Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Great work, State Library of NSW

As an opinionated old girl I enjoy having an opportunity to "put in my pennies worth".

A week or so ago I received from my State Library a link to a short online survey about its services and performance. I duly completed the form and felt pleased that I had been given a chance to have a say. I also said that I would be willing to take part in further discussions.

I am just in receipt of an email that has invited me to take part in a forum  to be held "over a week, starting this Thursday 30th June.  Each day we’ll cover a different topic relating to the State Library, all with a view to improving the services it provides for all of its clients and visitors. All you need to do is log-in each day for a few minutes and give us your opinions."

I often bang on about feedback being an important of any evaluation process. Congratulations to The State Library of  NSW for looking beyond its walls to seek such feedback. I will try to be a responsible and  balanced as I take part in the forum.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

28th June 1946

Sifting and sorting through a box of filing yesterday I was faced with a small booklet with that June date printed on the cover. As June 28 was only a day away I investigated further and found that it was one of my mother's mementos. A timely find for a blog post today.

Cover-  PO Victory Ball Program
During the Second World War and until she married Mum worked as a telephoniste at The GPO (General Post Office) in Martin Place in Sydney. It appears that she had a busy social life with her workmates and tribe of sisters. They attended many functions organsed by The Postal Institute.

The booklet I had found was the cover of the souvenir program for The Victory Ball organised by the Postal Institute to celebrate the end of World War II  that my mother had attended along with some of her friends. Checking out the autographs, written in pencil and now faded, on the back cover of the program I saw some familiar names.

Roma Bannon was a country girl who boarded with my mother's family in Sydney. Until her death she remained a close friend of my mother's and was a treasured member of our extended family. Arthur Johnson was another boarder from the country who lived in my grandmother's crowded house at Kensington. Arthur boarded with my grandmother for around 30 years until she  became too feeble to manage a home. Kath Tuohey a friend from my mother's hometown, Cobar, is still a friend of my mother's today. I would be surprised if some of Mum's sisters were not at this event but their names so not appear in her list of autographs.

Autographs - PO Victory Ball

The inside cover and first page of the program contain a message from the President of The New South Wales Postal Institute, J.M. Hotson and a list of committee members.

The venue, The Grace Brothers Auditorium, was part of the flagship  Broadway store of the Grace Brothers retail empire. It was a major venue on the Sydney social scene. I remember attending children's birthday parties and seeing Santa at the grand Christmas display there as a youngster and, as a young adult, I enjoyed a number of balls there. The store was closed in 1992 and reopened as a shopping and cinema complex in 1998.

Although my mother's dance program is empty I am sure that she did not miss a dance. She still enjoys a twirl round the dance floor whenever the occasion presents itself.

The remaining pages of the program tell of the "Telegraph Service" that had been set up in the ballroom and gives a list of  attendeeswith apologies to those not on the list. (Mum and her friends are missing.)

At the top and bottom of each page of the program are humourous quips that include:
  • It is a poor heart that never rejoices
  • The forward girl often looks backward
  • Blondes are always lightheaded creatures
  • The cost of living is a soar point with us
  • Eve introduced the first loose leaf system
  • Blessed are the innocent - for they have a lot to learn
  • Tie mail matter securely - use a parson
  • Lost patrners will be locked up in the Drunk Exchange until called for. Last clearance at 1 am.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Bradfield Park History

I've just been reading the latest newsletter from the Ku-ring-gai Historical Society and saw news of this new project. I am sure that Ann would be pleased to hear from anyone with memories of that institution. Details follow:

" The Society is currently working on a publication on the WWII RAAF base and subsequent Bradfield Housing
Settlement, and the adjacent Migrant Camp, at West Lindfield.

If you have any memories or memorabilia of the core period from the mid 1940s onward, please contact Ann Barry on"Bradfield Park

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Bartley of Kerry Lodge

I found a few books that interested me at The National Library of Australia earlier this week and decided that I needed to own copies of some. As they were older titles that were probably out of print I tried to chase up some secondhand copies through AbeBooks Australia and New Zealand. One of the books was not available and a couple were way too expensive but one was available for just $25.89 including postage so I placed an order for it on Tuesday evening.

The book from Time Booksellers, that was securely packaged, arrived in my letterbox on Friday. I was pleased  to find that the book was in mint condition; I had not expected this for a book published in 1987. "Bartley of Kerry Lodge: a portrait of a pioneer in Van Diemen's Land" tells the story of a young Englishman, Theodore Bryant Bartley, who made his way to Australia at the age of fifteen. The book by Yvonne Phillips, who is a Bartley descendant, recounts the story of his life from the time he sets foot on Australian shores and gets work as a tutor to Governor Lachlan Macquarie's son. Bartley eventually settles in Tasmania where he becomes a prominent member of the community there.
Theodore Bryant Bartley

The book that appears to be well researched contains many excerpts from official and family correspondence and is illustrated with photographs of people, places and documents. The 144 page book with references and an index is published on thick, shiny paper with a soft cover.

