Win a RootsTech Pass as We Celebrate Our YouTube Anniversary

Last year, I told my husband that I wanted to expand my dream of inspiring and educating others about genealogy and family history by cre...

28 February 2017

Interviews, Interviews, and More Interviews - RootsTech

RootsTech Expo Hall Interviews

How have you liked the coverage of RootsTech by all of the Ambassador's in the blogosphere? If you didn't attend RootsTech or if you did but didn't see everything you wanted to, hopefully the Ambassadors have helped you have more depth to your experience.

With 1.5 days to capture interviews, Andy and I hustled and are super excited about what we've captured for you. As we chatted with planned interviewees or asked people spontaneously, I became so exciting thinking about you my readers and video viewers. I became excited to shed some light on people doing great things in genealogy or just something fun. Andy and I were putting into practice the many "Rookie Smarts" tips  Liz Wiseman shared in her Wednesday keynote

27 February 2017

RT: Covering A Conference With a Hearing Problem

Conference Coverage by Hearing Impaired Reporter

What did they say? Can you repeat that? Gosh, it's so loud, I have no idea what you said? Can I sit closer, I can't hear?

Welcome to the thoughts I that plague me when I'm in church, book club, or any workshop. Multiply this by 1,000, and I'm in trouble if I want to pursue conference coverage for this blog and the YouTube channel.

RT: Thank Goodness for the Media Hub

RootsTech Ambassadors Media Hub

As stated in "Using My Privilege for You," I focused on using my Ambassador status to serve you. To accomplish those goals, I used the Media Hub a little bit. There were charging stations for my phone and computer that needed constant resupplying. I had an ethernet cable to upload my videos to YouTube without using wi-fi. Oh sweet blessing! And, I made more friends. I loved the Hub!

The Media Hub had numerous places for Ambassadors to interview the keynote speakers, major sponsors, or each other. The Media Hub Staff helped Ambassadors arrange such interview. This year I didn't take advantage of those perks as much I could have. Depending upon what you'd like me to cover in 2018, I might change my strategy. (So be sure to leave a comment below regarding the reporting I've done and what you'd like to have Andy and I do next year.)

26 February 2017

Using My Privilege for You - RootsTech

RootsTech Ambassador Devon Noel Lee

When you're given an opportunity, you grab it by the horns and get to work. That's what happened in January. Andy and I received Ambassador status to cover the RootsTech conference, in addition to our speaking commitments. This was a fabulous opportunity for us to provide conference coverage for our Family History Fanatics channel on YouTube. Have you checked it out? You should. (Here's the link)

After a great night's sleep in Salt Lake City, Andy and I headed to the Salt Palace to hit the ground running capturing interviews and covering the RootsTech conference for you, our tribe. The first special perk was early access to the vendor hall.

25 February 2017

Roots Tech: And Emotional Landing

Family History Fanatics and RootsTech

It's hard to believe that 100,000 people tuned into the live streaming of RootsTech 2017 when 10,000+ were attending in person on Thursday and Friday. Knowing what it felt like to be at home when the fun was happening in Salt Lake, I wanted to serve my readers and YouTube followers. But first I had to get there!

My husband and I flew into Salt Lake on Wednesday. We have these five kiddos that think they need food, clothing, and housing. As such, Andy has to work as an engineer, which makes time off scarce. I have to arrange childcare for FIVE as they're not quite old enough to fend for themselves. It's really challenging to find someone who would take that many kiddos. I remember it being much easier to arrange childcare for one or two.

As I packed my bags, I listened to Liz Wiseman's Rookie Smart's based keynote. I also watched the Twitter feed during her session and loved how people tweeted their favorite nuggets of wisdom.

My #genchat buddy and her fun #NotAtRootsTech photo!

If you haven't read the #NotAtRootsTech feed on Twitter, you need to take sit down with a glass of your favorite beverage and enjoy the feeds while watching the sessions that are still available at

So Andy worked a half day, and then we hustled the kids to my AMAZING cousin, and we hopped on a plane headed to the Rockies.  I was #NotAtRootsTech yet, but I would soon change my status to #RootsTech with boots on the ground, or rather hot pink sneakers.

