Digital Toolbox

I often discuss items that should be a part of your digital toolbox. If you’re new to the Gazette, you may not know what the toolbox is. It’s a collection of services and applications you should have to support your online genealogy research efforts. The toolbox includes the following:

  • a web browser. You can choose from Chrome, Firefox, Safari and Internet Explorer, but make sure you keep your browser updated to take advantage of the latest web functionality and to insure you have all the latest security features.
  • a newsreader. The newsreader allows you to subscribe to various news sources and blogs which will then deliver their latest content to your desktop.
  • a research email account. I recommend a research email account/address set up on one of the general mail systems (Google, Yahoo or Hotmail). These accounts will stay with you regardless of your address or Internet service provider.
  • a Skype account. All you need is a computer with broadband Internet access, a headset and Skype and you can talk to any other Skype user in the world for free. Add a webcam and you can have video calls and even share your desktop with others. Learn more.
  • a Flickr account. This photo management platform offers a place to archive and share your priceless photos – old and new – at no cost.
  • a Google account. Your Google account gives you an email address, news reader, reference library, mapping resource, blog site and so much more – all of it free.
  • a blog. As you build your family history, you will want to publish your research, photos and stories. A blog is and easy and affordable way to do that. And, since blogs are very search-friendly, you are quite likely to meet cousins and other interesting people attracted to your stories.
  • screen capture software. These apps will capture all or part of your computer’s screen as an image. You can then save the image file or copy/paste it into another application.
  • PDF reader and creator software. This format lets you create a publication that can read by anyone with a PDF reader – regardless of the software used to create it. A growing number of publications are being distributed in PDF format. Most readers are free and a growing number of word-processing and other applications are including PDF as an export option.
  • note-keeping software. These amazing apps give you the ability collect, organize and share your research easily and efficiently.

You can stay current on specific apps and services by visiting the Digital Toolbox topic regularly.