Monday, January 29, 2018

Calling Members of the Commonwealth at Rootstech

For the past few years I have coordinated a casual dinner for people from the former British Commonwealth (now the Commonwealth of Nations) attending Rootstech. This gathering gives us a chance to make a few friends prior to the big event, Rootstech and to catch up with old friends. This year, we will meet on the Monday evening prior to Rootstech.

In previous years we have had attendees from Australia, Bermuda, Canada, England, New Zealand, Scotland, South Africa and Wales. (Pics of 2017 gathering on the right) 

It would be beaut to meet reps from Antigua or Zimbabwe or any Commonwealth country in between.

As the restaurant closes at 9:00pm please arrive in plenty of time to dine and chat. We will gather at the rear of the restaurant so we won't cause too much disturbance to other patrons. After closing time new found friends may wish to adjourn to a neighbourhood bar to continue their conversations.

If you have other pressing engagements please drop in for a while and say G'day.

Commonwealth folk please accept this post as your invitation. 

You are invited to a casual "People from the Commonwealth" get together
at the 
Blue Lemon, 55 West South Temple Salt Lake City, UT 84111
6:00pm - 8:00pm on Monday 26th February 2018. 

RSVP By email to or via a comment to me on social media.

Blue Lemon Location

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Found on the phone

Before I recently upgraded my phone I downloaded all the old images and videos from the old one. Amongst the treasures I found were a few very amateurish videos I shot during the interview opportunities we Ambassadors had with the keynote speakers during Rootstech in 2017.

This video is a bit shaky as I was swooning (with some of my fellow ambassadors) during the time we had with the Property Brothers Drew and Jonathan Scott. Take a look at the clip below to see what fun we had.

As there will be no fancy video studio available for Ambassadors at Rootstech in 2018 my videos for this year may be similarly shaky.

Friday, January 26, 2018

101 Reasons to attend #Congress_2018 - Revisited

I don't know how many of these posts I have written but there are more than 101 reasons to attend #Congress_2018. There are more than 1,001 reasons.

It appears that the Congress registrations have almost reached their ceiling (some magic number over 500) so it is obvious that these registered agree with me that there is a myriad of reasons to attend Congress. If you haven't seen all of the 101 Reasons to attend #Congress_2018 I am posting a compilation below.

Over the next few weeks I will share some tips and thoughts on preparing for and surviving Congress (and maybe just a few more reasons that are lurking in my drafts folder).

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

It's time for a page

Last week I prattled on about changes to my social media use.

In particular I said that I was rarely using Google+ to share interesting announcements, news and posts that I came across in my geneareading each day. Lately I have been sharing these in a mishmash of ways to Twitter, Facebook Groups and Pages, on my own Facebook stream, sometimes Google+ and in mentions on blog posts.

I have also not been collating my Friday GeniAus Gems posts lately as these took me several hours to put together and I would rather have a more immediate and less time consuming way of sharing others' blog posts that strike a chord with me.

I notice that a number of my readers no longer use RSS feed readers to curate their blog reading. Some people rely on Facebook notifications to learn about new posts. I also sometimes forget to promote my posts so they only reach the audience who have subscribed to my blog.

Usually an early adopter I have resisted using Facebook as my main vehicle for sharing. This morning, after realising that I had shared stuff all over the place via different avenues, I decided to join the swim on Facebook and try to restrict most of my geneasharing to one place that is easily accessible on mobile devices.

I am about to make a new GeniAus Page on Facebook that I will use for sharing my GeniAus' Gems. It will be useful for sharing those snippets that I feel are important but that do ot warrant a blog post.

.... Half an hour has gone by and I now have a page. Please Like my page to see my posts at

Trove Tuesday - Family History Blogs

I have been thinking about blogs and blogging this week so I thought I'd take a look at Trove and see what Family History Blogs I could find. I am always on the prowl for new to me Australian genealogy blogs to follow.

Firstly I restricted my search to "Archived websites (1996 – now)"  and entered the following in the search box.

I was rewarded with "at least 3,058 sites containing 2,058,694 page versions". On the first page of hits I saw many blogs and websites that I recognised.

I then selected "Blogs" from the narrow by keywords option on the left of the page. My list of hits was reduced to:" at least 553 sites containing 224,899 page versions."

