Monday, July 13, 2009

Tools of the Trade

I have just installed an add-on to my Firefox browser, called ScribeFire.  It is a tool to allow me to compose my blog entries offline and on the go.  I have tried composing my posts in Microsoft Word 2007, my word processor, and it is a lot of trouble!  I have never seen so much "gunk" in a document in my life as comes over to a Blogger post from Word!  All sorts of formatting stuff that I had to either take out manually or destroy my post and start all over.  So here I am with ScribeFire.  This is a test, because this is the first post I'm making with this tool.

We live in an age when not only do we have to know the tools of the genealogy trade -- vital records, newspaper records, church records, and all the rest -- we also have to know the tools of modern communications.  We have to know cell phones and web browsers and blogging software and our genealogy program software and . . .  My head is hurting! 

And we have to know how to operate a computer, a difficult task for some of the members of our genealogy society.  I got my husband involved in the society I have belonged to for the past several years.  He is a retired federal civil service computer programmer and whatever-else-needed-to-be-done (like installing LANs and monitoring security), and he is a certified computer security professional.  So he became the society's computer security officer and has now had his duties broadened to include overseeing the installation and running of our society headquarters wi-fi.  And part of his duties also include conducting training for members in how to hook up to the wi-fi and use their computers in their research.  This is an area which is definitely terra incognita to many members -- and we have some members who stoutly refuse to even use a computer!

Last month, I gave a presentation to our society about even more tools: blogs, podcasts, and Twitter.  The face of genealogy, as with just about every other aspect of our lives, is changing at an ever-increasing pace.  Not every one interested in tracing their family histories is going to be interested in using these 21st century tools to do it.  But for those of us who are comfortable with the new technologies, they're wonderful tools indeed to help us accomplish our research goals.

We have one more tool to use, probably the most basic one of all:  our curiosity.


lindalee said...

I have tinkered with the idea of using son does. I know what you mean about the word processor program....I don't use it....too confusing. Thanks for these ideas.

Anonymous said...

Word will always put formatting crap in it because it uses a lot of xml, I think. You should be safe with Notepad or Notes, however.

You could always use PFE, if you still have it. If you don't, I think I do. Somewhere.