Sunday, October 02, 2005

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Google Groups : soc.genealogy.britain

from my email:-Hugh -

I believe I received a message from you recently from an AOL
address, but I'm not able to locate it. Hope this gets to you.

Sorry for the technical issues - certainly my fault but
unintentional. I've sent the following message to the group, but in
the event you don't see it there, I'm appending it.

Best,

John Beach
--------------------

Anyone who thought genealogists were a passive lot certainly never
dipped a toe into soc.genealogy.britain - some of you are getting
way too worked up about this. A little background information
should cool the flames.

The main library in Salt Lake City has collected over the years
about 8,000 links which are used as our primary entry to the
Internet.
One of these links is to Cyndi's List which itself
presently has over 240,000 links, however Cyndi's List is not
frequently reviewed and so it has many dead links. Moreover, one
not already familiar with Cyndi's List can have a problem sorting
through so many choices - disagree if you will, but we have seen
this situation occur over and over.
The Salt Lake links are in
folders which go down six or seven levels, unfortunately not a
suitable format for the general public, and so three of us have
undertaken an independent project to search the Internet for the
most valuable links and make them available in a user-friendly
format. We will shortly evaluate our collection of links against
the Salt Lake links to see which from their collection might be
added - we did not start by using the SL links.

Ji's Site is on the computers in our Menlo Park, California center,
a branch of the Salt Lake library, and has proved highly popular.
We have also recently distributed more than a hundred CD's to
patrons who have seen the program in operation and wanted to install
it on their home computers.

The program was thoroughly validated
using Internet Explorer and Netscape but clearly it was a mistake
not to check it against Firefox and Opera before putting it out for
Beta review - more about technical issues in a moment. Also,
Internet visitors can be put off-balance by the appearance of the
site, which is unconventional for a web page but acceptable for an
installed program. (Presumably one does not install the program
unless one finds the appearance acceptable, hence no complaints from
that quarter.) For the Internet we will use an intro page which
will also provide space for some basic information - e.g., that a
colored background indicates a link to a folder whereas a white
background indicates an external link - so those who proceed to the
main site will have an idea of what to expect. Another mistake - we
should have prepared the intro page before putting Ji's Site out for
Beta.

This is all 20-20 hindsight, or Monday morning
quarterbacking, to use an American expression.

We have received messages from Internet visitors who are highly
pleased with the approach and content of Ji's Site. These
individuals have not experienced any technical difficulties -
apparently they are the lucky few. As was pointed out in this
newsgroup, a visitor who encounters technical difficulties will go
no further and so for that visitor the data, no matter how valuable,
is entirely useless.

However, Rob Burns was apparently able to enter the site because in
his message to me, the second in this thread, he stated "Looks OK if
you don't have vision problems. If you have a pop up blocker your
going to have to use the ctrl key or whichever is required to
override the blocker." Later in this thread, he writes, "How many
of us are actually emailing the site founder like he asked? I did
and told him it sucked. There is really no useful information on
that site as yet and Cyndi's list still beats it hands down.... You
would have thought someone with Mormon connections would have a
better
idea of what the hell they are doing."

Now the way I understand the English language (or the American
version of it), "Looks OK" does not equal "it sucked." So if Rob's
view now is that "it sucks," he's entitled to change his opinion,
but he shouldn't become confused and think that he had originally
communicated that sentiment to me because his exact message is
second in this thread for all the world to see. Furthermore, one of
the contributors to Ji's Site is one of the foremost UK researchers
in the library system, and so from Rob's statement that "there is
really no useful information on that site as yet and Cyndi's list
still beats it hands down" one may infer that he either considers
himself better than our best or he hasn't really looked at the
information on Ji's Site and is just blowing smoke. Based on his
obviously shallow understanding of Cyndi's list, I would subscribe
to the latter view. (Incidently, we know Cyndi - a fine lady.) As
for Rob's gratuitous comment that he would have thought someone with
Mormon connections would have a better idea of what the hell they're
doing, we absolutely DO know what we're doing, and unfortunately Rob
is allowing himself to make unwarranted assumptions based upon very
little information.

However, I'm not interested in getting into a flame war because that
would be entirely counterproductive and I do value Rob's opinion and
all the others we have received. Ji's Site is not going to succeed
unless it can be easily accessed (no gliches, no hassles) and unless
the information provided is of the highest calibre. The Beta
version now resides on another domain's space and one problem has
been redirection so I am in the process of setting the site up with
its own account. Brad Rogers provided some particularly helpful
technical comments which I am presently evaluating. (I have
downloaded Firefox and replicated all the problems he observed save
the one re: multiple windows - on my computer running Windows XP
that doesn't happen. I will also download Opera.)

Bottom line is that we are going to make Ji's Site work and we have
the resources to do so. I would like to challenge Rob, Brad, and
the others in this group to work with us to achieve this goal. It
is, after all, in the nature of genealogical research to help one
another, and I for one will commit to do my part.

By the way, I may be a Yank by birth but my roots, except for a
French grandmother and a very remote German, are all Brit - Colonial
America and Scotland.

Sincerely,

John Beach

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