Did I find anything new to me? I knew all the blogs on the first list of twenty including some that are dormant. Isn't it good that their content is preserved on Trove.

On the second page I started seeing blogs that I wasn't familiar with. One was weird, one from a writer and one about hair loss and other random stuff. I kept going...

The first gem I found was Great War Nurses from the Hunter  , although dormant this blog has many interesting articles.

Are you my father? How I spent my life searching for truth diarises a woman's search for her biological father. This blog hooked me in with well written and riveting story that I spent over  two hours reading each and every post.

I was thrilled to find Camden History Notes as my convict ancestors Patrick Curry and Ellen Moore were there from 1828.There were lots of articles on the Camden area.

Scrolling thhrough15 pages of hits I found lots of blogs that I know including three of mine but little else of interest. I need to use some other search terms to find more genealogy blogs.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Blog overload?

Geneablogging was my focus today ... but it wasn't about my blogs.

My first task involved putting on my hat as an admin team member of the GeneabloggersTRIBE. Together with Hilary Gadsby from Wales and Laura Hedgecock from the US I create the welcome posts for those who have joined the Tribe. Our genimate DearMyrtle is supporting us with this task. 

I also help monitor the GeneabloggersTRIBE Facebook Group. The other Australian on the admin team, Caitlin Gow has different responsibilities. It's amazing to work in support of geneablogging with this committed volunteer team from around the globe. 

If you are a geneablogger who hasn't joined the GeneabloggersTRIBE do go to the site and sign up. Make sure you check out the Members' List too.

I spent far too long writing my dozen posts today as each blog I view is a magnet to this inquisitive old bird who is into Tangential Genealogy. The blogs I write about entice me to read and explore and they help me form opinions on what elements I think are important in a blog.

Just 513 posts to read
When my creative juices ran dry I turned to the list of genealogy blogs I follow in my RSS feed reader, Inoreader. I added several new blogs to the list I follow. This won't make keeping up any more onerous as many genebbloggers have taken to slow blogging and quite a few have stopped blogging. I don't delete blogs from my RSS feed as, on occasion, a blogger will return to blogging after a hiatus of one, two or more years. I want to be alerted so I can welcome them back.

Of course I spent ages going through the new to me blogs. I particularly liked the titles of the Before Bernadette and  The Restall Gene. I loved the title and the stories in the Behind the Cupboard Doors blog. 

I am impressed by the stamina of new blogger, Duncan in the Churches of Tasmania blog, 25 posts in his first month! I liked the new look at the Derek's Den blog. 

Once my list was updated I set about reading the backlog of posts in Inoreader. I tried to comment on quite a few posts as I know what a buzz it is to receive comments. I have had problems all day connecting to blogs (even my own) so I have had to skip many of them.

While all of this has been going on I have been watching activity on the Lake outside and at the Australian Open tennis on the TV in my living room.

The importance of having a Blog Archive widget on one's blog site was reinforced today as I tried to navigate through several years of some blogger's posts. The importance of having an About Me statement or page was also strengthened as I tried to make meaningful comments about unknown bloggers.

Several Bloggers have made a great start with the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge. The cynic in me wonders how many will make it to the finish line.  I like Lilian Magill's approach to this challenge is more achievable. Lilian is promoting 12 Ancestors in 12 months.

Things have been moving slowly on the internet today so I just logged off and back on and find I cannot access the Inoreader site. I guess that someone is telling me that I need to go and watch Nick Kyrgios play his match in the Australian Open. I'll continue my blog reading tomorrow.

I am not suffering from blog overload, I've had a most enjoyable day and learnt a bit more about geneablogging.

The action outside my backyard

Friday, January 19, 2018

Tweaking my Social Media Policy

Way back in 2013 I wrote about my personal social media use after a reading a 2010 post "How Much Social Networking is Too Much?

In the past 4 1/2 years other social media tools have emerged, some have thrived and some withered. I can't keep up with everything so I am reviewing how I use the tools at my disposal. some of these tools are not necessarily social media tools but I am including them because I use them for managing my communication and collaboration.

Below in black font is what I posted in 2013. I will describe my 2018 practices in Red.

