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Archive for November, 2008

Eight Random Things About Me

I’ve been tagged by Randy Seaver of the Genea-Musings blog, asking me to carry on a meme where I share some facts about myself.  Here are the rules:

  1. Each player starts with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
  2. People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules.
  3. At the end of your blog post, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their name.
  4. Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged and to read your blog.

Ok, this seems a pretty simple post to write—no research required, since it’s about me, and no software to write!  I’m going to present my list using a series of photos.

#1 – I Lived in Belgium for 6 Months

1-leuven1

I’ve always had a passion for travel and have been lucky enough to have jobs that allowed me to do a lot of travel, both domestic and international.  In 1998, I worked in Leuven, Belgium for 6 months.  It was a phenomenal experience and I fell in love with the city and the Belgian beer.  I also took advantage of my time in Europe and traveled throughout Europe as much as I could.

#2 – I Always Read Three Books at a Time

2-books

This one probably smacks just a little bit of OCD.  It’s a long story of how this odd habit came about and why I’m a little bit anal about it.  But the basic concept is that I’m always reading three different books at any given time.  Here are the three that I’m currently reading.

#3 – I Designed and Built My Own Garden Shed

3-shed

Here’s a not-so-little garden shed that I designed and built over the course of a little over a year.  It’s modeled after an old chicken coop with clerestory windows.  After four years, it’s even started to smell like a farm shed (a mixture of wood, grass clippings and gasoline).

#4 – I Once Hitched a Ride in the Back of an Irish Milk Truck

4-milktruck

Okay, I didn’t get a picture of the milk truck that I rode in, so this photo will have to do.  It was 1987 and I was backpacking around Europe for the summer.  I was hiking around out on the West coast of Ireland (Connemara) when a national bus strike went into effect.  I hadn’t intended on hitchhiking while in Ireland, but that was the only alternative.  Luckily, the first guy that came along was a milk truck driver who was more than happy to let me ride with him.  The only drawbacks were a) I had to sit in the back, on the metal floor and b) it took hours to work our way back to the city because of all the stops that he had to make.  It made for a wonderful travel memory, however.

#5 – I Live in the Country

5-country

I live in an “exurb” of the Twin Cities, out in farm country.  Here’s the view from my front porch.  This is part of the reason that I actually enjoy mowing my lawn—I have such a great view.

#6 – I’m a Juggler

6-juggler

Here’s a talent that I picked up in college in the 1980s while trying to avoid Physics and Calculus lectures.  I can juggle 5 balls (briefly), 3 clubs, and I can “pass” clubs with other jugglers.  This photo shows me proving to some friends that you really can juggle a flaming tennis ball without burning yourself.  It does require a little fortitude, however.  A couple of beers doesn’t hurt, either.

#7 – I Go on a Yearly Personal Retreat

7-retreat

This one is a little hard to explain in a short space, but I go on a yearly trip to the North Shore of Lake Superior, where I rent a cabin for 3-4 days.  I spend my time reflecting, planning, and writing.  I’ve done this now for the past 14 years and I intend to keep up the habit for many years to come.  The cabin that I stay in is right on the shore, so the setting couldn’t be more beautiful.

#8 – I’ve Climbed Mt. Fuji

8-fuji

They say (the Japanese) that a wise man climbs Mt. Fuji once in his life, but only a fool climbs it twice.  I spent a few days in Japan at the tail end of a business trip a number of years ago and Mt. Fuji was at the top of my list for things to see.  I was also eager, of course, to prove myself a wise man, so I decided to do the climb to the top.  It was one of the most physically demanding things that I’ve done, but well worth the effort.  I climbed up alone, but met some fellow travelers at the top and made the descent with them.  Halfway down, we heard someone yelling for help a hundred yards or so off the trail and we ended up “rescuing” a woman who had ventured off the trail and then slipped and twisted her ankle.  Maybe she was on her second climb.  :O)

Passing It On

Thanks again Randy for the tag and the chance to share some miscellaneous ramblings.  Here are eight bloggers whose posts I enjoy reading and that I in turn tag with the Eight Random Things About Me meme:

Lisa Louise Cooke of the Genealogy Gems blog & podcast
Dear Myrtle of the Dear Myrtle blog & podcast
Tim Agazio of the Genealogy Reviews Online blog
Lorine of the Olive Tree Genealogy blog
The Footnote Maven of the Shades of the Departed blog
George Geder of the Genealogy-Photography-Restoration blog
Teri of the Old Photos and Genealogy blog
Maureen Taylor of the Photo Detective blog

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In my last post, I introduced Microsoft’s new Deep Zoom technology and showed how we could use it to zoom way in on a large family photo.  This time, I’m posting a collage of 191 photos of my Dad that lets you zoom way in on each individual photo.  If you’ve never seen Deep Zoom in action before, it’s well worth taking a look.  I think that you’ll be amazed at the experience.  Follow the link below to get started.

