Showing posts with label computer. Show all posts
Showing posts with label computer. Show all posts

05 November 2011

Frustrations with Technology

My sister at our Mac Performa 450
     As a lifelong Mac user, I'm accustomed to software inequality. Small print reading "For Windows Only" and "Not Available for Macintosh" has been a common sight. Over the years however, as Apple computers have become more mainstream, things have vastly improved. Now most major software is available to me and my Mac. However, there are still areas of weakness, especially for niche markets such as genealogy.

     When I got started in genealogy, about nine years ago, it was difficult to find a software program for my family tree. I'd created my tree online at, but their software was for windows only. Many other mainstream genealogy software was as well. I finally found Reunion, a Mac specific program, which I love. Since then, more Mac software has been developed and Ancestry has come out with a Mac version. However, their Mac software is a version behind their windows software. Other companies, such as RootsMagic and Family Tree Builder have not developed a Mac version (and to be fair, Reunion does not run on Windows). Even outside of family tree software, Mac computers aren't given equal consideration. Want to transcribe records for's World Archives Project? Better be running a Windows computer.

     Ironically, with the growth of smart phones and tablet computers, Apple has become king. Most phone and tablet apps are available first and/or only for apple devices and often only later become available for Android. I don't personally have either device, but I do have access to Android phones. Multiple times I found a neat new genealogy site online that has a phone app to go with it - but only for Apple. For example, has a new eBook feature, but it currently only works on iphones and ipads. And came out with an iPhone app back in January, but only this week started beta testing their Android version.

     I wish that software and website developers valued their customers equally. I'd love to use their software, maybe give them my money, but I don't often have the opportunity to do so.

31 January 2011

My New MacBook

     This is my new computer: a MacBook Pro. If you read my post from earlier this week, you might remember that I planned to by a basic MacBook, feeling that a Pro was too expensive and unnecessary. And I honestly didn't plan to buy a Pro, until I got to Micro Center and realized that they were selling the Pro for the same price that the Apple store was selling the basic. A free $200 upgrade is always awesome.

     So I'm now running on a MacBook Pro, Intel Core 2 Duo 2.4 GHz processor, 4 GB Memory, 250 GB Hard Drive. I also purchased an 640 GB External Hard Drive, which teams up with the Time Machine program to constantly back up all of the files on my computer (so pretty much every day is Data Backup Day). I was also able to purchase a warranty that covered accidental damage (not available from apple).

25 January 2011

Shopping for a New Computer

     My current computer, a 2008 MacBook laptop, has been going slowly down hill since it was six months old and water spilled directly onto the power port and into the computer. That destroyed the laptop's ability to support batteries and it will instantly destroy any battery that is installed.

     When I took my computer into the Apple Store, I was told that it was corroded inside and would slowly die. They suggested that I should replace it, or at least make sure that my data was backed up at all times.  Aside from battery issues, I've experienced only intermittent problems, though they have been increasing over the past few weeks (rainbow whirly ball of doom! constantly!). I honestly don't think that this laptop will be working a year from now. And this time of year, tax return time, is the only time of the year that I'm able to afford a new laptop. So, it's time to start shopping for a new computer.

     I'm going to replace my Mac with a Mac. There is no other option. Yes, it would be cheaper to buy a PC, but I would need to buy new software, I'd loose the ability to use all of the software I already have, and I'd have to adjust to a new way of using a computer. I've been using Apple Computers since I was 10 years old - I'm not about to change now to save a little money. (I've been talking about buying a new computer with my co-workers, who don't understand why I don't just save money and buy a PC).

   So, what exactly am I going to buy? There are three basic options: MacBook, MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro. I already know I don't want a MacBook Air; they just seem too fragile. And the difference between the MacBook and MacBook Pro boils down to tech specs in the Pro being top of the line and more than I need. So, the basic MacBook it is. When purchasing the laptop, I have the option to add extra Memory and Hard Drive Space.  To understand what I need I decided to see what I already have.

