventor

As much as I love Android/Google, even their App Inventor program built for non-developers is not the easiest thing to get going with.   After spending an hour trying to get set-up, I still couldn’t use it – seems I am getting an error code for something going wrong with my computer.  I may try again later.

Round 2: iSites

After reviewing a list of potential sites for app development, I created an account with iSites.  For their most basic account they offer a 30 day free trial. I had to give my credit card info for the trial.  The process to create the app is done via a nice web interface and it was easy to add to it.  It turns out though that with the basic plan, only one RSS feed can be pulled into the app.  I’m aiming for multiple feeds.  Also, despite the site saying I could preview the Android version of the app, I could not figure it out. Also, iSites apps don’t work on the iPad and since I don’t have an iPhone, I couldn’t try it in real life.

Here are some screenshots of the app I made with iSites.  It shows only the feeds from the NCGenWeb Blog.

Front page of the NCGenWeb Blog feed

one blog entry from the NCGenWeb blog

ability to post to social network

Overall, I like this, but I really needed to be able to integrate multiple feeds and I was not willing to pay the $100 or so just for playing around.  I will be canceling my iSites trial tomorrow.

Round 3: appMakr

AppMakr looked promising b/c the market their app development as free.  This is good since many other companies charge anywhere from $100-$1000 and possibly monthly hosting fees.  Their website was also easy to use – they offered many more customization options than iSites.  Also, their app for the iOS operating system also works on iPads (just have to use the 2x magnification setting).

To my joy I could also integrate multiple RSS feeds! I could also create an app icon, a welcome splash screen, a custom header, and navigation icons across the bottom of the app.  I was impressed by all the options.  At the end of the app development process, AppMakr also rates the quality of your app and tells you how likely it is to be (or not to be) accepted by the Apple Store.  All this with no charges by AppMakr.  Here are screenshots from the app I created with them:

app icon

splash screen i created

feeds from county site category. i was able to create 5 different categories.

a specific blog post. notice the topic!

sharing options

I was very pleased with this and was now ready to figure out how to test it out.  Well, turns out the part that is not free in all this is the registration with Apple in order to develop apps; $99 fee.  This is not a requirement of AppMakr, but a requirement by Apple.  Again, I was not willing to pay this just to play around.  I did like the process though — and AppMakr provides some ability to test the app interactively online – you can do so at http://appma.kr/f6Plz0.

If I were developing an app for real, I would probably go with AppMakr.  Despite the fact that I can’t offer it for *real,* I am excited by the possibilities.  $100 and any organization/website/etc. could have an iOS app.  I do hope to further explore the Android development later on.  This is clearly a case where I could have benefited from a RootsTech class; perhaps Rob Fotheringham’s class on mobile development (TC 068)?

Any takers on creating apps like this??  As I worked through this example, a perfect example came to mind of an app I’d love to see — one for Geneabloggers.  Wouldn’t that be cool?

Managing RootsTech Knowledge

For my professional work I am a knowledge management information specialist.  That means I help people manage and organize information.   It is clear to me that I was meant to do this for I LOVE to work with and organize information.  With the explosion that occurred this past weekend with RootsTech I saw an opportunity to get busy applying Knowledge Management.   The best way to do this? With FamilySearch’s very own Research Wiki.

The ResearchWiki is a site that anyone can contribute to and gives us all a platform for sharing what we know about genealogy.  Initially designed to describe FamilySearch information, it has a much greater potential.  I inquired via Twitter if the wiki was being used to collect course information from the conference and learned that it really had not.  I was *challenged* (in a good way) by the Wiki team to create a page if I wanted to see one on there.

So create one I did! It is at https://wiki.familysearch.org/en/RootsTech_2011.

RootsTech 2011 page on the FamilySearch Research Wiki

I was primarily interested in creating a page to help collate material related to all the conference courses.  Since I wasn’t there I can only hope that the presenters offer to share.  What a great resource it could be for archiving the experience.  So far, I’ve only seen one class that has a Wiki page for the class info – Tony Hansen’s of the Dallas Genealogy Society.

More information is needed for contribution when it comes to the classes. Did you present at RootsTech? Did you write a blog post about a specific class? If so, sign up and add to the page! If that’s too much for you, just send me an email and I’ll do it for you! :-)  Help me make this page the “go to” page for the history of what transpired.  Thanks to everyone for all the great information!

Educause Conference 2011

Yesterday I posted details on how to follow along to the Tools of Change in Publishing conference hosted by O’Reilly Media.  Books + technology is their focus.

Well, I realized last night that there is another conference I wish to keep my eye on – Educause.  This group is about Education + technology.

EDUCAUSE is a nonprofit association whose mission is to advance higher education by promoting the intelligent use of information technology.

In my professional work I try to keep up with what is going on with Educause as I do have a strong education component to what I do.  However, if you are a genealogist with education responsibilities, you may be interested in this event also.

Keynote speakers look interesting.  There’s even a BYU person represented, and a Google exec.

How to follow along?

