Plus Edition Article

(+) How Long Does a Flash Drive Last?

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

Flash drives have generally replaced Blu-Ray disks, DVD-ROM disks, CD-ROM disks, floppy disks, magnetic tape, and even old-fashioned punch cards as the preferred method of storing backup copies of computer data. Indeed, these tiny devices are capable of storing as much as 256 gigabytes of data for reasonable prices, and even higher capacities are available, although perhaps at somewhat unreasonable prices. (“Reasonable prices” are defined as prices that are lower than purchasing equivalent storage capacity on CD-ROM, DVD-ROM, and Blu-Ray disks.) If history repeats itself again, even today’s unreasonably-priced flash drives will be cheaper within a very few years.

(+) Endangered Species: CD and DVD Disks

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

CD-ROM disks and the newer DVD-ROM plastic disks have been the standard of data storage for years. However, that is rapidly changing. The disks may last a long time, but it appears that CD and DVD disk READERS are about to disappear.

A well-prepared genealogist will handle the change easily. However, anyone who ignores the change in technology will be left with a stack of plastic disks that are about as useful as the old computer punch cards.

(+) How to Obtain Information from the 1950 and Later Census Records

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

Anyone who has been researching U.S. ancestors for very long is probably familiar with the U.S. census records. The census records of 1940 and earlier are publicly available; anyone may view them. However, the census records of 1950 and later are sealed and not available to descendants until 72 years after the date of the census. Or are they?

Click on the above image of a 1950 census form to view a larger version

In fact, genealogists can obtain limited information from the 1950, 1960, 1970, 1980, 1990, 2000, and even the 2010 U.S. census records. To be sure, the information available is limited, and the fees are high. However, this service is valuable to some people.

(+) 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. 

A recent discussion in this newsletter’s comments at the end of my Downsizing and Going Paperless article at http://goo.gl/nafMPm has shown 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, these 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 family’s homestead in Nebraska so that you can find it again when searching for all your Nebraska ancestors?

(+) Communicating in the Cemeteries

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

Communicating in the cemeteries??? No, I am not referring to communications with or amongst the “long-term residents” of a cemetery. Instead, I’m writing about communications for visitors to a cemetery. Namely, the genealogists who visit a cemetery looking for information about deceased relatives.

I generally try to visit a cemetery with a friend or two. We mentally divide the cemetery into sections, and then each person searches through his or her section alone. The other friends are doing the same in a different section. I have done this many times and suspect that you have, too. Having two or more people involved increases the enjoyment of the search as well as the safety of everyone involved.

There are disadvantages, however. Upon discovering a particular tombstone, you may have to shout to the other person to make them aware of your discovery. In a large cemetery, the other person(s) may be some distance away, making shouting impractical.

(+) Does Your Genealogy Society Have a Blog?

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

Individuals, non-profits, and companies publish blogs for a variety of reasons. Some blogs are launched for marketing purposes; others are posted just for fun. However, I will suggest that all genealogy societies should have a blog. In fact, a genealogy society’s blog is generally much more effective than a static web page or printed and mailed newsletters.

Here are a few reasons for starting a society blog:

(+) Are You a Family Historian or a Name Collector?

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

I have a question. None of my living relatives knows the answer to this question. I have not found the answer to this question in any public records, nor have I been able to find the answer in cemeteries. I have read a few magazine articles and Internet pages about the topic, but none of them have directly answered the question.

The question is… “Why do we study genealogy?”

What makes anyone so curious about his or her family tree? What drives us to dedicate time, effort, and sometimes expenses to go find dead people?

What is it inside of us that makes us spend hours and hours cranking reels of microfilm, then we go home and report to our family members what a great day we had?

(+) Waymarking for Genealogists and Historians

This article might be subtitled “How to Have Fun with Your GPS Receiver and Simultaneously Provide a Public Service for Others.”

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

Beatrix Potter used Hill Top, a 17 century farm house as a holiday home in the village of Sawrey. Here she wrote and based many of her books. N 54° 21.097 W 002° 58.227

A new hobby has appeared that is a “natural fit” for genealogists, historians, and many others. It is called “waymarking.” It is fun, gives you a chance to get a little exercise, and also provides a great public service. If you join in the waymarking activities of today, you can help future genealogists and others for decades to come.

