Hardware

QromaScan v3 Introduces Natural Language Tagging

I wrote about the QromaScan device earlier. Start at https://duckduckgo.com/?q=site%3Aeogn.com+QromaScan&t=hg&ia=web to see my earlier articles. Now a major new software upgrade is available for QromaScan. Here is the announcement from Qroma LLC:

Create Industry Standard Photo Metadata from Natural Voice Descriptions.

SAN JOSE, California— November 17, 2017— Consumers frustrated by the complexity of scanning and organizing their film based images will have a new option as Silicon Valley-based Qroma LLC announces the availability of QromaScan v3.0 for iOS®. QromaScan captures and organizes photos, slides and negatives in one step using specially designed iPhone® accessories and an innovative voice recognition technology. Version 3 brings a new Natural Language Tagging engine that enables users to describe their photos in their own words and use QromaScan’s cutting edge voice recognition technology to detect and embed photo metadata tags for key details such like the date, location and people. A new Relationship Manager detects the use of common nouns used for describing family members such as ‘mom’ and ‘dad’ and automatically tags the image with their full names.

QromaScan 3 greatly simplifies what was once the tedious process of creating industry standard photo metadata. Powered by machine learning and linguistic parsing, QromaScan 3’s Natural Language Tagging engine can store up to 2,000 characters of the user’s transcribed description of a photo and then automatically generate photo metadata tags for things like dates, places, GPS coordinates, and people names. The transcribed description and detected metadata are embedded into the image where they are recognized and made searchable by any operating system or photo organization software that reads standard EXIF and IPTC metadata, such as Adobe Lightroom CC®, Google Photos or Apple Photos®.

Buy a New Samsung Chromebook for $99

This article has nothing to do with genealogy. Instead, it is about one of my other interests: low-cost computer hardware. If you are looking for true genealogy articles, you might want to skip this article.

UPDATE: This was obviously a very popular sale! Most BestBuy stores are reporting they have now sold out of this model. However, you still might check with a BestBuy store near you to see if that store is one of the exceptions and still has a few left.

If not, keep your eyes open. Similar sales on other models of Chromebooks do happen, often in the $100 to $150 price range.

I have written many times about the advantages of Chromebooks, low-cost laptop computers that are web-oriented. I have a Chromebook and love it. The cheap laptop has become my preferred laptop for traveling. I know that laptops are frequently stolen from airports, train stations, bus stations, restaurants, coffee shops, libraries, and other public places. While I would hate to have my Chromebook stolen, I would feel much worse if my much more expensive Macintosh laptop was stolen! That is one of the reasons why I travel with a Chromebook: reducing the risk of financial loss. The other reason is the Chromebook accomplishes everything I need to do when traveling.

I also use the Chromebook frequently at home when watching TV. Chromebooks are designed to run applications “in the cloud” although they are also capable of running a few programs internally.

To find my past articles about Chromebooks, start at: http://bit.ly/2m3fGXz.

Now BestBuy is offering a basic Chromebook laptop for $99 US. That’s not a refurb nor a product by some manufacturer you never heard of. Instead, it is for a brand-new Samsung model XE500C13-S03US Chromebook with a one-year parts and labor warranty. To see the Black Friday sale, go to http://bit.ly/2AjZS4W.

Super-Accurate GPS Chips Coming to Smartphones in 2018, Will Improve Cemetery Locations Accuracy

New GPS (Global Positioning System) chips will be used in future cell phones that will be accurate within 30 centimeters (11.8 inches), rather than five meters (16 feet) which is typical of today’s cell phones. At least, that’s the claim chip maker Broadcom is making. While this may not seem at first to be significant for genealogists, it should greatly improve the accuracy of locations recorded with a cell phone and its camera.

The big benefit for genealogists will be in the accuracy of locations recorded in BillionGraves.com and FindAGrave.com.

Millions of tombstones are already recorded today with accuracy of plus or minus 16 feet or sometimes even worse accuracy than that. Sixteen feet sounds like reasonable accuracy in many cemeteries, but it still is not good enough for quick location of tombstones in many family plots and certainly not close enough for pinpoint accuracy in a columbarium, a room or building with niches where funeral urns are stored.

Write Your Notes in a Rocketbook

Introduction: I must say that I have mixed emotions about Rocketbook. On the positive side, it is an excellent use of technology to improve low-tech methods that have been in use for centuries. I can envision this being used extensively in genealogy research and note-taking.

On the negative side, use of any paper-based note-taking product is contrary to the paperless lifestyle I have been following for a few years. I try to never use paper as I find paper is easily lost, damaged, or at least is difficult to find when I need the information later. That is especially true if I am not in the place where the paper notes are stored. For a list of my past articles on going paperless, see http://bit.ly/2wfDaw6.

