Posted in Project Ideas

Famicity – Getting Started

Famicity is a private social network designed for families. It’s designed to provide a safe way to share news, photos and videos. It’s also a great place to stay connected in a secure environment that won’t sell your information to the highest bidder.

How do you get started with Famicity? Actually, it’s quite easy.

Go to Famicity at https://www.famicity.com/en/welcome. Take a few minutes to get a feel for the site. When you are ready, click the Sign up button in the upper right side of the screen. When the sign-up screen opens you will see several registration options. You can register using your Facebook login (not recommended), your FamilySearch login or create your own with your email address and a password. Before pressing the Start key, it’s a good idea to review the site’s terms of service.

Once you click the Create Account button, you will be taken to a page where you enter your name, sex and date of birth. Once that’s done, you are ready to start building your family tree and trying out the various components of Famicity.

Sample Famicity screen

You won’t have any stories or photos yet, but it won’t be long before you’re adding photo albums, videos and stories. Right now, you need to check out the toolbar running down the left side of the Famicity screen. The News button at the top of the bar displays your Famicity site’s timeline. As you invite others to join Famicity, this is the place to view all the latest posts to the network.

Story area

The Story button takes you to your profile screen. It contains information about you along with each of the items you have added to the site. This could include photos, videos, photo albums and stories. The name “stories” is a bit misleading. While writing stories about yourself and others are always encouraged, stories will often include short captions, announcements and news. You choose what your stories will be.

Albums are just that . . . A place to display multiple photos associated with a particular event or topic.

Famicity also includes a family Tree. You can either build it from scratch or import a GEDCOM. The tree is used to show your Famicity members how they fit within the family structure but it is also used to invite family members to join your Famicity group. The birthdate information maintained in your family tree is also used to automatically announce birthdays in Famicity’s News section.

The Inbox makes it possible to communicate with your family members via private message.

Contacts is the directory of members. This can be used by members to contact each other. It is also used by administrators to send family members an invitation to join Famicity and it is used to organize members into groups – like the Florida group and the California group.

The My family section contains a directory for all the members of your Famicity family. The directory can be used by members to find contact information. For network administrators, it is a great way to manage groups and invitations as well as contact information.

Before you start inviting your family to join you at Famicity, post photos, videos and even a story or two. This will help you get a feel for how things work in Famicity and it will give your family something fascinating to look at when they first view the site. The Help button in the toolbar takes you to the Famicity help center where you will find detailed instructions on how to use the many features available.

Once you are comfortable with the site it’s time to start adding others. As they get comfortable with Famicity, start encouraging them to add their own photos and stories. You’ll be surprised how quickly they will settle in.

Posted in Project Ideas

The Sketchbook Bio

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It’s not a photo album and it’s not a biographical sketch either. So, I gave it my own name. I call it a sketchbook bio and your presentation graphics app is the perfect tool for creating one. I’m using Keynote but PowerPoint or Impress will work just as well. The techniques are the same, but the actual commands will be a bit different.

I’m using Keynote’s Letterpress theme – one of the standard themes that comes with Keynote. I chose it because of the sage green color and the canvas textured background. Although Keynote themes come with a number of different layouts for title slides, text slides and image slides, I’m using only the blank slide for this project. It takes more time to build a slide, but I have more flexibility with fonts, image styles and element placement.

Most of the content in this project is created using text boxes and images.

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This slide contains both an image and a text box.

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The challenge here was the photo. Unfortunately it’s permanently attached to the photographer’s frame and the edges of the frame weren’t in the best of shape.

Click the image to select it and Keynote’s Inspector displays the Style pane. I chose to use the blurred edge frame with its rounded corners and experimented with the blur feature until the worst of the frame’s damaged corners were smoothed out.

I then tilted the photo a bit and added a shadow – also on the Style pane – to add dimension. A simple text box holds the journaling associated with this slide.

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Here I’m using a grungy line around the graduation photo to help camouflage the rough edges on this class picture. Choosing a color found in the photo for the line helps it blend in with the photo and doesn’t draw attention to my edge camouflaging effort.
To select a color from the image, follow these steps:
  1.  Click on the color block for the stroke element.
  2.  Use the color wheel option, then click on the magnifying glass icon to activate the color selector.
  3.  Move the color selector magnifying glass over the image until you find the color you want. Click to select it.

