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Louis Kessler's Behold Blog

2017 #RootsTech #InnovatorShowdown Contestants - Thu, 1 Dec 2016

I’ve been watching with much interest on the RootsTech Devpost site, some of the great programs that are being submitted to the showdown. Prior to the submitted programs being announced, I was able to find many of them because of the videos they produced on either YouTube or Vimeo, or through their entries as participants on the Showdown site.


On Dec 5, all the official submissions were added to DevPost.

The programs that are entrants for 2017 include, in alphabetical order, with the 10 semi-finalists highlighted in yellow are:

  1. autodotbiography - Online website – Bryher Scudamore
  2. Champollion 2.0 – Windows program – Christophe Marin
  3. ColorFuel – Online website – Oliver Nina
  4. CSI: Crowd Sourced Indexing – Online website - Banai Lynn Feldstein
  5. Cuzins – Android app - Jonathan & Joshue Fowlke
  6. Deep Sense – iOS app – Ahmed Bekhit, Fabian Vergara and others
  7. Double Match Triangulator - Windows program - Louis Kessler
  8. DoubleSHOT Glare-be-Gone with SHOTBOX – Windows program - Michael Hohl & Aaron Johnson
  9. Emberall – iOS or Android app – Karen & Kyle Corbitt, Sam Nelson
  10. Famicity - Online website - Jerome Blanchard and many others (2016)
  11. Family-History – Alexa devices – by Iayne Moessing
  12. FamilyHunt – Chrome extension – by Nandamuri Srilakshmi
  13. genealogyDOTcoach - Online website - Janet Hovorka and Kim
  14. GenerationStory - iOS app - Shannon Uschold (2016)
  15. GenQuizitive - Online website - Melissa & John Finlay
  16. greetingStory – Online service – Christopher Cummings
  17. Innovative Genealogy Charts – Online service – Doug Butts
  18. Irish Family History Centre - Online website – Irish Family History Centre
  19. JoyFLIPS – iOS app – Ken Leonard and Tami Osmer Mize
  20. Kindex - Online website - Cathy Gilmore (2016)
  21. Lifeblink – Android app - Dave Girgenti
  22. Lifey – Online service - Adam Balinksi
  23. Little Family Tree - Android app - John & Melissa Finlay (2016)
  24. Long Lost Relatives – Online service – John DeFour
  25. Memory Book - Online website - Chijioke Esedo, Gloria Miao and others
  26. OldNews USA - Android app - Bill Nelson
  27. Pass it Down – iOS app - Christopher Cummings & Rodger Maarfi (2016)
  28. PetFamily – Online website – Anand Rajan
  29. PostcardTree – Online website – Neil Saunders (2016)
  30. QromaTag - iOS app - Tony Knight
  31. Rendez-Vous – Android app – Noureddine Amri
  32. RootsFinder - Online website - Heather Henderson
  33. The Diderot Network – Cross Platform – Paul Fraser
  34. The Family Nexus - iOS app - David Taylor
  35. The Project Life App – iOS app – Becky Higgins
  36. ThereForYou – iOS app - Ashish Ranjan
  37. TSOLife - Online website - David Sawyer, Stella Parris (2016)
  38. VR Tag Room360 – Online website – Tom Nguyen
  39. VyTräd - Windows program - Steven Larson
  40. weGather – iOS & Android app – Rachel & Andrew Niesen

From the above, you’ll see 15 are online websites, 15 are iOS or Android apps, 4 are Windows programs, 4 are online services, 1 is Cross platform and there’s even 1 for Alexa devices and 1 Chrome extension so there’s quite a variety. Many of the videos are superbly done.

7 of the programs were submitted to the 2016 Innovator Showdown. They will have gained in the experience from that and their programs will be more polished and should have a better chance this time around.

It’s going to be really tough for the judges to pick the 10 semifinalists from among these. I’m hoping DMT will impress them enough to make the first cut. There will be some good programs that won’t.

