Hi RoseMarie and everyone:
There is an article in "Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter" about a
new program for Pocket PC's. I use the program "Pocket Genealogist" on
my Pocket PC (Compaq Ipaq 3850), but it never hurts to know about new
This new program is called "CE My Family". The following is Dick
Eastman's article from Volume 8, No. 1, 6 January 2003.
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CE My Family for Pocket PC Computers
Bob Wittmann, the man behind "on eMan Software," has released a brand
new genealogy program for Pocket PC computers. "CE My Family" is
described as a "Read and Write Genealogy Solution for the Pocket PC." I
took CE My Family for a test drive this week.
By way of background, I should mention that a Pocket PC is one of a
number of small handheld computers with color screens that use a stylus
to provide input. This type of computer is commonly referred to as a
Personal Digital Assistant (PDA). Not all PDAs are Pocket PCs, however.
CE My Family only operates on Pocket PC systems -- not on the Palm
operating system used by some handheld personal digital assistants.
Pocket PC devices are sold by a number of leading names in the computer
industry, including Compaq, Hewlett-Packard, Dell, and Toshiba.
Pocket PCs use the Windows CE operating system from Microsoft, which
obviously inspired the name of CE My Family. Bob Wittmann insists that
the letters "CE" in the name of the program are pronounced separately,
as "C <space> E My Family," not as "See My Family. I don't know, Bob; it
sure looks like "See My Family" to me!
I have a Compaq iPAQ Pocket PC that I love and carry with me nearly
everywhere. I jumped at the chance to try out the new genealogy program
written for these small devices.
CE My Family consists of two matching programs: one for the desktop
computer running Microsoft Windows 95, 98, ME, NT, 2000, or XP, and
another for the Pocket PC. The expectation is that you will keep your
data on your desktop system in a modern Windows genealogy program. When
you want to copy your data to the handheld computer, you create a GEDCOM
file with your desktop software. (For details about GEDCOM files, look
at my "GEDCOM Explained" article at
use the CE My Family desktop software to copy the GEDCOM information to
the handheld and then use the Pocket PC Software to display and
manipulate the data.
The installation of CE My Family was simple. I first downloaded the
trial version of the program from the CE My Family Web site. There was
one minor "gotcha" in the process; the file downloaded with the name
CEFMDist, without any extension. I had to manually rename it to
CEFMDist.exe. Once that was done, I double-clicked on the
newly-downloaded file and followed the instructions that appeared on the
screen. Less than a minute later, the installation was complete on my
desktop computer. When I launched CE My Family for the first time, the
program prompted me to insert my Pocket PC into its cradle. I did this
then followed some more instructions that appeared on the screen. In
another minute the appropriate software was installed on the Pocket PC.
This completed the installation on both the desktop and the handheld
The next step was to get my data into the handheld. I used the desktop
CE My Family program to convert a 3,000+ person GEDCOM file to the
format needed and then transfer the data to the handheld. The
description of this process is more complex than the execution of the
actual task itself. The whole process was simple although a file of
3,000 people requires several minutes to transfer. There is no "moving
icon" or any other indication that the transfer is proceeding. For a
while I wondered if the transfer process was hanging. However, I waited
patiently and eventually was rewarded with a message of "File
At this point I was able to move around the handheld database manually.
It didn't seem obvious to me how to search for individuals; however, I
spent a few minutes reading the online user's manual and found the
answer. By the way, there is a rather good user's manual built into the
handheld program. I have not seen many user's manuals on a handheld
computer, but CE My Family does this and does it well.
Rather than my trying to describe the operation of the program, I would
suggest you look at the online "video tour" that has screen shots. This
online tour is a good one. Go to http://www.cemyfamily.com
and click on
"Video Tour/Screen Shots." You will also find a full user's manual at
the same Web site so that you can read about the program's operation in
detail before purchasing it.
Several things differentiate CE My Family from its primary competitor,
The Pocket Genealogist. First of all, CE My Family allows for entering
data on the handheld and later transferring it back to the desktop
database. The Pocket Genealogist only recently added that capability to
a beta test version of its software. (See my reviews of The Pocket
Genealogist at http://www.rootsforum.com/archives/news0051.htm,
logist). Next, CE My Family lets you display and enter notes and sources
in its database, something I have not seen in any other handheld
On the negative side, I must say that navigating around the database in
CE My Family was less intuitive than the same functionality in The
Pocket Genealogist. The Pocket Genealogist also has numerous options not
found in CE My Family, such as using color to quickly identify
relationships. Both programs hold large databases (CE My Family is
limited to a maximum of 20,000 Individuals within each data file
although you can have multiple files), both operate quickly, and both
live up to their advertised claims.
So, which program is best? I don't know. I like them both! Luckily, both
programs allow you to download trial versions and to use them for a
while; so, you can try them both and make up your own mind as to which
one you prefer. The trial version of CE My Family has all the
functionality of the regular program, but you can only use it ten times.
The eleventh time you start the program, it will require that you enter
the registration key that you receive when you pay for the program.
The regular price of CE My Family is $20.00 (U.S. funds), but On eMan
Software is offering an introductory price of $15.00 to the first 1,000
people who register the program. (This offer expires January 31, 2003.)
For more information about CE My Family, to read the user's manual, to
take the virtual tour, to download the trial version, or to register for
the regular version, go to http://www.cemyfamily.com