Plus Edition Article

(+) Follow-Up: A Tablet Computer that Runs Windows 8.1 for $99

Yesterday I published a Plus Edition article (at http://eogn.com/wp/?p=33152) describing my experiences running Windows 8.1 and a standard Windows genealogy program on an 8-inch tablet computer. Apparently, the other retailers are not sitting idly by. Now two more brands of tablet computers with almost identical specifications are being offered at the same price. All of these tablet computers run Windows 8.1 and are capable of running almost any Windows programs, including all of today’s Windows genealogy programs.

(+) A Tablet Computer that Runs Windows 8.1 for $99

This is a Plus Edition article written by and copyright by Dick Eastman. Please do not forward this article to others without the author’s permission.

Want a small tablet computer that slips into a purse or (a large) pocket and yet can run RootsMagic, Legacy Family Tree, Ancestral Quest, Family Tree Builder, Family Historian, Microsoft Office 365, Internet Explorer, PowerPoint, Angry Birds, or almost any other Windows program? Sound too good to be true? What is your reaction if I tell you that you can buy this tiny powerhouse for $99? Even better, you can purchase it from one of the “big box” retailers near you.

I recently purchased this 8-inch tablet computer that runs Windows 8.1 and have been using it for a while. I am generally pleased with it although it does have some drawbacks. Then again, at this price, I am willing to live with a few shortcomings.

That’s right: it is a handheld tablet computer that fits into a large pocket or a purse. It runs the full version of Windows 8.1, not a normal tablet operating system such as Android or Apple’s iOS or even Microsoft’s dummied-down tablet operating system called Windows RT. This tiny tablet computer includes the full version of Windows 8.1 and can run (almost) all normal Windows programs. You can purchase it for $99 or for $149. I’ll explain the two prices in a moment.

(+) How to Use Ancestry.com, MyHeritage, FindMyPast, and Other Online Resources for Free

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

Are you curious about your family history but don’t want to pay $20 a month to join Ancestry.com or $10 a month to use MyHeritage or other commercial services? You don’t have to! Your local public library or a nearby Family History Center may offer a free membership that provides access to census data; military, court, land, vital, and church records; directories; passenger lists; naturalization papers; and more for ancestors from the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Europe, Australia, and elsewhere. In some cases, you may be able to access some of these huge online databases from the comfort of your own home.

(+) How to Digitize Old Tape Recordings

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

Do you have any old cassette tape recordings or even earlier reel-to-reel recordings that you would like to convert to digital audio files or to CD disks for preservation and possibly to share with others? That is a good idea for several reasons.

The tapes you have on hand might contain recordings made at family dinners or birthday parties or family reunions. Then again, perhaps you have all the classic Perry Como recordings that you would like to listen to once in a while. Whatever the recording, you need to convert every tape to modern media now, while you still can. With today’s technology, “modern media” usually means a CD disk or a flash drive or an audio file saved on a hard disk.

Why should you do that now? First of all, tape players are becoming difficult to purchase. Have you looked in a local department store or electronics store for a cassette player? A few stores still sell them, but cassette players are rapidly disappearing. Reel-to-reel tape players are even harder to find.

Sure, you may still have a suitable player in the closet that will play your old tapes; but, what happens if that player malfunctions? Can you find a replacement?

(+) Make a Google Will

This is a Plus Edition article written by and copyright by Dick Eastman. Please do not forward this article to others without the author’s permission.

What happens to all your online data after your demise? What will become of your email messages, your personal blog, the files in Google Drive or Dropbox or any other cloud-based file storage service? How about the pictures stored in Picasa or the videos you uploaded to YouTube? Will they be lost forever, or is there a way for your family and friends to access them after your demise and to save their own copies?

Many of the online services we use every day have no contingency plans for a deceased customer’s heirs to take over the account and save whatever is online for posterity.

In most cases, the online service(s) you use will never know that you have passed away. Most services simply delete your account and all information in that account after some months of inactivity. For free accounts, the exact number of days varies from one service to another; but, all of them will eventually delete your account and information if you do not log in for an extended period of time. For paid accounts, your information will be preserved online for as long as someone keeps paying the bills. Once the bills go unpaid, the information will eventually be deleted.

