Plus Edition Article

(+) Get a Facelift: Why You Want Your Own Domain Name

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

Domain_namesDo you have a blog or a personal web pages? If so, you want to make it easy for others to find on the World Wide Web. Which do you think works better?


Insert the name of your blog or personal web pages in place of “smithfamily” in the above examples.

For instance, the “real address” of this newsletter used to be, but I found that nobody could remember that. I changed it to and found that most people could remember the four-letter domain name of eogn, which stands for “Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter.” The number of readers of this newsletter jumped dramatically within a few weeks after I changed the domain name.

Having your own domain name looks a lot more professional than does “piggybacking” onto someone else’s domain name.

(+) Follow-Up: Hands On with QromaScan: A New, Smarter Way to Scan Photos

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

In last week’s Plus Edition newsletter, I described (at my experiences with the brand-new QromaScan device that converts an iPhone into a scanner. I pointed out a couple of deficiencies with the new product. Now the producing company has fixed one of the major drawbacks with the new release of QromaScan software.

In a letter to all QromaScan customers,  Tony Knight wrote:

(+) Will Your Next Primary Computer be a Tablet?

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

IPad1stGenOne of the trends amongst today’s computer users is the move from traditional desktop and laptop computers to tablet computers and also to the so-called smartphones. While the desktop and laptop computers remain much more powerful than the smaller devices, the tablets and smartphones are all “good enough” for most tasks, and their mobility is proving to be much more useful than using a big computer on the desk or even a laptop in a briefcase.

Gartner, Inc. now says that tablet computers outsell combined desktop and laptop computers by a six-to-one ratio. (The report is available at

Most of the time, many of us use our computers primarily for accessing the Internet, for word processing, and for email. Those three things are all that many of us need day-to-day. For more advanced uses, both Microsoft Office and the Apple productivity programs are available for tablets. For me and for many others, those tasks are all I need perhaps 99% of time.

(+) Hands On with QromaScan: A New, Smarter Way to Scan Photos

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

In the May 12, 2015, newsletter (at, I described a newly-announced device that will convert an iPhone into a scanner. I wrote, “One caveat: it only works with an iPhone. Oh, and another caveat: it isn’t available yet.”

The new device, called a QromaScan, had been invented, but the producer did not have the funds to go into production. To raise the funds, the company started a Kickstarter campaign. (You can read about Kickstarter fund raising at and at The Kickstarter/QromaScan goal was to raise $20,000 to fund production.

I also wrote, “QromaScan is currently seeking funding on Kickstarter. If successful, the developers plan to start shipping in July.” Then I mentioned, “I ordered one today…”

(+) The Genealogy Library Inside Your Computer: How to Increase Your Personal Genealogy Library without Additional Bookshelves

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

Do you have ten or more printed genealogy books at home? Where do you store them? How much space does that require? Do you perhaps own a hundred books? Did you ever buy a book at a genealogy conference, take it home, and then find you already had the book? (I plead “guilty” to that problem.)

ebooksThis article will describe one method of increasing your genealogy library at little or no cost. The goals are to:


  • Save space
  • Find information faster and easier
  • Increase your knowledge
  • Save money

How do we do this? The answer is simple: ebooks. The process is simple, and many books are available free of charge. Best of all, you don’t have to purchase bookcases or build an addition onto your house just for books.

Some of us face a difficult task:

(+) Convert your Old Videotapes to DVD Before They Deteriorate!

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

No_VHSNow is the time to copy your old VHS tapes to digital DVD media. The holiday season starts soon. That makes many of us stop to consider family documents, photographs, and videos. As we gather together for holiday events, many of us take new pictures, both still photographs and video. Over a period of many years, some of us have collected boxes of pictures and videos in whatever formats were available at the time.

One problem with stored videos in boxes is signal deterioration. For the remainder of this article, I will write “VHS videotapes,” but the same is true of the 8mm and Hi8 videotapes that came along later. All of these tapes are recorded in an analog format, and the information recorded on the magnetic tape will deteriorate and become “noisy” over a period of years. This noise will appear as “snow flakes” that show up momentarily within the displayed video images. Colors may also fade. Most VHS tapes will start to degrade after just five years.

(+) Protecting Your Genealogy Work from Natural Disaster

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

National Preparedness Month

According to the U.S. government’s web site at

“September is National Preparedness Month. This year we are asking you to take action now – make a plan with your community, your family, and for your pets. Plan how to stay safe and communicate during the disasters that can affect your community. We ask everyone to participate in America’s PrepareAthon! and the national day of action, National PrepareAthon! Day, which culminates National Preparedness Month on September 30.”

In fact, that web site provides a lot of good advice about being prepared for floods, wildfires, hurricanes, tornados, power outages, blizzards, and other disasters. To read the good advice, I suggest you go to However, the advice on the government’s web site doesn’t cover one thing that genealogists need to plan for: saving your many years of genealogy research in a manner that will make sure it remans available to you and to your family members after a disaster. This article hopefully will offer suggestions that fill that gap in the government’s plans.

