Here is the final installment of my Genealogists [or Family Historians] and the Tech Tools They Use to Research week-long guest post series. I first met Donna Pointkouski at the Southern California Genealogical Society's Jamboree last year, and we totally clicked, which makes sense because we're Pointer Sisters. No, not by blood, but by something much, much stronger ~ 5 letters at the beginning of our names. And I know when I finally start researching that small [and I mean, small] village in what is now Poland, I'm going to have questions for her. We also have another connection. She was a Shades of the Departed digital magazine columnist, and I am one now. So, yeah, we're definitely related. Today, Donna talks about the internet, and her preferred internet places that help her to get her genealogy job done. She is the the author of the blog What's Past is Prologue on which she just posted a phenomenal piece, His Name Was Józef Pater, that I highly recommend you read after you read her piece here, of course. Enjoy! ~Caroline
Genealogists and the Tech Tools They Use to Research
by Donna Pointkouski, What’s Past is Prologue
My “Pointer Sister” Caroline has asked me to write a guest post about the “tech tools” I use to research. Technology can mean different things to different people. When I think of tools I use to research, I don’t think of technological gadgets like my digital camera, Flip-Pal scanner, my laptop, or iPad (as much as I love them all). No, when it comes to research, I think of web sites that assist me, and the internet is a technology tool even though we sometimes take it for granted as if it has always
been there. But the internet is definitely a research tool
! Sites help me drill down
through names and data, pry open
a family mystery, or nail down
that elusive ancestor. In considering the internet as my best technology tool, here are the top sites I use to research: One-Step Web Pages by Stephen Morse – http://stevemorse.org/
Dr. Steve Morse, one of the true Rock Stars of genealogy, has recently experienced a surge in popularity due to the 1940 Census Enumeration District Finder pages he created in collaboration with Joel Weintraub. In fact, the pages are so awesome that both Ancestry and the National Archives sites are using them to help researchers find the right E.D. for the 1940 Census! But Steve’s One-Step pages have helped me for many years, long before the release of the 1940 Census. If you are researching immigrant ancestors who came through Ellis Island (or Castle Garden), the site is a must since the search parameters offer much greater variety than those found on the actual record sites. The One-Step census search tools likewise offer a greater variety in searching. Both helped me find my ancestor’s misspelled entries – I never would have found them otherwise. Księgi Parafialne – http://www.ksiegi-parafialne.pl/
Polish vital records online? Who knew? Sure, this site is in Polish, but you don’t really need to be fluent to navigate. This site lists all of the towns (and corresponding years) in Poland that have either birth, marriage, or death records available ONLINE. Look for the correct province under “wojewóztwa” and see the current list – but be sure to check back if you don’t find what you’re looking for, because they are updated frequently. This site is just the list of who has what, but if a town has records available online a link to the record site is provided. Geneteka – http://geneteka.genealodzy.pl/
Geneteka is just one of a dozen or so sites that have Polish vital records online, but they seem to have the most (at least in the province I’m researching). Once again, it’s in Polish, but once you learn some key words it is not difficult to navigate. I wrote an article about it called Finding Polish Records online over at my blog: http://pastprologue.wordpress.com/2011/01/10/finding-polish-records-online/. Google Books
Although I really don’t know any German or Polish other than some genealogical words, I use Google Books to search for both ancestor and town names for more information. I’ve had great luck finding information on my German ancestors this way – many old German newspapers have been digitized! (Read about Bavaria’s Most Wanted! http://pastprologue.wordpress.com/2011/07/11/bavarias-most-wanted/ ) And the cool thing is that you can highlight a passage and use the built-in “translate” tool. The translation is definitely not as accurate as a “human” translation, but it will give you the general gist of the article (and may provide a few good laughs too).
