My background is in computers so when I see new things that catch my attention, I am all over it. After catching the livestream from RootsTech 2015, I got really excited because most of what I was seeing all pertained to getting the stories and finding creative ways to share the information.
As we all know, you can do the most impressive amount of research, but if no one looks at it except for the facts, then it kind of like having a sports car that never makes it out of the garage!
One of the problems that I have been dealing with since I started into genealogy some fourteen years ago is getting copies of documents. It used to be that when I would go to a library or courthouse, I would have to find the copier and make sure that I had enough change. So, I am talking about a lot of quarters or dimes which would flow like water when I came across something that was really important!
Gradually, I figured out the I could take a digital camera and in a special mode, I could take a picture of the page and then download it onto my computer, edit it to make it lighter and easier to read and then crop and print. Compared to making all the copies, I thought I was on the cutting edge.
After I got my first iPhone, I gradually started to find myself without a camera and pulling my phone out to grab a picture. I mean, who carries cash around anymore for the copiers let alone any quarters? Now, I realized that I am no longer carrying my camera and all my copies are being done on my iPhone. But still, all the pictures have to be downloaded, “fixed up” and then printed out.
Fast forward to the future of scanning and now we have apps like “TurboScan.”
So, here is the scoop. We can now take pictures, crop them to the size of the page and link them all together to be saved as one PDF file. That alone is worth the price of admission in my mind ($2.99).
Got your attention? Wait a minute…
The one problem that I find is that there is a gap between those that are comfortable with all the new technology and those that are not quite as warm and fuzzy about it. If you land on the 2nd side, then here’s the step-by-step on how to TurboScan while documenting your family research:
- Obviously, you will need to first purchase the app from the iTunes store or grab it at the Google Store for Androids. Download it, then open the app and you have a perfectly blank screen with three options: Camera, SureScan-3x and Album.
Click on Camera and hover your phone’s camera over the page that you would like to copy. If it looks good, go ahead and click on the large circle on the screen to take the picture. Tips: find the best light in the room that you are in. If you have natural light, then get close enough to pick up the light without being in the sunbeam (My cat loves our front window’s bright sunlight but pictures don’t do as well!)
- Your picture will show up on the phone’s screen and is now covered up by a frame adjuster. Take your finger and move the corner circle tabs to fit the outside edges of the page you just copied. Once done, click on the Done button. This will make your copy nice and neat without getting a picture of the table in the background. Now you have some decisions to make. Your picture shows up in black-and-white mode and by touching the different shaded boxes at the bottom of the screen, you will adjust the contrast. If you really want to keep the color, then it is a click away (bottom, right “photo” tab.) The arching arrows are there to rotate the picture. Once you have it to your liking, click on Done (top right.)
- Are we done yet? No way. Let’s do a 2nd page and because you know that you have to have the title page whenever you get a picture of a document. Go ahead , look for the little page on the bottom right with a plus-sign and click on it. You are now ready to take a 2nd scan of another page. [Tip: Always get that copy of the title page of the document you are copying. That piece of documentation is only good if you can re-create it when needed or prove that it once existed. If the year the book was published is not included on the title page, then you will want to get a scan of the page that includes the publishing information as well.]
- Yay! You now have two pages that will become one PDF document. Just follow the instructions above for cropping the picture and changing the contrast if needed. Once you take the picture, you will notice that your screen now shows two preview pages. The little red circles on the left are there for easy deleting. Just tap on one and it will allow you to click on Delete to quickly take away an unwanted photo.
- Once you are at the screen that shows the multiple photos, click on one and it will take you into a zoom mode. Take a second to zoom in really close to make sure that the text is clear. There is nothing worse than getting home and finding out that your scan is blurry! That is frustrating especially if you have traveled several hours to get to that repository. (Just in case you are not sure how to zoom in, go ahead and touch the screen in the middle with your thumb and forefinger and then open them while still touching the screen. Kind of like flicking something at your sibling!)
- For filing purposes, it’s all in the name. Go ahead and name your file while it is fresh in your mind. It’s that little pen at the bottom of the screen. You can add the name and change the size of the document if you want.
- Now, here’s where the magic takes place. At the bottom of the screen on the bottom left, you will see the little half box with an up-facing arrow. Click on that arrow and you get options!
- In order to “email to myself” you will need to set up yourself in the settings. At the original screen, there is a cog-wheel and that will take you to the settings area where you can add your email.
- Once you have your email added, you can now “email to yourself.” If you are copying pages of documents, then it emails the files as PDF’s to you. Sending a picture? JPEG.
- Remember the beginning and one of the options is “SureScan 3x?” This allows you to take 3 pictures at differing settings and combining them to get the best image. I think that the regular picture is pretty good but this is something to experiment with. Don’t worry about getting the picture exactly the same; it seems to allow for movement of the camera and work with the information that it receives to bring you the best image.
- Of course you can save your file to your camera roll, but if you think about it, sending it to your email makes a lot of sense since it doesn’t take up important space on your phone and it can be retrieved later via any computer that you would like to open your email in. It can also be shared easily with other family members! Once you are satisfied that you have sent it to your email, then feel free to delete. If you touch the document file that you have just made and emailed to yourself, then you will see the little trash can that will take your image off to never-never land. Remember that this will save space on your phone for all those important photos of family and friends!
I’m hoping this helps. While I love all the new technology, it is moving as such a fast pace and can become very intimidating very fast. For some of you, this is making it way too basic but I know that there might be just a few that will appreciate these steps to be written down!
As always, feel free to contact me with any particular questions that you might have about genealogy research in general and I will try to work them into future posts!