[Editor’s note: Flip-Pal mobile scanner ambassador Thomas MacEntee explains how easy it is to use the new How To Flip-Pal videos on YouTube to get assistance with various features of the Flip-Pal® mobile scanner.]
Education has been a mainstay of the genealogy community and as I’ve said before, right now is the best time ever to be doing genealogy mainly due to all the great resources available.
Not only do we have the ability to attend conferences, workshops and week-long institutes in-person, but we also have webinars (see GeneaWebinars for the latest webinars available) and other forms of online learning.
So it is only natural that genealogy vendors and service providers like Flip-Pal are migrating towards online educational tools in the form of YouTube videos explaining how various features of the Flip-Pal mobile scanner work.
A Great Way to Learn: “Just In Time” Training
I’ve spent many years in the technical training field and in my experience one of the most effective ways to learn a concept or how something works is to use the “Just In Time” method of training.
What does this mean? Just In Time training takes advantage of the “curiosity point” we all have when we want to know more about something. We are open to learning and we have a “need to know” at a specific moment. This means we need to find that information quickly.
Because the educational content is a solution and answers a question, the knowledge retention is higher. The information is relevant to the current situation and can be recalled in the future. In addition, you are more likely to go back to that website or tool when you have more questions.
How To Flip-Pal Videos
More and more websites are supplementing their FAQ pages and downloadable PDFs filled with training information with videos used to explain simple concepts in what I call “small bites.” These “bites” are fully digestible and easy to consume…and they satisfy!
Flip-Pal has developed a new learning channel called How To Flip-Pal which can be accessed at http://www.youtube.com/HowToFlipPal. You’ll find videos that cover a variety of topics including:
There are not only more videos currently available, but also more videos in development.
Even More Flip-Pal Videos
Besides the How To Flip-Pal videos, we also have our Flip-Pal channel at http://www.youtube.com/user/TheFlipPal that includes videos created by happy Flip-Pal users. If you’ve ever wondered how you can use the Flip-Pal mobile scanner, take a minute to see how folks are getting creative and using the Flip-Pal to scan documents, photos and more.
What Are Your Flip-Pal Questions?
Don't forget to check out the Frequently Asked Questions page at the Flip-Pal website for quick, easy-to-read answers to a variety of questions. Flip-Pal understands that people want a choice in how they receive information about a product or service, and that video may not be the best format for some. In addition, Flip-Pal continues to provide stellar customer service through its Customer Care page where you can find more answers, downloads and even more videos.
We’d love to hear from you—whether you are a current owner of a Flip-Pal mobile scanner or a prospective customer—so we can answer any questions you may have about the Flip-Pal and its accessories.
To make suggestions for future video topics, click here or click Comment at http://www.youtube.com/HowToFlipPal.
[Editor’s note: Thomas MacEntee, Flip-Pal mobile scanner ambassador, attempts to put into words why he does genealogy and what tracing his roots has meant to him.]
As I’ve become more involved in the genealogy community and I’ve built up my own genealogy-related business, I find I am often asked to give interviews. I like being interviewed and I will reply to almost any request for an interview as long as the questions are genealogy-related and it helps bring more people into the family history community.
In addition, after moderating many panels for genealogy conferences and events, plus hosting my own radio show, it is fun to be on the other end of the microphone, as it were, providing my thoughts on genealogy.
The Question: Why Do You Do Genealogy?
Invariably, one question is almost always on the list provided by the interviewer: “Why do you do genealogy?”
My usual response “Well, why not do genealogy?” gets a few laughs, but really doesn’t stress the importance of why I and millions of others are obsessed with tracing their ancestry and heritage. Do you ever get so wrapped up in the “hunt” that you sometimes lose focus as to why you want to know more about your ancestors? Is “doing genealogy” such a large part of your life that the motivational factors sometimes defy description? Do you have trouble putting into words what researching your roots means to you?
I’m Not Crazy, Really. I’m Just Genealogy-Obsessed
Many of my friends not only call me “genealogy obsessed,” but whenever I mention my latest find or how I recently visited a cemetery, they think it is just one more mile post on the road to “Crazy Town.”
They fear that I’ve become the equivalent of an ancestor “hoarder” and that they’ll have to tunnel through 20 years’ worth of genealogical records to find my body one day. When I use terms like “citing sources” or “ahnentafels” to them I may as well be speaking in tongues. The fact that I can draw a four generation tree of my family from memory does not mesmerize them. It only gives them hard evidence in the form of a written document to be used when and if I should be committed.
I don’t think it is really that bad. However, when I attempt to explain the things I do (which seem normal as a genealogist), I get frustrated. It is like trying to explain to someone why you follow a certain spiritual path or a specific faith.