Blogger - Essential for my blogging. Still my favourite blogging platform. 

Evernote - My virtual notebook where I store and share all sorts of things. Still my virtual memory/organisation tool.

Facebook - I joined to connect with family and friends and I use it (reluctantly) to connect with the genealogy community. I would rather not use it for genealogy but while others insist on using it I will stay there. Reluctantly I have followed the genealogy crowd to Facebook. I particularly enjoy participating in some Facebook Groups. I also maintain a couple of Facebook Pages.

Google+ - My social media communication and collaboration tool of choice. Sadly other genies haven't shared my enthusiasm for Google+ so although I still announce my blogger posts there I do not share news regularly on Google+ any longer.

Inoreader - The RSS Feed Reader I now use.

Instagram - I have an account but do not use it regularly.

Librarything - I love this tool for managing my reading life and remembering for me what I have read. I remain faithful to Librarything.

LinkedIn - I'll maintain my presence here as it is good to keep in contact with former business contacts. I still have a presence there but I am not an active user.

Pinterest - I have several genealogy boards on Pinterest but I am still just dabbling.

The Old Reader - My new (to me) RSS feed reader. The Old Reader is no longer.

Trello - I came to Trello recently because it is used as a planning/collaboration tool in a group to which I belong.  

Twitter - I have quietened down on Twitter but it is the tool I turn to when at an event and I have something to share. I'm quiet on Twitter but still tweet from events using appropriate hashtags.

Wordpress - I also blog from Wordpress as I thought it useful to be competent in using this platform.

Youtube - A home for the few videos I have made. I have added quite a few videos to my Channel during the past few years.

What do you use? I wonder what we'll be using in 2022?

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Just a haircut away

Rootstech has crept up on me this year. 

I find that it is now only 35 days (or one haircut away) until I board the Flying Kangaroo for my journey to the Geneamecca of Salt Lake City. Am I ready?

As a regular Rootstechie I have become a bit complacent about preparing for my journey. 

In January 2011 I wrote "I've dived into the bowels of my dressing shed (aka wardrobe) and retrieved the overseas winter clothes that are too warm to wear in Australia. I've a thick padded jacket,a pair of comfy warm walking boots, hats, gloves, scarves and some thermal underwear. Hopefully I will be able to keep warm in Salt Lake City. 

Thanks to advice from some of my fellow Rootstech Bloggers I know what I need to pack for my research days at The Family History Library and the Rootstech Conference. My passport is in date and I have my ESTA US Visa Waiver organised. My travel documents are in hard and soft copy."

Fast forward to 2018 - I'm leaving the thermal underwear behind as I am not planning to spend much time outdoors, the padded coat is a must but the warm indoor clothes aren't needed as most places including the Family History Library and the Salt Palace ar well heated. I have the travel documents, travel insurance, passport and the ESTA so I'm set.

Later in 2011 I blogged "As a newbie (and a foreigner) at Rootstech last year I was not aware of the need to have a swag of geneabloggers' accessories. I was rather proud of the snazzy new business cards I had along with me but these paled into insignificance when I saw the array of accessories that other geneabloggers had brought along."

I now know to take Australian mini koala badges, stickers and other souvenir type stuff. I need to order contact cards with my new mobile number and to order some more conference ribbons to hand out to my genimates. I may even get some ribbons for members of the Commonwealth to wear. 

As has been my practice I am arriving in Salt Lake six days prior to Rootstech proper so that I can get over the jet lag, indulge in some retail therapy and socialise with my genimates before the main event.

When the first Rootstech app was introduced it was next to useless but as the years have gone by the app has been replaced and improved. I have it downloaded and am using it to map out my days and connect with genimates.

Unfortunately I didn't make a list of the technology I took to Rootstech last year but I will once again set up my office (where I can blog and write away from the action) in my room at the Marriott. I had better start thinking of what I need to take.

Rather than taking one huge suitcase I am going to take two smaller suitcases this year (I am allowed three bags on Qantas) as I think that they will be easier for an old girl to handle.

I think I'm set. 

101 Reasons to Attend #congress_2018 - Meeting DNA Matches

Over the past few years I have made several new cousin connections via DNA. I am excited that I will be able to meet at least one of them for the first time at Congress 2018.

