Plus Edition Article

(+) 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 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.

(+) 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?


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