Of course, the main internet research tool I use is a little site called Ancestry.com
. Perhaps you’ve heard of it? It’s not free, but over the years I’ve decided it’s worth it as they add more and more records to their collection. Sure, they’re a big commercial corporation, but if the content is good, the digital images are high quality, and the servers are fast, it doesn’t matter much to a capitalist like me. Now you can add your family tree (keeping the living people private) and sync it to your iPad or iPhone – awesome! I appreciate the free sites above, but it’s the big sites like Ancestry that make me wonder how much more quickly I’d have “found” my ancestors if it had existed twenty plus years ago!
As the name of my blog says, what’s past is prologue (okay, Shakespeare said it first…). I can only wonder where the internet and technology will take our research in the future with great tools like this already helping us research, document, translate, and communicate in record time (no pun intended)!
Here is the 4th installment of my Genealogists [or Family Historians] and the Tech Tools They Use to Research week-long guest post series. Gavin Rymill is a masterful storyteller who can weave historical facts so that they read like a novel. If only all writers of history were capable of this feat, then there'd be more lovers of the study of history. Located in the UK, Gavin is the author of the blog The History Bystander, which, in my opinion, is an excellent name for his blog. Not only is he the history bystander telling his readers the story, but he's so good at it, he allows his readers to be history bystanders right along side of him. And he does no less in his guest post today. Follow along with Gavin as he illustrates how he uses tech to get the job done. You won't regret it. Enjoy. ~Caroline
Upon the wall of my study hangs a picture. Two girls kneel at the graveside of their father, in the shadow of an ancient and unusual church. The man they mourn is John Palmer who died in 1750 aged 43. He is my great, great, great, great, great, great, great grandfather.
The image is fake - created through the wonders of Photoshop - but the church, the headstone and the man himself were entirely real. Thanks to the technological resources available, I got to know him a little, and this is how I sketched out his vanished life.
I find it hard to cope with a computer that has only one monitor. For me two is a minimum when doing anything of any complexity. I have three monitors at home which allow me to view several resources at once and cross-reference names and dates without constantly jumping between applications.
On the left-hand monitor I keep the Ancestry website open - usually two tabs at least, so that I have my tree handy and their search page ready. The right-hand monitor has a browser window open with FreeBMD and FamilySearch sites. Despite Ancestry now including BMD information, I prefer the simplicity of the FreeBMD search and I like the ease with which I can run down their results pages. Plus old habits die hard.
The middle monitor I reserve for Photoshop. In my professional life I use Photoshop every day and despite there being applications better-designed for collating information, drawing diagrams, creating trees and dealing with maps, there is nothing I can work more quickly and easily with. When I'm starting out on a piece of research, I create a big, blank canvas, map out my known family members, and leave lots of space for notes around the edge.
On this particular day I am investigating my Nan's Shropshire heritage. In embarking on this line of enquiry, I have already used the FreeBMD information to order the 1848 marriage certificate of her paternal grandparents via the GRO website. This has given me the maiden name Palmer, and the certificate also tells me the bride's father is Benjamin Palmer, a "Waterman."
I find him in the censuses via a quick Ancestry search: 1841, a Waterman; 1851, Barge Owner; 1861 Captain of a Vessel. From these entries I get his birth year of 1799 and his birthplace of Broseley.
I start to run his name through FamilySearch's parish records looking for his parents. I narrow it down to two results in the right county and then switch to the other vital tool without which much would be impossible: Google Maps.
I enter the name of one of the candidate villages and 'get directions' to Broseley. Thirty miles. I try the other one called Much Wenlock. Three miles! They're neighbouring villages. Perfect. I'm happy that I now know Ben Palmer's father was born in 1765.
I repeat this with great success for three more generations in a row, each time finding an extremely probable father only a few miles away, and the trail moves a little further south through the county of Shropshire. I arrive at a man called John Palmer, born in 1707, in a village called Ditton Priors. I like the name. I manage another leap backwards and find that John's father Francis was born on my birthday in Ditton Priors in 1683. This is the only ancestor I have ever found to share my birthday. I manage one final leap to find his parents were married in 1671 but thereafter the trail cools off. I leave the line there, happy with four hundred years' progress in one evening.
