Tag Archives: Facebook

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Web-based genealogy software – any recommendations?

Desperation This past year we moved away from most of my family and added a new leaf to the family tree.  This has inevitably turned my thoughts to family history.  As expected from a guy who let the internet vote for his baby’s name and Twittered the delivery, I’m not going to be happy typing up a plain old document and mailing it out to family members.

I want to start collating a family history and collecting stories, photos, and other artifacts and I want to do it with a web app so that I can share with family spread all around the country.  Though I don’t have time for any hard-core genealogical research right now I’d like to set up a good framework in case anyone else in family catches the bug and finds themselves hunched over microfiche at the local LDS church.

So two of my main concerns are usability and openness.  Openness means having complete access and ownership of the data (so Facebook family tree apps are out) and compatibility with standard genealogical file types.

It would also me nice if it were written in a language I know like PHP, Java, or even Python in case I get the urge to write plugins or change the interface.

I know of two systems that might fit the bill, PhpGedView and GeneoTree, but I’m hoping to get some suggestions and recommendations before I start installing lots of stuff on my web server.  Has anyone done a project along these lines, or played around with this kind of software?

Please leave any input in the comments below.

Trying out Google Friend Connect on my Blog

If you look to your right and down a little ways you’ll see a new widget on my blog – Google Friend Connect. If you’re a friend or regular reader feel free to click on the little “Join this site” button to connect to me.

So far it seems pretty similar to MyBlogLog and other services – if I get some time between baby feedings I’ll try to write up a comparison.  The most glaring advantage for Google Friend Connect is the huge, built-in userbase of GMail users, Picasa users, etc.  You can also sign in with a Yahoo ID or an OpenID, which is very cool.

Read more on the Google Blog.  You can add it to your site as well, it only took a minute or two.

Why add Friend Connect?  It lets you make your homepage a bit more like a social networking site.  Right now its a bit limited, but I think eventually we’ll all be able to own our Facebook-style identities outside of walled gardens like, well, Facebook.

I Love Hospitals With WiFi, or Twittering Childbirth

When we were looking for hospitals and doctors offices for little Athena, wifi wasn’t really on the list so much as reputation, compatibility with our insurance, and other concerns.  In retrospect, though, thank goodness Stanford Hospital and Palo Alto Medical Foundation have wifi.

We live more than 2,000 miles from most of our family.  Not all of them could make the flight to California for the birth.  We also have too many friends around the country to possibly make all the phone calls we’d have liked to have made that night.  In addition, we had several thousand people all over the world wondering which name we would pick for our baby.

Because of internet connectivity, I was able to do a fair job of including all of them in the process:

1) With my iPhone, I was able to take and post photos during labor and delivery.  Photos of my mom’s new granddaughter were available for her, on Flickr, within minutes of birth:

Wrapped and swaddled

I’m not sure I can properly express here how much it meant to her and the rest of our family to be able to see Athena so quickly.

2)  Using the Twitterific App on my iPhone was was able to post updates to Twitter throughout the whole labor.  This is a perfect example of what Twitter is good for.  Liveblogging while my wife endures the pains of childbirth would be ridiculously insensitive, but there were always minutes of downtime here and there to tap out a few words describing what’s going on.

live-twittering

3)  Using the Twitter App for Facebook, my updates showed up on my Facebook status as well.  This was a big help, since so many more friends and family use Facebook than Twitter.

A fourth option, which we didn’t use but might have had the labor been longer, was videoconferencing with Skype.  We’ve been using Skype to keep in touch with family for some time.  It is currently my grandmother’s favorite thing to do.  Since we’ve been back home Athena has become the star of many family video sessions.

One final thing I have to mention is YouTube – we certainly weren’t going to share the gooey miracle of life with the world in streaming video, but my wife followed the videos fo several other women during pregancy up to and including labor.  We don’t know a lot of other couples having kids right now, so that gave Ann a personal connection with their stories and helped her through some of the tougher times during the last 9 months.  She could see that other people were going through the same things she was and that was an important comfort.

The common theme here, which I think goes a long way toward explaining the growth of the internet as a whole, is communication.  Because of almost universal connectivity, we were able to turn a deep personal experience into a social experience as well.