Genealogy Is a Journey of Faith
Could the passion for genealogy actually be similar to one’s own faith, one’s own spiritual compass? In my eyes, faith is something that evolves over time, just as one’s passion/obsession for genealogy also evolves. Both represent a journey often to a destination unknown. Let’s look at the similarities…
- If we’re lucky, we discover genealogy when we are young, either through an older family relative or at school.
- Our family members may have stressed the importance of knowing our heritage, of telling family stories and sharing old photos.
- We may have dabbled with different hobbies in college, but we always came back to genealogy.
- We attend weekly or monthly gatherings where we meet with other genealogists and discuss what genealogy means to us.
- Our community has leaders and those who preach about various aspects of genealogy. Some are so popular that we pack classrooms and worship them as idols.
- We keep the family traditions and place them in context by explaining to others in the family the origins of certain customs and practices.
- Old documents and records not only feed our obsession, but we often hunger for more and are willing to volunteer our time indexing them and advocating for their unfettered access.
- You know another genealogist either when you see them or the minute you start talking to them. There is a certain kinship, a certain bonding as you swap surnames and discuss your brick walls.
See, it really isn’t such a far-fetched an idea after all. Genealogy brings meaning to our lives in so many ways that, again, we can’t often explain it, even to our close loved ones. It is a path, a journey and has its own strange practices and routines.
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So how do you put all this in words when attempting to answer that “why” question? It might just be easier to “show” rather than tell. I’ve learned that once I can show a person photos, stories and how my ancestors fit into history, I get to see that arched eyebrow, or that glimmer in the eye. Then I know I’ve started to make sense.
[Editor’s note: Flip-Pal mobile scanner Ambassador Thomas MacEntee discusses the importance of the role of the family historian as a bridge across past and future generations within a family.]
How often have you sat and reminisced about the times you spent with your grandparents or perhaps even your great-grandparents? I’ll bet you can recall every detail of those encounters: the accent of a voice, the vibrant color of a dress, or the smell of a favorite recipe. The faces of your ancestors whom you knew first-hand and with whom you shared joys and sorrows are impressed in your memory. They are sometimes so close that you can practically touch them. At times you might even find yourself speaking to them.
I was fortunate enough to spend much of my childhood in the company of a set of great-grandparents, John Ralph Austin (1896–1976) and Therese McGinnes Austin (1894–1988). It was their constant story telling about the Austin and McGinnes families as well as others that eventually led to my fascination with genealogy and family history. These two people were my connection with their own parents and their grandparents. While some of the details and facts had been committed to paper many years earlier, without my great-grandparents those ancestors would not have “come to life” as they did for me as a child.
Genealogists as Generation Connectors
While we as family historians spend much of our time looking backwards, life is lived forwards. In our day-to-day lives many of us interact with our own children, grandchildren and nieces and nephews. We also know their voices, their clothing and their favorite foods. But what have we done to connect the younger and future generations with those generations who have long passed away?
I see myself as a bridge or a connector between my niece and nephew and many cousins to my great-grandparents and other generations going back to the early 1600s in my family’s history. I’m happy to relate the stories of my ancestors, to share their photos and to do more than just collect genealogical data dumped into a database.
While being the “family historian” is an honor and sometimes quite a task, I also see it as a duty: a duty to go beyond facts and dates that only allow ancestors to be seen as flat, 2-dimensional persons.
Go for 3-D Family History!
Over the years I’ve matured as a genealogist and have gone beyond a mere “name collector” to one who works towards sound research methodologies to prove relationships in my own family. And now, I’ve decided to ramp it up a bit and make sure that I am working towards 3-D images of my ancestors.
What does that mean? It means collecting as much information as possible about each person in order to form a complete ancestor. Much like a sculptor who models a figure with bits of clay, I use stories, photos and more to create an accurate picture of those who came before me.
Flip-Pal mobile scanner as Content Collector
So how do I go about this “modeling” process? Well my bits of clay used as I sculpt and form my ancestors into a 3-D likeness are actually photos and other items that I collect in various ways. Lately, I’ve been using the Flip-Pal mobile scanner to digitize anything I can find and then upload it to my computer to be used in blogs, websites and even photo books.
I am never without my Flip-Pal whether I am at home watching television and tackling “The Box” of family photos going back over 100 years or if I am on the road doing research at a library or archive. My Flip-Pal sits on my desk in my office and is always ready to go. And then I simply slip it into my backpack when I leave the house to go on a research trip.
For me the Flip-Pal is also a connector: it keeps me connected with the content I need to tell the story of my family. It allows me to quickly capture photos, documents and even scan fabric and medals that were important to my ancestors. You could even call my Flip-Pal a time machine since it transports these old items to a brand new digital format which I can then use in many ways as part of my family history.
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The younger generations in my family will only know the special people that were my great-grandparents through my words and through my work as a family historian. I owe it to them to not lose touch with the legacy that is our family and to collect as much meaningful content as possible.