Spring cleaning my blogs

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Jacqueline_Logan_-_Make-up_Instructions_3.jpg Image from Wikimedia Commons.

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/ File:Jacqueline_Logan_-_Make-up_Instructions_3.jpg Image from Wikimedia Commons.

 

The other day Luvvie Alex from Family Tree Frog suggested we tweak our blog this weekend.  Geniaus also thinks it’s time for a mini-makeover. Don’t they know it’s not spring yet? So why are we spring-cleaning our blogs?

At first it all seemed too anxiety-provoking but I’ve been tweaking away today. It’s a bit like going to the day spa…you feel so good you think it will be Elle Macpherson you see in the mirror, but nada, not so.

Some months ago I removed all the old awards and many of the themes and memes images. I don’t need them – they show in my “memes and themes” category anyway.

What’s survived the cull?

  • Kiva Genealogists for Families link – because it’s important!
  • The Translation icon so my posts can be read by non-English readers especially anyone interested in my German research
  • The link to my own Beyond the Internet series from 2012
  • The blogroll with links to my other blogs
  • The much appreciated Inside History “Top 50” badges from 2012 and 2013 and the Family History Magazine badge 2012
  • My comments image because the exchange between reader and writer is part of the fun
  • The Geneabloggers badge – go team!
  • The flag image as a ready-reckoner for me to see where my readers originate

What’s changed?

  • removed the tag cloud on this blog because it was cluttered but left it on my East Clare blog so people can easily see names and places.
  • changed the Categories from a list to a drop-down menu to declutter the space
  • the search facility on the side bar is gone – there’s already a search option on the top right
  • removed the blog links icon as I have a page for these links anyway
  • resized some of the images so they take up less space and for consistency
  • cleaner social media buttons at the bottom of each post (thanks Geniaus for provoking me into finding what was under my nose!)
  • Drop down menu on my Resources tab for blog links, online and offline resources, and a link which gives all my Beyond the Internet topics
  • Resequenced the tabs on the pages menu (below the image).

Ambivalence

red question markThe main thing I’m ambivalent about is removing the break-down of categories. Will people even notice the option is there with the new drop-down box? What do you think?

Overall

Generally I’m happy with my blog theme. I previewed quite a few WP templates and none suited my purposes as well.

The images roll over randomly so it doesn’t get boring in that regard and I can always add more.

In the past I’ve changed the background to cleaner, easier to read colours.

The blog has lots of pages so since first posting this I’ve modified the resources to be a drop down menu. I’ve also managed to prioritise them differently so overall it looks less cluttered.

And, yes, my blog links need to be updated…so if you think I’ve forgotten you by mistake, please send me a comment.

Okay, deep breath! I’ll be brave and ask what you think of my mini-makeover?

Thinking about linking – thanks to Geniaus

Once again blogger extraordinaire, Jill aka Geniaus, has challenged us to think about our blogging practice, and especially the use of hyperlinks. I only read Jill’s post about hyperlinking a few days ago and I’ve been reflecting on my practice ever since.

So what are my strategies – always assuming I’m not rushing, or distracted, and forget.

Referencing other posts

If I mention something about another person’s post I’ll link the actual story, after all that story is their copyright property and I’m recommending it to the reader as something useful or interesting, or both, to read.

If it’s a comment about a blogger or website in general, I link to their overall blog page or website. What to do with an example as above? If I’m going to mention Geniaus closely followed by a specific reference which will take you to the same site, I don’t link twice….it seems repetitious, but in this case I’ve linked to the post, and to Jill’s Google+ page.

This is not unlike using footnotes in a written document, though these may still be necessary in some cases.

Copyright images

Sometimes I want the reader to be able to see an image I found but it’s copyrighted. One way to deal with this is to hyperlink to the page where I found it. A good example is the gravestones on the Australian Cemeteries Index pages, which refer to East Clare people I’m talking about in my posts.

