Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Technology and Genealogy

The topic of technology often comes up during our meetings - whether it's how to use what we have or what we should buy to make our lives easier.  I believe that all of us have a computer of some sort - either iOS or Windows - desktop, laptop or tablet. We need a way to get on the Internet these days if we really want to do a thorough job of researching our family history.

Nobody loves computers and technology more than I do - and I have a pretty spiffy Windows laptop that I love. It's got a nice, big screen and a full-size keyboard with keypad and it allows me to hook up just about anything with a USB or HDMI connection. But it's big and cumbersome and on the heavy side. I got tired of lugging it to meetings, the library, on vacation, around the house ... you get the picture. I don't like tablets because they don't suit the way I do things. I like having a keyboard that doesn't rely on a Bluetooth connection.

So after much research, I purchased a Chromebook earlier this year. Mine has a 12" screen, a very functional (if not quite full-size) keyboard, two USB ports, an HDMI port and, best of all, a micro SD card slot that allowed me to add 128GB of storage to a device that doesn't come with internal storage. All that for $165.  Chromebooks do not allow you to install software (such as Family Tree Maker, PhotoShop, Smilebox, or Scrivener). If you need a good word processing, spreadsheet, note taker, presentation package - Google Drive has you covered and best of all, it's free.

Chromebooks are small, light-weight, have 10 hours of battery life, recharge in a New-York-minute, don't get viruses, don't require any housekeeping, and since it stores all your files on the cloud (or your micro SD card) you don't have to worry about losing your data if the device decides to die or take a swim.

And, according to Dick Eastman's latest blog post on Chromebooks it looks like later this year, Chromebooks will be able to run Android apps. This is HUGE - it opens up a whole new world of possibilities for the humble Chromebook.  Many of the apps we use for genealogy may be available to Chrombook users in the near future.

So if you have been considering a second computer to compliment what you already have, I suggest you take a look at a Chromebook.  

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