SHOTBOX can help you digitize documents

One of the RootsTech vendors I was most excited about was SHOTBOX, a tabletop photo light studio. This portable lightbox makes it easy to use your phone to take good-looking, well-lit photos of three-dimensional objects, which is great for those of who blog. It would also be really useful for folks selling items on eBay, etsy or craigslist.

What’s great for the genealogist, though, is that it provides the ability to easily take photos from above, which can be very useful for digitizing documents or photos (or photo album pages). If you have delicate documents you wouldn’t want to put through a sheet-fed scanner, or if you don’t have a scanner at all, SHOTBOX might be the tool you need to use your phone to digitize documents without risk of damage and without shadows.

Right now, SHOTBOX is running a Kickstarter campaign while they work with the factory to finish the manufacturing and ship by October. I pledged and pre-ordered the SHOTBOX plus the SideShot Kit (a lighted attachment to hold the phone or tablet steady for photos taken from the front), for a total of $149. Once the product is in production, the anticipated retail price will be $149 for the SHOTBOX and $89 for the SideShot.

Go to this page to see examples of photos taken with SHOTBOX.

I’m really excited to receive my SHOTBOX this autumn and put it to use!

Ten organizing truths

Ten organizing truthsI am celebrating the 10th anniversary of Peace of Mind Organizing®, my organizing business, this month. I wrote an article for my monthly newsletter yesterday that listed ten organizing principles I’ve come to believe over my years as an organizer. They’re not genealogy-related, but I thought readers of Organize Your Family History might benefit from them. (Keep reading to the end to see a very special, limited-time offer.)

  1. The less stuff you own, the easier your life is. Less stuff = more freedom.
  2. Relationships are more important than things. Don’t let your stuff get in the way of your relationships.
  3. There is no such thing as perfectly organized. Strive for “organized enough” instead.
  4. You can’t put something away unless you have a place for it. And you can’t have a place for it if you have more stuff than you can comfortably store.
  5. It’s easiest to create a new habit if you pair it with something you’re already doing. Use that trick to let habit creation be easy.
  6. Indecision leads to clutter. Make it a habit to decide immediately what to do with items.
  7. It’s okay to ask for organizing help. In fact, it can be very beneficial.
  8. Messy does not equal disorganized. I’m living proof.
  9. Tidy does not equal organized. I’ve seen many neat but disorganized spaces.
  10. You are not your stuff. Don’t let your stuff (and your ability to organize it) define you.

In yesterday’s newsletter, I made a special, limited-time offer in honor of my anniversary. For the next week, you can purchase all nine of my Organizing Guides for the price of one, just $9. Organizing Guides are my concise, downloadable pdfs that touch on the most common organizing issues that I’ve seen in my decade as a professional organizer. Through July 22, 2015, go to the Organizing Guides page on my website, scroll down to Want them all?, click Add to Cart and use the coupon code POMO10th at checkout to receive all nine guides for just $9.

Special offers in honor of July 4th

Genealogy bargains this weekendSeveral subscription-based databases are offering free access to specific holdings in honor of the 4th of July holiday. It’s a great chance to stay cool and dig into some research this weekend!

On Ancestry.com, you can access their records from the original 13 colonies now through Sunday, even if you’re not a subscriber.

The New England Historic Genealogical Society’s American Ancestors website is offering its Great Migration database free of charge through July 8.

You can freely search the Revolutionary War records at Fold3, the military database now through July 15.

If you have ancestors involved in establishing the U.S. now is the time to research them! I’m hoping to spend some time with the Great Migration database this weekend and see if I can find my early New York ancestor.

I learned about these special offers from Thomas MacEntee’s Genealogy Bargains newsletter. If you don’t subscribe, you’re missing out! (It’s another free resource.)

It’s my 3rd blogiversary!

happyblogiversarylgJune 14 marked three years since I published my first post here. (That post was called My quest to learn more about my family history.) Time goes by so quickly. I am so glad I decided to start this blog, for lots of reasons. It has done a wonderful job of helping me stay focused on my family history research. It has prompted me to go to genealogy conferences. It has brought me closer to family. And it has helped me make new friends.

The most popular post on the blog so far has been Reading hard-to-read gravestones, in which I discuss using aluminum foil to make a gravestone legible. I had read about that technique elsewhere and documented my use of it, with my husband’s help, on a family cemetery trip. That particular post has gone my small-scale version of viral: In the last two days, it has been viewed over 5,000 times!

Speaking of statistics, in my first two blogiversary posts, I gathered and published a few statistics. In the interest of consistency, I’ll do it again:

In the third year of this blog:

  • I wrote 72 posts (74 in year two, 79 posts in the first year).
  • There were a total of 84,270 views (35,198 the second year, 6,424 in year one).
  • I had 245 comments, about half of which were my own (compared to 316 and 106 comments in past years).
  • 272 people subscribe to the blog (that number was 160 a year ago and 82 on 6/14/13)

So it looks like I’ve remained somewhat steady in terms of the number of blog posts (though I would have guessed that I’d posted more!). Pageviews and subscribers are growing. In the 2014 calendar year, I had about 55,000 views and I set a goal this year of 100,000 views. I’m on track for that, which is great. (I love having goals.)

I’ve had the opportunity to meet several blog readers at conferences this year and that has been so wonderful! (I was even recognized by a couple of people at the NGS conference!) I hope to meet more of you in the coming year.

Thank you so much for reading this blog. If there are any topics you’d like me to address in Year Four, please let me know!