This collection includes 191 photos of my Dad, John Sexton, spanning his entire life: 1933-2005.  Many of the original scans are fairly high resolution, so as you zoom in, you’ll be able to see some wonderful details.

How to use Deep Zoom to view the collection:

  • Follow the link below to bring up the page
  • Download and install Silverlight, if requested (it’s quick)
  • Use the scroll wheel on your mouse to zoom in and out
  • Depending on your internet connection, you may need to wait a bit after zooming for the image to sharpen
  • To start with, zoom all of the way out so that you can see the entire collection
  • Then explore by zooming in on individual photos
  • You can also pan (slide) by holding the left mouse button down and dragging

Here’s the collection:    John Sexton Deep Zoom Collection

(If you don’t want to go actually run the demo, you can watch a short run-through on YouTube — the resolution isn’t nearly as good as the real thing, but you’ll get the idea).

Here are some specific things to go look for in the collection (think of this as a treasure hunt):

  • There’s a lot of detail in the buddha in the 3rd row
  • Look at the kids’ faces in the class photo, 2nd row, leftmost photo
  • Find the thumbprint on the photo of John w/the bow and arrow, 1st row
  • Look at the detail on the old printing presses, 2nd from last row, 6th photo from left
  • Look at the detail in John’s face, 5th from last row, 2nd photo from the right (face in his hands)
  • Find Uncle Tom in a ballerina outfit, somewhere in the 7th row
  • In the 1st row is a photo of John with brother Jerry during the first snowfall of 1938.  Can you identify the car in the background?
  • Zoom in on the 1st photo, 5th row, and enjoy incredible color in the photo of Mt. Fuji from 1953
  • Elsewhere on the 5th row, you’ll find a car.  Can you read the make?
  • In the 7th row, you’ll find a photo of John serving some brandy.  Can you read the label?  What time is it?
  • 2nd from the last row, 3rd from left, John holds his granddaughter Lucy’s hand.  What color are her eyes?
  • Can you find the greenish photo in the center of the grid that features John, an antique steel trash baler and an old Ford 8N tractor?

Here are a few other interesting details about this collection:

  • The original collection is comprised of 191 scanned or digital photos
  • Deriving from the original 191, the Deep Zoom collection itself is comprised of 18,433 separate images
  • The collection takes up 1.44GB of disk space

What do family historians out there think about this as a technique for exploring a collection of family photos?

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One tough thing about posting family photos to the web is that you need to decide which resolution to post your photo at.  If you have a high resolution photo that you’d like to post on a web page, you basically have two choices:

  • Option A: Resize the photo (make smaller) so that it fits on the screen
    • If you do this, you’ll lose the detail that you had in the higher resolution version.
  • Option B: Post the higher resolution version as is
    • If you post your original high-res photo, it may take a very long time to download and appear in the browser.  It will also be too large to display in the browser and won’t let you see the entire photo at the same time.

But what if we had a way to do both of these things at once?  What if we could post a lower resolution version that allowed the user to see the entire image, but also allow zooming into the photo to see more detail?  And what if we could zoom in not just a little bit, but deep into the photo to see fine details?

Well, Microsoft has a new technology, called “Deep Zoom”, that helps us do exactly that.

Background: Pixels, Pixels, Pixels

Spoiler: If you’re just here to see the demo, jump ahead a few sections to read about how I posted a “deep zoomable” family photo and then click on the link that takes you to the demo.  But if you’re curious about some of the background concepts, read on.

What do we mean by “high resolution” or “low resolution”?

To start with, when we talk about resolution, we generally talk about pixels:

Pixel - The individual colored dots in a digital image.

We can think about pixels in the context of digital images that we take with a digital camera (e.g. an 8 “megapixel” image).  We can also think about pixels in the context of knowing how many pixels wide and tall our computer monitor is.

Let’s start with your monitor.  When you’re working on your Windows-based PC or your Macintosh, your monitor is displaying everything that you see at some resolution.  In other words, your monitor can display a certain number of pixels horizontally and vertically.  For a typical 20″ LCD monitor, this might be 1600 pixels wide by 1200 pixels tall.  Or, if you’re using a MacBook, it might be 1280 pixels wide by 800 pixels high.