(+) How to Publish Genealogy Information Online for Fun and Profit

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

selling_ebooks_onlineFor 50 to perhaps 75 years, many genealogists have provided a valuable “cottage industry” of publishing genealogy information. Sometimes this information is in the form of reprinting old, out of copyright family history books. Other services include the publishing of local tax lists, school records, census extracts, histories of towns or counties, and much more. Sometimes these publishing efforts are done by private individuals while others are offered as public services or money-making activities by local genealogy societies. Whatever the source, the goal of these efforts has always been to publish valuable genealogy information that is of interest to others.

Many of these publications have been low-budget efforts, often photocopied manually and bound together with hand-stapled covers. Over the years, I have purchased a number of such publications and have found most of them to be valuable for finding information about my ancestors. Many times, I was able to find information in these “home productions” that was not easily found anywhere else.

As the world moves to more and more of an online environment, we shouldn’t be surprised to see many of these “cottage” publishers moving to an online environment. In some cases, the publishers continue to produce paper documents but have opened online “catalogs” that anyone can easily search. You place an order, and a book arrives in your mailbox a few days later.

A New Option for Plus Edition Articles: Pay for One Article Only

I am experimenting a bit. If this new option turns out to be popular, I will keep it. If not, it will disappear.

I occasionally receive requests from readers asking to purchase a single Plus Edition article without having to pay for an entire subscription. Not everyone wants to pay for a 3-month or 12-month subscription if they want to read only one Plus Edition article. Therefore, I have added a new option: anyone may purchase a single Plus Edition article as a PDF file.

(+) Hands On with the ASUS Flip 10.1-Inch Convertible 2-in-1 Touchscreen Chromebook

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

I have owned a Samsung Chromebook for several years and use it often. It has become my traveling companion on many trips. I appreciate its security, its fast boot-up time, and the fact that it never gets viruses. Of course, the low price of Chromebooks is probably the most attractive feature of all.

NOTE: A Chromebook is a laptop running Chrome OS as its operating system. It doesn’t run Windows or Macintosh OS or Android or Apple’s iOS. Instead, it has its own operating system: Chrome OS. Chromebooks are generally low-priced laptop computers that are designed to be used primarily while connected to the Internet, with most applications and data residing “in the cloud.” A Chromebook is an example of a “thin client.”

My aging Chromebook has been used to write many of the articles in this newsletter. However, an advertisement for the new ASUS Flip 10.1-Inch Convertible 2-in-1 Touchscreen Chromebook recently caught my eye. It has a faster processor, more memory, a touch-screen, and (best of all) a flip-around keyboard that allows it to be used either as a traditional laptop computer or as a tablet. The pictures in this article show how the flip keyboard works.


(+) Never Save Original Photos in JPG Format!

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

Genealogists and millions of others have saved hundreds of millions of digital photographs on their hard drives, in the cloud, and on CD-ROM disks. Perhaps the most popular file format for digital photographs is JPG (or JPEG), a commonly used method of compression for photographic images. The degree of compression can be adjusted, allowing a selectable tradeoff between storage size and image quality. JPEG typically achieves 10 to 1 compression with little perceivable loss in image quality.

JPEG is the most common image format used by digital cameras and other photographic image capture devices, such as scanners. It is also the most common format for storing and transmitting photographic images on the World Wide Web.

(+) My Favorite Way to Easily Save Cell Phone Photos

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

I have more than 3,000 photos and videos stored in my cell phone. That includes pictures of my grandchildren, photos from genealogy conferences, images of old documents found in various archives, recipes that I “photo-copied” from magazines, bills, receipts, and even a few billboards I enjoyed and decided to save.

Of course, I want to copy all of these items to one or more cloud-based services as well as to my own computers for long-term storage and preservation. Over the past year or two, I have experimented with programs that copy photos from a cell phone to Amazon Cloud Drive (Amazon Prime members can upload unlimited photos free of charge), Google Drive (free of charge for up to 15 gigabytes), Dropbox (free of charge for up to 2 gigabytes), (up to 15 gigabytes free of charge), and several other services.

(+) The True Expense of Genealogy Research

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

The recent story about the closing of the Arizona State Library Genealogy Collection is sad news. (See my earlier article at for details.) However, in this case, I have to agree with Arizona Secretary of State Michele Reagan. 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, Michele Reagan 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. In fact, the computer probably can provide more genealogy information than what was in the Arizona State Library Genealogy Collection in Phoenix with the obvious exception of quite a bit of Arizona-specific information that is not available elsewhere and even that can be fixed by having those specific materials digitized at an expense that is probably much less than keeping the “bricks and mortar” library open.

