Plus Edition Article

(+) What to Do About Damaged CD-ROM Disks

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

I received a somewhat frantic e-mail recently from a reader of this newsletter. She mentioned a specific genealogy CD-ROM disk, but her question could apply to any CD disk of any topic. She wrote (in part):

“Help! I have a CD-ROM disk of [name deleted here] and it cracked. I want to replace it, but can’t seem to find it anywhere. Any suggestions? Is there any other CD-ROM that has equivalent materials?”

Sadly, I was not able to offer much help. A cracked CD disk is useless, except maybe as a coaster for your coffee cup. Even a scratch the size of one human hair can render a CD-ROM disk useless; if it has visible physical damage, the problem is even worse. To make matters worse, the company that produced her disk is now out of business, so I doubt if she can find a low-cost replacement. I referred her to to eBay to see if she can find a used copy of the same CD for sale.

(+) A Potential Clearinghouse of Genealogy Information

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

WARNING: This article contains personal opinions.

For decades, the standard method of genealogy research has been to peruse original records as well as compiled genealogies, looking for information about each ancestor, one fact at a time. In modern times, we typically have used IMAGES of the original records published on microfilm and, more recently, images that appear on our computer screens. We then supplement these original records with compiled genealogies from many sources, including printed books, online web sites, and even GEDCOM files online or on CD-ROM disks. Experienced genealogists also understand the importance of VERIFYING each piece of information, regardless of where it was obtained. Yes, even original hand-written records made at the time of an event may contain errors.

Compiling a genealogy typically requires hundreds or thousands of hours of work, sometimes great expenditures of money, and, when original records have not been easily available locally, additional time and money on travel.

To be kind, I will simply say that the results have been variable.

(+) Why We All Need to Ignore Our Old Ideas about Filing Systems

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

Man_with_filing_cabinetIn various discussions and email exchanges, I have found that many genealogists do not understand the power and ease of use available in modern computerized filing systems. This article is an attempt to clear some of the mysteries.

Most of us are old enough that we were trained to organize paper files in folders and filing cabinet drawers in some hierarchical manner. For filing papers about people, we were taught to perhaps file first by surname, and then by first and middle names. For locations, we were taught to file first by country, then by state or province, then perhaps by county, then by city or town, and lastly perhaps by street address. And so on and so on. Those systems have always worked well with paper-based files, and many of us tend to use the same thought process when creating computer files. However, hierarchical filing methods often are not the best method possible with today’s technology. For instance, if you have a filing cabinet for genealogy materials, and you file a note about a particular person under the surname of “Axelrod,” where do you file information about the Axelrod family’s homestead in Nebraska so that you can find it again when searching for all your Nebraska ancestors?

Think about Google for a minute. The search engine sorts, files, and organizes hundreds of millions of web pages. Does Google organize them by names or by locations of by any other hierarchical method? No!

(+) Lifestyles in the Seventeenth Century

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

We all have read history books about the brave and noble heroes who helped shape today’s world. Hearty explorers, brave immigrants, exemplary church-goers and the like did indeed create today’s modern world. Yet these same history books rarely describe the everyday world of those heroes and heroines. Sometimes their lives were not all fame and glory. In fact, their lives were often repulsive by today’s standards. I thought I would focus for a bit on everyday life in the 1600s in Europe, in England, and in the newly-created colonies in North America.

In fact, knowledge was a scarce commodity in the seventeenth century. It is difficult for us to comprehend just how ignorant people were. Most Europeans knew nothing about geography and didn’t know or care what happened on the other side of the horizon. The majority of people never traveled more than five miles from their place of birth although there were a few more adventurous souls in those days.

(+) How to Obtain Irish Citizenship and an Irish Passport

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

Irish FlagThis article is for anyone who has Irish ancestry but now lives elsewhere. Are you proud of your Irish ancestry? Do you occasionally travel internationally? Would you like to obtain employment in the European Union? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you might want to obtain Irish citizenship and an Irish passport.

