A few weeks ago I ran a contest to give my readers a chance to win a free registration to RootsTech 2012 Conference. But in order to enter, they had to answer the following question:
Besides access to records online, what one tech-thing has helped you the most with your genealogy research and how has it helped you?
There were some interesting answers and I’ve received permission to share a few of the responses. You can also read the winner’s response here.
The one thing that's helped me the most is an old removable CD-burning disk drive (I think they call it a CD disk writer) and its accompanying software.
How has it helped?
I got it in the fall of 2000, when I had 6 cassette tapes that I'd recorded with my grandfather at the beginning of the year. I bought the drive so I could burn data CDs (my laptop had a CD-reading drive, but this was in the days when a portable CD-writer was in the early early adopter phase, and I didn't have the budget to be an adopter).
The CD drive and its accompanying software turned out to play a pivotal role in my pursuit of family history. I had six cassette tapes I'd recorded in January 2000 when I visited my grandfather. We recorded conversations about family history. The tapes sat around on a shelf in my mental sphere of Good Intentions Not Yet Acted Upon. My uncle had told me to "get those tapes with Grandpa typed up,"but I wouldn't let them out of my sight as long as they were my only originals. Once my new CD Burner showed up, the box of software came with a small application that would make it possible to create audio CDs from your phonograph or cassette tape collection. Hey, now I had all I needed to make a copy of those tapes so I could get them "typed up!"
It was early December, 2000, during the time that California had rolling blackouts during the Enron price-trading rip off of California utility customers. (I remember because in order to create audio for CD, I had to optimize the disk drive with all contiguous free space -- any blips or blocks in the free space would ruin the digitizing of audio. When optimizing disk drive for space, if the power went out, there'd be data loss.) Anyway, it was that process of burning the CD of my talks with Grandpa that set me on the process of recording family stories.
Do I use the drive nowadays? Nope. It's obsolete, now, mostly. Still amid the equipment I have around here, but I don't use it. I should fire it up one last time, maybe . Heading for the recycling bin.
From Deborah Campisano
The tech-thingy that has helped the most on my genealogical journey just has to be my genealogy software program. I use a couple of different ones for different projects now, but started many, many years ago with PAF -- Personal Ancestral File. I've been at this genealogy research quest for over 30 years now and genealogy software has helped tremendously in areas of organization and being able to "see the big picture" as far as figuring out which of five John Cundiffs belonged to a particular family. In the early years before the ability to attach GEDCOM files or Family Group Sheets to emails (heck! We didn't even HAVE email!) we would generate charts and FGSs using the software and SNAIL MAIL them to each other. Later we would generate a GEDCOM and save it on a floppy disc and then MERGE our work together.
With the new advances in genealogical software programming, I can easily update a family group with carefully crafted citations, create a chart and post on-line or save an entire family line to attach to an email for cousins many miles away to assess, correct and add their own updates. My genealogy software programs have been a blessing (and a curse at times!) but pieces of technology I would never do without!
From Julliana Lund
My answer is really two rolled into one. Recently I have been focusing my research on my husband's family from Denmark...but I don't speak Danish! So, I have used the Google Translate gadget on my homepage to help me with all the words I don't understand. But sometimes, I can't even read the words well enough to type it into the translator. That's when I go to the FamilySearch Forums for Denmark. I have received so much help in not only translating the records but explanations of historical events or laws that really explain what is going on.