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July 9, 2010

What I Do - Sometimes Right, Sometimes Not So Right

Thomas, on the Geneabloggers blog, posted an interesting Meme. I've been enjoying reading the contributions of other bloggers who are joining in on this and decided to add my own information.

Thomas explains his Meme as "I feel the knowledge that it can impart and share with the community is important. The meme: called What I Do and you basically list what you use in terms of technology to either run your genealogy business or pursue your family history as a hobby."

I found this out a few days ago, in asking for suggestions for a good program to create family albums. My readers had tons of ideas, some were for programs I didn't even know existed!

Thomas has categories to fill out (you can see them on his blog) but I'm going to describe my setup. It's somewhat chaotic, cluttered and oddly put together but it suits us. I say us because both my husband and I work from home. I am quite sure that there is a more streamlined, efficient and technologically savy way for us to run our small businesses and work on our genealogy hobbies but this is how we manage:

My workstation consists of a computer with a 22" flat screen monitor. I need the big monitor for my vision problems and it's also great for having two browsers open side by side while I'm working. I'm a Windows XP Professional user and my computer is an Intel Pentium 4CPU 3.00GHz 3.00GHz 1.00GB of RAM (I have no idea what that means but that is what it says in the General Tab of my System Properties)

I use an HP Color Laser Jet CP3525 printer (extremely fast, prints double sided) and an HP Scanjet 8300 as my scanner. I'm also networked to my laptop which is set up as a static workstation in our upstairs TV room. That laptop station has an external flat screen monitor and keyboard as well as wireless mouse. I don't like the wireless mouse and switched back to cabled mouse on my main computer.

Because we live in the country (surrounded by forest) and cannot get cable, I could not get wireless internet, or cable internet, satellite or anything other than dialup until last year. Then I found something called a Portable Modem. It's amazing, it provides us with wireless high speed internet with a consistent speed of 54Mbps. I think it works well for us because we're on a hill with a fairly direct line of sight to one of the cell phone towers that the signal uses. As long as the little plug in modem is in our front window, it gets 4 out of the 5 bars (lights) indicating strength and good signal. Apparently it doesn't work well for most people, so for once we got lucky. Our home sits in some kind of dead zone where generally nothing works well!

In fact our address doesn't even exist, applying for a credit card or signing up for Internet services is a time-consuming frustrating process. We are always told "Hmm that address is not showing on my system as valid". Yeah. We know. GPS systems and Google Earth can't find us either. But that's what our little green emergency sign says, and that's what we were given as our mailing address by the township and that's where our mail gets delivered.

I have another computer workstation in our basement. It consists of a rather old computer that has all my files and programs that I need for writing and compiling my smaller books. It's connected to a smaller Color LaserJet printer for use when I want to run off a few copies. For bigger projects I use my main workstation printer and computer. In that room we also have my bookbinding machine and my microfiche reader.

For working on the go, I have an Ipad with 3G capablity. I'm never far from my 3GS Iphone although I'd dearly love the new 4G. I installed the 4G OS on my Iphone and love it. All of our computers have network cards so we can connect to the Internet via our Wireless Router and Portable Modem anywhere in the house.

For backups I have an external hard drive which I can quickly plug into a USB port. That brings me to one of my favourite pieces of equipment that I just discovered this year! It's a silly little Logitech USB port attached to a cable which plugs into any USB port on my computer. That means I can plug it into the BACK port (which is almost impossible for me to access) and leave the available docking end (at the end of the cable) on my desk, front and center. Then when I want to connect my Iphone, Ipad, Ipod or camera cables, bingo, the connection is right in front of me.

I also have a thumb drive for transferring files between my hubby's computer, or the basement workstation computer and my main computer.

My eBook Reader of choice is the Ipad - where I installed both the free Kindle reader and the Ibooks reader. My music player is an Ipod and I have an attachment for the car which allows the Ipod to be heard externally. It's a rather tinny for my ears though.

I use three browsers - Internet Explorer 8, Firefox and Chrome. IE8 is my favourite but it often glitches. So I use each version for different sites. Firefox is for accessing Facebook, as IE always crashes for me!

My social media sites are Twitter and Facebook. You can find me on Facebook as and on Twitter as LorineMS. Tweetdeck is my choice for keeping up with Facebook and Twitter posts, and for updating my own. I read all my news sites(CNN, National Post, BBC News, Mashable, All Things Digital) on my Ipad using Pulse (a news reader)

My blogging platform is Blogger and I use Twitterfeed to automatically tweet my blog post titles to Twitter and then on to Facebook. It all sounds high tech but in reality I'm very low tech!

Hmmm okay Thomas also asked about our software - I use WS_FTP to upload files to my websites but I also use ACE FTP3 to upload. I've tried Coffee Cup but don't like it.

WORD for Windows is still my editor of choice for writing my articles and books. I love Picasa for photo organization and I am learning to use Scribus for a DeskTop Publishing Program. Another program I love but which is very very old and actually discontinued, is Picture It! for creating photo albums.

Almost forgot, I use Skype for chat and video phone calls (although I prefer the video to be one-way, that is not showing ME in my housecoat or lazing-around-the-house clothes!), and I use AOL Instant Messenger as well as Windows Live Messenger for chats. I use Facebook Chat if forced to but I detest it.

Emails - oh boy I have dozens! Most are set up on Gmail which I like except for the automatic threading of messages and lumping those with the same title into one big pile. I also use Pegasus Mail which is my absolute favourite. I can't imagine organizing the sheer volume of my genealogy mail without it. I'm administrator of dozens of mailing lists and message boards, also host of several GenWeb sites and I have to have a powerful email program that allows me to do pretty much anything I want!

Phew! It's a long list, and I'm sure I've forgotten something. But it gives an idea of the chaotic setup I use to function daily online in my personal and my business lives.

Thanks to Thomas for thinking of this Meme as reading what others are using is very helpful to me! I often feel like I'm sitting in a vacuum with no one to talk to about what the latest piece of technology is, or what program works best or....

So this is kind of like virtual brainstorming and that's something I love doing

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