Sunday, 1 August 2021

Use your voice for Family Stories

It's August 2021 and many of us in Australia are in lockdown to prevent the spread of the delta variant of coronavirus. It is also National Family History Month here, an excellent time to work on some of those unfinished projects.

Why not use the extra time at home to get ahead with family stories? Are your typing skills rather slow or are you limited by the technology you are using? Why not use voice to text? There are many easy options.


a) WINDOWS - Speech to text

On your Windows PC, press the Windows key + H. This will reveal the microphone  Simply speak to write.
If you do not have speech recognition turned on, head to Settings > Speech, to turn it on.

This tool will work in any program that has text fields e.g. Word, Blogger, Wordpress or wherever you are writing your family stories.

b) On a MAC

On your Mac, choose the Apple menu  > System Preferences, click Keyboard, then click Dictation.
Click On. If a prompt appears, click Enable Dictation.


Just type in the browser search bar to get started. You will of course need to be logged in to your Google account. From Tools > select Voice typing. The microphone will now appear on the left side of your document. 

The piece below was generated using voice typing in Google docs. I only had to make one correction. The story of course needs refining, but at least it is started.

Oh dear, No microphone on your older desktop computer!
Never mind, use a mobile.



Install the free Office app.
Choose Create Word
Tap the microphone on the keyboard to get started
Choose where to save the document your personal OneDrive, Google Drive or other cloud storage location.

Google Docs

Download from your app store
Login to your account.
Tap microphone on the keyboard
Tell the story.
Add photos from your phone, from camera or from the web.
The doc will be automatically saved in your Google Drive
Save as also provides a wide range of other formats including Word, PDF and epub.


Download from your app store
Login to your account.
Choose  your blog, tap microphone on the keyboard
Tell the story.
Add photos from your phone, Google Drive or Google photos
Publish to Draft 
If you need to refine before publishing, open the draft post on your computer. 


Download from your app store
Login to your account
Choose blog, tap microphone on the keyboard
Tell the story
Use + to add other features such as images
Publish to draft.
If you need to refine before publishing, open the draft post on your computer.

Inject a conversational tone by telling your stories with one of the many free options provided using voice typing. Now is an excellent time to get on with the task, sit in the sun, record your thoughts, edit later.

Wherever you are writing and saving your family stories, using voice recognition will help those typing woes. 

Have you tried voice typing?

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Tuesday, 1 June 2021

Apps for Family History tasks

Most Tuesdays at 7 pm AEST I join this twitter chat, tonight's version as you see above is about Apps for Family History Tasks. Now this topic is so wide that a 60 minute chat may barely scratch the surface, so let us look at some terminology.


When mobile devices first appeared on the scene the word app was used to describe a small program that could be installed on your device whether that was a smart phone or a tablet. In more common usage nowadays an app can be any small computer program usually on a mobile device but now used on computers too, often described as web apps. Has the word app reverted to its origin - application, in the sense of meaning any computer program, or do you still think of it in terms of mobile devices?

Family History Tasks

These are many and varied but may come under these general headings
  • Searching for information
  • Evaluating information
  • Recording the information
  • Communicating
  • Preserving information

General notes

Some apps can be used to achieve all of the above tasks to various degrees. These include the large online genealogy companies  - Ancestry MyHeritage, FindmyPast and FamilySearch all of which have web and mobile apps. One can search for relatives, evaluate the information found, record it and share it with others. So I'll leave those aside for now. 

If you are using a family history database on your computer check the app stores to see if it has a mobile app. 

Next the Google suite of products - Chrome for using and tracking Google web searches, Keep for notetaking and OCR from images, Sheets for evaluating and filtering information, Docs for writing up family stories and extracting OCR from PDFs, Slides for presenting stories, Gmail and Meet for communication, Photos for storing and sharing, Calendar to keep track of upcoming events, Blogger for publishing findings and stories, Maps for viewing ancestors' locations, Earth for creating story maps. YouTube private channel for sharing video.  All mobile and web.

