Wordless Wednesday – Chasing Butterflies

I’m back with a Wordless Wednesday post this week. I can’t believe these photos were taken over 10 years ago! I’ve seen this technique of blending close-up and distance photos on many layouts, and I’ve been meaning to give it a try. So here it is, chasing butterflies…

chasing butterflies scrapbook layout

Google Giveth and Google Taketh Away

Just needing to vent (er, I mean lament) over the impending demise of Google Reader. Like so many others, I had been a very happy and active user of Reader for several years — particularly to keep up with the genealogy blogging community. After Google made the announcement of the death of Reader, I let the dust settle for a few days and then started looking for a replacement. I’ve since found one that I’m pretty happy with – and I’ll get to that later. The main problem in this situation, however, is that having to research and come up with an alternative to Reader wasn’t something I was anticipating having to do.

This is the second time that I’ve felt like Google has pulled the rug out from under me. The first was when they abandoned the newspaper archive project. I used that extensively in my genealogy research. I could have better understood if they abandoned the scanning, indexing and adding of new content to the archive while leaving the search mechanism intact. But they pulled the archive search box too. Yes, the newspapers are still available, but searching them is now so much more convoluted. And we have no guarantee as to how long the existing newspaper archive will remain available.

Both times Google has used the excuse that the popularity of these services is too low to justify maintaining them. I can maybe believe that with regard to the newspaper archive, but with Reader? Really? If that’s the case why are so many complaining about it on blogs, websites and even G+?

Then, virtually before the ink was dry on the press release announcing the end of Reader, Google announced a new service called Keep. This one apparently is in direct competition with the very popular Evernote. Honestly, I’m not sure I even want to give it a try. I’m afraid if I like it and start relying on it, they’ll stop supporting it too! Or maybe it’s just me being overly cynical.

But back to the Reader replacement. I chose to go with Feedly and I am slowly getting used to it. I’ve actually been trying out some of the different layouts just for something a little different. Eventually I’ll probably even prefer it to Reader. Eventually.

The Onion Snow

I know — I’ve been completely ignoring this blog for a long time. I’ve been caught up in transitioning my genealogy database to RootsMagic as well as some other research activities. I’ll post some updates on that shortly. But this morning when I looked out my window and saw snow — yes, snow covering the ground and clinging to the trees — I just knew that I had to write about the onion snow!

onion snow - March 25, 2013

the view off my front porch this morning

What’s onion snow, you ask. Well, a couple of weeks ago I was discussing a forecasted snow shower with my Mom. (At this time of year in this part of Pennsylvania we don’t usually get snow — and on the rare occasions that we do, it does not amount to much. So to call it a snow storm at this point in the year is typically a bit of an exaggeration.) Anyway, at that time she told me about the onion snow.

Now I had probably heard this story before because as she was telling it to me a vague recollection was tickling at the back of my memory. But now that I’m trying to be more of a family historian, I am trying to pay more attention to the stories being passed down. You know, not letting it go in one ear and out the other! (See – I was paying attention to the theme of this year’s recent RootsTech conference.)

But back to the onion snow. According to my Mom’s Mother, my Grandmother, the farmers in our area plant the onion bulbs in the early part of March. Ideally, there should be a small snowfall after the onions are in the ground. This is called the “onion snow,” and it should happen by about March 17th – St. Patrick’s Day. The onion snow enables a better crop when the onions grow and are harvested. At least that’s the family lore from the farmer ancestors and relatives of my Grandmother!

So when I woke up this morning and saw the snow, my very first reaction was that the onion snow is here, but it’s about a week late! Hope all you farmers out there have the onion bulbs planted. I am ready for spring and once this melts away (which should be soon) I don’t want another, even later in the season, onion snow this year!

Time for a Change

I am in the processing of doing something that I never thought I would do — that is porting my genealogy database to a different software package. After using Legacy Family Tree since 2004, I have decided it’s worth the pain to switch to RootsMagic.

Don’t get me wrong — Legacy is a great program. But lately I have been feeling an ever growing disconnect between the features I want in a genealogy program and what Legacy provides. So I decided it was time to take another look at the competition to see if there was a better fit for me.

The first time that I took a close look at the competition was when Legacy V6 was released without the much anticipated “witness” feature which would have provided for shared events. We (the users) were told that the programmers wanted to include it, but it required too much “restructuring.” At that time I looked at RootsMagic as well as other products. My perception was that RM did not support tagging, and that was a Legacy feature that I did not want to give up. After evaluating the competition,  I decided to stick with Legacy and hope shared events would be addressed in the next release.

Fast-forward about 7 years. Legacy is now on Version 7.5. It still doesn’t support shared events, and, as I blogged about before, it also doesn’t support shared source detail (citations). These 2 pet peeves, coupled with some other minor annoyances, caused me to really give RM a good look when I got the email about their Version 6 release. And the more I looked, the more I liked!

The more I looked into RM’s implementation of shared events – or as they call it, shared facts – the more I decided it was a must-have. First and foremost, this feature allows you to create, for example, a single census event/fact and have it attached to all the members of the household. As a software engineer who specialized in database design, I personally feel this implementation is much better than having multiple copies of the event – as Legacy would have you do. (Or my work-around which was to create the census event as a marriage event and basically ignore attaching it to the children.)

Additionally, shared facts allow for the capturing of relationships beyond spousal and parent/child. For example, a baptismal or christening fact can be shared with the godparents and even the officiating clergy. RM did an excellent job implementing shared facts in a very flexible and powerful way, including user-definable roles and sentence structures.

Sadly, RM does not support shared source citations, but shared facts are a step in the right direction.

And what about tagging – the lack of which stopped me from switching to RM all those years ago? I have found that the named groups give me about 80% of the functionality of tagging — and I can live with that. I am also liking the interface now that I’ve been using it for a couple of weeks.

On the other hand, there are certain things that Legacy has that I miss – like hovering the mouse over a child in the family view to see the spouse list and all the shortcut mouse clicks. But all in all, I think (hope) that I’ve made the right choice – for me, for now.

I am now going through the tedious process of cleaning up – changing the christening facts back to baptism, fixing up the place list, changing the census (family) fact to a shared census fact, etc. And then there’s sources.. That can of worms probably deserves a separate post!

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday – Wedding Day

Today my Aunt and Uncle celebrate their 54th wedding anniversary! Here’s a scrapbook layout with their wedding photo. (Used a scrapbook kit that I am currently working on.)