Showing posts with label Kindle. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Kindle. Show all posts

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Kindle Fire for Genealogy Podcasts

It's no secret that I'm a fan of the Kindle Fire. I also enjoy listening to genealogy podcasts and internet radio shows about genealogy. I've had a lot of hit and miss success and failures in finding a Kindle app that successfully manages podcast listening. After using the BeyondPod app for several weeks, I can wholeheartedly endorse this for genealogists, blog readers and news junkies (all groups of which I am a member!). The unlock key for the app is $6.99 and, in my opinion, well worth it.

The app is very intuitive (which is good since I'm not big on reading instruction manuals). Users can create unlimited categories for the podcast or RSS feeds. For example, some of mine are Genealogy (duh!), News, Entertainment, Science and Technology, Business and Finance, among others. In the News feeds, I especially like that I can view a network evening newscast in excellent quality in 20 minutes with no commercial interruptions.

The app already has some pre-determined feeds. If you don't care for their selection, it is easy to delete them. The app also has a search feature that helps you locate podcast feeds and blog feeds. Especially nice is that you can locate a podcast on the internet, locate the URL of the RSS feed, paste that into the BeyondPod app and the podcast or blog will feed directly into the app.

In addition to audio content, this app also manages video feeds.

I still prefer Google Reader for the majority of my blog subscriptions, but I've duplicated a few of them in the BeyondPod app.

With most of the feeds, you have an option of downloading or streaming and you can decide how many episodes to keep on your device at a time. Unlike a lot of apps, you really do have total control on how you manage your content.

The following genealogy podcasts and radio shows are those that I have successfully added to BeyondPod:

Some of these podcasts are updated more regularly than others. But if I haven't heard them, they are still new to me!

I'm sure there are other genealogy podcasts to choose from. If you have some to recommend, please list them in the Comments section below.

Update: Here are some instructions on using this app.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Kindle for Genealogy Facebook Group

Are you passionate about genealogy? Are you passionate about your Kindle? If so, the Kindle for Genealogy Facebook group is for you! In only a week, we have more than 50 genea-kindle-aholics participating in the discussion. We are sharing recommendations on ebooks for genealogy, apps we use for genealogy, troubleshooting tips and more. Come share in the fun!

Kindle for Genealogy Facebook group

and check out our

Kindle for Genealogy Links (pdf file)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Kindle Fire - Not Just for Books

I've been exploring my Kindle Firefor a week now and continue to be amazed, amused and entertained by what it has to offer. I was already an enthusiastic user of the Kindle Keyboardand its amazing capacity for electronic and audio books. As much as I love books, movies and music, I've been looking to the future with a desire to downsize my massive collections of books, DVDs and CDs. The Kindle Fire became an obvious choice to help me in this process.

Since 1995, I've had a great deal of brand name loyalty to The online retailer is the first place I ever visit when I am interested in a product and probably end up making my purchase from Amazon well over 90 percent of the time. I probably feel about Amazon the way other people feel about Apple. I've just never embraced Apple products, which may help explain my enthusiasm for the Kindle Fire. This post may come off sounding like a big promotion for Amazon, but it's difficult to write a review regarding the Kindle Fire without addressing the content and services available from this retailer.

Music in the Cloud

For me, as an Amazon consumer, the big selling point of the Kindle Fire is the access to my media content via the cloud. Earlier this year, Amazon introduced cloud storage for not only computer files, but for music files. Right now, I have about the equivalent of a large clothes closet crammed full of CDs and DVDs. I took advantage of the early promotions to get 20 gb of cloud storage for a year. With the promotions, I think this cost me about $5, and certainly it was no more than $10. Regular price for my plan is $20/year and music files do not count toward the 20 gb. Any mp3 music purchased from Amazon may be stored directly to the cloud drive - or downloaded to my computer at the time of purchase or later. So far, I have more than 2,000 songs stored on my Amazon cloud drive and I've barely started uploading all of my music.

Music is, and always has been, a big part of my life, so it's really nice to have my music collection available to play songs in the background on any computer, anywhere, with the Amazon Cloud Player. The Cloud Player is also available for Android devices.


For the last year, I have absolutely loved being able to carry more than 300 ebooks on my Kindle Keyboard - right in my purse. There are thousands of free ebooks available on Amazon, Google Books and other online sources. It's great for transferring PDF files of those old county history books to a portable device. The Kindle Keyboard has been promoted for having "e-Ink" display - which comes close to resembling the printed page. There is no glare in direct sunlight. I've found it very comfortable to read books on the Kindle Keyboard. The Kindle Fire has a back lit display that more closely resembles a computer screen. So far, I've found reading on the Kindle Fire just as comfortable on my eyes as the Kindle Keyboard. In fact, the Kindle Fire would be my preference in a low-light situation. You could actually read a book in an unlit room with the Kindle Fire. Even with a portable light, it's extremely difficult to read the Kindle Keyboard in a dark environment.

