Plus Edition Article

(+) 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 http://eogn.com/wp/?p=33219. 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!

(+) 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.

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