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Kristin's Do-Over - Off the Rails (for the time being)

All I can say is that I'm glad Thomas MacEntee will restart the Genealogy Do-Over cycle in April, because I got sidetracked. I started off on the Do-Over so well. I was on a roll, setting aside my previous research, collecting my own information, creating a research log, and even conducting some research. After that, not so good.

The first thing that happened is that we went to Salt Lake City for a week, spending several days at the Family History Library and attending the combined RootsTech and Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) conference. I'm not complaining -- I had a *great* time! While I didn't have as much of a "pick list" before heading to the FHL as I had hoped to have, it turns out that I had plenty! I owe a lot of that to the initial stages of the Do-Over. I committed myself to finding the low-hanging fruit, meaning the vital records for recent generations. I copied the birth, death and marriage records that I could find for my grandparents (already had my parents'), some great-grandparents, and even some g-g-grandparents. (This is not as easy as it could be. Our family has some long generations;  even my grandparents were born before the states began requiring birth records. But I found and copied what I could.) Then I ran into a motherlode of information on one of my great-grandfathers. I already had a copy of his autobiography that he wrote for a Civil War army reunion at the St. Louis World's Fair in 1904 and which he dedicated to my grandmother. But I also found several documents on regimental reunions that included information on and articles by my great-grandfather. Between these and the newspaper articles I had previously found online through the Quincy, Illinois Public Library digital newspaper project, I have a lot of information on my great-grandfather -- the most on any of my ancestors -- and I hope to write an article on him one of these days.

While at the conference, we spent a lot of time on the Expo floor, talking to vendors about different products. We saw many interesting things, but my main purpose was to settle on a new database program. We did buy one, and I've spent a lot of time working in it since we got home. However, I am somewhat frustrated. My home desktop is a Mac Mini, and both of the products we were looking at are Windows-based. The one I've been trying is Legacy 8.0, which means that we have to run it under an emulator. I won't go into excruciating detail, but further investigation is required as the program will run for a bit and then run out of GDI handles and crash. We're not giving up yet and plan to look into the version of Wine and MacPorts that we're currently using. Suffice it to say, I have not had time to enter the fabulous information I collected in SLC. But for what I have entered, I really like Legacy's Source Writer to help me format the citations correctly. As part of this, I've spent a lot of time going through the Legacy training videos, and I'm glad I have. I've learned and am learning a lot as I go relating to best practices. 

We did find out that Legacy uses Microsoft Access as its underlying database, so there will never be a native Mac version -- at least not without a complete rewrite. They are working with CodeWeavers to create a package that will allow Legacy to install on a Mac. In the meantime, they offered to sell me CrossOver Mac as an alternative to Wine. I'd rather wait for a packaged version, though noone would commit to a date. The other option is RootsMagic, also a Windows program but which already has a companion product, MacBridge for RootsMagic. And they are working on a native Mac version. They can do this because their underlying database is SQLite, which is not limited to Windows. To be completely fair, I should spend time with the RootsBridge training videos and the free RootsMagic Essentials or the paid version. I need more hours in the day.

But this weekend I'm taking a detour to work on income tax. Ick. Genealogy is so much more fun!

Bruce's Do Over Week 4--Preparing for FGS/RootsTech

2015 was our second time to attend both FGS and RootsTech–this year a combined conference in Salt Lake City. There were two major tasks for getting ready:

  • Preparing laptops and tablets with all of the software, tree files and conference syllabus materials.
  • Coming up with a plan for how to spend time at the Family History Library.

This article talks about how we prepared for this conference/library trip both from a technical and a research planning perspective.

Technical Planning

Laptop Security

The biggest part of the technical planning was ultimately laptop security, since we both have email and other sensitive information on our laptops, and would be spending time in airports and libraries–both of which have a significant chance of laptop theft. I’ve finally gotten to a point that I wanted to encrypt the disk drives on our laptops to reduce the severity of identity theft if a laptop was lost or stolen; if someone gets access to your email, they can reset passwords to bank and other web sites that you really don’t want someone to get to. But even long-time Information Technology professionals hesitate to do encrypt drives for fear that they will forget the password and won't be able to decrypt any of the files on the laptop. I decided that good backups were the order of the day, and started the process of researching and encrypting both or our laptop disk drives.

The process of selecting and implementing the encryption process is described on my business web site in Laptop Security–Encrypting Disk Drives. It turned out to be much easier and less time consuming than I expected.