I switch Google Maps to StreetView and have a virtual drive through the winding lanes. The village is centered around crossroads. An old pub sits across from an even older church. I screen-grab the place and drop it into Photoshop alongside the name John Palmer on the family tree I have been building up.
I also have a quick Google look for images of Ironbridge - the town which the later Palmer descendants moved towards and ultimately lived in. The waterman lived in an area called The Lloyds and when I return to Google StreetView I see that The Lloyds is a road that runs directly alongside the river Severn, only a short distance from the famous bridge. These men were in the heartland of the industrial revolution.
The time for armchair research is over and only a field-trip will satisfy my need to understand the lives of these people better. The indispensable tool for the journey is the iPhone. The Ancestry app allows for quick reference to all the necessary information about the tree, but I also copy over my Photoshop notes page to the phone for reference as I always like to have my tree formatted my own way.
The other thing which goes without saying is a good camera. Mine is a Nikon D-75 which is getting on a bit and pretty low resolution but takes a great picture.
I collate a set of postcodes, one of each Ancestor, and begin with Ditton Priors entered into the Sat-Nav. And off I go to Shropshire.
The weather is beautiful (just as the Weather App promised) and the view is gorgeous as I wind my way down the tiny lanes knowing that the closer I get to the village, the more likely my ancestors knew the roads intimately.
Arriving at the crossroads of the tiny village of Ditton Priors, I park up and take some photos of the picturesque place. Eager to investigate the graves, I creak open the gate to approach the 12th century church.
Walking around the edge of the stocky building with its tall, pyramid spire, I snap away on my DSLR, and start to look at gravestones as I go. By the time I complete a circuit I am left disappointed that there are no signs of the Palmer name.
As I walk the path close to the church I cast my eyes down and I am suddenly struck by a mixture of horror and optimism. The flagstones on which I am walking show hints of lettering. They are not normal paving stones - they are recycled headstones!
All the stones in the middle of the path are too worn to make out any words but as I creep towards the wall of the church where the path is less walked, I could read more. I check each one, all the way into the corner, with hope draining away as the numbers dwindled. I reach the very last one, tucked away. It is preserved from the eroding effect of foot-fall but is still incredibly old and hard to read. As I strain against the sun I can make out large and ancient letters ...
"... body of John Palmer who departed this life Dece 14: 1750 Aged 43 Years."
I grab my family tree and check the name as I simply can't believe my luck. I'm not a mathematical genius but I am able to subtract his age from his death year and sure enough it is the 1707 man I am looking for. The bottom of the stone is badly worn and much of the middle is hard to make out.
I have brought with me some sheets of paper and delving into my pocket for a good, old-fashioned pencil I take a rubbing of the stone. It helps tease out a little more of the wording. I can see the words "so must you" and also "do not delay." I pull out my iPhone and type these fragments into Google (in inverted commas to ensure the phrases are searched as a whole) and I add the word "grave" for context. Sure enough the first result reveals it as a known monumental inscription, of which mine is a slight variation. The others on the internet allow me to work out what has been written:
"Juft as I am So Muft you be
Therefore Prepare to Follow me
Repent in time Do Not Delay
For in my Prime I was Snatched away"
In his prime he certainly was snatched away. Just 43 years old.
I sit and reflect on the stone for a while, looking up at the church. It is quite something to read the words chosen at great expense by your ancestors to remember a man they loved. To touch the very stone they would have touched. To sit where they would have mourned. They could not have begun to understand the future in which I live. They could barely have guessed at the industrial changes which were to take place in the hundred years after John's death, but only another hundred years after that would see the dawn of the age of electronics. The world would become filled with gadgets which would seem both incomprehensible and impossible. Tiny, magical devices which would lead me back to Ditton Priors.
This is what I do it for. To find them, to remember them, and to connect to them. To learn the names they spoke every day, and find out whose DNA I carry centuries later.
After considerable musing on times past and present, I eventually jump back into the car with the next postcode ready. I make my way up towards Ironbridge to follow John Palmer's descendants - but that's a story for another day.
