2013: Just the Good Stuff

 

I’ve decided to wrap-up 2013 with the obligatory 2013 Year in Review listicle. This isn’t a Top 10 List or in any particular order, just some of my favorite genealogy related products and services from the past year that I felt were worth sharing. Not surprisingly, they are all tech items given most of my research is done at a distance.

01_New-Year

LOW COST RECOVERY 
Lost Cost Recovery has to be the first thing on my list. I’ve blogged about this before but I simply cannot say enough good things about Robert Fovall’s expertise and professionalism. I wholly recommend his work, not only if you need data recovered from your drive, but you want it done for an extremely reasonable price with direct communication through the entire process.

TOSHIBA CANVIO 03_Canvio
This goes hand-in-hand with Low Cost Recovery, because a Canvio is how my recovered data from Low Cost Recovery was returned to me. This little external drive comes at a very attractive price, but what I really like is its small size and ability to operate using only a USB cable. As a matter of fact there is not a separate AC cable to power it, so just plug it in and you’re off and running.

WINDOWS 8
My son received a desktop PC last Christmas that was loaded with Windows 8 and being the CoE for technology in my house, setting it up fell squarely on my shoulders.

04_Win8

The install was smooth but once loaded I absolutely hated, loathed, and cursed Win 8. I only stopped shy of rolling it back to Win 7 because my son liked the apps and games, and it was much better once I figured out how to create an icon on the Metro side to the Desktop side.

Fast forward several months when my new Dell laptop came loaded with Window 8. Despite all the wailing and gnashing of teeth in reviews and my own initial frustrations, I found out I liked it. It allowed me to use all of my Windows-based programs on the Desktop side just as before, but had all of the fun and usefulness of apps on the Metro side.

05_gems

As far as genealogy goes, there’s not much that warrants your upgrading to Win 8 beyond a free app for Ancestry and one for Lisa Louise Cooke’s “Genealogy Gems” that costs $2.99 and has additional content beyond her podcast. The Ancestry app is nice but adds little value for me because—even as a subscriber—all of my research is done in a Windows-based program and those files are stored to my hard drive. What does do quite nicely is provide an at-a-glance interface of hints for individuals in your database, videos of research techniques, and new Ancestry databases. The drawback is that you have to enter your db in to Ancestry to get those suggestions, and I’m not wont to simply give up my decades of diligent research and hard work so Ancestry can charge others for it.

GOOGLE DRIVE 
Continuing on with the Windows 8 theme, one thing I really liked was Microsoft’s integration of SkyDrive for cloud-based storage. The biggest drawback of SkyDrive is the same as Dropbox, and that’s the lack of free storage without referring customers, giving Facebook Likes, or subscribing. I’m already paying for Ancestry, as well as the hosting of my website, where my files can also be stored away from my PC and external drives. So anything I select should have over 10GB and be cheap free.

06_skydrive 07_Google-Drive

My other consideration is staying with larger corporations due to the quickly changing landscape of cloud storage because the reality is that smaller businesses in this space will either go under or be acquired in buy-outs. I don’t know whether that will be good or bad, but my concern is who ends up with my files or the servers they were on. Google Drive gives me everything I’m looking for with 15GB free of free storage from a well-known company that will still be around in another year.

GENSMARTS 
I’ve never wanted or needed any other genealogy programs besides one for my database, but this is a very welcomed exception. It quickly analyzes your GEDCOM file and generates a To Do report for your research. But the very best feature is the report is interactive, so GenSmarts provides links to online databases and the names of brick & mortar repositories that may contain the missing source data to fill-in the gaps.

08_GenSmarts

TANGLE HUB 09_tangle
My wife received this little gadget from a vendor at her job, and it’s been sitting on our desk ever since she brought it home. There are many USB hubs available but the thing I like most about the Tangle are the long cord that brings our desktop PC’s USB port up to my fingertips. The bright colors make it attractive and easy to find, and it’s toy-like design make it fun to twist and pose.

So there it is, the things that made doing genealogy in 2013 easier and more fun for me. Wishing a Healthy, Happy, and Successful 2014 to you and yours!

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About Dennis Lohr

A Wisconsin boy now living and working in Pennsylvania, I was blessed to be raised in a German-speaking home to aid in my research.
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