Sunday, November 20, 2016

The closest drawer, and the death of USB flash drives

It didn't take me long to go through the small number of books that I have remaining on the shelf under the credenza, as I had already entered almost all of them into LibraryThing a few years ago. The only ones missing were my father's high school yearbook and some books that had been published in the past few years.  I have no doubt that I'll have a major LibraryThing project once I turn my attention to my bookcase. But that project is for next year.

Back to the credenza. It has two top drawers, and two file drawers under those. The closest top drawer is the one that needs my immediate attention. It (and the file drawer under it) can be easily reached while I work at my computer, so I need to have in it only those things that I might need immediate access to.

Throughout our homes we are all likely to have junk drawers, so named because they tend to accumulate everything that doesn't seem to fit neatly into a single category. But you don't want drawers like that right next to where you work every day, because that means you're endlessly rummaging through it to find what you need.

My closest drawer has a sliding organizer on top. I use it to store a single pen (the one I talk about in Organize Your Genealogy); a letter opener, a pair of scissors, and a pen knife for opening envelopes and packages; and rechargeable batteries for my keyboard and mouse. As I cleared it out, I discovered a lens wipe buried under other things, so I moved it to a more visible location. The drawer has a lot of other things too, but when I look at them, I realize that I almost never use them.

It also has 10 USB flash drives. Many of these were giveaways by Ancestry, FamilySearch, or various state society conferences. I have no idea at the moment what's on them, if anything, but ideally, I should go through all of them, transfer any important files to my computer (so that they are backed up), delete everything on them, and toss the oldest ones, especially those that have relatively low storage capabilities.

It has been estimated that flash drives may last no longer than 5 years (10 at best), and so they should never be depended on for long-term data storage (and do not use them as backup devices). They really serve only one valid purpose: temporary storage for transferring data from one device to another. You'll always want a few with you on a research trip (more than one in case one suddenly fails), so that you can transfer files from scanners or other researchers to your laptop or desktop computer.

It occurs to me that if you obtain a new one, you should put a small label on it indicating the year it was first used, so that you'll know when it has reached the end of its reasonable lifespan. I also always label mine with at least my first name and last initial, so that it can be identified if I leave it behind somewhere.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

The home office credenza on the left - first pass

In my previous posting, I provided a photo of a credenza that sits immediately to my left as I work on my computer desk. There were obviously too many things taking up space on top, a set of books on the shelf underneath that probably included some items that I would rarely if ever consult, and a shelf beneath that one with mostly large map books.

Here is how the space looks now:

The upright file has been cleared of its store coupons (thanks to long-time podcast listener Mike Scozzari for his suggestion about putting those into large plastic storage bags and moving them to the cars, where they are actually needed). It is now ready for the occasional paper, magazine, or book that is needed for an ongoing project.

The inbox (which was really just a stacking place) has been moved to another part of the office, and those papers will become part of the ones that will need to be gone through in a later project.

The map books, with rare exception, weren't of any historical value and were seriously outdated, so the outdated ones went into the trash. The lowest shelf instead now holds the podcasting equipment that George and I use every 2 weeks.

I reviewed the books, moving a number of them to bookshelves much further away (outside my office), and keeping only the ones that pertained directly to my current research or that were useful for reference purposes.

So what is left to do?

First, I want to go through the books that I have kept on the shelf and enter them into my LibraryThing catalog. Some of them may already be there, but I'm certain that not all of them are.

Second, I'll need to address what is in the drawers.

Thursday, November 03, 2016

My next 3-month genealogy organizing project(s): 1 physical, 1 digital

Now that I've reached the end of my first 3-month organizing project, it's time to turn my attention to other things that need organizing.  So between now and, let's say, RootsTech 2017, what can I work on?

I'd like to work on at least one physical organizing project, so that I can make some progress in my home office.  But I figure I can have two different projects going on at the same time, especially if one is physical and the other digital, so that I won't get bored.

My home computer desk is about as organized as it's going to get, so I don't need to worry with it:

So next I'll turn my attention to my nearest work surface, the credenza to my left:

From the piles of papers on top, to the books underneath, to whatever is lurking in the drawers, there is obviously a lot of work to be done in this space!

My digital project is going to revolve around my genealogy presentations. Right now it takes me too long to find the ones I need when I'm preparing for an upcoming speaking event.  So I'll tackle that set of files next.