Hundreds of thousands of Irish descendants can legally obtain Irish citizenship and passports because of their ancestry. Why would you want to do that? Ask any of the 138 Irish passport holders who were safely evacuated from war-torn Lebanon a few years ago. They were able to get out safely when Americans and others could not, thanks to their Irish passports and the prominent placement of the Irish Tricolours on the front of the two buses carrying them across the Syrian border.

(+) Where is Genealogy Technology Headed?

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

NOTE: This article contains personal opinions.

The genealogy software world is changing around us. As this is New Year’s Day, I thought I would look at the history of such software and then look into the crystal ball to see if the future can be discerned.

I have been using genealogy programs in my home computers for 31 years. In 1984, I started with Family Ties, a program written by Neil Wagstaff. I ran it on a homemade CP/M computer with two 8-inch floppy disk drives and a huge memory capacity of 64 kilobytes. No, that is not a typo error: those were 8-inch floppy disks drives. Many of today’s computer users have never seen an 8-inch floppy disk although the later 5¼-inch and 3½-inch disks became quite popular.


Hey, where’s the mouse?

(+) How to Sell Tickets Online for Your Society’s Events

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

I publish a lot of notices of future genealogy-related meetings, conferences, seminars, and such events. One thing that always amuses me is a statement in many of those notices similar to the following:

“You can download the registration form on our web site. Please fill it out, put it in an envelope, enclose a check, and mail it to us.”

Such a statement is so 1990s! In today’s day and age, it is easier and safer to accept payment online than it is to manually handle checks. Handling orders online also allows you to receive the registration forms instantly and have the funds automatically deposited to the society’s bank account, all without a trip to the bank or even to the post office. The price for doing this is either free or a small percentage of the admission fees. It is also safer and more secure than sending checks in the mail and even safer than handling the checks after receipt.

(+) One of the Cheapest Cell Phone Services is now Available for iPads, Nexus and Galaxy Tablets

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

This is an update to two recently-published Plus Edition articles: (+) One of the Cheapest Cell Phone Services is also the Most Sophisticated and Most Reliable at and Update to (+) One of the Cheapest Cell Phone Services is also the Most Sophisticated and Most Reliable at The service has now been expanded to include low-cast cellular data (but not phone calls) to several tablets.

The first four officially supported tablets are the iPad Air 2, iPad mini 4, Nexus 7, Nexus 9 and Galaxy Tab S. There’s no charge to establish the new account, and the required SIM card is free. Once the account is established, the user is charged only for the data consumed.

(+) Hands On with the new iPad Pro’s External Keyboard and Pencil

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

NOTE: This article was written on an iPad Pro while using the Smart Keyboard made by Apple.

On November 17 of this year I published a Plus Edition article entitled (+) Hands On with the new iPad Pro. That article is still available at In that article I wrote, “Sadly, the Smart Keyboard is not yet available, nor is the new Apple Pencil. I ordered both, but Apple is promising delivery in 2 to 4 weeks.”


The matching Smart Keyboard and Apple Pencil finally arrived this week, so I decided to use them for a few days and then complement the earlier article by describing my experiences with them. Indeed, there is both good news and bad news.

Let’s start with the Smart Keyboard.

(+) Are You Already Using the Cloud?

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

Cloud-computingpngDo you use Dropbox to store files? Do you get your e-mail at Gmail or Yahoo Mail or Hotmail or Are you experimenting with Apple’s iCloud? Or maybe you are using Google Apps, formerly called Google Docs? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, congratulations! You are a cloud user.

I often receive messages from newsletter readers or read comments from readers posted at the end of articles in this newsletter stating that they are afraid to use the cloud. The most common reason is because the person doesn’t yet understand the cloud and is afraid of security problems or other reasons. Yet, these same people often are already safely and securely using the cloud every day. In fact, cloud-based applications are usually more secure than running similar programs in your own computer and saving the information in your own computer’s hard drive.