The more pixels that your monitor or laptop can display, the sharper the image, and the better/higher the resolution.

Back to digital images.  When you take a digital image, the image is of a particular resolution, based on the camera and the current settings.  For my 8MP (megapixel) camera, the images are 3264 pixels wide by 2448 pixels high.  (If you multiply these two numbers together, you get something close to 8 million total pixels, hence the term “8 megapixel”).

How do these two resolutions, monitor vs. digital image, relate?  If you want to display that 8MP image on your MacBook, and you don’t do any special scaling of the image, the entire image won’t fit on the screen.  That 8MP photo was 3264 pixels wide and your screen is only 1280 pixels wide, so you can see at most about 40% of the picture’s width.

Normally you don’t notice this.  If you open an 8MP image on your computer, the photo viewing application normally shows you the image exactly filling the screen.  What happens is that your photo viewing software actually shrinks the image down so that you can see the entire thing, “squishing” it into fewer pixels.  Naturally, when you do this, some detail is lost.  No matter how hard you stare at that 1280×800 image, you won’t see as much detail as existed in the 3264×2448 version.

But most photo viewing applications allow you to zoom in and out of the image.  As you zoom in, you do see more detail, because the software is re-scaling the portion of the image that you want to see to the screen.  It’s actually going back to that original 3264×2448 image and resizing it again.

When you use a photo viewing application on your PC or Mac, everything works great.  You are able to zoom in and out of the image and you can see all of the detail present in that original 8MP image.  Images stored on the web, however, are a different matter.

Photos on Web Pages

When you post a photo on a web page, you need to pick a single resolution and post the photo at that resolution.  Let’s look at our previous example.  Say you have this gorgeous 8MP digital photo and you want to display it on a web page (or upload it to Facebook).  If you want viewers of the page to be able to see the entire photo, you’ll want to scale it from 3264×2448 down to something like 800×600 pixels.  The basic idea here is that you want the photo to fit into their web browser, which means that you need to think about how many pixels wide (and high) their web browser is.  If they are running a browser on a MacBook and the browser is not maximized, it might only be 1000 pixels wide, or less.  So you’d size the original image down to something like 800×600 pixels.

The problem with doing this is that web browsers don’t normally have a mechanism for zooming into photos.  And if they do (like Firefox’s zoom feature), they’ll never be able to display any more resolution than was present in the original 800×600 image.  The detail from your original 3264×2448 image isn’t available.

One workaround for this problem is to post several variants of the same photo—one at the lower resolution and then several at higher resolutions, showing some section of the photo at a higher resolution.  But this is clumsy.

Resolution and Scanning Family Photos

Let’s talk a bit about how resolution comes into play when you scan a photo.  When scanning, you typically select a particular DPI, or “dots per inch”, to scan at.  The higher the DPI, the higher the resolution of the resulting digital image.

So let’s say that you scan a 4×6 print at 300 dpi.  The resulting image would be 1200×1800 pixels, or roughly 2 megapixels.

It’s important to remember that high-quality negatives or film prints have much higher resolution.  (The available detail is actually based on the size of the individual grains of the silver halide crystals on the film).  A high quality 35mm negative might have a resolution equivalent to something closer to 4000 dpi.

If you actually scanned that 4×6 photo at 4000 dpi, you’d end up with a digital image that was 16000×24000 pixels, or 384 megapixels.  This is an image that is as wide as about 15 20″ LCD monitors!  That’s a lot of detail.  Stored as a typical .tif file on your hard drive, you’d end up with something like a 2GB file.

So what resolution should you use when scanning?  The general rule is that it depends on what you’re going to do with the digital image.  If you’re going to display it on a web page, there’s no need to scan at a very high resolution.  If you’re planning on printing the photo, you’d typically print at about 150 dpi.  So if you’re not going to enlarge the photo, you’d also scan at 150 dpi.

Because there is so much detail available in that original print, you may sometimes want to scan at a much higher resolution.  For example, you might scan just someone’s face from a larger photo and then post that scan on a web page.  For example, if you scan a 1″ square area of the photo and you want to display it as a 600-pixel high image, you’d scan at 600 dpi.

Deep Zooming a Family Photo

Let’s go back to our original premise.  When we post a photo on a web site, there’s no way to zoom into the photo and see more detail, right?