Bartley is not related to me so why did I want to purchase this book?

I want my children and grandchildren to know about their heritage; Theodore Bryant Bartley is the 4 x great grandfather of my youngest grandchild who is just 6 months old. I will be the custodian of this book for my grand-daughter and give it to her when she is ready to learn about her ancestors and family history.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Juice Defender

I was reminded this morning when reading a post from Richard Byrne that my mate Shelley from Twigs of Yore in her post, Life in the clouds and across the Galaxy, had suggested Juice Defender as a great app for an Android Galaxy Tab. I hadn't gotten around to installing it yet but will do so now.

Recommendations from two people whose opinions I respect are good enough for me. Shelley has " upgraded all the way to Ultimate", I'll hold on to my pennies for the minute and  try the free version in the first instance.

The opportunity this app provides to prolong the battery life of my Android device is rather appealing.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Lingering in the Library

New service desk in Main Reading Room
Accompanying my husband on a business trip to Canberra this week presented me with an opportunity to visit the National Library of Australia to do a little bit of genealogy research. I spent a wonderful two and a half days  using the resources of the library. During that time I looked at around 30 books, read a few of them and took lots of digital photos of pages to read and digest at my leisure. I only managed to look at one microfilm.

I had a fantastic time at the library and hope that I can return to Canberra soon to avail myself of its facilities. For genealogists in Australia there are many discoveries to be made within its walls

The objective of the National Library is stated as "Our objective is to ensure Australians have access to a national collection of library material to enhance learning, knowledge creation, enjoyment and understanding of Australian life and society." (
The Paper Plate

Here is my little PMI evaluation of my visit:

* It's free
* A beautiful well-maintained building in a prime location by Lake Burley Griffin
* A huge collection of resources relating to Australia
* Free wifi for user devices
* Finding the less expensive Paper Plate food outlet on my third visit
Main Reading Room at NLA
* Comfortable seating and work areas in well-lit Main Reading Room
* A pleasant environment in which to work
* Many computers for users to access
* Access to subscription databases from library computer terminals
* Being able to preorder up to 15 books from my hotel room prior to my visits
* Swift retrieval of material from stack
* Not related to my visit but must mention Trove - a resource that fulfils the library's objective

* The unlit carpark by the lake made me feel very nervous and unsafe when leaving the building at 7:00 pm (I could not get a spot in the main carpark at 10:00 am, Tuesday). Another savvy carpark user had a torch, I had to bumble may way back to the car through puddles and over an unsealed potholed path.
* The meagre collection of printed works on open access
* $8.50 for a (find the tiny bit of)  ham sandwich in the cafe (and they didn't even put it on a plate)
* The cafe closing way too early on Sunday.
* Long lag between returning books and having them returned in library system meant I could not order as many books as I would have liked. Books were still shoeing up in my name several hours after I had returned them to the trolley.
* That one has to collect resources from different areas of the building

National Library at Night
* The issue of bags in the library. I chose a handbag that met the size requirements for entry so that I could take my camera, wallet, tiny scanner and netbook into the library. The attendant on Sunday let me take my bag in. On Monday the attendant wouldn't let me take my bag in because it was "too fat". On Tuesday another attendant wouldn't let me take my bag in because, although it was less than the dimensions shown on the perspex display model, the handle of my bag was in a different position! I saw a number of people in the library with large black computer bags. Why was my handbag that held a small netbook and scanner (ie it was a computer bag) refused entry when these big black monsters got in?
Macs at NLA

* The new bank of computers ar the NLA are Macs. Did the NLA get a good price?

* The decor in the newly decorated Main Reading Room is eighties style, purple and orange and will date quickly. Why wasn't a more classic style chosen?

Back to the eighties furniture at NLA
* I wondered about the use of library resources especially the computers. On Sunday on one side of me I had someone spending a lot of tme on
hotmail while on the other side the chap spent his time watching videos on Youtube. Does this use fit in with the objective of the Library? Do the people of Canberra use it as a de facto public library? Are the ordinary citizens of other areas in Australia disadvantaged because they can't rock up to the National Library to check their emails and watch videos.

* I noted the large number of high school and university students using the library as a study hall ( the same thing happens at The State Library in NSW). Does this use fit in with the objective of the Library?

