Sunday, April 27, 2014

Time For Some New Blogging Toys

Genealogical seminar at the Wells Fargo Center for the Performing Arts in Santa Rosa CA
Donna Moughty training seminar on family history and medical genealogy While preparing for a research trip to Ireland, I've not only been doing my homework, pre-trip, to be ready to spring into action once landed in Dublin, I've also been examining how to tell the story of the process of that research trip. If I can't take you with me, I want to at least make you feel like you got to join me on the road. I've been looking for a way to keep posting every day, on location from the site of each day's journey.

However, you know me: technologically hesitant. You think it's pathetic that I'm still operating in a desktop Windows XP paradigm? Wait 'til you see me try to figure my way through the tech challenges of posting on the road.

My dream is to be able to upload photos every day in a brief report of the day's activities across the Emerald Isle. But I've heard horror stories, so I know better. I know I'll be able to keep up a daily posting routine IF:

  • I can find daily Internet connectivity
  • I can find a way to take photos that look fairly recognizable
  • I can find the time to produce coherent text

A while back, I thought I had found the ideal solution: an app that allowed photos to be posted a la Instagram, direct to one's blog. The only drawback: it was an app that ran on an iPhone.

I don't have an iPhone. (Are you kidding? This is me, the tech-phobic klutz, still holding out with a non-smart phone. A flip phone, in fact.)

Second drawback: it published only to WordPress. (While I lust over self-hosted blogs published via WordPress, again I repeat: are you kidding? This is me, the tech-illiterate blogger. There is a reason there are services like BlogSpot. I am that reason.)

Recently, however, that particular app, having met with success, decided to expand those horizons and add some changes. One, it included a vast array of other publishing platforms, including the Blogger/BlogSpot duo. Two, the app can run on my iPad.

Normally, at this point, I'd say we are in business. Except, that is, for one minor detail: I'm still tech challenged. Nobody has yet invented an app for that.

So, seeing a long learning curve in my future, I decided on a trajectory that would include plenty of practice. I wouldn't want to get to Ireland and discover I couldn't make the thing work for me. So, I planned to test drive this particular app during my trip down south to Jamboree in June.

Being a little apprehensive about my ability to pull that one off, I decided a pre-pre-trial run wouldn't be a bad idea. So, this weekend, on a trip to another genealogical society's spring seminar, I decided I'd upload the app and give it a test drive.

Well, I'm still trying to figure out how to put the key in the ignition.

The app is John Saddington's Pressgram. It's a nifty little device for instantly publishing photos and commentary, the very thing I'd use during the crazy time frames of travel and research. Don't let my inept handling of a fantastic vehicle dismay you: this thing can work, barring operator error. I may be able to correct some of those operator errors in, oh, say, five to ten...


Take Exhibit A above: two shots of yesterday's speaker, genealogist Donna Moughty, whose Ireland research trip next fall I am seriously eyeing. That's the very reason I made the trip to the Sonoma County Genealogical Society's seminar yesterday. I wanted to meet Donna, hear her presentations, and ask her thousands of questions about her Irish research offerings.

Barring the fact that an iPad camera is not a professional SLR camera (not to mention, again, operator error), the Pressgram app enabled me to take the pictures, edit them, and immediately post them, if I wished. I didn't wish, actually, but for some reason, the thing went live anyhow.


I took more photos from the event, and will play around with editing them and adding them to the posts for the next few days, if you don't mind joining me and playing guinea pig for this experiment. After all, if I can polish this technique before next fall, you can join me then as armchair traveler on my journey through the archives, libraries, heritage centers and villages of Ireland.

IF, that is, I can get the hang of it all in such record time.    


  1. HA -- I got an iPhone for Christmas. Before that my phone was a step above 2 cans and a string. I have added only one app -- and I did it without help. YAY so I KNOW you'll do great. I would guess you'd have no trouble finding wi-fi in Ireland. In my limited experience, Europe and third world countries seem to be very progressive when it comes to that kind of thing.

  2. Jacqi, my daughter & I were in Ireland 2 years ago. In Dublin we had no trouble connecting to the internet. In the outlying areas it was sparse. I made detailed notes & posted on my blog after I returned.

  3. Iggy may have some he knows the computer world:) I still have a phone on the wall at the bedroom I have a rotary dial phone. My husband has a cell phone but we had our daughter disable photos and the Internet. I use Windows Live Writer to post to my blogs, if they ever get rid of that I will be lost.
    Love the 2 cans and a string comment:)

  4. I am a little torn - while I would love to be brought along (in e- or i-form), I think you should leave the "toys" home and focus on being there!!

    But - bear in mind - there are several forms of "wireless internet" - one is commonly known as Wi-Fi and it will be offered at public places (such as airports. libraries, and some Bed and Breakfasts. The other is cellular broadband that connects "smart phones" to the Internet via cellular connections - these are known as 3G and 4G in the USA and are available at extra cost to cell phone subscribers. This service, depending on who your cellular provider is, may or may not be available in Ireland - it may require an "International Plan" or even a "loaner" phone (the cellular radio uses a different communication protocol "over there"). That said, most smart phones can connect to either, the cellular broadband or Wi-Fi (and some check to see if "free" Wi-Fi is available and use it, before using the expensive cellular data network, if one is available.) Best thing to do, if you are serious about taking the "phone", is check with your cellular provider about what sort of service they offer in Ireland before you go, and maybe even prevent a nasty surprise sort of phone bill.

    As for the "use an iPad" to blog - you might consider - a "bluetooth" keyboard to simplify typing - which you might want to do anyway - internet, blog or not - just to type notes onto the iPad.


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