The following programs didn’t make the deadline:

  1. Carbon Copy – Online website – Cassidy Williams

Update: Dec 5, 2016: I missed 14 Submissions. I’ve now updated them above.

Update: Dec 9, 2016: Devpost added 1 more:  PetFamily (see above)

Update: Dec 17, 2016: The 10 semi-finalists and 5 judges were announced. I’ve highlighted the semi-finalists in yellow, above.

The following program was taken off the official list of entrants Dec 19:

  1. frontfamily – Online website – Bassem Chagra and others

My First YouTube Video - Tue, 29 Nov 2016

For the 2017 #RootsTech Innovator Showdown, a requirement is that the submitted program must be accompanied by a 60 to 90 second video uploaded to YouTube or Vimeo.

As of eight days ago, I had my Double Match Triangulator program all ready, I had the required project page all filled out at Devpost.com with all the screen shots set up. I just didn’t have the video and I had never done one before. And the deadline was in 10 days.

Today I finished a video that I am quite happy with and it is now part of my submission. This is it:

I had to research how to put a YouTube video together. I ran into the site compelling.tv. They had a lot of good how-to videos on how to make videos for YouTube. Their technique was to make a script of what you wanted to say and then to produce slides in PowerPoint to go along. They explain how to set up PowerPoint to produce videos for you tube.

PowerPoint! Now that would work for me. I am experienced in PowerPoint and use it for all my talks.

They then suggest getting Audacity, a free audio recording and editing software. Then set up the slides in PowerPoint to And put it together. The trick is to get the set up the timing of each slide PowerPoint to be set to display for just as long as the associated audio for the slide. That could be a bit of a nuisance, so compelling.tv sells a product called One Hour Video Studio that will create the PowerPoint file with the right timings. It actually looks like a decent system.

But I didn’t want to spend time figuring out how to use and maybe struggle with someone else’s program when I needed to make this video quickly and do it now.

I had a nice alternative. I had purchased Snagit for my home computer, mainly because I had it at work and loved it. Snagit is a screen capture program that I use to do most of my screenshots for my blog, my websites and in the help files for Behold and my other programs.

And Snagit includes basic screen recording. The nice part about it is that with Snagit, you can record the audio at the same time. That works out really nicely.

What I did first was write up my script. Then based on the script, I set up about 10 PowerPoint slides. I included fade transitions between slides as well as step by step transitions on some of the slides. In my script, I started a new paragraph each time there was a new step or slide transition.

To record, I started the PowerPoint presentation on my right monitor. I started Snagit screen recorder on my left monitor. I selected the right monitor as the area to record. I put on my headphones with its microphone and I started recording. All I had to do was read the script and then press enter when I reached the end of a paragraph to transition PowerPoint to the next step or slide. It worked well.

My first recording had a few stammers but wasn’t too bad except for one thing: the video was 2 minutes and 48 seconds long. Unfortunately, the rules stated that the video had to be between 60 and 90 seconds long. I had to cut out 78 seconds.

It took me a few hours to edit down the material and what I was saying. But that was actually worthwhile. The stuff I removed was the less important material, and I compressed some text into fewer words. About 8 takes later, I had a nice 89 second video that I liked way better than my original.

I sent it off to my friend and fellow geneablogger James Tanner who had been giving me excellent suggestions along the way on making the video. He liked what I had done. So then this morning, it took me just 4 takes to record a version without stammers that I was happy with. Voila: my first MP4 video.

I already had a YouTube account, but I had never uploaded my own video before. It wasn’t hard. Something new learned. Well worth my time.

My channel on YouTube

The deadline for the submission to the Innovator Showdown is December 1. Since I’ve now done the video, my submission now meets the requirements.

I’ve had a lot of friends wishing me good luck with this, and I thank all of you for your support. We’ll have to see first if the judges pick Double Match Triangulator to be one of the 10 semi-finalists. Those 10 get to present at the Innovator Summit Day (the Wednesday) at RootsTech, and it would be so much fun to do that. Let’s keep our fingers crossed.

