Sunday, March 24, 2013

RootsTech 2013: Did I pass?

Prior to the conference I wrote a post outlining my goals for RootsTech 2013. Now that its all over let's take a look and see how I did.

  • Allow more time for personal research in the Family History LibraryThis one was a complete bust. A couple of weeks prior to Rootstech2013, I developed bursitis in my right leg.  Let's just say that walking was pretty painful.  And even though my hotel was only about a block away, the thought of yet more  walking was out of the question. I didn't darken the door of the Family History Library one time. I know....sacrilege.. but there it is. I just decided to pick my battles and that I was primarily  in Salt Lake City for RootsTech not the FHL.
  • Lighten the technology load 
    • This one was mostly a success. Now that I have an iPad, I brought it instead of a laptop.  For the most part that worked well but blogging on the mobile interface was sometimes problematic. Now if I can just learn not to over-pack my suitcase!
  • Choose classes by speaker, as well as content.
    • This one I accomplished although I didn't take many classes. Again with the walking issue. But the classes I took were awesome.
  • Spend more time in the Expo Hall and Media Hub getting to know peopleSkip classes if necessary. 
    • Done! Last year I knew no one. This year I feel much more grounded in the genealogy community.
  • Learn to use TRAX
    • Another complete bust. Because of my bum leg I spent all of my free time either in my hotel room or at the conference.  No time for TRAX.
So there it is. I didn't get everything I wanted but managed to have a great time in spite of it.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Muddy Heroes

Today I spent some more time making the rounds of the Expo Hall.  I thought that instead of telling you about the "big boys" here (which, let's face it, you already know about) I'd talk to some of the smaller vendors. People with great ideas, looking to make an impact in the genealogy world.  I also wanted to find some deals for you.  Most of the vendors are offering discounts for RootsTech attendees but I was looking for those offering the same discount for those of you who couldn't attend in person.  You should get in on the goodies too!

The first booth I visited was Muddy Heroes.  Great name huh?  The name is an acronym for Help, Explore, Research, Organize.  The "Muddy" part...we don't we all have genealogy data that needs to be cleaned up?
They have developed some unique software that can show your whole tree in one view.  Instead of displaying it in a linear, pedigree chart fashion, it displays in more of circular concentric view.  Think tree rings. It can also help you quickly find errors in your data and integrates FamilySearch's new Family Tree. In fact integrates quite nicely. If you are concerned about accuracy in your research (and who isn't?) and plan on using the FamilySearch Family Tree this would be a great program to have. They are running a conference special of 25% off with the code RootsTech2013.  See I told you I'd find you a deal.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

RootsTech Recap- Thursday

A great start to RootsTech.  Here is a random assortment of photos from today.
This smiling gentleman is Sid Lieberman, one of the keynote speakers today. I had a lovely chat with him in the media hub. I asked him from where he thought his storytelling gift came. His mother, he replied...she could go to the grocery store and make it into an opera!

This is Dear Myrtle interviewing Dennis Brimhall, president of FamilySearch.  His keynote today was fantatstic. Please watch the whole thing but if you only have a short amount of time at least go to the RootsTech website ( watch the video of him telling the story of his father's WWII service. All of today's session that were live streamed are already there as well.

RootsTech Live!

The opening keynote addresses were just plain inspiring.  Make sure you watch all three when they are up on the RootsTech site.  The theme this year seems to be about turning genealogy research into family history stories. Right up my alley given the name of this blog!
The expo hall is humongous this year.  Even the individual booths seem bigger and brighter. Can't wait to make the rounds! Right now though I'm going in search of water.  The conferencing stuff is thirsty business!

Friday, March 15, 2013

So many sessions, so little time.

At RootsTech 2012 the buzz was all “we need more classes!”  Apparently the good folks at FamilySearch heard the grumbling because they have added a boatload of new sessions to the schedule for 2013. So much so that one really needs to plan ahead of time which sessions to make a priority.  And don’t try to do that after you’re on the ground in Salt Lake City. As I found out last year, once the conference starts it’s a whirlwind with precious little time for looking at class syllabuses.  So this year I’m going in with a plan of attack.