As I landed, I choked with tears. You see, Salt Lake City Airport has numerous homecomings. Young men and women between the ages of 19-25 devote 18 months to 2 years of their lives to serve missions for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. And, their families stay behind and wait anxiously for their return. If you've ever experienced the return of military service men and women after a deployment, you have an idea of the homecomings that happen in the SLC airport. My good friend had just welcomed home her son to Houston after such a mission in Paraguay, so my tear factory was on high alert.

Andy and I passed the families as they craned their next to see their loved ones who were deplanning behind us. As soon as the cheers erupted, my tears flowed. I texted my friend, and she understood.

My Girlfriend knows these homecomings ass to well!

My heart aches for those who have service men and women or missionaries that they have limited contact with during the months and years they are apart. Their homecomings are emotional for them and this crazy woman with a super sentimental side. I'm so happy for their reunion, but I seriously needed to get some sleep because my figurative marathon was about to begin.

Further RootsTech Conference Reading:
Family History Fanatics Videos from RootsTech 2017

RootsTech: Better Every Year

RootsTech 2017

RootsTech 2017 was better than 2016.  Perhaps the second time around made RootsTech for me. Or perhaps this conference just had more things done well. I had a feeling things were going to be great when I noticed the signage.

"Sign, sign, everywhere a sign
Blockin' out the scenery, breakin' my mind
Do this, don't do that, can't you read the sign?"
"Signs" by Tesla
(originally by The Five Man Electrical Band)

Few people pay attention to the little details around a convention, but with my experience working for the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport in the marketing department, I learned to pay attention to the signs. The Salt Palace greeted you with a huge black and white 1920s era photo. SO inviting!

RootsTech Outside Signage

 As you descended the escalators from the street level towards the registration, you were greeted not only by vertical signage emphasizing major sponsors of the conference. Additionally, directional signage on the floor pointed which way to go once you stepped off the descending staircase.

RootsTech 2017 Floor signage

Seriously ya'll. Whoever thought of this idea, and then designed and implemented it, needs a raise! Having driven in a major city like Houston for two years and noticing the painted signage on the traffic congested high-speed freeways, sometimes what's on the ground is a better traffic flow assistant than the vertical signs. Well done!!!!

RootsTech Registration Signage
Registration signage. Really sets the tone for the event.

There's an App for That!

Last year the RootsTech app was less than helpful and didn't work half the time. This year, the app was better. Unfortunately, getting access to handouts was available through numerous steps using the app (no website access available). Thankfully, my buddy Randy Seaver helped me find a web based hack that got around this problem. (Click here for the link to his hack!)

RootsTech App 2017

I loved the announcements in the App and using it to find my way around the Expo Hall. That's what a conference app should do.

What I didn't like was that the app was supposed to be a social sharing app. I need simplicity in my life. I have Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus in addition to my YouTube Channel. I don't need yet another platform in which to be social. If the social aspect was scuttled in next year's app, I would have plenty of space for the app on my phone with a minuscule storage capacity.

Knowing What to Expect

RootsTech is a super conference compared to the Texas State Genealogical Society Conference or even a Houston homeschool conference. Last year, I knew few people and didn't know what to expect. This year, I knew what to expect and had more friends. And I made new ones too! Gotta love that!

RootsTech Branding
More small details!

RootsTech 2017 was better logistically thanks to the small details and a better app. But, it was likely a better experience because it was my second time around.

24 February 2017

3 Secrets for Making Time for Family History

Busy Mom Genealogy Secret Weapons

"How do you do it? With five children to homeschool and service in my church, how do I find time to do genealogy?" I hear this compliment all the time and it's time I share my secrets.

Life can seem so busy that we feel like we’re Bugs Bunny playing every position on a baseball field. Many articles are written about managing time so you can do more.; however, more time can not be found. You have to plan your time to do what matters most. Today, I'll share my three secret weapons for making time to do something that strengthens my family and myself in the process.

Cosplay at RootsTech

When I told my daughter that RootsTech was like a ComicCon, I was trying to explain the scope of the event to her. Little did I know that there would be a few cosplayers at RootsTech that would make my analogy more accurate.