Prior history

We all know our readers join us over time. Sometimes it’s worth referring to an earlier post which the reader may not have seen when it was published or have forgotten (just imagine!). Or you may have more than one blog and want to cross-refer to a story.

Vernacular expressions

I’m sure I’m as guilty as the next person of occasionally taking some phrases for granted, but I do try to link to the more peculiar ones. Of course Aussies grow up watching American and British TV programs so we understand a variety of expressions. But who would have thought that “boiled sweets” would have caused as much confusion as it did in Susan’s post about her father on her Family History Fun blog?

Places

Strangely I’m a little more ambivalent about this. Sometimes it’s useful to hyperlink if there’s a particular aspect of a place that could be clarified by the link eg Charters Tower’s mining history. In other cases I’m not sure it’s necessary. If I don’t know where Chicago is, or much about it, it may not affect how I appreciate Kristin’s family stories on Finding Eliza.

On the other hand, perhaps I should be linking to information about specific places in my East Clare blog – or get permission to use a map which shows East Clare and its key towns. I think I’ll use the relevant Clare Library page for the parish, eg O’Brien’s Bridge, as it lists all available resources on their site. Thank heavens I don’t have too many posts which need additions.

How do you think about linking in your blog posts?

A certain lack of wisdom?

I have launched yet another blog…not quite sure why when I can’t keep up with all those I have. However gearing up for all the One Place Study enthusiasms which will occur on the Unlock the Past Cruise next week, I thought I should get started.

As you know I’ve had an interest in the emigrants from East County Clare in Ireland for quite some time. I’d shelved them for a while but my ancestors are nudging me with discoveries and serendipity so it didn’t seem wise to ignore them.

The new blog is called East Clare Emigrants (click to migrate there), and hopefully will be on interest to anyone with east Clare ancestry, wherever their relatives settled. I’m thinking this would be an ideal opportunity for guest posts from those who “fit the bill” of East Clare roots but who may not have a blog of their own.

So that’s my Australia Day innovation for 2014.

By the way, the collation of all the Oz Day geneameme responses will be posted tomorrow. And later tonight I hope to complete my Sepia Saturday entry….whew, who said it was a holiday today!

Happy 4th Blogiversary to me!

Today marks the 4th anniversary of my adventure into the blogosphere. It was a very tentative experiment at first, arising from my lack of knowledge of webpage design. Once I learned about the Geneabloggers community, I was no longer comparatively isolated in Australia’s Top End.

Image from Shutterstock.

Image from Shutterstock.

Little did I know how many doors blogging would open, how many wonderful people would visit my site, and how many fantastic friends I’d make along the way, many (most?) of whom I’ve never met. I’ve also discovered distant relatives, and fellow descendants from the homes of my ancestors.

My blog page on Dorfprozelten is the single biggest drawcard on the blog and has helped connect up different family members –sometimes I feel like a match-maker <smile>. It’s been so popular that I eventually opened another blog called From Dorfprozelten to Australia and also a facebook page for the Dorfprozelten Diaspora.

THANK YOU!!

I just want to say a very sincere thank you to all those 99,600+ visitors to my blog who’ve come to read one or more of my 553 posts. Thank you to my fellow geneabloggers who’ve provided so much support and encouragement along the way. Thank you also to the new family members I’ve met and those who share a common ancestry or place of origin with me.

presentTREATS

I have two books which I’m going to offer as blogiversary gifts. We’re downsizing our library and while these books are good second hand ones, they’re ones I can force myself to live without. Sadly they will only be able to be sent to the Australian contingent as my postage costs would be astronomical elsewhere. If you’d like to be in the draw, why not mention it when you comment and Mr Cassmob will do a random draw of the names on New Year’s Eve.

Scan to the bottom of the page to see which books they are.

GENEAMEME ALERT

And don’t forget to drop by later, as I’m brewing up another geneameme just in case you get bored after all the Christmas rush.

Curiosity killed the genealogist?

