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Android Genealogy

Android Genealogy

Way back when I had a Palm which I loved. I had three before Palm stopped making the organizers. I tried other things but it was years before I found an iPod Touch. I have since added an iPad. I tried FamViewer, GEDViewer and Families on them. My comments on FamViewer are here . If you read the comments the developer tells about GEDViewer which I then tried and wrote about here.

Families is only for Legacy software. It allows you to put your entire database on it, add to it while out and about, sync back to your computer. You need to make sure you have the latest database on your idevice, upload it and sync back BEFORE you change something on your computer. If you take a computer along and forget to sync first there is a problem. I sat through the Legacy webinar on Families. While I like having my whole database I am not comfortable doing the sync thing as a general rule. On a specific trip maybe. Here’s the webinar. (Scroll down to April 11, 2012.)

This week I got a new phone, an Android. I had GedStar Pro on my Palm. It is not available for idevices (and never will be the developer says) but it is available for Android. I made haste to install it. It is simple but it has everything. You can look up names, families, pedigrees, descendants. You can view your sources, even the details. On some screens, including marriage and burial, you can get a map of the location. On all the maps I tried it got it right even though my locations do not always conform to naming systems required by my genealogy programs – and which their mapping programs whine about.

The program requires first converting your database. It converts directly from Legacy and The Master Genealogist, requires a GEDCOM for other programs. Once you have that there are several ways to get it on your device but the easiest – which they encourage – is to use Dropbox. The developer’s web site has all the documentation and it won’t take you long to read the whole thing. It is very simple to use.(Hints: install the program, open it on your device once, then proceed with making the file conversion. When making the conversion save the file to Dropbox rather than moving it there later.)

Families is also available for the Android. Julie Cahill Tarr has written a series of articles on apps she uses for her Kindle Fire (an Android device) here. She discusses Families for Android, the Ancestry app (which is available for Apple and Android) and a couple non genealogy programs she uses which I also use.

THE CLOUD

THE CLOUD

I recently heard a lecture on The Cloud. The Cloud is our future. The Cloud will store everything. You won’t have to worry about backups. The Cloud will work across platforms. The Cloud will keep files compatible with current versions of software. You can collaborate in The Cloud. The Cloud is the greatest thing since sliced bread.

The Cloud may be our future whether we like it or not and you can collaborate in The Cloud but I have some  issues with the rest.

Do you trust all your data to the cloud? Really? What happens when it rains? Seriously, what good is all your data in the cloud when you don’t have wi-fi or your ISP is down or your cell provider throttles you back to a snail’s pace? My favorite program, Evernote, runs and syncs in The Cloud. If the internet is down I can still use it because there is a local copy but that is not true of many of the apps on my iPad. They depend on The Cloud. No wi-fi, no work. I don’t have wi-fi or ISP 24/7 and I am sure I am not the only person who doesn’t. Do you really want to be totally dependent on your ISP or cell provider for access to your data? And if you were what would that cost?

What does work across platforms mean? A Word file in The Cloud magically becomes a Pages file for Mac users? If only. I suspect he meant you can use The Cloud from your iPad, your Android tablet, your PC or Mac, your smartphone, etc. But if you put a Pages file up in, say, Dropbox, your collaborator isn’t going to be able to read it if they have Word.

You won’t have to worry about versions of software in The Cloud. Hmmm. Does The Cloud magically convert those Windows 98 files I can’t read now to Windows 7?  Next year will it convert everything to Windows 8?

Let’s pretend The Cloud has all those magic properties. What does something like that cost? He tossed out figures. Basically it depends on which one of The Clouds you choose. What? There is more than one Cloud? So if put all your data on Cloud A can your potential collaborators on Cloud D see it? Will we need multiple Clouds?

I welcome The Cloud. But let’s eliminate the thunderstorms, tornadoes and hurricanes first.

iPod Touch as a Genealogy Tool

iPod Touch as a Genealogy Tool

For years I depended on my Palm personal digital assistant [PDA] to keep me organized and keep all my information at my fingertips. My Palm contained my entire database from The Master Genealogist, every single fact.

Software changed. Palm changed. I was left without a PDA and was unsuccessful in my search for an appropriate replacement. I thought my Blackberry Smartphone would do it but it doesn’t.

Recently I bought an iPod Touch. Basically it’s an iPhone without the phone or camera. It has my calendar, my contacts, applications, music and pictures. Podcasts like Lisa Louise Cooke’s Genealogy Gems and genealogy lectures from iTunes U are “other” under music. You could add tv shows and movies although I can’t imagine watching any on the 2 x 3.5″ screen.

One of the first apps I downloaded was Evernote. I don’t know how people live without it. I keep all my genealogy notes in it. On the iPod Touch you can make notes but you need the internet to see your stored notes and to sync. This is also true of Dropbox, another application. If you put a file in your Dropbox you can see it on you iPod Touch when you have wi-fi. The iPod Touch has wi-fi but you need a wi-fi source to use the internet. When you have that the internet is your oyster. More and more places have wi-fi internet these days.

I downloaded several pdf reader apps, found one that works for me called pdf Reader, and uploaded Michael John Neill’s Casefile Clues collection to the iPod Touch. I wouldn’t want to read a book [you can though – in fact there is a Kindle app] but blogs and such work quite well. The pdf files are stored on the iPod Touch – no wi-fi required.

I’m not impressed with the genealogy apps at the moment. Although GEDViewer looks promising it cannot handle more than 2-3,000 names. I’m sure it is just a matter of time until one I like comes along.

You can record voice memos too.

The virtual keyboard takes a bit of getting used to but I have become an accomplished one finger typist. Think of the hours I wasted learning to type correctly!

If it had a camera and continuous internet connection it would be about perfect. Oh wait, that’s an iPhone. I suspect there’s one in my future.