Movies and Other Video Content

Just to give you an idea of the type of movie fan I am, over the years, I've managed to collect every film awarded the Best Picture Oscar. But I'm not a film snob, I can enjoy something like Vegas Vacation just as much as Citizen Kane.

More than a year ago, I started a 30-day free trial of Amazon Prime. Interesting marketing technique: pay $75/year to get Free shipping. Well, I purchase enough from that I liked the idea of getting my merchandise in two days as compared to 10 days when I selected the normal 'free' shipping method.

Perhaps knowing that the Kindle Fire was on its way, Amazon made an ingenious move by including online viewing of thousands of movies and television programs available at no additional charge to subscribers of Prime. I'm not saying that watching a movie on my laptop or the Kindle Fire can be compared to watching on my HD television. But for catching up on films I may have missed or re-watching some of my favorites, I find the streaming quality quite acceptable. The availability of this content for $75/year is a good selling point.  This is $6.25/month average, compared to the Netflix online viewing subscription, which is advertised at $7.99, but with tax runs about $8.50.

Last weekend, I rented Larry Crowne, the new film with Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts. Rental from Amazon was $3.99 and streaming quality on the Kindle Fire was fine. Right now, the Beatles' first feature film, A Hard Day's Night, is playing on the Kindle Fire as I compose this blog post. This particular film is via my Netflix subscription, using the Netflix app for the Kindle Fire. Again, excellent video and audio quality. On most of the films I've sampled, the audio is much better if you use ear buds or other type of headphone device.

For most videos from Amazon, you may pay to rent a film or television show for 24 hour or 48 hour rental; some titles are available to purchase and download. Purchases may be downloaded to the Kindle Fire (or your computer), yet they remain stored in the Cloud on Amazon. You can easily move your media content back and forth between the Kindle Fire and the Cloud. I downloaded my purchased copy of All the President's Men to my Kindle Fire. Again, the quality is great. As I frequently have overnight travel for my "day job," I like this feature because much of the time, there's not much to interest me on motel room TV channels.

As mentioned in one of my earlier posts in this series, I've been able to watch Legacy Family tree webinars and other genealogy videos on the Kindle Fire. My friend, Jenna Mills of Desperately Seeking Surnames, told me that the iPad does not play any videos using Flash. So this may be one area where the Kindle Fire has a leg up on the iPad.


Applications for the Kindle Fire are designed for Android devices. There are thousands available, many for free, many for a low price. I've been playing around with these applications a lot this week (which probably explains why I've only read about 50 pages of book content!).

Being a news junkie, I've selected a few apps that access the mobile feeds from many news providers. My favorite is US Newspapers by Langtolang Inc. It comes with links to major providers already included, such as CNN, People, USA Today. I've added my local newspapers and other news providers as well. This one is Free.

A Radio app I like is called TuneIn radio. Not only does it include all of my local radio stations, but also any station in the world that has online streaming. So - I can transport myself to Nashville, L.A. London or Sydney with just a tap on my Kindle Fire. I can't imagine how giddy this would have made me when I was 13!

Many apps for social media are available. I've set up some that will notify me of incoming email in both Gmail and Yahoo Mail. With TweetCaster, I have finally embraced the power of Twitter. On a mobile device, this social networking tool finally makes sense to me in a way it never did using it online or even with Tweet Deck.

Weather, news, sports, music, games - there's dozens of apps to appeal to anyone's taste. I even tried out Angry Birds, but it just doesn't move fast enough for me!

I have also signed-up for trial subscriptions to Smithsonian and Vanity Fair magazines. The reading apps for these magazines provide the option of reading an article at a time by tapping on the table of contents, or you can scan through the pages just as if it were the printed magazine, complete with ads.

What I am hopefully optimistic about is that the genealogy companies will be developing apps for the Kindle Fire. Let's hope that will be coming out with an app similar to what they have created for the iPad.

A few words about battery life

For casual web browsing, game playing, reading and listening to music, you can expect the Kindle Fire to go about eight hours. Turning off the WiFi while reading a book will add some time. I've found that a full recharge from about 10 percent battery life to 100 percent takes about four hours. You can continue to use the Kindle Fire while the device is being recharged. The AC adapter/wall charger that comes with the Kindle Fire may not provide a long enough cord in some settings.