  • Processor: 2.4 GHz Intel Core 2 Due
  • Memory: 2 GB 667 MHz DDR2 SDRAM
  • Hard Drive: 160 GB Serial ATA Drive 
    • In Use: 93.02 GB
    • Free: 66.67 GB
     And the basic MacBook currently comes with:
  • Processor: 2.4 GHz Intel Core 2 Due
  • Memory: 2 GB 1066 MHz DDR3 SDRAM
  • Hard Drive: 250 GB Serial ATA Drive 
     From looking at my usage, I see that I'm already taking up over half of my current 160 GB Hard Drive. There are a lot genealogy photos and documents on my computer that take up a lot of space. The current macs come with 250 GB to start with, but for only $50 I can upgrade to 320 GB. Also, I can upgrade my Memory from 2 GB to 4 GB for an extra $100.  I know that this effects the speed at which the computer runs, and I'm not sure that I really need any extra. Also, this is pretty expensive, and I'd like to save money where I can. I think I should upgrade the Hard Drive but stick with the basic memory.

     I'll probably buy my new laptop any time between tomorrow and Sunday. Any computer buffs out there who want to comment on the tech specs?

11 July 2010

I'm a Mac... and now a PC too

My family has always been a little techy. My mom worked with computers at her job and was always interested in bringing some of that technology home. I remember having word processors to type on, as well as our first computer.  We got some sort of Apple Computer in 1993. I remember Mom bringing it home and not really caring about it because we were going to skate night at school and we never got to go to those sorts of things. However, I quickly learned to appreciate the computer and what it could do and have been a Mac person ever since. But as of yesterday, I'm also a PC.

In "My Computer is a Ticking Time Bomb," I talked about my concerns regarding my Mac laptop. It's pretty much a desktop that could die any day, or years from now.  I really felt like I needed more mobile access to my computer in regards to my genealogy research and was thinking about getting a netbook (mini laptop). Having my bills payed up early this month, I saw that I had the money I needed to afford an inexpensive one and started shopping.  Well, turns out they cost a little more than I thought they did. I was shopping online at Best Buy, Amazon, etc and was seeing prices for about $350, whereas I was looking for about $250. Another problem with looking online was that I couldn't really see the differences between my options. I decided to do a little in person shopping and decided to check out Micro Center. I'm glad I did. They had a variety of options in my price range, as well as a selection of refurbished netbooks that were below my price range. And now, I'm typing this from my new Acer AspireOne netbook. And, because it was refurbished, I saved about $90.

Now, I'm just trying to figure out Windows 7. I've used PCs at work so I know the basics, but it's something else to start from scratch. I need to load some programs and software, and already started by adding TweetDeck and DropBox. Now, I need to add some genealogy software. I'm not necessarily looking for anything fancy. I plan on maintaining my Mac as my main computer, so I just want something that I can use to view my gedcom on this laptop. I'm also not looking to spend any money... I've spent enough at this point! So, does anyone have any recomendations for free genealogy software for Windows 7?

08 July 2010

What I Do

Thomas MacEntee of Geneabloggers has created a new genealogy meme, intended to allow genealogists to share which technological tools we use for our research. I think this'll be a pretty neat meme and I'd love to see everyone else's lists.  Here's mine:
  • Hardware: 2008 MacBook, 2.4 GHz Intel Core 2 Due, 2 GB 667 MHz DDR2 SDRAM
  • External storage: 2, 8G Flash Drives; 1, 2G Flash Drive holding all of my digital genealogy files
  • Online storage: Flickr
  • Backup: Backupify
  • Firewall: n/a
  • Virus protection: n/a (I hang my hopes on having a mac)
  • Spyware: n/a (ditto)
  • File cleaner: n/a
  • Printer: Kodak ESP5 All in One
  • Phone: basic Samsung slider type
  • Mobile media: iPod nano
  • Music player: iPod; iTunes
  • Car audio: 6 Disc CD w/ AV adaptor
  • eBook Reader: Kindle 2US
  • Browser: Safari 5.0
  • Blog: Blogger
  • RSSreader: Google; burner: Feedburner
  • FTP: FileZilla 
  • Text editor: Word, TextEdit, AppleWorks, Stickies
  • Graphics: iPhoto, Gimp
  • Screen capture: Keyboard shortcut: Command-Shift-3
  • Social media: Twitter; Facebook
  • Social bookmarking: Diigo
  • Social profile: n/a
  • URL shortener: tiny.url
  • Office suite: 2004
  • E-mail: yahoo; gmail
  • Calendar: n/a
  • Accounting: n/a
  • PDF generator: File/Print/PDF
  • Genealogy database: Reunion 9.0b
  • Genealogy tools: (bookmaker), Google Maps
  • Other tech stuff
    • Scanner: Cannon CanoSan 5600F
    • Voice Recorder: Sony Digital Voice Recorder
    • Camera: Nikon D40x; Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ5

    01 July 2010

    My Computer is a Ticking Time Bomb

    My computer is a 2008 MacBook... and it's a ticking time bomb.

