Ringing in the New Year with some Resolve

My new year’s resolutions come in two parts– things I personally resolve to do with my own family history, and things I resolve to do on this website. Ideas for personal resolutions come from that inner nagging or cringe sensation (why is it nag and cringe rather than simple drooling?), and ideas for the site came from a fabulous afteroon this past week brainstorming with a friend about this website. Disclaimer: I don’t know if all of these are resolutions, but here’s my ongoing To-Do list.

Interview Dad. I’m going to sit down with my Dad and interview him. (I’ve done some interviewing of Mom this last year – you mighta seen the 3 minute movie I made from a story my Mom told me.) I interviewed my Mom last Mother’s Day, but I’m not going to wait until Father’s Day to interview my Dad. I did show him the forms and materials for the Veterans’ History Project, so he’s got an idea of what we’ll talk about.

Interview Uncle R and Uncle L. Both of those involve travel (though I’m open to trying out phone recording, too.)

Just Do It: Record “fone” conversations using Skype/Gizmo Project. (A shared goal with the 2nd set of goals, because I want to write a how-to article about it, too)

Round Tuit Department: Getting In Touch. Dig into my email archives for a correspondence begun with a woman who wrote a big, scholarly work on women in science and engineering. Grandma was an engineer, and this woman interviewed my Grandfather about Grandma. She also interviewed N.F., whom my Grandmother mentored when they both worked at the General Electric Company. 

Continue making attempts to get a copy of N.F.‘s oral history recorded for the ASME. I gotta get a round tuit to urge someone there to get a round tuit to locate NF’s oral history. And then get a copy of it myself. 

N.F. gave a box of my Grandmother’s work things to my mother. Said box is located behind other boxes, which lie behind other boxes in an undisclosed location at my parent’s house. Find said box and look through items in it.

Find out if it’s possible to interview N.F. myself. When I last inquired, it was at a bad time for her. Find out if she is available. (This, too, involves a cross-country trip)

A cassette tape recorded the day after my great uncle’s 100th birthday party as family members gathered round is in my possession. Recorded around 1983. The tape has not been listened to nor digitized. Digitize, then listen.

I have six audio CD masters of Grandpa’s oral history, recorded in January 2000. Duplicate the 6 disks for all his grandchildren (yay! the new color laser printer will come in handy to make a very stylin’ set of CD case inserts.

Oh yeah, I just remembered. I also made some additional recordings of Grandpa in December of 2000, on the occasion of his hundredth birthday. Those have been digitized (barely). More work needs to be done with that.

110-minute cassettes are not good for recording. These have wobble and stretch and all sorts of mean and nasty and horrible things (hat tip to Arlo Guthrie for the vocabulary). I fear that there’s going to be some mean and nasty and horrible work to try to make some of that conversation even comprehensible. Sigh.

Overcome discouragement about said wobbly noisy noise.

Overcome dithering about the order of tasks. Shall I duplicate the 6-CD set now  and send it out or should I wait to send it out until I’ve worked with these additional troublesome recordings? Dither dither, hem, haw. I resolve to overcome my dithering. I’ll do the DONE stuff now and the UNDONE stuff later. Easy peasy, right? No, but wait, it would be better if I…. sigh. oy vey. Thou shalt not dither, Susan!

Create an audio snippet of awful 110-minute cassette tape stretch for one of those “Let this be a lesson to you not to buy cassette tapes longer than 90 minutes, y’hear?” and post it on this website—a Word To The Wise for the benefit of those using cassette tapes to record conversations.

Bug the living daylights out of my brother, J, to find that microcassette (cassettes?) he has of interview with Grandpa. Why this “ping me with a reminder, Susan” has become my  responsibily, I do not know. But I’ll try to set up some sort of cron-job to fill up his cel phone with text messages on a weekly basis and otherwise be such a big-sisterly pain in the you-know-what (hey. He asked me to. I’m only doing what he asked. Capisce?)  that he’ll find the tapes in order to get me to stop torturing him with the requested “pings.” (BTW, on the whole, I don’t recommend microcassette tape as recording media for family interviews. But since J has made the recording, the tape must be found and the tape must be digitized.)

Richard Hess told me of an expert with said tape formats who operates out of Pasadena, CA (i.e., local). Get name of expert. Get Bro to send tape to said expert.

Clean up the bad photo file type cruft for the images that I’ve got in my MemoryMiner family photo collection. (Photos are actually of one file type, say, Photoshop PSDs, while the file extensions are another—JPG, I think.) The app runs dog-slow as a result.