Well actually, there is now a way to do this, using a new technology from Microsoft called “Deep Zoom”.

Here’s a sample family photo, inserted into this post at roughly 600×480 pixels.

smallfamily

There’s nothing special about this photo.  If you use the browser’s zoom functions to zoom into the photo, you’ll quickly see how coarse the picture is.

Here’s the same photo, posted on my web site, as a “deep zoomable” photo:

The Bemidji Twelve

Click on the link to go play with the image.  Try zooming in and out and notice that as you zoom in, the photo starts off very grainy, but quickly sharpens up.  Note that you can also pan the photo using the mouse.  You’ll need to install a small browser plug-in called Silverlight, but the install goes fairly quickly.

How Did They Do It?

The basic idea of Deep Zoom is that you start with a very high resolution image, capturing the detail that you want to see when you are all the way “zoomed in”.  You then use some software to generate a lot of other images, which are all chunks of the original image at various resolutions.  The basic idea is to pre-generate all of the different resolutions of the image that you’ll be seeing as you zoom in and out.

In my case, I started with an 8″x10″ image and scanned it at 800 dpi.  This resulted in a digital image that was roughly 6400×8000 pixels, or 51 megapixels.  Another way to think about this is that to display the image at the original resolution, it would cover a grid of 20″ LCD monitors that was 5 monitors wide and 5 monitors high.  I saved the original photo as a TIFF image, and the file was about 145MB.

Here’s the amazing part.  When I ran this photo through the Deep Zoom software, it generated just over 1,100 new images from the original image.  The new images are various chunks of the original photo, at many different resolutions.  Coincidentally, the size on disk of all of these photos also adds up to about 145MB.

I then posted the “deep zoom” collection of photos on my web site, along with some pretty straightforward programming.  (Microsoft has done most of the work here).  The result is what you saw above—a single image that you can zoom into and out of, made possible by 1,100 separate images that are automatically loaded at the proper time as you zoom or pan.

Wrapping Up

The Deep Zoom technology is very exciting for family historians.  We are no longer limited to posting photos merely as static images on a web site.  Instead, we can post collections of “dynamic” images, allowing us to preserve all of the detail that is present in the original film-based copies that we started with.  And the experience for the user is nothing short of phenomenal.  The first web page loads very quickly and new chunks of the photo load only when they need to.

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In a recent post, I included a list of genealogy-related web sites, including sub-categories for “Online Family Trees” and “Social/Family Networking”.  I’m going to start reviewing the sites listed in these two categories and publish some of my findings/thoughts here.  As I review each site, I’ll try to go a bit beyond just publishing a list of features.  Instead, I’ll sign up as a member of each site and make an effort to use the site for its intended purpose and then share my impressions.

I’ll start with amiglia.com, which is the first site, alphabetically, in these two categories.

01-logo

Overview

Amiglia bills itself as a Family Tree + Photo Album.  It’s basically a photo-sharing site for families, allowing uploading of a GEDCOM file to create the family structure and then uploading of photos and videos and attaching them to individuals in the family.

Amiglia was founded by Paul, Milena and Tim Berry, who started the site as a personal web site used to share photos between extended family members.  They eventually opened the site up to the public.

Amiglia is still listed as being in beta, but appears not to have been actively worked on since early 2007.  The expiration, in July of 2008, of the site’s SSL certificate, is further evidence that amiglia is no longer being actively supported or promoted.  The site’s support staff did not respond to an e-mail that I sent, asking about the status of the site.

Pricing

Amiglia advertises a 365-day free trial, followed by a membership fee of $49.95/yr thereafter.

Traffic / Popularity

In my list of genealogy sites ranked by traffic for Aug, 2008, amiglia was ranked 128th out of 163, with compete.com reporting a total of 3,000 visits for the month of August.  It was ranked 25th out of 29 in the “Online Family Trees” category and 15th out of 17 in the “Social/Family Networking Category”.

Feature List

Amiglia advertises the following list of features:

  • Family tree with photos that you can blog
  • Linked albums of related families
  • Personal profiles linked to nuclear family
  • Family facebook of your entire family
  • Family calendar with birthdays and events
  • Maps of geolocated photos
  • Easy tagging for people, themes, places
  • Easy search for family photos
  • Elegant slideshows to view, email and blog
  • Music uploads to any slideshow
  • Integrated Skype calling and chats
  • Riya import
  • Interactive photo-based babies’ games
  • Easy mass uploading
  • Upload by e-mail or with camera phone
  • Import from Flickr or Photoshop Album
  • Easy GEDCOM imports at signup
  • Video clips support (up to 5MB each)
  • Advanced privacy, no spam, no ads
  • Backup CDs or DVDs at minimal charge
  • Email reminders for family birthdays

During the course of my use of the site, I exercised some, but not all, of these features.