Please note than live streaming a movie over WiFi runs down the internal rechargeable battery very quickly. But a fully charged device should easily last through a feature length film.

The Downside - maybe, maybe not

When making a purchasing decision, someone who has the need to be connected to the internet 24/7 may feel restricted by the Kindle Fire being a WiFi only device. This is not a deterrent to me. I will primarily be using the online connection while at home, over my own WiFi network. There is more than enough reading, music and game playing on the device to occupy me during those long periods in waiting rooms and other brief times when I'm just passing time. I can easily connect once I'm back in WiFi territory. My guess is that future versions of the Kindle Fire may come with wireless connectivity.

Related posts from

Kindle Fire For Genealogy

Kindle Fire - Tablet or eReader? First Look

Kindle for Genealogy

Kindle for Genealogy Redux

Disclaimer: links to are via my affiliate relationship with the site.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Kindle Fire for Genealogy

Yesterday's blog post was about my first experiences with the new Kindle Fire. Based on reader comments and the fact that this is, after all, a blog about genealogy, today's post will focus on genealogy uses for the Kindle Fire.

At this time, genealogy-specific apps do not appear to be available for the Kindle Fire. I expect that will change in the coming weeks. In the meantime, Kindle Fire users have access to all of their favorite web sites, such as,, FindAGrave (and for me, about 300 more). The sites appear just as you are used to seeing them, just on a 7" screen. However, you can turn the device to landscape mode or use your fingers to make the type on the page appear larger. This technique does not work on mobile-enhanced pages. Bottom line is that once I have become accustomed to managing my viewing space, I am able to read any web site fairly easily.

The Home Screen of the Kindle Fire
Books, documents and apps apear
on a virtual bookshelf  with most recent first.
Amazon is completely honest when they talk about ultra-fast web browsing with their "Silk" browser. Surfing the 'net is much faster than my laptop or netbook, which makes it my new device of choice for surfing and reading. As I mentioned yesterday, the mobile views allow me to scan through blog posts in Google Reader, Facebook, Twitter and check email in much less time than ever before.

Access to the internet also means that I have access to all of the files in my Dropbox folder whenever I have WiFi access.

As with the Kindle 3 that I've been using for more than a year, the Kindle Fire also serves as a large capacity USB drive. I'm able to transfer files to my Kindle Fire via drag and drop.

I recently created an Adobe PDF file of my ancestors from Family Tree Maker, so I dragged and dropped it into the documents folder of my Kindle Fire. It's nice to have some of those reports and other resources available if you're on a spur of the moment library or cemetery trip and don't have your mountain of paper with you.

You'll also see in the photo that I have the Kindle version of the Family Tree Sourcebook. More genealogy titles have become available for the Kindle in the past year, including books by Megan Smolenyak, George Morgan, and others. When I first got my Kindle 3 last year, only a handful of genealogy titles were available; now a search has more than 1,000 titles. Many of these are self-published eBooks and family histories. One of the first genealogy Kindle books I purchased was Approaching the Lectern: How to Become a Genealogy Speakerby Geneabloggers' Thomas MacEntee. And just this month, Amy Coffin of the We Tree genealogy blog published her excellent resource for bloggers, The Big Genealogy Blog Book. Even if you don't own a Kindle device, you can order and read these books right on your computer.

As a teller of family history stories, I always have in the back of my mind the publishing of a family history ebook. Just get the information "out there" and available to other family historians. With electronic publishing so easily available, anyone can publish their genealogy books with little overhead.

I've also test driven the Kindle with Legacy Family Tree webinars. The sound and video quality is great. The wealth of instructional genealogy videos available on YouTube is at your fingertips. Anything you've accessed on the web is readily available for viewing on the Kindle Fire.

Catch up on your genealogy reading
PDF files transfer easily to the Kindle.
Recently, I made use of an incredible sale at Family Tree magazine, where I purchased four years of digital issues on CD. The CDs arrived this week and I've placed the PDF files on my computer. With the simple drag and drop feature, I have now moved the magazines to my Kindle. What easier way to catch up on my genealogy reading than to have all of these back issues in my purse?

As I mentioned in last year's post, you can also use the Kindle to house those 800 page county histories that you find on Google books and other web sites. At 14.6 ounces, the Kindle weighs a lot less than those dusty old books. And without that "old-book" smell!

Speaking of the weight, the Kindle Fire weighs more than my Kindle 3 at 8.5 ounces. This was an adjustment, since my older model is very lightweight. Even though under a pound, I'm finding the Kindle Fire is becoming easier to hold. It's just something to get used to.