On the positive side, I realize that not everyone is comfortable with a paperless lifestyle. Paper notes are still used by hundreds of millions of people around the globe. If that includes you,  Rocketbook may be an attractive product for you. It helps store everything safely and securely in the cloud where you can quickly and later easily find digital images of your notes, drawings, and other paper-based items.

In short, if Rocketbook appeals to you, I’d suggest you try it out! As for me, I will write about it but am unlikely to use Rocketbook myself.

Are you still writing notes and transcriptions in a spiral notebook? It’s time to move into the 21st century!

A Rocketbook looks like many other notebooks. It has paper and even a spiral binding. You can write in a Rocketbook with a pen or pencil. What’s different is what you can do AFTER you have written your notes. In short, you can upload your precious notes to your own private area in the cloud where they can be easily accessed at any time. Your notes will never be lost unless you deliberately erase the online notes later.

The Demise of CDs and DVDs

Alas, poor CDs and DVDs, we hardly knew ye.

Have you purchased any software lately? How about digital images of an old genealogy book? Did you obtain them on a CD or DVD disk? If so, keep that disk. It is already an antique and probably will be a collector’s item before long.

Twenty years ago, we all purchased software on floppy disks. Perhaps ten years ago, software was usually delivered on CD-ROM disks. When was the last time you purchased software that was delivered on a CD or even a high-capacity DVD-ROM disk? Yes, there are a few companies that still deliver software that way, but the number of such companies is dwindling.

Most software these days is delivered electronically, usually by means of a file download. Even Microsoft is now delivering Windows 10 by software download.

Hard Drives and Storage Space Continue to Become Cheaper and Cheaper

The following isn’t directly related to genealogy but it is related to something that concerns all genealogists: storage of information that we have found. Today, it is easier and much, much cheaper to save information in our own computers or in the cloud than ever before. Saving things in digital format is also much, much cheaper (and safer) than storing paper. However, there are signs that consumers are saving less and less these days.

For the past 35+ years or so, hard drives prices have dropped, from around $500,000 per gigabyte in 1981 to less than $0.03 per gigabyte today. See http://www.mkomo.com/cost-per-gigabyte-update for details.

Somewhat surprisingly, manufacturers are selling fewer disk drives to consumers these days than they used to. Consumers are not downloading and saving as many files as they used to, be it text information, music, videos, or anything else. Why not? It appears that the primary reason is that all those things are increasingly more available upon demand in the cloud. There is less need than ever to save things yourself when you can retrieve those items again and again in the future at any time. Even better, the version you retrieve in the future may be updated or be an enhanced version, such as a higher-resolution image or video or contain higher-fidelity sound.

Turn Your Chromebook into a Killer Workstation with the Best Android Apps on Chrome OS

I have written often about the great value offered by Chromebook laptops. (See http://bit.ly/2sewngv for a list of my past Chromebook articles.) Now the Digital Trends web site has an article at http://bit.ly/2sejvad that should interest anyone who is thinking of purchasing one of these low-cost systems.

Turn Your Chromebook into a Killer Workstation with the Best Android Apps on Chrome OS describes the more than 2.5 million Chrome and Android apps that run on Chromebooks. That includes many genealogy apps. (See http://bit.ly/2tNrahN for more information about the many Android genealogy apps that run on Chromebooks.)

This article was written on and posted by my Chromebook laptop.

The Lenovo Chromebook is Now Just $129

NOTE: The following article has nothing to do with genealogy. If you are looking for genealogy-related articles, I suggest you skip this one.

I have written a number of times about the usefulness of the low-cost Chromebook laptops. (My past articles about Chromebooks may be found by starting at: http://bit.ly/2pm21Iu.) I use my Chromebook more or less daily. It also has become my primary traveling computer and I also often use it from the living room couch whenever that is convenient.

While Chromebooks are cheaper than most any other laptops, WalMart is now offering an even lower price than I have seen before: $129. The Lenovo N22 Chromebook isn’t a used or refurbished system; it is brand-new and comes with a full warranty. The WalMart web site doesn’t say anything about a sale or a “special price” so I assume this is the regular price. Other web sites sell it for $150 to $200.

If you were thinking of picking up a Chromebook for yourself or for a family member, now might be the time. You can have it shipped to you or you can pick it up in person at a nearby WalMart store.

Update: Is the Smartphone Becoming the PC Replacement?

Last December, I wrote the following in this newsletter at http://bit.ly/2nNh4gC:

“Today, the smartphone can become a person’s only computer, used alone when away from home or the office, then used with a “docking station” when at home or at the office. Of course, most smartphones already have internal cameras, even webcams. With a docking station to accommodate a keyboard, a larger screen, stereo speakers, printers, scanners, and more, today’s home computer may soon become a thing of the past.”

