Thursday, April 10, 2014

On a Collision Course With Progress

Today’s post is going to be one of those me-talking-to-you, linkless versions of “my story.” Since I began composing this article on April 9—one day too many past that fateful deadline of April 8—I don’t dare include any online research results. It might be too risky.

I saw this train wreck coming for miles. In fact, if a day were a mile, I’d say I saw it heading my way from well over the state line.

When the thought hit me that I’d better get moving and do something about this imposition on my placid Luddite existence, my IT consultant (a.k.a. husband) was unavailable, out of state, speaking at a conference. Spring is, after all, our business’ busiest season. And while our business comes handily equipped with up-to-date computer equipment, my personal life does not.

Oh, I tried exploring the handy-dandy analytic link sent by the helpful Microsoft people—but who has time to sit and wait for a downloadable diagnostic to go through all its paces, when you’re constantly running out the door to the next appointment?

If you haven’t guessed by now, I am the first place winner of the Only-One-Left award for Windows XP stalwarts.

Yes, I am still using a desktop computer run on Windows XP.

Worse, my genealogy database is an antiquarian edition of Family Tree Maker—the kind of extinct version displayed only in museums, because none can still be found in their native habitat. My pre-dawn-of-history FTM program will likely not take kindly to upgrading to a new operating system. The fallout of computer evolution: survival of the fittest—in business competition, if not in quality database programs.

I will now pause for a brief, five minute intermission so you may laugh at me.

What do you do when you have a database of twelve thousand individual records, each person’s entry chock full of fields of sourced notes which don’t take nicely to gedcom-ing over to some glitzy new genea-toy? Believe me, I’ve tried. It would take so long to clean up the mis-applied data that it would be more worth my while to scrap the whole thing and start anew.

I’ve scoured the Internet for information on the best new options for such programs. For that matter, I need only pay keen attention to Randy Seaver’s frequent and informative customer reviews on his blog, Genea-Musings, to keep up to date on all the various genealogy products now on the market—hyperlink not provided here for obvious connectivity reasons; you who manage to keep up with the times may take the self-serve route via Google™.

Or I could take the opportunity next June, while attending the upcoming Genealogy Jamboree sponsored by the Southern California Genealogical Society, to seek out the booths for Legacy, Roots Magic, and even Family Tree Maker, to give each shiny, brand new model a test drive.

I’m afraid the trade-in value for my old clunker wouldn’t fetch much, though. It is worth far more to me than it is to anyone else. I know how to harness and drive my horse and buggy—in an age when everyone else is talking gas mileage and EPA emission standards.

Does it come as no surprise that, after all such product research, I’m still undecided?!

For those of you seriously concerned about my sanity—let alone my cyber-safety—let me assure you that my IT consultant and I had a date last night to go out and schmooze the local computer salespeople, haggle over prices for the best models, and gain that air-of-superiority sense of control after walking out of the showroom empty-handed. The search has begun.

In the meantime, I’ve foresworn myself off Internet connectivity—at least on my desktop. Slow and steady is my mantra as I resume this hunt for the ideal replacement computer. There is so much to consider, especially for a near-extinct, word-driven species such as I, caught in an image-consuming world. I have no need for graphics-driven gaming capabilities. Just give me a system which powers my word processing program—and plays nice with my wave keyboard—and I’ll be content. Especially if it also allows me to still run my genealogy database.

I’m a historian, for crying out loud—not a futurist! Yes, history does repeat itself, and we do need to learn from the mistakes so graciously demonstrated to us by our unwitting ancestors. But I’m afraid I share a common snip of DNA with the ostrich: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.


  1. I have 2 comments.
    1. I read an article just last week about the top 10 things not to buy in 2014. One was a computer (including laptops!). Rationale: tablets can do the same thing and are portable. I can't imagine NOT having a computer though.
    2. Several years ago when we upgraded our computer, I needed to transfer my genealogy stuff from one to the other. Turns out my genealogy software was also out of date and the company had gone out of business years before. I couldn't simply install the old program on the new computer because of the difference in technology (there was a floppy disk involved -- don't laugh). I ended up emailing reports to myself so that I could ENTER ALL OVER AGAIN into my spankin' new Family Tree Maker. What a nightmare.

    1. Oh, no! Too late ;)

      The deed is done, Wendy! I couldn't imagine being without a computer, either--although I do have to say, a tablet is indeed handy. But not swell when you have lots of transcribing to do and prefer to get it done quickly.

      Duly noted on your transfer horror story. I cringe to think of what will happen to my data. A few years ago, I just caved and decided to add stuff to my Ancestry account as time permitted. But I still think I'd prefer to have my own file resident in my own desktop that will be the next step.

    2. Just to clarify - not that it matters - Family Tree Maker is my genealogy software but my info isn't on Ancestry yet.

  2. Being in the computer business and specifically in the data collection, storage and reporting arenas - I might be able to help - - It might be a convoluted path from there to here - but ... usually, somehow, it's "doable".

    Send me some specifics of FTM (version and so on) perhaps I can find an "insiders" solution?
    As for XP... You need not be "off the Internet" - you just need to be a little more alert than usual to malware and viruses. If your antivirus program is up to date - you are reasonably safe for a while (not specific "for a while").

    1. "Might"? Oh, Iggy, I'm sure you would be more than capable to provide guidance!

      Sorry for all the hyperbole. I just had to have a drama queen moment. I'll get over it. And yes, I know it isn't quite that way. I just don't want to toy around with what, exactly, is the measurement of that "for a while."

  3. This might be a help.

    1. Thanks for sending the link, Iggy. Yes, it does look useful!

  4. Have you tried either of the two free-to-download-and-try Windows genealogy programs - RootsMagic and Legacy Family Tree? You do have to pay for the full version. Make a GEDCOM file of your FTM database and see if the other programs will read your notes and sources. They should be able to. FTM 2014 should be able to read everything in your old FTM program also. If your old computer can;'t add another program, copy the GEDCOM file to a flash drive and the programs to your husband's newer computer and see if it works. GEDCOMs are easy to make and easy to read. In fact, I think RM, LFT and FTM2014 all can read that old FTM file directly without GEDCOM.

    1. Randy, I so appreciate your stopping by! Believe me, I have devoured your posts on RootsMagic and Legacy, knowing I would have to face this, eventually.

      I've had some less than stellar experiences with transfers using GEDCOM files in the past. The transfer was not completely satisfactory--losing some of the note fields, somehow. I don't know if it's a function of the ton of material I've pumped into those bloated fields, or a result of using such a dinosaur of a database. Then, too, over the years, I've seen other FTM users' comments on how they weren't pleased with their transfer results, either.

      Once I took a look at all the work involved in migrating several programs resident in my old XP system to a newer operating system, it was pretty obvious that patching together a temporary fix would only buy me so much time. I really had to bite the bullet and make the move, so we did. We're starting the move to the new computer over the weekend, and hopefully, once the groundwork is laid, I'll be reviewing your helpful posts on this topic to glean the details I'll need to follow as I go through the process of selecting a new genealogy database program.

      Thanks again, Randy, for your comment--and for all your helpful posts on this topic!

  5. I enjoyed my old XP Systems, both have died and gone to where ever old computers go. I saved photo off of one of them..the other none and it was very sad.
    I talked to someone just yesterday who said that XP would be okay without updates forever as long as you had great virus software. My Son In Law still has that system at his radio station and they have no plan to replace them.
    I hope you find something you daughter hates Windows 8.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...