Once home I take the photos of the headstone into Photoshop and ramp up the brightness and contrast, allowing for a better view of the lettering. I redraw the entire inscription clearer, as it might have looked when freshly engraved.
Sad at the fact the headstone had fallen and been moved, I decide to Photoshop it back into a standing position outside the church. And after a little image-searching for some suitably sad-looking girls, a picture is formed to show a sad scene. It's not very realistic, but it is evocative. And so it ends up on my wall to remind me of that little village in which John Palmer lived and died.
As more resources become available online, I hope to find out more about his life. I want to investigate the tantalising prospect that John's great, great grandfather may have married in Boston, Massachusetts only 17 years after the Pilgrim Fathers landed in Plymouth. Is it possible I will find my distant cousins in the Palmer family still living in Massachusetts today?
As we leave those simpler times behind, we also enjoy new surges of technology which makes accessing the past easier. I can't wait for the next wave of innovation which will take us even closer to our ancestors and the lives they lived.
Welcome to the 2nd guest post in my Genealogists [or Family Historians] and the Tech Tools They Use to Research week-long series. Lisa Alzo is a well-known lecturer, author, and blogger. I first met her online on her blog, The Accidental Genealogist. I loved the way she wrote, and we had a good online rapport. Then I met her in person for the first time last year at the Southern California Genealogical Society's annual Jamboree conference where we shared laughs and appetizers with the girls. Then we met up again last year at the Federation of Genealogical Society's conference in Springfield, Illinois where more laughs and dinner this time was shared with the girls. Then we did it again at RootsTech in Salt Lake City. Genealogy, laughs, good food, and even better friends ~ does it get any better than that? [Um, no.] She's also an outstanding speaker, and I highly recommend if you ever get the chance to hear her speak, to do so. You won't regret it. I highly respect Lisa, and I'm so glad she agreed to share with y'all the tech she uses to get the genealogy and family history job done. Lisa talks about her favorite apps for writing about her family history and the strange phenomenon called GADD. I think I suffer from it. A lot. Now what was I talking about? Oh yes. Enjoy Lisa's post on apps. ;) ~Caroline
Screenshot courtesy of Lisa A. Alzo.
An “App for That”: My Remedy for Genealogy “ADD”
By Lisa A. Alzo, M.F.A.
When Caroline asked me to write a guest post on “Genealogists [or Family Historians] and the Tech Tools They Use to Research,” I wasn’t exactly sure what tool or tools I would choose to focus on. While I use many of the popular online tools and websites that other genealogists do, I don’t really consider myself a “genea-techie”. The truth is, when it comes to tech tools I confess that I suffer from GADD (Genealogy Attention Deficit Disorder). I tend to try new sites and tools as they come out, but there are probably only a handful that I stick with for a long period of time and I usually jump back and forth between several software programs, research trackers and writing tools. In addition, I was a writer before I was a genealogist (this is the reason I call my Blog “The Accidental Genealogist
”), and I consider myself more of a story gatherer as opposed to a name collector, so I’m always looking for the best ways to record, store, and share information. For this reason, I tend to be drawn to those tech tools that make my writing life easier. Lately, this means Apps that I can download and use on my iPad2.
Here are a few of my favorites: Dragon Dictation
– I use a full version of Dragon Naturally Speaking on my desktop computer but I like the free iPad version for dictation notes or short text for articles or book chapters. Dropbox
– This is the one application I can’t live without for my writing and my genealogy. I store just about everything in Dropbox—document files, scanned images, PowerPoint presentations for my speaking engagements. I used it so much that I purchased additional storage capability. This application has saved my behind more than once, and having it on the iPad enables me to access all of my important files when I travel and I don’t have to remember to bring a thumb/USB drive with me. Evernote
– While I admit I don’t use Evernote particularly for my genealogy research, I do use it for writing. I like being able to clip URLs /pages of research materials that I need for my articles and books. Sometimes I use the Text Notes feature to just type in text that I want to save rather than using Pages on my iPad. I also like the Voice Note capabilities for audio notes or recording interviews. The best part is that I can sync all of my notes and notebooks across multiple devices including my iPad. Penultimate
- It costs just $.99 cents but I like this little app and use it to take notes, keep sketches, and for mindmapping
(using diagrams for brainstorming ideas for articles, blog posts, books, and presentations). Writing Your Family History App
($5.99) by the Professional Writing Academy. For about the cost of specialty coffee drink, this little app packs a pretty good punch and I use it to flesh out ideas for writing ancestor profiles, magazine articles and family history books. The question and answer format helps me to think a project through and I also like all of the links to online resources.