And a question to satisfy my curiosity, my ClustrMaps profile tells me there have been visits this morning and this afternoon to my blog from:

7:11 : Adelaide, AU; 6:59 : Vancouver, CA; 6:46 : Melbourne, AU; 5:37 : Baulkham Hills, AU; 5:17 : Sydney, AU; 4:58 : South Australia, AU; 4:42 : Turramurra, AU; 3:55 : Brisbane, AU; 3:38 : Mumbai, IN; 3:35: Caboolture, AU

12:25 : Los Angeles, California, US; 12:15 : Hebron, Connecticut, US; 12:08 : Adelaide, AU; 11:58 : United States, US; 11:46 : Brisbane, AU; 10:57 : Ashfield, AU; 10:19 : Castle Hill, AU; 10:16 : Eastwood, AU; 10:03 : Mountain View, California, US; 9:39 : Milton Keynes, GB

Were you one of them?

 DSC_0639

DSC_0636

The focus of this book is Sydney -so may be of great interest to a Sydneysider.

Monday Mentions and hangouts abound

 

The world is your family tree oyster with blogging. Edited image from Office Clip Art.

Share your discoveries on your blog.

Genealogy Down Under live discussions were launched by Geniaus’s in her inaugural Hangout on Air (we should have had a glass of champers Jill). And some related blog posts from Geniaus (Jill), Anglers Rest (Julie), and My Genealogy Adventures (Tanya)

You can also read about the new Society of One Place Studies and watch their first hangout.

Looking for Christmas ideas, or just wanting to let your family come to grips with their family tree, have a look at  Lone Tester’s (Alona) photographic family tree wall.

Western Districts Families blogger Merron, talks about how she’s been using Facebook to attract past and current residents of Hamilton, Victoria. A great idea if you have a particular interest in an area and want to promote it.

Looking for photography tips. How about this blog?

This is a link to a reconstruction of London as it was 400 years ago. Several bloggers mentioned this including British Genes which has the full story linked.

The InDepth Genealogist recommends MakeUseOf, which looks like a site I need to explore.

Whispering Gums on Jane Austen and Politics. Yes it is about literature but have you considered novels might add context to your family stories?

Genealogy’s Star, James Tanner, always offers a smorgasbord of food for thought: An Overview of Genealogy, Part 4. And what about those “I agree” statements we all click on? And importantly “the essence of genealogical research”. Or using “New technology to use historic maps”.  Or What is Research? “Comparing legal research with genealogical research”. My list of saved posts includes so many of Genealogy’s Star’s post. If you don’t already follow this blog add it to your “must read” list. James always gives us something to think about.

Marian’s Roots and Rambles offers advice to budding bloggers on choosing a blog name. I wonder how many of us considered all these points.

Do you have family across the ditch? Inside History reminds us of the wonderful Papers Past website for NZ (their equivalent of Trove). And another post from Inside History where SLNSW’s Margot Riley dates a family photo. See how it’s done. And for a touch of history interspersed with levity, they’ve also recommended “Girt, an unauthorised history of Australia” with its play on our national anthem. I am finding it very funny and tongue in cheek though the history may need some closer inspection.

And for those of us with Scottish ancestry, you may find Chris Paton’s post on pre-1841 census listings to be enlightening. This won’t give you the actual records but will ensure you know what’s available.

And my own addition to the above listing, why not check out the Historical Tax Rolls on ScotlandsPlaces. I found some interesting family snippets among these.

Follow Friday: Informative and inspiring posts

As you know I’ve been out of the loop for the past six weeks or so, in fact 2013 has been quite disruptive in terms of blog reading. Even more so in terms of commenting so I’m frantically trying to catch up. So please forgive me if you haven’t seen me visit, I may have been one of those “ghost” visitors who read but don’t comment.

You may have been doing better than I have, but these are just some of the posts I’ve found interesting. There’ll be more to come as I nibble my way through the pile.

