Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Discoveries from RootsTech 2013

The speaker's bag (yellow) and the regular
conference goer bag on the right (blue)

1. I discovered that every conference goer receives one of these cool RootsTech bags.   But I also learned to pack light since it's a long day and all the goodies you collect at the Expo will magically and exponentially weigh more by about 5pm.

2. I learned some new vocabulary, and my favorite new word is “Geneajaunt”- from Australian genealogist Jill Ball.

3. And I learned even more new vocabulary, like “Flying monkeys”- a collective term for all of Thomas MacEntee’s bloggers and followers.  Another “new to me” moment.

4. I saw David Pogue live on stage and learned that he is much more than just a geeky technology writer (he is also a pianist, composer, comic as seen in this video of his keynote address at www.rootstech.org on Saturday, March 23rd at 8:30am  )

ZUCA rolling bag

5.  I discovered the wonderful ZÜCA bag while waiting in line for a session to start.  The woman who owned it raved about it, and showed me all the features.  It is the ultimate gadget for genealogists at http://www.zuca.com/  This expensive rolling travel bag also comes in a carry-on size, too (but it’s even more expensive).   It is very light (aluminum) and has a built in seat for waiting in those long lines, or to support a second load piled on top.  This bag is perfect for the long walks in Salt Lake City between your hotel, the Family History Library and the convention center, or to carry all your stuff during the day.  I saw two people using this bag at RootsTech.  Beware - It costs as much as a new mobile device! But it is super cool.  These are the things you learn while waiting in lines…

6. I learned that there are battery phone cases and capacitor chargers to extend the life of your mobile devices at conferences, in the FHL, on the plane with a capacitor that stores energy for hours, or a super capacitor that stores enough energy for days at a time.  The battery mobile phone cases double the life of your regular phone battery and the capacitor chargers (also called external battery chargers) can be used on your laptop or tablet.   Thank you to Jill Ball from Australia and Marie Doughan from Scotland for introducing these to me.  They used them on those long airplane trips to RootsTech.

7. I also learned about the value of Blogger beads- You must wear them everywhere- to the FHL, to restaurants, around town to spark conversation (speak up at the first raised eyebrow) and be prepared with a ten second "elevator" speech and business cards with your URL.   These beads are not just a fun accessory; they are a powerful media tool.  The blogger bead subtle advertising is so successful that I am going to supply beads at NERGC 2013 in Manchester.

8. Be prepared to hug in the oddest places. Suddenly a complete stranger will come up to you in the restroom, or the elevator, or when you have your mouth full at breakfast and introduce themselves as a blog fan, Twitter follower, or Facebook friend.

9. Also be prepared to act like a complete fool and gush like a groupie when you find out you are sitting next to Cyndi Howell of cyndislist.com or MaureenTaylor, the “Photo Detective”.  More hugs usually follow this encounter, too.

10. I learned that even when you fly across country to a national convention, there will always be a New England Yankee, or someone who lived briefly in your state, or someone with New England roots sitting right next to you at a session, or at the same table at the luncheons. This happened to me at all three luncheons, every session and even at the keynotes. Even at the FHL because it was busy and every table was full. A gentleman sitting right next to me at the NGS luncheon lived on Alexander Road, Londonderry, NH in the 1980s!   Strangers from New England introduced themselves even on the street waiting to cross at the lights because apparently I have some sort of accent when I pronounce the word “car”…

11. Another important lesson- If you want to enjoy an adult beverage, be prepared to walk away from Temple Square to other hotels and restaurants. It is still possible to enjoy a lovely evening at the Roof with Pellegrino as the only bubbly in your glass.

12. I discovered the joy of belonging to the Geneabloggers community!  Many, many times my fellow Geneabloggers have helped me solve technical problems on my blog, or helped me stop sploggers, or even gently suggested edits and corrections.  I've also made cousin connections with dozens of Geneabloggers, and shared lineage information.  We find time to share meals, cheer each other on before presentations, and support the newbies.  

At RootsTech I found time, even with a busy schedule, to return the Geneablogger karma.  I filled in on a panel that needed an additional genealogist, I found information at the FHL for someone who commented on Dear Myrtle’s HOA video show, and I was able to steer several other bloggers towards good resources for New England research at the Family History Library.  What goes around comes around.  And it’s fun, too!

Copyright 2013, Heather Wilkinson Rojo


  1. Great list - I too am thinking about buying something to fix my low battery problem, although like the gadget panel, I feel that's something that needs doing by the industry, not us. And it was amazing how many people told me they had lived in Washington State, so close to my home in Canada, or, of course, been to Vancouver, BC for a cruise or other visit. But the hugs were the best!

  2. Thanks for sharing your great discoveries. It sounds like I missed a really good time.

  3. What A Hugfest It Was And What A Fab Idea For A Blogpost.

    Thanks, Heather For The Mentions And Your Support At RootsTech.

  4. Thanks Heather for a great blog post. I couldn't have survived without my New Trent high capacity "powerpak" for my iPhone and iPad (the same one that Marie Dougan also bought). I also found that everyone I started chatting to (even in the queue for the ladies' bathroom!) had London (England) roots. Strange coincidences indeed!

  5. Heather,

    Looks like you had great fun at RootsTech. The rolling bag is great. There are so many wonderful gadgets out there to make life easier for researchers. The down side is that so many research places won't let you in with them (except maybe a laptop and camera). Wouldn't it be great if we made enough noise that they loosened up a bit and stopped treating research facilities like high security prisons?


    1. I agree, Jan, but I was at NARA in Washington just after a famous historian stole some valuable documents. We were all treated like terrorists and photographed, interviewed, tested, scanned, and the serial numbers of all our cameras and phones were written down. I hope other repositories don't follow suit. It took an hour just to get in and get to work!

  6. Someday when my kids are older, I'll get to join in all the fun. And I guess I don't mind being called a "Flying Monkey" as I was born during the Chinese year of the Monkey. I've been called a monkey all my life although when I was younger it was because I liked to climb trees. LOL

  7. Re #9: I'm so glad I'm not the only "gusher"! When I went to the Genealogy Event in NYC, I was so star-struck with Maureen Taylor, Judy Russell & Allison Dolan!

  8. Oh Heather, I love youre discoveries, and I do absolutely agree with No's. 7, 8, 9, & 12 (and sorry for catching you as you were crossing the road, and me having my own gushing moment then) ... but you do have to grab the opportunities as they arise. ;-)

    And thankyou for explaining what the difference in the two different coloured bags were, I was wondering that. So question answered!

  9. Thanks! I've been meaning to listen to David Pogue, so I listened to him here on your blog. Very clever and lighthearted! "Geneajaunt" is great! And where can I get me some of them Blogger Beads?

    Very enjoyable.

  10. So true! Every bit. I told Becky W. we needed to sign up for the roller-tote concession for next year's conference. I'm sure it would pay for our trip - probably even the bar tab.

    1. Make sure you and Becky sell those Zuca bags, I really want one. The backpack by FamilySearch with the rolling wheels was also pretty cool, and almost as expensive. If something said "Genealogy" or "GeneaBloggers" I'm sure you'd sell lots! LOL!

  11. What a fabulous insight into the "behind the scenes" of RootsTech for those of us who haven't been (yet?!) I didn't know about capacitors either so a must-add to my own gadget bag. And I can quite understand the gushing moments :-)

  12. Cool info shared Heather!

    Eric / Genedocs ;-)