What I like about these five apps is I can use some of them or even all of them together for a project. I can sketch out an idea with Penultimate, use Evernote to store research materials or notes for it, use Dragon for dictation of the text, the Writing Family History App to explore the idea in more detail, and Dropbox to store pieces of the project, drafts, and final text.
When it comes to technology, I prefer “plug and play” types of devices and applications that are easy to download/install and have a very small learning curve. Admittedly, patience is not one of my strong suits. I am always working on deadline and I don’t have hours or days to spend learning how to use a new software program or online tools. I need to gather my research materials and turn out copy pretty quickly. This is why “apps” work for me, and I will continue to try new ones to add to those I use on a regular basis.
Disclosure: I am not an employee or affiliate of any of companies who produce or sell any of the aforementioned apps and am receiving no monetary or other compensation for this post. I have chosen to write about these products simply because I like them.
Susan Clark is the author of the blog Nolichucky Roots. I first met Susan at the FGS Conference in Springfield, Illinois last year, and I have enjoyed following her blog for a while now. I love when Susan participates in the 48 Hour Ephemera Challenge because I know we are going to get sound analysis of the problem and excellent suggestions for whomever we are searching. Her contribution to the Tech Researchers Use to Get the Job Done Guest Post Series discusses wildcard searching, and how invaluable it has become in researching her Eastern European roots. Enjoy! ~CarolineSearching Outside the Box
*Photo Credit: Some rights reserved by Jeffrey Beall
When Caroline asked me to write a guest post on the tech tools I use in my family history research several ideas ran through my mind. This is not unusual. Lots of things run through my mind, but most get away before being caught.
My research efforts the last few years have been internet based. I'm beginning to get back out on the road starting to use cameras, GPS, portable scanners and mobile devices. I love them. But what has been most valuable to me with internet research has been thinking outside the box
when it comes to search terms. Get Wild
I've needed to get very creative in order to catch sight of my elusive relatives and capture their online information. Half my tree is made up of lovely 20th century immigrants with lovelier Eastern European names. Names they, as well as many census enumerators and immigration officials, had trouble spelling consistently in English. Wildcards
, those wonderful symbols that replace one or more letters in a name, have been my salvation. The asterisk will replace up to 5 letters on Ancestry's search engines. A question mark will replace a single letter.
I looked repeatedly for my great-aunt Susanna Pereksta's immigration records. I found nothing until Ancestry.com
and Steve Morse's superb One Step
pages added the Hamburg Passenger Lists, 1850-1934
database. Using “Sus* Per*a” as a search term I found her indexed as Susie Perexta leaving Hamburg on Feb. 1, 1911. Those German indexers were pretty good spelling the Eastern European names. Not so for the American indexers. With a date I was able to search the other databases for an arrival record. When I searched for women with a surname of “Per*a” arriving in February, 1911 I found her. She was indexed as “Luria Peresla” in Ancestry.com's Philadelphia Passenger Lists, 1800-1945
database. I love wildcards. Note that I had to drop her first name to find the record.
Wildcards work differently with Google and other internet search engines. The easiest way to find out what wildcards work with the engines you use is to search! A search of “wildcard search” and the name of the engine I want to use gives me a quick rundown of the options. Google, for instance, does not support the asterisk and question mark symbols in the same way as Ancestry.com. But you can use an asterisk to replace entire words in a phrase or put a search term in quotation marks to search for an exact phrase.