Will I be sending my Kindle 3 to the Technology Graveyard? Not anytime soon. In a future post, I will address the differences between the two devices and how there is still room for them both in my life.

Related posts from

Kindle Fire - Tablet or eReader? First Look

Kindle for Genealogy

Kindle for Genealogy Redux

Disclaimer: links to are via my affiliate relationship with the site.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Kindle Fire - Tablet or eReader? - First Look

If you've been wondering why I haven't been blogging for a few days, it's because there's a new love in my life - the Kindle Fire.Having been the owner and fan of the Kindle 3since it was introduced last year, it was with great anticipation that I counted down the days to the arrival of the new, much-hyped version of's tech baby.

My Kindle Fire arrived on Wednesday and I have experienced loss of sleep for several nights, information overload, the giddiness of a schoolgirl crush and absolutely no regrets about kicking it up a notch with my new eReader. Or is it a tablet? Or maybe an oversized smart phone without the phone?

Actually, it's all of the above. And more. Over the next few days, I will be blogging about my experiences with the Kindle Fire, making a side-by-side comparison to the Kindle 3 (now being called the Kindle Keyboard), sharing some of my favorite apps, and last, and by no means least, using the Kindle Fire for genealogy.

Out of the box, it's pretty simple. Just the device and the AC adapter. And a small piece of cardboard with an instruction on where to locate the power on button and to glide your finger across the screen to activate the device.

Tapping as fast as I can

Okay, confession time. I don't have a smart phone, don't have an iPad or iPod touch, so this touch-screen technology is all new to me. When I first had to use a mouse with a computer, I resisted, "I'm a keyboard person!" I insisted. The first days of using the Kindle Fire was adjusting to "tapping" instead of clicking. I'm still perfecting my tapping skills.

My first obstacle was to log-in to my wireless router. How DO I enter my password?? I struggled with this for at least 45 minutes until, entirely by mistake, the touch keyboard appeared at the bottom of the screen. It would have saved me a lot of time had that little cardboard instruction sheet said to tap the bottom of the screen to activate the navigation menu and keyboard. Please do not assume I know these things! And I even consider myself a gadget geek.

I had to make some password changes on my wireless router, restarted the Kindle Fire, and finally had access to my WiFi network. Here's where I should mention that the Kindle Fire accesses the internet only by WiFi, unlike a smartphone and some iPads which require a paid plan (or so I'm told). This is no different from my Kindle 3.

Books, books and more books

A few apps were preloaded on the device, so I logged in to my Facebook account. I test drove a few familiar web sites, then began downloading my Kindle books from my Amazon library (Cloud) to my Kindle Fire (Device). Over the past year I've accumulated close to 400 books for my Kindle. No, that didn't cost me a small fortune. I'm a big fan of FREE. If you like free ebooks for your Kindle or Nook, I recommend subscribing to the Free eBook Deal blog - they provide daily links to free books to feed your hunger for reading. You can also follow them on Facebook.

So, with a few taps, I began the process of downloading my existing ebook collection from my Amazon library to my device. All of my online cloud content from Amazon is at my fingertips as long as I have WiFi access, but I can download my books and music at will. I can remove my content from my device and it's still stored in the cloud on Amazon.

This morning I used an app for (now an Amazon company) to access my library of audio books. I've started downloading several of my audio books to my Kindle Fire. The app is extremely easy to use, although it took me a while to get account and password recognition - that may have just been due to my less than perfect skills on the tap-keyboard.

Social networking and blog reading

Facebook. Twitter. GooglePlus. Google Reader. All of these are part of my daily routine. And I get behind. Outrageously behind. Two days without checking the blogs I follow in Google Reader and I have 700-800 posts that have accumulated.

This is where the Kindle Fire is going to make my blog reading time much more efficient.

I maintain folders for different types of blogs that I read. My favorite "must read" bloggers are in my "A-MR Blogs" folder. When I have no time to read everything, this is the folder of blog posts that I always read.

In the mobile version of Google Reader, only 15 blog posts are displayed at a time. I can read the ones I select (I'm a headline/title reader, so if you don't grab my attention there, I move on). After perusing the 15 posts on my screen, I can mark them all as read and move on to the next 15. This has made my blog reading so much more efficient than on my PC. So, from now on, ALL of my blog reading in Google Reader will definitely be done on the Kindle Fire.

Facebook is pretty much the same as on my computer, except that I just get the news feeds and not the extraneous ads that appear on the right hand side of the screen. Nice! The icons to "tap" for notifications and messages are very small and difficult for me to "tap". This needs some refinement or perhaps the purchase of a stylus for me.