Angler’s Rest’s Remembrance Day Photo Collage not to mention Julie’s block buster success with the Book of Me, Written by You which has taken off like a rocket with genies and writers alike. You can write publicly, you can write privately, on paper or computer….and while the series has reached Prompt 7, you can still join in and start writing….I have.

Jill Ball on the 18th Annual Computer Conference for Seniors and an intriguing post on “journaling” for your family history: innovative and challenging ideas, thanks Jill!

Judy Webster from Queensland Genealogy on the new options for BDM searching in Queensland (great news!)

Isn’t this a gorgeous garden by Gigi Thibodeau of Magpie’s Fancy, complete with gardening tips.

The Armchair Genealogist brings us Four Steps to a Family history Timeline.

Julie from Angler’s Rest on the Inclusive vs Exclusive Genealogy debate. And also the Right to do Genealogy debate (I wrote my own post on this while on holiday and lost it to the iPad….ooops)

Researching Limerick from Crissouli at As They Were. Also her tip about the new Destination Australia site.

Good links and tips from Aillin at Australian Genealogy Journeys about Autosomal DNA and from Olive Tree Genealogy on Understanding your DNA results.

GeneaMusings gives up info on what databases Mocavo searches.

Thomas MacEntee on backing up your genealogy data and a link on how to opt out of Google’s use of your name and photo with ads. Have you added Thomas’s Hack Genealogy blog to your reading list?

How about Kerryn’s post on Generationism – have you got all the current Gens sorted in your head? Kerryn discovered she was a Generation Jones. I’m relieved to discover I’m a still a ridgey-didge Baby Boomer. Also intrigued that GenY covers such a broad span.

Helen from Helen V Smith’s Keyboard reminds us that it’s time to think out our genealogy Christmas gifts. But if you want a non-genie present, how about this dreamcatcher from Molly Moo –I thought it was really cute.

For the Queenslanders: John Oxley Library’s Indigenous Languages Map and Company Records at QSA (I’ll be checking these out)

And if you have Donegal ancestors, how about the Atlas of County Donegal  as mentioned by Irish Genealogy News or Gould Genealogy’s recommendation of the Biographical Database of Australia.

And an older post, contemplating the topic of Historians Ask: Who is our audience? from Stumbling through the Past.

And thanks to links on others’ blogs I’ve found some more free clip art or stock photography at rf123 and FreeDigitalPhotos.

The Blogger’s Geneameme

This geneameme is a response to a challenge set by Jill at Geniaus in celebration of Australia’s National Family History Month, August 2013. Thanks Jill for yet more blogging inspiration.