Travelling to Sydney just to meet a 4th cousin might not be on a DNA match's priority list but when that can be added to the Congress 2018 experience then it is a goer.

Is anyone else meeting up with new found cousins at Congress?

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Accentuate the Positive Geneameme 2017 according to Geniaus.

2017 was a bit of a roller-coaster year in the GeniAus household and I was unable to devote as much time as I would have liked to my geneapursuits. 

1.  An elusive ancestor I found was ... they are all still in hiding but thanks to DNA I found some new and reconnected with a few old cousins. Sharing has helped us build up better pictures of  our ancestors.

2.  A great newspaper article I found was in the 
Limerick City Library Local Studies Collection. From the Limerick Chronicle that is not available online I found a short report on the crime of Grand Larceny that sent my 3x Great-Grandmother, Ellen Moore, in 1825 on the ship Mariner to the penal colony in New South Wales.

3.  A geneajourney I took was my annual pilgrimage to the geneamecca, Salt Lake City, for the Rootstech Conference. I also took time out from a holiday in Ireland (See #2) to do a bit of ancestor hunting. 

4.  An important record I found was when I was tidying my downloads folder I found a few digital records I had downloaded when visiting various repositories (I won't say how long ago). I am pleased to report that these are now safely housed in their correct places and the details from them entered in my Family Historian database.

5.  A Several newly found family members (Via DNA) shared documents, certificates etc from their branches of family trees.

6.  A geneasurprise I received was that several family members graciously volunteered to spit and scrape for me and another grandchild asked to be tested so that she can find out about her paternal side.

7.   My 2017 blog post that I was particularly proud of was all of the posts in the Geneadictionary, because it's fun doing something a bit quirky.

8.  I made a new genimate who shares one of my more colourful ancestors. We have been collaborating with other descendants via a small closed Facebook Group, slowly going over the research we did years ago and trying to build up a clearer picture of the life of this ancestor.

9.  A new piece of technology I have nearly mastered was  my new Galaxy Note 8 smartphone. After having to replace my explosive Note 7 with a phone without a stylus I was at the top of the queue when the new Note 8 was released. I am loving this new device.

10. I joined The Lake Macquarie Family History Group which is near our new home north of Sydney. I also joined several genealogy groups on Facebook. I mu give a shoutout to Using DNA for Genealogy - Australia & NZ Group.
11. A genealogy event from which I learnt something new was I always learn something new but I learn more at some events than at others. I found that something just clicked when I heard a DNA webinar presentation from Louise Coakley

A blog post that taught me something new was from Jenny' Joyce's Jennyalogy blog. As I have a particular interest in words I was pleased to learn about the role of a Reeve

13. A DNA discovery I made was that DNA has confirmed that I am on the right track with most of my traditional research. It is pleasing to know that those close to me who have tested are also biologically related.

14. I taught a genimate how to ...  hopefully some of the attendees at my presentations learnt something new. I think that I enthused a few people to blog and believe that I taught Trove tricks to quite a few.

15. A brick wall was not demolished but I am still chipping away.

16. A great site I visited was Hornsby Library's Hornsby Shire Recollects which promises to be a valuable resource for local historians now and in the future.

17. A new genealogy/history book I enjoyed was
The Missing Man: A Morton Farrier novella by Nathan Dylan Goodwin. While I read several interesting books that taught me something this work of fiction was one I read for pure enjoyment and I couldn't put it down.

18. It was exciting to finally meet  The Property Brothers at Rootstech and hear the keynote about their family.

19. I am excited for 2018 because Rootstech and Congress 2018 are coming. I know I will learn much from these events and be invigorated for geneactivities through 2018.

20. Another positive I would like to share is ... I have a small role on the GeneabloggersTRIBE team. I am so proud to be involved with this global group of  geneabloggers who are sharing theri time and expertise to promote geneablogging.

Accentuate the Positive Geneameme 2017 - The Posts

I am grateful to my genimates new and old who rose to my "Accentuate the Positive 2017" challenge at a hectic time of year. 

I firmly believe that reflection and evaluation are important elements of any process but sometimes feel that we are a little brutal when it comes to self evaluation. It was rewarding to read the posts below in which many genies came to the realisation that 2017 was indeed a very good year.

