Plus Edition Article

(+) 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.

(+) How to become a Paid Genealogy Speaker

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

Ah, the glamorous life: flying from city to city, giving presentations before genealogy conferences and society meetings. How would you like to do the same?

(+) Perform Focused Searches on Google

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

Google is a wonderful invention for genealogists and all other Internet users. The world’s most popular search engine is capable of finding specialized information about most anything imaginable. However, many users do not know much about ll the options available when using Google’s most powerful search tools.

Many of us only know how to enter a query into Google’s Search Box.

Such a search can find all sorts of information, often overwhelming you with too many “hits.”

(+) Turn any Smartphone into a Scanner and Document Management System with OCR Capabilities

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

Let’s say you are at a county courthouse looking at old land records, and you find what you have been looking for: the transcription of your ancestor’s deed showing his purchase of property. Of course, you need a copy; but the only available copy machine doesn’t handle oversized documents. Even more important, you always prefer a digital image whenever possible as it is easier to store, copy, and include in your reports. However, there is no scanner available. What to do?

Use your cell phone’s camera!

Here is an example of a book image made by my iPhone’s internal camera:

Click on the above image to view a larger version.

(+) An Easy Way to Turn a Dropbox Folder into a Personal Website

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

Would you like to publish your personal genealogy information online? You can find dozens of methods for doing that although some of the methods are rather complex. One product simplifies the process. Using this product, you can place your information into a Dropbox folder on your own computer, and it will become a web site visible to everyone on the World Wide Web or you can limit it to only those who have a password to access the site.

The old-fashioned method of creating web sites required a knowledge of HTML (HyperText Markup Language), the standard markup language used to create Web pages. Creating HTML web pages requires study, and the creation of the web pages is tedious. However, many of today’s genealogy programs will create HTML pages for you automatically, using the information stored within your genealogy database. Such programs include RootsMagic, Legacy Family Tree, Ancestral Quest, Family Tree Maker, GRAMPS, Reunion, The Master Genealogist, Second Site, and others. The process of creating HTML web pages with any of these products is quick and easy, and it doesn’t require any special knowledge of HTML.

(+) Online Payment Processing for the Small Society

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

Would your genealogy or historical society like to accept payments on the web? Possible uses are to accept membership dues, to sell books or other materials, accept donations, or to accept registration fees for seminars and other events. Online payment processing may sound “high-tech” and complicated, but even the smallest nonprofit can easily implement procedures to receive payments through its website.

Online credit card payments are the most accepted method of payment these days. Years ago, many people were afraid to use credit cards online. However, those fears are long gone as millions of online credit card payments are now made every day. The number of lost or fraudulent online charges is now lower than that of old-fashioned “face-to-face” credit card payments in stores, gas stations, restaurants, and elsewhere. As a result, online use of credit cards is now safer than using credit cards in stores. In addition, all online payments made by VISA, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover Card are now fully insured against fraud and errors, both online and offline, so purchasers will never lose a dime even in the worst situation imaginable. Once upon a time, debit cards were not protected but that has now changed. The protection now covers both debit cards and credit cards.

(+) Convert Your Tablet Computer into a Document Camera and Stage Stand

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

One nifty tool for genealogists is a document camera. You can use one to take a picture of documents, even oversized pieces of paper. It also will take pictures of pages in a book, coins, or any other small object, and much more. If you already own a cell phone or tablet handheld computer, you may already know that its built-in camera can be used to make digital images of papers, maps, books, and more. You may also know that it is no easy feat to take pictures of these items with satisfying clarity. Nonetheless, it can be done—even by an amateur like you or me.

(+) Fighting Information Overload on the Web

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

The web is making all of the world’s information accessible. Isn’t that great?

It really is great, but the world is a very big place, and contemplating all of its information makes my brain hurt.

There is more information available on the web than any other single place in the world. Best of all, much of this information is updated daily, some of it hourly. Whatever information you or I seek, there is an excellent chance that we can find it on the web.

