Famicity – Getting Started

Famicity is a private social network designed for families. It’s designed to provide a safe way to share news, photos and videos. It’s also a great place to stay connected in a secure environment that won’t sell your information to the highest bidder.

How do you get started with Famicity? Actually, it’s quite easy.

Go to Famicity at https://www.famicity.com/en/welcome. Take a few minutes to get a feel for the site. When you are ready, click the Sign up button in the upper right side of the screen. When the sign-up screen opens you will see several registration options. You can register using your Facebook login (not recommended), your FamilySearch login or create your own with your email address and a password. Before pressing the Start key, it’s a good idea to review the site’s terms of service.

Once you click the Create Account button, you will be taken to a page where you enter your name, sex and date of birth. Once that’s done, you are ready to start building your family tree and trying out the various components of Famicity.

You won’t have any stories or photos yet, but it won’t be long before you’re adding photo albums, videos and stories. Right now, you need to check out the toolbar running down the left side of the Famicity screen. The News button at the top of the bar displays your Famicity site’s timeline. As you invite others to join Famicity, this is the place to view all the latest posts to your network.

The Story button takes you to your profile screen. It contains information about you along with each of the items you have added to the site. This could include photos, videos, photo albums and stories. The name “stories” is a bit misleading. While writing stories about yourself and others are always encouraged, stories will often include short captions, announcements and news. You choose what your stories will be.

Albums are just that . . . A place to display multiple photos associated with a particular event or topic.

Famicity also includes a family Tree. You can either build it from scratch or import a GEDCOM. The tree is used to show your Famicity members how they fit within the family structure but it is also used to invite family members to join your Famicity group. The birthdate information maintained in your family tree is also used to automatically announce birthdays in Famicity’s News section.

The Inbox makes it possible to communicate with your family members via private message.

Contacts is the directory of members. This can be used by members to contact each other. It is also used by administrators to send family members an invitation to join Famicity and it is used to organize members into groups – like the Florida group and the California group. One of the primary uses for groups is to batch assign permissions and such for members.

The My family section contains a directory for all the members of your Famicity family. The directory can be used by members to find contact information. For network administrators, it provides an easy way to manage groups and invitations as well as contact information.

At first Famicity may look a bit too simplistic, but as you and your family begins adding photos, stories, videos and notes, you will soon see how beautiful simplicity can be. Even better, you can share these special moments without worrying about stalkers, advertisers and bots stealing your personal information. With Famicity, family really is a beautiful thing!

Create Eye-Catching Graphics With Keynote

My family history research has discovered some amazing stories, but it takes more that good writing to get most of my family’s attention. I have learned that a great photo can be an eye-catcher if the viewer knows who is in the picture. Few in my family would recognize the people in this photo, but a bit of graphic design turned a beautiful photograph into the bait that makes them want to learn “the rest of the story”.

This graphic was created on my iPad using the Keynote presentation app. Keynote is also a great scrapbooking/graphic design app and works wonders for creating graphics like these. The background of my graphic was a scan of an aged piece of paper I found in my grandmother’s things. The map of “old” Savannah came from an old Savannah history book found at the Internet Archive. I took a screenshot of the map page in the book and saved it to the Photos app. I then used Photos photo-editing tools to crop the map to the area I wanted. Once I had edited the map graphic, I copy/pasted it on top of the background on the slide. The graphic element under the bottom left corner of the photo came from a book of old graphics and illustrations. The fonts were the only things that cost me money. (I’m a font fanatic and look for any excuse to add to my collection.)

One I had all the components added, arranged and ready to go, I exported my one slide presentation to a JPG format. If my presentation has multiple slides, this export feature will export each slide as a jpg photo file.

The resulting graphic is now ready to become an eye-catching intro to the actual story. Yes, it’s that easy!

Natchez Trace

Storytelling With Clips

Apple released Clips [iOS – free] on the first day of our recent cross-country trip. The notice popped up on my iPhone while we were driving across the Florida panhandle. It only took a couple of minutes to download and I was soon experimenting to see how it works. At first look my thoughts were it was much too simple to be of much use, but by the time we reached Texas I knew this app was a game-changer.

