Smoky Mountain Family Historian

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Odds & Ends

About a week and a half ago as I was working on FGS stuff during fall break, my computer suddenly "turned off." It appeared to be a power issue, and when I couldn't get it to come back on after about an hour, I decided that I'd better try to go to Knoxville and get a new power cord. I wasn't sure it was the power cord, and I certainly had no previous symptoms to indicate that I'd had an issue with it. When I got to Best Buy, I decided to go to the Geek Squad counter just to get them to check to see if another power cord would work before I purchased a new one. The "geek" looked and said he was pretty sure that it was the jack into which the cord plugs that was the issue. He tested my cord and determined that nothing was wrong with it. He was pretty sure that the jack could be sauntered and recommended someone at Shields Electronics to do it. I had just enough time to get it to Shields before they closed for the day. I was given an estimate of two days because of computers ahead of mine with the same issue. When the tech there got to it, he discovered the jack was actually split in two and would need to be replaced. The replacement wouldn't arrive (due to the weekend) until the following week, but he thought it would arrive Monday and that he would be done by Tuesday. When he got the jack replaced, the computer still wouldn't power up so we realized that the jack was probably not the big issue (although it did need to be replaced) and that the motherboard was the problem. No warning -- just gone. I had him take out the hard drive and put it in a case so I could get to everything easily. I also had an online backup of all my files. I'm thankful for that. I had to use an old computer that has a tendency to overheat as a backup while I was without my usual machine. I also was very grateful for my iPhone which was my most reliable computer at the time! I now have a new computer with Windows 7. I've managed to get most of my software reinstalled on the new computer. I am still trying to locate my download of Paint Shop Pro's latest version's installer file. I know that I put that on either a CD or a USB drive, but I can't find it at the moment. In the meantime, I'm trying some of the free graphics editing programs out there. I downloaded Gimp, Photoscape, and Picasa. I'll see how I like those. I really don't want to pay another $70 if I can't locate the installer file. I have my product code!

Now . . . there were some interesting developments while I did not have a reliable computer to use. Many of you know that I enjoy reading. I've been pondering a Kindle purchase for some time. Sony has improved its ebook reader in the last few months, but Barnes & Noble has just come out with the Nook also. I think all of these are interesting. Right now, I've got an ebook reader called Stanza that is an iPhone application. I'm able to download public domain books with it for free. I have also learned that there is a Kindle application for iPhone which is very intriguing. One of these days, I'm sure I'll bite the bullet and get one, but since I had to purchase a new computer 1.5 years before the planned replacement, I simply can't afford one right now.

Another interesting development is the announcement of Footnote.com's interactive census. How many times have those of us researching on Ancestry.com wished that we had a similar feature rather than just the "corrections" feature? At the same time I'm excited about the interactivity of this, I'm also concerned that we'll end up with a lot of problems by persons who jump to erroneous conclusions. These would be the same types of errors that many online trees have. I specifically think back to a case in which most of the data on my Harris family was incorrect in Ancestral File. One brother had lived apart from the rest of the family and really had not kept in touch with his brothers and sisters who had moved on from the family's earlier residence (where he remained). The person who had submitted information was from this brother's line. The erroneous conclusions were reached because the person was searching for full names instead of initials which had been used by the enumerator for the census in which wrong conclusions had been made. While I realize that we will be able to interact and correct those errors, the fact that they may be there before we realize that they are there concerns me. I just don't go back and review online censuses that often. I tend to print a copy for my personal records which is filed for future consultations. If I'm not at home, I may look at an online census using the citation in my database. You also have to realize that until the last few years, most of my census research was done on microfilm. I have tons of print-outs which predate Ancestry.com and HeritageQuest census records. I even still have those 1880 CDs that the LDS issued. About the only time I've used those in the last few years though has been to consult an image which was hard to read in the other sources.

I need to get back to work. I'm working on FGS stuff and on a presentation I'm making in North Carolina next weekend. I also need to write a blog post for the carnival later today. I haven't participated in a long time, and I need to get back on track!

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