(+) 30 Million Books Online and Growing

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

In 1996, Google co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page were graduate computer science students working on a research project supported by the Stanford Digital Library Technologies Project. Their goal was to make digital libraries work, and their big idea was as follows: in a future world in which vast collections of books are digitized, people would use a “web crawler” to index the books’ content and analyze the connections between them, determining any given book’s relevance and usefulness by tracking the number and quality of citations from other books. The Web crawler they wound up building was called BackRub.

A few months later, BackRub was expanded to seek more than just books. Indeed, it was modified to find everything on the World Wide Web. Along the way, the project’s name was changed to Google.

Sergey Brin and Larry Page never abandoned their dream to make books available online. In 2002, a small group of Googlers officially launched a secret “books” project.

(+) How to Remotely Control a Distant Computer

…or perhaps a computer that is not so distant

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

Remote control software for desktop and laptop computers has been available for years. All systems administrators of large data centers are familiar with these programs, as are many “work from home” individuals who need to control computers at the office on nights and weekends. However, the same technology is available to everyone; you do not need to be a systems professional in order to access the computer on your desk at the office or the one at home when you are traveling. Best of all, many of these remote control products are available free of charge.

Remote control software has a very simple goal: add a second monitor, keyboard and mouse to a computer. The difference is that these secondary items are located some distance away, perhaps miles or even thousands of miles away. The secondary monitor, keyboard and mouse are connected to a standard Windows, Macintosh or Linux system or, in some cases, are part of an Android or iOS (iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch) handheld device. That system provides the necessary functionality to connect the video/keyboard/mouse simultaneously to the local and the distant computers.

(+) 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 1980s! 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 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.

(+) How To Self Publish Your Own Printed Book or eBook

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

Many genealogists dream of publishing the results of their research efforts. Whether it is to be a collection of childhood memories of time spent with grandparents or a scholarly study of all the descendants of a family’s immigrant ancestor, publishing books is still the best way to distribute information amongst relatives as well as to preserve the information for future generations.

Publishing most genealogy books has always been done by the use of “vanity press” publishers. A vanity press, vanity publisher, or subsidy publisher is a publishing house in which authors pay to have their books published. Unlike mainstream publishers, a “vanity press” publisher requires the author to pay in advance to have the book published. The price usually includes publishing some predetermined number of books. In many cases, the author takes immediate delivery of all the books, stores them, and then sells the individual books as best he or she can. The vanity press publisher may or may not also make the books available for ordering in the company’s catalog.

(+) Which Protects Better: Cloud Storage or Local Backups?

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

I have written often about the need to make frequent backups in order to protect your valuable information. After reading a message from a newsletter reader, I decided to write one more article about the topic to clear up one possible misconception.

The email message asked:

“You tell us to back up our data often, to many places, in case of physical disaster. But what happens if you get a virus that infects your computer, in spite of having virus protection. Do all the copies then have the virus also? What is the solution for that?”

First, let’s define some terminology. A file copy program is not a true backup program.

(+) Update: Free or Nearly Free Cell Phone and Wi-Fi Telephone Calls

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

This is an update to a Plus Edition article I wrote in June. 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.

The company that supplied the cell phone later changed their offerings a couple of times. Now I have switched to a new service from the same company at roughly one-fourth the price of what I was paying earlier. I also found it to be a great tool for placing free calls back home when traveling internationally, instead of paying the normal, outrageous international roaming charges often associated with using cell phones when traveling in foreign countries.

(+) How to Make Money With Genealogy

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

You can make a career out of genealogy! How?

Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people have turned their avocation into a vocation, either part-time or full-time. Indeed, there is a need for many people with skills and knowledge of family history research. Not only can you become a professional genealogist who researches family trees for other people, but there are many related positions available as well. In fact, for a few of these positions, you don’t even have to be a skilled genealogist.

I thought I would describe a number of the job positions that you can find that are related to family history research.

(+) Calendars Explained

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

What could be simpler than a calendar? The printed one from the local real estate office shows twelve months, each with 28 to 31 days. Simple, right?

Well, it hasn’t always been so simple. After all, I keep stumbling upon genealogy records that are logged with “double dates.” That is, a birth record might state “22 February 1732/3.” Which was it: 1732 or 1733? Well, it actually was both. Just to make things more complex, most of our ancestors didn’t know what day it was. You see, most people in the early 1700s and earlier were illiterate. They couldn’t read a book, much less a calendar. Most people did not know what day it was or even how old they were. Very few remembered their own birthdays.

(+) 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.

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