·      Check out the schedule on the RootsTech web site.  All of the classes are listed there.  Click on "Schedule" on the left side of the home screen, then on "Main Schedule".  The individual sessions are all there arranged by day and with links to a detailed description and a syllabus.
·         Formulate a plan.  I went old school and printed out the schedule for each day.  Then with a highlighter in hand, I reviewed it, marking the sessions that sparked my interest. I’m not making any decisions at this point, just narrowing down my choices a little.  I also note if a session will be streamed. Those sessions will be available for viewing after the conference is over.  The streaming schedule is currently at the bottom of the website home page.  As good as the offerings are there are a couple of blocks of time that don’t have anything that particularly strikes my fancy. Since one of my goals this year is to allow more time for the expo hall and chatting with people, I also noted the blocks of time that might work for that.
·         Read the syllabuses.  Almost every class description has an attached syllabus in both MS Word and PDF formats.  These are hidden gems! When faced with hard choices, looking at the syllabus for the class can really help the decision making process.  And for the session you can’t attend they are an excellent resource for research when you get home.  I’ve already downloaded many of them and saved them to my Dropbox account.
·         Make the hard choices. Last year there was a class or two that I missed because I thought they were at another time.  Arrgghh.  Once I’ve narrowed down my choices, since I can’t be in two places at once, I have to make a decision. I hate this part.  I’m a greedy genealogist who wants to go to all of them! But decisions must be made and I starred those classes on my paper schedule.  When I get to the conference one of the first things I will do is transfer my choices to the “official” paper schedule I get at registration and will carry around with me.  Occasionally, a class will be full and another choice must be made on the fly.  Having a paper copy already highlighted with my second and third choices is a great back up.
·         Use the app.  There is a nice app available for the conference. I downloaded it to both my iPad and my phone.  Then I can go into the app, record my class choices and voila, it creates a schedule just for me.  However the app allows only one class choice per time slot, hence the aforementioned back-up copy with my second/third/fourth choices.
·         Be Flexible.  Remember that the schedule I just created was not handed down from on high written on stone tablets. I might get a suggestion for a class I hadn’t thought of or decide to hang out with a friend. It’s all good.  It’s RootsTech!

Disclosure:  I am an official blogger for RootsTech 2013 and received a complimentary registration for that. The enthusiasm is all my own.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

RootsTech Announces Streaming Sessions

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RootsTech2013 has announced the sessions that will be streamed live online. After the conference is over, these sessions will be posted for viewing on the website.  I don't know how they chose which ones to stream because there are a plethora of great classes this year. Of course the daily keynote speeches will also be streamed as well. If you are attending RootsTech in person you might what to consider the streaming sessions when deciding which class to attend.  If faced with a choice between two (or more!) great classes in the same time slot, you might consider attending the one NOT being streamed and watching the other at home post-conference. If you are not able to attend in person, the online sessions are a great opportunity. I'm especially looking forward to the Future of Genealogy panel on Thursday and the Digital Storytelling class on Saturday. Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Countdown to RootsTech 2013!

One week from today I'll be leaving on a jet plane to Salt Lake City for RootsTech 2013! My brain is on overload with the details.  It's inevitable that I will forget something! I don't travel that often and while I'm not afraid to fly, negotiating airports, suitcases, shuttle services, hotels...its all a little nerve-wracking. This year I'll have the added fun of changing planes in Denver. If all goes well I will arrive in SLC on Tuesday and have all day Wednesday to spend at the Family History Library.

Last year was my first time at RootsTech and  also my first-ever genealogy conference. I had a great time but there are a few things I'd like to do differently this time.
  • Allow more time for personal research in the Family History Library. How often do I get to SLC? Uh, that would be hardly ever. Last year I attended the Friday Night at the Library event but that wasn't nearly enough time. And by Friday night I was already exhausted from the day. This year I will (hopefully) arrive on Tuesday evening, get a good night's sleep and be rested and ready to spend Wed in the library.
  • Lighten the technology load  Last year I brought a borrowed laptop to the conference. Didn't think it would be that big a deal. Wow, did that thing get heavy! Lugging it through the airport was a nightmare.  This year I have my new iPad. I'm going to miss the wired data capability but allowances must be made.
  • Choose classes by speaker, as well as content. There are so many sessions to choose from! I want to go to all of them! Since I can't be in two places at once. I'm looking at the speakers as well as the content. Some of my favorite bloggers are presenting this year and I'm looking forward to hearing what they have to say. Lisa Alzo's presentations are always excellent. Denise Barrett Olson of Moutrie Creek Gazette is another blogger whose brain I would love to pick.
  • Spend more time in the Expo Hall and Media Hub getting to know people. Skip classes if necessary. One of the best things about a national conference is all the networking opportunities.  As an official blogger I will again have access to the Media Hub (which could also be named the Blogger Hub) and I met a lot of interesting people. Just wandering around the Expo Hall is an education in itself. And this year it will be 40% bigger.  So many booths, so little time.
  • Learn to use TRAXTrax is SLC's light rail service. Blocks in downtown Salt Lake City are twice the size of blocks in any other city I've been to. Last year I injured my ankle just before the conference and spent the whole time hobbling around in a boot.  This year my ankle is fine but my other leg is not.  (What is it about RootsTech that makes my body rebel? )  Walking takes a lot of energy and I'm looking for shortcuts.
If you haven't registered for RootsTech there is still time.  You have until Mar. 15 to get the discounted price of $179 for a full three day pass.
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