* The morgue-like atmosphere in the library where one can hear a pin drop. Learning in the Twenty-first century is seen as a collaborative activity yet it appears as though there are few areas in the library that are suitable for collaborative work.

* I can't comment on the staff because I only had to seek assistance once to get my library card renewed. I am fairly self-sufficient in libraries.

* I wonder about the cost of security if patrons were let loose in the stacks versus the cost of staff  retrieving and returning material to stacks. When I am in an open access library I often find that by going to a certain Dewey number and browsing the books there I find some gems that I don't find via a catalogue search. I would imagine that in my 2 1/2 days that, if I had access to the stack, I would have been able to consult 300 rather then 30 books. On my recent visit to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City where books are on open access I was able to consult a huge number of books in just a few hours.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Not just Ned: a true history of the Irish in Australia...

... is an exhibition I had been looking forward to visiting since I heard Richard Reid talk about planning for it  at the SAG Irish Day last year. Richard displayed such enthusiasm for the exhibition and passion for the Irish in Australia that I knew I had to attend.

The exhibition was my last stop this morning before travelling back home after a  few days break in Canberra. As Mr Geniaus was busy with work I dragged a friend, who also has Irish heritage, along with me. My friend hadn't heard much about the exhibition even though he lives in Canberra, not far from the National Museum of Australia where the exhibition is housed, and had no idea of what he would see.

The excellent exhibition, that shows many artefacts begged and borrowed from institutions and individuals from Australia and overseas, has a wealth of information about the Irish in Australia. Highlighted in the exhibition, in addition to Ned Kelly and his notorious gang, are many famous and infamous Australians of Irish heritage, their stories are told with photos, maps, video, sound and  artefacts.

There is a reading area that has a collection of books on Ireland, the Irish in Australia and Irish genealogy; unfortunately, as there were no copies of these for sale, the Museum is probably missing out on  some extra revenue. I did manage to buy a couple of books from the small collection that was for sale. Additionally in a corner of the retail/reading area there is a family history area with a few PCs that visitors can use to research their family history. It would be useful if there was a person available to help budding genealogists use the resources on these PCs.

Les Darcy - Locket
What I didn't realise was how much I would be emotionally affected by my visit, how many memories  of my early years it would dredge up and what a connection I would feel while in the exhibition space. It was because of  Patrick and Ellen, Bridget, Denis and Eliza, Mary, Michael and Catherine, Mary, Margaret and Ann, my Irish ancestors, that I felt such closeness. I recalled spending many hours with my grandmother, who was born in Australia and had never left its shores, talk longingly of Ireland and teaching me Irish songs like "The Rose of Tralee". That grandmother's cousin, boxer Les D'arcy, was one sportsman featured in the exhibition. I have not been able to find evidence to support her claim but am confident that, as they lived near each other in NSW and came from the same place in Ireland, that there is a relationship to our D'Arcy ancestors.

Hearing a recording of  "Hail Queen of Heaven" reminded me of my years in a catholic school and seeing the model of Tarmons, the first site of St Vincent's Hospital, and later part of St. Vincent's College caused me to reflect on my schooldays and the influence the Sisters of Charity.

When I saw the chalice that Father Therry, the pioneer priest, used in the early years of the colony tears welled up. Father Therry baptised my 2 x great grandfather, Patrick Curry. Patrick's parents, my convict ancestors Patrick Curry and Ellen Moore, would have taken communion from this cup when Father Therry visited the area near Camden Park where they lived. I was  glad that I had a friend with me with whom I could share my joy at seeing that object. Sadly, as photography is not allowed, I was not able to take a photo of the chalice to add to my family story.

I learnt so much about Australia from this exhibition and have added too many books to my "to buy" and "to read" lists; I am now anxious to organise another more leisurely trip to Ireland than my last one. My friend was thrilled that I had taken him along and, as our tickets allowed re-entry on the day, was returning  to continue his exploration after dropping me back to my hotel.

Not just Ned - Catalogue
The highlight of the day was when my friend called me over to see the exhibit on The Irish Memorial at Waverley Cemetery. He knew that he was a direct descendant of an Irish Rebel from Wicklow called Michael Dwyer (a cousin now deceased had given him this information) but did not know where he was buried; he discovered at the exhibition today that his ancestors Michael Dwyer and his wife, Mary, are buried in that monument and that "it was the largest funeral Sydney had seen with 400 horse-drawn carriages following the hearse in a procession of 10,000 people watched by 100,000 others." (Source)

I would have liked more time at the exhibition but am pleased that I was able to have a couple of hours there. The beautiful catalogue of the exhibition that I purchased will ensure that I can revisit and read about the event for years to come. If only it had a picture of Father Therry's chalice it would be perfect.