Collecting Conference Materials

Getting all of the conference materials onto tablets turned out to be more of a challenge than I expected. For my Asus TF700T Android tablet, I ended up loading all of the PDF files that Kristin downloaded in to Calibre and then pulling them downloading them from our Calibre content server. We use the Calibre server to keep track of manuals for appliances, online magazines, and for pulling down newspapers (the niftiest feature by far in my mind). Getting the materials loaded early was important, as the RootsTech application wouldn’t download the materials directly to either my tablet or my cell phone.

I’m not sure how Kristin got the PDF files onto her iPad, but I gather that it was a frustrating process, and that she is not entirely sure how she did it.

Research Planning

I did not do as much research planning as I should have done. I primarily made an inventory of where I had looked for information on the brick wall people before, and decided that I would work primarily with the newspaper databases that I would be able to access at the Family History Library. That turned out to be a treasure trove, as I found a number of articles that will help me reconstruct a timeline that will in turn tell me where to look for a couple of vital records that I am persuing.

Bruce's Do Over Week 5--Installing Legacy 8 Under Wine on OS X

One of our objectives at the RootsTech/FGS conference was to talk to software vendors about specific functions and decide which package to use for future work. We are both primarily interested in better reliability and sourcing/citation capabilities. After using Family Tree Maker for a number of years, Kristin had experienced one too many data corruption problems and moved to Reunion, an OS X only solution about a year ago. She liked it, but wasn't entirely satisfied with the source/citation user interface. The MacBook laptop is now too old to upgrade to a supported version of OS X, so we either needed to put her genealogy onto the Windows laptop that we use for some Windows-only software, or get a new MacBook.

After looking at Gramps, RootsMagic and Legacy Family Tree in detail, we decided that Legacy has a slightly better interface for source/citation data entry. Since we are both considering certification at some point, we want to record the source/citation information as completely as possible. Unfortunately, Legacy is a Windows package, and we use Mac Mini desktops for most of our work. I built a Windows Vista machine for Kristin right when Vista came out--Microsoft touted the improved security features and I really wanted better security and stability than Windows XP. Windows Vista was an unstable disaster. Although our marriage survived Windows Vista, our relationship with Microsoft did not. I bought Kristin a Mac Mini and we haven’t looked back for a minute.

All of the indications are that Legacy will run under Wine, a set of Windows APIs that run on OS X and Linux. Our experience thus far is that everything in Legacy works under Wine except for the news items on the “Legacy Home” tab. It is rumoured that Legacy Family Tree is planning to release a version of Legacy 8.0 bundled with Crossover from Codeweavers as a single install package, but that is not available now (and may never be available).

Many but certainly not all Windows programs will run under Wine, so we took the plunge and decided to use the open source implementations for Wine rather than the commerically supported Crossover version from Code Weavers. The article that follows is a summary of the steps involved in getting Legacy to work under Wine on OS X 10.10 (Yosemite). It may work on Linux, but we have not tested it in that environment. For what is worth, we are using Legacy 8.0.0.467, Wine 1.6.2 and OS X 10.10.2.

Install MacPorts

The installation instructions for Wine will depend upon whether you are installing on OS X or Linux. For OS X, it is probably easiest to install MacPorts, which requires Xcode as prerequisite. This isn’t a difficult install if you have used command line utilities before, but if you have not used command line utilities before, you are probably better off purchasing Crossover from Code Weavers. The MacPorts installation instructions are detailed; there is no point in repeating them here.

Install Wine and Related Packages

Once you have installed MacPorts, you will need to install Wine and a few other packages. Use the command below:


sudo port install wine winetricks cabextract

Install Internet Exporer

Legacy 8.0 requires Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE) for some of its rendering the displays in the tab interface; the Wine-provided iExplorer.exe implementation doesn't work. Some earlier versions of Microsoft Internet Explorer are installable under Wine, but versions 9 and later will not install under Wine. Although you need a version of IE, you should not use this for browsing the Internet, as it is out of support and is missing a number of important security patches. To install IE under Wine, use the command


winetricks ie8 corefonts

In a later step, we will install Firefox or another browser that is still supported to provide a safe browser for use within Legacy 8.0.

Download and Install Companion Programs

Legacy uses several companion programs to display Microsoft Word files, browse the web, display Adobe Acrobat files, and edit text files. You will need to download and install these companion programs. There are other alternatives, but I have used these programs under Wine with Legacy 8.0 and know that they work.

