Your family in numbers – a free personalised infographic

We are delighted to share our new feature with you – a personalised digital family history infographic which you can create easily for free, to share with your family and friends.

Last week we posted an article about perspective in family history and the benefits of looking at things in a different way. Our new infographic takes this a step further and what’s more, we think it will appeal to everyone, whether genealogists or not!

What is an infographic?

Family History InfographicAn infographic is a colourful graphic made up of statistics, in this case numbers pulled from your family tree.

Whether you have imported your tree or manually created one in Twile, you can simply click a button to see it converted to an infographic. It displays information such as the average age of marriage, popular surnames and average family size. Fun right?

And we’ve designed it to be very easy to share with your family – you can quickly share your graphic on Facebook or Twitter, or download it to print or email it.

To celebrate the launch of this exciting feature, we are giving away a $200 Amazon gift card. Simply create your infographic at www.twile.com/numbers, share it and tag Twile on Facebook (@TwileTimeline) or Twitter (@TwileTweets) to enter the prize draw.

How to get your free infographic

  • Existing Twile customer? Simply click the ‘View infographic’ button at the top of your family tree in Twile.
  • New to Twile? Visit www.twile.com/numbers and we’ll send your infographic to you by email.

 

Invite your family by text message

Because you may not always know their email addresses, you can now invite your family members by text message to join your Twile tree and explore your family timeline.

You can invite as many family members as you like to join Twile, which lets them explore your timeline and add their own milestones and photos for free.  We’re building Twile to help make family history more engaging and interesting for the wider family, so we encourage our customers to invite their family and let them see what you’ve built.

To invite your family by text message:

  1. Start at your Twile family tree
  2. Tap on or move your mouse over the person you wish to invite – a small popup menu appears
  3. Click the ‘Invite them’ option
  4. Enter a mobile number and/or email address
  5. Click ‘Send’

We will send them a message which includes a private link to join your tree.  They will be able to view what you’ve added to your timeline and tree and add their own content to the timeline.  They won’t be able to remove any of the people you’ve added to the tree or events you’ve added to the timeline.

Go ahead – share your Twile!

What does Christmas mean to you?

Christmas means different things to different people.  We asked some of our customers, family and friends what means the most to them at this time of year.

The video also features some of the residents of Silver Birches Care Home in Mytholmroyd, who told us of their Christmas memories. It was great to hear their stories, most of which centred around family.

We spoke to Marion who remembered Christmas mornings as a child, when her father would get the car out and take the family to church – when they came out of church there were always presents on the seat.

It was interesting to hear Ian share memories of his older brother, who was in the navy and came home at Christmas time. They would play football together and enjoy games in the snow. If it hadn’t snowed, they didn’t think it was Christmas.

And we spoke to Joseph, who said Christmas is all about the children and how we want to see them happy and enjoying it. His memories of Christmas were very different from those children might enjoy today – he remembered (very fondly) getting an apple and an orange “polished up”.

When asked what Christmas meant to them, many of the people mentioned toys and presents, some thought of the church.  And almost everybody mentioned family.

We hope you enjoy making special memories with your family this year.  And don’t forget to add your photos and memories to your Twile timeline.

Import your memories from FamilySearch

Our FamilySearch import feature now also brings in memories and photos, allowing you to create a visual timeline out of the pictures you have in FamilySearch.

Since announcing our integration with FamilySearch back in September we have had some great feedback and suggestions – the most requested addition has been this import of memories.

If you have dates associated with your FamilySearch memories, Twile will automatically add them to the right point on your timeline, along with your family’s milestones – such as birth and marriage.

Photos make it much easier to get the rest of the family engaged in their history, by giving them something more visual to explore.  Give it a go – import your FamilySearch tree and see what your family timeline looks like.

Note: If you already have a Twile timeline, re-importing from FamilySearch data will overwrite your existing Twile tree and timeline.  We are working on a merge tool that will let you import as often as you wish.

How to Twile your Thanksgiving memories

For our friends celebrating Thanksgiving this week, we’ve just added a new Thanksgiving milestone to help you Twile your holiday memories.

Families all around the US will be coming together to enjoy a Thanksgiving dinner, take lots of photos and make new memories.  Twile is a great place to put all of those memories together for the whole family to share and to look back on in years to come.  Wouldn’t you love to explore a timeline of your childhood Thanksgiving memories?

