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Month: March 2010

FamViewer Genealogy App

FamViewer Genealogy App

One of the things I miss most about my Palm is having my TMG database available. I read about the [limited number of] genealogy apps for the iPod Touch and iPhone and checked each one out. A huge red flag was the limit in database size.

FamViewer, the most expensive at $14.99, did not seem to have a limit and reviewers commented that it didn’t. They also commented that it was easy. I confess, due to the price [it is expensive as Apple Apps go] I waited several weeks before I decided to give it a try.

My file contains over 10,000 names and yes, I uploaded them all. That tells you it worked. Is it easy? Yes it is but getting it set up requires some prep time. I advise going to the company’s website and reading the limited instructions. The limited instructions almost changed my mind. I’m glad it didn’t.

The first thing you need is Bonjour on your computer. Unless you are using an Apple computer it isn’t likely to be there. Not only am I using a PC, it is a 64 bit and I run Windows 7. A little research turned up that this would not be a problem. I downloaded the proper file. However, when I went to install it I was asked if I wanted to “repair” or “remove.” Some application had installed a small version on my computer. It’s almost always easiest to remove and start over which is what I did.

The next thing you need is a GEDCOM of your file exported from your genealogy software. That took awhile, quite awhile, due to my large file.

Following the instructions, which were very clear, I uploaded the file. It took seconds. My entire file seems to be there. Although it is a GEDCOM it has many of the events as well as notes and sources. It may not be my complete file but it is probably enough information to travel with.

In the end I uploaded the file using the Windows by IP address method rather than Bonjour because I use that method for other apps and it seemed easier at the time.

You can also enter notes into the program on any person. These notes, of course, do not magically migrate to your genealogy database but you can email them, individually or in batches, to yourself so you can add them to your database when you get to it. They remain on your iPod Touch/iPhone until you are ready for them.

How much space does that database take? Apparently not much. I didn’t make a note but I had commented to a friend regarding how much free space I had the day before. She was concerned about filling hers up. I said I didn’t think it would be easy, that I still had 20+ GB free. After installation I still have 20+ GB free and I also downloaded another app, some podcasts and some additional music.

And I now have my genealogy with me.

A Great Picture Viewer

A Great Picture Viewer

I am using Windows 7. I had tried Media Center in Vista but it was mostly an unpleasant experience. Win 7 was no better and I wrote it off. Then I discovered Media Center is meant to be manipulated with a remote control rather than a keyboard and mouse. After dithering for several months I ordered a remote for Windows Media Center. They seem to run between $12 and $25. I don’t know anything about them, chose the $18 variety.

Oh my! I opened my picture folder. I quickly learned I could make the picture the size of the screen which in my case is 22″ – which translates to 18.5 by 12. I quickly spotted details I had not noticed before. A little more playing and I found I could zoom in more and then once more. I can pan the picture, left, right, up and down. It’s great for group shots.

A long mysterious group shot containing quite a few relatives now can be seen to have background details virtually invisible before which might provide clues to the location of the event. I was able to study faces a lot better and have tentatively identified two more people.

Imagine doing this on a large flat screen television. I did not notice any distortion in going from the standard size from full screen. Who knows what one might discover.

You can also view videos, play music, even view and record tv assuming you have a tv tuner or have cable hooked up. I did run into trouble when I tried to access photos on my network attached storage which works well with other programs. I have not had time to look into that.

Media Center is part of the OS in Vista and Windows 7.