I would recommend this exhibition to anyone irrespective of their heritage, it is a must for those with a connection to Ireland  who should head for Canberra before the exhibition closes on July 31.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Why Cite?

I was on the international judging panel when Joyce Valenza's school library website was awarded the IASL Concord School Library Web Page Award  for 2000/2001. Since that time I have been following Joyce through various online media and have learnt many things to apply to my work, everyday life and lately to genealogy.

In a a blog post today Joyce shared this video "Produced by the University of Texas at San Antonio Libraries, the film features a college student sharing his soul on an information ethical therapist’s couch and a visit from an uncited journalist."

The ideas expressed in this video relate to genealogy just as much as they do to education.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Newcastle Region Library

Folders of cuttings for Hunter locations
On Friday I found myself in Newcastle, NSW, with a couple of hours to spare. After sporting myself a coffee and sandwich I did what any self-respecting genealogist  would do and headed to the local library.
Serving the population of one of our major regional cities The Newcastle Region Library is one of the larger public library services in NSW. The Local Studies Library is on the second floor of the building that the library shares with the Regional Art Gallery. The Library aims to collect information and resources relating to the Lower Hunter Region. I hadn't visited for about 8 years and didn't spot any obvious differences in the decor, furniture and fittings. There were a few computers and microfiche readers and a reasonable collection of printed material on open access; the library was extremely tidy.

As my Tierney and Kealy ancestors lived in Dungog I spent  an hour reading through the three binders of cuttings there were for that town. I only found one reference to my great-grandfather, John D'Arcy Tierney. The articles that recounted the early history of the Dungog district will give me value background on conditions of the time. I photographed quite a few pages for future digestion.

In addition to local resurces there is a good collection of general genealogy resources. I found burial details for a few more local relatives before I started on cemetery indexes for other areas. Unfortunately I only managed to get to Cobar in the alphabetically arranged collection before I had to leave.

The library was very quiet during my visit with less than half a dozen patrons  present.

Library Desk - A good spot for a gossip
I have been ruminating about whether I should write these next few sentences but have decided that I will. As an old librarian I was extremely disappointed by the behaviour of the three library staff who stood behind the desk and gossiped for at least 45 minutes of my visit. As they discussed the General Manager, Library Manager, other library staff and their suitability for various roles plus library procedures I cringed. I could not believe that I was witnessing such a display of unprofessional behaviour. That this happened in a public area where library patrons could hear their every word made this a more reprehensible act. Their chatter did nothing to enhance the otherwise peaceful environment in the library.

Surely they could have found a more productive way to spend over two hours of Council's time .  If they were on their lunchbreaks I apologise but reiterate that this location was not appropriate for that conversation.

That having been said I would recommend that any genealogist within cooee of Newcastle or those with links to the Hunter pay a visit to The Newcastle Region Library.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

I forgot about plagiarism!

Like Audrey Collins I too was taken with the badge Thomas MacEntee gave me at the Rootstech Conference earlier this year. (You can buy one here). That little red badge simply says "Keep Calm and Cite your Sources".

I don't mind what method one uses to cites one's sources but it should be done whenever one quotes another's words in any form of media. With the 140 character limit on Twitter this may be difficult but, as I used to say to my students, "plagiarism is stealing."  Taking the words of another and passing them off as your own is unethical and should not be done even on Twitter.

When I wrote my post, "I'm into recycling" yesterday about Twitter etiquette I did not mention plagiarism. This morning I saw a thoughtful sentence posted on Twitter that did not sound like the language normally used by that tweeter. I put the sentence into Google and within a few seconds found that sentence on a genealogy blog post written yesterday. The tweeter in question was obviously also captivted by the sentence and shared it without attribution. It has been retweeted a couple of times with kudos going to the tweeter not the blogger who appears to be the original creator of this piece of text. I am now wondering about the credibility of the tweeter and the organisation this person represents.

I will now go into yesterday's post and add a piece about plagiarism.

Plagiarism does not belong on Twitter - "Keep Calm and Cite your Sources".

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

I'm into Recycling

Hopefully my blog has gathered a few new followers since June 8, 2010 when I posted an article " Methinks some people tweet too much" in which I outlined some points that genea-tweeters should keep in mind when using Twitter. As I haven't seen any other post on this subject I am recycling this post with a few alterations and additions:

Twitter is a wonderful resource for learning about current news and new resources. My problem is how to use Twitter for family history responsibly.

I don't want to clog up the tweet streams of my followers with useless tweets so I don't retweet items that a number of my followers who have the same follower base have already retweeted.