Create a pretty custom graphic button/badge for the Carnival of Genealogy that we all can put in our sidebars of our site.

Actually test my concept regarding letter scanning and metadata transcribing for the family letters I’ve got. Once I’ve done that…

Scan letters like a madwoman.

Incidentally, I see that Jasia mentions scanning in her New Year’s “preserving memories” theme for the year; she sighs over the drudgery thereof. Oh Jasia, I hearya. I got a flash of inspiration: let’s have a Scanning fest: Behold the web scantastic!. It’s computer drudgery and it’s got to be done. Would it be easier if we devoted a common weekend to it knowing that other people are also scanning like crazy at the same time? A chatroom for scan breaks (or to chat while the scanning works?), or a freeforall conference call (as in the Phonecon that Jeneane Sessum hosted  this last fall) or Gizmo Project chatroom for live voice-to-voice over IP as well. Something to make it a worldwide scan your family documents and party with others who’re doing so, too.

Burn a complete set of CDs of the oral history I recorded with my great aunt Connie. That may require audio track-making tweakage. Take orders from her offspring and great-offspring for copies.

Host the Carnival of Genealogy another time in 2007. Yes? Jasia?

And now, as if that weren’t enough, here are some ideas for what I want to do for this website:

Two carry-over items from the list above:

That example of 110-minute cassette tape and horrible distortion. You want to hear what it’s like, right? Let’s all say Eeeew together.

Gizmo Project/Skype VoIP  phone calls and recording. An article explaining how I did it.

Post new articles on a regular basis. (lookie here! I’m off to a good start. Come back by mid-month to see if I’m keeping up with it. I’ve got ideas planned that will last through the end of Q1 of 2007)

For that matter, post more often to the news section.

Build out the perpetually “coming soon” How To section of the site. As it happens, my plans for more articles leans toward How-To.

Create screencast movies to demo software and hardware. Fun, that!

Podcasts. I’ve got several recorded conversations that need to be processed and uploaded. They were recorded a while back, before the Autumn of the Bad Back wacked me out. They’re not time-sensitive, so I’ll work ‘em and post ‘em anyway.

More interviews with people, suitable for podcasting. People who are involved with many different aspects of work that dovetails with preserving memories and family oral history.

Hands-on product reviews for equipment and software and vendors.

Build a Product Reviews section of the site.

Celebrate this site’s 1-year anniversary in March. Some site tweaks and new features and celebratory things.

I’ve other plans, too, for another major section of the site that’s on the drawing board for 2007, but I’ll keep details of that quiet for the moment.

Oh boy, it all look so big and bright and imposing and wonderful. Wish me luck, check back on my progress, and tell me what you think.

What are your plans for preserving your families stories in 2007? Post in the comments. Also, if you have any requests for technical topics you’d like to know about, please post in the comments! (Both requests for microphones and Skype/Gizmo Project are duly noted and on the calendar!)

Happy New Year!

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Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on December 31, 2006 in • AfterwardsDo it: YourselfGenealogyHousekeepingPersonal History
9 CommentsPermalink

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I LOVE the idea of a scanfest!  Be sure to let me know if the idea comes to fruition!

Miriam  on 01/04  at  01:00 AM

Miriam, cool! I think it’s an idea that’ll have traction. I’ve started to get the ball rolling on suggesting things for prizes. Tho I still can’t think about how to quantify “What I scanned” to be worthy of a prize. (And I see the opportunity of a prize as a motivator, something fun.)

I’m thinking of a weekend in Late Feb or early March. Haven’t picked which one yet.

Is it by number of photos? Number of megabytes? Different people will have different requirements. Or methods.

I can see it: “Yeah, I scanned a bunch of family photos. Scanned hundreds of them. What was the image size? Oh, I don’t know… let me check. Here it is: 200 x 300 pixels each at 72ppi. [pause] Are you okay?” (er the listener went into shock because the images are such low resolution.)

If I’m scanning photos, I’ll have one set of criteria (good scans, high rez, gang snapshots and crop em apart later in Photoshop) than if I’m scanning those letters (yes, good scans, yes, high rez, but I’ll also be adding metadata to the images—prolly even typing in portions or subjects as part of the metadata. That’ll slow things down. I won’t “win” the prize for slowness, but it meets the goal of what I want to do.)

Okay, I’ve got it. Sign up, do it, and somehow show you’ve done it, and that makes you eligible for random prize drawing.

From the department of Thinking Out Loud,

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