If you have a chance to attend any NGS Conference (next year's will be in Nashville, Tenn.), try to take advantage of at least one of the GenTech Division's offerings. You'll find classes or workshops with titles such as, "Jump Start Your Family Tree Online," "Using Personal Ancestral Files with Other Church Software," "Sourcing an Unsourced GEDCOM File," "Using PDAs in Your Research," and "Mapping Your Ancestors Electronically." And there are many more.
Here are just a few gleanings from those who have attended one or the other of these conferences.
One of the Web sites I plan to visit very soon is www.GenSmarts.com. I hope you have been aware of the valuable research guidance given online at familysearch.
org. This is considered "artificial intelligence" in computer lingo. The "artificial" part is not used in connection with its "phony" connotation, but because it utilizes computerized intelligence without direct interaction with a human being. GenSmarts is a new software program that can be downloaded from its Web site and works with nine different genealogy programs as well as GEDCOM files.
Run your database through this program and it analyzes your research, recognizes missed data and then recommends places to search to find what is missing. To demonstrate what is possible, Alan E. Mann, AG (whose Web site www.alanmann.com/byu/new.
htm provides access to the syllabus for some of his presentations and links to new computerized genealogy sites), put his own 62,000-name database through GenSmarts. It came up with 12,000 (!) suggestions that included provision of on-line links that could be helpful.
GenSmarts also provides suggestions regarding more than 100 online catalogs and record repositories. Included also are more than 50,000 specific records from many sources, including the Family History Library Catalog.
I've had a request from a possible cousin who thinks we may connect through a FORMAN surname. GenSmarts may be just the place I need to visit to analyze what's already been done on this research and find out where else I can check to either make or disprove the connection.
Several software programs have been developed to work with Personal Ancestral File (PAF), the LDS Church's genealogy software (available for a free download at www.familysearch.org). One of them is PAF Insight, which can be downloaded from www.ohanasoftware.com.
This "insightful" program runs on your computer, but searches the Internet automatically, or as Alan Mann puts it, "automagically." Select an individual, family, or any portion of your PAF file and let the program find matches in the IGI and update your file with temple dates. The program has a number of non-Web related functions as well.
Latter-day Saints will find the following Web site helpful: http://freepages.genealogy.roots
web.com/~hughwallis. Here you can find the IGI Batch Number Search tool for the UK, USA, and Canada. It identifies more than 50,000 extraction batch numbers and lists them by state or county, then by town. Each batch number has a link that takes you to familysearch.org and fills out the batch number for you. You can then search IGI extractions by town.
For those seeking on-line historical records try using the ZapMeta search engine, a search tool that provide users the ability to simultaneously search multiple search engines under one interface.
It's hard to keep up with all the innovative Web sites, tools and software available to genealogists, but attempting to do so is usually well worth the time spent.