Here’s how you can use Twile to record your Thanksgiving memories, creating something that will live on for your future generations to explore…

Create a Thanksgiving Milestone
We have created a new holiday milestone for Thanksgiving. To add it to your timeline:

  1. Click Add at the top of your timeline
  2. Click Add milestone
  3. Select Thanksgiving from the new Holidays section

Add your Thanksgiving photos
Once you have your Thanksgiving milestone, open it to add your photos, creating a visual Thanksgiving story on your timeline.  You’ll then have a mini photo album of these memories.

Tag family members
Add people to your new Thanksgiving story so you’ll always know who was there.  This also means that the story will show up on each person’s individual timeline of their life. You can tag anyone in your story, as long as they are on your family tree. For more information on how to do this, read our article on adding family members.

Add some comments
Photos are great to look through, but they don’t tell the full story.  Was there a culinary catastrophe or was the Pumpkin pie as amazing as it always was with Granny’s secret recipe?  What was special about the day, what memories would you like to pass forward?  Add words to your Thanksgiving story to fill in the details.

Add the location
Where were you this year?  Were you at the family home or enjoying Thanksgiving with friends?  Were you abroad?  Add the location to your story so you’ll always be able to look back and know where you were.

Invite family members
A timeline means so much more when its shared with your family, especially those you shared Thanksgiving with.  And because they can all add up to 10 photos every month for free, they can contribute to your Thanksgiving story with their own pictures and comments. Click here to watch our video on how to invite your family members and find out more about our free service here.

Twile your Thanksgiving holiday and preserve the memories forever.

 

Do you ‘overshare’ photos of your children online?

It’s so easy nowadays to share photos of our children and grandchildren online – with the ability to almost instantly post photos in places like Facebook and Instagram, it’s worth thinking about who can see them and what the longer-term implications might be.

We recently read a study by Nominet, which reports some interesting and thought provoking figures. Their poll of 2,000 parents reveals that:

  • The average parent shares 1,500 photos of their child before their 5th birthday!
  • Less than a quarter of parents knew how to find and amend privacy settings online.
  • On average parents upload a picture of someone else’s child nearly 30 times a year.
  • The top 3 destinations for sharing are Facebook (54%), Instagram (16%) and Twitter (12%).

This got me thinking.  Do I know where to find and amend privacy settings in my online accounts?  I’m not sure that I do.  We’ve spoken to a lot of parents over the years who complained that privacy settings on sites like Facebook are not intuitive or transparent.

Also, how many times have my friends and family members uploaded photos of my children without me knowing, from events like birthday parties and school plays?  Do those people know how to control their privacy settings?

It seems to me that there are some important things to consider when sharing photos online:

  1. When did you last review your social media settings? Here’s how to do it on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
  2. Remember that when you post a photo of your child, you could be inadvertently posting a photo of another child and their location.
  3. Photos you post now may be online forever.  Will your children appreciate the stream of embarrassing photos when they’re in their twenties?
  4. Why are you posting the photos to a social network? If you want to share with family or record a child’s life, a Twile family timeline might be a better choice – everything on Twile is private by default (so only visible to your family) and it creates a meaningful timeline of each person’s life

Family history at Old Town School

With our collaboration with Old Town School in full swing, I wanted to share the experience so far with you – the response from the children has been brilliant. Their enthusiasm and interest is amazing and I’m grateful to Old Town School for the experiment. As half term approaches, we have discussed emotions and asked the children to ‘call out’ happy and sad emotions.

Each of the children was asked to think about a happy occasion and tell the class about it. Without fail, every child mentioned their ‘family’ in the happy occasion which lead to a discussion around the importance of family and an understanding that both happy and sad times could be shared with family. The children were then asked to create a comic strip and draw out their happy memory.

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The children have also learned about two important subjects.

Death: When shown various items such as: leaves, flowers and fruit which were dead and alive, they had to describe the differences in colour and texture. They were asked to ‘call out’ alternative meanings of the word ‘died’ to help them understand why we use different words to sympathise and empathise with one another in the event of someone dying that you know.   The children watched a short movie about a badger that had ‘passed away’ to affirm their understanding.

cropped-school-image-2Family tree: We discussed how families were connected and I drew an example family tree up on the board. The children were asked to have a go at drawing their family tree and indicate how far back could they go. They were told that their family tree should include all living and dead family members and as homework, they were encouraged to ask  their parents to help add more family members to the drawing and collect dates of birth where possible.

