Kristin's Do-Over - Week 1

Here we are the end of the second week of Thomas MacEntee's Genealogy Do-Over project, and I'm already behind!  A large part of that is that we were traveling for much of the first week of the Do-Over, so I was late getting started.  And getting the blog started, while fun, has involved more initial set-up than I realized.  (I suspect there's an article from that...).

The tasks for Do-Over week one were:

  • Set previous research aside
  • Prepare to research
  • Establish base practices and guidelines
What I've done so far:
  • For "Set previous research aside"
    • I have not yet looked at the various hardcopy documents to know what I have.  I know that I have multiple looseleaf notebooks where I've captured information on research trips that I've never entered into my computer -- with the result that I have copied some of this information more than once due to my lack of organization.  But at this point, I only want to locate and inventory the paper copies of censuses, vital records (birth, death, marriage), wills and military records that I have.  Still a daunting task.  
    • As far as digital holdings, we have historically stored our digital photos and most of the genealogy files on a shared network drive for ease of access from different systems.  However, since the online backup service we use (Backblaze) does not back up network drives, my tech support (i.e., husband) has migrated (copied) the files from the network drive to a new USB array.  This is still a work in progress, as some of the files were not copied due to permissions issues; this must be cleaned up.  (I'm not sure any of these files are genealogy related, but this still needs to be done.)  Then I need to move these to a HOLD folder as Thomas suggests so I start with a clean set of directories. 
  • For "Prepare to research"
    • Document what tools and platforms I'm currently using (and boy, do I have a lot!  What a mess!).  I have files on a Mac Mini, a few on the old MacBook we've traveled with, and files on a Lenovo Windows 7 laptop.  In terms of genealogy software, I've most recently been using Reunion on the Mac Mini after switching from Family Tree Maker on Windows to Family Tree Maker for the Mac.  Have I cleaned up all the old trees in FTM or on ancestry.com?  Of course not!  What a mess!
    • I earlier mentioned a MacBook that we've taken on the road.  Unfortunately, at this point the MacBook is old enough that it cannot be upgraded to a level of OS X that is supported; it's stuck at Lion.  That means no security updates, which means it's reached its end of life as a networked device.  In looking at new MacBooks (under the assumption that I wanted to keep using Reunion), although we knew they were expensive, we didn't know just quite how expensive they are.  My husband is also not terribly impressed with the configurations that are available.  Since I already have a Windows laptop, I started looking at Windows-based genealogy programs.  I have excluded FTM2014 because of a number of reasons -- one of which is that I no longer want to be seduced by the shaky leaves.  But more seriously, because of the data integrity problems I've had with FTM (with media, with TreeSync'ing, and others) and the problems I've heard that others have had, I'm looking currently at Legacy and RootsMagic.  I've got a whole 'nother article started on that.  There are things I like about both programs, and it's not a clear-cut decision which way to go.  Still working on this aspect.
    • I have a copy of Clooz3 on the Windows laptop, but haven't yet "clicked" with it as someone once described it.  However, I have not yet taken the time to go through their online tutorials, so that's a to-do.
    • I also signed up for a one-year subscription to ResearchTies (web-based, need to go through tutorials)
    • I've inventoried my genealogy-related books using a phone app called RedLaser which scans and resolves ISBN barcodes, uploading the results of that to LibraryThing and entering the other books without an ISBN barcode.
  • For "Establish base practices and guidelines"
    • On the drive back home from our travels, my husband and I discussed naming conventions for files.  I've read multiple posts from others in the Do-Over about their naming conventions, and mine are a bit different.  Only time will tell if they work for me.
    • Like "Your Cousin Caron" (http://yourcousincaron.blogspot.com)
      • I will start a completely new tree in whatever tool I choose to use.  (See below for some info on that dilemma.)  
      • I will add supporting media and documentation for each item added to the new tree at the time of adding it.
      • I will use standard source citation formats to document.  
      • I will decide which software to use by the end of the Do-Over.
      • I will follow the Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS).
    • I will develop a plan on what to research.  Ideally, I'd like to have a set of research tasks already defined and saved in Evernote that are to be accomplished at different repositories so that I'm ready to go when the occasion arises.  (See ResearchTies.)
    • Cite both positive and negative findings.
    • Don't follow the shiny object. ("Squirrel!")
    • Document, document, document.
    • In the future, when I get home from a research trip, analyze and enter the data into the appropriate program with citations.  Don't leave it on paper or "in the phone" in the Scanner Mini app (though I do have that set up to automatically send to Evernote).
    • I still need to figure the best way to use Evernote notes and tags - and that's a different article altogether!

