Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Jamboree Day 1: Live, and in Person

On the Road... Again

Our plan was to drop our dog off at the kennel at 8:00 a.m. and get on the road early.

Yeah, right.

We did drop the dog off on time, but we didn’t get on the road until around 10:30 a.m. Is it ever possible to be early – much less on time – for ANYTHING when you travel with a toddler? I would love to know how, as I have NOT mastered this technique yet.

We arrived at the Burbank Airport Marriott at around 1:30 p.m., and the parking lot was PACKED. Paula had hinted that parking was going to be a potential problem, but that barely described it. The Marriott parking lot is presently commandeered by construction, and with the offices in the building next door still in business on Friday afternoon, it wasn’t easy to find a place to park.

Add to that a hungry, stir-crazy toddler who'd been cooped up for 3 hours, and you’ve got some cranky adults who were supposed to be having fun, but wanted to strangle each other instead. Whose dumb idea was this?? Oh yeah, YOURS!

Thankfully, we were able to check our bad moods at the door and check into the hotel a bit early. The nice lady at the registration desk said we could leave our van in the 15-minute-only spot we'd found, which we did.

Getting to Business

After finally getting settled and cruising the Exhibit Room to say hello to friends we hadn’t seen in a while, it was 4:30 p.m., and I decided to ditch leave my husband and daughter behind to attend my first session.

There were so many great speakers and topics that I wanted to hear, but I tried to focus on three areas that were of the greatest interest to me: blogging (of course), using DNA in genealogical research, and genealogy as a profession.

So my first choice was to attend Schelly Talalay Dardashti’s session on “Gen-Bloggers.” As you may know, Schelly blogs at “Tracing the Tribe,” which concentrates on Jewish genealogy. But Schelly’s been at it (blogging) for quite a while, and she knows her stuff. She gave some examples of different types of genealogy blogs and talked a bit about how to start your own blog. While none of this was new to me, it was interesting to hear about it from her perspective, nonetheless.

I’m always intrigued by questions from the audience, as it gauges how much people really understand of what the speaker was discussing, and Schelly answered questions from quite a few attendees. I was surprised at how many people were not familiar with blogs in general, and/or did not read blogs or thought they were subscription or pay-per-use sites like Ancestry or Footnote!

I was not surprised, however, that several people were unaware of how easy it is to set up a blog of their own. One person wanted to know why Blogger would offer free space to bloggers... and no one really had a good answer for that, except that they're owned by Google, and Google makes money off of their hits.

After Schelly’s talk, I had the pleasure of meeting some of my geneablogger colleagues – if I can even consider myself to be in their circle: Randy Seaver was there, along with Kathryn Doyle and Craig Manson... some of the nicest people you’d want to meet!

Oddly enough, meeting them was like visiting with old friends that you haven’t seen for a while. It’s a strange phenomenon of today’s virtual society that we can create friendships – even relationships – with people we seldom, if ever, see in person. I can’t even think of anything to compare it to historically. Never before have we been able to sit in our homes and visit with so many people from around the world – all for the price of an internet connection! Sure, the telephone can call anyone, anywhere… but would you pick up the phone and call a stranger the way you’d visit a blog or a web site?

The internet truly is an amazing place, and I was reminded of this several times throughout the conference.

"Crashing" the APG

For my last session of the day, I decided to be brave and “crash” the meeting of the Association of Professional Genealogists, SoCal Chapter. After all, the schedule did say, “open to those interested in professional genealogy,” and I’m definitely interested.

I tried to sneak in as inconspicuously as possible, but I was immediately greeted by some very friendly ladies who told me I was welcome... even when I confessed that I was not a member of the APG, nor was I a professional genealogist! They did tell me about mentoring programs available with the APG, so I may be taking them up on this in the not-so-distant future.

The guest speaker was Gaylen Findlay, one of the creators of Ancestral Quest genealogy software. You may know that Personal Ancestral File (PAF) 5 is essentially a "slightly modified version of Ancestral Quest (AQ)."

Findlay gave a live demonstration of some of the features of Ancestral Quest 12, which I’ll admit were very intriguing, even to this long-time user of Family Tree Maker:

Database Conversion: You won’t even have to convert your file. AQ12 uses the same .paf data file that is used by your PAF 5 program. You can continue to use PAF 5 along with AQ12 if you so desire.

New FamilySearch: AncestralQuest is developing new features to allow you to synchronice your AQ or PAFdatabase directly with the new FamilySearch Family Tree database. These features are currently in beta testing and will be a free upgrade to users of AQ12.
To be honest, I haven’t used PAF since the early 1990’s when it was a DOS-based program, and I was sporting Windoze 1.1 on my 286 PC, so I’m certainly not an expert on the newer versions. However, I did like the way it interfaced with new FamilySearch.

Of particular interest was the way you can use AQ12 to tell the database when people in it need to be combined, or when information is incorrect. The bogus information won’t be deleted from the database unless the original submitter chooses to do so, but at least a notation will be made that some information is in question. That's better than nothing.

I haven’t decided if I will try Ancestral Quest 12, but I’m thinking of experimenting with PAF again (in my spare time). Any suggestions from you experts out there will be appreciated!

Into the Night

We had not registered to attend the special event banquet, featuring Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak’s talk on “Right Annie, Wrong Annie – Annie Moore of Ellis Island,” but I did hear that it was wonderful. Craig Manson did a nice write-up of the event, and even told about a "light moment" that made things quite interesting... especially for Megan!

I had hoped to get to sleep early on Friday night, but that wasn’t to be the case. My daughter stayed up talking (loudly) and climbing out of her crib until about 11:30 p.m.

Whoever said that "having children keeps you young" obviously never had any. A long night of talking-toddler makes me feel old as dirt in the morning.

Copyright © 2008 by Elizabeth O'Neal

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2 comments:

Randy Seaver said...

Excellent blow-by-blow account, leavened with your personal situation which almost everyone grins at and says "been there, done that, have fun."

It was wonderful to meet you and your family. You made a splash at the blogger summit that wil lalways be remembered! Well done.

Hope you're sleeping better -- Randy

Kathryn Doyle said...

Elizabeth,
I so agree with you about how meeting the other genea-bloggers was like seeing old friends. The Internet really is an amazing place - the world is much smaller than you think. It was so nice to meet you and your family.