Neal Chambers says that "The most important thing about your Twitter account is your username. This will be used to identify you in the Twitter stream and how people will find your account ( It's best to choose something easy to remember/spell. A perfect example of this is your real name (gasp!)." I chose Geniaus as I wanted something short and easy to remember that indicated my interest in genealogy (Geni) and my location and interest in Australia (Aus). If you do not want to use your own name think of a short username that somehow describes you. I particularly like @infolass, @geneabloggers, @genebrarian and @geneaphile. This username can be used across a number of social networking sites to give you a brand name.

The nine essentials of Twitter etiquette includes the advice "Don't feel compelled to tweet regularly. I promise that if you take a personal tweet-free day, your audience will understand." One does not need to tweet every day, interesting news does not arrive at regular intervals but in waves, one's pattern of tweeting can reflect these peaks and troughs. Less is more.

Some Twitterers with a commercial affiliation use Twitter as a marketing tool and seem to retweet endlessly; I am tempted to unfollow them but I might miss some of the original snippets they post. The Search Marketing Spin Blog warns against being "Re-tweeting Machines: If all you do is re-tweet, that can get annoying as well. I definitely encourage re-tweeting articles and thoughts that are deemed important, but keep that as part of the overall mix." I wish Twitter had a facility where one could select individual settings for those one follows ie so one could select to see just a user's original tweets, retweets, replies or any combination of these.

"Don’t RT Yourself  If you have multiple Twitter accounts, for example one for personal stuff and another for work, please do not Retweet what you said on another account. If people want to follow both, they will.  
There’s a reason you have two accounts: not everyone cares about both of your online personalities." This advice from "Online etiquette: Tweet with care" should be heeded by some genealogy Tweeters.

In Mind your twitter manners Jacqueline Whitmore says: "Don’t spam. If people are following you, they are going to want real content that matches their interests or teaches them something new. If you are sending out numerous tweets that are trying to sell your products, you will quickly lose your following. People have enough spam through e-mail and don’t want this to be another source of excess clutter."

I sometimes unfollow and refollow some people while they are at events and conferences if I don't have an interest in the event they are attending (of course major genealogy conferences are an exception).

A PCWorld article "Twitter Etiquette: How to Tweet Politely" states "Reconsider the running commentary. Live-tweeting sporting events or conference speeches may seem like a public service, but who's listening? If you normally use Twitter to post once-a-week status updates but then abruptly let fly with 80 tweets in a day, you'll aggravate followers who aren't expecting their account to be inundated by your sudden outpouring. Consider composing a blog post instead, or offer a single succinct observation each hour".

"Don't bother re-tweeting the big dogs" is more sage advice from The nine essentials of Twitter etiquette  includes the advice "Most people interested in genealogy will follow Ancestry and FamilySearch and other major organisations in their countries, don't retweet what most of your followers will have already read."

Recently I have received a few tweets containing a link to a website that  requires a  usernmame and password to access the information being recommended. It is extremely frustrating to follow a link and then be thwarted by such a request. I suspect that sometimes people tweet without actually checking out the site they are tweeting. Always check a link before tweeting or retweeting it.

Hashtags (#) are an important element of Twitter use. As well as giving readers an idea of the relevance of tweets to their interests they can be important for marketing and promotion. I would suggest using between one and three descriptive hashtags with each tweet.  Additionally these descriptors are help people conducting searches on Twitter to find relevant information. If you are tweeting about genealogy add the #genealogy hashtag. If you are at an event use the hashtag assigned to that event eg #rootstech2011.

One of my pet peeves is the Follow Friday (#FF) post where one thanks followers. These posts seem impersonal to me and clog up tweet streams. If a thank you is warranted one can send a private thankyou via a direct message. It is important to build relationships on Twitter; this can be done by sending public individual thankyous, using the reply function and retweeting followers' posts. Following the lead of @JudyQld a number of other genealogists embraced a policy of one #FF per week. This sensible policy makes one think very carefully about who will receive that one precious follow. I have relished tose follws I have had from the people following this policy.

Like Audrey Collins I too was taken with the badge Thomas MacEntee gave me at the Rootstech Conference earlier this year. (You can buy one here). That little red badge simply says "Keep Calm and Cite your Sources".

I don't mind what method one uses to cites one's sources but it should be done whenever one quotes another's words in any form of media. With the 140 character limit on Twitter this may be difficult but, as I used to say to my students, "plagiarism is stealing."  Taking the words of another and passing them off as your own is unethical and should not be done even on Twitter.