I'm sure I'll think of more guidelines as I get into this.  And that's the whole point, isn't it?  

Pages from the Gay Family Bible

In the papers passed down from my father are four original pages removed from a Bible. These pages contain entries for birth, marriage and death for a number of individuals in the Gay family, starting with the birth of Martin Gay in 1766. I don't know what happened to the Bible or who wrote or ultimately removed these pages, and my father is gone so I can't ask him. It goes against my nature to remove pages from any book, much less a Bible. But I'm thankful that these pages still exist. I realize that I'm the only who probably has copies of them, so it's only right to share. I will also let the members of the RootsWeb GAY mailing list know.

The images below are saved as bi-level jpegs and aren't the best quality (especially for a couple of entries with blue ink on the Deaths page).  I do have higher resolution TIFF files in color, but they are too large in size to post here. My best effort at transcription follows the images. And we're working on a way to add a Contacts page in case you want additional information.

Gay Family Bible - Births

Gay Family Bible - Births

Bruce's Do-Over Week 1: Photo Archive

Kristin is participating in a genealogy “do over” where she is starting from an empty tree and inserting information from scratch with everything done the way she now knows is correct. We are taking this opportunity to look at a number of different aspects of how we work on family history. My job is back up and recovery, and I'm revisiting that.

We use Macs, and have TimeMachine configured--and have tested it under fire. That is our first level of backup. I also clone disks using Clonezilla. Both of these are occasionally swapped with drives in a safe deposit box. The third backup is through Backblaze, a cloud backup service that offers unlimited storage for $5/month per machine, but only for native and USB attached disk drives.

The problem is that our photos are stored on a Western Digital Wordbook II NAS device. It has mirrored drives and has proven to be quite reliable, but there is no convenient way to back it up for offsite disaster recovery. As we become more dependent on digital photography and scanned images, I needed to come up with something better for storing photos.

Linux and OS X have long had the ability to set up software based RAID arrays, and Windows 8 has this capability as well. It was time to get a pair of high capacity USB drives, configure them in a RAID array and transfer all of our digital images to the USB RAID array where Backblaze would back them up. RAID (Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks) is a term for setting up a high-reliability and in some configurations high performance disk system. For a mirrored configuration (RAID 0), both drives in the pair must fail before you lose data. RAID 0 protects you from disk drive failures, but not from doing stupid things like deleting a file. It is not a substitute for offsite backup which protects you from fire, flood and theft.

About The Intentional Genealogist

Welcome to The Intentional Genealogist. We picked that name because -- I admit -- I (Kristin) have been a sloppy, leaf-collecting, non-resourcing genealogist. Until now. Inspired in part by Thomas MacEntee's Genealogy Do-Over, I'm starting over to research deliberately and intentionally.  

This blog and site are a family affair. I'll be concentrating more on the genealogical research aspects, while my tech support staff -- I mean, my husband -- will contribute articles from the technical perspective.  

About Kristin:  On my mom's side, I'm a fifth generation Texan with roots back (I think) to the Republic of Texas. (Yes, that search will be one of my topics.) Further back on my mother's side, my family came to Texas from Louisiana, Arkansas, Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina (and ?? -- still a work in progress.) My father's side of the family came to Illinois from Vermont, Massachusetts and England as well as from Virginia and from Scotland. As part of my intentional do-over, I've been able to join the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution (NSDAR) through a five-times great grandfather on my mother's side. That process taught me the value of complete documentation! I've recently retired as a software technical support specialist and thus am able to spend more time on the fun stuff! In addition to the NSDAR, I'm a member of the Dallas Genealogical Society and the New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) and plan to join more local societies in my ancestral locations.

About Bruce:  I've gotten involved with genealogy and the blog because I can help Kristin with the technical aspects. Because of our professional backgrounds, we have a fairly complex computer set-up with multiple platforms (OS X, Windows, and Linux) and networked storage. This is a nice problem to have, but it has led to frustration for Kristin because of fragmented storage. "Where did I put that?" is a lament I've heard more than once. So as part of the do-over, we're re-evaluating tools and reorganizing storage. Oh, and I do get involved in the genealogy. When I travel with Kristin to conferences and libraries, I consult with my eldest sister who is keeper of the Moore Family genealogy on tasks she needs accomplished. My day job is developing technologies and products to bring mathematical optimization techniques to community financial institutions (Moore Software Services, LLC).

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