30 November 2005

Family Historian

A few days ago, I resumed maintaining my extended family tree. I mentioned "extended" because I would not be content with just knowing about my own immediate family and the wife's. What would be the fun there? On my PDA, I use the MyRoots application and the number of people is hovering around 400. Sure many of them I don't even have their names, just a placeholder and a reference to someone else, like Nguyen Teo's mother. FYI, Nguyen is a very popular Vietnamese last name. The PDA is very handy for collecting data, like the time when my mother said, durig a normal conversation in a car trip, that so and so uncle didn't really father his first daughter... On the PowerBook, I have MacFamilyTree. While I probably can export the database from the PDA and import the info into the PBook, I think that's too much info right now. I try to approach slowly on the PBook and build up the tree with more concrete data and photos. My elder brother remember names very well and I've enlisted his help in identifying people on my mother's side. Then there's the task of acquiring photos to go with the name. iPhoto helps tremendously, but with most of my relatives in Vietname and elsewhere I have to use other resources. For the older people, I'll raid my mother's photo albums - she got some really nice photos going way back. For pictures of cousins and such, today I dugged up a VCD we received back in the year 2000 about a cousin's wedding banquet. I'll try doing screen capture to get some of the faces - they probably won't be very high quality, but it's a start.

In the beginning, I used Reunion 8, but its lack of support for Unicode data entry drove me to reaching out to MacFamilyTree (MFT). With most of my relatives and family members having either Chinese or Vietnamese names, or both, MFT really shines. Another plus with MFT is that when it list people in a family, it sorts them by age, not by the internal codes that indicates when someone was added to the tree. For example, if I add my elder brother after me, listing the tree with MFT still shows me after him, but with Reunion, I would appear before him, which is confusing.

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