Plus Edition Article

(+) Don’t Print This Article!

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

Consider the environment. Do you really need to print out this article?

I occasionally receive e-mail messages from newsletter readers asking various questions about how to print the newsletter. I also frequently hear comments at genealogy conferences and elsewhere from family historians stating, “I printed it out to save it and…” or similar words.

I have one question: Why?

(+) Convert 35mm Slides to Digital

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

I have hundreds of 35-millimeter slides stored in boxes. They might as well be shoeboxes although the boxes I use are a bit different size. I collected them over the past few decades and must admit I never looked at any of them again until recently. I find that storing slides or any photos or home movies in any inconvenient location means that they are rarely viewed again. Why did you or someone else spend all the money for cameras, film, and processing if no one ever looks at the results?

I will suggest the solution is to digitize the films and slides. Once digitized, the images are easy to view at any time and very easy to share with others. Your children, grandchildren, cousins, and other relatives might like to receive digital copies of pictures taken long ago. With today’s technology, that is easy to do.

(+) Forget Smart Watches. Introducing the SmartRing!

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

Five days ago, I published a Plus Edition article entitled, (+) Carry Your Genealogy Database in Your Wristwatch at http://eogn.com/wp/?p=32323. I described the miniaturization of computing devices, from mainframe computers of the 1960s that filled one or more rooms, to desktop personal computers, to laptops, to handheld tablets, and to today’s “smartphones” that are really powerful computers with built-in cell phones included. I described the use of a new high-tech wristwatch that is more powerful than the first iPhone. Now, only five days later, I found an article that proves the electronic devices are shrinking even further.

(+) One Laptop, Two Computer Screens

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

I must admit I have become accustomed to having two computer screens attached to my one computer at home. I have long used two 27-inch monitors connected to my one desktop computer. However, there is a problem when traveling: the tiny, single 11-inch screen on my laptop computer seems very constraining after using two side-by-side 27-inch monitors at home!

With both monitors on my desk at home, side by side, I can operate them as separate monitors or even create the illusion of one giant screen. I can open a website on one screen and a word processor on the other, then copy and paste from one screen to another. I can even open a spreadsheet and stretch it across the full width of both screens if I want. Why can’t I do that when in a hotel room? After watching my friend Kevin Grooms do exactly that, I was hooked. I started looking at portable external monitors.

Click on the above image to view a larger version.

More often than not, I have my favorite word processing program displayed on one screen while the second screen displays incoming email messages, a chat window, perhaps the local weather report, and whatever else I wish to monitor while seated at the computer. One of my friends displays the latest stock market quotes all day long on a second screen while he works at his office. You probably can find multiple uses of your own for two or even three monitors.

(+) Carry Your Genealogy Database in Your Wristwatch

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

A recent article by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, published in the ZDnet web site (at http://goo.gl/kbp7Vi), got me thinking about genealogy data. Kingsley-Hughes described Samsung’s new Galaxy Gear S smartwatch, and he compared it to the first iPhone that was released only seven years ago. He points out that many of the smartphone apps that a lot of us now use should work well if converted by programmers to operate on the new smartwatch. Can’t we say the same about genealogy apps? Maybe. Obviously, programmers would have to port the software over to the new watches, but the technology already exists to run and display mobile apps that many of us already use.

Eight years ago, before the invention of smartphones and before the popularity of tablet computers, genealogists were limited to keeping their databases in desktop and laptop computers. A few tablet computers existed in those days but never became popular until Apple released the first iPad. Taking your data with you seven years ago meant carrying a 5- or 6-pound computer although lighter laptop computers have since become popular.

(+) What is a Genogram and Why Should I Create One?

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

Almost all genealogists are familiar with pedigree charts. These are basic charts for recording parents, grandparents, and earlier generations for an individual. Pedigree charts are used to show bloodlines and are limited to displaying only ancestors. Pedigree charts do not display siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles or other extended relatives. Here is an example of a pedigree chart:

Click on the above to view a larger image.