Update to (+) One of the Cheapest Cell Phone Services is also the Most Sophisticated and Most Reliable

This is an update to my earlier Plus Edition article, (+) One of the Cheapest Cell Phone Services is also the Most Sophisticated and Most Reliable, that is still available at

Today I received my first month’s bill for the new service:

(+) One of the Cheapest Cell Phone Services is also the Most Sophisticated and Most Reliable

NOTE: The following article contains nothing about genealogy. If you are looking for genealogy related articles, I suggest you skip this one. This article describes my recent experiences in switching cell phone providers. I now have better service than ever and am paying a fraction of the price I used to pay. If you are interested in saving money on your cell phone bill and/or getting better cell phone service, you probably will be interested in this article.

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

I recently canceled my AT&T cell phone service that I have been using for more than 5 years. I was generally happy with AT&T’s service except for one thing: the price. I was paying about $85 a month for a modest number of minutes, a limited number of text messages (including international texts), one gigabyte of data transfer per month, and the optional tethering service that allowed me to use my cell phone as a “wireless modem,” letting me connect a tablet computer or other device to the cell phone and access the Internet by using the cell phone’s data connection.

I switched to a brand-new service that has better coverage and costs about one-half as much as AT&T’s service. It includes unlimited talk minutes, unlimited text messages, and free tethering, and cellular data is also available at modest prices per gigabyte.

(+) Why Isn’t Your Society Accepting Credit Card Payments?

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

Now_Accepting_Credit_CardsMost genealogy societies now have web sites to publicize their activities and to attract new members. However, I am still amazed at how many of those sites have an online application for membership that states something similar to the following:

“To join the society, please print the following application on your printer, put it into an envelope, enclose a check, and mail it to the society.”

That is so 1990s!

I suspect that many would-be members stop when they see such requirements and then move on to something else. They don’t join simply because it isn’t convenient to do so.

(+) Does It Still Make Sense to Buy Genealogy CDs?

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

nocdSeveral articles have appeared online in the past few years describing the slowly dying music CD business. In short, sales of CD disks are being replaced by directly downloading music online to iPods, computers, and other music playback devices. Remember the record and CD stores that used to be available at your local mall? Where have they all gone?

You can find dozens of articles about the declining sales of music CDs if you start at Those articles got me thinking: if sales of music CDs are plummeting, can data CDs be far behind?

(+) Hands On with the new iPad Pro

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

If Donald Trump were here, he probably would say, “It’s hu-u-u-uge.”

iPadPro-1Apple started shipping the new iPad Pro last week. I ordered one in the morning of the first day and specified that I wanted to pick it up at a local Apple Store. About 20 minutes later, I received a text message saying that the iPad Pro was ready for pickup. I was in the store a few minutes later and walked out with a very large iPad Pro under my arm.

This article gives my first impressions of using it, including running a couple of genealogy apps on the new tablet’s 12.9-inch Retina display (I’ll round that number up a fraction and call it a 13-inch display). This display screen is 2 inches larger than that of the MacBook Air laptop computer I have been using for several years. Not only is the display large, it is also very high resolution at 2732 by 2048 pixels. Apple uses the term “Retina display” as a marketing concept for their high-resolution LCD displays, the idea being that a display has “Retina” quality if the human eye can’t distinguish between individual pixels anymore at a typical viewing distance. This Retina display produces super-sharp images, almost as good as a painting hanging on the wall. The difference is that this “painting” provides full-motion video.

(+) Using a GPS for Genealogy

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

Our ancestors had to go to some extreme measures to keep from getting lost. They erected monumental landmarks, laboriously drafted detailed maps, and learned to read the stars in the night sky.

handheld-gpsThings are much easier today. You can now purchase a pocket-sized gadget that will tell you exactly where you are on Earth at any moment. In fact, you might already own such a device only you call it a cell phone. As long as you have a GPS receiver and an unobstructed view of the sky, you’ll never be lost again.

