One of my talks on the Unlock Your Past genealogy cruise was on choosing Genealogy Software. A point I made was that genealogy software should help you, and not be a burden on you. If you are not particularly good at computers, or even if you are and the particular program you are using is just frustrating you and because it’s buggy, or can’t do what you want, or doesn’t do it the way you want, or makes it cumbersome to enter your data, or you just don’t like it — well then, stop using it.
You can either try other programs that may work better for you, or you don’t have to use them at all. People were doing genealogy way before computers were around, so you don’t need to use them. Just do the research, make sure you document everything, and someone in the family will eventually take it up and do the computer entry for you and the family.
So I ran into a similar problem for myself with regards to the pictures I was taking during the trip. I wanted to post the pictures and videos in the cloud so that my family could see them. The hope was that I could post them each night, and they could experience our trip along with us.
Surely technology would now allow this, I thought. My friend in Vancouver had posted hundreds of pictures of his trips up on Google Albums using Google Picasa and that seems to work so well.
I’m a Windows guy. For the trip, I was now going to use my Windows phone (a Nokia Lumia 920) for my pictures and videos. The plan was to upload them to my SkyDrive which is part of my Windows Live account. The phone has built in syncing of pictures/videos with the SkyDrive so this should be a snap, right?
I merrily starting taking an average of 100 photos and 5 to 10 videos a day. Our hotel room in Sydney had wifi. So now, just Sync pics/videos from phone to SkyDrive. First problem: Wifi’s too slow. Moving 500 MB of files takes a while. Fortunately the hotel room also has hardwired internet. We plug the laptop in, transfer the pics to the laptop, and up they go somewhat faster.
Hmm. Several problems. First, they are ordered weird. Panoramas (taken with a fantastic Nokia feature) and videos were not in the correct place. Their date-times are not set. I spent an hour trying to figure out how to reorder them on SkyDrive since it wasn’t obvious figuring out how to do that and then they’ve got to be moved one by one. Dragging a picture and scrolling the screen down at the same time was nearly impossible but it got done with effort. Later I found I could order the pics by file name and that gave a better order – just the videos had inconsistent names and had to be renamed, which was easier than reordering one by one on SkyDrive.
Then I needed to label the pics and videos with a caption. I went through them on SkyDrive and added captions, realizing when I was done that most didn’t get entered because I used the arrow key to move to the next picture, but needed to hit enter to save the caption prior to moving on. So I had to redo them.
That worked for the 5 days prior to the cruise. Once we were on the cruise, I no longer had wired internet – only a slower wifi. But it didn’t matter anyway. I was too busy and exhausted at the end of each day to try to do the pictures, and settled on just getting a blog entry up every day or two. Each blog entry took almost 10 minutes to upload because of the slow ship wifi, but at least they got posted.
After the cruise, we were back at the hotel with wired internet again. But I was now 10 days and 1200 pictures behind. Rather than upload them, I decided I’d just organize them on the laptop first, and then upload them later. I used Windows Live Photo Gallery to do so. This allowed organizing the photos on the laptop, deleting and moving them around, captioning them, and even identifying and marking the people in each photo. I then used WLPG to upload them to SkyDrive. But there were so many that I didn’t finish. Once I got home, I went to my desktop computer and organized the rest of them in WLPG and then uploaded them.
Okay. Sounds like they’re all up there. But all sorts of problems. Somehow none of the captions for the videos got uploaded. I had to go and manually add them onto the videos on SkyDrive. Little did I know, but WLPG didn’t upload full size pictures or videos. The videos were compressed so much, they are noticeably lower in quality. And all the video uploads from my computer were missing the sound, but not from the laptop. So I had to redo all those, but do them from the laptop. The reason, I assume is that my desktop is Windows Vista, which didn’t have the updated Codec for the compression format, whereas the Laptop was Windows 7 which did. Sheesh!
Now I’ve got a big mess. Yes the pics are now up on my SkyDrive for my family and are organized and have the captions and the poor ones I don’t want are not included there. I can’t sync that back down because they are not top quality. I’ve got some pics organized on my desktop but not all, and some on the laptop but not all, and all are still on my camera in full resolution but not organized. I want one permanent full-resolution, organized version with captions and marked people on my desktop. I’m resigned to the fact that there will be no easy way to take the inconsistent pieces and merge the information. It’s just going to take some more manual labor on my part.
This should not have happened this way, and now that I know better, I’ll try to figure a better way so that this won’t happen again in the future. You always learn from your mistakes. No pain, no gain. Just don’t keep on going through the same aggravation over and over.