Our first introduction of Twile to the class was in week three where, having brought in their updated family trees, we were amazed to see that one child had a tree that dated back to the 1300’s! They clearly have a genealogist in the family who will be delighted that their younger generation is taking an early interest!

After a short demonstration of how to build a tree in Twile, the students got to work. With one computer between three, they watched one another take turns to grow their trees. They were so excited to see the branches connect in Twile and enthusiastically continued to add further relatives until their time was up! The children found the technology easy and fun to use and couldn’t wait to get home and do more with their parents. I received a wonderful note from one of the students!

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So far, this project is going brilliantly and I really am having so much fun with the children. I’ll keep you posted on how we progress. If the response so far is anything to go by, we have generated family discussions and made family history a bit more interesting. Young genealogists in training!

Kelly

Invite your family and get a FREE month’s subscription!

Did you know that any family members on your Twile family tree can view your timeline completely free of charge?  You can invite as many family members as you like and they will all be able to explore what you’ve created.  And every time one of your family members accepts your invite, we’ll give you a month of Twile Premium for free.

Twile is the perfect way to share your research with the rest of the family and it’s also a great way for them to record their own lives and share photos and comments.  Combining family history with what’s happening today helps keep all of the memories alive.

All you need to do:

  1. Mouse over anyone in your family tree
  2. Click ‘Invite them’
  3. Enter their email address

They will then receive an email with instructions on how to register – as soon as they join we’ll give you a free month’s subscription!

Remember:

  • You have complete control over who sees the content you add to your timeline.
  • Your family tree and timeline on Twile is completely private to your family.
  • You can choose which members of your family you wish to invite and share your timeline with.
  • We use Microsoft’s secure infrastructure to store your content, so it will always be available and safe.

Related article: Privacy and Security on Twile

Olympic Memories

On Saturday 6th August the Olympic Games begins in Rio. As the World gears up to watch their countries’ best athletes compete, I’m sure I’m not alone in enjoying some 2012 Olympics nostalgia.

As the Olympics approached, we had the torch relay which toured the UK over 70 days. 8,000 people carried the torch a total distance of around 8,000 miles london-2012-olympic-torchstarting from Land’s End in Cornwall. I have memories of carrying my then 8-month old daughter as we watched the torch pass through our town – she had no idea what was happening but it was a fantastic atmosphere and something we had to see.

Prior to London 2012 there was apprehension about whether Britain could stage an opening ceremony to reach the standard set at the Beijing games 4 years previous. We didn’t need to worry – London’s effort was a huge success and became the most-viewed Olympic opening ceremony in both the UK and the US. The content showcased Britain’s technological and cultural contributions to the world, including the Industrial Revolution, literary heritage, popular music and significant inventions (many of which are included in our new Inventions stream to add to your timeline).

 

The event acknowledged how the digital revolution, arguably sparked by World Wide Web inventor Tim Berners Lee, has changed everyday lives potentially as much as the Industrial revolution before it. In 2012, Twile was an idea, it was only just beginning and the invention of the Web made our product possible.

We joined the chaos, visiting London during the games. Everyone was in a good mood, everyone happy to be a part of something so special that would potentially only happen once in their lifetime. We saw part of the marathon and returned home satisfied that we had ‘taken part’, taking our very tiny slice of history home with us.

Our experiences of the day are recorded on our Twile timeline so that our daughter can see the photos. She will know she was in London during the Olympics, she will view our comments. She will see that we got wet in the rain, that Daddy forgot his waterproof jacket, that the Team GB duck she plays with in the bath now, was purchased from the shops outside the Olympic village by Grandma, who joined us for the day trip. One day she may be lucky enough to get tickets for the Olympics somewhere else in the world and she can record her own experiences on the same Twile timeline.

We look forward to watching the games in Rio this month. Records and memories will be made. Good luck to Team GB!

Five Tips For Scanning Your Old Photos

If your family is anything like mine, you have hundreds or thousands of photos that will never be seen again.  We have boxes filled with old photos (typically hidden in the attic); everything from black-and-white pictures from the early 1900s through to colour photos of me and my brother growing up.

Even if we open up those boxes and look through them occasionally, that doesn’t help the family who live elsewhere.  I have cousins living around the world who, of course, share the same grandparents – of whom we have a lot of photos.  The only solution is to scan the pictures and put them somewhere we can all access.