Pedigree charts have long been a standard tool used by genealogists and others. They are easy to understand and clearly display a lot of information in a small amount of space. However, pedigree charts are limited in what they can display, normally showing only the name of each individual and the places and dates of birth, marriage, and death. They do not show relationships of siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles, or other extended relatives. They also do not display the dynamics of a family over multiple generations.

Medical professionals also have a need to show family relationships in order to understand inherited medical conditions. The medical community often needs to collect and display information about patterns of mental and physical illnesses such as depression, bipolar disorder, cancer, substance abuse, and other diseases that seem to run in families. Pedigree charts are ineffective for such uses.

(+) How to Preserve Water-Soaked Books and Papers in an Emergency

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

Hurricane season is upon us and we should learn from the experiences of past storms. The 2012 “superstorm” Sandy in the northeastern United States and other floods from around the world taught all of us again that paper is a very fragile storage medium for old records. However, paper is also the most common storage method in use today. The news reports from Sandy told of numerous libraries, public records offices, and more that had water in their offices. In some cases, the water reached records that should be saved for centuries. Many families also lost family documents, old photos, and even examples of their children’s art work. Unfortunately, water-soaked paper documents will only last for a few days unless treated immediately.

For the best-known loss of records by water damage, ask the U.S. Census Bureau about water-soaked documents. Most U.S. genealogists have been told that the 1890 census records was “destroyed by fire” in 1921. In fact, the fire damaged only a small percentage of the records. Far more damage was caused by the firehoses of the fire department called in to battle the blaze. Most of the damage was caused by water being poured onto the fire, water that soon seeped into millions of otherwise undamaged records. The fire did not go above the basement but water poured into the upper floors drained into the basement, extinguishing the fire. Unfortunately, in the process of water draining through the upper floors, a high percentage of the otherwise undamaged documents became soaked with water.

(+) My Method of Filing Digital Images and Documents

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

This is an updated version of an article I published last year. Someone asked about the same topic today, and when I looked at the earlier article, I found that much of the information has since changed. I updated the article and decided to publish it again today.

Here is a copy of the message I received (slightly edited):

I’m a newcomer to genealogy and I’d like to know your suggested file naming convention for downloaded census images that pertain to more than one person. I’d like to settle on a format before my tree gets too big. I save the FamilySearch or Ancestry web page as a PDF for each person listed in the census record and a single image of the census. That way I have a “transcribed” reference for each person as well as the image. For example:
JOHNSON Daniel Joseph Family 1940 US Federal Census.jpg
JOHNSON Daniel Joseph (1940 US Federal Census).pdf
JOHNSON Ethel Blanche (1940 US Federal Census).pdf
JOHNSON Joseph Delone (1940 US Federal Census).pdf

Your thoughts and suggestions would be appreciated.

I did answer him in email but thought I would also share my answer here in case others might have the same questions.

(+) The True Expense of Genealogy Research

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

Image copyright by CartoonStock.com. All rights reserved.

Today’s story about the closing of the Hiram Whittington Arkansas Local History and Genealogy Room in the Garland County Library in Hot Springs, Arkansas, is sad news. (See http://wp.me/p5Z3-Ji for details.) However, in this case, I have to agree with Library Director John Wells, who is quoted in the article. If a valuable resource at a taxpayer-supported public library is being used less and less, managers of that library need to re-evaluate where the funds are being spent. Libraries are under constant financial pressure. They obviously need to spend their meager budgets in ways to obtain the “most bang for the buck.”

In fact, John Wells is correct. Anyone with a computer can now obtain more genealogy information online that what any public library in a town or a small city can provide. The online information is available quickly and conveniently, is usually faster to search, and (in many cases) is available for less money. In fact, it is often cheaper to search online than it is to travel to a repository to search.

Perhaps the phrase “less money” requires some clarification.