Microsoft has an equal array of products and mobile apps, some with a higher price tag. 

A Limited List of Apps for Family Historians (m = mobile d = desktop w = web)

  • Evernote  m,d,w
  • OneNote - m, w
  • Voice recorder
  • Billion Graves - searching and recording m, w
  • FindaGrave - searching and recording m,w
Photos and presentation
  • Pixlr  - editing, family collages m, w
  • PhotoMapo iOS only, place family photos and text on maps
  • Canva - blog and twitter
Made in Photo Mapo

  • Microsoft Office Lens m
  • Adobe Scan m
  • CamScanner m
  • Feedly - keeping up to date with genealogy world via blogs and sites
  • LibraryThing - for keeping track of  relevant titles m,w
  • Adobe Digital Editions - reading epubs m, d
  • Facebook m, w
  • Twitter m, w
  • Instagram m, w,
  • Pinterest m, w
  • Viber - free phone, text and media to family m, d
  • WhatsApp - free phone, text and media to family m, d
Preserving and Sharing Information
  • Dropbox m, w
  • Box m, w
  • PixStori - add voice to a photo, share/send as mp4  mobile iOS or  web  these can be downloaded.  
  • The same effect without the branding can be created with PowerPoint or Keynote (recent versions) record with just one or two photos and export as video. Here's one created with a single photo using Keynote on iPad.

A couple of late additions
  • UMark Photo Lite - for adding Watermarks to photos m,w
  • Wolfram Alpha - computational search e.g. dates and times m,w
Do you use any other interesting apps for family history tasks?

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Friday, 30 April 2021

Zeroing in - AJCP

Zephyr and Zenith

Reference to the murder of the crew of the Zephyr  is found in the Colonial Office records.
Offices: Admiralty, 1875 (File 7. AJCP Reel No: 2207  
Subjects include: Blackbirding; kidnapping; labour traffic; measles; HMS Dido; Reservation of site for Naval service; attack on HMS Pearl; Plantations visited by and attacks on HMS Sandfly; theft by crew of Jessie Kelly (ship); murder of crews of Zephyr and Lalia; HMS Rosario; criminal acts of William Henry 'Bully' Hayes of the Leonora (brig).

Zenith appears in a report written to the Royal Astronomical Society.

Zeroing in on Rowland Childers

The papers of the Childers family leave me wondering if Rowland Childers was sent away as a son needing to make his own way in the world. He arrived in South Australia on the Garonne in September 1878 and his extensive letters home to his father start a day after his arrival.
However, after a trip to Melbourne there is a 1879 claim for a bill he had not paid sent to his father, even though in the letters he mentions the 200 pounds per year allowance his father has provided.
Dec 2nd 1879
For: Rt Hon H Childers
Agent Generals Office
I have taken the liberty of sending you the 
enclosed a/c and ask you to hand it to the gentleman who
obtained the goods from me if he is in London.
He was staying at the Melbourne Club and I was given
to understand that he was your son. He left Melbourne
shortly after getting the articles charged to him and I
have not been able to trace him since.
........D Carson
In 1878 his father writes to give his son one more chance and refers to some profligacy at Oxford presumably before his departure. His father threatens to warn his friends in the colonies about his son's irresponsible behaviour and says he will not honour his bills if the irresponsible behaviour continues.

One hopes Rowland reformed his ways, there are plenty of letters to read about his life in Australia. In this 1880 one below to his cousin Emily, he expresses regret.

"As I have told you in the multiplicity of my indebtedness
I overlooked some when I left home
which is much to be regretted. God 
knows I am trying to live cheaply now
and I shudder to think of
the money that was not mine which
I chucked in the gutter"

If you research family history I hope this series has helped you to zoom in or zero in to some of your families' ancestors. 
Why did your ancestors arrive in the lands downunder?

Wishing you research success within the AJCP. Thanks to all those who have visited and commented along the way. 

Download the document - includes all 26 posts  Discover the AJCP 2021 

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