Before Google Books revised its format and restricted searches of many books, I was able to confirm that a Margaret Meredith living in Baltimore in the early 1800s was the widow of one of my husband's distant great-uncles by searching for her with a business name “ “Thomas Meredith * Co.” Margaret Baltimore.” I used the asterisk to allow for and or &. The search led me to a case cited in Monongalia County (West) Virginia, Records of the District, Superior, and County Courts: 1813-1817
by Melba Zinn (Heritage Books, 2009) where Margaret Meredith was named as a partner in the firm after the great-uncle's death. Get Narrow
Another successful search strategy I've used has been to look for names or phrases that are more unique
to narrow a search field. I found one of my Pereksta relatives in the 1930 census by searching for their youngest child at the time, their 2 year old daughter Olga. She turned up indexed as Olga Pereskata. Her father was indexed as John Pereskith and had eluded my previous searches.
My husband's ancestor Joseph Jones proved much easier to find when I searched using his daughters' names – Cansada, Brazilla and Talitha. Their names were rarely spelled the same way twice, so I again relied on wildcards. But I got far more targeted results than typing great-grandpa Joe's name.
I'm currently obsessed with searching Old Fulton NY Postcards
after one of Caroline's 48 Hour Ephemera Challenges
sent me there hunting for information about a dude with a long beard. “Dude with a long beard” didn't get me much, but I realized the collection of early 20th century New York newspapers might have information about my immigrant relatives. This website (as do many others) uses OCR (Optical Character Recognition) software to search digital images of the newspapers which can get a little funky. I searched for a family named Tanch and got hundreds of real estate listings for small ranches. Not especially useful. My Sidor/Sedor/Szidor/Citar cousins can be a challenge since they took several generations to settle on a spelling.
Narrowing the searches to a specific city and date range helped, but it wasn't until I added the name of their church that I got useful results – and those results were a goldmine of information about the immigrant community. I stopped using surnames altogether and settled on searching for “St. Michael's” in Binghamton and for a given year. I found wedding announcements, death notices, youth group and fraternal organization activities. I got a sense of the church community that defined my grandparents lives in the United States.
I've used the same strategy to narrow newspaper searches for my Smith in-laws. Even in a small town there are lots and lots of Smiths. Lots. Adding "Dr." or "Catholic" or a street name to the searches has yielded far more useful results.
So get wild, but also get narrow when searching for your kinfolk. Add the name of your father's high school, your grandmother's business, the name of your cousin's college band or prize steer to your search terms. You may be amazed at what you find.Susa
n Clark*Photo Credit: Some rights reserved by Jeffrey Beall
How to buy technology and gadgets? Yes, I do reviews of products. Yes, I advertise products and services on my website.
I am an affiliate advertiser as I've written on my disclosure page
. However, I thought today I'd not try to sell you anything in this blog post. I thought I'd go over how I decide to purchase a technological product. But first? Here's what I don't
Now. To clarify, I'm only talking about technological products and gadgets. Most other stuff? Well, duh. Of course I match stuff and justify purchases left and right. Why? Because it's not that expensive, but even then I abide by my budget. Unfortunately.But when it comes to technological products and gadgets
- I don't make a purchase of anything solely based on the product itself. [OMG. THAT is SO kewl! Must have.]
- I don't purchase anything just because it looks pretty or comes in a color that I prefer. [Look! It matches my purse which matches my shoes which matches my eyes. I MUST have it! It's, like, meant to be.]
- I don't purchase anything because it's on sale. [It's SUCH a Greeeaaat deal! Look at how much money I'm saving, hon'.]
- I don't purchase anything because it's not on sale. [All that stuff they just put on sale? So two-thousand-and-late.]
- I don't purchase anything because it's expensive. [It MUST be the best. That's WHY it's so expensive. It's the finest. Duh.]
- I don't purchase anything because it's cheaper. [OMG. Look at what a great deal that is!]