A Quick Note for Plus Edition Subscribers

If you are a Plus Edition subscriber, you probably already know I normally send the weekly Plus Edition newsletter to you by email on Sunday evenings. However, this week I will be a bit busy. On Sunday, I will fly from Glasgow, Scotland, to London, England, sit on the ground for a few hours, then take another flight from London to the United States. That, along with a five-hour time zone change, should result in one tired traveler by the time I arrive home. I suspect that once my head hits my own pillow, I will soon be asleep.

The Plus Edition newsletter will be sent on Monday or Tuesday. Thank you for your patience.

 

(+) Archival Quality Ink and Paper

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

I often hear genealogists make states similar to this: “I don’t trust digital media for long-term storage so I am going to use paper and ink to make sure my data lasts for a long, long time.”

Indeed, there is a lot of truth to that sentiment. I can point out a few problems, such as storing audio or video recordings, but the idea of storing information on paper certainly has a lot of appeal to genealogists, historians, and others who are concerned with long-term preservation. Paper documents are simple, easy to produce, and last a long time. Or do they?

(+) Turn Vacations into Genealogy Fact-Finding Trips

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

This is an update to an article I published two years ago. Since I am in a hotel room in Scotland right now, it seems like a good time to add several new ideas to the original article.

“If It’s Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium.”

Where will you go on your next vacation trip? A trip to New England? Washington, D.C.? How about to the beach? Or how about a European vacation? How about taking a trip to the town where your grandparents grew up or a visit to the country of your ancestors? Wouldn’t you like to actually walk the same streets as your great-great grandfather or see the home where your grandmother was born? This is something you probably want to put on your bucket list.

A trip back to the home town or to “the old country” can be an immensely satisfying experience. Those who prepare for the trip usually report they have great memories and photographs of the experience.

(+) Genealogy Myths: Real, Fool’s Gold, or Both?

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

Family stories are a wonderful thing. They often give you insights into the lives of your ancestors. However, beware! Not all family stories are true. Many such stories are fictional. Yet, even the stories that are either entirely or part fiction may contain clues to facts. Good genealogical practice requires that we admit the fiction. But the next step the genealogist takes separates art from science. Before we discard these stories altogether, we need to mine them for nuggets of truth. Let’s look at a few of the more common “family legends” to see which ones you can mine for real gold.

Myth #1: Our name was changed at Ellis Island.

Fact: No evidence whatsoever exists to suggest this ever occurred. In fact, Ellis Island had rigid documentation requirements.

(+) A Comparison Chart of Genealogy Software for Windows

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

Genealogy Software for Windows Comparison

A side-by-side comparison of all programs reviewed to date: RootsMagic and Legacy Family Tree

(+) QR Codes Create Internet-Connected Tombstones – A Good or Bad Idea?

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

QR Codes have many uses. They are often used on business cards and also in printed advertisements. Mercedes-Benz attaches them to automobiles so that rescue crews can use their smartphones or tablets to instantly retrieve information on how to make a speedy and safe recovery when using the “jaws of life” to extricate victims from an auto accident. (See http://www.gizmag.com/mercedes-benz-qr-codes/27675/.) Now genealogists have recently been finding QR Codes on tombstones and on columbariums

NOTE: A columbarium is is a place for storage of cinerary urns (i.e. urns holding a deceased’s cremated remains).

A QR Code (abbreviated from Quick Response Code) is the trademark for a type of matrix barcode (or two-dimensional code) first designed for the automotive industry. You can see a typical QR Code to the right. You probably have seen similar QR Codes on all sorts of products and advertisements. To use a QR Code, use a smartphone (typically an Apple iPhone or an Android phone) with appropriate software installed to take a close-up picture of the QR Code. The software reads the QR Code and then opens a web browser that displays the web page address that is embedded within the dots of the QR Code.

(+) Why Are We Limited to Soundex?

