Chances are good that you are an online parent. You probably clicked to this site from Twitter or read a clip of the post on Facebook or saw it in your rss reader. You visit TypeAParent for parenting advice. Other parts of your life are probably online…for children’s activities, work events, and doctor’s appointments you use an online calendar; you store digital photos on your computer to create scrapbooks; and you keep addresses of friends and family in a database for your holiday cards.
Joanne Lang is a digital mom who created a place to store all her family’s information online after she couldn’t find an important health document. Her child had a health crisis at school. EMTs fired questions at Joanne about his medical history, prescriptions, and vaccinations. She told them what she knew, but she could answer few of their questions as her son’s health information was at home. She set out to find a service or software that would allow her to manage and access all of her family information in one place.
I was given a free year’s subscription to AboutOne to review. I wanted to see for myself whether AboutOne.com would work for my family. I love the idea of having a central location online for housing all of my family’s data, but would I use it for storing my family’s information? I set out to test drive AboutOne.
One key feature of AboutOne is shared access. While moms are often the family historian, the task of recordkeeping can get overwhelming. I shared the password with my husband as I want him to be able to access and input our family data to AboutOne. All accounts are secure through the use of an “https” url. Your data can only be accessed by you and your family members.
It was easy to set up an AboutOne account. You can set up your account with your full name and the names of your children and spouse. After you set up the account, you can add as many or as little details as you want. I added birthdays for my children and spouse. You can use AboutOne to store education records, heath data, family memories, photos, records of home purchases and maintenance, and scanned children’s art projects.
Once entered, the information can be accessed at home, at work, or on-the-go from any web-enabled device. All family data from health records to names and addresses of friends to children’s artwork is housed in the clouds. In the near future, AboutOne plans to release apps for web phones and ipads/tablets. I was able to access a web version of AboutOne on my smartphone.
You can attach documents to each person’s listing, for instance, a power of attorney for your grandma. I like the idea of having official documents in one place online, but what if the document you need is only a hard copy? You would need to scan a copy and upload it as a pdf. I’m not sure how much spare time I have to scan documents.
An interesting feature for busy moms and dads is the partnership between AboutOne and Astonishing Cards. Through AboutOne, you can select holiday cards, which are then printed by Astonishing Cards, inserted in to envelopes with the addresses of your contacts printed on the envelopes. As a person who did not send holiday cards last year due to lack of time, I like this feature. Now one drawback is that you have to type all your contact addresses in to your account. Once keyed in AboutOne will automatically email your contacts for updates to mailing addresses. Now if your friend switches email providers, your friend will not have her address updated. AboutOne, like me, hasn’t figured out how to get friends to let you know that they have a new email.
Moms and dads can photograph or scan in their children’s artwork. Each photo or scanned art can be attached to your child’s section in the your family’s account. My children bring home lots of artwork, so I would need to pick an choose what artwork I scanned in to my account. I can see a use for those times when your child brings home a fragile piece of artwork that may not last. A scanned copy of the artwork could be shared with grandparents and friends. If you take a pic with your phone you can email it to your AboutOne inbox where, once received, you decide which account to put it in: mom, dad, or your son or daughter. I like this feature as I take photos all the time on my phone and never use them.
According to AboutOne, frequent backups are a guarantee. Having had my blog’s hosting plan’s backup server fail, I want to know that my data is safe and protected.
As my family’s “records steward,” I like to know where things are. AboutOne is a storage bin for all the many and varied pieces of information that a family accumulates. But, the downside to AboutOne is that there is a certain amount of keying to be done. You need to enter your name and personal details for yourself, your spouse, and your children. Once keyed in the data is stored on AboutOne forever.
An AboutOne account can be started with a free trial, which covers 17 free days of usage (days only count for the free trial when you log in). Or, you can upgrade to the yearly plan for $30/year. An affiliate program is also available.
In honor of Mother’s Day, AboutOne would like to offer each TypeAParent reader a free AboutOne subscriptions. Sign up for About One using code: TYPEAPARENT. This code will expire on July 31, 2011.
Jill was given a free subscription to AboutOne. The opinions expressed in this article are her own. Jill follows the tenets of Blog With Integrity. Jill seizes family time with her kid, preteen, and teen on Musings from Me.