Waymarking is a game/project/obsession which uses GPS coordinates to mark locations of interest and share them with others. You can even post online digital pictures of the location for others to see.

(+) The Web as We Knew it is Dead. Long Live the Web!

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

Are you using the latest and most convenient technology available today? Or are you using an ancient Windowsaurus (an old personal computing device from the paleo-Vista era)?

The history of the Internet began with the development of electronic computers in the 1950s. The US Department of Defense awarded contracts as early as the 1960s for packet network systems, including the development of the ARPANET (which would become the first network to use the Internet Protocol). Numerous people worked to connect computers together in a collaborative manner. Early examples include ARPANET, Mark I at NPL in the UK, CYCLADES, Merit Network, Tymnet, and Telenet. All were developed in the late 1960s and early 1970s using a variety of communications protocols.

(+) The PC and the Macintosh are Dying

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

Most of today’s genealogists use some sort of computer program to keep track of the information found during their searches. Popular programs include RootsMagic, Legacy Family Tree, Family Tree Builder, Reunion, Family Historian, AncestralQuest, Family Tree Maker, Heredis, Mac Family Tree, and quite a few others. They all have one thing in common: they are all becoming obsolete.

(+) Preserving Documents Digitally

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

What do the following headlines from past issues of this newsletter have in common?

Hancock County, Georgia, Courthouse Burned (August 12, 2014)

Van Buren County, Tennessee Offices Destroyed by Fire, Birth, Marriage, Death, and Many Other Records Lost (January 9, 2015)

Fire in Major Russian Library Destroys One Million Historic Documents (February 1, 2015)

Home of the Marissa (Illinois) Historical and Genealogical Society Destroyed by Fire (January 31, 2015)

Roof Collapses at Iowa Genealogical Society Library (December 31, 2009)

(+) How to Use Two Monitors on One Computer

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

Would you like to double the size of your computer’s screen? There is a simple method of doing that: add a second monitor. It is surprisingly easy and cheap to do so. In fact, right now I have two monitors on the computer I am using to write this article.

Did you recently purchase a new, large monitor? If so, is your older, smaller monitor gathering dust? Put it to use! The process I will describe works with almost any monitor, large or small. The two (or three or four) monitors do not need to be the same size. You can use the old and the new monitor simultaneously on one computer.

(+) Create Your Own Private and Secure Cloud

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

Cloud-based file backup services are very popular these days, including such services as Dropbox, Google Drive, Apple iCloud, SpiderOak, Amazon Cloud Drive, Amazon S3, Amazon Glacier, Box, Cubby, iDrive, Microsoft OneDrive, and a number of others. All of these can serve as your “disk drive in the cloud,” offering file space at prices that are usually cheaper than purchasing external disk drive(s). Some of the services even offer a limited amount of storage space free of charge. In addition, these services are monitored and maintained in professionally-run data centers with frequent backups being made and (usually) with duplicate copies maintained at different sites as well.

The biggest drawback of using a cloud-based file storage service is that some computer users have phobias about entrusting their data—including personal data—to the servers of some company. Indeed, everyone needs to be concerned about privacy, even if you think you have nothing to hide. Privacy is even more important when it comes to cloud storage. You have to trust the service you use to keep your files safe and secure and away from prying eyes. Whether you use your cloud storage for music, tax returns, or backups, it’s still important to know that your files are safe from prying eyes. While all of the major file storage services use heavy-duty security techniques, some computer users still aren’t willing to trust anyone to store their files.

(+) What Format Should You Use to Store Your Files?

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

One question that pops up frequently is, “What format should I use to save my files?” The question is often asked about digital pictures. Should they be saved as JPG or PDF or GIF or PNG or TIFF or some other format? Similar questions often arise about word processing files although there seem to be fewer options available. I thought I would offer a few suggestions and also tell what works for me.

Digital Pictures

Today’s technology allows for a selection of image file formats, including JPG, GIF, TIFF, BMP, PSD, RAW, PNG, EPS, PDF, and others in a seemingly endless alphabet soup of abbreviations and acronyms.

(+) How to Save Articles in This Newsletter and in Almost All Other Web Sites

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

I occasionally get asked about saving articles or even complete weekly newsletter editions published on the eogn.com web site. In fact, there are several methods of saving articles. I suspect others may have the same questions, so I thought I would describe several methods here in an article.

