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Tools & Technology

I wrote this page to share the tools and software I find helpful in doing my projects, and managing life in general. One resource I found very helpful was an ebook entitled Live Simple. Description from his site: “With it, you can adopt tactics to reduce the clutter of your life, the complications of your daily routine, and your living costs in terms of time, energy, and money.” Certainly he doesn’t advocate buying a bunch of technology to simplify your life, but if you decide that using that technology (or owning it) is important to you in living out your life’s dreams and goals, then by all means buy wisely, and as he says “Rule Your Stuff”. It is important to me that I preserve and archive many family photos, and I enjoy researching and sharing our family history. So here you will see the things I use daily to plan, organize, manage, use and insure the things that are important to me.

  • Equipment
    • Computer: iMac G4 – a Valentine’s Day present in 2003. My favorite thing, by far!
    • Scanner: Epson Perfection 1250 – Another gift from Trip. He shopped around – this one has a transparency attachment, which I used for scanning slides, and it’s been well used for many projects.
    • Printer: Epson Stylus Color 740 – pretty decent at printing most things, but I hate buying ink for it! So expensive.
    • Digital Camera: Used to be the Casio Exilim 320Z. I loved this camera, and wore it in its case around my neck. Unfortunately it died suddenly for inexplicable reasons. I’m now using my father-in-law’s very nice Sony Cybershot 4.1 Megapixel. If only I would stop accidently turning off the camera each time I try to zoom in! I take out my memory stick, put it into a card reader and the photos are placed into iPhoto.
    • Digital Video Camera: An “old” Sony Digital Mini DV Handycam DCR-TRV20 It’s relatively compact, although hulking in comparison to today’s cameras. Still, it gets the job done! when I come home from an event, I plug it into my computer, and the movie can be automatically imported to iMovie for editing and burning to a DVD!
    • Webcam: iSight – a tiny camera I can use to have video chats (unfortunately hardly anyone I know has one, so I have no one to chat with : (
    • Cell Phone/Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) – Treo 650 – I had come to rely on my cell phone (for emergencies), but more so on my Palm Handspring (for the organization of contacts/calendar/lists). When both of them died within a short time, we started looking into an upgrade. We decided Trip would get a new Treo 700, and I inherited his old one, which suits me fine. I have a nice little holster that clips to my waistband. It holds all of my contacts/calendar/notes and can synchronize changes with my computer at the touch of a button. It also is a great phone, has a keyboard (no more annoying “graffiti”), even takes pictures! (crappy, but still). Unfortunately the touch screen has been iffy lately. Not enough to mean I am replacing it (can’t afford to anyway.) We got this at a cheaper price because we renewed our Verizon cell phone contract.
    • MP3 Player:  30G iPod – My free iPod! I LOVE my iPod! I already had a full library of music on my computer, and thousands of pictures in iPhoto. I take my iPod along to gatherings, and show slideshows of whatever suits the occasion. It may take a little fooling with someone’s VCR remote for a few minutes, but it’s been amazing being able to share my family photos with people whereever I go.
    • Sewing Machine: Bernina 1530 – I got this several years ago at a closeout sale at the fine sewing shop where I used to work. It was about $1200 if I recall, and at that point the most expensive thing I had ever bought. We bought it with a 0% financing plan and paid it off in a year. Worth Every Penny!!! It is my second favorite thing – every time I use it (not as often as I should) I am delighted with it. It’s smooth, fast, precise, easy, and has so many cool options for presser feet. My old machine (Kenmore from Sears) was working fine, but I was in the middle of a special job (making a slip for a Christening gown). I used the Bernina at work and came home to the Kenmore and all of a sudden I realized what I was missing. I highly recommend this machine!
  • Software
    • Media
      • Photoshop – I use this for photo editing
      • Apple Software:
        • iPhoto - photo organizing – Digital photos are automatically dated, but for those I scan and import, I record the dates, use keywords for my immediate family members, group relatives by common surnames, use smart albums to keep the pictures arranged by year, or person, or family, or event (Christmas, Birthdays, Halloween).
        • iMovie - movie editing – I’m sure professional video editors might turn up their noses, but I love this program. Even my first project looked professional and beautiful.
        • iDVD – dvd creation – the templates that come with this program are fantastic (again, I’m no pro, but I’ve made several fancy looking DVD movies as gifts, and wowed them every time!)
        • iTunes – music organization: Trip and I both imported our entire CD collections to our computers. iTunes does the work of categorizing and labeling the music. Then we ran a stereo out line from my computer to our stereo receiver, and now I can play my playlists straight from the computer. As an added bonus, I was able to trade in the CD’s (which were sitting in a box in my basement) for a free 30G ipod from Millenium Music!
      • MemoryMiner – This program creates digital stories by using data you add to photos like: the people in the photo, the place the photo was taken, the date of the photo, and any related media including sounds, movies, and websites.