I apologise that it has taken me some time to publish this compilation. I have spent the past two weeks on King Island in Bass Strait where I had limited access.  Please peruse the posts from several corners of the world - you may meet some new bloggers like I did.

If I have missed any posts please let me know and I will add them to the list. If you would still like to participate please let me know and I will add your post to the list.

Alex Daw
Alona Tester
Ann Marie Bryant
Anne Young
Elizabeth Handler
Jane Taubman 
Jeanne Bryan Insalaco
Jill Ball
Julie Goucher
Laura Mattingly
Lilian Magill
Linda Stufflebean 
Patsy Daly
Pauleen Cass
Shauna Hicks
Vera Marie Badertscher

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Following Taneya's Tip

I love it when I pick up a really useful tip from another geneablogger.

Yesterday as I was catching up on some blog reading I came across a recent Tech Tuesday post from Taneya Koonce in which she talked about the organisation of her digital images. She mentioned that she had been a user of Picasa but that when Google withdrew support for that product she returned to an ACDSee  product she had used previously.

That post was so timely for me as I have been looking around for something to replace Picasa.  Picasa still works but I don't want to be in a situation where it may crash and I lose all the info I have added to my images with the program.

I immediately investigated the ACDSee Photo Studio Ultimate 10 program by seeking out reviews and reading posts in user groups. There was a lot of positivity so I took advantage of the month's free trial and downloaded the program.

Playing with ACDSee Photo Studio Ultimate 10
After 6 hours use I find that it is a sophisticated package that has some features I may never use but it does what I want and more. The tags I had assigned to all my images in Picasa have appeared in the IPTC Metadata keyword field. This was a major criteria for me, a feature that was essential. Being able to apply metadata that conforms to IPTC international standards is most important to this old librarian, I have spent most of my time today doing that. I have played around with retrieving images from my sample collection and that works well.

I only had to resort to the Help Menu a couple of times as I played with my photos from 2017 so I guess that means it is fairly intuitive.

ACDSee Photo Studio Ultimate 10  is not cheap but is on special online for $USD99 until 17th January. I won't be parting with my money immediately. I'll play with the program a little more but I am confident that I have found a solution that suits my purposes.

Monday, January 8, 2018

The Rise and Fall of the Blog?

In the Australian Local & Family History Bloggers Group on Facebook earlier this week Australian geneablogger Anne Young shared an article from JSTOR Daily “The rise and fall of the blog”.

I don’t think geneablogging is dead. I think that more people are dipping their toes into geneablogging waters and finding that it does not suit their style. Those committed to geneablogging are still around although they may be be blogging as often as they once did. In the ensuing conversation Anne asked me “Jill didn’t you keep some statistics about whether blogs you followed were still active?"

In January last year I wrote about the blogs on the 2013 list and reported on those still active. 38 were still going strong

Prompted by Anne I took a look at the list of 50 blogs you need to read that I prepared for Inside History Magazine in 2014 (This list may vary slightly from that published by Inside History as I gave them a few runners-up for consideration). The audience for the list was genies and historians in Australia and New Zealand and the bias was towards blogs from ANZ.

Below is a list of those 46 blogs still active in 2017. Some bloggers on the list only posted once or twice while many were Quite productive. Commitment is important to me and I think that only posting once a year demonstrates that commitment may be on the wane. I wonder who will still be around at the end of 2018?

If I was preparing such a list in 2018 it would look different from the one below as I believe that several newer bloggers publish better products than some on this list.

I congratulate all the 2014 stayers on this list for keeping geneablogging alive.

Ancestor Chasing Kerryn Taylor
Australian War Memorial now Memorial Articles
British Genes Chris Paton
By the Bremer: Memories of Ipswich
Canada Bay Connections Canada Bay Library
Dead Cert Meghan Hawkes
Geniaus  Jill Ball
The Hocken blog  Hocken Collections Uare Taoka o Hakena
Irish Genealogy News Claire Santry
Kintalk Auckland Libraries
Kylie's Genes  Kylie Willison
Local Notes Leichhardt Library
Lonetester HQ Alona Tester
Lost Medals Australia  Glyn Llanwarne
Moonee Valley Family and Local History  Moonee Valley Libraries
My Past Whispers Lauren Bavin
Shaking the tree  Su Leslie
Signposts: a blog about the encyclopaedia of New Zealand
The Tree of me Sharon Brennan
Timespanner  Lisa Truttman
Worldwide Genealogy International collaboration

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Which software to use?

