30 November 2011

BillionGraves Update 2.0.1

Version 2.0.1 is now available. While this update fixes minor issues, updating your app helps ensure everything is running smoothly. Don't forget to update your BillionGraves app.

Details for a Few Fixes:
  • The Account View and Add Cemetery View display bug is fixed. 
  • The cancel button is fixed. When you hit cancel in Photos View during a picture upload, the upload process will end.
  • Phones will go into sleep mode after images have finished uploading.
  • The issue where images were not being saved to disk is now fixed.

29 November 2011

Organizing Teams for the BillionGraves iPad Giveaway

Are you trying to find motivation for where to donate your iPad 2? There are plenty of opportunities in your own community. We’ll give you an example. I recently spoke with a fourth grade teacher in my area. Her class has two autistic children in it. They are wonderful children, but it is sometimes difficult for her to be able to teach to their needs, and with budget cuts, she no longer has teacher’s aides to help out. The iPad 2 has been very successful in helping autistic children learn in the classroom—learning by touch is a positive tool for them. This teacher told me she was applying for a few grants in order to get an iPad for her autistic students to use. I told her about BillionGraves and the iPad giveaway event. Her team should be easy to create: if she contacted her PTA and got parents and faculty involved in this cause, she should be able to get dozens of people on her team. Then, she could organize an event at her closest cemetery to get the volunteers excited and involved in taking pictures of headstones. It should only take a month or so to get the points she needs to win that much-needed iPad 2 for her classroom.

Why did we make our iPad Giveaway Event centered on teamwork? Because teams can accomplish so much together. Curtis talked about individual efficiency in a previous post. He told us that the average time it takes one person to capture 1,000 images is around 3 hours. With the goal of 100,000 images to win an iPad 2 for your school or organization, it would take you alone 300 hours, or 12 and 1/2 straight days of photographing. If you even had as few as ten people on your team, the team could reach 100,000 images in just 30 hours. A twenty-person team could reach 100,000 images in three 5 hour sessions. The more people you recruit, the closer your goal becomes.

You can organize a team within your family, among your friends, in your community, or across the globe. Plan a few events to get everyone excited and get them out to their closest cemetery to snap pictures.

If your team is all within your community, arrange a time to meet at one of your cemeteries. Bring people who don’t have smartphones, too. They can go ahead of the picture takers and make sure the headstones are unobstructed. Make a day of it—when you finish one cemetery, caravan to the next cemetery and get that one photographed, too! You can also bring donuts or fruit to reward everyone’s efforts.

If your team is spread across the digital community, you can still organize events, but at different cemeteries. Suggest a day that everyone should go out and collect images at their closest cemeteries.

We suggest creating a Facebook group to help you get the word out to your team, friends, neighbors, family, and community. Here you can post meeting times and locations, inspiration for your team, etc., keeping your team informed and motivated to win that iPad 2!

Facebook’s instructions on how to create a group:
  1. Go to your your home page and click Create Group in the left hand column. If you have existing groups, you may need to click More before you see this link.
  2. A pop-up box will appear, where you will be able to add a group name, add members and select the privacy setting for your group. Click the Create Group button when you're finished. 
  3. Once the group is created, you will be taken to the group's page. To get started click the button at the top right of the page and select Edit Group. From here you can add a group description, set a group email address, add a group picture and manage members.

Invite people to join, share the group on your wall, and tell your friends to invite their friends! Here is sample text you can use to tell people about your BillionGraves group.

Join with me to earn an iPad 2 for ______!
All you need to do is sign up for BillionGraves.com, download the free app to your iPhone or Android phone, and head to your local cemetery. Take pictures of headstones and upload them to the BillionGraves database. Our team will receive one point for every image we upload.
If we reach 100,000 points, we can earn an iPad 2 for ______.
And if our team uploads the most images, we can win another iPad 2!
Sign up online at BillionGraves.com, and add your name to our team: ______

For more information about Facebook groups, click here.

22 November 2011

The Importance of Staying Current

For those who are following the continuing steam of helpful updates, BillionGraves has recently released a version 2.01 of the BillionGraves app for Android and for Apple. While no solution is perfect, each step gets us closer. We try to not make it huge burden by keeping the number of updates down to a minimum. Generally there could be an update once every month or two unless there is something that needs more immediate attention. We invite you to continue to check back to this blog to find out more in the future.

Version 2.01 is easy to update on an Android device using the status bar on the phone or tablet. Apple helps the update process through iTunes. Either way, we would suggest that you find a way to stay current with the updates as they are released.

If you need some assistance in understanding how to update your device, you are welcome to send a note to support@billiongraves.com.


15 November 2011

BillionGraves Team iPad Giveaway

BillionGraves wants to donate brand new iPads to the schools or charities of your choice. Hopefully lots of them! We are pleased to announce our first ever Team iPad Giveaway competition.

This new contest will run from November 1st until the last day of 2011. Our goal is to let our amazing BillionGraves volunteers team up and collect as many new headstone records as possible. You can form a team with anyone you want, including friends, family members, church groups, or even as part of an Eagle Scout Project. Teams can be organized by any registered BillionGraves user. Then, with your team, start taking pictures! For teams that collectively achieve specific milestones by the end of 2011, BillionGraves will donate a brand new Apple iPad 2 to a school or charity of your choice for your efforts. Get excited about this contest; teams are already forming!

Note: Team leaders do not need to have their own Apple or Android smart phone. This promotion is open to any who wish to organize teams of volunteers to set and achieve milestones with wide-reaching benefits.

Happy snapping!