Before I show you want I'm talking about, you have to understand a few terms.

15 February 2017

International Exhibitors Increase Presence at RootsTech

QingTime Bella Italia UKRINIURKOLEGUIA at RootsTech

With 30,000 attendees, 200+ classes, and labs, and famous keynote speakers, RootsTech 2017 provided an extraordinary opportunity to teach and inspire others to focus on their family, their ancestral family.

One understated increase at the conference was the increase in the number of international vendors in the Expo Hall. There non-United States booths included:

  • Ukraine - Ukrainian Bar Association for Foreign Affairs
  • China - Jiangsu Time Information Technology Co., Ltd.
  • Ireland - Irish Family History Centre
  • Finland - Finland's Family History Association
  • Italy - Bella Italia Genealogy di Bovino Alessandro 
  • Italy - Museo del Cognome
  • French Quebec - Institut généalogique Drouin
  • Scotland - Genealogy Tours of Scotland
  • Germany -  Germanic Genealogy Society
  • Germany - International German Genealogy Partnership
  • Belgium - Histoires de Familles
  • Europe - Into the Past

With Ambassador privileges, a lapel mic, and camera, Andy and I decided to spotlight a few of those vendors.

Capturing Personal History with Emberall

Emberall at RootsTech 2017

Capturing and sharing life stories has never been easier! Set up an account with Emberall and create a video in 30 minutes that lasts forever. RootsTech Innovator Top Five Finalist.

Emberall helps you "Record the Story of Your Life." According to promotional material, Emberall captures interview clips, a question at a time, into albums. Then these clips are compiled into a life story video that you and your loved ones can view as a whole or in segments online or on your personalized DVD. What would cost around $2,000 for a professional service, now costs a fraction of the cost with Emberall!  

Each February, technology developers and entrepreneurs compete for $190,000 in prizes as they pitch their innovations in the genealogy industry to celebrity judges, industry influencers, and a live audience. If you have a great innovation, consider participating in RootsTech 2018. This website will recap the 2017 experience.

Further Reading:

Further RootsTech Conference Reading:
Family History Fanatics Videos from RootsTech 2017

Go and capture your family stories or the stories about you and your life. Emberall makes it easier.

11 February 2017

Interview with RootsTech winner Bill Nelson of OldNewsUSA

OldNewsUSA Innovator Showdown Winner RootsTech

Bill Nelson took home top honors at the RootsTech Innovator Showdown with his pain solving problem OldNewsUSA Mobile App. If you've ever used Chronicling America to research newspaper, you know the content is great, but the search engine stinks like rotten tomatoes. OldNewsUSA rolls out with an Android solution to that problem.

Bill sat down with Devon Noel Lee of Family History Fanatics after the semi-final round of the Innovator Showdown at the 2017 RootsTech competition. After the interview, he succeeded in capturing $95,000 in cash and prizes to continuing developing this his app to expand to iOS operating systems and searching more newspaper collections!

This app makes me want to get a phone with a larger capacity! Check out the interview on the Family History Fanatics YouTube Channel!

To learn more about the app, visit: Revgenea Software: Making Family History Mobile website at Or download the app from GooglePlay store:

Further RootsTech Conference Reading:
Family History Fanatics Videos from RootsTech 2017

08 February 2017

3 of My Books Available During RootsTech

If you are in Salt Lake City for RootsTech, I have a stack of books available for purchase! To learn more about the books.

A Recipe for Writing Family History takes the fuss out of the first draft of your family's stories.

From Metal to Rhinestones: A Quest for the Crown is an autobiographical transformation story involving a teenager in Texas trading in rock - n - roll attire for cinderella slippers.

21st Century Family Historian lets beginner genealogists know that there is a place for everyone to do something in Family History.

Look for the nifty Family History Fanatics shirts, on my husband and I, on Thursday and Friday and you can pick up a copy of these books. If you're having trouble finding me in the ExpoHall, tweet me at @dnoellee.

If you purchase the book in person, I'll sign it for you!

That's better than Amazon Prime.

What will Liz Say at RootsTech?

Liz Wiseman, the author of Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter which taught that leadership isn't about making everyone work harder but magnifies the talents of those around them, so all achieve together, heads to the Innovator Summit at RootsTech.

