Family History IV, the wrap-up!

I promise this is the last in my family history project series. IV seems to cover all the topics. First off, here are links to the first three.

The first component I recommend is scanning all the old pictures and slides you have. For that, I highly recommend the Epson Perfection series of the scanner. The software is really easy to use, and the scanner is a dream. High-quality scans that are easy to edit. The higher the resolution of the scans the happier you will be later. In fairness, most of the scans we have done are between 14 and 24 megs. Too large for posting on some online sites, but better to have higher-quality pictures later anyway.

For me, the second component was converting my grandfather’s films. Lot’s of 16mm films. I considered the possibility of me doing that conversion, but decided instead to ship the films off and have them converted. I choose iMemories, and honestly, it was the right choice. They not only converted all the film to digital video files but also sent me a very nice DVD collection (3) of my Grandfathers 30 or so 16 mm films. I highly recommend iMemories.

The last part of the Family History project is the blog. Now, I had a blog before the project started. But I began a focused blog that later became the Wander project shortly after I realized just how many slides and pictures we had, that few humans had ever seen. I took my blog and converted it to the Family History project blog, and that I started calling the Wander Project in honor of the work my kids did in the fifth grade. You can find that blog here

I also post family history videos (I have a lot of them) on my families YouTube Channel.


family history starter and tech guy

Starting a family history project part III

Continuing my how do I do a Family History project of my own, posts. Now, number 3 in this series. First of all the most thing, there is only one Hemingway. John Steinbeck was a unique writing talent (and how he thought of a beer float in Cannery Row, I will never know). Those great literary giants both started with their first story. Most of us start writing when we are 4, 5 or 6 years old. We are hopefully, encouraged to write down ideas and concepts by our teachers.

That first part of the family history project is getting the pictures. The second part is sharing those pictures. The what and how of sharing for me is a blog. What you share and how you share it, is entirely up to you. Sharing the stories, concepts, and jokes that bind the pictures taken to moments shared. You see there is a difference between a picture and memory. Certainly, pictures trigger memories. But the picture seldom captures the memory. As I have expanded my family history project, I have started calling it my Wander project.

In part a wander project based on what my kids did in 5th grade. Frist my daughter (Marengo Cave) then my sons (Vincennes and Corydon). They, the kids, had to go to a location in Indiana, take pictures of that trip and tell a story. The wander project mimics that school assignment. It takes pictures and memories that I have of moments and shares them. It is the last part of my family history project. Sharing my dreams, memories, and thoughts. Look not all of the family history projects is worthy of anything other than well picture review. Many of the posts aren’t good. It isn’t about good or bad posts. It is about what tomorrow will remember. “Tomorrow has no memory of today.” Sandler Boggs.

For tomorrow to have memories of your today, start a family history project!


wander project creator (well my wander project)

Technology wander Family History Project part II

The other side of what is now the family history project or what I often call the wander project is the blog posts. Not all of the posts are completely tied to the images shared. But often the goal is to share additional information beyond the pictures. Based on that goal I also have other parts to the family history project. I have converted all of the images from my grandfather that were a film. He left me two boxes of 16 mm film.

Additionally, I have converted more than 20 VHS tapes to digital. From time to time I share the family video on my YouTube channel. I also share stories, ideas and concept son my podcast, which for the most part is focused on technology but on occasion I do memories.

  1. Videotape family elders are telling the stories they remember. We did that with my grandfather, we failed to capture a lot of my grandmother, and we also didn’t catch as much of my father sharing stories on video as I would have liked. It takes five minutes to setup, but the value is priceless later!
  2. It is your family history; it doesn’t have to be perfect. In the words of the Carpenters son from the 70’s, “don’t worry if it’s not good enough.” It is good enough. No matter how badly you think you shared, someone, later on, will welcome the information.

I include links to the other places I share (YouTube and Podbean). Podbean is where I share my podcasts. YouTube is where I post my technology focused Yesterday’s Weather (time-lapse weather video) and some family videos as well.

Family history is something anyone can do. It isn’t hard, and while it can take time, later it will save time. The best part of memories is sharing them with other people!


Glad the scanning is done!

It is not a question of value. It is a question of legal.

I get a lot of technical questions in a lot of different places. Email, telephone and various forums I am a member of. One of the things that I don’t feel comfortable answering questions about avoiding paying for software. In part you can get free software, it is normally called an NFR, and companies sometimes give things away to seed the market. Reviewers often get Not for Resale versions of software to review and share opinions about.

But any other method of getting free software is one I don’t comment about. Artists spend their creative energy creating something; software developers do as well. Taking that without paying for it, either music, software, art or video is wrong. I have argued with some people over the years who say the companies make too much money. But this isn’t about the companies. Stealing creative ideas impact the artists most of all. It impacts the person who writes the code, not the company selling it. My rule with software has always been if I use it, I own it. If I don’t use it a second time, then I don’t upgrade it.

Someone has to write the code. Write the music, the script or shoot the image. That someone is the one you are hurting by stealing software, music, video or other art. The impact isn’t in the big company; they simply take the loss off their taxes. If they catch you, they take you to court, and you lose money. Or worse, if you have enough illegal software, music or other things on your computer, you go to jail.

I don’t answer questions about how to help people acquire illegal software. I don’t let illegal software exist in my house. The one time it did, the person left and hasn’t been back to our house in more than three years. Illegal software, illegal music, Illegal movies it is all stealing from someone else.


trying to keep things real

Starting a Family History Project…

A pixie said I should write down the what and how of a Family History project. I did once a long time ago on my WordPress Blog, and again on Niume, but sometimes Pixie’s are right. First of all scanning images can be a daunting task. We started our project because going through and watching slideshows of more than 30,000 images would be arduous and at best painful. Plus, the problem with some of the slides is that they were more than 50 years old and maybe didn’t have 10, 12 or 15 more showings in them. We had to come up with a permanent solution to the problem of our old family pictures.