60th Birthday AND Retirement! - Thu, 24 Nov 2016

Today, Nov 24, 2016, I celebrated my 60th birthday. It was so nice to also celebrate it yesterday with my Australian genealogy friends who were wishing me the best when here in Winnipeg it was still the day before.

88 days to go ...

But that was not all it was. This was also my last day of work as I head into “retirement”. I planned many years ago that I didn’t want to “work” a day after 60, and I was able to gear up for this day and count ‘em down. On the right is my 88 workday countdown as I had it up on my wall at work. It was a great way to ensure I had enough time to finish everything off and pass everything else on before the final date.

I have seldom mentioned my day job in my many years of posting on my Behold blog and that was mainly to prevent any possible conflict of interest. But now that I am officially retired, I am free to talk about what has kept me occupied during the day over the past 41 years.

I’ve worked over two thirds of my life for one company: Manitoba Hydro, the electricity and natural gas supplier for my Province of Manitoba. After 4 years as a summer student for the company, my degrees in Statistics and Computer Science allowed me to snag a permanent position in the Computer Services Department at Manitoba Hydro. I was there 8 years as a programmer and then system analyst working on some important and complex programs for the company.

In 1988, I accepted a position as a Load Forecaster in the Load Forecasting Department. We had to analyze electricity and gas usage in the province to predict what the Province was likely to need over the next 20 years. This work was perfect for me and allowed me to use both my statistics and programming skills together. Among other things, I was involved in implementing large customer surveys on energy use, I designed and built a Customer Information Database, I developed models to predict load growth based on historical trends and economic influences, and all this came together into a detailed annual forecast document. It was a great job that required learning of the latest techniques, working through all the technical details, and meeting with other forecasters from other utilities tManitoba Hydro Placeo share modeling methods and techniques. Every day was a new adventure. There were always  new and interesting questions to answer. I loved doing this job. I did this for 20 years working with a great team of people.

In 2008, my manager retired and our company built and moved into a beautiful new gleaming headquarters in downtown Winnipeg. I took over the manager position in the Department. Now instead of doing the technical work, I became the leader and teacher of our talented department of  forecasting professionals. I was manager for 8 years, enjoying the interesting work with my great co-workers, in a beautiful downtown work environment, taking the bus to work for 9 months and biking for 3 summer months while still playing squash 3 times a week at lunch. It was wonderful.

Today, my 60th birthday and my last day at work, I had a retirement reception in a 3rd floor Conference Room at our Manitoba Hydro Place building, with co-workers, family, squash buddies, bus buddies and bike buddies. It was a day that beautifully capped off a career that I fully enjoyed and am proud of.

So now what?

What I hadn’t told most people up to now was that Behold and GenSoftReviews and my involvement in Genealogy & Family History Stack Exchange and my work on Better Gedcom and FHISO and my recent DNA work and my DMT program and my genealogy lectures and travels were up to now just things I’d have to slot in after my full-time day job and after my family and friends, when I could on evenings and weekends. Not bad though. I still got a lot done over the years, even though I haven’t yet reached my goal of Version 2 of Behold with editing, so that I can use it for doing my own genealogy.

Now with my career at Manitoba Hydro completed, I get to move my evening and weekend work into a new daytime 8 – 5, Monday to Friday role. I am so looking forward to this. Everyone at work is happy for me, and wishes me the best in my pursuit of my life goal to develop the tools I need to research and document my own genealogy, and in doing so make these tools available to other genealogists as well.

This is all starting as we speak. I have to make a YouTube video for my Double Match Triangulator program by December 1, to complete its entry for the 2017 RootsTech Innovator Showdown.

And to round out today, my birthday, before I get to bed:  In the mail today came my DNA test kit in the mail from FamilyTreeDNA. I’ll take the test and send it back and in a month I’ll likely have my own 9,000 matches to add to my uncle’s 9,000. I’ll really need DMT now!

And the other thing I’ll do tonight is to send my uncle’s obituary to the newspaper. He passed away last Saturday. He’ll be well remembered, and I’ll make sure of that as I am the family genealogist.