But when it comes to Twitter, this is where I see the real difference between the web and mobile. Those of you with smartphones are probably already aware of this. Using an app called TweetCaster, I now "get" why people like Twitter. Twitter is clearly intended for the mobile user and it's quick and easy to browse through tweets on the Kindle Fire. Tapping on the Kindle keyboard is still much too frustrating for me to do much tweeting from the device, but I'll certainly use it for reading tweets.

This is just a quick look at the new Kindle Fire. I'll be back with more about my experiences in the coming days.

Related posts from

Kindle for Genealogy

Kindle for Genealogy Redux

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Free books to aid your genealogy business

I've made no secret of the fact that I love my Kindle e-book reader and the many uses it provides for genealogy, as well as pleasure reading  (and games).

One of the aspects of being a Kindle owner that I really love is the ability to get dozens - even hundreds - of free books from And you don't even have to own a Kindle to be able to read these books. Amazon offers applications that allow you to read these free books on your PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone, Blackberry, Android and Windows Phone.

Something I've noticed over the last six months is that the genealogy content available for Kindle has skyrocketed with many ebook self publishers making their guides and manuals available for the Kindle for fairly low prices. Some of these are certainly better than others. From about a dozen titles, a search for "family history" now results in more than 3,000 titles.

Free ebooks for business

One of my favorite pages to follow is Free Ebook Deal. Visit them on Facebook and Twitter. What I'd like to share today are some of the free ebooks that may aid you with your genealogy business or hobby with ideas for social networking, marketing, promotion, organizing your business and public speaking. Try these out for a test drive - what have you got to lose? They're free!

How To Publish An Ebook On A Budget

Goal Setting: Discover What You Want in Life and Achieve It Faster than You Think Possible

PR 2.0: New Media, New Tools, New Audiences

UnSelling: Sell Less ... To Win More'

Making your eBook

Be Your Own Editor

The Truth About the New Rules of Business Writing

Publish on Amazon Kindle with Kindle Direct Publishing

These are just a few of the hundreds of free ebooks available that may help with your business and marketing strategies. At this time, I've not had time to actually read all of them, so you will need to decide if any of the titles are of value to you.

At this writing, all of these ebooks were available free from Any price is subject to change at a later date. Even while composing this post, I discovered that many of the titles I had obtained for free now have a charge associated with them. One thing I've learned - if you see a free title listed on Facebook that you might be interested in, grab it as soon as you can - many of these books are available free only for a few hours or a few days.

If you have other free ebooks to recommend, please leave a suggestion in the comments section below.

Enjoy reading!

Disclaimer: these product links are via my affiliate agreement with

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Most Viewed Blog Posts of the Year

As 2010 draws to a close, all of the media seems to be doing a "year in review" and I thought it would be interesting to see what blog posts on had the most views during the year - at least since the time that Blogger began tracking this information in May.

It was no surprise to me that the posts that were most popular with my readers were not those about my family or my discoveries or success stories, but rather those posts that were of more general interest to the genealogist-at-large. Product reviews seemed to get the most readership on this blog.

Coming out at the top of the list, tied with the same number of views, were the two-parts of my review of the Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner. About one fourth of the people who viewed these posts were referred via the link to this blog from Flip-Pal's official site.

Flip-Pal Review - Miracle in Minutes - Part 1

Flip Pal Review - Part 2

Several weeks ago, I changed the focus of my Follow Friday blog posts to what I call "Around the Blogosphere." Each week, I label my favorite posts in my Google Reader, review each of those posts on Friday and select the ones I enjoyed the most to share in this feature. The post receiving the most views in this category was from the December 24 edition. This was clearly due to the fact that Randy Seaver of Geneamusings took the week off from his "Best of . . ." series and referred people over here and to Greta's Genealogy Blog. Thanks, Randy! I also appreciate it that Randy always spells my last name correctly! A good trait for a genealogist!

The next two most viewed posts had to do with my enthusiasm for using the Kindle e-Book reader for genealogy:

The original post, Kindle for Genealogy appeared in September and last week, I posted Kindle for Genealogy Redux when I discovered another use for the Kindle so that I can carry my charts and family group sheets - and photos - on my Kindle.

Another Follow Friday post that received a lot of traffic was my review of five of Family Tree magazines best free web sites. That was a fun task for me - to test drive some web sites I had not visited before, see what they had to offer and share my findings with blog readers.

Next on the list was an article I wrote about managing and organizing digital files. I need to re-read that one myself because it seems like I have files and folders all over my various computer drives the last couple months. I need to take my own advice!