Firefox Browser

Internet Explorer 8 is out of support and is missing a number of security patches, so you will need to install another browser. Firefox from Mozilla is a popular one that I have used under Wine. When you go to the web page to download it, make sure to switch to download the Windows version; the Mozilla web site will try to download the OS X version since you are running on OS X. Once you have downloaded it, copy it to the Wine user directory and install it using the commands


mv firefox_installer.exe ~/.wine/drive_c/users/brucemoore
wine "c:\users\brucemoore\firefox_installer.exe"

Reader for PDF Files

Current versions of Adobe Acrobat Reader will not install under Wine, so you will need a differnet companion program for this. My recommendation is IrfanView. Again, copy or move the file from your download directory to the user directory under Wine, and install it.


mv irfanview_installer.exe ~/.wine/drive_c/users/brucemoore
wine "c:\users\brucemoore\irfanview_installer.exe"

During the installation, you will be prompted twice:

  • To install Google Chrome and the Google Chrome toolbar. Although you may want to install these, it is probably best not to do so as part of the IrfanView installation.
  • To set IrfanView as the viewer for a large number of document and image types. You should probably select the option for all image types.

LibreOffice as Word Processor

Legacy provides the capability to view and edit Microsoft Word Documents; you will need to install a companion program for these. Libreoffice is a good alternative that I have used for a number of years and which I have been able to run under Wine. Make sure to download the Windows version. Because LibreOffice uses an MSI file instead of an EXE file for the installer, you will need to run the msiexec under Wine to install it:


mv LibreOffice.msi ~/.wine/drive_c/users/brucemoore
wine msiexec /i "c:\users\brucemoore\LibreOffice.msi"

Alternate Text Editor

You will need to specify an text editor. Wine contains versions of Notepad and Wordpad. If you want something different, you will need to install them under Wine using the procedures given above.

Install Legacy 8.0

To install Legacy 8.0, you will need the CD or better, the update file from support area of the Legacy website.

Installing Using Support File

It is easier if you use the support file; the procedure is the same as the procedure for the companion programs installed above:


mv Legacy8Setup.exe ~/.wine/drive_c/users/brucemoore
wine "c:\users\brucemoore\Legacy8Setup.exe"

During the installation, you will need the Customer Number on the CD to unlock the deluxe features. When prompted, go ahead and install the Geocode database.

If you have a problem where the Legacy8Setup.exe program generates an error writing to a path name with a Spanish character, try

LANG=es_ES.UTF-8 wine "c:\users\brucemoore\Legacy8Setup.exe"

or

LC_ALL=es_ES.UTF-8

 

Installing Using the CD

If you use the CD, you will need to find out the drive letter that Wine assigns for the CD drive. To do this use the following command:


winecfg

Go to the Drives tab and find out the drive letter for the CD and use that to call the Legacy 8.0 installer:


wine "x:\LegacySetup\LegacySetup.exe"

When you are prompted, enter your Customer Number to unlock the Deluxe features. When prompted, go ahead and install the Geocode database.

Figure 1 shows the Drives tab in the winecfg program. Look for /Volumes/Legacy 8 Install. If you have a lot of .dmg files on your desktop (as is the case in the example), you may have to scroll down to the bottom of the list to find the mounted Legacy Intallation CD.

Figure 1. Using winecfg to Identify the Drive Letter for the Installation CD.

When prompted for a custom or standard (recommended) install, choose the standard install unless you need additional languages&ndash.this is unusual in for most cases, but installing additional languages may actually be important for many genealogists.

Fix Path

Once you have installed Legacy, it will be helpful to update the path environment variable for Wine so that you can call programs with the full "c:/Program Files/Legacy8/legacy.exe" path. To do this use the wine regedit command to edit the Wine registry, and add a Path variable to HKEY_CURRENT_USER/Environment as shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2. Using regedit to Create a Path Environment Variable for Wine.

The path should include c:\windows;c:\Program Files\Legacy8;c:\Program Files\Internet Explorer; at a minimum. You may want to include the path terms for Firefox, LibreOffice and IrfanView, as well as c:\windows\system32;c:\windows\ie8.

Shell script

Finally, write a short shell script legacy.sh to call Wine and pass the name of the Legacy program:


wine Legacy.exe

or


wine "c:\Program Files\Legacy8\Legacy.exe"

change the permissions to 775


chmod 775 legacy.sh

You can create a desktop shortcut for the shell script to simplify things further.

Configuring Companion Programs

The last step is to configure the help programs. Start Legacy using the shell script that you created or the command wine legacy.exe. Within Legacy go to Options->Customize and update the companion programs in option 11 as shown in Figure 3.

Figure 3. Configuring Companion Programs for Web Browsing, Documents, Text Files and PDF Files.