  1. We bought an Epson Perfection scanner. Yes, the Epson costs more than a standard scanner, but it is capable of handling slides and pictures. Plus the software they bundle with the scanner makes it easier to use.
  2. We also got an external Hard drive and an online picture backup (Carbonite and Amazon), so we had multiple copies of our pictures.

The first part of the project is to separate slides from pictures. In our case that was straightforward, the slides left to me by my father and grandfather were already organized into containers. We then simply placed the slides on the bed of the scanner and away we went. 30,000 slides (actually 38,000 in total) took us a little more than eight months to scan. In part because lives intercede and in part to keep the project rolling, but not make the project overwhelming. We scanner between 1,000 and 1500 slides per week. Some weeks we didn’t make our goal. Some weeks we blew well past the goal.

Organization of the pictures is still ongoing. We began the project in September 2014. The scanning process (38,000 slides and 26,000 prints) was completed in February 2016. We finished the project one week before the big snow in the DC area. They are organized in a series of the folder.

The biggest issue now is that most of the images scanned are much larger than the eight gig limit here on Virily. Plus, the images scanned were not always scanned in the way you would expect  Half of them at least are upside down. Towns the last say, well during all of the project, the scanning crew wasn’t always as interested in scanning.

The other side of the project is what I will speak to tomorrow.


of blogs and blogging tools!

Today, like every other day started in front of a computer working on my blogs. I started my blogs back in 2005. 12 years and more than 6000 posts. It sometimes seems like only yesterday when I was only posting once a day or less than that once a month. In moving to posting every day, I found myself more energized and ready for the posting. Instead of agonizing over every word I posted. If it weren’t a good post, well tomorrow would be better.

When I look back at some of my blogs, I do see some horrible posts. It goes in part with learning, not your audience but your voice. I read and still read hundreds of blog posts over the course of a month. I learn and pick up things from other bloggers sitting at my desk. There are many things I have added; more pictures were one of the things I learned. I suspect the addition of pictures in part also for me coincides with the death of my father.

That got me thinking about how much the blogging tools I use now, have changed in the past 12 years. I used only to use Windows Live Writer, which I still use for my WordPress posts but now only for WordPress. My WordPress blog was once the most currently it is between 2 and four days behind my other web posts. The tools I use the most for blog creation are listed below:

  • Microsoft Word (to create the text)
  • Logitech Wireless Keyboard
  • Logitech Wireless Mouse
  • In theory my brain but based on some of my older posts not always true.

The only one on the list that I was using 12 years ago is my brain. The other three have been added over time. I love my Logitech Keyboard and Mouse. They work perfectly and are a great addition to my blogging process.



More on Net Neutrality…

I don’t like political rants, and I try to avoid them like the plague. That is why I try to present both sides of every argument. I realized, in posting twice about the upcoming Net Neutrality hearings by the US Government Agency FCC, that I was close to rant and hadn’t presented both sides. Based on that realization I want to clarify both positions being presented and the “discussed” intent of both sides. I am not going to describe the personal intent, just the broadly listed positions.

  1. Security and the implementation of security
  2. Privacy and the loss of privacy

Look let’s not hide the fact that both sides think the other is completely wrong. But let’s argue the two points that are publically shared today. Information should be easily and readily available to all, but it isn’t, and it hasn’t been in a long time. Let’s talk about why each side is wrong, and what we can do to avoid getting caught up in a mess.

  1. More information isn’t going to improve security. Having access to and control of more aspects of any one person doesn’t increase the ability to act and react to the actions of that person. I always tell people about the windows computer tech support scam. There is more than 1 billion computers running form of Windows in the world. Each of them, on a good day, generates 7-10 messages a day. Sorting through that many messages is impossible today. The same is true by the way for all the information sources on the internet. Yes making them only available as a premium service would reduce the number of users and therefore increase the likelihood of finding or catching abnormal behaviors. Even with the reduced access, it doesn’t solve the security issue. The dark web is called that because it is in-routed. That means only people that know the IP address of a website on the dark web can use that website. You can’t assign additional costs to sites that don’t follow the IP rules of the DNS world.
  2. Privacy is a painful issue. If you think you will lose all your privacy because Net Neutrality is removed, then you are in for a shock. In the past year, I have run into three different selfie drones. Each of them captured a picture of me, without my permission. There are laws about public locations and images captured, but the reality is those laws need to be changed. The other day I watched a video from south beach of a tiger shark swimming within 5 feet of beachgoers who were unaware of the shark. The photographer using a drone said, “I was too far away to warn them about the shark.” Those images, however, made it to the national news. While it is a free-use issue, it is still a loss of privacy. Ask anyone after a crime is committed in their neighborhood if they would be willing to allow the police into their home in the event of an attempt to capture a criminal. Before a horrible crime more than ½ the people would say no, or something even stronger. After a crime (and there are some studies to support this) more than ½ would say yes please do.

The world is evolving. Net Neutrality is a very complex issue. If someone says to you about Net Neutrality “it is all about this,” and point to a single issue pause and smile. Walk away, they are wound around that issue and not going to budge. Reality is both sides have strong points and extremely weak points.

Net Neutrality is an extremely complex problem. It is more than privacy, it is more than security, and it is more than a way to raise taxes and a way to increase the revenue of network providers. I think what people are missing right now on both sides, is that advertising will suddenly change the cost of the internet. Where today you can log in and use the side you want, tomorrow you may have to wade through 10, 12 ads before you are allowed to use the site you want to use. But we also have to consider the impact of terrorists and other criminals.