Tuesday, December 29, 2009

"Google Alert" for your ancestor

We spend a lot of time looking for our ancestors. Wouldn't it be nice if they just showed up in our email's inbox? With the free tool, Google Alerts, this is possible.

With hundreds of millions of web sites on the Internet, we typically use search engines, such as Google, Bing, Excite, etc. to find what we are looking for, such as our ancestors. Some of us probably even search for our own names to see what others are saying about us.

I don't know how many thousands or millions of new web sites are created each month, but if we really want to find on the Internet what we are looking for, then we have to continually search and re-search - and then do this every month to see if any of the new web sites contain what we are looking for.

By creating a Google Alert, whenever Google finds your word or phrase that you are interested in, Google will automatically send you an email. For example, I am searching for an ancestor, James Marion McCall. If, today, I don't find anything relevant, I can create a Google Alert for his name, and then work on other things. Then, if someone publishes new information to a website that Google finds, I'll get an email with a direct link to the new page.

In a sense, our ancestors are hunting for us for a change.

Here's how to do it.

1) Go to www.google.com/alerts, enter your search terms, your email address, and click "Create Alert".

2) Google then sends you a verification email. You will not receive Google Alerts on your topic until you click the link in the verification email to confirm your request.

3) Sit back and relax. Do something with your living relatives. Go on vacation. Read a book.

While you are enjoying life, Google is working for you. When it finds your phrase, you will receive an email with a link to the website, and hopefully information about your ancestor.

For more information or to create an alert, visit www.google.com/alerts.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Family Search Indexing

In the December 2009 Ensign is a great article titled "Technology Helps FamilySearch Volunteers Hit Major Milestone". If you haven't seen it yet I encourage you to read it over.

More Than Just Indexing
Family SearchIndexing.org is just one of a number of Web-based programs that have been developed to advance family history work.
FamilySearch Labs (labs.FamilySearch.org) showcases developing family history technologies. Users test them, and their feedback allows developers to refine the technology.
The Research Wiki (wiki.familysearch.org) is an open, online community where research experts and genealogists share information on how to research sources for family history work.
Record Search gives access to millions of historical records-a culmination of all the digitizing of records that is being done.(Visit FamilySearch.org, click Search Records, then Record Search pilot.)
At forums.FamilySearch.org, thousands of users of varying levels of expertise can discuss products, research techniques, hints and tips, and even families in specific locations.