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Kristin's Do-Over - Week 1

Here we are the end of the second week of Thomas MacEntee's Genealogy Do-Over project, and I'm already behind!  A large part of that is that we were traveling for much of the first week of the Do-Over, so I was late getting started.  And getting the blog started, while fun, has involved more initial set-up than I realized.  (I suspect there's an article from that...).

The tasks for Do-Over week one were:

  • Set previous research aside
  • Prepare to research
  • Establish base practices and guidelines
What I've done so far:
  • For "Set previous research aside"
    • I have not yet looked at the various hardcopy documents to know what I have.  I know that I have multiple looseleaf notebooks where I've captured information on research trips that I've never entered into my computer -- with the result that I have copied some of this information more than once due to my lack of organization.  But at this point, I only want to locate and inventory the paper copies of censuses, vital records (birth, death, marriage), wills and military records that I have.  Still a daunting task.  
    • As far as digital holdings, we have historically stored our digital photos and most of the genealogy files on a shared network drive for ease of access from different systems.  However, since the online backup service we use (Backblaze) does not back up network drives, my tech support (i.e., husband) has migrated (copied) the files from the network drive to a new USB array.  This is still a work in progress, as some of the files were not copied due to permissions issues; this must be cleaned up.  (I'm not sure any of these files are genealogy related, but this still needs to be done.)  Then I need to move these to a HOLD folder as Thomas suggests so I start with a clean set of directories. 
  • For "Prepare to research"
    • Document what tools and platforms I'm currently using (and boy, do I have a lot!  What a mess!).  I have files on a Mac Mini, a few on the old MacBook we've traveled with, and files on a Lenovo Windows 7 laptop.  In terms of genealogy software, I've most recently been using Reunion on the Mac Mini after switching from Family Tree Maker on Windows to Family Tree Maker for the Mac.  Have I cleaned up all the old trees in FTM or on  Of course not!  What a mess!
    • I earlier mentioned a MacBook that we've taken on the road.  Unfortunately, at this point the MacBook is old enough that it cannot be upgraded to a level of OS X that is supported; it's stuck at Lion.  That means no security updates, which means it's reached its end of life as a networked device.  In looking at new MacBooks (under the assumption that I wanted to keep using Reunion), although we knew they were expensive, we didn't know just quite how expensive they are.  My husband is also not terribly impressed with the configurations that are available.  Since I already have a Windows laptop, I started looking at Windows-based genealogy programs.  I have excluded FTM2014 because of a number of reasons -- one of which is that I no longer want to be seduced by the shaky leaves.  But more seriously, because of the data integrity problems I've had with FTM (with media, with TreeSync'ing, and others) and the problems I've heard that others have had, I'm looking currently at Legacy and RootsMagic.  I've got a whole 'nother article started on that.  There are things I like about both programs, and it's not a clear-cut decision which way to go.  Still working on this aspect.
    • I have a copy of Clooz3 on the Windows laptop, but haven't yet "clicked" with it as someone once described it.  However, I have not yet taken the time to go through their online tutorials, so that's a to-do.
    • I also signed up for a one-year subscription to ResearchTies (web-based, need to go through tutorials)
    • I've inventoried my genealogy-related books using a phone app called RedLaser which scans and resolves ISBN barcodes, uploading the results of that to LibraryThing and entering the other books without an ISBN barcode.
  • For "Establish base practices and guidelines"
    • On the drive back home from our travels, my husband and I discussed naming conventions for files.  I've read multiple posts from others in the Do-Over about their naming conventions, and mine are a bit different.  Only time will tell if they work for me.
    • Like "Your Cousin Caron" (
      • I will start a completely new tree in whatever tool I choose to use.  (See below for some info on that dilemma.)  
      • I will add supporting media and documentation for each item added to the new tree at the time of adding it.
      • I will use standard source citation formats to document.  
      • I will decide which software to use by the end of the Do-Over.
      • I will follow the Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS).
    • I will develop a plan on what to research.  Ideally, I'd like to have a set of research tasks already defined and saved in Evernote that are to be accomplished at different repositories so that I'm ready to go when the occasion arises.  (See ResearchTies.)
    • Cite both positive and negative findings.
    • Don't follow the shiny object. ("Squirrel!")
    • Document, document, document.
    • In the future, when I get home from a research trip, analyze and enter the data into the appropriate program with citations.  Don't leave it on paper or "in the phone" in the Scanner Mini app (though I do have that set up to automatically send to Evernote).
    • I still need to figure the best way to use Evernote notes and tags - and that's a different article altogether!

I'm sure I'll think of more guidelines as I get into this.  And that's the whole point, isn't it?