Saturday, July 13, 2013

Using Mobile Devices in Genealogy

The key here is that I use mobile devices in genealogy for exactly the same things that I do with my desktop computer except for the few applications, such as Adobe Photoshop and such, that are too difficult or too large memory-wise to work on a mobile device. Exactly. I use my iPhone for telephone calls, but guess what? I use my desktop computer for telephone calls. I get email, Facebook and Google+ on all the devices. But what about genealogy? The same goes for genealogy. Almost all the programs I have on my desktop computer show up as apps on an iPad, tablet computer, laptop or even on my iPhone. If I had an Android device, which I don't, the apps would be loaded onto that device also. I have RootsMagic on my iMac and I have RootsMagic on my laptop, my iPhone and my iPad.

In short, there is no "special" use of mobile devices separate from the same activities, functions and programs on my desktop computer. I do use my iPhone more as a telephone device than I do on the desktop iMac. But that is a matter of convenience since it would be a little bit difficult to carry around a 27" iMac. The opposite goes for the desktop iMac. I use the big screen and the full-size keyboard for some applications simply because they work better with those devices. If there were a convenient way to do some of the things I do on a big screen or with a full-size keyboard, I would use the mobile device. As a matter of fact, I do use a laptop exclusively when I am traveling and it is almost a complete substitute for my desktop computer.

I have been keeping track and I use anywhere from 20 to 27 different apps on my iPhone in course of few days and I use about 30+ different desktop applications, not counting those on the Web, in about a week's time. Since all my devices are connected to the Internet, I can add in several other (maybe 20 or 30 more) programs that run off of the Internet. Now focusing on genealogy, here is a list of the applications and tasks that I use or perform regularly, not counting those on the Web:

1. One of my major activities is scanning documents and photos. For some of the types of documents such as negatives and oversized documents, I use a high-quality digital camera, but I still download all of the images to a desktop computer. Once I have scanned all that stuff, I use Adobe Lightroom to sort it out and develop the negatives. Lightroom works with Photoshop so those are two programs I use regularly. I use my iPhone's camera to take images of documents and take notes in libraries. I also use my Canon camera for this function, if I happen to have it handy. Most of the time, at home, I use a flatbed scanner and a high speed sheet-fed scanner for big scanning jobs.

2. Another major activity, writing, should not be a surprise to anyone who reads my blog and other stuff, is done primarily on a desktop computer (identified above) and sometimes on a MacBook Pro laptop. Most of my blog posts are composed right online in Blogger and posted. Sometimes, mostly when I am traveling or whatever, I use Microsoft Word to compose the documents and then upload them by means of a fast network connection when it becomes available. I am assuming that mobile computing includes sitting in an airport and typing blog posts on a laptop.

3. I use a whole selection of genealogy programs on both the Mac and Windows based computers. I have one Windows 8 dedicated computer but both the Macs have Parallel Desktop so I can run Windows based programs such as RootsMagic, Ancestral Quest, Legacy Family Tree, Family Tree Maker (Mac and Windows), and Family Tree Builder. I also use the Apple OS X program Reunion. For almost all of those programs I also use the companion app on my iPhone and iPad. It is possible to do everything on the Apple OS X computers and devices, but I still have a few programs that will not run conveniently on an Apple OS X based computer, so I still have the dedicated Windows 8 computer. By the way, they all drive you crazy. Computers are computers and no one operating system or program is perfect. Some programs, such as Microsoft's Office programs, especially Word, I use incessantly, but I would change to something else in heartbeat if I could see a better way to do my work. OK, I now expect comments on Keynote and such. The issue isn't just my computers but many times I have presentations that are set up with Windows based computers only and I have had a hard enough time keeping PowerPoint going.

4. Of course, that brings up the presentation software. As I just mentioned PowerPoint is common and so I use it.

You can probably guess that I have a hard time understanding how you can still use a program such as Personal Ancestral File. I do have a copy of the program on my computers, just to use when I have a specific support issue, but I would not rely on PAF for storing any of my information. Period. I move from program to program, probably out of a desire to find the perfect program, and that means I am the perennial critic.

It actually seems quite simple and manageable when you exclude all on the online email, apps and Internet stuff. But unfortunately I spend about ten or more hours a day online and writing so it is far from manageable. But that is another topic.

Hmm. I was supposed to be writing about mobile devices. I guess I don't see the distinction between mobile and the desktop. They are all computers. They all do computer stuff and I use whatever is at hand. I am sure that some people think I am prime candidate for counseling because of my Internet habit, but they are in the same group as those who don't think I sleep. What would you rather I do besides writing, teaching, and making videos and talking etc? Oh, I almost forgot, I take photographs and put them online.

Just so you don't think I don't do anything else, I like to fly RC quadcopters.


1 comment:

  1. I use the free dictation app Dragon on my mobile to help with transcriptions only because I haven't found a good feature on my portable computer. I find it faster than typing and find the proofing of the dictation a helpful step in reviewing the material - especially with probate records

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