When I wrote my post, "I'm into recycling" yesterday about Twitter etiquette I did not mention plagiarism. This morning I saw a thoughtful sentence posted on Twitter that did not sound like the language normally used by that tweeter. I put the sentence into Google and within a few seconds found that sentence on a genealogy blog post written yesterday. The tweeter in question was obviously also captivted by the sentence and shared it without attribution. It has been retweeted a couple of times with kudos going to the tweeter not the blogger who appears to be the original creator of this piece of text. I am now wondering about the credibility of the tweeter and the organisation this person represents.

Plagiarism does not belong on Twitter.  It may be difficult to cite a source in 140 characters but it must be done. Plagiarism is akin to stealing; using the words of another without attribution is unethical, whenever one publishes in any format one must give attribution to an original author. Plagiarism is easy to detect. Tweeps who are found to have plagiarised lose credibility for themselves and the organisations they represent.

Remember that your Tweets are in the public domain. If you say something on Twitter you are potentially telling the world. Your tweets can be read by everyone.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

If you're at a loose end....

...don't forget to check out the Google calendar of events on GeniAusEvents.  This week's listing includes events in ACT, NSW, Qld and Vic. plus links to the calendars of :

GeniAusEvents is a one stop shop for your CGD . To keep abreast of happenings one can subscribe via RSS or opt for email alerts.

The Galaxy Girls

My experiences with my Android gadget, the Samsung Galaxy Tab, have been documented in a few blog posts:

Connecting with the Galaxy

The shiny new toy - Carnival of Genealogy

Genealogy True Confessions: I take the tablet to bed

 Addicted to the Tablet 

These posts only describe one person's experience. I have read and reread yesterday's posts by two of my Genimates, Shelley (Life in the clouds and across the Galaxy) and Tanya (Using a Samsung Galaxy Tablet for genealogy, and other things), who blogged about their experiences with the Tab. These posts demonstrate the benefits of collaboration through blogging. We three all have the same little gadget but have taken different approaches to customising our gadgets with apps and widgets.

I burnt the midnight oil last night investigating, downloading and playing with some of the apps that Tanya  had suggested. This morning I woke to Shelley's post and, having read that, have more things to explore.

As a cheapskate I had stuck with free apps and not yet purchased any but, on the recommendation of my GeniMates, I'll now buy Family Bee. Although I can access my tree on the web it will be handy to have all of my data available on the tab for times when I don't have a connection or simply in the interests of economy so I don't need to use my data plan to access the family info.

I selfishly look forward to following Shelley and Tanya's journeys with their Tabs so that I can learn more tricks to play with mine.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Addicted to the Tablet

When I got to the supermarket this morning I realised I hadn't taken my tablet with me - PANIC.

It wasn't that I had forgotten to take my medication that was troubling me, it was that I didn't have my Galaxy Tab in my handbag. If I had a sudden urge for information or needed to seek a solution to a problem I wouldn't have my tablet to help me and would have to resort to using the tiny screen and keyboard on my mobile 'phone.

It seems that each day I find a new use or discover a new app for my Tablet. Since it's nearly four weeks since my last post about the tab,  Genealogy True Confessions: I take the tablet to bed , I thought it time to report on it once more. I was also prompted by a comment on that last post this morning from Caroline Gurney.

I have found that notetaking at genealogy events on the Tab is quite easy. I can easily rest the tab in the palm of one hand and, using a one-finger method, type decent notes. I suspect that this would be difficult with a larger 10" tab, the 7' format of my smaller unit makes this possible. Early on I made a booboo and used the Tab's  Memo app for notetaking but, on returning home, found it difficult to transfer the notes to another format. It can be done but not with ease.  Next I tried using the Google Docs app to take notes and this worked well. I then hit a venue where the reception was patchy and I could not connect to open a new Google Doc.

In bed that evening I decided to go to the Android Marketplace to see what I could find. I downloaded a couple of note-taking apps but wasn't happy with them then I found GDocs Note, a simple app that can be used to record notes without an internet connection. When connected it syncs all notes to a single Google Docs folder. I have used this at two locations (where I did have a connection and was able to syc on the go),  it is simple, basic and perfect for my needs. The ability to sync when connected allows one to have a backed up file.

At a non-genealogy function the other day someone expressed an interest in one line on my family  tree. I was able to whip the Tab out of my handbag, connect to the family site and seek the desired information.  My camera was missing from my handbag when I wanted to snap a photo of Joyce Ryerson for a blog post. The photo I was able to take on the Tab in difficult light was quite acceptable for a blog post.