I also wrote:

“Will your next PC be a smartphone? Do you really need a desktop computer for checking email, surfing the web, or doing genealogy research? The smartphones of today will do most everything your present desktop computer can do.”

It looks like some people agree with me. One company with plans for converting a smartphone into a desktop or laptop computer is a rather well-known producer of personal computers and of smartphones: Apple.

A new patent application from Apple shows the company is toying with the idea of a laptop powered by an iPhone that’s docked face up where the touchpad is normally positioned.

LiteBook – the Impressive $249 to $269 Linux Laptop

NOTE: the following article has nothing to do with genealogy. If you are looking for genealogy-related articles, you might want to skip this one. Instead, it reflects one of my other interests: low-cost hardware that can be used for multiple purposes. I decided to publish the article here in case others might have similar interests.

Linux has always been known as a more secure operating system than Windows and even more secure than Macintosh. For most installations, Linux also requires less computing power than do either of its two major competing operating systems: Windows and Macintosh. Therefore, it is interesting (to me) that a company called Litebook has released a new Linux laptop that is priced to compete with Chromebooks and other low-cost laptops. The price? $249. If you want to add the one (and only) option available, it may cost you $269. Those prices include a one-year warranty.

Even at those prices, the LiteBook has some impressive specifications.

An Easy Way to Add More Disk Space to Your Computer

low-disk-spaceIs your computer’s hard drive getting full? No matter how much hard drive space came with your computer, chances are you have already used a good chunk of that space. Sometimes I think that all disk drives exist simply for the purpose of filling them up. Of course, you can always buy a new computer with a bigger internal disk drive, but my wallet rebels at that that idea. For many people, there is an easier and cheaper solution: add an external plug-in disk drive.

Adding an external hard drive adds huge amounts of disk space, as much as you might want. It also adds portability and safety, and it provides an easy way to backup your valuable data. It is surprisingly affordable and easy to do. I recently added a 960 gigabyte external hard drive (that’s almost a terabyte!) to my laptop computer and thought I would describe the process. It was simple. The entire “installation” process required about three minutes to complete. No screwdrivers or other tools were required. The technical knowledge required? Just about zero.

The Best Laptop for Traveling Is One You Can Afford to Lose

laptop_stolenThis is not a genealogy-related article. However, I wrote an article that describes a problem and a solution that I think every person who is contemplating purchasing a laptop should read. I won’t publish the article here but will mention that it is available at https://goo.gl/CvYS4i in case you would like to read it.

All New Chromebooks Will Run Android Apps

asus_flipChromebooks offer a lot of computing for very little money. Some Chromebooks cost less than $200. Spending a bit more money, however, results in faster performance, better displays, and better keyboards. The better Chromebooks cost $250 to $350 although a few may cost even more. When traveling, I normally carry my $200 Chromebook laptop with me and it does most everything I need to do. You can read my past articles about Chromebooks by starting at: https://duckduckgo.com/?q=site%3Aeogn.com+chromebook&t=h_&ia=web.

A few recent Chromebooks have been able to run both web-based apps as well as Android apps simultaneously. The new capability includes dozens of genealogy apps that were developed for Android. Now Google, the company that produces the Chrome operating system, has announced that ALL the new Chromebooks will be able to run Android apps and will have access to the Google Play Store, the marquee store for Android apps.

Dacuda – PocketScan Wireless Scanner

This might be the world’s smallest scanner. A genealogist could carry it in pocket or purse when visiting libraries or archives and make digital copies of documents, photographs, pages from books, or anything similar.

dacuda-pocketscan

Quoting from the advertising:

SCAN ON THE GO
Swipe this hand-held scanner over any text or image, and it sends a high-res image to your phone or tablet via Bluetooth.

Kids’ artwork, documents, recipes, or just a part of a page—all look much clearer than a pic from your phone, thanks to built-in illumination. Even artwork, large books, and other images that aren’t completely flat get scanned beautifully. That can’t happen on glass or with a camera.

