About Thomas MacEntee

What happens when a “tech guy” with a love for history gets laid off during The Great Recession of 2008? You get Thomas MacEntee, a genealogy professional who’s also a blogger, educator, author, social media connector, online community builder and more. Thomas was laid off after a 25-year career in the information technology field, so he started his own genealogy-related business called High Definition Genealogy. He also created an online community of over 3,000 family history bloggers known as GeneaBloggers. His most recent endeavor, Hack Genealogy, is an attempt to “re-purpose today’s technology for tomorrow’s genealogy.” Thomas describes himself as a lifelong learner with a background in a multitude of topics who has finally figured out what he does best: teach, inspire, instigate, and serve as a curator and go-to-guy for concept nurturing and inspiration. Thomas is a big believer in success, and that we all succeed when we help each other find success.

Tuesday’s Tips: The Zen of Dropbox – Obey the Sync!

Tech guy Thomas MacEntee confesses to playing Stupid Data Backup Tricks and loses data when he doesn’t go with the Dropbox flow.

I’m here with a confession and some advice to NOT do what I did this past weekend. Many of you may find it hard to believe that a tech guy like me, Thomas MacEntee, someone who is a frequent advocate for backing up data, could fall into this trap.

But I did. And so could you. I blame it on the lure of Dropbox and its easy-going, easy-to-use style that can lull you into complacency. Well it is all my fault, I guess. Here’s what happened:

When I boot up my desktop computer each morning (it is, or I should say was, a four year old Inspiron desktop), it takes a while for programs to load and prepare for another day of abuse from yours truly. The longest wait is for DropBox to synchronize files which I can understand given I have some 6GB of data. Also, it is not unusual for me to update 200 to 300 files a day in my Dropbox account.

Patience is virtue that I don’t have time for

Usually I can fix a pot of coffee, empty the dishwasher and putter around with stuff in the kitchen until the computer is ready for me to use. Couldn’t I just work while Dropbox is doing its magic? Of course, but it can be slow, Google Chrome doesn’t open correctly, etc. My trusted machine and I had a routine and after four years we knew each other’s habits. Or so I thought.

I am not a patient person. Never was. Came out of the womb a week early. Could read and spell complex words by age 3. I’m the kind of person who stands in front of a microwave and yells, “Hurry up!”

So, I have a bad habit – and I mean B-A-D – of disabling Dropbox for the day. I always tell myself, “Oh I’ll let it synch later on tonite or tomorrow morning.” And usually that’s what happens. Except for this past Sunday night.

Do as I say, not as I do

I worked all weekend on many writing projects including FGS 2015 syllabus materials, a new lecture, preparing publicity materials for the ISGS 2015 Webinar series. You name it, I did it. And all while Dropbox was disabled. I hadn’t done a full synch since Friday evening.

After writing all day Sunday, I decide to go watch The Good Wife (one of my few television indulgences) and I come back to my office during a commercial and there it was: the blue screen of death. A glowing, ghoulish beam in a darkened room. And it was speaking in tongues. Well, there were lines of text that were just gibberish. Even the Tech Guy couldn’t figure it out.

So, I do what I always do: hold down the start button to do a soft boot. More like watching my computer kick the bucket. I spent an hour trying to work with the F12 Boot Options and F2 Setup Options to no avail. The basic issue: the machine could not find a boot device, likely because the hard drive failed.

What about a Boot Disk?

Yeah, what about a Boot Disk? If I had created one like I should have four years ago, then I might have a chance. But I’m a Tech Guy! I know what I’m doing. Making a boot disk is like reading the directions before putting something together. What’s the fun in that?

So now I’m on my way to the computer store down the block to try to salvage my data. Besides the Dropbox files that never got copied up to the Dropbox cloud, I have files for my business, ten years of taxes, and lots of other files. These were all files I deemed too important or personal to place in the cloud since they dealt with finances and health issues.

On the Next Episode of Stupid Data Backup Tricks . . .

Seriously, with Data Backup Day upon is this Saturday, I think I need to do a post on the worst ways you can mess with your data. But in the meantime, PROMISE ME you’ll do the following:

  • Always let the cloud program synchronize until it is done. Go for a walk. Have another cup of tea. Maybe even talk to your spouse. Just don’t interrupt what a cloud data program does best: secure your data files.
  • Create a boot disk. Now. Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200. Do not delay. Just do it.
  • Have another method of backup and AUTOMATE IT. I had been using the free AOMEI Backupper program I found on CNET to backup those personal files. But I should have set it up for auto backup on a weekly basis. My last good backup was this past August.

©2014, copyright Thomas MacEntee. All rights reserved.

Genealogy Blogging Beat – Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Oct 28, 1886. Frederic Auguste Bartholdi’s famous sculpture, the statue of Liberty Enlightening the World, on Bedloe’s Island at New York Harbor, was dedicated. Ground breaking for the structure was in April 1883. A sonnet by Emma Lazarus, inside the pedestal of the statue, contains the words “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me: I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”
Today is Tuesday 28 October 2014, and here is what’s available in terms of Daily Blogging Prompts and other related events in the genealogy blogosphere:

Items of Note

  • Today: Donner Party Famine – Anniversary, Harvard University Founded – Anniversary, Feast of St. Jude, and Statue of Liberty Dedication – Anniversary.

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National Archives Virtual Genealogy Fair – October 28-30, 2014

Join the National Archives for the 2014 Virtual Genealogy Fair on October 28, 29, & 30, starting daily at 10 a.m. eastern time.

Set your alarms and get ready to LEARN – long distance and virtually, that is. Once again the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is hosting a FREE online Virtual Genealogy Fair starting tomorrow, 28 October through Thursday, 30 October.

Starting at 10:00 am Eastern (9:00 am Central), you can visit YouTube via this link to watch the live streaming or return here to GeneaBloggers and watch the screen above.

Not sure which session to attend? Click here to access the entire schedule for the three-day fair and the FREE handouts.

For those of you on social media, the Twitter hashtag for this event is #genfair2014 and you should follow the National Archives on Twitter at @USNatArchives.

In the meantime, visit the Virtual Genealogy Fair page here for more information.

©2014, copyright Thomas MacEntee. All rights reserved.