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Category: Evernote



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? ┬áNext 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.

Useful Tools Addendum

Useful Tools Addendum

I have been a long time user of the Firefox browser but lately I have been using Chrome a lot. Both are free. Both have good and bad points. I think it is a personal thing. Safari, the browser from Apple, which you can use on a Windows computer, is visually interesting. It’s on my iPod Touch. I have not figured out Opera. It’s on my phone and I do plan to try it on my computer. I don’t use Internet Explorer, mostly because it is the most prone to viruses but I think there is some rebellion there too. Some programs work better with some sites than others. If one isn’t working well with a favorite site experiment with another. Yes you can use five browsers if you want. Web site managers generally have several.

Chrome has a slick add on that allows you to clip a page or part of a page and send it directly to Evernote. It integrates well with Evernote, just fill out the notebook and tags and it is gone. Firefox uses Evernote’s clipper which has not worked all that well for me, not to mention it is always behind the current version. The two don’t seem to be communicating. What? You are not using Evernote? You really are cheating yourself of an excellent free tool. I keep all my notes from everything in it. I don’t know how people live without it.

Since I have scanned all my paper and saved it in pdf I am now looking for a program to read and manipulate pdf documents. I originally used Adobe Acrobat Pro, a good but expensive program from a less than supportive company. My version isn’t working well with Windows 7 and I really don’t want to buy the upgrade. I have used NitroPDF reader and PrimoPDF to print. I tried the entire suite but I had problems with it, probably more related to me than it since I insist on using WordPerfect and they use Word. [It’s a bigger issue than you would imagine and seems to be getting worse. Think Corel v. Microsoft.] I’d prefer not to have six programs. If you have suggestions let me know.

Scan Like It Is 2010

Scan Like It Is 2010

The ScanSnap is a small portable scanner that does double sided copying in one pass. According to Fujitsu’s web site it is the world’s smallest duplexing scanner. It can operate off your laptop without a separate power source if necessary. In theory you could scan documents anywhere, at least until the laptop battery ran out.

Sounds good but I wasn’t interested, in part because the capacity of the ADF is “up to 10 sheets.” I rarely seem to have a document of only ten pages. And it is pricey, particularly when I have a perfectly good scanner.

However, although I had scanned most of my paper I still had two oversized file drawers of double sided pages. I could come up with no efficient way to scan them so I broke down and ordered the ScanSnap S1300. I’m only sorry I waited so long. Within days of its arrival I had totally eliminated the two drawers of scanning and shredded or recycled the paper.

The ScanSnap scans at eight pages a minute color, 16 pages black and white. That would be eight pages, both sides, but it is remarkably fast. And the 10 page limit on the automatic document feeder is simply not true. You can add to the pile as it goes so you can fill the ADF, let it most of them and add more pages which will all end up in the same document. Even if it stops it gives you the option of proceeding from that point.

It takes pages up 8.5 by 14.17 which is more than legal size. Those old wills and other legal documents are no problem. [No, I did not shred those after scanning.]

Mine came bundled with software file manager software which allows you to scan to file, email, fax, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, a picture file, a printer. Or you can scan to my all time favorite program Evernote and have your word searchable documents available to you on any computer, online, on many smart phones and you iPod Touch.

You can scan in business cards and a program reads them. Your documents are read by a version of ABBYY Fine Reader. You can straighten documents. There is a Rack2-Filer program to organize your documents. Depending on which version of the scanner package you buy that may be a trial version.

I own Adobe Acrobat Pro and the full version of ABBYY so I have not tried the bundled software. Their system, at least in the ScanSnap Organizer, is simple and easy to use. I sometimes used it for a temporary holding system before moving the document to my own system. I concentrated on scanning and making sure I had all the pages. I didn’t always name the files. I will go back and do that as time permits, might check out their software then.

One thing that is a bit of an issue is paper exit. You put the pages in the automatic document feeder. When they come out they have no bin to go to so they shoot across the table, desk, etc. I found working on a kitchen island to be ideal for that. You could rig up a tray to catch the paper if needed. It’s a small price to pay for a portable scanner.

The ScanSnap allows greater flexibility in putting different size documents through without issue. It’s just more convenient. I’ll let you know how it does on my next big project – pictures.

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.

All Your Notes, All the Time

All Your Notes, All the Time

How would you like to have all your notes with you all the time so you can’t forget something? It’s possible.

I’ve been using a product called Evernote for nearly five years. About a year ago it totally changed from a program on your computer to one that is shared. I admit I was reluctant but now I can’t live without it.

If you share your notebook or notebooks the notes are also on your personal space at Evernote and shared with everyone you have shared with. That could mean merely your other computers. Or it could be other people. Think of the possibilities. You could use a notebook to share information among all the researchers of a certain line.

A note I add to the notebook on my desktop computer is almost instantly there for me in the program on my netbook or my laptop. I can use my SmartPhone browser to go to the web space, see my notes, add new notes. If I used a Windows Mobile compatible phone I could have the program on my phone. It also works on Macs. And you can run it from a flash drive.

When you are researching on the web you easily clip from a web page and there it is in your notebook, including the URL so you don’t have to make a separate note. The URL works later if you need to go back. You can also clip from any document you can copy from on your computer — a word processor, spreadsheet, pdf, etc. Your notes are right there when you want to enter them into your genealogy program, insert in an email, add to a blog — whatever, wherever.

Did I mention you can include photos, audio, ink, pdf, anything you can scan in too? You can snap a photo with your SmartPhone and email it to your Evernote. If you photograph a document Evernote will recognize the text in the photo. Again, think of the possibilities.

The program is free for up to 40MB per month, $45 per year for up to 500MB per month.