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

Genealogists love Soundex, a method of matching names that have similar sounds but may be spelled differently. In fact, Soundex became popular amongst genealogists almost as soon as it was invented in 1918. Soundex was patented by Robert C. Russell of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and is sometimes called the “Russell Code.” The U.S. Census Bureau immediately adopted Soundex for indexing census records. Since then, others have used the Soundex code to sort similar-sounding names for telephone books, work records, drivers’ licenses, and many other purposes. I noticed that the first four characters of my driver’s license number are “E235,” the Soundex code for my last name.

Genealogists use Soundex to find variant spellings of ancestors’ names. Almost all modern genealogy databases have a “search by Soundex” capability.

Soundex is a form of “phonetic encoding” or “sound-alike” codes. A Soundex code consists of one letter followed by three digits. For instance, Smith and Smythe both are coded as S530, Eastman is E235, and Williams is W452.

(+) How to Run Windows 7 from an iPad, Android Tablet, Kindle Fire, Macintosh, or a Different Version of Windows: Use a Leased Virtual PC

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

This week I found myself facing a quandary: I needed a Windows computer and didn’t have one. I want to write software reviews for a number of genealogy programs for Windows, Macintosh, Android, iPad, and cloud-based systems. I have all the computers I need to run those programs except for a Windows system. Actually, I do own a Windows 8 laptop, but I left it in my winter home when I went north for the summer. My error. I started evaluating my options.

I certainly could buy a new Windows computer, probably a laptop. However, that costs more money than I happen to have in the checkbook at the moment. Besides, it seems silly to purchase an expensive piece of hardware that duplicates something I already own but neglected to bring with me. I probably could borrow a Windows system from a friend, but I really need to keep it for several weeks, possibly for 2 or 3 months. I also expect to be traveling during that time (I’ll be in Scotland two weeks from now) and wasn’t sure that any of my friends were in a position to lend me a computer to take on extended, international trips. It also needs to be a rather recent computer, not an old clunker. To be blunt, I am reluctant to ask.

(+) Do You Already Have a Local Area Network Installed in Your Home?

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

I recently published I Added Four Terabytes to My Personal Cloud at http://wp.me/p5Z3-ws where I described my recent addition of a huge networked disk drive to the local area network in my home. I now have more than five terabytes of available storage space, counting the new four terabyte disk drive plus some older devices I have used for several years. The space is available to be shared amongst all the computers owned by family members. In addition, any of us can access our files from anywhere in the world, using an Internet connection and a user name and password.

A newsletter reader recently wrote, “How can I use that if I don’t have a local network?”

I suspect she does have a local area network in her home but probably doesn’t know it. The same may be true for you.

(+) Leave Your Existing Genealogy Program Behind and Look to the Future

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

This article was inspired by the recent announcement that The Master Genealogist, a popular genealogy program for Windows, will soon be discontinued. (See http://blog.eogn.com/2014/07/29/the-master-genealogist-to-be-discontinued for the details.) However, the information here applies to any program that becomes unavailable or to anyone who perhaps is thinking about upgrading to a new computer, possibly including an upgrade to a new operating system.

This week’s announcement that a popular genealogy program would be discontinued was sad news, but not unusual. Indeed, similar announcements have happened over the years. Do you remember Personal Ancestral File, CommSoft’s Roots 5, Carl York’s The Family Edge, Quinsept’s Family Roots, Ultimate Family Tree, or SierraHome’s Generations 8.0? Those and a number of other, lesser-known genealogy programs have all faded away over the years. May they all rest in peace.

(+) Is the Smartphone Becoming the PC Replacement?

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

91% of all adults in the U.S. now have cell phones, according to a study by the Pew Research Center. (Details may be found at http://goo.gl/nwNBuP.) That’s more than the number of people who own computers.

Basic cell phones only place and receive telephone calls. Others add cameras. However, the real growth area lies with the intelligent cell phones that have built-in computer functionality. These are typically called “smartphones.” Let’s examine these.

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