First, I hope you are not printing the articles on paper and saving them! (shudder.) That seems such a waste in today’s emphasis on “going green” and not wasting paper, ink, or toner. Besides, what do you do after you print 100 such articles? Or 1,000? Or even more? How do you ever find anything in that huge stack of paper?

(+) Embedding EXIF Data in Photographs

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

Congratulations if you have scanned your old family photos and documents or invested in a digital camera to preserve today’s pictures for future family historians. Before resting on your laurels, take a moment to recall all the old photos you’ve come across that you wish had labels describing the people, places, or events pictured. Your digital images have a built-in capability to create such labels – descriptions that won’t get separated from their subjects – with ease that would amaze our forebears. With today’s image files, what you see is only part of what you get! Let’s take a look “behind the scenes” of your digital photos.

All sorts of invisible information can be stored inside the digital file itself, such as:

(+) How to Convert Your Documents and eBooks for Use on the iPad, Nook, Kindle and other eBook Readers

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

Almost all of today’s ebook readers and tablet computers advertise that you can use the device to read documents and books. Doing so is a great way of taking your information with you. Whether it is a document from the office or a white paper you downloaded or a report from your favorite genealogy program, being able to read information in your living room, at the beach, on a commuter train, on an airliner, or in a hotel room is a great convenience. There is but one problem: most owners of ebook readers and tablet computers never use them for documents or books other than the ones that can be downloaded from the online bookstores.

Almost all owners of these devices download commercial books, newspapers, and magazines. In my casual conversations with owners of these devices, I have often asked about converting other documents to suitable formats and copying them to the handheld devices. The most common response I receive is, “I don’t know how to do that” or “I need to learn more about that” or some similar words. I decided to write this article with “how to” instructions.

(+) What Happens to your Online Accounts when You Die?

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

Genealogists are well aware of the disposition of wills, diaries, letters, and other personal items when a person dies. Indeed, the legal processes make sure that a person’s personal affairs are wrapped up properly. If a will exists, those same legal processes have always made sure the wishes of the deceased are considered and implemented as closely as possible. However, today’s new technologies add new challenges that are not yet covered by probate law—and also not well documented for either the family members of the deceased or the corporations that have possession of the deceased person’s digital assets.

Today, many people tend not to keep things on paper; instead, their most intimate thoughts are likely to be online—in emails, social media posts, and personal blogs. I count myself as one of those “online people,” and I suspect you may do the same. What happens to your Facebook pages, blog, online bank accounts, online stock brokerage accounts, or personal email correspondence after you pass away? How about your photos on Google Plus, Google Drive, Dropbox, Flickr, Snapfish, Shutterfly, Photobucket, or other photo sharing web sites? How about a Bitcoin wallet, if you have one?

(+) Hands On with a Portable Document Camera

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

Is this the world’s best document scanner? Well, that depends upon your usage. Technically, it is not a scanner but a camera. However, it can be used in place of a scanner. You can purchase other document cameras that take super high resolution images, weigh 50 pounds or more, and cost $1,000 and up. They will produce excellent results. However, if you are looking for a flexible, reasonably-priced, lightweight document camera that is easy to carry with you, then this document camera may just be the world’s best.

(+) Internet Archive Wants to Store Everything, Including Books

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

What does a library look like anymore?

When Egyptian King Ptolemy I built the Library of Alexandria nearly 2,300 years ago, the great library became the intellectual center of the ancient world. Ptolemy hoped to gather as much human knowledge as possible. Even ships anchored in the port were impounded until all the manuscripts they contained could be copied. World leaders lent their scrolls for duplication, and library officials traveled far and wide to purchase entire collections. Meanwhile, dutiful scribes hand-copied the library’s awesome collection, which eventually grew to as many as 700,000 scrolls.

Brewster Kahle is a modern-day Ptolemy: he wants to ensure universal access to all human knowledge. And now he thinks that goal is within our grasp. In fact, his web site, called The Internet Archive, has already stored 430 billion web pages. Yes, that’s BILLIONS of web pages. However, this online archive has a lot more than just web pages. It serves as an online library, the largest such library in the world. People download 20 million books from the site each month. This online library gets more visitors in a year than most libraries do in a lifetime.

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