(+) (Almost) Unlimited Cell Phone Minutes for only $10 per Month

The following is a Plus Edition article written by and copyright by Dick Eastman. 

NOTE: This article has nothing to do with genealogy. However, one of my personal interests has always been saving money. Last year, I found a cell phone bargain that was almost too good to be true, so I decided to try it. I wrote about my experiences at the time. Now I have switched to a new service from the same company at roughly half the price. I decided it is time to update the old article.

Telephone calls have become ridiculously cheap in recent years but cell phone calls (in the U.S.) remain at astronomical prices. One company is changing all that and I have now been using their low-cost service for more than a year.

(+) Calculating Birth Dates from Death Date Information

The following is a Plus Edition article, written by and copyright by Dick Eastman. 

What day was that ancestor born? It seems like such a simple question, and yet finding the answer can be surprisingly complex, even when you have the numbers in front of you. Exact dates are often found in death certificates and frequently on tombstones. The problem is that these are often written as death dates followed by the person’s age at death.

Here is a common example:

Here lies the body of John Smith,
Died August 3, 1904,
Aged 79 years, 9 months, 29 days

How do you tell John Smith’s date of birth? You obviously need to subtract 79 years and 9 months and 29 days from the date of death. Simple, right? Well, not as simple as it first appears.

MyHeritage and BillionGraves Join Forces to Digitally Preserve the World’s Cemeteries

The following announcement was written by the folks at MyHeritage:

Groundbreaking multilingual mobile app will power international crowdsourcing initiative

TEL AVIV, Israel & LEHI & KAYSVILLE, Utah – Wednesday 19 February, 2014 – MyHeritage, the popular online family history network, has partnered with BillionGraves to launch a global crowdsourcing initiative to preserve the world’s cemeteries.

BillionGraves is a free iOS and Android application that lets users easily photograph and document gravestones, providing an important source of information for people intrigued about their ancestors and family history. Using patent-pending technology, BillionGraves is the only mobile application of its kind. With the help of MyHeritage, the app will be available in 25 languages, and will support Gregorian, Hebrew and Julian dates. It records the GPS locations of gravestones to make them easy to find and volunteers can easily see which areas of any cemetery remain undocumented, to maximize efficiency and avoid duplication. The gravestone photographs are then transcribed by volunteers on the BillionGraves website, resulting in searchable digital data.

With a community of tens of millions of family history enthusiasts all around the world, MyHeritage brings a vast global volunteer base for collecting and transcribing gravestone photos using the BillionGraves application.

(+) How to Survive the Next Wave of Technology Extinction

The following is a Plus Edition article, written by and copyright by Dick Eastman. 

Technology is great, but it is never perfect. In today’s fast-changing world, obsolescence can be a big issue. Writing in the New York Times, Farhad Manjoo describes the plight of the person who purchased a Nook e-book reader a few years ago. It certainly seemed like a wise purchase at the time. In 2011, Consumer Reports proclaimed the Nook the best e-reader in the land, saying it surpassed the Kindle in just about every way.

Barnes & Noble has never made a profit on Nook sales, and now the company has laid off nearly all of its Nook hardware engineers. (See the article at http://www.businessinsider.com/barnes-and-noble-hardware-engineering-staff-2014-2 for details.) The future of the Nook is unknown, but the latest news doesn’t look good. In the New York Times article, Farhad Manjoo writes, “… the Nook’s end looks nigh. If you own a Nook, the fate of your books may now be up in the air. Sorry, you bet on the wrong horse.”

Of course, the Nook owners are not the only ones to be left high and dry with obsolete devices.

(+) Genealogy on a Stick

The following is a Plus Edition article, written by and copyright by Dick Eastman. 

Now you can carry your favorite computer programs along with all of your bookmarks, settings, email and more with you. You can use them on any Windows computer, all without leaving any personal data behind. You can do this by installing some, but not all, Windows programs onto a flash drive.

To be sure, most Windows programs will not install properly on a flash drive that is to be moved from computer to computer. The majority of Windows programs insist upon writing to the Windows Registry and also placing files in Windows’ system directories. However, a few enterprising programmers have found ways around this by modifying a number of programs. You still cannot install Microsoft Word or Microsoft Excel or even Family Tree Maker onto a flash drive and then take it to another Windows computer for use. However, more than 300 other programs have been modified to run from a flash drive.

Using any of these modified programs, you can plug the flash drive into any Windows computer, such as the one on your desk at work or at a friend’s house or at a public library or at an Internet café. You can run any or all of these programs directly from the flash drive; they do not need to be installed on the computer’s hard drive. When finished, you remove the flash drive and take it with you. Best of all, your data goes with you as well. These modified programs do not write to the Windows Registry and do not leave any data behind on the computer’s hard drive. As a result, your data is secure. Your data only exists on the flash drive in your pocket or purse.

You can have everything you need for work and play with you on every PC you use. At work, at home, at school, visiting family and friends, at a library, even while traveling. And all your bookmarks, emails, personal files and settings stay right on your flash drive, as well. Now you can have your own browser with all your favorite bookmarks and extensions, your full office suite, your photo editor, your entire music collection, the presentations you plan to make, your favorite games, your development tools, a genealogy program, and more. Nothing gets left behind on the computer you used. Now, every PC becomes your PC.

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(+) Epidemics

The following is a Plus Edition article written by and copyright by Dick Eastman. 

The rampant spread of disease was common in the days before penicillin and other “wonder drugs” of the twentieth century. Our ancestors lived in fear of epidemics, and many of them died as the result of simple diseases that could be cured today with an injection or a prescription.

If you ever wondered why a large number of your ancestors disappeared during a certain period in history, you may want to investigate the possibility of an epidemic. Many cases of people disappearing from records can be traced to dying during an epidemic or moving away from the affected area.

(+) The Easy Way of Finding Genealogy Books, Maps, e-Books, Periodicals, and Much More

The following is a Plus Edition article written by and copyright by Dick Eastman. 

Today’s online resources offer access to information that was undreamed of only a couple of decades ago. For a century or more, each library has maintained a catalog that provides an index to its holdings. In order to determine if a particular library had information of interest, individuals have always needed to visit the library in person to look through the thousands of index cards, typically arranged in alphabetical order by title, topic, and author’s name. A few libraries did offer “look up by mail” services. That is, you could write a letter to the library staff and ask them to look in the library’s card catalog for you. Look up by mail has always been slow and sometimes expensive. The person making the request typically has to supply a self-addressed, stamped envelope for the reply. The expenses of two-way postage plus purchase of envelopes can add up quickly when sending requests to hundred of libraries!

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