Scanning in old photos is a BIG job – especially if you have as many as we do – so I wanted to share some of the lessons I’ve learned while working through our old photo collection.  Here are five tips for scanning in old photos…

1. Choose your device

The first decision is whether to use a flatbed scanner or your camera (or smartphone) to digitise your old photos.  Using a camera is certainly the simplest option – it is far easier and quicker to snap, snap, snap your photos than it is to load them one-by-one into a scanner and wait while it scans.  It probably takes an average of 60 seconds per photo using a flatbed scanner, versus maybe 10 seconds using a camera.

But the quality of the scan from a scanner is far superior to what you’ll achieve using a camera.  Scanners are designed for scanning flat documents, while cameras are designed for taking photos of 3D things in the real world – and the difference shows.

With a camera, curled paper edges, lighting glare and lens angles can all diminish the quality of the final output.  With a scanner, these problems are all removed.

Whether you invest in a scanner and spend the extra time it takes to use one depends on the quality you want in the digital versions of your photos.  I’d suggest you try a camera first and see if the output is good enough for what you need.

2. Don’t aim for perfection

With the choice between scanner and camera in mind, it’s worth noting that any digital version of your photos is better than nothing at all.  Your family and your future self will be delighted just to see the photos, even if they’re a little skew or there’s a little glare in the top-right corner.

It’s tempting to spend a lot of time perfecting the scanning process, but your main aim should be getting your paper photos onto a computer.  The longer it takes to arrange photos, align them, adjust lighting and everything else, the less likely you are to finish the job.

It takes a little experimentation to see what you get from different methods, so have a play and find a compromise that you’re happy with between speed and quality.

3. Sort the photos first

It’s a lot easier to organise the paper copies of your photos than it is to do it on a computer.  It’s also a lot more enjoyable – you’ll find yourself spending a few moments on each photo, either enjoying your own memories or trying to solve the mysteries therein.

I suggest grouping photos by date primarily.  In some cases you’ll have an exact date written on the back of the photo (or imprinted in the photo itself in some more recent pics).  Otherwise, you might need to make a best guess on the month or year or maybe just decade.  

Organising your photos before scanning makes it much easier to store them in appropriate date-based folders on your computer later. For example, you could scan photos in date batches, so that all photos from 1973 go into one folder.

It’s also an opportunity to remove any that aren’t worth scanning in. Underdeveloped shots or the seventeenth photo of the same anonymous landscape might not be something you want to spend time scanning in.  

4. Check your scanner settings

Most scanners, cameras and smartphones will offer some level of customisation for the resulting image.  You’ll want to get this setup correctly before you start.

There are three considerations: image settings, resolution and file type.

The image settings include options like brightness, colour levels and contrast.  You may find that the default settings are perfect, otherwise you may want to adjust them until you get the image output you’re looking for.  I found that my colour photos looked a little too blue by the time they reached the screen, so I adjusted the colour balance to fix that.

The larger the resolution of your scanned-in photo, the higher its quality (and file size).  Bigger is always better, but there is a maximum to the quality you’ll actually be able to use.  It may be tempting to reduce the resolution to save disk space, but if you go too low you’ll end up with photos that aren’t good enough to print – and you may regret that one day.  I’d recommend a resolution of 300dpi (dots per inch), which will give you more than enough for viewing on a screen and emailing and plenty to produce quality prints if you ever need to.

You can often select the file type that you want to create during scanning, such as JPEG, TIFF, PNG or PDF.  For most purposes you’ll want to choose JPEG, which is a good compromise between quality and file size.  It’s the most familiar type of image file and can easily be used for viewing, emailing or printing.

5. Scan multiple photos together

Whether you’re using a scanner or a camera, you can save time by scanning more than one photo at a time.  A typical flatbed scanner can accommodate at least 3 typical photos and you’ll probably fit 3 or 4 into the viewfinder of a camera at a reasonable distance.

The downside of scanning multiple photos together is that you need to crop the resulting image into 3 or 4 photos.  Fortunately, there are a number of software solutions and apps that will do this automatically – and many modern flatbed scanners come with appropriate software as part of the package.

We’ll be reviewing apps and photo software in the future, so watch this space!

Add your photos to Twile

Once you’ve digitised your photos, don’t just leave them hidden away on your computer – upload them to your Twile timeline so that the rest of your family can explore and enjoy them.  Twile is totally private, which means only the family members you invite will be able to see the photos you share.

Click here to create your Twile Timeline