Clips main screenClips is available for both iPhones and iPads but only the 64-bit ones. That means an iPhone 5s or later, iPad Mini 2 or later, iPad Air and Air2 or an iPad Pro.

With Clips you create a project made up of photos, video, narration and soundtracks. You can take photos and videos with Clips or import them from your library. Tap the appropriate option from the items found under the viewer and off you go. In this example, video is the chosen option so the big red HOLD TO RECORD button appears. The microphone icon on the left turns the microphone on or off while the camera icon on the right switches between the front and back camera. When the PHOTO option is selected, you will see the flash button, the shutter button and the camera icon which switches between the front and rear cameras. Choose the LIBRARY option and the viewer area displays your photos. Tap to select the ones you want to choose.

img_2191With Clips you create a project then add and arrange “clips” to build your story. Tap the down icon shown at the top left corner of the Clips screen to create a new project. As you add video and photos to your project, those elements appear at the bottom of the screen. In this example, you’ll see a video clip at the bottom. Tap it to select it and several icons appear above it giving you some editing options. In this example, the selected clip is a video clip so the editing options include cutting part of the video or trashing the entire clip. In this example the video was recorded without audio so there is an editing option greyed out. It is the mute icon. If you create a video with sound, that icon is available should you want to mute the audio.

Once you have collected multiple clips for your project, you can tap and drag individual clips to rearrange their order in your project’s timeline. If a video clip needs trimming, select the clip then tap the scissors icon to display the trim box. Tap and drag the left or right trim control to remove the section that needs trimming. When ready, tap Apply.img_2192

At any time you can save any clip to your iPhone’s Camera Roll. Select the clip you wish to save by tapping it then tap the Save button located at the top right corner of the screen. The save icon is visible in the screen shot above. Clips that are saved on your phone can be used in other projects.

In addition to clips and photos, there are all kinds of elements you can use to enhance your project. You can add music from a collection of “soundtracks” or from your own music library. You can also add “Live Titles” by dictation. Not only will Clips convert your words to on-screen text, it gives you the option to style that text too. There are also some interesting filters and effects to jazz things up a bit.

Once your project is finished, in addition to saving it to your Camera Roll, you have a number of sharing options too. You can email or text a project to others and share it on your favorite social networks. They can be forwarded to your account at YouTube and Vimeo. Best of all, if Clips recognizes your friends in any of the videos/photos included in the Clip project, they will be listed on your share sheet.

Here’s my first project – cleaned up several times since it was first “clipped” while driving the Natchez Trace from Natchez to Vicksburg. I’m not a very good dash cam and the windshield it a bit buggy but it did show me how useful this amazing little app can be.


And this is just the beginning!

Managing Fonts on Your iPad

Any good storyteller knows that fonts can be as much a design element as photos and graphics. Unfortunately, your iPad comes with a limited number of fonts. Don’t worry. Many of the design apps include fonts and there are apps that will allow you to install your favorite fonts on you iPad/iPhone for use with just about any app.

I’ve had great success using the free AnyFont app. With AnyFont you can install your favorite fonts and even unlock a bundle of 1,000 fonts as an in-app purchase for 99 cents.

Installing fonts is easy.
Installing fonts is easy.

Here you see an example of AnyFonts at work. In the background you see a list of fonts available within the app. Tap any font to display this install panel. Tap Preview to see how that font looks. If it looks good, just tap the font icon to install. That’s it!

You can also install your own fonts. Copy them to a folder in iCloud or Dropbox then follow the directions in AnyFonts’ tutorials to install them.

Once installed on your iPad, your fonts will be available to you in Pages, Numbers and Keynote as well as the Microsoft Office apps. One thing to watch – especially if you are a font hound like me – is the space your installed fonts are using on your device. Check Settings > Storage & iCloud Usage > Manage Storage and scroll down to see how much storage AnyFont is using. I have more than 100 fonts installed on my iPad using 140MB of space. To compare, I have four books in my Kindle app and it’s using 401MB of space.