Wednesday, November 14, 2007

My Plan to Prepare for Disaster

After writing the post Are You Prepared? I'm Not a couple of weeks ago, I've decided to take my own advice and have begun devising a plan to tackle some of those issues. But something else came up this morning that added to the mix. Apple's post Uncertain Future brings up some things that I hadn't really thought about. So, what happens to all this stuff in the future, after I'm gone or incapable of living on my own? Wouldn't it be disastrous if it were all destroyed or lost? Looks like another plan needs to be made, or at the least, added to my list.

I'm posting this list for all to see so that perhaps it will give me some incentive. Time spent on these tasks will, obviously, take away time that might otherwise been spent on research or other more "fun" things, but these are things that really require some attention! With that said, I've identified what I think needs to be done, though I may have forgotten a thing or two. Now I have to prioritize these tasks and start working on them!

1. Inventory Household. Take pictures of stuff. Give a copy to someone else to keep in a safe place.

2. Go through all of the boxes (about 30) in the garage. Dispose of what I don't want (sell, give away or trash, if necessary). Inventory items in each box that is kept.

3. Investigate the various services available for scanning photographs. Do they scan the pictures themselves or send them elsewhere? What is the turnaround time, cost, etc. The Genealogy Insider had a post on Batch Photo Scanning Services in October that I've used as the starting point for my investigation. I have negatives for nearly all of the pictures I've taken, so the negatives could be scanned or printed if the pictures were lost in this process. It would be costly, but not disastrous if something were to happen to these prints.

4. Scan Mom's pictures that are in magnetic album pages. Put those pictures into new archival albums. These don't have negatives so they won't be sent out for scanning.

5. Review and reorganize genealogy files (20+ years worth). They look organized, yes? But appearances can be deceiving. I need to put all information for my ancestors into their own file. Currently my files are organized by record type by location. When entered into Legacy a file number is given to each item so it can quickly be retrieved for reference. However, if something should happen to me, no one else would know which documents are specific to which families. Thus, these files need to be reorganized. I also need to confirm that the data has been entered into Legacy.

6. Scan the documents pertaining specifically to ancestors.

7. Finish scanning the old family photographs that I got from Dad (way back in 1992).

8. Create a CD or DVD to distribute the digital picture and document files to my brothers and cousins and anyone else interested in them.

9. Reorganize the files on my computer so that if something happened to me the "important" files would be easier to access, i.e. not buried in several layers of folders. Similar to my paper files, the organization of my digital files make sense to me but could be confusing to others.

10. Post my genealogy databases online. The Bray-Wiseman data is on WorldConnect but none of my other family data is available in an online database. The databases require some clean-up before they can be posted.

11. Be more conscientious about backing up the data on my computer.

12. Try to come up with an answer to the question: "What happens to all this stuff in the future, after I'm gone or incapable of living on my own?"


Lee said...

I would give anything to be half as organized as you appear to be! With that said, I admire your list, and I've been thinking along the same lines. Apple's post really made me think too. Maybe I should be working on my own list, huh? :-)

Jasia said...

I guess we all know what to put on our list of New Year's resolutions don't we? I decided a few months back that I'll be focusing on recording next year. At some point we all just have to stop looking for new stuff and discipline ourselves to deal with what we've already got. You'll see my list when I write it up for a COG edition on New Year's Resolutions coming up Jan. 1

Charley "Apple" Grabowski said...

I think you are way ahead of me already. My paper files are in deplorable shape. Every time I move the mess gets worse. Organization needs to have a higher priority on my list.

If I don't send out some of my pictures for scanning I don't think I'll ever get them all done. Your thought to send out just the ones that I still have the negatives for is perfect. I think you may have just saved me several years worth of work! :)

Terry Thornton said...

Becky, Put your new camera to use re: contents of house inventory. Take a photograph of every surface, inside every drawer, inside every closet, etc etc. Go outside and take pictures of the house from every angle; go through all the storage buildings/sheds/garages etc. Take pictures of everything. (On really valuable stuff, do a close up photograph of the serial numbers even!). Make two CDs --- one to keep at home and the other to store in your lock box. While this is not as complete as a written inventory, item by item, room by room, it will be invaluable in the event of a major loss.

Good post.

Becky Wiseman said...

Lee - binders and boxes make it appear to be organized, but dare to open any one of those boxes and you'll find a jumble of papers. Some of those boxes in the garage have been through two moves without being opened!

You're right on the mark, Jasia - I've got a bunch of census images and other files that have been downloaded but the information has not been recorded in my database. And I know there are paper files also that haven't been recorded. Maybe by year-end I'll have a plan of attack and actually tackled some of the items on this list1

Apple - I came to the same conclusion as you regarding scanning photos. Some of them are just going to have to be sent out. Fortunately (?) most of the pictures I've taken in the past 10 years are still in the same envelope as they were received from the photo shop. Amazingly though, many of them have been captioned.

Terry, I had planned on taking pictures of everything, even the stuff in the "junk" drawers. I've got most of the receipts for the major items so even if I don't get around to creating a written inventory I'll have the pix and receipts.

Thomas MacEntee said...

Way to go Becky! Sounds like you have your New Year's resolutions all mapped out.