In leadership training, she shares how our personal knowledge can impede our ability to lead. Her adage that 'learning how to learn is more important than what we have learned' sounds like a homeschool truism. And her work ethic platitude of 'Figure Out Your Bosses' Biggest Challenge and Solve It' are great tips to teach my children on how to succeed in the future.

What will see share with the genealogy innovators? How can they, or we, multiple the skills of resources and research to bring genealogy further in 2017? We'll soon learn!

Watch the Live Streaming on

9:00 am
Innovator Summit General Session 2017

10:15 a.m.
Industry Trends and Outlook

11:30 a.m.
Innovation: Best Practices and Applications

07 February 2017

MyHeritage and GenealogyGems Booth Demo Schedule

RootsTech MyHeritage and Genealogy Gems Demo Schedule

As if the classes and the RootsTech Demo Theater wasn't Enough. MyHeritage and the Genealogy Gems are having booth demonstrations!!! There's a whole lot of learning going on at RootsTech!

Yesterday I posted about the wonderful demos taking place on the main Demo Theater in the Expo Hall at RootsTech. Today, you can view even more learning opportunities to through your schedule for a loop. Or, if you just haven't found the right classes that fit your needs, you can now learn from the service providers! Expo Hall Schedule
Click Image for the Full Size (more readable Image)

Genealogy Gems Expo Hall Schedule
Click Image for the Full Size (more readable Image)

Other booths have demo schedules tucked into the Registration bags. Too bad this information isn't released in advance so you could plan your schedule around all the learning opportunities with all options before you.

So, if you can't find what you're looking for on the main classes or your class of choice becomes too full, check out these mini-presentations in the Demo Theater!

Further RootsTech Reading:

It's Okay to Be a Fanatic at RootsTech

Family History Fanatic at RootsTech

Tweets are chirping that people have arrived in rainy Salt Lake City. Facebook posts talk of others who will soon be on their way. The Innovator Showdown contestants are putting the final touches no their presentations in hopes of winning the cash prizes. Attendees are planning out their schedules and considering demos at the Expo Hall. One has to wonder, is it' okay to be a little be excited at the largest genealogy conference in the United States?

"Heck, yea!"

Having attended a ComicCon as Catwoman with my daughter as Ms. Marvel, I finally understand just how much conference planners want us to have fun. They want us to meet our favorite authors, bloggers, educators, and superstars while learning something in the process. And if you turn into a little 'groupie' over LeVar Burton or The Cake Boss. That's Okay!

Have fun. Meet new people. You never know who you'll run into and where your friendship will take you. If you don't believe me, then you need to keep reading about my Genealogy Fan Girl experience from last year. (Hmm... maybe I need to make that phrase into a T-Shirt?)

06 February 2017

Demo Theater Line Up for RootsTech 2017

RootsTech Expo Hall

With 200+ classes to choose from, one would not possibly expect more learning opportunities at RootsTech. Right? Well, you're wrong! The ExpoHall Demo Theater is a wonderful educational experience, complete with giveaways! There are so many ways to win something at RootsTech. I hope you will be one of them.

I love the expo hall. There are so many great products for sale, especially those for young families like mine.

Books from Family History Expos
Activity Books from Family History Expos

Get Your Free Family Infographic - RootsTech Rage

Create Family Statistic Graphic with Twile

If you've used social media or attended business and motivational conferences, you have seen an infographic. Today, you can have one made of you and your ancestors with ease. The end result might be more valuable than the paper it's printed on.

An infographic is a visual presentation, a chart or diagram, that represents a set of data.  With Twile, you can generate a family infographic for free.

First, let's talk about Twile who finished in 3rd place at the 2016 RootsTech Innovator Showdown and captured the People's Choice Award. This company creates a visual timeline of your family history, made up of milestones and photos, which everyone in your family can explore and contribute to.

05 February 2017

Win an iPad While Beginning Your Digitizing Project

JoyFLIPS RootsTech 2017

Are you drowning in photos? Does the thought of scanning grandma's house scare you like a Steven King novel? Would you like to win an iPad while you embark on a simple scanning system? Then you're reading the right post.

