Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Society Calendars, Events, Seminars, etc.

It might just be a coincidence, but I've received several new links over the past few days for genealogical events - seminars sponsored by societies, etc. I have a couple of issues with links to genealogy events, so I thought I should post them here. That way I can refer to this article whenever I need to do so in the future.

Cyndi's List has a couple of categories that are specific to genealogical seminars and education:

The first, Education (Genealogical), is the newer category. It contains these sub-categories:
The Conferences sub-category is generally for the larger annual conferences, seminars, and workshops that offer major genealogical education opportunities. Hopefully, the rest of the sub-categories are self-explanatory.

The Events & Activities category is one of the earlier categories found on Cyndi's List. It has the following sub-categories:
The Events Calendars sub-category is for links to web sites with genealogical events calendars. Some of them are for specific societies or organizations that publish their own, ongoing calendars online. And others are for calendars that are hosted by a person or group that allow you to post your own genealogical events. The links I place in this sub-category should be only to calendars, not specific events. 

The Seminars & Classes sub-category is the tricky one, and the one I want to talk about most. This is where I would link to specific events. The links here can quickly become outdated once an event's date has passed. Early on I often posted links with date-specific descriptions. I learned the error of my ways in doing that when I had to update or delete the links on a regular basis. There is no way I can link to hundreds of specific events and update the descriptions over and over again to keep them updated with current date information. I have found myself avoiding these types of links.

Over the years I've found that most societies would have one of two types of web pages for their events:  either one web page for all of their seminars, with one static web address (updated yearly) or a new web page (and new web address) for every new event, year after year. My preference is the former. It makes more sense for the society, and for me as an indexer, to have one, static web address and web page devoted to their annual educational events. The page can be updated by the society's webmaster once the old event has passed and the information for the new event is available. For me, on Cyndi's List, it means I only have to add the link once and I'm done. Any updating that has to be done is taken care of by the society's webmaster on their own web page. They don't have to worry about contacting me over and over again with new, updated information for a link and my links don't become outdated and stale. For the society, having a static web address means that they can publish that address in their newsletter, on their blog, and in other PR publications without worrying about a stale link.

Therefore, my general rule is that I won't link to event pages that have a time-specific deadline. Because I can't guarantee that I will be able to remember to remove the link or update the link after that deadline. I will link to the society web pages about conferences and seminars as long as there isn't anything time-specific in the link description or on the web page that will make the link outdated at some point.

I've often considered adding a calendar widget or application to Cyndi's List that would allow the public to post their own events. I'm still considering it. There are a couple of downsides to doing this. First, I will probably have to spend money to have something like this incorporated into Cyndi's List. And I'm not loaded with extra cash. The other downside is that I worry about people/groups abusing a forum of this sort. I can envision people overloading the calendar with way too much stuff for specific groups, or even with inappropriate items. And I have no extra time to monitor and moderate a publicly-edited calendar. If any of you have ideas, please let me know:

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Tools I Use Every Day: Copy & Paste

There are a specific set of tools I use every day when maintaining Cyndi's List and I couldn't get by without them. I thought I might share them here with you in an ongoing series of blog posts. These tools make my work faster and easier, and they should do the same for you.

We're starting with the basics today. The first tool is the good old "copy & paste" (C&P) function. This is one of the most basic computer functions we should all know and use on a daily basis. There are probably a lot of people out there who think that it is silly for me to bring this one up because everyone must already use C&P. So, why bother mentioning it? Because I still know a large number of people who don't know how to C&P. And some people don't realize you can C&P between different applications. For example, you can copy from a web browser and paste into a Word document or into an e-mail. I rarely retype anything. If I can copy it and paste it, I do it. I do this for web addresses – some are short and simple, but many these days are long and complicated. I use it for web site titles and descriptions. Anything that will save me time while building a new link.

To copy and paste you have to first highlight the text that you want to copy. Insert your cursor in front of the first character, hold down the mouse button and drag the cursor to the last character you want to copy. The text you want should now be highlighted.

To copy, Windows users can use any of the following commands:
  • Edit, Copy
  • Right-click, Copy (click the right mouse button)
  • Ctrl+C on the keyboard

To copy, Mac users can use any of the following commands:
  • Command+C (Apple/propeller key) on the keyboard
  • Right-click - hold down Command and the mouse button, Copy

The text you copied has been placed on a clipboard in the background. You can't see the clipboard. It is invisible. Trust me, it is there.

To paste, you need to place your cursor in the spot into which you want your text to be copied. For example, if you are copying something from a web page and into a Word document, you first need to open that Word document. Place your cursor in the Word document and paste.

To paste, Windows users can use any of the following commands:
  • Edit, Paste
  • Right-click, Paste (click the right mouse button)
  • Ctrl+V on the keyboard

To paste, Mac users can use any of the following commands:
  • Command+V (Apple/propeller key) on the keyboard
  • Right-click - hold down Command and the mouse button, Paste
There are numerous helps online. If you need more information search on Google for how to copy and paste

Now that I've explained how to C&P I should also tell you this - just because you can copy and paste doesn't always mean you should copy and paste. Please be sure to respect the work and the copyrights held by others. It is very easy to copy the research from someone else and paste it into your own. But, that work is the intellectual property of the author. You need their permission to use their work before you do so. If you are only using the information for your own personal research you can do so in small portions, especially if that information is not going to be published anywhere. That is a very brief disclaimer on copyright. For more information on copyright see: Cyndi's List - Copyright

Examples of when and where you might use C&P in your daily research:

  • research notes
  • web browser
  • e-mail
  • a word processor document
  • notes software such as Evernote
  • your genealogy software program

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

FamilySearch Learning Center

It seems that every time I visit FamilySearch I find one more nugget of wonderful genealogy treasure that I didn't know existed. Today I ran across the FamilySearch Learning Center at: There are lessons, videos and slideshows for a variety of genealogical topics: locations, record types, and research skill levels. These are all free. Take some time to learn something new today!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Reporting a Broken Link

On every page of Cyndi's List, on the purple tabs running down the left side of the page, you will find "Report a Broken Link." There are a couple of reasons that you might report a broken link to me. The first is that you have an interest in the link and you would like to see it fixed so that you can visit the site. The second is that it helps me, Cyndi, to keep the web site as current as possible. I spend a large portion of each day fixing broken links.

For those of you who aren't quite clear on what constitutes a broken link, here is a brief explanation. A link points you to a web site address (a URL) for a specific web page. If someone moves their web pages to a different server the address changes. The address might also change if they rearrange their web site or start using a different organization scheme or a different file naming system for their pages. Address changes mean that my links become broken. I have to find the new/updated address in order to fix the broken link.

Today I received a broken link report with this message, "Your page is not secure why would I give my e-mail?" I'm not sure why a secure connection is necessary in this case. The form just sends me an e-mail message with the details of the broken link. I do not use e-mail addresses for any other reason. I don't keep track of them and I don't sell them to anyone else. Including your e-mail address is made a requirement in the broken link form for a couple of reasons. I like to send a thank-you message to let you know that I appreciate the help. And, if I can find a new, updated address I will write back to you with the new link information. I do this because I assume you want the chance to use the link that you had previously tried and found broken. The person who wrote this message to me today will not benefit from the new address. And because he/she gave me a dummy address I can't even reply to let them know that they missed out.