  • Twitter hash tag is #eli2011.  Add it to your Twitter saved searches
  • Educause Facebook page – “Like” them and it will show up in your news feed
  • Online Meeting – they offer a formal online package, but it is rather expensive.  Almost $800 if you’re not a member! It does not seem like you can follow along online otherwise.
  • Second Life — ultimate coolness here! You can listen to the speakers online in Second Life via the University of Wisconsin at Milwaulkee’s SL site.  Though I have to work, I will try to venture in during my lunch break and see what’s going on.

As an interesting aside, check out their 7 Thing series. Each of these publications are available in ePub formats so can be added to ebook devices such as the Nook & iPad (sorry — Kindle does not do ePub).

Do you see a trend here with me???  :-)  In any case, if you are a genealogy educator, you may wish to check it out!

RootsTech Talking

Here is a snapshot of all of our RootsTech Twitter activity the past 7 days.   Almost 3500 tweets from 334 contributors.  494 tweets/day.  That’s a lot of talking people!  The peak was on Saturday, the last day.

But think about it. There were 3000+ attendees and only 10% on Twitter.  Imagine what it would be like if more were on Twitter. Oh my!

For a tweet-by-tweet transcript from Feb. 10-Feb 13th, you can access it here.   Want to do a custom report? Go to wthashtag.org/rootstech and put in your dates of interest.

Tools of Change in Publishing Conference

Over the weekend, many of us were busy online tweeting & blogging about (as well as following along) to all the events at RootsTech.  I personally spent hours reading about all the great things going on.

On Tuesday, another conference starts that some of my geneabuddies & library friends may be interested in – the Tools of Change for Publishing Conference.

Sponsored by O’Reilly, the conference explores the latest and greatest in publishing.  Topics will span books in print, ebooks, cloud computing, online services such as GoodReads  & LibraryThing and more.  Books + Technology is the name of this game.

This is the 5th annual conference and will be held February 14th-16th in New York.  How can you at home follow along?

  • Live streams of the keynotes – 13 presentations!! the speeches run from 8:45am-6pm. Best of all, all of them will be made available via YouTube or podcast subscription for later viewing.  Since I work full-time, I’ll be making use of the YouTube accessibility.  I am particularly interested in a talk on eReading Survey results and another on creating apps.  Video from the 2010 conference is also available online.
  • TOC Twitter account – the official Twitter feed for the conference
  • The Twitter hashtag — is #toccon.  Of course I’ve already added this to my list of saved searches. You should too.
  • TOC Facebook Page – “Like” it to get updates in your news feed
  • TOC Social Page – consolidates the social activity around the ‘net.

This is a conference from the publishing industry so there will be that “bent”, but overall it will still be fun & informational to follow along with this conference.   As I draw inferences for both my professional position as well as my genealogy hobby I’ll share as appropriate.  Who else is with me?  :-)

Flipboard for Genealogy

Do you have an iPad? Do you use Flipboard? If not, you are missing out!  Flipboard turns content from various resources from basic streams into a visual smorgasbord.

Today, I realized I should add a section on my Flipboard for showing my @taneya/genealogy list I have through Twitter.  How cool is this?

Browsing is as simple as turning the pages :-)   For more info on Flipboard, visit their site.

Happy Blogiversary To Me!

Today my genealogy blog is 5 years old.

Wow! My first post on the blog was not lengthy, but in it, I hypothesized that I’d use this blog to “document what I learn as I research my family’s genealogy.”  That has certainly turned out to be the case too.  While I initially was not sure I needed to start another blog,  since I’d already maintained a personal website for 6 years,  it was a wise decision.  Not everyone shares my obsession :-)

After that initial post, a few weeks went by before I posted again, but those early weeks had me absolutely hooked into genealogy.  I ordered many certificates, joined Ancestry, connected with family members, and also started reading other genealogy blogs.  One of the first bloggers I interacted with, Nita, is no longer blogging about her family genealogy it seems, but we shared the Koonce surname among our family trees.

In the past 5 years I have continued to blog about my family tree, but have expanded to trees of my friends and postings on various aspects in the geneasphere that capture my interest – namely, genealogy 2.0, technology, and in accordance with my information science background – information resources.

Here’s to many more years of geneablogging!

Finding Dwight Hillis Wilson

Last night while browsing through my RSS feeds I happened across a blog post on the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society News website requesting help in finding a photo of David Hillis Wilson.  David Hillis Wilson (1909-1962), a native of Raleigh,  NC , was a former archivist at Fisk University (here in my city of Nashville, Tennessee), a professor at Morris Brown College in Atlanta, and also worked as an archivist at the Allied Force Records Administration.

The librarian and genealogist that I am, I quickly started looking to see what information I could find.  Mr. Wilson’s obituary provides further details of his life, including that he attended Shaw University in Raleigh.   Noting this, I thought to perhaps look for Shaw University yearbooks.  I sent a couple of emails out, but then again, it was late Saturday night — I knew I’d not hear anything until Monday at the earliest.   My next thought then was to look for family members; that’s what genealogists do right?

15 minutes later I had a telephone number for Mr. Wilson’s son! I called him today and he says that he can indeed provide a photo of his father to the group! Is that not excellent or what!  I am looking forward to seeing how this develops!