JoyFLIPS in a semi-finalist in the RootsTech Innovator Showdown and they want to make your life easier by turning your smartphone into a portable scanner that acts like a video camera. However, unlike a video camera. This app will autofocus, capture, and crop your photos as you flip through the stack one at a time. (Darn, that means I need to stack my disorganized mess of pictures!)

The company touts that the mobile app, only available for iOS at this time, "allows anyone to scan over 500 photos in less than an hour. With autofocus, light level correction, camera jitter detection and instant cropping it creates beautiful digital images in about 3 seconds per photo."

04 February 2017

FamCity Launches Kickstarter Campaign - RootsTech Rage

FamiCity Launches Kickstarter Campaign

Sharing memories with extended family members is the act of recording personal history. Technology has been a blessing and a curse. Yes, it's easier than ever to share your precious newborn's photos or to see your grandchildren who live 1,000s of miles away. But are these memories secure, private, and owned by you?

FamiCity spent 5 years researching and developing a multi-device platform that puts privacy first as users preserve their family legacies from the past and records current memories for future generations.

Don't let the genealogy aspect of this site scare you. FamiCity debuted in France and was well with 150,000 users, the most active of which are young mothers with newborn babies. Don't ever say you're too busy to do family history. These women will prove you wrong!

Shh... Don't tell them it's Genealogy - Devon Noel Lee

On this site, you can interact and engage with the tech savvy rising generations! You will create a map of your family history, select who can view its content, and then invite family members to engage and build upon your memory submissions.

The FamiCity Experience

If you are interested in the service, be advised that they offer two levels of participation.

  • Free Accounts: You can upload text and photo
  • Premium Accounts: share videos, record audio, add DNA information, save documents. (Cost: $98 a year)
Information shared will be associated with profiles that display events on a timeline. You can even view a photo family tree for every profile you've created. 

FamiCity promises that your content is only shared with relatives you have invited. It can’t be searched or accessed by the public – just your family.

When you upload content to FamCity, you do not transfer ownership to the company, like other Social Media sites. However, you can choose to share information from your FamiCity account to social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

All accounts can interact, comment, and send messages to each other in this 'invite-only' tree service. The site allows the import of GEDCOM files.  

Power of the Crowd

FamiCity was a semi-finalist in the Innovator Showdown at RootsTech 2016, and now they are running a crowdsourcing campaign through Kickstater.

No advertising appears on FamiCity, which is why it depends upon this fundraising campaign as well as Premium subscriptions.

Kickstarter supports who pledge $48 will receive  2-year membership (which normally costs $96 per year). As an added bonus, backers receive that $48 annual rate forever!  Additional incentives are offered for supporters who donate more. Click on this link to learn more: FamiCity Kickstarter Campaign.

In you're interested in what is billed as "the next generation family photo album and history book in one," subscribe to their service and add to the already 3 million ancestors that exist in the database. But remember, your tree stays private to your invited family members only. But, this isn't a genealogy service. It's a 'legacy center' for multiple generations to meet and share.

Unanswered Question

With all apps and services of this kind, I always have the same question. "How can I get my information out of this service? How can I save what has been shared with me?" I've submitted an email to FamiCity and I will pass along their answer once received.

Further RootsTech Reading:

03 February 2017

Warning: RootsTech Rage Ahead!

RootsTech Conference Logo 2017

Warning, you are about to enter a genealogy posting frenzy featuring the super conference known as RootsTech held in Salt Lake City, Utah February 8-11th. Don't be afraid!

This blog will blow up with posts before, during, and after the conference. Hopefully, you'll take shelter with the appropriate gear and enjoy the most exciting week for family history fanatics!!!

01 February 2017

Order From Metal to Rhinestones: A Quest for the Crown

When you wear holey jeans, rock concert T-shirts, and frizzy headbanger hair, why would you trade it all in for sequins, rhinestones, and Cinderella high heels? One day a woman planted a transforming fantasy in my heavy-metal-infused brain and mesmerized me with visions of tiaras and roses. When I asked my father if I could participate in my first pageant, he shouted, "You want to do what?"