  1. What are the titles and URLs of your genealogy blog/s?I have two genealogy blogs. My main (and inaugural) blog is Family History Across The SeasThe other, more recent, is From Dorfprozelten to Australia about the emigrants from that Bavarian village to Australia.
  2. Do you have a wonderful “Cousin Bait” blog story? A link to a previous blog post might answer this question. The biggest round of “cousin bait” is the links for the Dorfprozelten families: there’ve been so many I started to feel like a matchmaker! Hence why I started the other blog
  3. Why did you start blogging? Is there someone who inspired you to start blogging? I had attended a couple of sessions of adult classes about learning web page design, when I learned about blogging and decided it was for me. An early influence was Shauna Hicks and a great early supporter, with the first comment by Geniaus and supportive comments by Carole Riley. Thanks Shauna, Jill and Carole for your early encouragement!
  4. How did you decide on your blog/s title/s?  One of my key interests is migration history, hence the combination of migration and family history in the title.
  5. Do you ever blog from mobile devices? What are they? No, but I check comments and respond on my smart phone or iPad. I get my thoughts down so much faster typing on the laptop.
  6. How do you let others know when you have published a new post? Through Twitter and directly to my followers on email.
  7. How long have you been blogging? Nearly four years, come December!
  8. What widgets or elements do you consider essential on a genealogy blogA search facility, categories/archives and a “follow me” option. I think an “About me” page is important so readers can know where I’m coming from, as they say. I also have a “translate this” page because of my German interest-not sure anyone uses it though.
  9. What is the purpose of your blog/s? Who is your intended audience? To document my families’ histories, to some extent my own personal history, and those of the extended groups I research. My audience: anyone who’s interested, though rarely my own family. I also publish my posts in a Blurb book so I can leave it for my descendants to digest later on.  I love the opportunity to shine a light on the Dorfprozelten emigrants as a collective rather than as individuals.
  10. Which of your posts are you particularly proud of? Too hard….perhaps Wealth for Toil on the Railways? It’s like asking to choose between your children… Or maybe my Beyond the Internet series.
  11. How do you keep up with your blog reading? Since the demise of Reader I’ve been a bit rudderless but either with Feedly or Bloglovin’.  
  12. What platform do you use for publishing your blog/s? WordPress.com
  13. What new features would you like to see in your blogging platform? The ability to isolate out the stats for every post, irrespective of whether readers hit the home page or that specific post.
  14. Which of your posts has been the most popular with readers? I can’t easily tell this from my stats because it lists that day’s posts under “home” (or I haven’t figured out the right way to find it! feel free to enlighten me if you know how!), but this post certainly was a high scorer: V is for the Valiant of Villers-Bretonneux. It’s not the day I had the highest number of hits, but on that day the visits were spread over a lot of posts. Did Time Thief read my mind: this is her post today http://onecoolsitebloggingtips.com/
  15. Are you a sole blogger or do you contribute to a shared blog? Sole blogger.
  16. How do you compose your blog posts? I write my posts on Word and copy and paste then add images. The inspiration sometimes just “pops into my head” and is easy to write.
  17. Do you have any blogs that are not genealogy related? If you wish please share their titles and URLs. I have a book blog, Bewitched by Books and one about the Top End of Australia (and travel) called Tropical Territory and Travel.
  18. Have you listed your blog/s at Geneabloggers?  Yes
  19. Which resources have helped you with your blogging? A wordpress site by Time Thief called  One Cool Site, Geneabloggers for linking all genealogy bloggers world-wide, Geniaus for linking and supporting Aussie geneabloggers and, most importantly, my fellow bloggers for their support and inspiration.
  20. What advice would you give to a new Geneablogger? Just do it! It’s fun and you’ll make great friends world-wide.

 

Knock on effects from the demise of Reader

Are you missing Google Reader to keep up with all your favourite blogs?

I certainly am, and it didn’t help that it’s demise coincided with over a month away from home, going flat chat on a task. Once you get behind it’s a very slippery slope to catch up, that’s for sure.

Prior to the the dreaded 30 June deadline I had imported my links into WordPress Reader and also into Feedly. I’d even practiced using them as well. But still my heart lies with Reader. It was so easy to keep up via the iPad and short comments were manageable.

Recently I happened across one of the geneabloggers who uses Bloglovin (sorry I’d give credit if I could just remember whose it was!). So now I’m sampling that as well.

I do like Bloglovin’. I’m finding it a little easier to keep up with the reading and commenting and it gives me an added push by sending off a daily email of published posts (which I could also do with Feedly).

Of course what doesn’t happen if I flip between the programs is that they each don’t recognise that I’ve already read a particular post, so I do need to settle down to use just one. At the moment I’m leaning towards Bloglovin’.

The further complication is that we have an original iPad which won’t let me upgrade the ios to cope with many of the apps I want to use. So now my smart phone is given the job to keep up with the blog reading.

So to all my blogging friends, I apologise for neglecting you lately (well a while actually) but it doesn’t mean I’ve lost interest. Hopefully before long I’ll be back on track.I'm sorry

How did you resolve the dilemma of Reader’s demise?

Learning about blogs

Today I’m talking about blogs as part of the Seniors’ Month activities.

Image from Microsoft Office

Image from Microsoft Office

Different people tell me the very word “blog” makes their eyes cross and sends them to sleep. My goals for the talk are:

  • Not to go blank when someone mentions blogs
  • to be able to recognise one when you meet it
  • not be afraid to interact with one.