Signing Up

You need to sign up with an account on amiglia before you can create a tree or start uploading photos.  I immediately ran into a serious problem when I tried to sign up.  The site’s security (SSL) certificate has expired.  (As of 6 Oct, 2008).  This means that by default your browser won’t load the signup page, given that it is a secure (HTTPS) web page.  This is a serious problem—you should never load an HTTPS page if your browser is unable to validate the associated security certificate.  You can actually ignore the problem, telling your browser to load the page anyway, but doing so would be a serious security risk.

002-securitycertfailure

What does this mean?  Basically, two things:

  • When you sign up for the site, the signup page will not be secure.  The password that you enter here could potentially be compromised.  But since you don’t need to enter credit card information, this is serious, but not potentially all that dangerous.
  • The expiration of the security certificate is a sign that amiglia is essentially a dead site

I wanted to continue reviewing the site, so I did bypass the lack of a security certificate and went ahead and signed up.

003-signup

Note that when you sign up, you are able to suggest a sub-domain as part of the URL that you share with your family.  This is a handy feature—instead of just going to amiglia.com and logging in, your family can get to the family tree directly by going to yourname.amiglia.com.  The availability of the name would depend, of course, on whether someone else has already taken that name.  In my case sexton.amiglia.com was available.

Privacy Settings

The next step is to decide on whether your site is private or public.  You are able to make the entire site public (viewing, editing), allow public viewing only, or make the site entirely private.

Another very nice feature is the ability to set a single family password.  I didn’t test this, but the idea here is that family members don’t necessarily have to sign up in order to gain access to the site.  Instead, they can use a common password that you share with the entire family.  This makes it much easier for family members to get at the site.

004-privacysettings

Creating Your Tree

After you sign up, you’re shown your default tree, with you at the center:

005-defaulttree

At this point, you can start manually entering family members, or you can upload a GEDCOM file.  I chose to upload a GEDCOM file, deciding to use the Kennedy family as my test case.

006-uploadtree

Amiglia appeared to read my Kennedy.ged file with no problems.  Once it was uploaded, I was asked who I wanted to choose as the center of my tree.  I picked John Fitzgerald Kennedy.  (Born 1917—I had to page down a bit to find JFK in the list).

007-selectcenter

I was a little disappointed at how the names were organized here.  They were apparently sorted by birthdate, youngest first.  But it would have been nice to have selected the center point with a textual search or dropdown.  If you have a large family tree, it could potentially take a very long time to find the person that you want.

At this point, I was completely signed up and I’d created a basic Kennedy family tree.

008-allsetup

Family Tree View

In Amiglia, the most common way of seeing the people in your tree is by using the Family Tree view.  This is a graphical rendering of your family tree that allows moving around through the tree.  Here’s what the Kennedy tree looks like:

009-familytree1

One problem that I saw was that when I navigate to the home page, sexton.amiglia.com in my case, it still contained the default family tree that showed me (spsexton) at the center of the tree.  To see the tree that I’d just uploaded (the Kennedys), I had to click on the Family Tree choice in the main menu.  I think that this is because amiglia couldn’t find me in the Kennedy tree, but even after editing my profile, I wasn’t able to get this to work properly.  There seemed to be no way to get the Kennedy tree to be the default tree on the site, or JFK to be the default person that you see when you go to the home page.

As you move your mouse around in this tree view, the tree gently slides to reveal more family members.  The general idea is that when you hover over someone who appears at the edge of the tree, they slide over to the center of the tree.

Although the tree navigation is sort of appealing, with the smooth scrolling, there are enough problems with it to make the navigation completely unusable.

As you move the mouse towards the edge of the tree, it scrolls a bit, to try to shift more of the tree on that side of the screen to the center of the screen.  But because of this, if you go try to click on someone in the try, they often slide away before you can click on them.  This is very frustrating.  It’s so bad that there were cases when I absolutely could not click on a particular individual—as I tried to move the mouse over them, that person would jump alternately from one side of the screen to the other.  Argh!