(+) What I See in My Crystal Ball: The Future of Genealogy Research

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

As we look back at 2014 and also look forward to 2015 and beyond, I see many changes for genealogists. The most obvious changes are caused by technology. Specifically, the World Wide Web is allowing all of us to access records that previously were difficult or expensive to find. Many of us balk at the expenses of traveling to libraries and archives. A single trip to a library only a few miles away may require significant payments for gas, tolls, parking fees, and more. A trip to a library further away, such as in Salt Lake City, is out of reach for many genealogists even if they have the time available.

For many people, time is the biggest obstacle of all. For people who are raising children and are employed full-time, finding enough hours to visit a genealogy library or archive during normal business hours is impossible. Luckily, the World Wide Web is coming to the rescue.

(+) Easily Read PDF and Other Documents on Your Kindle, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, Android Device, Blackberry, or Windows Phone

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

Since the early days of the e-reader, Amazon’s Kindle devices have been liberating readers from library fines, dog-eared pages, misplaced tomes, and heavy bags of physical books. However, what can a person who does not own a Kindle do to read these books and other documents?

Many people who own tablet computers or “smartphones” like to use them as ebook readers. However, many are not aware that they can read Kindle format ebooks on non-Kindle devices. Also, once you install some software, your device becomes the equivalent of a real Kindle. The new software adds a lot of functionality, including the ability to purchase and download Kindle books and also the ability to read PDF documents and other formats on the mobile device as well. Even better, those documents can be shared amongst the owner’s other computers, including Windows and Macintosh desktop and laptop computers and even amongst other tablets the same person might own.

(+) How to Care for Aging, Fragile Paper, CDs, Magnetic Tapes, and Their Data Content

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

CD-ROM disks, along with their higher-capacity cousins DVD and Blu-ray disks, are fragile methods of storing information. In short, these plastic disks are not suitable for long-term storage. Many corporations and non-profits are racing to get their data off the discs as quickly and safely as possible and into a more reliable digital storage environment. If you have genealogy information or any other information stored on these disks, you need to do the same.

For many years, the thought amongst genealogists has been to print the information on paper for long-term preservation. Yet, many of us have handled old pieces of paper that are decaying, crumbling, or fading to the point that the information is not readable. In fact, most paper manufactured in the past 75 years or so contains acids that will hasten the deterioration of the information you wish to preserve. Add in the many problems of paper destruction caused by mold, mildew, moisture, insect damage, floods, and other factors, and you soon come to the realization that storage on paper is almost as risky as storing on magnetic media.

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

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

Several 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?

(+) A Hands On Report: A 10.1-inch Windows 8.1 Tablet/Laptop for $179

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

This week I picked up a low-cost computer that is generally referred to as a “hybrid.” That is, it functions both as a laptop computer and, with the keyboard removed, as a tablet computer. It runs the full version of Windows 8.1, not the dummied down version called Windows RT.

Best of all is the price: $179. No, that is not a sale price or a limited-time-only introductory price. That’s the normal selling price for this Windows hybrid: $179 shipped (plus tax).

The laptop computer with keyboard attached weighs a bit less than 3 pounds. However, if you disconnect the keyboard and leave it at home, the computer itself weighs about 1.5 pounds. Either way, this tiny computer is easy to slip into a purse or a small carrying case and take it with you on your travels.

(+) How to Find Anything on Your Hard Drive within Seconds

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

The old method of carrying files with you.

Modern hard drives are wonderful inventions. Capable of storing gigabytes, even terabytes, of information, today’s hard drives allow you store the equivalent of multiple four-drawer filing cabinets in only a few cubic inches, all for a cost undreamed of only a few years ago. In fact, today’s hard drives are much cheaper than filing cabinets. Even better, you can carry the equivalent of a large filing cabinet with you all the time by keeping the information in a flash drive, in a laptop computer, or in the cloud where it is easily accessed from your cell phone or tablet computer.

There is but one problem: how do you find information buried in the tens of thousands of documents you filed on these gargantuan hard drives over the years?

Luckily, there are several solutions that will allow you to find anything in your computer within seconds.

(+) Add a Flash Drive to your iPhone or iPad

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

This article is for anyone who uses an Apple iOS (iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch) device. You can now easily add a flash drive with up to 64 gigabytes of storage space to your iOS device. Even better, you can also plug the same flash drive into any Macintosh or Windows computer and copy files back and forth.

