Today was awesome!
We got up late and missed the keynote speaker because...well...I may have stayed up until 2 am talking with my sister in law. She has this magical gift of getting people to open up to her. She is an aesthetician/hair stylist, after all.
Not like I am that short on words, anyway...haha
So we got there just as the expo center was opening up. The first thing I did was go to the MyHeritage booth and try to find somebody to listen to me gently suggest that some changes could really benefit Czech genealogy. I don’t have a very high level of confidence that my pleas will be heard, but I gave the people a list of some specific suggestions, with my contact info, and so that is a start.
I thought this was funny.
Actually, I didn’t even bother at the Ancestry booth because it was swarming with people. Later, I realized it was because of the $49 DNA kits. That is a really crazy good deal. My last experience with Ancestry DNA was really negative (granted, this was in 2009, so...a lot has changed since then). But that is the best price I have ever seen on DNA anything. It’s still not worth even that much if all they’re going to do is say, “Yeah, you’re R1B1 - WESTERN EUROPEAN.”
Anyway, I talked to like 6 different people from familysearch, and I have a slightly higher confidence level that maybe they will listen. Because seriously, the Slovak record issues really have got to be fixed. Although, there actually is a really clever workaround, which I shall certainly blog about in the future.
Actually, I spoke with Ron Tanner after his presentation (it was packed). He is the FamilySearch Family Tree Product Manager, and his presentations are always really funny. He told me that “waypoints” in FamilySearch are really hard to change, but he also promised me that if I emailed him, he would respond. But he gets like, 400 emails a day. I am really hoping to make an honest man out of him. I will probably wait until after this crazy conference is over to do it, though.
While in line to talk to him, I met one of the back end developers for FS, and I gave him my list, and got his email. It is really nice to know that there are real people behind these faceless giants.
It’s really late and I’m really tired. So I will sum up by listing some of the interesting things I learned:
- I’m doing the right thing by focusing so much time, effort, sweat, blood, tears, etc. on learning Czech. The presenter in the Scandinavian research class I went to (which was excellent) pointed out something that I already know to be true: the single biggest limiting factor to finding stories about your European ancestors is the language. I have got to learn Czech.
- There’s a really interesting European History genealogy start up that looks like it might have some Polish records, and a really neat UI. I forgot what it’s called - more about that later.
- The Iowa Genealogical Society really needs to join the International German Genealogical Partnership. I don’t have German ancestors. But almost every single family history consultation I have done in my ward for people with Iowa ancestors somehow touches Germans.
- I really, really loved hearing the German perspective on us crazy Americans, especially as it relates to genealogy. It caused me to think a lot, and I can’t do those thoughts justice right now - so I will have to blog about them later.
- Tom Jones has a really logical research plan that is brilliant and simple to help overcome record loss. This will be really useful with some of my own research struggles, especially if we can’t find the dumb Polish records.
- I met another Czech American guy, and that was really fun.
- I ran into Jana McClain in the FHL, who is the current Katy Family History Center Director. It was really fun and nice to see her.
- I found some books in the FHL that I didn’t have, and that aren’t available elsewhere. I downloaded the digital ones, and took pictures of the county history. Oh yeah...and I think that it said in that book that my great great grandfather Bedrich Michna was the postmaster for Taiton, TX?! So, that is new information to me. He died from alcoholism at age 36. So, it was really cool to find that in that book.
- The booths were so interesting. I found Danny’s potential Christmas present this year. I don’t know if $300 for a 2TB server compares to other prices. I do know that it would be a lot easier to get to function as a server than our old sketchy “retired” computer. I think their selling point is the software end for non-tech people, which we don’t really need, since Danny is our in-house computer support staff, haha.
- There’s a rumor (being spread by wordpress, so consider the source) that google is going to phase out blogger. That actually would not surprise me, since google seems to love to do that. But if they do, that would be sad for me; I really hate the web design aspect of blogging. I just want to produce the content. I literally spent 3 hours trying to figure out this one thing that took my husband 15 minutes and 4 lines of code to solve, and that just makes me want to cry!
- I met this French guy who wrote some really interesting transcription software. It looks like it might be fun to at least check out. Maybe when Lukáš and I disagree on a letter, we can pinpoint it slightly more easily.
- I met the people at the Geni booth. They were really nice and knew my friend Tomáš. I can see some immense benefits to loading my data on their site, so I think that is something that I eventually hope to do - which is really saying something. I didn’t realize that Geni is owned by MyHeritage, and that MyHeritage is an Israeli company. That was interesting. They were a little bit hilariously possessive about the “cleanliness” of their shared tree, as compared with FamilySearch Family Tree. I learned that FSFT is about an order of magnitude bigger. I think Geni said they have some number in the millions (of individual records in the tree). From Ron Tanner’s presentation on FSFT, the number was 1.1 billion. That is down from last year, when it was 1.2 billion - due to merging. I think FSFT, although certainly much, much, much messier, is still also much, much, much bigger, even if you merged all the duplicates. Mormons are a whale in the proverbial genealogical ocean.
- Mormons are also really weird (I have a personal testimony of this, hahaha) - but the Mormon Tabernacle Choir (including my mom’s cousin, who sings in it) is not. It was awesome. I have been to the Conference Center for general conference before, and of course I watch it twice a year (the Sundays of the year! We get to “go to church” in our pajamas in front of the TV and hear really, really spiritually uplifting talks!), and MoTab always performs there. But I’ve never attended a secular MoTab concert. It was so great. Andy Hammerstein, the grandson of Oscar Hammerstein, talked about his family history, and they sang a bunch of the best Hammerstein songs: Oklahoma, Carousel, South Pacific, the King and I, Sound of Music...I knew all the words. It was a really uplifting, feel good experience.
I know this is a terrible photo, but I was also really anxious that the usher next to me would get pissed about me taking it at all, so...
Very crowded conference center.
Me and my genealogy buddy Sondra.
Tomorrow I hope to go to a bunch more really great classes and especially to work my way through all of the vendors.
So, basically, like both yesterday and today, tomorrow I will starve. Because there just isn’t time to eat.