Plus Edition Article

(+) Why Isn’t Your Society Accepting Credit Card Payments?

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

Now_Accepting_Credit_CardsMost genealogy societies now have web sites to publicize their activities and to attract new members. However, I am still amazed at how many of those sites have an online application for membership that states something similar to the following:

“To join the society, please print the following application on your printer, put it into an envelope, enclose a check, and mail it to the society.”

That is so 1990s!

I suspect that many would-be members stop when they see such requirements and then move on to something else. They don’t join simply because it isn’t convenient to do so.

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

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

nocdSeveral 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?

(+) Hands On with the new iPad Pro

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

If Donald Trump were here, he probably would say, “It’s hu-u-u-uge.”

iPadPro-1Apple started shipping the new iPad Pro last week. I ordered one in the morning of the first day and specified that I wanted to pick it up at a local Apple Store. About 20 minutes later, I received a text message saying that the iPad Pro was ready for pickup. I was in the store a few minutes later and walked out with a very large iPad Pro under my arm.

This article gives my first impressions of using it, including running a couple of genealogy apps on the new tablet’s 12.9-inch Retina display (I’ll round that number up a fraction and call it a 13-inch display). This display screen is 2 inches larger than that of the MacBook Air laptop computer I have been using for several years. Not only is the display large, it is also very high resolution at 2732 by 2048 pixels. Apple uses the term “Retina display” as a marketing concept for their high-resolution LCD displays, the idea being that a display has “Retina” quality if the human eye can’t distinguish between individual pixels anymore at a typical viewing distance. This Retina display produces super-sharp images, almost as good as a painting hanging on the wall. The difference is that this “painting” provides full-motion video.

(+) Using a GPS for Genealogy

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

Our ancestors had to go to some extreme measures to keep from getting lost. They erected monumental landmarks, laboriously drafted detailed maps, and learned to read the stars in the night sky.

handheld-gpsThings are much easier today. You can now purchase a pocket-sized gadget that will tell you exactly where you are on Earth at any moment. In fact, you might already own such a device only you call it a cell phone. As long as you have a GPS receiver and an unobstructed view of the sky, you’ll never be lost again.

Geographic coordinates are useful for a couple of genealogical purposes. First of all, it is rather easy to find exact latitude and longitude of a cemetery on the U.S. government’s GNIS database and then to find those coordinates on a good map of the area. However, with the use of a high-tech device, you can also easily obtain real-time instructions on how to drive directly to that cemetery.

(+) Hands-on with the ScanSnap Evernote Edition Scanner

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

NOTE: Click on any of the images below to view larger versions.

I have written often about Evernote, one of my favorite software tools. I use Evernote several times most every day, both for genealogy and for all sorts of non-genealogy tasks. After using the program for a couple of years, I added the ScanSnap Evernote Edition, a desktop scanner designed especially for use with Evernote. Insert a stack of documents into the scanner, press a button, and all the documents are digitized, OCR’ed (converted to computer text), and inserted into Evernote automatically. It scans, senses, and autofiles your photos, receipts, business cards, and documents into your designated Evernote notebooks (which work like folders). It works with either Windows or Macintosh systems. The ScanSnap Evernote Edition does this via either wired or wireless wi-fi connections.

(+) How to Use a Cell Phone at Home When You Don’t Have Cell Phone Coverage at Home

(+) Subtitle: How to Also Save Money on Your Present Cell Phone Bill

(+) Sub-subtitle: How to Save Money on Cell Phone Calls When Traveling Overseas

This article has nothing to do with genealogy. If you are looking for genealogy articles, you might want to skip this one. However, I decided to write it after reading a comment by a newsletter reader.

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

no-cell-serviceI have read comments from several people saying they wished they could use a cell phone but they cannot because there is little or no cell phone coverage at their home. With today’s technology, that should not stop them from having a cell phone for use at home and elsewhere. In most cases, using the new technology will provide cheaper and better service than traditional telephone and cellular companies. In fact, cell phone calls placed from within your home usually are free of charge because those calls do not count as “cell phone minutes” being used. However this solution will only work for anyone who has a broadband Internet connection in the home. As long as they have updated their internet access from dial-up modem to broadband, almost everyone can take advantage of this solution.

