Wednesday, December 7, 2011

You Know You're Nerdy When...

Well, as I write this I have just completed two presentations for two different IT classes I am taking. One in a web design class, where we presented the web site we designed for a local law firm. Thought that one went ok, but then I've been designing web sites for a while and that's in my comfort zone. The other one had to do with Storage Area Networks (SANs) and the whats, whys, and wherefores. Thank goodness I didn't have to do either on my own as they were team projects, but especially the last one. Hardware and I just do not seem to get along! I was gratefully relegated to the end of the presentation where I discussed some software options and who would best implement a SAN. Let's just say I was glad we were running short on time...

Thing is, as I'm preparing for finals next week, I'm amazed at how excited I can still get about all this stuff! We had a presentation on cloud computing today (reference my inaugural blog post) and I found myself thinking of all the cool ways this is going to affect genealogy. Then for some reason, I decided to check the RootsTech 2012 conference site when I got home. For those of you who are not aware, 2012 will only be the second year this conference has been held.

"We interrupt this blog to bring you this important commercial announcement..."

What is RootsTech? It's an awesome opportunity for genealogists of all expertise levels to be in the same room with developers who are interested in creating applications (desktop, online, and mobile) for family historians. I didn't attend last year, but I heard some pretty amazing things about it. Hands-on workshops, interactive classes, rubbing shoulders with the people who have brought technology to the field of genealogy. Microsoft even had a game room set up! Other companies that will be there in 2012 include Oracle, brightsolid, Dell and a number of the major players in the online genealogy world, including If you find yourself with some extra time on your hands in February, come join me at RootsTech!

"We now return you to your regularly scheduled blog..."

So, having been a genealogist for 30-some years, I went to look at the classes being offered, and of course went straight to the User track. I scrolled down the list and found a few interesting things (I have got to listen to D. Joshua Taylor's talk on metadata, for instance...), but then thought I'd tiptoe through the Developer track. WOW! Simply reading some of the titles of the classes got me just itching to get on the plane and get down there. Too bad the conference isn't until February 2nd! Developing a new GEDCOM standard, learning about FamilySearch's API, Developing Applications with JavaScript and JQuery (I now know just enough JavaScript to be dangerous...), PHP & MySQL, and a class on Visualization of Genealogy Data are just a few that I'm fascinated by. I am definitely no hard-core programmer (ask either of my programming professors), I don't even know SQL yet, and algorithms can sometimes throw me for a loop (no pun intended...). But for some strange reason, if you put words like computer, database, genealogy, cloud, and web development in the same sentence, the fog seems to clear and I want to learn more and right now please! One would think I've had enough for the time being, but apparently not.

So, I guess I will not so patiently wait until I can get on a plane in February and head to Salt Lake City. I'm sure I'll attend some of the user classes, after all, that's primarily what I still am. But being a wannabe developer with 30+ years of genealogical research experience does have its merits, I suppose. I'm hoping that between knowing what I'd like to see developed in the next several years (bigger and better databases with much better search engines for starters...) and continuing to learn about the many facets of IT in school, that at some point I'll be able to meaningfully contribute to the world of genealogical technology.

How do you know you're nerdy then? When you're tired because your brain is so stuffed with information about CPUs, C# programming, inheritance, UML diagrams, DOM, and secondary storage that you dream about them at night, and yet you can still get excited about going to a technical conference.

No comments:

Post a Comment