Expo Hall Photographer

Yesterday was the last day of the RootsTech 2012 conference. There was still a full day of sessions to attend, a keynote panel of Ancestry.com technology leaders, and one more chance to prowl the Expo Hall. My app was ready with the day’s selections – just two for me – because I wanted to spend more time visiting vendor booths and chatting with people:

  • Is Your Ancestor Hiding in This Photograph? New Family History Revelations, by Patricia Van Skaik
  • A Dozen Ways to Use Your iPad 2 for Genealogy and Writing, by Lisa A. Alzo

For once I got to the keynote early enough to get a decent seat. Sometimes it’s nice to watch the speakers themselves rather than seeing them on one of the many video screens viewable throughout the auditorium. (The poor comedian jokingly complained that no one was looking at him; they were all watching the screens.) The final keynote featured a panel of tech guys from Ancestry.com, who gave us a peek at the technology behind all the content we love and use. They even did a live demo where a directory was indexed on the spot. Directories are notoriously difficult for OCR (optical character recognition) software to handle because it’s hard to differentiate between ads, surnames, business names, and street names. The demo showed that it can be indexed successfully.

After attending the two sessions I had earmarked, I had lunch in the Expo Hall. By this time, my introvert tendencies had long since faded. You often find yourself at a table with strangers and it only makes sense to ask where someone is from and generally be sociable. I spent some time browsing the hall and taking photos, some of which are displayed below.

The Flip-Palā„¢ booth was popular (I love my Flip-Pal!)

Billion Graves has created an app to collect, transcribe, and search for cemetery data

All the Geneabloggers wore distinctive bead necklaces (Thomas MacEntee)

People were encouraged to sign up to help index the upcoming 1940 census release

UK-based brightsolid was one of the RootsTech sponsors

FamilySearch

MyHeritage and WorldVitalRecords

The day was rapidly coming to a close and my feet were killing me. I had enough time to go back to the hotel, rest, and get ready for the absolute final event of the week: the traditional EOGN (Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter) informal dinner. This was the largest such dinner to date, with 112 genealogists attending. Good food, good company, and good door prizes too! I would have liked to linger after dinner, but I had an early flight to catch the next morning, and a shuttle coming at 4am to take me to the airport. The final attendance numbers for the conference reached more than 4200 – making this the largest genealogy conference in the U.S. I’m already thinking about RootsTech 2013 (March 21-23) and I can’t wait!

I plan to try out a couple of things that I learned about during the conference – a Chrome browser plug-in that works with Ancestry.com and FamilySearch, and the app that won the RootsTech Developer Challenge. Watch for write-ups on these in my next few blog postings.