- I don't purchase anything because so-and-so purchased it. [Did YOU SEE what she had? If SHE has it, then it's gotta be good and I MUST have it.]
- I don't purchase anything because so-and-so said I should because they purchased it. [So-and-So said that I must have it. That it's perfect for them. Therefore it will be perfect for me. Which credit cards do you take?]
, I have a whole other set of standards that I adhere to simply because I'm not rich. I haven't won the multi-state powerball lottery. And I don't live on my own island. In the Caribbean. With white sands and turquoise waters. [Tweeting.] If I did and had all those things, well, it'd be a different story. I'd buy whatever toy and gadget that I wanted. [Which would be all of them.] Instead, I have to make intelligent decisions about my technology purchases. I have to weigh needs and budgets, which are usually on opposite ends. [*Big Sigh*] So, how do I do it?
This is the process that I go through when trying to decide what to buy.
- I write down what I really detest about my current product or system and what I love about it. What works? What doesn't?
- I write down what I want my new product or system to be able to do now and 1-1/2-2 yrs down the road.
- I look at online retail places to see what's out there, to see features that are offered.
- I solicit opinions from others on Twitter and other social media sites. [But mostly Twitter.]
- I explore online many different tech sites and forums to define terms of parts of the tech product or gadget and to explain what each one does.
- I then take what I've learned and go back to retailers to start comparing prices with my wants & needs.
- I explore tech sites, like CNET.com, to see what they're recommending, but I understand it's from a tech geek's point of view. [I just know he's comparing it to his idea of perfection.]
- I explore retailers' customer reviews, but with the understanding that I have NO idea what these 'reviewers' background and experience is with technology. *snort*
- Then I go back and compare some more while taking all of the above into consideration.
- Then I choose and buy.
In other words, I look at my needs and wants then find the correct tech product or gadget that's going to complete me.Which is how I ended up with Umber and not an iPad. Not that I didn't want an iPad because the big overgrown gadget geek in me wants one, but it wasn't going to complete me. Together, Umber, my Nook, and my iPhone? They complete me.
*snort*So, when I mention, suggest, or review a product, I'm presenting it to you. I'm rarely going to say that you MUST get it. Why? Because I have no earthly idea what it's going to take to complete you. Duh. If I could do that I wouldn't be here. I'd be on my own island.In the Caribbean.With white sands and turquoise waters.Tweeting.~Caroline
What did I get? A laptop. Of course, it wasn't easy. I researched it for a while, read reviews, then the real work started. It should be easy for a person to go into a brick and mortar retail establishment, like Best Buy, for a specific item and purchase it, right? Well, it's easy if you can get a clerk to wait on you. I perused the laptops for an hour. And? Not once did anyone ever even acknowledge me. [Frustrated doesn't even cover it.]
Then one of the three clerks [none of whom were waiting on anyone], finally walked by, and as if I and my possible computer shopping needs were an afterthought, he asked, "Are you all right, ma'am?" He didn't even slow down as he was walking by. In fact, when I replied that I'd like to buy the particular laptop I was standing in front of, he had to retrace his steps back to me. [Gee. I hope I wasn't interrupting anything important.]
His reply was, "Lemme see if we have any in stock."
"How do you know?"
"I checked your inventory online."
"Well, lemme go check."
And as I was standing so very patiently awaiting for the ultra-busy Best Buy Wonder Boy clerk to come back with my laptop in hand, an elderly woman entered the department. Now this? This was bad. The other 2 clerks who up until now had been doing nothing of huge importance that I could tell bombarded the lady. They hounded her. Oops, I mean they followed her to every laptop extolling the virtues of every device. Then one of the clerks said, "Come here. Lemme show you this better one. [In case you didn't know, 'better' is code for more expensive.]
"But that one is so much more expensive!"
Then the other used car salesman [Oops. I mean sales clerk.] piped up, "But the other one you were looking at was an i5. But this one? This one is an iiiiiiiiiiii7." [No. I'm not having keyboard issues. That's how he said it. Iiiiiiiiiiiii.]
