Recently, I posed a question to one of the genealogy groups I belong to on Facebook. “If you had $50 to spend on something genealogy related, what would you spend it on?”
I received $50 at Christmas from a relative and I was hoping to learn about a new web site or an interesting book for Russell County. There were some excellent suggestions: a portable scanner, a DNA test, a subscription to Legacy Family Tree Webinars, but I supposed I am a spoiled genealogist because I already have all of those.
So what did I decide on? I decided to research some options to help me stay digitally organized with my research.
In part 1, I discussed the Rocketbook Cloud Cards that I have been using. That took half of my $50 gift.
For the remainder of my gift, I also turned to Rocketbook, but this time, I purchased the Medium sized Think Board X2 for $24.99. (I am not affiliated with Rocketbook.)
The Think Board is a peel and stick dry erase “whiteboard” with 4 orange triangular “beacons” which allow you to scan your board and then send it to one or multiple destinations including:
- Google Drive
- Multiple emails
- iMessage (on IOS)
My plan is to scan notes, lists, mind maps, etc. and send to OneNote until I am ready to “officially” add the information to my notes or research log. I can also send my scans to my email as a PDF file. And I just created a new folder in my Google Drive called “Rocketbook” so that I can send files there as well. The great thing is being able to scan and send to multiple locations at the same time.
Another great feature included when sending to OneNote (and I’m sure some of the other destinations as well) is the OCR transcription, if enabled, to include with each scan. I can copy the OCR text and paste it into my notes to save me time from re-typing. Once scanned, I can dry erase the entire board and begin again.
One thing I’m planning to use it for is to place an obituary or other paper item in the middle of the board and then add information around it with the dry erase markers. As a test, I tried it with a map I made on grid paper of an original land grant. This particular “map” had been cut out and placed inside of the pad of grid paper. I do not know a county and I don’t even recognize the name. That is not at all unusual – which is why I’m looking for these ideas to keep my work digitally. I added some names around to show an example of how I might include the neighbors mentioned along each border. (The OCR for this one was interesting because it didn’t know what in the world my tree sketches were!)
This is the main idea that I had in mind when I purchased the board. A way to analyze documents to show relationships of witness and other people mentioned in the document. Even if I don’t have a paper copy, I can make a list of names mentioned in a deed or obituary and then add any relationships as I figure them out.
The Think Board comes in multiple sizes and even has a clear option, so you can peel and stick it anywhere. The board that I purchased is 10×15 because I wanted to be able to have a sheet of paper in the middle in order to write around it but still be portable. The board isn’t quite a big as I’d like but the next size up is 24×36.(They have sizes that will cover the width of an entire wall!) I wanted something that I could take along to the library easily, so that’s why I didn’t get the largest size, but it would be nice for the type of thing I’m thinking of.
Things I Like
- Portability – if I can find a way to tote it around without having the backing peel off. It IS meant to be stuck to a flat surface, but I’m afraid it would peel the paint off my desk if I stick it there. I do have a VERY large clip board that my son used in college for his graphic design degree. I use it with artist paper to draw some of the maps of ancestor land. I can potentially stick my Think Board to the back of that, if the backing starts to come off. But that would GREATLY reduce the portability!
- Re-useable – I don’t have to scan EVERYTHING I write on the board – but it should help me reduce the number of notes on scrap paper laying around my desk waiting to transferred to my official notes.
- A lot of companies install larger versions of the Think Boards on the walls around their offices so that teams can brainstorm on them and then scan and send to the appropriate places. I love the idea of having a board that I can add to over time as I come across new information, but I would need a bigger board for that.
- I like that I can send my scans to multiple locations with one click.
- I like that I can have my scans in multiple formats with a single scan depending on where I send it.
- I LOVE that once a scan is in my OneNote, I can still type additional notes on the same page as more occurs to me. The scan itself doesn’t have to be “final” just because I scanned and erased it. I can add a short paragraph about where the information came from or even go all out and create my citation.
Things I Don’t Like
- Because the board is meant to be stuck down (the web site says that can be re-positioned multiple times) and I’m not using it that way, it doesn’t lay completely flat. The shiny nature of the Think Board can create a bit of a rainbow effect in the scan. But who knows, this might bother me enough to transfer the information to it’s permanent location sooner.
- The board comes with 1 dry erase marker – which is great. But it’s a little too thick for this size of board. I will be buying some ultra fine tip markers in various colors.
My Next Purchase
The part of the Think Board that makes the scanning work is the orange triangles, called “beacons” in the corners of the board. You can purchase 4 beacons on their own for $15 and you can add them to the corners of any whiteboard or even corners of a paper. They are repositionable, so I can move them between my larger whiteboard and even place them on my white desktop around papers or objects and scan them that way. By using these beacons, you are not restricted to a specific size, which makes them much more versatile!