Another in the most visited list was my post on the first blogiversary of I worked on this post for several weeks because I knew it would be a one-time post and I really wanted to include the highlights of the year. So many incredible things have occurred this year in my genealogy and blogging world and I wanted to share my excitement and enthusiasm with my new found friends. My thanks to everyone who read the post and left their congratulatory comments. Those really meant a lot to me.

A post I wrote called Why Do Singles Do Genealogy? also created some great discussion among blog readers.

Where do readers of live?

Don't worry. Blogger doesn't tell me WHO you are or specifically where you live. It just provides statistics on the countries of origin of site visitors. Also not surprising is that the overwhelming number of blog readers reside in the United States, followed by the U.K., South Korea, Russia, Germany, Australia, Netherlands, Slovenia, and Malta.

I get by with a little help from my friends

Many blog readers wind up here by clicking on a link from another site. Topping the list of referring URLs is my own domain, - no surprise there.

Next, I once again give a tip of the hat to Randy Seaver of Geneamusings for sending visitors my way. I appreciate that Randy includes a link to my Around the Blogosphere list each week, but even more exciting is when Randy selects one of my posts for his "Best of . . ." lists. I've made that a time or two this year, so getting Randy's seal of approval is always a thrill. Thanks, Randy!

I've already mentioned that the Flip-Pal mobile scanner web site's link to my review of their product brings a lot of traffic to the blog.

The next site that sends readers my way is Geneabloggers. I am forever grateful to Thomas MacEntee for all he does for the growing community of people who write genealogy blogs. He is always available to answer my questions - especially those having to do with his area of expertise - technology and social networking. He is also a lot of fun in person. Thanks, Thomas, your support has really meant a great deal to me this year.

Last, and certainly not least, in the sites sending traffic here is Family History Expos. I was honored to have been selected as a blogger of honor for the Midwest Family History Expo in Kansas City in July. It was an amazing opportunity to meet my fellow bloggers and make new friends. Holly Hansen and her team do a great job with these regional genealogy conferences and I'm looking forward to meeting up with the gang again in Overland Park in 2011. Thanks, Holly, and FHE!

2010 has been a wild ride and I am thankful for everyone who reads - whether it be on a regular basis or for that one post that strikes your fancy. It's truly a labor of love and I'd do it even if I was the only one reading it. Knowing that something I've written has helped inform or educate another person makes this truly rewarding. And, of course, there were those numerous long lost relatives with whom I connected this year. That was the best part of all.

Thanks again to readers of this blog. I look forward to another eventful 2011!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Kindle for Genealogy: Redux

JPG to Word to PDF
In September, I wrote about using the Amazon Kindle ebook reader for genealogy - primarily discussing genealogy books that have been formatted for the Kindle and transferring public domain books from Google Books to the Kindle.

Since my Kindle is always in my purse, it seemed like it was time to kick it up a notch (as Emeril Lagasse would say) and discover some more uses of the Kindle for genealogy.

The Kindle actually functions as a high capacity USB drive that can be connected to the USB port on your computer. Adobe PDF files are one of the many file formats that are compatible with the Kindle. That means that any file that can be converted to PDF can be transferred to your Kindle.

I use Microsoft Word for creating word processing documents. Any Word file can easily be converted to the PDF format once you download and install the Microsoft Add-In Save as PDFIt's a quick download, automatically installs in the entire suite of Microsoft products and it's Free! If you don't have this Add-In already, you definitely need it. Being able to convert files to PDF format really makes file sharing quick and easy because just about everyone has the Adobe Reader on their computer.

In the illustration above, I started with a jpg image file that I inserted into a Word document. I then saved the Word document to a PDF file, then copied the PDF file from my computer to my Kindle via the USB port. This only took a couple minutes. If you have numerous photos you would like to put on your Kindle for reference, you can easily insert one photo per page into Word and follow the same process. You will then have a multi page PDF document that you can scroll through on your Kindle.

Carry all of your Descendant Charts, Family Group Sheets and other reports on your Kindle

I use Family Tree Maker 2011 to manage my genealogy database. Within this software, I'm able to create a variety of printed reports. For me, the most used are the Descendant Chart and the Family Group Sheet. Family Tree Maker allows me to export these reports to a PDF file. I'm not that familiar with other software packages, but I imagine they have a similar feature (please comment below if you can provide information about other software packages).

Descendant Chart on my Kindle (landscape view)

In my Family Tree Maker software, I created a descendant chart on my great great grandfather, John Crispin Pecht, and within a couple minutes, the report was created.