(+) A Lesson to be Learned From One Library’s Conversion to a Digital Library

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

ebooksOne prestigious coeducational college preparatory boarding school recently made a radical change to its library. With 140 years of academic excellence, one would expect the school to be steeped in tradition. However, a visitor to the campus might be surprised to learn that the 100+ year-old school’s library has gone almost all digital.

In a newspaper interview, the former headmaster said, “When I look at books, I see an outdated technology, like scrolls before books.”

(+) Why Reinvent the Wheel?

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

WARNING: This article contains personal opinions.

One thing that constantly puzzles me is why do genealogists keep re-inventing the same wheels? In fact, we have the tools today to reduce this duplication of effort immediately and perhaps to even drive it to zero within a few years. If we do that, the result will be peer-reviewed, high-quality genealogy information available to everyone.

For decades, the standard method of genealogy research has been to look at 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 containing user-contributed information, and even GEDCOM files found online. 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 of hours of work, sometimes thousands of hours, sometimes great expenditures of money, and, when original records have not been easily available locally, we often spend significant amounts of money on travel.

To be kind, I will simply say that the results have been variable. Some skilled and careful researchers have produced accurate and carefully documented genealogies. Other genealogists, typically those with less-than-perfect research skills or motivation, have produced compiled genealogies containing errors. A few have produced genealogies that I can only describe as “fairy tales.”

(+) How to Make Sure Your Laptop, Cell Phone, and Other Electronic Devices are Prepared for Power Outages

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

A recent 24-hour power outage at my home brought the subject of emergency preparedness to mind. Power, telephone, cable television, and FIOS fiber optic lines all had been ripped off the telephone poles by falling trees in several different locations around town during a major wind storm. Not only was the power off but all the telephones in my neighborhood were dead, the cable television was also dead, and Internet connectivity by cable or FIOS fiber optic also was inoperative. Despite these handicaps, I was able to maintain telephone communications and Internet connectivity all the time. While this outage only lasted about 24 hours, I could have maintained the same communications for a week or more without power.

I would suggest everyone should think of their own preparedness for power outages, whether caused by weather, automobiles running into telephone poles, or any other calamities.

(+) Enjoy Internet Access Nearly Anywhere and Anytime with a Personal Wi-Fi Hotspot

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

Introduction: There is a bit of irony here. I was writing this article about how to connect to the Internet when traveling or during a power failure when the power went off! A tree fell across the power, telephone, FIOS, and cable company’s lines, landing across the street and into my front yard. It was the first power failure in the neighborhood in months, and it happened while I was writing this article about being prepared for power failures!

Power, telephone, and wired Internet connectivity were inoperative for about 24 hours. During that time, I used the methods described in this article to access the Internet via a cellular connection.

One of the phrases we often read in technical articles these days is “Internet everywhere.” Indeed, wi-fi Internet connections, often called “hotspots,” are available at thousands of coffee shops, restaurants, libraries, schools, and dozens of other places as well. I have successfully connected online from fast food burger places and while riding at 34,000 feet in an airplane However, despite the phrase “Internet everywhere,” we still cannot connect online from anywhere. A few places do not have wi-fi networks. And then there is the universal question: what do we do during power failures?

(+) The Cheap and Easy Way to Find an Ancestor’s Grave

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

If you own a smartphone (Android or iPhone), you already have all the hardware needed to easily locate cemeteries and, in many cases, even go quickly to specific tombstones within each cemetery. You will need a bit of software, but that is available free of charge from several vendors. You will also need to spend a bit of time online, preparing for the trip.

(+) Is Your Genealogy Data Insane?

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

Are you confident of the accuracy of your genealogy data? You might be amazed at how many databases I see that include mothers giving birth at the age of three, marriages at age twelve, or deaths at the age of 135. Sometimes you even find a person with a birth date prior to those of his parents. Download almost any GEDCOM file from the Internet and I suspect you can find similar problems.

Such errors are easy to create. Sometimes selecting the wrong person in original records can cause such errors. Copying someone else’s errors can cause other errors. Mistakes also occur because you had a keystroke error when entering the data; attempting to type 1835 on the keyboard can easily result in 1845 being pressed on the keys.

(+) Is It Unverified Data and Will It Always be Unverified?

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

Warning: this article contains personal opinions.

I have been fascinated with the comments posted on this newsletter over the years concerning “unverified information on the Internet” and comments about linking to family trees without verification. I agree with some of the comments and disagree with some others. I thought I would add my two cents’ worth.

First of all, I believe in verification of every bit of information I obtain. I don’t care if a fact came from the Internet, from a book, or even from an original record. I still want to verify every bit of information I read. (Most original records are correct but you will find occasional errors even in the original records.) I always look to see who reported the information or who wrote the book I am reading. Even if I recognize the author as being a leading genealogy expert, I still want to verify the claim independently. I don’t believe anyone!

So you think I would be against unsourced, unverified information on the Internet? Wrong!


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