Jill Ball: How I Hack Genealogy

Jill Ball - How I Hack Genealogy

[Editor’s Note: This week’s interview subject for the How I Hack Genealogy series is Jill Ball, of the GeniAus blog who hails from the Land Down Under in Sydney, Australia. Once you’ve met Jill, as I have at several RootsTech events, you’ll be instantly amazed at not just her passion for genealogy, but for technology as well. TM]

About Me

Name: Jill Ball aka GeniAus (Genealogist from Australia)

Position: Usually seated at laptop or reclining while clutching a mobile device

Company or Organization Name: GeniAus Information Services

Website or Blog:

Other social media links: I have cut down on the number of social networking sites I use regularly; I have too many accounts because I like to try out new tools. The ones I use most are:

  • Facebook: Jill Ball
  • Google+: Jill Ball (Prefer this for genealogy)
  • Librarything: Bibliaugrapher
  • LinkedIn: Jill Ball
  • Tripadvisor: Geniaus
  • Twitter: @geniaus

Age : As a student once said to me “Mrs Ball you’re just an old teenager”.

Location: Always in cyberspace and when I’m not travelling home is in Sydney, Australia

What I Use – Technology

Hardware: Red Dell XPS Laptop (Nearly 2) , Hot pink ASUS Vivobook X202E Ultra Portable Laptop (4 months), Epson Scanner (Ancient ), Flip-Pal Scanner, Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 Tablet (6 months), Samsung Galaxy Camera (1 month) plus A museums worth of tech toys dating back to 2x Commodore 64s

Cloud storage: Google Drive, Dropbox for syncing my genealogy database files)

Backup program or routine: 2x 2 terabyte Western Digital drives that I back up manually (I know I should automate this process)

Printer: Canon Pixma (Rarely use it)

Are you “paper” or “paperless” or in-between?: Verging on paperless and frustrated by others who distribute paper

Email program: Gmail

Smartphone model: Samsung Galaxy S3

Fave mobile app: Evernote

E-reader: Kindle on my Samsung Galaxys

Web browser: Chrome

Calendar program: Google Calendar

RSS feed reader: Inoreader

Photo storage and editing: Self storage on external Hard drives. Organising and editing with Picasa. Old copy of Photoshop for major editing.

Fave social media: Google+ and Librarything

Accounting or financial app: Mr. Geniaus

Virus protection: AVG

Firewall or security program: AVG

Genealogy database program: Family Historian – recently moved over from The Master Genealogist. TNG, The Next Generation of Genealogy Software, for publishing on the web – it’s amazing.

Music player: Prefer the sounds of silence but use Windows Media Player on PCs. Don’t know what the Galaxys use but it works.

Blog platform: Blogger but dabble with WordPress and Tumblr.

Other tech stuff: Lovely 1 week old Logitech USB headset, a mischief of mice – many of them pink and some novelty ones, a plethora of other gadgets – most of them useless but fun.

Me and Genealogy

Number of years involved in genealogy: 25

Professional or non-professional?: Non-professional aspiring to have a professional approach.

What I do: I’m a social media advocate who likes to share my enthusiasm and skills with others in face to face presentations. I love blogging and I also pen the odd article for Australia’s Inside History Magazine and I am supposedly writing my first book. I’m a member of a few societies and serve on the committee of the local group.

I am presently jointly co-ordinating a project to write several books commemorating the World War 1 military men and women from our local area who served in that conflict.

What I enjoy most about genealogy and family history: Everything except filing away mountains of paper.

What annoys me most about genealogy: Citation evangelists. As long as the description of a source can lead another to the source being described then it has done its job.

Genealogy super power(s): Volunteers in local societies – there is so much local knowledge in their heads and musty old files.

Biggest advance in genealogy in the last five years: The avenues for connecting, communicating and collaborating that advances in technology have opened.

Biggest flop in genealogy in the last five years: The Ning platform that seemed to have so much potential.

What will always stay the same in genealogy: There’ll always be plenty of dead people to find.

What will need to change in genealogy: Societies and genealogy groups must realise that they must make radical changes to appeal to younger generations.

My vision for genealogy in the year 2020: I hope that by 2020 more people researching their family histories will move on and embrace and integrate 21st century practices with the 20th century practices they now use.

Closing Thoughts

My Secret Hack for Genealogy: Join a local society and ask for help

Advice to a beginning genealogist: There is no such thing as a stupid question. ASK.

Advice to a lifer genealogist: Be gentle and generous with new enthusiasts. Be open to new practices, resources and tools.

Open topic: Always put the living before the dead. Genealogy can become an obsession, always give precedence to your living family and pay attention to their stories. Remember to take time to share your stories with the little people in your life.

About the Author

Thomas MacEntee
Genealogy educator and author Thomas MacEntee has been researching his family history for more than 40 years and is the creator of Abundant Genealogy, Genealogy Bargains, DNA Bargains, The Genealogy Do-Over and numerous other web-based genealogy and family history properties.