As you start using the Internet to communicate with extended family as part of your ancestral research, there are a few free tools that you should consider using. The tools will make your Internet research life easier.
If you haven't used the search engine hakia yet, give it a try. You can phrase your search questions as sentences. I think you'll be surprised at the results you get 'right from the get-go'
Sharing photos and document images with family members and other researchers has never been easier. Just sign up for a free Zooomr account. This site doesn't look like most sites you are used to seeing, so read the Zooomr FAQ page before you create your free account. You'll note with interest that Zooomr clearly states that "Zooomr is free. There is no upload limit, bandwidth limit, download limit, file size limit, set limit, or number of photo limits." How can you beat that price and service level? .... and it is Free!
Do you need to send a really big file? ....A file so large that it won't pass through an e-mail server? No problem. Just get a free account with yousendit. Yousendit's free account allows you to send a 100 MB file to their servers where family or members of your research group can download it for seven days before it is deleted. If you have a fast Internet connection, all the better, because the free account also allows you to send and download files at 1 MB per second. Good stuff!
Are you looking for good online videos? You know, the good genealogy related help files, stories, etc. Well, look no farther than the Blinkx site. This site isn't a portal to teens dropping Mentos in a bottle of Diet Coke, but was rather designed for serious web video patrons. Just search for the topic you are researching and enjoy the vids....
Do you have a half dozen IM accounts that you use to talk to your family, friends and fellow researchers? Don't you hate their bloated Adware riddled clients that try to take over your computer? Well, set them to not start when you boot up and use meebo instead. Meebo is accessed from any web browser and doesn't install all the junk on your computer. You can open all your favorite IM accounts at the same time while you merrily use hakia to search for your ancestors.
Lastly, from time to time, we all find ourselves in a library somewhere in the world and find an unexpected treasure trove of information. Some of it can't be copied on a photocopier, so what are we to do? Sit down and hand write all the information in long hand? No. There is a better solution. Just sit down at one of the computers in the library and log in to your free Ajax13 account. You'll see a full suite of office tools from a word processor to a presentation program. The next time Micro$oft tries to sell you another bloated version of Office, tell them, "No Thanks. I use Ajax13 and it goes where I go." Of course, you have already downloaded and installed the very comprehensive free OpenOffice suite to your computer anyway, but Ajax13 fills the bill very nicely when you don't have your laptop with you.
Try 'em. You'll like 'em.
Now sit back and enjoy 'Heir Jordan' as he describes "Extreme Genealogy"