Getting A New Computer: Prep Work to be Done

My blogging has been light this month for which I apologize.  I am getting a new computer for my birthday from my family.  It took me two weeks to select one with in the price range that would be a step up from what I have.  My computer is 7 years old so probably anything built after 2010 would be a vast improvement.  I decided on a refurbished HP.  I’ll be moving from 2 gig of RAM to 8.  It will be like a dream come true.  It will be delivered on Tuesday.  I’ve very excited!

This isn’t the first time I’ve bought a new computer.  I got my first computer in 1983, an IBM PC 5150 (Intel 8086).  I remember that we paid $5000 for it and we were considered special because we paid extra to have a hard drive installed.  Since then, I’ve had a 286, 486, a Compaq, a computer that should not be named (but I will:  Packard Bell), an AST, an eMachine, and the last one a Dell.   Before arthritis took over my fingers, I was handy with a screwdriver and would upgrade them myself.  Of them all, none was built as solidly as the very first IBM.  It became obsolete before it broke down.  Unfortunately, you can’t get by with a floppy disk drive, 10 MB hard drive, and a RGB monitor anymore.  It’s hard to believe that you ever could!

Now starts the hard work:  preparing to move everything to my new computer.  I made a list of the tasks that needed to be done:

1.  Backup all my personal files.

I admit it.  Despite having computers crash on me in past and eat all my data (thank you Packard Bell), I’ve been negligent where backups are concerned.  When I moved to a new computer in 2009, I backed up everything and I still have those backups.  I did another complete backup before I moved 3 years ago.  I’ve done sporadic backups of my genealogy database and other personal files since then, but I have not backed up my genealogy documents or some recent photos.  Well, this is my chance!

I made a list of backups I need to verify or do.  I came up with 15 different types of files that had to be backed up.  Everything from my genealogy databases to email to the simple program I use to keep track of my checkbook.

At first, I thought I would use Google Drive and Picasa to do my backups.  I ran into some unforeseen problems (i.e. Picasa refused to upload 52 of my photos that had too long of file names).  After I am reinstalled and running, I will backup files to Google Drive.  I want to have an off site backup.  It’s just that I can’t work out all the kinks in four days.  I bought a 32 gig memory stick instead.  None of the ones I had were large enough and I didn’t want to split file directories.  I’ve been working on this since Thursday.  All that is left is my music files and Thunderbird email.

2.  Software programs will need to be reinstalled.

Like most people, some of my software is on CDs and some is only on my computer (from downloads).  I made a list of everything that was on my old computer that I would like to reinstall on my new computer.  I’m moving from Vista to Windows 7.  I have some software from Windows XP.  I do not know if it will all work or if I really want it anymore.

Next step was to find all the software.  I had to move around several dust bunny piles to dig out the 3 CD holders.  It’s amazing how many empty CD cases I have.  Everything I want is now in a pile ready to go.

3.  I may need some cables.

About 3 weeks ago, I though I should put this plastic bag of cables in the donation bag.  What was I going to need them for?  Well, my new computer doesn’t come WiFi enabled.  It only has an Ethernet card for internet access.  Not to worry.  I see at least 5 different cables in my plastic bag.  Before I moved three years ago, I didn’t have a router.  I should have everything I need to plug into the modem until I get a WiFi adapter.

4. Waiting for delivery.

This may be the hardest part.  My computer doesn’t come until Tuesday.  I’ve taken photos but don’t want to upload them since that folder is already copied.  I don’t want to create any folders or do anything that might have to be moved.  I think I can do it for four days.  Maybe.

I should be ready to roll come Tuesday.  My backups will be done and I’ve already got a stack of software to install.  Oh yes, I am ready and eager!


SNGF: Source to Person Ratio

This is part of the Genealympics Challenges and Saturday Night Genealogy Fun at Randy Seaver’s Genea-Musings.

My assignment is to calculate my source to person ratio in my database.  I use RootsMagic.  It was easy to find the total number of people in my database: 9, 856.

Calculating the sources took a little light bulb power.  After searching through the help screens and online, I didn’t see an easy way to do this.  Creating a Source List meant counting the entries on 77 pages.  I didn’t really feel like doing that.

I found a solution.  I created the Source List report as a .txt file.  I opened the file in Microsoft Works Spreadsheet.

Each entry appeared as a Source and a Footnote, each on a separate line.  I noticed the report generated blank rows sporadically.  Instead of deleting those, I sorted the list on column A.  I deleted all the entries that started with the word “Footnote”.  I deleted a couple of duplicates and some screwy looking test entries. Then, I arrived at my source number:  1,710.

Randy says to divide the number of sources by the number of people.  My ratio is .173 (to infinite and beyond).  My ratio is too low to earn a medal…I’ve been disqualified :(

Looks like I need to work on getting sources into my database.  Most of my early sources are still on paper in my binders with the family group sheet.  They were once in my database.  However, two mishaps (upgrade from Leading Edge DOS to Windows and Converting from Leading Edge to Family Origins) wiped out all off the sources I had input over the first 4 or 5 years.

It’s like I’ve failed a genealogy drug test.  I’ve been disqualified.  LOL

(Thanks for the fun challenge, Randy, even if I didn’t make it to the medal round.)


Bringing Old Photos Back To Life: Picnik Test

I have a bunch (okay, 4 or 5 big photo album worth) of photos from the 1980s that are slowly fading into obscurity. The colors have washed out. They look worse than the color photos in my collection from the 1960s and 1970s!

I wanted to use a couple of the photos for an article I am writing. But, they were so washed out that they didn’t even appeal to me. I tried to fix them using the software on my computer, but nothing I did really helped.

I asked around Google+ for free photo editing software. I received a few suggestions. I thought that it might be nice to blog about them and show the results that I got.

The first one up is Picnik, a Google product.  Picnik is an online photo sharing website with editing utilities.  There is a free version and a premium paid version.  Some editing tools are available in the premium version that are not in the free version.  You upload photos to Picnic, edit them online, then save them to your computer.  You do not have to download any software.

This is the photo that I worked with.  It’s from Soda Springs, California.  I guarantee you it did not look so dreary the day I was there.

I uploaded the photo to Picnik.  The next screen shows you some of the editing options available depending on the version (free or premium)

I’m not really interested in removing the red eye or making my mountains thinner.  I ignored the suggested tools.  I played around with some of the tools under Effects, then settled on the tools under the Basic Edit tab.

First, I tried Auto Fix.  It brightened the colors a little, but didn’t really make much improvement.

I then moved on to the Color tools.   These allowed me to changed the saturation and the temperature of the colors.  This is what I ended up with:

What do you think of the results?  Is it an improvement over the original?  Too much red or brown?

I took the same photo and used the Sharpening tool.  This edit included improving the clarity.

I am not sure I really see any difference between this photo and the first edit.  The Clarity tool with the Color tool doesn’t seem to have much effect.

That’s the first photo I attempted to bring back to life with Picnik.   The tools on Picnik are fairly easy to work with.  The problem may be their are so many I wasn’t sure which ones to work with first. Did I get the results I wanted?  The color edit does appear more true to what the photo should have been.  I think that I might have to work with a couple of more photos to see if I’m getting the results I am looking for.

Have you worked with Picnik?  If so, are you pleased with the photo editing results?  Got any tips for us amateurs?