There is a handy-dandy website out there that I don’t think enough non-tech genealogy people know about. Or, at least in my small sample survey of friends that appears to be the case. Which is a shame since I think a lot of you could really use this website. It is MakeUseOf.com, and it has steadily grown a following since June of 2006.
While the appearance of the site looks daunting to anyone who is not tech savvy, you need to push through past it to get where you feel more comfortable. Those who are more tech geared are probably using this site already (shame on you if you are not) for its articles on the latest software, hardware, apps, games, and how-to sections.
I encourage you to explore the homepage, which lists a scrolling list of articles from the site, and also the topics tab to get an idea of the types of news and stories you can get here. However, for genealogists, you need to check out the guides tab. This section of the site contains downloads of guides the MakeUseOf team has created as well as a plethora of cheat sheets.
The guides are really quite amazing. You can download them for free, go out to amazon and purchase them for the kindle, or just read them from the website. They are on a wide variety of topics, more than I could name. On the tech side there are how-to guides on using your iPhone, choosing the right tablet, and explanations of various types of software. Those writers, or aspiring writers, may like to check out the guides on self-publishing, creating your digital magazine, scrivener, Evernote, or WordPress. Still confused by all the types of social media? Yep, they have guides for that as well.
Just like the guides, the cheat sheets are free to download. The variety of topics is once again wide but they mainly cover keyboard short cuts for software on different platforms. If you are not already using short cuts on the keyboard check them out, you will be surprised at home much faster you can go on the keyboard. I did want to draw your attention to the cheat sheets on using Wikipedia, Dropbox, YouTube, Twitter, and just for fun the 30 codes for chat smileys. There are many, many more, but those few guides could help you navigate the waters of the genealogy tech world just a little better.
Don’t have time to scroll through website, after website, looking for the best of something? Click the top list tab and viola, a list of the best of (insert topic here) sites. You can search by app, software, platform, hardware, and so on. Once you go into the section to search be prepared for a hard decision. Each product is presented and you are told why it is the best, details on it, and given a link to take you to it so you may read more. Even better, your choices aren’t all thrown together. You can look though the site by possible function. From developer tools to arcade apps, you are sure to find something that you want to have on these lists.
Finally, MakeUseOf has its own podcast. You can subscribe to it or download the MP3 or M4A to listen on your computer. The topics are more technology focused, but for those who want to know opinions on much of the mainstream technology that is coming this would be a great show to listen to. They do cover other topics as well, some serious and some not so serious, making the show informative and fun.
Go check it out. I am sure you will find something that you could make use of.