I selected the "Export to PDF" option and in a minute or so, my PDF file was completed. I plugged in my Kindle to the USB port on my computer and copied the file.

Once my files are on my Kindle, I can organize them by Collections. In PC terms, that would be equivalent to creating a folder. The file names within that Collection (folder) are displayed. I can select the file I want to view on my Kindle.

The default display on the Kindle is full page, but since the font is too small for me to read the PDF file comfortably, I can change the orientation to landscape and I can easily read and scroll through my file. The Kindle also has a zoom feature which you may use. Since my report is in PDF format, the document is also fully searchable. So if I'm looking for a descendant named Ruby, I can use the Kindle keyboard and type in Ruby and locate all references to that name. That makes it very easy to find the information I am looking for.

As you add more information to your family tree, you can simply create new reports, export or save them as PDF files and transfer them to your Kindle, replacing the old file.

There are many advantages to putting your genealogy reports on your Kindle. Number one is portability. I thought my netbook and Flip-Pal scanner were the greatest things ever for portability and convenience. And they still are. But I don't carry those with me every day. By using my Kindle, I really can have as many genealogy reports as I want with me all the time. I already have 205 books on my Kindle and have barely used any of the storage space on the device. My Kindle Wi-Fi has the capacity for 3,500 books, so there's plenty of room left for me to upload as many genealogy reports as I will ever need.

I have no doubt that other genealogists also experience moments of spontaneity as I do - and discover you aren't prepared because you haven't really planned a research trip. But an idea strikes you as you are driving by a library, court house or cemetery and  you think, "I should stop there and look up . . ." But you don't have your database or binder or research notes with you. By putting your genealogy reports on your Kindle, you can have that information with you all the time and be able to take advantage of those spontaneous moments.

Having these reports on your Kindle is also handy when you meet up with family members. You can look up the information on the spot, even when you don't have your laptop or netbook with you.

Even though I've demonstrated how you can put family photos on your Kindle, I will acknowledge that there are other portable devices that are more appropriate for carrying around digital versions of your family photos. I just wanted to point out that it can be done.

Copying my genealogy reports to my Kindle gives me yet another option in my genealogy toolbox. Please share your experiences using the Kindle for genealogy in the Comments section below. I'd love to hear other ideas for using this device to aid in genealogy research.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Kindle for Genealogy

Kindle Wireless Reading Device, Wi-Fi, 6" Display, Graphite - Latest Generation

I love books. Do you know any genealogist who doesn't? As soon as introduced its Kindle, I knew this was a gadget that was made for me. But I waited. And the wait was well worth it - with the price drop to $139 for the WiFi model, it put the Kindle in a price range I was willing to pay.

Even if you don't own a Kindle reading device, there are many genealogy books and resources available for use on your computer.Many of these are Free. First of all, visit Amazon and download the free Kindle for PC app, or the Kindle for Mac app. Reading apps are also available for a variety of mobile devices.

The Kindle for PC and Kindle for Mac apps will allow you to manage and read your e-books on your computer. Even though many genealogy e-books and blogs are available for purchase on Amazon and from other retailers, you can also download books in the public domain and manage them in this app. Even before my Kindle arrived, I had already started my collection of Kindle books and began reading some of them right on my PC. If you're not ready to purchase a Kindle, you can still get the benefit of free public domain books right on your computer.

Sources for free genealogy books

I discovered a county history book on Google books that I was interested in reading. It's a public domain book and there was a download link available. The 1,203 page book was available as an Adobe pdf file. I downloaded the book to my computer.

Next step: The Kindle can function as a mass storage device by connecting it to your computer via a USB port. You can view the files and transfer files between your computer and your Kindle just as you would with a flash drive. By doing a copy and paste, I was able to transfer the Adobe pdf file to my Kindle. The document displays exactly as any pdf file would on your computer. Yes, there are drawbacks. The document is not searchable. However, if you happen to have Adobe Professional 9.0, you could run an OCR scan on the document and perhaps at least some of the document could be searched.

Another source for free genealogy resources is the Internet Archive. I searched the terms "nebraska history" which resulted in several books and publications. Johnson's History of Nebraska is a book I'm familiar with, so I clicked on that. On the left side of the page are the download options: pdf, daisy, epub and Kindle as well as other types of downloads. Click on Kindle to download. This is saved to your computer as a MOBI file. Once downloaded, you can read the book in a reading app or transfer the document to your Kindle via the USB port option.

I will acknowledge that the lack of a search feature is a drawback, but if you want to read or skim this type of history book, it's easy to do either on your computer or your Kindle.

