Sunday, January 25, 2015

Ten Must Haves For FGS/RootsTech 2015 - What To Bring

FGS Mobile App and RootsTech Mobile App (Google Play Store)

This week on Society Sunday, a few things to bring with you to Salt Lake City.

Comfortable Shoes – you will be walking around at your hotel, you will be walking to and around the Salt Palace, and you will be walking around Salt Lake City (SLC) checking out shops and restaurants. Although SLC has great public transportation – the area we will be in is flat and just lends itself to walking. So make sure you have comfortable shoes (and watch the weather forecasts – you might need your snow boots). But rest assured that the snow removal folks are out and about soon after any snow falls and I have always found the sidewalks are cleared quickly.

Layers for your Clothing – the temperature of the rooms at the Salt Palace, your hotel, and the Family History Library (FHL) will fluctuate. There is nothing worse than being too hot or too cold – you won’t be able to focus on what you are doing. Dress in layers so that you can be relaxed and comfortable. I also bring along those little cushioned socks – whether you are walking around in your hotel room, walking down the hallways, or working away with the microfilm in a cubby at the FHL, the socks come in handy.

SmartPhone – great for so many things including taking photos, scanning documents, recording your thoughts, and finding directions to restaurants and shops. Make sure you take the time now to learn how to use any of those apps you added for this trip but haven't tried out yet. The last thing you want to do is waste your time figuring out how to take photos, scans, use the gps/map app, or use the QR code feature. Make sure to use the lock feature on your smartphone (especially if you have personal information you don't want to share) and put your contact information on the owner information or personal message screen in case you and your phone get separated.

Conference Mobile Apps - be sure to download the mobile apps for RootsTech and FGS and spend a bit of time thinking about your schedule. Are there speakers you want to hear (no matter the topic)? Are there topics that are important to your 2015 research focus? In addition to a Plan A, have a Plan B. Know your limits – why are you attending FGS/RootsTech? If part of the reason is to meet other genealogists and network, give yourself enough breaks and opportunities to relax and visit. Do not over-schedule yourself so that you don’t take the time to learn something new from world-class presenters, engage with other family historians and genealogists, research at FHL, and just experience SLC. This is not the week for your new exercise program (unless it is walking) or your diet – give yourself a few breaks throughout the day to recharge your batteries.

Genealogy (or business) Cards & Address Labels – part of the fun of any conference is meeting up with old friends and making new friends. Bring along your genealogy cards – it is enough to have your name and email and your social media information. Some list their areas or locations of research or surnames in their family files. Genealogy cards are great to exchange (make a note on the card of something that stands out about the person to help jog your memory after the conference). Exhibitors might want your information and/or have drawings- again the genealogy card or your address label on their forms can be useful and save you time and effort during the conference.

Gadgets, Plug-ins and Charging Cords –give some thought to how you work best (is it using your tablet or smartphone OR using pen and paper) and then go with it. Only bring what you think you will use and when in doubt, bring less. RootsTech has kiosks for you to download and print the session syllabi so why not take advantage of that benefit (especially if you decide to change or add to your session choices). I find that I remember more and am a bit more thoughtful about my notes if I write them and so bring a journal and pens for that purpose. I also use a version of the Cornell note-taking system to take my notes. Remember this is about learning and interacting (be an active learner and remember that each of the speakers provided a syllabus so you should already have an outline to work with for any of your sessions). I always summarize my notes – the 2 or 3 aha moments I took away from each session (either during a break or later that night I record my thoughts on my smartphone).

A Few Sheets of Colored Paper – I learned this lesson the first time I went to the FHL. When viewing microfilm if you have a piece of light colored paper on the film table, for whatever reason, it makes the film pop and makes the words and writing easier to read. Trust me – it works.

Eye Drops and Mints – The only time I need eye drops is when I am in SLC - it might be the combination of the microfilm reader and the climate, but it is easier to have them from the get go, rather than trying to find them once you need them. Mints come in handy (quieter than chewing gum and they freshen your breath) - enough said.

Lock for your Laptop – If you are bringing your laptop to the FHL be sure to also bring a lock for it (the FHL desks and tables are set up for them) AND know how to use the lock with your laptop. It is better to be safe than sorry and keep in mind that no one wants their trip ruined by losing their laptop or all their work.

A Smile and a Sense of Adventure – It will be an overwhelming and exhausting couple of days AND it will be exhilarating and great fun. Be willing to try something new (either a session or a meal) and realize that the internet will be spotty, the Exhibit Hall will be busy, you won’t get into some sessions as they will fill up before you get there (remember Plan B?), you will oversleep one morning, you will have forgotten something, and something will go wrong. However, if you go into FGS/RootsTech 2015 with the attitude that you are going to have fun, learn, meet some new friends, and enjoy yourself whatever the day brings – you will.  