The BillionGraves Team

12 November 2011

BillionGraves Team Achievements

Many of you have seen the event that we launched on Veterans Day in the US:

In the effort to continue building a bevy of image-takers that can keep our powerful volunteer transcription team busy--we have launched the following event:

BillionGraves is providing the opportunity for individuals to band together as team-members through the end of the year. Teams can achieve a variety of milestones through their collective effort of capturing images. The most phenomenal is: an iPad2 will be given in your name to the school or charity of your choice when achieving 100,000 images (obviously specific terms and conditions apply).

We invite you to get more information on BillionGraves.com. Start or join a team and get cracking. You do not need to have an Apple or Android phone to organize and motivate a team! Everyone can participate and we hope that many will take the opportunity to do so. Sometimes all it takes, is an invitation.

09 November 2011

BillionGraves 2.0 for iOS and Android

BillionGraves 2.0 is now available for iOS and Android.

This new release comes with many new features and fixes:

  • Simple New Design
    • An all new simplified design makes it much easier to use. The new layout looks great in both portrait and landscape views, and runs faster than ever!
  • Support for iPad and Android tablets
    • BillionGraves 2.0 is available to use on your iPad. You can search records, view nearby cemeteries and check on your upload stats. Picture taking capability only available on 3G/GPS enabled iPads.
    • The update also runs on all Android tablet devices with all the features that run on standard Android devices. Picture taking capability only available on GPS enabled devices.
  • Favorites
    • BillionGraves 2.0 now features a favorites list in the Records View where you can store and save record information of your ancestors, family members, or other records that are important to you.
    • The favorites list allows you to easily access gravestone record information.
  • Facebook and Twitter
    • You can now easily share all of your exciting BillionGraves activity with your friends when you check-in to a cemetery or upload images.
  • Linking Images
    • You may have noticed there are quite a few headstones with more than one side. In the BillionGraves camera you will now find that there is a link button that allows you to connect multiple images of the same headstone.
    • Just take the first picture, press the "link" button and take the next picture, press the "link" button again for other sides if necessary.
  • Multi-lingual
    • BillionGraves for the iPhone and iPad now supports 3 different languages. English, Spanish, and Portuguese.
  • Miscellaneous Fixes
    • Uploading issues, "Force Quit" problems, and a few other minor bugs have been fixed.
Download the update today in Apple's AppStore or in the Android Market.

Veterans Day USA 11/11/2011

On Friday, November 11th, the United States will observe Veterans Day to honor and thank all military personnel who have served in all wars. There will be special parades, church services, and American flags will be displayed and hung at half mast. At 11 AM two minutes of silence may be held, some schools will be closed and others will hold special assemblies or activities.

In addition to the many ways of observing Veterans Day, we would like to invite all of you to visit a Veteran's cemetery near you to pay tribute to our veterans. While there consider taking pictures of the grave markers as you pass them and help in increasing the number of war veterans headstones currently available at BillionGraves.com. It is very difficult to find and navigate to a loved ones grave without a tool such as BillionGraves.

It is an achievable goal for one individual to take 300 to 400 images in an hour in a typical cemetery. In a well-organized military cemetery that number could easily be double that amount. Here is a list of websites with the locations of many Veterans cemeteries:

Thank you again to all of our amazing volunteers, both those taking pictures and those transcribing them.

08 November 2011

What a response!

As many of you may recall--we posted some encouragement in the form of an email plea for more images. The response on that very day--was overwhelming. We experienced the largest single day of uploads ever recorded. 20% more uploads than our previous biggest day ever and nearly six times the day's previous uploads. Thanks, from all of us who are using the site for research.

However, and almost right on-cue, the day following our new biggest-day-of-image-uploads-ever was followed by an eerily similar (if not identical) uptick in transcriptions. For those who were following, at one point we have more than 4,000 images waiting to be transcribed and within literally hours the number of images awaiting transcription was once-again approaching double digits.

So, what can we learn from this experience?

- Certainly we have the most responsive volunteers both in capturing images and even more impressive--those who are ready and waiting for the opportunity to transcribe. THANKS!

And so, the plea continues to find those who can and will help capture images. If you have children or grand-children, neighbors, friends or business associates--we could use a little help over here.

Consistently I have people that share with me how ludicrous the name of this organization is. A BILLION graves!? they say. How can you be so audacious to make such an outlandish claim? Well, I will tell you:

1- Is that number POSSIBLE? The number of cemeteries (130,000) that we have in our database currently--I estimate represents 70% of the cemeteries in North America and Canada. Some are large and some are small, but if the average cemetery held between 5-6,000 records we easily have a pool of up to 800,000,000 records available to capture. Outside of North America--Latin/South America, Asia, Oceana, and Europe have significantly more cemetery content to offer. Is it possible to achieve one billion records? Clearly.

2- Is it FEASIBLE? The average time it takes to capture 1,000 images is around 3 hours. It would take then, collectively around 3 million volunteer hours to capture the billion images. How can that be accomplished? Well certainly not with one person, or even 100 or 1,000. But if we were to again look and find and recruit around 20,000 volunteers with a smartphone camera (effectively an average of less than 400 volunteers for each state in the US and province in Canada), this task becomes a manageable 150 hours for each volunteer over the next few years. Imagine investing an average of one hour each week; the job gets done in less than 3 years. Granted, it will probably take a little longer--but is it feasible? You bet.

2a- A lot of good people want to add images and indicate that they are without the right smartphone device and assert that there are NOT many folks who have the right device... Did you know that there were more than 100 million smartphones shipped just in the last 3 MONTHS? I certainly think it is feasible to attract a paltry 1 out of every 5,000 people who acquired a smartphone in the past 3 months to volunteer on this great opportunity.

3- Finally, is it REALISTIC? Well, I guess THAT is up to us.

Thanks again for your great work here in building this database of worldwide cemetery content.