Genealogy resources for your Kindle

A visit to and searching for topics of interest to you will result in a variety of genealogy resources. If you want to find the free or inexpensive items, filter your search results to "price: lowest to highest."

The development of the Kindle has created a new marketplace for self-publishers. I'll use Geneablogger Thomas MacEntee as an example. Last month, Thomas made two of his books available for Kindle:

Approaching the Lectern: How to Become a Genealogy Speaker

A Genealogy Blog Primer

For a relatively low price, you can purchase these books and read them on your computer (which I did while waiting for my Kindle to arrive) or have them available for reading on your Kindle.

Many of the bloggers are also syndicating their blogs for subscription on I did that with although I don't know why someone would pay for a subscription when they can read it on the web for free. I made this blog available for Kindle mainly for exposure for the blog. But just to see how this works, here's where people could subscribe to for the Kindle: on Kindle

On Amazon, you will also find many "how-to" genealogy books available. Many are the less expensive self published books, but you'll also find some like:

Who Do You Think You Are? by Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak

How to Do Everything Genealogy by George Morgan (which was one of the first two Kindle genealogy books I purchased)

I also want to give a plug to fellow geneablogger Dr. Bill Smith, whose novel, Back to the Homeplace, was the other initial purchase I made for my Kindle.

So how does this help me with my genealogy research?

I began this post by saying how much I love books. And one thing I find with genealogy research is that there never seems to be enough time in the day to read everything I want to read. With my Kindle, I can carry as many as 3,500 books in my handbag. Technically, the WiFi version is 7.5 inches x 4.8 inches and no thicker than a pencil. It's great to be able to carry this vast library with me anywhere. I seem to have a lot of dead time - 15 minutes here and there waiting for appointments. With my Kindle, I can stay on top of my reading by making use of that dead time.

You can highlight passages, make annotations, and with the "text to speech" feature, you can even have the Kindle read to you. You can also transfer photographs, audio files and audio books to your Kindle. You can even access the web with a WiFi connection, although I found this extremely slow and cumbersome.

The Kindle is certainly not as sexy as Apple's iPad, and the Kindle does not have color display. But for the price and as a reading device, it's hard to beat.

The older I get, the more I see the need to downsize and that includes my vast collection of thousands of books. You book collectors know how heavy those boxes of books are to move! With my Kindle, I can have my books with me wherever I go.

If you're a Kindle owner, please comment about how you use your Kindle or offer any other tips you have on using the Kindle for genealogy.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this post are my own. I did not receive any compensation for the products mentioned in this post. I personally purchased the Kindle and the books by MacEntee, Morgan and Smith. I do have an affiliate agreement with which means I may receive a referral commission for any purchases made at as a result of clicking through any of the links to from this post.

Thursday, August 12, 2010 is now available for Kindle ebook reader

As I am about to become a member of the constantly growing public using an ebook reader, it seemed like a good time to make available on the Kindle.

Subscribe to for Kindle - free 14 day free trial.

For the hundreds of other genealogy bloggers, have you considered making your content available to the ever-increasing ebook market? It's very simple to do. Visit Kindle Publishing for Blogs which is sponsored by Consider this as another venue for making your content available to a wider audience.

Publishing for the Kindle makes your blog available in the store and has the potential for not only driving traffic to your site, but with paid subscriptions, you might even make a little extra cash on the side to help support your genealogy habit. It costs you nothing to make your blog available on Kindle.

Try it out and then share your experience by leaving a comment below.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Approaching the Lectern: How to Become a Genealogy Speaker - Review

Just released today is Thomas MacEntee's latest contribution to the genealogy community, a 38-page book called Approaching the Lectern: How to Become a Genealogy Speaker.

This little guidebook packs a punch. It truly has all of the tools necessary for someone who wants to add "genealogy speaker" to their resume. MacEntee covers such topics as building your speaker's resume, getting speaking gigs, compiling your presentation and syllabus, as well as addressing the legal aspects such as contracts and fees.

His recommended web site resources are just a click away in the Kindle edition.

MacEntee is well known in the genealogy blog circles as the creator of the Geneabloggers community. He's also known as the social media guru of genealogists.

I met Thomas at the Midwest Family History Expo in Kansas City a week ago and we talked briefly about the genealogy speaker's circuit. One thing that Thomas told me still stands out. He said that in genealogy speaker circles, "there's room for everyone." His second piece of advice was to "determine your niche." The specifics of doing so are discussed in this book.


  • It's a quick read.
  • It's loaded with valuable content
  • Links to web sites and other resources, templates
  • Grade: A
Disclaimer: I purchased this book in the Kindle format. No compensation was received for reviewing this product.