Some other savvy shoppers, Shelley from Twigs of Yore, Tanya Honey from My Genealogy Adventure and  one of my daughters have also become Galaxy Girls. I'm hoping these youngsters will teach me a few more tricks to do with my toy.

eBay has been a source of some super treasures for me. The eBay app that I have downloaded to the Tab allows me to find and bid on genealogy books and other bits wherever I am. If someone recommends a book in a meeting I can quickly see if there is one available on eBay. I can't say that Mr Geniaus is pleased that I now have even more ready access to more great buys.

If I am in a library or bookshop I can use the LibraryThing app to scan the barcode of a book I want to read or reference and add it straight to my LibraryThing Collection. When I am reading a document that quotes measurements in feet, inches and furlongs I use the ConvertUnits app to convert measurements to more meaningful metric.

I often come across a term, person or place I don't know. The Wikipedia app on my Tab gives me instant access to that 21st century reference tool.  If I don't get an answer there I can use the Firefox app to search the internet or the Gmail or Calendar app to write myself a reminder to chase up an answer.

Blogger, Hootsuite and AVG Antivirus are other apps that I have recently installed but  am yet to explore. I am a fan of the Tweetcaster app for tweeting. I like the free Voice Recorder app that I downloaded and may find it useful in an emergency. However if I use this at an event I will be preculded from notetaking so I will continue to use my digital voice recorder for this purpose.

I really can get by without my Tab but having it at hand makes life a whole lot easier.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Offer from the GOONS

Yorkshire Family History Fair Special Offer

 The Guild of One-Name Studies is offering a special extended membership offer to new members. The offer is available from June 24th to June 26th only at

Geniaus in your pocket

Geniaus Mobile Template
Geniaus has gone mobile. No more should you have to squint and scroll to see the Geniaus blog on your mobile device.

I'm pleased that I selected the Blogger Designer templates for my blogs, Geniaus, GeniAusEvents and GeniMates because Blogger has released mobile-optimized versions of them.

I have set the options for my blogs to use the mboile templates on mobile devices and Blogger Buzz says this morning states "If you are using one of these templates, when you enable the mobile template option your blog will begin rendering using the mobile version of the same variant."

Well I have tried to look at Geniaus on my Windows Smartphone and Galaxy Tab this morning  and they are displaying the normal template.

Have I done something wrong or are there teething problems with these new templates?

PS.  I was just too quick with my test. I have gone back to my tablet and it is now displaying my three blogs in their mobile templates.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The GOONS at Hawkesbury

Karen Rogers
Spike Milligan, Harry Secombe, Peter Sellers and Michael Bentine were nowhere in sight when the GOONS came to The Hawkesbury Family History Group today.
 Karen Rogers, the NSW/ACT regional representative for the GOONS (The Guild of One-Name Studies) in Australia talked about surnames, their history and distribution and one-name studies at the meeting this morning.

After hearing Karen explain that a one-name study is a project researching one surname and all the people who have held it in the world I realised that my idea for researching the Curry surname in Australia did not fit the criteria for a study as a member of  "The Guild of One-Name Studies". I'll put my excel spreadsheets in mothballs and if I ever get around to doing the Currys I will go it alone.

We learnt that here are over 2,000 members studying around 7,850 surnames worldwide. One can check online to see if there is a study underway for one's family names. Karen explained the requirements  for those conducting studies; a great deal of research and preparation is needed before a study is accepted and then a considerable amount of work is required of  a study coordinator who has certain responsibilities such as becoming the world expert on a surname, ongoing research and answering queries within three weeks.

The seven aspects of a study are:
  • Data collection
  • Analysis
  • Synthesis
  • Publicising the study
  • Responding to enquiries
  • Publication of results
  • Preserving the study
Karen suggested that one needed to be a bit obsessive to conduct a study but that medium size studies are a lot of fun. She said that "after a while people in your study become your family".

Karen also explained that one does not have to conduct a study to join The Guild of One-Name Studies. One can join as an ordinary member and reap the benefits that membership of the society brings.

It's taken me a while to get around to attending a meeting at this society, I was pleased that I chose today to visit. I found Karen's talk fascinating and wished that she would have had more time to further explore the information on her slides.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Carol Preaches Active Voice

Carol busily signing bookss
If you want to go on a roller coaster ride and learn something at the same time Carol Baxter is the girl for you. A very lively presenter, Carol , who spoke at a hundred miles a minute, extolled the virtues of using active voice when "Writing Interesting Family Histories".

Around 40 people listened intently as the energetic Carol offered writing tips at Ku-ring-gai Historical Society's Family  History Group event yesterday. At $5 per head, including morning tea this event that was open to the public was great value.  Those who were cashed up could also purchase a copy of  Carol's book, "Writing Interesting Family Histories"  for $20. However, having read the book last night, I do not think it adds much to the copious notes I took in Carol's fast-paced talk.