No cables, cloud, or Internet connection is required. As a result, your private files remain just that: private. In addition, the flashdrive’s software includes the ability to encrypt files for super-secure file transfers to and from the iPad or iPhone. You can lock the files with a password of your own choosing. The files can later be unlocked when used on the Windows or Macintosh computer as well as on the iPhone or iPad.

(+) Kekule Numbering System

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

Genealogists often use terms that are not familiar to others. Most of these terms become familiar soon after we get involved in searching for our family trees. We soon speak of pedigree charts, enumerators, Henry numbers, fan charts, and more. However, one term we do not hear often pops up occasionally: Kekule Numbers.

The German mathematician Stephan Kekule of Stradonitz (1863-1933) was a genealogist as well as the son of famed mathematician and chemist Friedrich August Kekulé. He used a numbering system to show relationships in text format. In German-speaking counties, lists of names created with Stephan Kekule’s numbers are still referred to by his name: Kekule numbers. However, in English-speaking countries the same numbers in lists would be called “numbers.”

Indeed, ahnentafel numbers and the Kekule numbers for listing ancestors are the same. However, Stephan Kekule also created a similar system for listing descendants, a system I have rarely seen in English publications.

(+) Obtain an ISBN Number for Your Genealogy Book

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

“ISBN” stands for “International Standard Book Number.” An ISBN number is an ISO standard and normally is found in all books published in the United States since 1970 and on many books published in other countries as well. Technically, an ISBN number is not a requirement for any book; you may publish books without such a number. However, experience has shown that an ISBN number is required if you want the book to be listed in the many indexing and cataloging systems available. Also, an ISBN number is required for all books that are to be sold by Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Border Books, and most any other major bookseller. These booksellers use the ISBN numbers to order, inventory, and track books.

Only the smallest self-published and self-marketed books can survive without ISBN numbers.

(+) The Problems with OCR

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

Much of the genealogy information available on the World Wide Web is obtained from old books, published many years ago. With today’s technology, vendors are finding it easy to scan the books and to convert the pages into computer text. The results are placed online and the text becomes searchable in Google and other search engines, as well as each site’s own “search box.” The conversion from printed pages to computer text can be performed at modest expense and the information derived can be valuable for many genealogists. There is but one problem: it doesn’t always work very well.

Scanning a page from a book creates a picture of the page. However, a picture is not easily searchable. The image is similar to taking a picture with a digital camera: while it is easily readable by a human eye, the computer cannot “see” the words in the picture. A conversion process, called Optical Character Recognition, is required.

(+) Opening Word files in Google Drive when using Microsoft Word for iPad

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

This is a follow-up to my recent Plus Edition article (+) How I Ditched My Laptop for a Tablet Computer that was published at Today’s article will only interest anyone using Microsoft Word for iPad.

A newsletter reader posted a question in the Comments section at the end of the article: “It appears the Microsoft Office Word and Excel iPad apps only support documents stored on or saved to their own Cloud server, One Drive, and DropBox, not Google Drive at the present time at least. If anyone knows of a workaround, please let us know.”

I decided to answer in the Plus Edition web site so that other iPad users who wish to use Microsoft Word for iPad will also see the instructions.

(+) How I Ditched My Laptop for a Tablet Computer

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

As a frequent traveler who also lives in a high tech world, I am always looking for ways to travel lighter, with less luggage, and with less effort. I started out years ago traveling with a 12-pound laptop computer with a black-and-white screen and two floppy disk drives (and no hard drive). I think the charger added another three or four pounds to my luggage weight as well. That was state-of-the-art in the 1980s. Of course, I was younger and stronger in those days, and carrying an extra 15 pounds or so wasn’t much of an issue.

In those days I had a separate suitcase just for the laptop, charger, modem, and assorted cables and tools needed to take apart the telephone in a hotel room in order to hook into the phone system and connect to the outside world. This was before the airlines started charging extra for every piece of luggage. The normal method of connecting online in those days was to use a dial-up modem to connect to CompuServe. The World Wide Web and the phrase “wi-fi” hadn’t been invented in the 1980s.

Luckily, technology has improved greatly since those days!


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