Whenever I am asked a question about which software to use I refer my genimates to Louis Kessler's website GenSoftReviews. Following is his annual report on top rated genealogy software for 2017. I'm pleased to see that the packages I use, Family Historian and TNG (The next generation) are in the top 25 list.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------- is where users go to rate and review their genealogy software. The site lists almost 1,000 programs, and users have contributed over 4,800 program reviews and ratings since the site opened in 2008.


January 1, 2018
The 9th annual Users Choice Awards have been tabulated and awarded at the GenSoftReviews website.
During 2017, 82 of the nearly 1,000 programs listed received 535 reviews. Along with the review, users rated the programs from 1 to 5 star, with 5 being best.  Programs that received at least one review in 2017 with 10 or more all-time reviews that achieved a user rating of at least 4.00 out of 5 receive a GenSoftReviews User Choice Award for 2017. The award reflects that the program is well-liked by its users.
The 25 programs awarded a GenSoftReview Users Choice Award as a Top Rated Genealogy Software for 2017 are:
  • 13 Windows programs: Family Historian, Ahnenblatt, Personal Ancestral File, Family Book Creator, Ancestral Quest, Generations, Brother’s Keeper, RootsMagic, The Master Genealogist, Relatively Yours, Family Tree Builder, Family Tree Maker (up to Version 16), and Ages!  
  • 3 Mac programs: iFamily for Mac, Heredis for Mac, and Reunion
  • 4 programs built for Windows, Mac and Unix:  Evidentia, Ancestris, Familienbande, and GenealogyJ
  • 5 Online programs: Famberry, The Next Generation, Genealogie Online, webtrees, and MyHeritage
  • 0 Handheld programs.
The top program for 2017 was Evidentia, a program that helps you analyze evidence. Evidentia had an almost perfect user rating of 4.98 out of 5 based on 14 reviews. iFamily for Mac, a full-featured genealogy program for the Mac, was second at 4.95 out of 5 also on 14 ratings. And the online program Famberry was third with 4.94 out of 5 from 61 ratings.
New to the list of winners for 2017 was Ancestris, a free full-featured program from France. Ancestris received 8 reviews in 2017 bringing it to 12 reviews in total and making it eligible for the first time. Ancestris placed fourth overall with a 4.92 out of 5 rating.
Heredis for Mac rejoined the winners in 2017 after previously having won from 2012 to 2015. It dropped off the list in 2016 because it did not have any reviews in that year.
Winners in 2016 that dropped off the list this year include GenSmarts and Aldfaer which did not have any reviews in 2017, as well as Clooz and Heredis for PC whose overall rating dropped below 4.00 in 2017.
Several unsupported programs are still thought of highly enough by their users that they won an award in 2017. These include: Personal Ancestral File, Generations, The Master Genealogist, Relatively Yours, and Family Tree Maker up to Version 16.
Six programs have been GenSoftReviews User Choice Award winners every year since the awards began in 2009. They are: Personal Ancestral File, The Next Generation, Brother’s Keeper, RootsMagic, Family Tree Builder and Reunion.
GenSoftReviews uses a time-weighted average score. The weight of every user rating is reduced 50% every year, so newer opinions will be better reflected in the overall average score.
GenSoftReviews was created to be a site, somewhat like TripAdvisor for travelers, where genealogists can go to express their feelings about the genealogy software that they’ve used and tried. The reviews and ratings will likely help other genealogists who are looking for new software. It is hoped the developers of the programs also will see and use the reviews at GenSoftReviews to improve their programs.
For more information and a complete listing of current and past winners, see the Users Choice Award Winners page at GenSoftReviews.

About Louis Kessler

Louis Kessler has been a genealogist, lecturer and programmer for over 40 years. He developed and runs the GenSoftReviews site. He is also the author of the genealogy programs Behold and GEDCOM File Finder available at, as well as the DNA analysis program Double Match Triangulator available at


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