Explore Your Family Tree with FTAnalyzer 5

Genealogy sites and as well as genealogy programs like RootsMagic, Legacy Family Tree, AncestralQuest, Family Historian, and many others are great for presenting family trees, displaying your data in a straightforward graphical form. However, one Windows program allows you to really understand your tree, to spot problems, links, and patterns you might have missed.

FTAnalyzer is an open source tool for Windows which imports your data in the form of a GEDCOM file, then analyzes it by using a number of useful reports, providing details you might not have uncovered any other way.

To use FTAnalyzer, you have to export your family tree from your present genealogy program or online service as a GECDCOM file. (If you are unfamiliar with GEDCOM files, read my GEDCOM Explained article at All modern genealogy programs and the leading genealogy web sites all do that although instructions will vary from one such service to another. In most programs and online family tree web sites, you need to find the command to EXPORT your family tree and then follow the menus.

FTAnalyzer produces many reports, including:

Unearthing the Dead with Mobile GPS

The following announcement was written by Ryan Vinson:

The dead shall never be forgotten – not if a certain smart American software engineer and genealogist has anything to do with it.

Ryan Vinson has developed an app that will excite genealogists worldwide by potentially unearthing long dead ancestors. He’s also hoping his Here Lies project will encourage users to explore local cemeteries and learn a little about their town or city – or those of a place they’re visiting.

The app works by getting individuals to catalogue gravesites around the world using mobile GPS data. Ryan is looking for anyone who uses the app to upload a pic of their favourite tomb or gravestone (or as many as they like). They should also add a name, date of birth and even any comments. By making a digital recording, that burial plot will remain recorded for ever – even if the markings on the stone fade from view over time. This, in turn, will make ancestors much easier to find, including those buried in long-forgotten small family graveyards.

Develop a Genealogy App at the RootsTech Innovator Showdown and Win $20,000

FamilySearch International is inviting innovators from around the globe and from all industries to develop the next generation of mobile and social applications to impact discovering, preserving, and sharing family connections across generations.

The 2016 RootsTech Innovator Showdown is a global competition where developers and entrepreneurs participate by submitting cutting-edge applications to compete for a piece of the $100,000 in total cash and in-kind prizes provided by industry and national sponsors.

The $100,000 Innovator Showdown Prizes include:

everyStory, New Cloud-Based Story-Sharing Platform, Launches Open-Beta on iPad

everyStory is a new app for the iPad that allows users to store audio and image files for many purposes, including to preserve family history stories. The following announcement was written by the folks at everyStory:

Interactive photo-album platform aims to preserve memories by saving photos and audio for generations to come

SAN DIEGO – everyStory, a new cloud-based story-sharing platform, launches today. This one-of-a kind tool is now available for iPad devices during open-Beta and can be downloaded in the App Store. everyStory allows users to store audio and image files to a secure cloud-based system with the option of sharing photos and stories between other everyStory individuals and groups.

Quip – Group Collaboration of Documents, Spreadsheets, and Lists

If you use your computer only for your own work and never collaborate with anyone else, Quip is not a program for you. However, if you are working on a genealogy project with a relative, if you are working with an editor on an article for future publication, or if you have any other need to collaborate with other people, Quip may be a powerful tool for you. It certainly beats emailing files back and forth!

Quip is an office productivity application, similar to Microsoft Word and Excel. However, it is designed to help you and your team members get work done faster and easier. It works best when there are several members of the team working on the same project. With Quip, each team member sees the latest version of a file at all times. There’s just one document and one chat thread, not a bunch of attachments with indecipherable titles like “FutureArticle-Kevin-Version3.doc.”

Best of all, Quip is free for use by private individuals. A somewhat more powerful version for corporate use costs $12 per user per month.

How to Safely Secure All Your Files in the Cloud’s File Storage Services with Encrypto

Some people are afraid to use file storage services such as Dropbox, Google Drive, SpiderOak, iCloud, and the many other services. The odds of anyone hacking into these services are very small but not zero. Actually, it is probably easier to hack into your computer in your house than it is to hack into Dropbox, Google Drive, SpiderOak, iCloud, or the other services. However, it is easy to protect your files against hackers regardless of where they are stored: simply encrypt them.

In fact, you should encrypt all sensitive files that are stored in your computer at home in order to protect against devious people around the world who are trying to gain access to your home computer as well as to protect against anyone visiting your home and surreptitiously gaining physical access to your computer. Once encrypted at home, you can safely save copies of those encrypted files on any of the online services as the files will remain encrypted. Only you can decrypt and read them. Even if a hacker should obtain copies of the files from your home computer or from the cloud, he or she will be unable to read them.

Luckily, that is easy to do and the required software can be found free of charge.

Which Is Better For Translations: Man Or Machine?

Google Translate is an excellent tool for genealogist and many others. It translates text from one language to another and presently supports 117 different languages. People use Google Translate to translate over 100 billion words a day!

Machine-generated translation was sometimes laughable a very few years ago but the technology has improved greatly in the past 2 or 3 years. Still, the translations are rarely perfect. For many of us, the use of a human translater is still critical.