Kingston Announces the World’s Largest Capacity USB Flash Drive that has More Storage than Your Desktop Computer: 2 Terabytes

I have written often about the need to make frequent backups of your genealogy data and anything else that is important to you. While not the only backup method available, one method is by copying files to flash drives. Traditionally, flash drives have been capable of storing a few gigabytes of data although the exact number keeps increasing every few months as the manufacturers constantly release new, higher-capacity devices. Now Kingston has beat the competition by offering a two-terabyte flash drive. That’s 2,000 gigabytes! This is now the world’s largest capacity USB flash drive.

kingston-2tb-flash-drive

The new DataTraveler Ultimate GT is a USB flash drive that offers 2 terabytes (2,000 gigabytes) of storage. It is expected to start shipping next month. A one-terabyte version will also be available. The drive features a case made out of zinc-alloy for improved durability, and the storage capacity means you can carry over 70 hours’ worth of 4K video in your pocket. It uses a USB 3.1 high-speed interface that is also backwards compatible with older USB 2 computers. Even at USB 3.1’s high speeds, I can guess that copying 2 terabytes of data from your computer to the new flash drive will require many hours.

Follow-Up: Is the Smartphone Becoming the PC Replacement?

Last week, I wrote Is the Smartphone Becoming the PC Replacement? at https://goo.gl/7fSfgX. A new article this week about Samsung’s upcoming flagship Galaxy S8 smartphone seems to make the predictions in my article become true even faster than I had expected. Samsung’s upcoming flagship Galaxy S8 smartphone could give users the ability to plug it into a screen and turn it into a desktop personal computer, according to a media report.

samsung-desktop-experience-smaller

Click on the above image to view a larger version.

The All About Windows Phone blog written by Steve Litchfield contains a leaked slide from a presentation showing a Samsung smartphone being connected to a large external screen, along with a full-sized keyboard and mouse. The slide is titled “Samsung Desktop Experience” and shows a phone powering a screen to create a multi-tasking interface, presumably running on Google’s Android mobile operating system.

Is the Smartphone Becoming the PC Replacement?

According to a recent Pew Research study, nearly two-thirds of Americans own a smartphone, and 19% of Americans rely to some degree on a smartphone for accessing online services and information and for staying connected to the world around them. The number that fascinates me, however, is that 7% of Americans own a smartphone but have neither traditional broadband service at home, nor easily available alternatives for going online other than their cell phone. That number is growing. (See https://goo.gl/yf1y57 for the full results of the Pew Research study.)

Basic cell phones only place and receive telephone calls. Others add cameras. However, the real growth area lies with the intelligent cell phones that have built-in computer functionality. These are typically called “smartphones.” Let’s examine these and especially look at the genealogy applications available.

myheritage-app-on-smartphone

Smartphones available today include the Apple iPhone, Android phones, Windows Mobile, Blackberry, and others. Besides serving as telephones, these smartphones allow the user to install and use various programs, such as web browsers, email programs, spreadsheet programs, word processors, genealogy programs, instant messaging programs, GPS navigation, and a wide variety of games. Most smartphones now have a variety of programs to choose from, including some that access and update Facebook and Twitter. In other words, smartphones are computers in the same manner as our desktop systems or laptop computers, only with much smaller display screens and tiny keyboards.

The Myths About Chromebooks

Yes, I have written often about Chromebooks but my latest article has generated a lot of comments. Permit me at least one more article to answer some frequently-asked-questions…

lenovo-thinkpad-13

There are lots of myths concerning the $150-to-$300 Chromebooks. You will hear people say (or write online) “Chromebooks are just a browser” or “Chromebooks don’t work offline” or “Chromebooks don’t perform many tasks” or “Chromebooks aren’t secure” or similar nonsense. Lenovo has a video that dispels those myths.

Manufacturer Refurbished Asus Chromebook Flip C100PA

c100pI have written often about Chromebooks. They are excellent low-cost laptop computers that do most of the tasks that most computer users want, although they cannot match the power of the laptops that cost five or ten times as much. You can see my past articles about Chromebooks by starting at: https://goo.gl/9yDkl2.

Now StackSocial has the Asus Flip C100PA Chromebook on sale for $199.99. That price includes shipping. I have an Asus Flip C100PA and love it. The 2-pound laptop with 9-hours battery life has become my primary traveling laptop. However, I had to pay more than today’s price of $199.99 when I purchased it more than a year ago.

Barnes & Noble $49.99 7″ Nook Tablet

This should be a great gift to gift under the Christmas tree: Barnes & Noble has announced that its new Nook Tablet 7″ will be available on December 9, 2016 and will sell for $49.99. This 7-inch tablet computer should be able to run any Android genealogy app. (See https://goo.gl/gD281U for a list of all the available genealogy apps for Android devices.)

barnes-nobles-new-nook-tablet-7

The tablet is a plain-vanilla Android Marshmallow device that will come pre-loaded with Android Nook software and the usual suite of Google Play apps, including the Google Play Store. Unlike its low-cost competitor, the $50 Amazon Fire, the new Barnes & Noble Nook Tablet runs standard, plain-vanilla Android, with Google’s own Play Store built right in.