Optionally Modify Display Settings

You may want to configure other behaviors under Wine, especially the display settings. You should experiment with the settings to see how they work on your configuration of OS X and Wine. To modify the settings, use the winecfg command, and go to the “Display” tab. You may want to change the default settings to enable window manager control as shown in Figure 4.

Figure 4. Changing the winecfg Display Settings to Enable Window Manager Control.

Kristin’s Do-Over - Week 5

Needless to say, I'm on my own timeline for the Do-Over. I do have a good excuse for last week in that we attended RootsTech/FGS 2015 in Salt Lake City, with a few extra days beforehand in the Family History Library. This post was initially written before the trip, and I actually do have some results that I've entered in the Research Log. (I'll have to write up in a separate post the prep and results from the FHL.)    
 
For Week 5 of the Genealogy Do-Over, the topics were:
  • Building a Research Toolbox
  • Citing Sources
 
Once again, I’m not keeping up with the MacEntees and Joneses. I’ve been watching the posts in the Facebook group for the Genealogy Do-Over regarding different links that we can include in our Toolbox. That’s still a to-do item for me. And since I haven't yet done any real research or entered anything into my research log, I have yet to cite any sources. Toward this objective, I do pledge to read the first two chapters of Evidence Explained, the “foundation chapters."
 
So, what have I done this week?
 
I spent some time working on genealogy-related business cards with the most common surnames in my tree.  As part of that, I also worked on developing a logo for The Intentional Genealogist that I can also save as a “favicon”.  What’s a “favicon”, you ask?  According to Wikipedia
 
favicon/ˈfævɪkɒn/ (short for Favorite icon), also known as a shortcut iconWeb site icontab icon or bookmark icon, is a file containing one or more small icons,[1] most commonly 16×16 pixels, associated with a particular website or web page.[1][2] A web designer can create such an icon and upload it to a website (or web page) by several means, and graphical web browsers will then make use of it.[3] Browsers that provide favicon support typically display a page's favicon in the browser's address bar (sometimes in the history as well) and next to the page's name in a list of bookmarks.[3] Browsers that support a tabbed document interface typically show a page's favicon next to the page's title on the tab, and site-specific browsers use the favicon as a desktop icon.[1]
 
I finally finished this step for both business cards and website, so, for the website, if you’re using Chrome or Firefox you can see it in the top toolbar — it’s that little tiny icon on the webpage tab in your browser; Safari doesn't show it. For creation of a logo/icon I found a free app for the Mac in the AppStore that will do some basic icon creation: Art Text Lite. There is also a paid version with more fonts and samples. Then to convert it to a favicon, I used this website: http://favicon.htmlkit.com/favicon/. Bruce then moved it to the appropriate place on the blog server and — voilà! (If you’re interested in more detail on adding a favicon see this article on Bruce’s business site; he also has a paragraph on creating an Apple-specific icon [used on iOS]).
 
Also this week, I entered some additional books and Legacy QuickGuides into LibraryThing and then exported it into a format that could be imported into Excel. From there I did some minor formatting (fonts, sorting, hiding columns, and page layout) before saving it as a PDF file and adding it to Evernote. I will have this with me when I travel now and hopefully avoid purchasing duplicates — or missing the chance to buy an item for fear that it *is* a duplicate. I also copied some of the research QuickGuides that I have into Evernote so they will be with me.
 
I listened to a couple of YouTube videos on organization and have refined my flow. I like the idea from Ancestry Anne of first saving an image to a TEMP folder, then adding it to my tree, sourcing it, and only then moving the image from TEMP to its permanent home on the hard drive.
 
I spent the remainder of last Friday (technically the beginning of Week 4, but hey…) working on consolidating media or otherwise genealogy-related files into a new single Genealogy directory/folder (with subdirectories/subfolders) on our RAID array attached to the Mac Mini. Any old records or images are going into a folder called “TEMP-old records”; anything new during the Do-Over will go into a "TEMP-new process" much as I discussed in the previous paragraph. I may change these names, but that’s what they are for right now.  Did I get all the files?  Heck no!  But it’s a start, and that’s what counts!
 
I also fixed a couple of nagging things on the website (still learning!) and caught up on blogging. The rest of this week will be spent entering data in the Research Log to get ready for a research trip. I also hope to add the Research Toolbox, probably as a separate spreadsheet or file that I can keep in Evernote. I really like having access to information across platforms. I do have both a Dropbox and a Box account, but so far I'm not using them much for genealogy. (Hmm, probably should have Bruce write an article on our backup(s) strategy.)
 
 
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