Can I convince other family historians of these benefits of blogging?

  •  Learn new research strategies
  • Cousin connections
  • Regional history and information
  • Get ideas for your own family history writing
  • Build a network of good bloggers and be part of their support team
  • News bulletins and information

Let’s hope I can persuade a few listeners to jump on the blogging magic carpet around the world, either as readers or writers.

How did the talk go? Not sure – there may be a few converts to reading blogs and one or two interested in writing them, but hopefully those who attended will at least feel they know more about what blogs actually are. Thanks to all those who came along to hear this talk, hosted by the Northern Territory Archives and the Genealogical Society of the Northern Territory.

The world is your family tree oyster with blogging. Edited image from Office Clip Art.

Share your discoveries on your blog.

Social Media Geneameme

The world is your family tree oyster with blogging. Edited image from Office Clip Art.

Share your discoveries on your blog.

Jill Ball from Geniaus asked us to respond to her Social Media Geneameme. Here are my comments on the Geneameme:

1.       Tell us about your favourite social media tool and why you like it.

If we can count blogging as social media, which I would, then that would be my favourite. It gives me the chance to express my opinions, tell my family stories, receive comments from others (who often become friends) and respond to their comments. I think the latter is very important if we’re to build links through our social media.

2. How do you use social media to further your genealogy career or business?

I tweet my posts and discoveries I’ve made on other’s blogs. I think the most useful thing I can do is offer comments on other’s blogs, and really appreciate their comments on mine, hence why it’s important to respond. I like Google+ for its ability to differentiate between groups (family history, family, friends). I’m slowly coming to like FB better.

3. What advice would you give the cruiser who said “I must be living under a rock” and is not sure about coming out from under it? (This came from my Social Media presentation)

I can relate to this. Thanks to Shauna Hicks’ presentations in Darwin a few years ago I dabble in twitter and facebook and over time I’ve become more acclimatised to FB than I did when it was just a day-to-day thing.

When I came back from Papua New Guinea it all seemed quite trivial and I wondered why I was bothering.

4. What aspect of Social Media makes you grit your teeth?

I hate feeling like the tail is wagging the dog and that we “must” follow twitter or FB or Google+ slavishly. I think often of the advice from my former professional staff development person and also the Steven Covey’s “7 habits of highly successful people”. We need to decide what works, what doesn’t and use these tools to serve us rather than derail us from our objectives. Twitter/FB/Google+ do not have to be our masters!

 5. How does social media assist with your CGD (continuing genealogical development)?
Using Google Reader enables me to stay in touch with what’s happening in the genealogical world. This can be a great advantage compared to waiting for months for magazines to publish “what’s new”.

6. How do you fit social media time into your busy day?

I respond to blog comments as my highest priority. I now have my “friends and mates” list in Google Reader and get to them as soon as I can within the constraints of real life. Other than that, I do social media when I have time or a lack of firm commitments.

I’m increasingly trying to use social media as my servant not my master. Also to remember that live family are at least as important as dead rellies.

7. Do you have a story of how social media enabled you to connect with a long lost relation or fellow  researcher?

If we call blogging social media, which I do, then it has been invaluable to make connections with others. Perhaps more to help them as much as to help me with specific family research. It’s so enjoyable to know that others get benefit or pleasure from your photos or stories.

8. You have a minute to share a piece of advice about genealogy and social media. Go for it.

 Just like any other “appliance” don’t let it control you! Real life is your own life…make it count. If leaving stories for your descendants is important to you, blogging is a valuable way to do it. Remember others need your encouragement and support too….what goes around, comes around. I feel I’ve made real friends from my blogging and that we know and understand each other, and just like real friends they understand that life sometimes gets in the way, but we can pick up where we left off. I’m eternally grateful to them for helping me to feel part of a community, however far-flung.

Thanks Jill for this thought-provoking geneameme and the opportunity to participate in a discussion which started on the recent Unlock the Past cruise.