      • Dreamweaver – the software I use to create my website
      • WordPress – the software I use to make this blog.  I’m still learning how to use it, and honestly a lot of things are cumbersome for me.  (For example, I can’t use the Visual HTML editor and easily post photos on the Blog.  I have to turn it off, or the Photos don’t post properly)
    • Productivity & Organization
      • Apple Software:
        • Address Book - I keep everyone’s addresses, phone numbers, emails, websites, birthdays, spouse names, even a little picture in this program, and it sychs with my cell phone so I have it with me always. Note: I have a major issue with this software in that it does not allow me to export Address Labels directly to a Word Processor to edit them the way I like to. For example, I like my Christmas Card labels to read: The Smith Family, whereas this program would make a label read like this: John Smith, Joan, Sue and Rob (if I had the spouse and child fields filled in). I made a workaround using an export to Microsoft Entourage and will include a link to it soon.
        • Mail - my email program
        • iChat – an instant messaging program that uses AOL Instant Messenger or .Mac user names to chat, even video chats!
          • iCal – my calendar program – I use it to set monthly reminders to do household chores, keep medical appointments, automatically read birthdays stored in my Address Book, and my husband Trip can subscribe to my calendars to get automatically updated on his!
          • Camino – my web browser.  Safari was annoying because too many pages didn’t work properly with it.  Firefox – same thing.  So far, Camino has worked most consistently.  Trip said it’s slow, but I haven’t noticed it.
          • iWork – includes
          • Pages – a page layout program – I really like the templates that come with this program, but it seems REALLY slow. Still, there’s very little learning curve to overcome, so it’s been handy.
            • Keynote – which is great for making presentations (like Powerpoint) only cuter…
            • Reunion – This is my Genealogy software program. You might say I use it to organize my relatives – I love this program and have used it for years. It keeps all of my research sources, makes customized reports to Word so I can share the research easily, and makes beautiful family trees and charts. I also used it to create my family tree website: Elliot’s Relatives.
            • Journler – I use this program to keep my diary. You can link photos and audio to it, and even export posts to a blog, but I had some issues with that. Still, it’s great for organizing my written memories.
            • Quicken for Mac – I use this to keep track of our finances. I could use it to do online banking, but after a major snafu in the past, I stick with paper records, but record and reconcile EVERY transaction.
            • Emergency Records Organizer – this is part of my Quicken Program, an easy way to record all of our account information in one place. It’s something nearly everyone says they have to do someday, but it’s so hard to think about undertaking. Thankfully, this program makes it easy!
            • Filemaker Pro – It’s a database program. I use this program for two things:
                • Managing my food co-op ordering
                • Keeping our home inventory – it came with a free database template for this! I opened up the template and walked around the house with a notebook recording items of value in each room, taking pictures as I went. Then, using the folders I keep in my file cabinet with the users manuals to all of our stuff, the records for purchases (which I keep in Quicken) and the paper receipts (which I file and store by month) I started recording all of the things we would be attempting to recover if our house ever burned to the ground.
              • Palm Software
                • Lifebalance – software for Palm, I use it on my Treo and my computer desktop. From their site: provides a dynamically ordered To Do List driven by the importance of your goals, your desired allocation of time and effort, and feedback from what you get done each day.
                • Splash Shopper - A free program!  I keep a grocery list on my Treo, with a desktop version at home (but I don’t use the desktop version often).  Ideally, when we are running low on an item, Trip & I record it on our wipe-off board on the fridge.  Even more ideally, I would plan a menu for the week, and note the needed items. Then I could click “Show All Items” and mark the checkboxes by those items.  Then while out shopping, I select the store, display “Needed Items” and those items are in order by name (or aisle, or category).  Then I check them off as I go.  I have a lot of improving to do in the menu planning area.  It has customizeable lists for Groceries, Movies, Books (great for recording books I want to borrow through Inter Library Loan), Wishlists, etc.
                • Missing Sync – this program is what I use to make sure my computer’s Address Book, Calendar, Shopping List, Memo Pad, & Photos are always synchronized.  The memo pad is great for small notes I want to keep handy.
                • Splash ID – all locked under password, a great place to organize all my passwords, on the Treo and on my desktop computer.
                • Tide Tool – great for me, as I live 3 blocks from the ocean – I can download the tide charts and always know when the best time to hit the beach with the kids.

        One Response to “Tools & Technology”

        1. on 05 Apr 2008 at 8:07 am Kathryn

          So glad to meet another Mac person who loves Reunion! Isn’t the carnival of genealogy a great way to meet new people with the same interests?

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