"But the price is so much more."
"This i7 is the best one, and it's not even the highest. The highest is an i9."
"I don't know..."
Now here? I almost said something. Seriously? An i9?
You know how the media got all caught up in the there's-gonna-be-an-iPhone5-I-wonder-what-it's-gonna-look-like frenzy? Then it turned out it wasn't called an iPhone 5, but an iPhone 4S. The media sometimes thinks it's so all-knowing, but they're not. Well, the same kind of thing happened with the new Intel processor. Rumor was that it was going to be called the i9, but it was called an i7. And today there is a first generation and a second generation, but they're both an i7. There is no i9.
And? The terrible thing is that they never ~not once~ asked her the most important question of all, "What are you going to use the laptop for?" If you are not a professional photographer, not a gamer, not a CAD guru, nor any other technological wonder, you probably don't need an i7 processor in your laptop. I know 'cause I did my homework before going shopping. Basically, it comes down to how and what you're going to use the compute for. I mean, was she just going to use it for email, Facebook, and photos of grandchildren? Or perhaps genealogy research?
The laptop they were trying to talk her into cost $1200 with an 2nd generation i7 processor in it. [Okay. I had looked at it while waiting to be waited on by the ultra-busy Best Buy Wonder Boy clerk. So sue me.]
'Bout this time the ultra-busy Best Buy Wonder Boy clerk came sauntering back with my laptop in hand. "Guess what! I found one." [Will wonders never cease?]
"So, are you going to need wifi?"
"You already have it?"
"Well, you're probably going to need some help setting this computer up."
"Are you sure? I mean, it can get complicated, especially when hooking it up to the wifi."
"No thank you. I can get it done."
"Yeah. I'm good." [Now? I'm getting perturbed, but I'm in a rush to get to my daughter's basketball tournament. But seriously? This laptop comes with wireless wifi capabilities. It automatically connects to an available network. You know, like the iPhone that I had in hand that I had been constantly checking since I entered the department?]
"Well what about the extended warranty? We have two service plans..."
"Nope. I'm good."
We settled on the brand of virus protection that it came with. [I had a choice. Of course come to find out, the one I picked out isn't compatible with Firefox 8.0. Of course.] So then he escorted me over to the Geek Squad counter. Apparently the computer sales clerks aren't allowed to ring up purchases any more [even if they're ultra-busy Best Buy Wonder Boys], but the Geek Squad Wonder Boy can.
"Ma'am, [insert the name of super bored Geek Squad Wonder Boy] will be completing your purchase," and off the ultra-busy Best Buy Wonder Boy clerk went to do whatever it is that he does when he's not waiting on anyone.
No 'thank you'. No 'have a nice day'. [Big sigh.]
So, as the super bored Geek Squad Wonder Boy was ringing up my $800 laptop, he gave me the full court press for the service plans. To which I emphatically said, "No". ['Cause I love dashing their dreams of an extra spiff. I used to work retail. I've seen what's behind the curtain. Money-making service plans. That's what.]
But then I had a question for the super bored Geek Squad Wonder Boy. "I have a 2yo hardly-been-used netbook and the power jack has become loose. Can y'all fix that?"
"If it's not under warranty and it's a netbook, then the whole motherboard would need to be replaced which would cost the same amount as a new netbook. So you might as well buy a new one."
"Really? Because I researched it online and found many step-by-step instructions on how to resolder the jack onto the motherboard of the same particular brand and model of netbook. You just have to have the right tools and order some power jacks which aren't expensive and available online. So I guess I'll have to do it myself." [Which I didn't want to do which was why I was asking...]
He had nothing to say. And? No 'thank you. No 'have a nice day.' So I left with my laptop that I just recently named Umber because she's a bold and luscious umber brown in color. And Umber is happy she doesn't have to put up with the ultra-busy Best Buy Wonder Boy and the super bored Geek Squad Wonder Boy anymore. She told me so.