Geographic coordinates are useful for a couple of genealogical purposes. First of all, it is rather easy to find exact latitude and longitude of a cemetery on the U.S. government’s GNIS database and then to find those coordinates on a good map of the area. However, with the use of a high-tech device, you can also easily obtain real-time instructions on how to drive directly to that cemetery.

(+) Hands-on with the ScanSnap Evernote Edition Scanner

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

NOTE: Click on any of the images below to view larger versions.

I have written often about Evernote, one of my favorite software tools. I use Evernote several times most every day, both for genealogy and for all sorts of non-genealogy tasks. After using the program for a couple of years, I added the ScanSnap Evernote Edition, a desktop scanner designed especially for use with Evernote. Insert a stack of documents into the scanner, press a button, and all the documents are digitized, OCR’ed (converted to computer text), and inserted into Evernote automatically. It scans, senses, and autofiles your photos, receipts, business cards, and documents into your designated Evernote notebooks (which work like folders). It works with either Windows or Macintosh systems. The ScanSnap Evernote Edition does this via either wired or wireless wi-fi connections.

(+) How to Use a Cell Phone at Home When You Don’t Have Cell Phone Coverage at Home

(+) Subtitle: How to Also Save Money on Your Present Cell Phone Bill

(+) Sub-subtitle: How to Save Money on Cell Phone Calls When Traveling Overseas

This article has nothing to do with genealogy. If you are looking for genealogy articles, you might want to skip this one. However, I decided to write it after reading a comment by a newsletter reader.

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

no-cell-serviceI have read comments from several people saying they wished they could use a cell phone but they cannot because there is little or no cell phone coverage at their home. With today’s technology, that should not stop them from having a cell phone for use at home and elsewhere. In most cases, using the new technology will provide cheaper and better service than traditional telephone and cellular companies. In fact, cell phone calls placed from within your home usually are free of charge because those calls do not count as “cell phone minutes” being used. However this solution will only work for anyone who has a broadband Internet connection in the home. As long as they have updated their internet access from dial-up modem to broadband, almost everyone can take advantage of this solution.

(+) Hands On with Amazon’s New $49.99 7-inch Fire Tablet Computer

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

I just returned from a six-day trip and had a new traveling companion with me: a $49.99 tablet computer called the Amazon Fire. It runs Amazon’s Fire OS 5 operating system, a modified version of Google’s Android 5.1 operating system. Can a tablet computer that cheap be any good? Is the Fire OS 5 operating system an issue? Can it be used for genealogy apps?

Amazon_Fire_7-inch_tabletObviously, I was impressed by the advertised price of the Amazon Fire 7-inch tablet. Not only is it a cheap price, but Amazon Prime users also can obtain free two-day shipping. I am an Amazon Prime member and love the service. Amazon Prime members also receive free unlimited streaming of movies and TV shows with Prime Instant Video, as well as the ability to borrow books from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library. I willingly pay $99 a year for Amazon Prime’s membership.

(+) How to Stop Auto-Renewal Subscriptions

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

Don’t you just hate it when you sign up for some web site’s offer for a 10-day free trial” or a “30-day free trial” or something similar, and then they charge your credit card – without warning – on the 11th day or the 31st day? To be sure, this is totally legal, assuming the sign-up process included information about the terms and conditions that stated your credit card would automatically be charged when the free trial was over. Of course, you ALWAYS read all the legal boilerplate that is published in a small font, right?

After all, you clicked on I AGREE or some similar words to indicate that you read and understood the terms and conditions. If you skipped the terms and conditions. or only did a “speed read,” or if you simply forgot that the end of the free trial was approaching, you have no one to blame other than yourself.
I went through something similar with the SiriusXM satellite radio service in my automobile. I signed up for an annual subscription but forgot that it automatically renews. Guess what I found on my credit card bill recently? Yes, a rather large charge from SiriusXM. Of course, hundreds, perhaps thousands, of other companies do the same. That includes several of the major online genealogy database services.


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