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In this project, I kept to a limited number of fonts: Enview for titles, Monaco for journaling text and Kiev for the photo captions. There was one exception . . .

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Of course a wedding photo needs an appropriate font.

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The last slide displays the sources used in my story. I didn’t want them detracting from the page designs so I placed them at the end.
One last tip . . . if you noticed, most of the text looks like it was pressed into the background paper. This is easily done by adding a shadow to the text. The difference is this is a light colored shadow instead of a dark one.

Resources

Because there are no multimedia components in this project, distribution options include exporting to PDF or exporting to images. If you choose the image option, you can then display them using a digital frame.
Software: Keynote from Apple’s iWork suite
Fonts used in the Barker sketch: Enview, BickhamScript Pro, Monaco and Kiev.
Posted in Project Ideas

Lifecards Storytelling

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It doesn’t take a lot of time and effort to turn photos into photo stories. The Lifecards app (iOS – $1.99) makes it easy to create postcards, email newsletters, story cards and much more. This is a great platform to display your family’s history in small, eye-catching bites.

In the example above there are three elements – a photo, a bit of photo art and a bit of text. The photo art was created using the Brushstroke app (iOS – free) and what was originally a rather faded photo. The photo on the left shows us all admiring the trophy catch and the text describes the story behind the photo as well as setting time and place. It doesn’t take many words to describe the event, but the text, photo and photo art stirs up fond memories of a long ago time.

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Here you see that story being created with Lifecards. There are plenty of templates to help you build your cards along with tools to adjust the images within the template, add text and even “handwritten” notes. Once finished, you have a number of options for sharing your creation. It can be saved to Photos, emailed, posted to Facebook, Twitter or MeWe, printed and even sent as a postcard via Kite.ly. The only cost to you is $2.49 to print and send it to its destination.

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Here is another sample – a beautiful portrait and very short story about an ancestor. This “postcard” was emailed to siblings and cousins so they could enjoy meeting Francis as much as I did.

Lifecards isn’t restricted to just postcard size. There are templates to create email newsletters – with photos – and even a newspaper-style template when you have a family history scoop to share. With Lifecards you can easily share the stories, photos and ephemera that your research discovers as eye-catching cards that will make them want to learn more.

Who knows . . . it could even generate some new genealogists in the family.

Posted in Project Ideas

Trip Journals

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Taking a trip? Add some photo-editing apps on your phone to build more than just a photo album of your travels. In this example, the photo was turned into a painted card with an added caption. The photo was edited using the Brushstroke app [iOS – $3.99] to get the painted effect, then sent to the Supermatic app [iOS – $1.99] to choose an appropriate card style and add the caption. You can share your finished creations individually via email and social media. You can also use the Blurb app [iOS – free] to build a print photo book using the “souped-up” photo graphics you created with Supermatic.

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Email it in with a Posthaven blog.

The Posthaven blog platform is a great way to share your travel adventures just with family and friends. Posting is as simple as emailing your photo(s) along with any comments you want to include. Set up your family and friends as site subscribers and each new post will be delivered to their inbox. You can also make your travel blog private so that only those you’ve given access will see your posts and pics. Posthaven will cost you $5.00/month to use, but that gives you up to 10 blog sites.

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Don’t forget the Day One journal app [iOS – free] or [Mac – free]. The apps are free but you will need a premium subscription [$3.99/mo or $34.99/yr] to take advantage of the premium features – unlimited photo storage, unlimited journals, cloud sync to all your Day One apps, encrypted cloud storage and 25% discount for any books created using their printing service.

Other features include an impressive collection of sharing options including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, WordPress and Evernote along with the ability to save an entry as PDF to iBooks. Of course, you can easily email any journal entry to anyone.

Today we have a broad range of apps and services making it easy to document your travel adventures. Not only will you have your own memories but you will also be able to save them for future generations to enjoy. See which options suit you best.