Sunday, November 20, 2011

Praying for a Shady Day

The Australian summer is here in full force, today we expect the mercury to reach about 37°C. As I learnt on Friday this weather is not suitable for tramping through cemeteries.

I was so excited after listening to a webinar (Virtual Chapter Presentations) hosted by the Utah Genealogical Association on BillionGraves and Familysearch that when the webinar concluded I popped into my little Bambino and headed for the nearest cemetery. Although we were advised in the webinar that shady weather provided the best environment for taking photos of headstones I just could not contain my enthusiasm.

Thanks to the Utah Genealogical Association who have opened their webinars (Virtual Chapter Presentations) to the public. Firstly moderator, Suzanne Curley welcomed each of us as we joined the session. I then enjoyed Tim Cross's presentation; he had a relaxed style using appropriate but not too many screenshots augmented by live demonstrations. Tim provided relevant answers to the questions posed by the 46 or so online participants.  The Society hosts one of these meetings on the third Thursday of each month except December. Details can be found on the society website. A perusal of the topics indicates that they are not UScentric but are relevant to an international audience. The timing of the webinar at 1 PM Sydney time is perfect for me and many other Australians.

I recognised a couple of other Rootstech Official Bloggers, Sue Maxwell and Renee Zamora, in the group, I also noticed Banai Feldstein and Roger Moffat asking questions of Tim, there were also participants from Canada and the Philippines.

I chose the Dural Uniting Church Cemetery for the first sortie as my husband has a direct ancestor and her daughter buried there. This cemetery has already been photographed with images available on Australian Cemeteries Index but I will photograph the headstones for BillionGraves as I believe having  GPS coordinates will benefit others who wish to visit and find graves and the affiliation with FamilySearch will, in the future, have exciting benefits for many genealogists.

It was an easy task to upload my photos to the BillionGraves site on my return home. I was a bit hard on myself and did not upload all the photos taken because, in the harsh sunlight, I had difficulty seeing on the screen of the tablet what I was photographing. Having a at other photos on the site I realise that I should not have deleted mine. Ashady day would provide better conditions for this task and more comfortable conditions for the photographer. A number of other tips for photography were given in webinar and are also available on the BillionGraves site.

We were told in the webinar that we could add transcriptions to our own photographs  but the time I worked out how to do this someone else had transcribed them. What was disappointing about this was that they had not all  been fully transcribed, the names and dates had been added but the additional information fields had been ignored. I wonder if this is because those transcribers are in the race to get their names on the leaderboard for the most transcriptions done. It was an easy task to open and edit the records to add the extra information. I have also transcribed a number of other images on the site, this is a simple task that can be done whenever one has a few spare minutes.

Another reason I had for going out and trying the Android BillionGraves app that was already installed on my tablet is that I want to discuss it in my presentation The Galaxy Girls at Rootstech 2012. I will now be able to discuss the app with some authority.

If it's cool in your neck of the woods and you have either an Android phone or tablet or an iPhone why not download the app and test it for yourself. You can help build the BillionGravaes database from the 310,000 images it is today to the projected 1 billion.


Sharon said...

As soon as I heard about Billion Graves a few months ago, I raced out to start photographing my local cemetery. I didn't really go at the right time of day either, so my next venture will be when it's cooler. I just wish I lived near family graves to add them.

Tanya Honey said...

I need to go out and try the app again too. They have made a number of upgrades to it since I went out the first time. I will also make sure I go without Mr3 who asked me who was buried under each "grave rock".

Anonymous said...

Admittedly I didn't hear the webinar and the concept is a good one but for me I get a bit parochial. I would prefer by and large to support the local product. Sites like the SE Qld grave photos & Aust Cem index (both on my weblinks) were ahead of their time documenting Australian cemeteries. I think they deserve our support with or without GPS. Most people would be more keen to see the gravestone and only some would visit the's mainly the big cemeteries where GPS is critical. I've got masses of cemetery pics I'm "gunna" put on Flickr...a case of priorities. None have GPS coordinates.


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