Sunday, October 13, 2013

Dr D's New Toy: Family On My Phone

I finally gave up my old Blackberry phone that I have had for years. My wife has been through several phones since I got "Dingleberry." On Friday, October 4th, she got a new Samsung Galaxy Note 3 "phablet" –a cross between a phone and a tablet computer. I then inherited her old Samsung Galaxy S 4 phone that has been out for a few months. By so doing I joined the Android world.

The next day I learned why I needed an Android. RootsMagic whose database programs I have been using for years to store and organize my genealogy data announced they were looking for beta testers for a new Android app. This app will allow you to upload a file of your genealogy information to your phone. I immediately signed up. I now carry about 25,000 relatives around in my pocket. I also carry about 12,000 of my wife’s ancestors.

This app is a reader only. While I can view the information, I cannot edit it on my phone.  While it is nice to be able to whip out my phone and look up some information, greedy me would like to be able to edit it on the fly and have it sync back to my desktop and laptop computers. Oh well, I’m sure that will be possible sometime soon.

For quite a while I have been using Dropbox to sync my desktop and my laptop. When I am at home I prefer to work on my desktop computer. When I want to sync to my laptop, I just need to make sure that I have closed all the files on my desktop and that they are saved to the Dropbox folder. Then I boot up my laptop and it immediately syncs any files I have updated or created since I last used the laptop. Not only does this keep my files in sync, it backs up my data so that I have copies in three places – in the cloud and on both of my computers.

For now I’ll have to be content just to read my genealogy information from my phone. It includes all the information including census notes and other notes on individuals. It now features pedigree, family, descendants and individual views. It is a great feature for “show and tell” to impress your friends. It is also useful to be able to lookup information on your family instantly no matter where you are and whether or not you have cell or Wi-Fi coverage and even if you are operating in that soon to be obsolete airplane mode.

There are still a few bugs in the app. The surname search feature seems to have redundant steps and sometimes causes the app to lock up. RootsMagic tech staff members have already asked for copies of my data so that they can work with it to test the search feature. I’m sure there are other bugs in it that I have not yet stumbled into.  However, I’m enjoying the ability to take my family with me where ever I go.


  1. you should have mentioned that you were dragged kicking and screaming away from your Blackberry and into the Android world

  2. you should have mentioned that you were dragged kicking and screaming away from your Blackberry and into the Android world