The book would be a worthwhile purchase for anyone who cannot attend one of Carol's talks but her enthusiasm, personality, rich vocabulary and digressions from her printed notes made this a very enjoyable learning activity.

Among the things I must remember before I set fingers on the keyboard are to :

  • Release my grip on old habits and release my creative writing spirit (if I can find one)
  • Remember that facts are critically important 
  • Use evocative language
  • Realise that dates are not absolute! They are relative to the calendar being used at time
  • Select a structure and stick to it
  • Communicate perspective through careful choice of words
  • Remember Oomph in writing is carried by verbs
  • Use active rather than passive voice - make the doer do it 
  • Ground my writing in historical context
  • Grab my readers with my first sentence
  • Think about what my ancestors saw, heard, felt, smelled, tasted, and emotionally experienced 
  • Recraft my writing over and over and over

Monday, June 6, 2011

Planning a visit to SLNSW??

FYI I am forwarding this message that came through on the Aus-NSW-Hills-Hawkesbury-Hunter-Valley- Rootsweb list:

Please note if intending to visit the State Library of NSW for research over the next few months, that the Mitchell Library collection will have limited access from Monday 6 June to late July. This is due to the upgrading of fire sprinkler systems in the Mitchell stack storage areas, and some Mitchell Library items will not be available for use at different times over the next two months.

Before visiting or requesting an item please check 

State Library of New South Wales
Macquarie Street
Sydney NSW 2000
Telephone (02) 9273 1414 
FAX (02) 9273 1255 

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Suzanne Voytas and her wayward girls

Suzanne was a guest speaker for the Family History Group meeting at the Ku-ring-gai Historical  Society yesterday. She was in attendance for the Convict workshop in the morning where she added valuable comments and insights to the discussion.

After the afternoon meeting Suzanne gave a formal presentation on her ten year journey as she researched the history of the the Irish convict women who were transported in 1828 on the Elizabeth. She used Irish Records, colonial government records, newspapers, and  parish registers for her book Elizabeth 1828 : the worst and most turbulent : from Celtic Cross to Southern Cross.
Suzanne displayed a love of "her girls" and a passion for the research that has been a major part of her life for the last decade. She was a natural speaker with a casual style who engaged the audience with her warmth.

After telling us how serendipity started her on the project Suzanne recounted  her research process whilst peppering her talk with anecdotes about the women and characters who made the journey on the Elizabeth. Suzanne's was one of the best talks I have heard  in recent times.

There is a temptation for authors giving talks to turn the event into a blatant marketing activity. I commend Suzanne who did not try to peddle her book to the audience during the talk. An audience member asked in question time "Have you any copies of your book for sale?"  Suzanne replied that she had a couple which were immediatley sold. Suzanne did not have to try to market her book; her talk did this for her.

Suzanne's book can be ordered directly from this link.

All I did was give them some papers....

...said Joyce Ryerson, a gracious lady and member of The Ku-ring-gai Historical Society, whom I met at the meeting of their Family History Group yesterday. I was privileged to spend some time in conversation with this  lady who proudly told me "I'm 94 you know". I was able to talk to Joyce about her Alma Mater, SCEGGS, Darlinghurst where my daughters were also educated. Thanks Joyce for your time and graciously permitting me to snap your photo.

The Ryerson Index is one of the best free online Australian genealogy resources around. The About us page of the Ryerson Index site states "Due to the remarkable foresight of Joyce Ryerson, we were given an almost-complete collection of death notices from the Sydney Morning Herald for the years 1986-1998. Indexing of these notices is now complete, and we have extended the period covered back to the beginning of 1969."

A group of volunteers continues to work on indexing the "death notices appearing in current Australian newspapers. It also includes some funeral notices, probate notices and obituaries." As of today there are 3,016,580 entries from 188 Australian newspapers.

Friday, June 3, 2011


Thanks to Joan at Luxegen for pointing out the new Google +1 button and indicating where it is on her website.

It's something new so, of course, I just had to add it to my blogs. I went to the link Joan had given, took a look and then decided to find more full instructions for a dummy like me. I found a a great set of instructions for adding the button to a Blogger blog at Cool Tricks n Tips right here.

I set to adding the button as per the instructions only to find the button was already on my blog but it was hidden away right at the bottom of each post.  Of course I want my readers to click on that button if they enjoy a post of mine so back I went to the Edit Page Elements Page for my blog and moved the set of sharing buttons to a more prominent position.  I don't know what I have done but that pesky sharing button doesn't appear to have moved.

As Joan said "If you’re logged into your Google account, try it out on my site". You'll find the +1 button at the bottom of each post.


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