I am packing my comfortable shoes, my eye drops, my journal and pens, my genealogy cards and my sense of adventure. I think I will wear my smile on the plane and practice my good attitude from the get go. See you soon in Salt Lake City!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

High Octane Fuel (Food & Drink While At FGS/RootsTech 2015)

It's Society Sunday
Although I came late to the game, I am an FGS Ambassador. Over the next 4 Sundays I will be posting about getting ready for FGS/RootsTech 2015. It is less than a month away - yikes! The good folks at FGS sent out some January prompts - they are all about where to eat, what to pack, and what sessions to attend. So let’s get right to it with my favorite subject - food!

Where to Eat – I have not been to Salt Lake City in the past few years so I don’t have any “must try” spots for you. I have spent a little time with Google Maps (figuring out distances from where I am staying to the Salt Palace to the various restaurants and shops within walking distance). I suggest that you meet up with others and have lunch or dinner out and please include some new genealogy friends rather than hang with the people you already know and always meet up with. Eating out is more about the company than the food but make sure you try something local (at least once during your visit). There are sandwich shops, bakeries, and some restaurants right around the Salt Palace – be willing to take a walk (always good for you) and check them out.

My only advice is that you need to remember to take a break and eat. If you are not a breakfast person, make sure you have a few snacks so you can refuel during the morning. If you are a breakfast person – get it together early enough so that you are not rushed. The same thing applies to lunch and dinner. So many times I saw researchers at the FHL or attendees at SLIG in such a hurry to get back to the library or get in a few more classes or wander through an exhibit area that they took all of 15-20 minutes to eat and went back into the fray. Please don’t be that person.

Have something healthy for breakfast – if your room has a refrigerator - great, take advantage of picking up a few items (I always buy orange juice, yogurt, fruit, almond milk, and half n half at a nearby grocery store). I am a coffee drinker so I bring Medaglia D’Oro instant espresso and Starbucks Via packets. Perhaps you are a tea drinker or a cocoa drinker – plan ahead as more than likely you will have a coffee maker/hot water maker in your room.  I have a hard time with breakfast so I usually shake up Carnation Instant Breakfast with some yogurt and almond milk. 

Have your water bottle with you throughout the day - it is a good idea. I bring along individual packets of Crystal Light Mango Green Tea and Lemonade because plain old water gets a bit boring. Whatever you do, stay hydrated. I always like to walk around outside during the lunch hour – it  gives me a bit of fresh air and exercise after spending the morning sitting and learning. If you can find a walking partner, all the better!

My preference for lunch is something light (otherwise I will definitely nod off during the afternoon sessions) so soup or a half sandwich and small salad combination works for me. I have never been to the Salt Palace so I don’t know about their food – I am sure someone will fill us in on that front. I did sign up for one FGS luncheon (although I need to check my registration to recall which one!).

On to snacks – I am a huge fan of almonds, dried cranberries and dark chocolate chips and make up my own snack bags. If I plan ahead I might pick up a few bars (I am partial to Lara or Kind bars) but whatever works for you is what you should bring.

The payoff here is if I have been relatively healthy during the day – good breakfast, light lunch, healthy snacks and a bit of walking in SLC, well then I feel pretty good about having a nice dinner out and visiting with other genealogists and family historians over a glass of wine or a bottle of beer. Hopefully we can meet up and talk about genealogy software, one-name studies, one-place studies, research brick-walls, all those gadgets we brought to make our library experience fun and high tech, or how we find the time to get anything else done with this obsession called family history. I enjoy Mexican, Italian, Greek, Chinese, German & Thai food so if you have any suggestions, let me know! 

What to Do - So, will I see you in Salt Lake City in February 2015? I sure hope so – many of you I know virtually and I can’t wait to meet you in person. I have not decided on the sessions I plan to attend – that is a project for next week and I will share my choices in a future blog.  Reminder that the early discount registration deadline is Friday, January 23 – if you haven’t registered yet, well what are you waiting for?

I am presenting at RootsTech on “Who Does That? – An Introduction to One-Name (surname) Studies.”  If you have thought about doing surname research (either locally, nationally or globally), have started a one-name study, or just want to learn a bit more about surnames - why not attend my session on Friday, February 13th and learn how to get started. 

Last week I sent off the informational flyers for the Guild of One-Name Studies – they will be in the FGS Society Showcase at the Exhibit Hall. Some of our Guild members will be stopping by the FGS Society Showcase to meet up with any of you who stop by, answer questions about global and/or surname research, and just visit at, what I think will be, one of the most informative booths at the Exhibit Hall (I have New York, Vermont, Nebraska & Washington, as well as Ireland, Sweden & Norway on my list for groups and societies to check out!). 

I have signed up to attend Dear Myrtle's after FGS/RootsTech 2015 dinner, so if we miss each other during the week I hope to meet you on Saturday evening.

Next Sunday – I’ll fill you in on what I pack (and what I do not to bring) to SLC. I have been to SLC before and definitely have learned some lessons. In the meantime, what tips do you have for meals and snacks (oh hopefully your room has a microwave - did I forget about popcorn late in the evening - yum!!) and where are your favorite restaurants in SLC?