There were a number of other problems with the tree navigation, rendering it fairly unusable.  These include:

  • You can jump to related trees easily (e.g. Jackie’s family), but often you can’t easily navigate back to the original family
  • There is no easy way to navigate to a person by entering their name.
  • The screen says that I should “click on the name of any person to see their profile”.  But clicking on various people, I was never able to see any additional information.
  • It would be helpful to be able to zoom in/out of the family tree.  With the default size, it feels like I’m zoomed way in to the tree and it was hard to get an idea of the big picture.
  • It’s very difficult to go directly to a specific family member.  You can go to the Facebook page (see below) and hunt through a list of pictures.  But there is no easy way to go directly to a particular person.

Adding Photos

The next step is to upload some headshot photos of people in the family.  Headshots are displayed as thumbnails in the family tree and appear in the “Facebook” area of the web page.

There are two basic ways to upload a photo of someone.  The first is to navigate to that person’s profile and then upload the photo.  The second method is to upload the photo and then identify who the person is in the photo.

Let’s try the first method—navigating first to a person and then uploading a photo for them.  I thought I’d start with JFK and upload a profile.  It’s a bit difficult to navigate directly to JFK’s profile.  The only way I found of getting to that person was to select their silhouette from the Facebook page, which you can get at the Facebook button in the main menu, or by clicking on a silhouette at the bottom of the Family Tree view.  (Note that not all family members are shown in silhouette on this page, so you’ll need to click on the “More People” link at the bottom of the page.

Here’s what the page full of silhouettes looks like.  Again, the big problem here is that it’s very difficult to find the person that you’re looking for.  There are no birth dates, so you end up seeing identically-named people.  There’s also no way to sort the family members, or see them in a basic list.

010-facebook1

Once we locate JFK and click on his name, we get back to the standard Family Tree view, with a portion of the tree shown in the top of the window, and John’s profile shown in the bottom.

011-updateindividual

At this point we can click the Browse button to upload a photo.  Once we do that, the new photo is now shown as a thumbnail whenever John appears in the family tree.  The same image is now used in place of the generic silhouette on the Facebook page and when viewing John’s parents or children.  Oddly, the photo of John is not shown when you’re viewing his profile, other than as a tiny image in the family tree.  Grr!

After we’ve uploaded an image for JFK, here’s what John Jr’s profile page looks like.  Note that John Sr’s photo is now shown instead of the silhouette.

012-johnjr

One problem that I found is that even after uploading John’s head shot, the head thumbnail is not always shown on the family tree.  This appears to be a bug.  It seems like only if we’re already viewing John’s profile, then that fragment of the family tree will show his head shot.  But in many cases, the head shot is not shown.

There appears to be another bug in how photos are attached to people.  I uploaded a photo of Jackie using the same process as the one of John, and both now are used as silhouettes.  However, when I go to the list of all photos (main Photos button), I see Jackie’s photo, but not John’s.  This also appears to be a bug, in that there seems to be no way to edit standard photo properties for the photo of John.

I continued with this process a bit further, uploading some more head shots.  As I added photos and attached them to people, the main family tree gradually filled in to include the head shots.

General Thoughts

Amiglia.com is really targeted towards a single family, allowing sharing of photos between siblings or parents/children/grandchildren.  There are some areas of the site that seem to assume this is the case, rather than that you’ve uploaded a larger family tree, including deceased relatives.  For example, the calendar shows family member’s birthdays, but only includes their first name.  For a large family, going back a number of generations, the calendar would be pretty useless.

Usability: using amiglia.com is very painful.  It’s confusing and inconsistent—to the degree that would likely lead to people just giving up on the site because they can’t figure out how to use it.

Performance: the site is very slow, even painfully slow.  I tried connecting from various locations and on a very fast DSL link.  But in all cases, the performance was equally slow.  This points to a problem on the server side.  Likely amiglia.com is being hosted on a single machine that is just not fast enough to keep up with the demand.

Conclusions

I’d intended to go further with my review and use more of the features, but I’ve given up on amiglia for two reasons:

  • It just became too painful to work with.  The usability and quality level is so poor that I’d never recommend Amiglia to anyone.  Nor would I use it myself for storing and organizing family photos
  • As of 8 Nov, 2008, amiglia.com now appears to be completely down and has been unavailable for at least several days.

Amiglia.com appears to be one of those “web 2.0” sites that had a lot of promise, but never took off and has now quietly died.  It never got above 4,000 unique visitors/month, so it never became a mainstream site.  And, based on the expiration of the SSL certificate, and the unavailability of the site itself, it now appears to be truly dead.

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