Monday, May 24, 2010

Best Bytes for May 17-23, 2010

"It's like looking for John Brown in the Civil War." 

I heard a genealogist say this once as a description of the proverbial genealogical "needle in a haystack." I had no idea that one day I'd be looking for that very same needle.

As I mentioned on Saturday, I've been up to my eyeballs in BROWN genealogy for my ProGen final exam. It's been fascinating to re-examine this family in order to "prove" that my great-great-grandfather, John S. Brown, is the same John S. Brown who served as a private in the 60th Mounted Tennessee Infantry (Confederate) during the Civil War.

Why am I going to all this trouble when I could have just "got 'er done" with something much simpler? Well, for years, my family claimed that we had ancestors who fought on both sides of the Civil War. My aunt tracked down several Union ancestors, including John Dunn and his mysterious father, Samuel Marion Dunn, as well as John's father-in-law William H. Swatzell. However, we have never been able to "prove" that any ancestors fought for the Confederacy.

So... this is now my mission. I'm hoping that the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) will find my proof argument compelling enough to approve my application. I'll keep you posted.


* * *

But Don't I Need A First Life First?

The week before last, I attended a meeting of the Association of Professional Genealogists (APG), right from my own computer. Actually, I had to venture into Second Life (SL) for this meeting, which was something fairly new to me. Second Life comes with a bit of a learning curve, but thankfully, I had a wonderful mentor in SL-APG president Genie Weezles. In addition to Genie, I ran into several other familiar faces... although I didn't know they were familiar at the time.

My SL alter-ego: Serena Snowfield. I look just like this in RL (HA!).
DearMYRTLE gives a great tutorial about how to get started in Second Life here (she's quite the hottie, don't you think?). Unless you're a video game-addicted teenager, it will probably require some practice for you to get the hang of it. I'm still trying to figure out how to walk to a spot and sit down without stepping all over everyone. There are actually quite a lot of genealogists on SL, and they're friendly and helpful, just like in RL (real life).

If you find yourself in SL, look me up: I'm Serena Snowfield (Serena was my gg-grandmother's name). I apologize in advance if I step on you, fly over your head, or start dancing unexpectedly.

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In Other News:

Blogger recently announced that they had improved their Preview Post feature in Blogger in Draft. Now, Blogger announces improvements all the time that I don't find to be all that great, but I have to say that I love, love, love the new Preview feature. Finally, you get to see how your post will *really* look after it's published, not just in that silly pop-up window (that you still get in regular Blogger).

A preview of Blogger in Draft's new Preview feature.
Another feature of Blogger in Draft that I like is the photo uploader. This isn't new, but I haven't had a chance to mention it here yet. You get to see ALL photos that you've uploaded in the past (provided that you're using the Picasa account that comes with your blog), not just the photos you've uploaded for a particular post.

I like that I can go back and select photos I've used in the past without having to clutter up my Picasa album with the same photos over and over again. For example, I've got about 14 images of THIS from my early days of blogging (and not knowing where my photos went to live). Some Picasa housekeeping is definitely in order for me.

The wide, open space of a new blog.
If you haven't tried it yet, give Blogger in Draft a whirl.

* * *

On Saturday, our local newspaper published an article about a Japanese-American who fled the area with his family during WWII (he was invited to speak at a local church yesterday). At that time, Japanese residents were being rounded up and sent to War Relocation Camps in North Dakota. The story he tells of his family's hardships is fascinating.

Cartas... Letters From Home (a local Santa Barbara photo-blogger) also published this article, and included photos from the Library of Congress.

* * *

Hewlett Packard has "expanded" their recall of notebook computer batteries due to fire hazard. If you own an HP notebook computer, you'd better check to see if your battery is one of these. I wouldn't want your computer to burn up and have you lose all your precious genealogy data!

* * *

A Sampling of my Favs from Around the Blogosphere:

Anne Morddel of The French Genealogy Blog wrote an interesting post about the census in France. If you're looking for ancestors in the French census, Anne has some tips on how to find them.

IrishEyes of "'On a flesh and bone foundation': An Irish History" posted 13 Tips + 1 for conducting research in Ireland. This is great advice, not just for research in Ireland, but for anywhere. You can always catch more flies with honey, as my grandma used to say.

I enjoyed Reconstructing the 1790 Census on Arlene Eakle's Tennessee Genealogy Blog (not just because I'm a Tennessee researcher myself). She shares her frustration in trying to "amass a 'census' of persons residing in Tennessee, 1787-1791." Doesn't sound like an easy task.

Apple of Apple's Tree shared a fascinating ancestral heirloom she found for sale while surfing the web (all for the low, low price of $4,000). You just never know what you'll find out there on the Internets, do you?

Brett Payne of Photo-Sleuth ponders the story of a family photo in Three Men and a Pipe ... to say nothing of the dog! Who knew that a photo of a few men clowning with a dog could have so much back-story!? Stop by and let Brett know if you think he's on the right track.

Finally, take a look at What Blooms in Santa Barbara in May on Cartas... Letters From Home. Sadly, my yard does not look as lovely as any of these.

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The Last Byte

I would like to thank Greta Koehl of Greta's Genealogy Blog for picking "Little Bytes of Life" as her Follow Friday recommendation last week. I would never, however, describe myself as a "well-organized researcher," but I'm glad that I must hide it well!

Thanks also go to Randy Seaver of Genea-Musings and John Newmark of TransylvanianDutch for including my post about Our Trip to the N.S.C.A.R. National Convention in their weekly "Best of" lists. Go visit their lists for more terrific posts that you may have missed!

Have a wonderful week!

Copyright © Elizabeth O'Neal

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5 comments:

Renate said...

Elizabeth, this is a great post -so informative! Honestly, until now, I haven't even had enough interest in Second Life to even ask (or explore to find out) what it is, but you make it sound temptingly fun! I hold my self back (lol) at least until school ends, but maybe this summer I'll check it out. :)

Renate

Greta Koehl said...

You are so welcome, Elizabeth. I agree with you on the new features of Blogger in Draft - it has always been so irritating to think that a post layout will work and then when you post it ... it doesn't. And about being a "well-organized researcher" - well, you always seem to be able to pull the necessary facts together for your articles, and that's my benchmark for "well-organized"!

Kerry said...

I remember seeing a discussion of an APG chapter in SL on one of the lists, but I haven't actually checked it out. It felt weird to me at the time, although I'm getting used to the idea. At least there I wouldn't have noisy children and a diaper bag along with me. That's pretty much the only way I'd ever be able to go to a chapter meeting.

Elizabeth O'Neal said...

Renate and Kerry - you should give SL a try. Like I said, it's not the easiest to use, but it's worth learning. I can see a lot of potential uses for SL and "virtual" meetings, especially for ladies like Kerry and me, who have to choose our destinations by whether or not our kids will embarrass us. ;-)

Greta - I'm glad I hide my lack of organization skills well. You should see my "piling" system... it's not pretty.

Brett Payne said...

Elizabeth - Rather late in the day, I know, but thank you for this. I'm not sure how many folk actually did click on the link from here to read the article, but nobody left a comment, so I presume they remain as perplexed as I am. regards and best wishes, Brett