Monday, January 22, 2007

Finding Help with Genealogy Software

From: Zwriffe@aol.com
DearMYRTLE,
Help! I am learning to process a "book" from FTM (Family Tree Maker) and I have a few questions I am unable to learn from the information offered without calling and paying $2.00 a minute with FTM. Is there anyplace online I might be able to either contact someone for help or see a list of the questions I cannot solve?

DearZOLA,
Let's take a 4-way approach to finding the answers you seek. Ol' Myrt recommends checking out:

1. the software itself
2. free online tech support
3. independent online support
4. your local genealogy society

PLUS "One More Thing" a suggestion from Ol' Myrt here

---------------------------------------------------------
1. THE SOFTWARE ITSELF
---------------------------------------------------------
Where once we had heavy, geeky documentation books supplied in the huge box with each software program, now things are streamlined to include the manual on the software CD itself. This means that the "official word" on how to do something in FTM is contained within the program itself. Just click HELP on the menu bar to either browse the help files or search the help index for specific topics. You'll notice in the Windows environment, that HELP is always the last item on the menu bar (far right). In FTM the top menu bar has the following drop-down menu titles:
FILE
EDIT
VIEW
BOOKS
PEOPLE
PICTURE/OBJECT
CONTENTS
FORMAT
TOOLS
INTERNET
HELP

Under HELP you will find the following categories:
CURRENT VIEW (context sensitive help)
CONTENTS
SEARCH FOR HELP ONLINE
TECHNICAL SUPPORT
ONLINE HELP CENTER
GETTING STARTED TUTORIAL
BOOKS TUTORIAL
LEARN MORE ABOUT GENEALOGY
TAKE AN ONLINE CLASS (discontinued)
REGISTER FTM
CHECK FOR UPDATE
ABOUT FTM

If one selects BOOKS TUTORIAL, your computer must be online, so that your web browser can open the tutorial title page with the following components:
Lesson One - Creating a Book
Lesson Two - Adding Items
Lesson Three - Editing Book Items
Lesson Four - Customizing Book Items
Lesson Five - Moving Book Items
Lesson Six - Previewing Books
Lesson Seven - Printing Books
Lesson Eight - Saving in PDF Format

---------------------------------------------------------
2. FREE ONLINE TECH SUPPORT
---------------------------------------------------------
You'll find this on the software producer's website and it usually takes the form of FAQ (Frequently asked questions) or some sort of searchable "knowledge base" created by the company. These may be augmented by "user message boards". Usually companies provide email tech support, but in my experience FTM doesn't follow up here as frequently as one would like. Some software companies provide free one-on-one tech support chats, although FTM does not appear to do so.

-- Family Tree Maker Online Tech Support
http://ftm.custhelp.com/cgi-bin/ftm.cfg/php/enduser/std_alp.php

---------------------------------------------------------
3. INDEPENDENT ONLINE SUPPORT
---------------------------------------------------------
This type of software support is often frank and usually unbiased, since the comments are not "screened" by the software producer. Such message boards or mailing lists are usually not run by the software producer, so participants feel free to "tell it like it is".
So how did Ol' Myrt here find these resources? I always check things out at:
-- RootsWeb Message Boards
http://www.RootsWeb.com
-- RootsWeb Mailing Lists http://www.RootsWeb.com
-- Yahoo! Groups http://groups.yahoo.com/

YES, I know that Ancestry/MyFamily owns the FTM software, and that this conglomerate supports the RootsWeb mailing lists and message boards. But to my knowledge, they do not interfere with the normal postings to these resources:

-- Family Tree Maker Software Message Board (at RootsWeb) http://boards.rootsweb.com/topics.software.famtreemaker/mb.ashx

-- Family Tree Maker Software Mailing Lists (at RootsWeb)

---- FTM-HELP-L (Topic: A mailing list for the discussion and sharing of information regarding the Family Tree Maker genealogy software program.) http://lists.rootsweb.com/index/other/Software/FTM-HELP.html

---- FTM-L (Topic: A mailing list primarily for the discussion and sharing of information regarding the Family Tree Maker genealogy software program; however, the subscribers are a friendly group and may also address other things such roll calls, research hints and tips, where they live (which lets folks know someone may be in an area for lookups, etc) and more.) http://lists.rootsweb.com/index/other/Software/FTM.html

---------------------------------------------------------
YOUR LOCAL GENEALOGY SOCIETY
---------------------------------------------------------
If we could understand it all by reading, we would live like hermits in front of our computers. But "no man is an island" and that is certainly true when it comes to learning about family history. Join your local genealogy society, and find out where and when the genealogy computer users group meets next. Even if there are no formal meetings, you may find someone in the group who has had experience creating a book with FTM. In your case, you are lucky. On the Gulf coast in Florida there are several active groups:

-- South Bay Genealogical Society
http://www.rootsweb.com/~flsbgs

-- Pinellas Genealogy Society
http://www.rootsweb.com/~flpgs

-- Manasota Genealogical Society
http://www.rootsweb.com/~flmgs

---------------------------------------------------------
ONE MORE THING
---------------------------------------------------------
When you finished printing your family history book, be sure to send a copy to:

A. Family History Library (FHL) in Salt Lake City, Utah (with a note that you consent to scanning/microfilming.

B. Your local public library.

C. The local public library in the place where your ancestors once lived.

Writing a book describing your ancestors and providing source citations will most certainly get the word out to other researchers. With the FHL's scanning project, the book itself will then become available on the web for all to find.

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)
DearMYRTLE, your friend in genealogy

Snail Mail Address:
227 Bellevue Way NE PMB 544
Bellevue, WA 98004
Myrt@DearMYRTLE.com
http://www.DearMYRTLE.com

No comments:

Post a Comment