    About six months after I bought this beautiful laptop, a tablespoon of water was spilt on the table next to/against the computer. I had a hard time getting the computer to wake up, but after that everything seemed fine. After a while though, the battery died. Being the procrastinator that I am, it was about six months before I took it into the Apple Store to be looked at. They replaced the battery and sent me on my way. Two months later, I had another dead battery. Apple gave me another battery and it was dead in a week. The next time I took it in, the techs took my computer apart to find out what was going on. Unfortunately for me, that little bit of water that had been spilt had started to corrode all the important parts, especially the parts that deal with the battery. Pretty much, my laptop is now a desktop because the battery can't be read. On top of that, the insides are slowly corroding away.

    So for me, 'data backup day' is a weekly event. I have no idea if my computer will last another few months or another few years. According to the Apple techs, my screen will probably go first, which might be a warning sign. Or maybe it'll do like my last one did and start making crazy grinding noises first (and thank goodness for those noises which alerted me to a problem and I was able to back up my data). Either way, I plan to be prepared.

    I'm backing up my data onto a set of three flash drives (two 8 gig and a 2 gig). This holds all of my genealogy research, with my gedcom saved to each one just in case one gets damaged.  I also have my photos and scanned documents uploaded to my online flickr account. I'm very much considering trying out another online repository for my non-image documents.

    Aside from data backup, it kills me that my laptop isn't mobile unless there's an electrical outlet nearby. I'm very much looking forward to the Atlanta Family History Expo in November, and would hate not to have full access to my computer during the events (btw, is there usually wifi at these events?).  I cannot afford another computer right now, and would hate to replace this one, which works aside from battery issues. Instead, I've started considering a netbook.

    If I save up a month or two I could afford a netbook. It would allow me to access the internet and basic software on the go. I am concerned about the whole Mac vs PC thing. I'm very much a Mac person, which is based on experience, not fandom. I don't have any software for PC, so I would be starting fresh there. I'm specifically worried about access to my gedcom. I use Reunion, which is only for Mac. I haven't had a lot of luck transferring sources from my Reunion created gedcom into other Mac software, so I have no idea how it will react to PC software. I'd also want to use this computer when I visit family so that I can show them my research, so it would need to hold at least part of my research.

    I don't know... I'm a splurge spender and I love to buy new things. I don't want to rush to buy a computer that I don't really need.  For those who have attended family history expos: did you use your computer a lot? Though I know each location is different, were there lots of places to plug them in at your event? For those that own netbooks: do they have enough power and space for part-time genealogy work? Does the compact size make them hard to use at all? Any tips on buying and using them?

    I think I've gotten a little off topic from where I started. Data back-up day is important. You never know when your computer might die (but watch out for hints!), so make sure to back up your computer often. It's saved me in the past and I know it'll save me in the future.

    28 March 2009

    it'll be ok, just breath

    My laptop won't turn on.  I'm freaking out!  Apparently while I was at work today it got some water spilt on it.  It was working - and then it wasn't.  The battery is fully charged, but it just won't turn on.

    I bought this one (MacBook) at the end August when my last laptop died.  That one was old and it was making funny noises, so I wasn't too surprised when it passed on.  But this one? Totally unexpected. It wasn't much water apparently and it didn't seem as if it got inside the computer, but maybe it did.  Why else would it just stop working?  I'll take my laptop in tomorrow to the Mac store and see what they say.

    Well, it's under warranty, so at least I hope to not loose money.  But, second to money is, of course, data.  Did I loose data?!?  

    Not too much I think.  I backed up my genealogy files at the beginning of March onto a flash drive.  The only thing - I think my gedcom file is from January.  Not too bad.  Also, some of the marriage records that I've been pulling from the GA Virtual Vault the last few days aren't saved.  But they're online so I can just find them again.   

    Data Backup Day for the win!  Lesson learned: even practically brand new hardware is not safe so don't take chances.  

    26 August 2008


    My hard drive self destructed. I had most of my genealogy research backed up, but I made a mistake when I backed up my gedcom file. I saved an extra copy that was a privacy version. I lost about 100 people who were marked private. I'm hoping that my information can be retrieved. Until then, my research is on pause.


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