Welcome to My World

-Welcome to the new & improved blog, Life In The Trenches.  On here I will be detailing things from everyday life, such as, recommendations of things that I have come across and the panning of those that I have found to be waste of time and money.  I will occasionally post some rants about things that I find annoying and raves about things that I get excited about.  I do have a political blog at the Thinking Progressive so I will keep politics, religion, and other controversial issues to a minimum on here.  I also author a couple of other blogs: My Family Research, which I use to detail my experience in researching my family history and post interesting/relevant information.  Then there is Digging Around Winslow Township which satisfies my interest in local history; my near term plans are to expand this deal with the history of New Jersey (so, yes, this site needs extensive work).  Other than that, enjoy my current endeavor and if you wish to comment, please feel free to register and post your thoughts.  However, I must say that I will be moderating all comments and determining if they get included or not.  Sorry, my blog…my rules.

How Things Have Changed

Recently, I decided to venture back into researching my family history.  I had been quite a few years since I did any serious research.  A lot of things changed since those days; Rootsweb has gone through a complete revamping where the personal genealogy websites have disappeared (inlcuding mine) and the maillists have undergone a total revision (they have migrated to a different platform).  What I had to go through to reclaim my old genealogy maillists is for another post at another time.

There were a few changes that the genre has gone through, also.  Although I wasn’t actively conducting research I still kept my fingers in the genre.  I was still getting a few daily digests from certain maillists on other platforms.  The last thing I remember doing was getting a new family tree software from Legacy Family Tree.    Seems that there are now more new companies that cater to the genealogist and each one charges a price.  Before you could find a few online services that helped the genealogist at no cost.  FamilySearch.org and Cyndi’s List come to mind.  Even the old Ancestry.com allowed you some basic access to information before they required a payment from you.  No more. Ancestry.com won’t even allow you to access the submitted family trees without payment.  THAT is annoying because Ancestry.com didn’t pay for that data…users freely submitted it.  I don’t and I deleted whatever info I had there before.  Unfortunaely, that information was already monetized and sold via their Family Tree CDs.

Now, you’ve got everybody pushing their services onto the genealogist.  They allow you to seach their database but only give you a summary of what was found.  To get details you have to pay for the subscription service.  These are, again, Ancestry.com, MyHeritage, GenealogyBank, MyTrees, etc.  And the prices they’re charging are exhorbitant.  I would prefer to know the source and go there directly and pay their fee for the single record.

It seems to me that, thanks to the venture capitalists that bought Ancestry.com,  genealogy research has gone mainstream but for the wrong reasons.  It’s a lot of hyperbole but little in truth or promoting doing research correctly.  That, also, is for another post.

The sticker shock for me is how everyone has increased their fees three-to-fivefold from where it was.  I can see increasing prices to keep up with the costs but many seem to be taking advantage of genealogists.  Especially with today’s technology the costs should be going down not up.  The cost of a copy of a parent’s or grandparent’s SS-5 from the Social Security Admin went from $7.50 to $28.00??

Want the information but not the nagging?

You’re online searching out prices for a specific service such as auto insurance, life insurance, or maybe a new home. All you’re looking for is basic information and price but you’re not ready to take the next step. You’re in the exploratory stage. You really don’t want endless calls from salespeople with their endless pitches. But in order to get the information to display on your computer screen or sent to your email they require that you provide them with your phone number. You don’t want to give them your normal one because you don’t want your normal phone number to be constantly ringing at the most inconvenient times. But you still want the information and a contact person for when you are ready to take the next step. What to do?

I stumbled across a service/app some time ago that allows you to get a free second number that you can use as your business number or as a second phone number. It’s called Sideline (www.sideline.com/). The intention of the Sideline app is to give you a business phone number that connects with your existing mobile number. However, you can set calls to your Sideline number to go directly to voicemail for you to review later (this is what I do). In this way a smart salesperson can leave me a message that I can review and decide when I want to call them back. I also have a separate email address that I use for inquiries where I can review the information and decide what I want to do.

What I like about the Sideline phone number is that I don’t have to deal with high-pressure salespeople at their convenience. High-pressure salespeople rarely leave you a voicemail message, they will keep calling until you pick up the phone and they get to speak to you directly in order to manuveur you into a commitment to purchase from them. That’s probably why they’re so good at that jobs. I just don’t want to deal with it on their terms, preferring to deal with it on my terms.

That’s why I use Sideline as the phone number I place on inquiry forms online. I have other free tools that I have come across that I will detail in additional posts.

A story line very close to home and relevant

Douglas Richards has come up with another blockbuster book that will keep you enthralled.  He creates a plot and sub-plots that pique your interest and brings them together in his stories.  The main character of his book, BrainWeb, Nick Hall is an unwilling recipient of brain implants who can surf the Web with his thoughts and read minds. And while this makes him one of the most formidable men on earth, he is determined to stay off the grid.  But when terrorists seize control of the Academy Awards and vow to butcher the world’s most beloved stars, one by one, in front of an international television audience, Hall is forced to reveal his astonishing capabilities.

Now, power players around the world will stop at nothing to capture him. And as the secretive group working with Hall begins to unravel, he is sure of only two things: he has been betrayed by someone close to him. And the stakes he is playing for could not be any higher .

The book is based on actual research on thought-controlled Web surfing, BrainWeb is a great thriller that raises a number of intriguing possibilities about a future that is rapidly approaching.  Book is very thought-provoking.  BrainWeb is available in paperback, Kindle, audio-book, and CD.