(+) Hands On with Amazon’s New $49.99 7-inch Fire Tablet Computer

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

I just returned from a six-day trip and had a new traveling companion with me: a $49.99 tablet computer called the Amazon Fire. It runs Amazon’s Fire OS 5 operating system, a modified version of Google’s Android 5.1 operating system. Can a tablet computer that cheap be any good? Is the Fire OS 5 operating system an issue? Can it be used for genealogy apps?

Amazon_Fire_7-inch_tabletObviously, I was impressed by the advertised price of the Amazon Fire 7-inch tablet. Not only is it a cheap price, but Amazon Prime users also can obtain free two-day shipping. I am an Amazon Prime member and love the service. Amazon Prime members also receive free unlimited streaming of movies and TV shows with Prime Instant Video, as well as the ability to borrow books from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library. I willingly pay $99 a year for Amazon Prime’s membership.

(+) How to Stop Auto-Renewal Subscriptions

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

Don’t you just hate it when you sign up for some web site’s offer for a 10-day free trial” or a “30-day free trial” or something similar, and then they charge your credit card – without warning – on the 11th day or the 31st day? To be sure, this is totally legal, assuming the sign-up process included information about the terms and conditions that stated your credit card would automatically be charged when the free trial was over. Of course, you ALWAYS read all the legal boilerplate that is published in a small font, right?

After all, you clicked on I AGREE or some similar words to indicate that you read and understood the terms and conditions. If you skipped the terms and conditions. or only did a “speed read,” or if you simply forgot that the end of the free trial was approaching, you have no one to blame other than yourself.
I went through something similar with the SiriusXM satellite radio service in my automobile. I signed up for an annual subscription but forgot that it automatically renews. Guess what I found on my credit card bill recently? Yes, a rather large charge from SiriusXM. Of course, hundreds, perhaps thousands, of other companies do the same. That includes several of the major online genealogy database services.

(+) The Easy Way to Copy Genealogy Data to your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch

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

mobilefamilytree_ipadGenealogists using any of Apple’s handheld computers or cell phones have a number of genealogy programs to choose from. I have written reviews in the past of FamViewer, MobileTree, Shrubs, GedView, Families, Reunion, RootsMagic App for iPhone, and other programs. These allow a genealogist to carry his or her entire database in a shirt pocket or purse at all times.

Most of these programs require creation of a GEDCOM file and then using that to create the database for the iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch app although there are some exceptions. For those that require GEDCOM files, you have two different methods of copying data from a desktop computer to the handheld. I would term these as (1.) the easy way and (2.) the hard way. I am a firm believer in using the easy way of accomplishing most any task.

(+) Why Your Wi-Fi Stinks

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

slow-wi-fiI installed a new wi-fi router in my home a few days ago and was amazed at how much faster it is than the router I was using previously. My old router was supplied by the local cable company when I moved here three years ago. It seemed to work well, so I never questioned it. After all, I had nothing to compare it to. It was my only router for three years.

The old router was a single-band unit, running at 2.4 gigahertz. Almost all the more inexpensive wi-fi routers you purchase at the local computer store are the same. In fact, most in-home wi-fi routers (I’ll call them base stations) probably are the same: single-band 2.4 gigahertz units that were designed several years ago, even if they were only manufactured recently. I know that was true of my Motorola modem/wi-fi router/base station.

The world of wi-fi has changed a lot in the past few years.

(+) Digitize Your Life

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

scanner-and-cell-phoneOne of my ongoing projects involves digitizing most every document that I might need in the future and then having it available at my fingertips at any time. You might consider doing the same. Today’s technology makes it simple to have all your required documents available whenever you need them.

For instance, I had a doctor’s appointment recently, and the doctor asked what medications I was taking. I can’t remember the names as each has a long name that looks like a mumbo-jumbo collection of random letters. Instead, I grabbed my “smartphone,” touched an icon for my notes program, entered “prescriptions,” and then touched SEARCH. A second or two later, a list of my prescribed medications appeared on the screen of the cell phone, which I was able to show to the doctor. Total time elapsed: about twenty seconds.

(+) 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.


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