Tuesday, February 7, 2012

While We’re Waiting

If you can recall the state the Geneablogging world was in during the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving last year, perhaps you’ll remember the craze over who was going to be awarded the coveted opportunity to receive a free Flip Pal Mobile Scanner. There were actually seven bloggers selected for participation in what was dubbed Simple Gifts—A Blog Hop. The idea was that each blogger would find creative ways to use the Flip Pal Mobile Scanner, then post about the project they had designed while evaluating the prowess of the Mobile Scanner.

The seven selected bloggers each brought their own strengths to the table—as well as vastly different readerships and focuses. Caroline Pointer of For Your Family Story used both blog and video to explain her projects. Drusilla Pair of Find Your Folks used video to document the simplicity of the device (demonstrated by her young relatives). Heather Wilkinson Rojo of Nutfield Genealogy offered several project ideas, including my favorite on preparation for photo book projects. Julie Cahill Tarr of GenBlog offered how-tos on negotiating those difficult stuck-together family photo albums, among other projects. In addition to describing her projects, Marian Pierre-Louis of Marian’s Roots and Rambles offered her analysis of the Flip Pal’s strengths and weaknesses. Nancy Shively of Gathering Stories used a simple demo of the Flip Pal’s “stitching” capability that helped her tackle digitizing her parents’ old scrapbooks.

“But that makes six,” you say. “Where is the seventh?”

Well, it’s the seventh blogger that brings me to the point of this post. The seventh recipient of the Simple Gifts project happens to be my favorite local genealogist, Sheri Fenley, of The Educated Genealogist. Once Sheri had discovered that we have a home town in common, she simply insisted that we must—absolutely must, dahling—get together for coffee.

And that’s what we’ve been doing ever since.

At our last coffee connection, Sheri unexpectedly handed me a package and said, “Here.” It was something she wanted me to try.

It was her Flip Pal Mobile Scanner.

Simultaneously maintaining my poker face and gasping for air, I took the package from her and examined all the contents. It was so tiny—not clunky like my desk scanners. (At last count, our family sports three, none of which qualify as sleek or svelte.)

She generously offered me the Flip Pal for a test drive. I say generous because I warned her of our unexpected trip to Kansas which, as I suspected, would keep me far from any notions of genealogical research, despite the lure of this shiny new toy. I gingerly took the little bundle from her and, despite my doubts that I’d have time to use it on my trip, carefully wrapped it in my carry-on luggage. The Flip Pal and I took the grand tour of Kansas and Colorado with a few family visits along the way. Everywhere it went, it inspired interest, to say the least. Everyone instantly thought of projects they wanted to use it to do.

Which brings me to the project I had in mind, once I returned home: scanning a photocopy of one of those huge plat maps I once retrieved during a research trip to Perry County, Ohio. I figured the Flip Pal’s stitching technique would be just the thing for this unwieldy document.

Of course, I had to dig my file out of storage. Face it, the map was copied onto two eleven-by-seventeen sheets to try and fit in all the data. It wasn’t like I could just stash it in my local file cabinet. I had it stowed in a special box that I seldom access.

As is my habit, by taking the opportunity to fetch this rarely-opened container, I stumbled upon something else which became the perfect candidate to put the Flip Pal through its paces: a photograph of the 1942 boot camp company of which my husband’s father, Frank Stevens, had been a part.

Measuring eight by thirty-two inches, the photograph was a monstrosity, yet too valuable to toss. So, we had taken the rolled-up keepsake and stowed it in that Box-of-Impossible-Oddities. As far as translating it into a retrievable form, some day we would get around to it.

Using the Flip Pal was the perfect assignment. It took two of us to hold the picture down flat, since it had been restricted in its rolled-up form for so long. The cover to the scanner is easily removable, so that was step one. The operation itself is quite intuitive. The only drawback was the easy green-for-go scan button, which we kept brushing accidentally, yielding all sorts of crazy shots of our hands and nearby tabletop. And, with trial and error, we learned to give a generous margin to the material we were scanning, so the Flip Pal would have plenty to work with in doing its stitching magic.

So there, in all its digital glory, is the U.S. Naval Training Station Company 162-“42” of Great Lakes, Illinois, on April 6, 1942. An added bonus is the handwritten legend we found on the back, in which twelve of Frank Stevens’ comrades signed their names and listed their home towns.

That listing, however, will have to wait for another day.


  1. That's really cool!!! I had a large class photo I wanted to scan but eventually gave up trying and just took a photo of it. This gadget is the way to go!

    I think I see Frank, 12th from the right, second row....

    1. Wow, Iggy, you have great eyes! You called it on that one. Actually, I didn't think that shot looked like him, but considering what those guys had to go through in boot, I'm not surprised that he looked so beat up and exhausted!

  2. Wow Jacqi, this is a fantastic photo and use of the Flip-Pal scanner from your friend! Thanks for sharing this info. I had the Flip-Pal on my Christmas list but sadly, my kids gave me other useful things - but now I'm waiting for Mothers' Day & my birthday (usually within 3 days of M's Day). I have several very large items to scan to keep!

    1. Here's hoping your Mother's Day "surprise" turns out the way you're hoping, Celia! The Flip Pal certainly is a useful gadget, and worked great for the projects we had in mind that are too unwieldy for traditional scanners at home.

      By the way, I meant to say this--think it's one of those things you are supposed to say on blogs, but of course forgot until after I pressed "publish"--but I do not get any remuneration for saying what I said about my experience with the Flip Pal. Just my unsolicited observations.

  3. Jacqui, this is a wonderful post! And I'm so glad you had a chance to try the flip-pal, especially on a large photo. I searched around for large photos and documents, but the biggest I had was no where near as big as your photo. Great results, too! Thanks for posting this.


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