Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Tech Tuesday - The Netbook

This post is a result from the blogging prompts offered over at geneabloggers. Tech Tuesday is for new technology or web offerings that we have found that may help other family historians. Although my post is not about a new technology, it is fairly new to me and I felt I needed to pass on my thoughts on a netbook computer.

netbookI have a Toshiba netbook and I love it. I was a little leery of the netbooks at first because they are so small with tiny little screens and keyboards. I didn’t think my fat fingers would be able to type on this thing. I was also a little hesitant because they just don’t have the power of a regular laptop and I am a guy so I need more POWER!! I carried around a Sony Vaio laptop for a long time and it was just too heavy and I always had to be on the look out for an outlet because the battery just didn’t last long enough for some serious research trips.

I really looked at how I use my laptop and figured out that 90% of the time it is for schoolwork or my family history when I am out doing research or just not near my desktop monster machine (remember, me man – need power).  So I did my research on these netbook things and discovered they are generally just made for surfing the web and basic word processing type stuff – just what I needed. And then I looked at the battery life they get and I was sold! Anywhere from 6-9 hours of battery life depending on the brand you get. Say goodbye to lugging around that power cord everywhere I go.

So, I went out and paid about $350 for a netbook and I have not regretted it since. It took a little getting used to the smaller keyboard with the keys a little closer together but that is nothing. I love the compactness and the battery life.

I can literally put this in any bag I own and take it with me and it is so light, I hardly notice it. For battery life, I have gone all day long without plugging this thing in. Now, that isn’t typing away all day long non-stop, it is typing away some, surfing the net some, close the lid when not using it. I am very impressed with the battery life.

The main reason for buying this was for school work. My classes are 100% online so this is perfect. furthermore, once I started using it I thought why don’t I just install my Legacy Family Tree software and see how this thing does. It works like a charm and since my data is stored on Dropbox, I can update my data on this thing and then it is all synced up with my monster desktop when I get back home.

Final reason for loving my netbook. I bought it before I started this blog and am so glad that I have it. I can pull this out whenever I have a few moments and update a post in draft or start an idea I may have. All my posts are kept on Dropbox also so they are all sync’d up with my desktop also.

Now, with anything, there is always downsides. The only downsides I have found with this netbook is getting used to the smaller screen and keyboard. I got used to them very quickly and now they do not bother me at all. The portability makes up for anything else for what I want it for and the price is perfect – cheaper than an iPad.

So, these are my thoughts on the netbook and I would definitely recommend one to someone who needs or wants a little more portability to their research tools.

I am interested in the opinion of anyone else using a netbook; what are your likes and dislikes, would you recommend to another family historian? Leave your opinions in a comment.

Thanks for reading and keep diggin’ for that family.


Photo from: Thales Barreto

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

World Teachers Day

teachersToday is World Teachers Day. A day set aside to honor and celebrate teachers world wide. You can read more about it on the website, here.

When was the last time you thanked your teacher or your children’s teacher? Our oldest is in the 2nd grade and we have twins in kindergarten this year. I’m sure my wife has thanked their teachers but I have never gone out of the way to do that, but I think I may have to change that and head over to the school today.

Teachers spent a lot of time with us as we were going through school and now they are doing the same with our children. I was thinking about this the other day while talking with my wife about our children’s teachers. These teachers, at least through the 6th grade or so, spend nearly as much time with our kids as we do. That must make a big impact and be a big influence on their lives. I really didn’t realize how much of an impact teachers make until I started thinking about it. I started kindergarten back in 1975 and I can still name all my teachers through the 6th grade (after that is when I switched teachers every hour for different subjects).

  • Kindergarten – Ms. Saunders
  • 1st Grade – Ms. Nigerian
  • 2nd Grade – Ms. Couts
  • 3rd Grade – Ms. Schaal
  • 4th Grade – Ms. Aikens
  • 5th Grade – Mr. Hulka
  • 6th Grade – Mr. Roland

I’ve been in the Air Force for almost 23 years and I can’t remember the names of the supervisors and trainers from my first few years. It’s been about 30 years since I was in the 6th grade, yet I can remember each one of my teachers up to the grade. I can’t say what impact each of them made on my life but it must have been something to make me remember each one of them. And, I can picture each of them in my mind to where I would know them if they walked by me right now (as long as they didn’t age).

Teachers are generally underappreciated and definitely underpaid for all they do for us each day. So, I would encourage everyone to thank a teacher today, even if you can only send a quick email thank you – I’m sure it would mean a lot to them and they deserve it.

Can you name your grade-school teachers? If so, list them in the comments section.

Thanks for reading and keep diggin’ up that family.


Photo by: Mike Sansone

Saturday, October 1, 2011

October Objectives–September Recap

Pumpkin_OctoberHappy October! One of my favorite months. I am combining my September recap with the October objectives because last month was not a very productive month as far as family history went. However, I am not disappointed at all because we have a lot going on. We have flag football, soccer, cheerleading, cub scouts, daisies, and the start of school; all of which kept us on the move and very busy. However, I still got a few posts in throughout the month and did get some research completed. All-in-all, it was not a bad month. So, on with September recap:

  1. Get a copy of the church register that shows the baptism of William Van Capen.  (Did not get to this so this gets moved to October)
  2. Write to the Massachusetts churches to see if they have a record of birth for Joseph Lucas. (Did not get to this so this gets moved to October)
  3. Do some initial research into what military records may be available for WWI aviators (William Van Capen). (I actually did start this, in a way. I am hopefully going to be writing an essay on the battle of Blanc Mont during WWI so I have been digging through the National Archives site, among others to see what is out there. But, there is more to do so it is moved to October, also.)
  4. Lay out an initial vacation/genealogy trip centered on Danzig. (Yeah! This was is done. I have a rough outline of the trip)
  5. Store the records in my Lucas files correctly. (I have some old letters and documents laying in files and need to preserved these as best as possible). (Yeah, another one completed. However, as I was doing this, I found a few envelops of documents and photos from my wife’s side that we need to go through)
  6. Solidify a solid backup plan for my genealogy data and all my photos. (I back up now but I’m not happy with my process). (I did a little of this but still not 100% on how I want my final plan of backup—online? home network?DVDs? I need to do a lot more research and finalize my end of year – this does link with my goal of my digital photo plan.)

Now on to the October objectives, which is just going to be what I did not complete last month with one more addition for this blog. We still have all the sports going on this month so will not overload and make objectives unattainable again.

  1. Get a copy of the church register that shows the baptism of William Van Capen.
  2. Write to the Massachusetts churches to see if they have a record of birth for Joseph Lucas.
  3. Keep on the research into where I can find the military records of a WWI aviator.
  4. Complete the blog post on my search for Joseph Lucas birth record and location.

A very doable list for a hectic schedule. What are your monthly objectives? Or do you have suggestions for mine? If you do then leave them in the comments for all to see.

Thanks for reading and keep diggin’ up that family.