Verbal Ink is a company that uses humans who are fluent in various languages to translate documents, audio recordings, and to provide various other services. How well does Verbal Ink’s human translators match up to the machines? Could the machines imbue their translations with the nuances and thoughtful choices that we expect from human translators?

Amazon Cloud Drive’s UNLIMITED Plans: $11.99/year for Photos and $59.99/year for Everything

I have written a number of times about various online file storage providers and why every computer user, especially genealogists, should be using at least one of these services to store critical files off site for safekeeping. It seems as if every time I write about some file storage service’s new, low-priced offering, a competitive service soon announces an even cheaper plan. That has now happened again. This time the plans are for UNLIMITED storage space. Yes, unlimited. Fill ‘er up.

Amazon now has two UNLIMITED storage plans for its consumer cloud-based storage service, Amazon Cloud Drive. This represents a massive price reduction for its giant hard-drive in the sky. If you are an Amazon Prime member (which I have used since that service was first introduced, and it saves me a lot of money every year), the first service is called the Unlimited Photos plan and costs $11.99 per year. This plan will appeal to professional photographers, advanced amateur photographers, and anyone who simply has lots of digital pictures that need to be safely stored off site. A price of about $1 a month strikes me as very attractive. Where are your backup photos of your grandchildren?

Scanner Pro 6 Will Turn Your iPhone or iPad into a Portable Scanner

Scanner Pro allows you to scan paper documents into PDF files that look clean and professional. It is time to replace huge hardware scanners with mobile technology. I wouldn’t use this app for scanning old photographs but it seems to work well for scanning documents or pages out of a book when at a library or archive. You can even scan multi-page documents or books into multi-page PDFs.

Scanner Pro 6 can replace the bulky flatbed scanner you may have been using. It includes a “Scan Radar” feature that also automatically discovers documents and receipts stored in your photo library and converts them straight to PDF format. Scans made with the app are also now re-editable, and can happen automatically just by holding the iOS device over the document. Scanned documents can be emailed and printed, uploaded to online services including Dropbox, Evernote, Google Drive, iCloud and OneDrive. Documents also can be simply saved on your iPhone or iPad.

Version 6 of Charting Companion adds Fractal Trees and a Dandelion Chart

Progeny Genealogy is well-known for software that produces some of the most advanced and visually pleasing genealogy charts. The company’s Charting Companion allows anyone to produce charts for personal use or to share your research with friends & relatives. Now the company has released Version 6 with two great new charts.

Quoting from the Progeny Genealogy web site at

The Fractal Tree

The Fractal Tree is an entirely new way to display your Ancestors. The Fractal Tree is more compact than other charts. A fractal is a natural phenomenon or a mathematical set that exhibits a repeating pattern that displays at every scale. A fractal is a self-similar geometric shape; each part of the shape is the same as the whole.

Heredis 2015 is Now Available for Windows and Macintosh

Almost two weeks ago, I published an article at entitled Heredis 2015 to be Available Later this Month. Today, the prediction came true. Heredis 2015, a powerful genealogy program for Windows and for Macintosh, was released today.

Heredis 2015 is a major upgrade. The program now includes a search module for online archives. With the 2015 release, everything needed for online genealogy research is now included in Heredis. The producers of Heredis say there now is no need for additional software to be installed or paid for to have all the tools necessary for your genealogy.

In addition, Heredis 2015 adds:

GEDitCOM II for Macintosh and for Mobile Devices

GEDitCOM II is an easy-to-use genealogy application for Macintosh OS X. It will store, display, and edit genealogy files. It will import any GEDCOM file created with a different genealogy program and then allow the user to edit the file and add more information, source citations, add multimedia (pictures, movies, audio files, maps), and more. The program will also create numerous charts and reports, including: Ancestor and descendant family tree charts, many types of text reports, charts with portraits in them, and a number of charts suitable for printing. It also will “read” your information about your data out loud, a nice feature for anyone with vision issues.

As if that is not enough, GEDitCOM II will also print complete genealogy book by using LaTeX, a publishing application that is popular amongst Macintosh users and will even create a complete web site as a collection of HTML files, suitable for uploading to a web hosting service of your choice. It will also email reports to any email address.

How to Safely and Securely Store Your Private Data Online with SpiderOak

File storage services in the cloud are very popular these days — and for good reasons. Services such as Dropbox, Google Drive, SpiderOak, iCloud, Microsoft OneDrive, Amazon Cloud Drive, Amazon S3, Box, and numerous others offer free or very low cost file storage space that can be used for any of a number of reasons. Cloud storage serves as an added layer of data protection for your precious and irreplaceable files. Backups are kept in a secure location that is physically removed from the originals, and these cloud-based services provide such a location.

You can store backup copies of your important personal files to provide insurance against hard drive crashes, viruses, ransomware (see my earlier article at, and other computer problems. With many of these services, you can also share files, such as old family photographs, with family and friends.

Another reason to use any of these cloud-based file storage services is to share files amongst your own computing devices. Saving your pictures and documents in the cloud provides an easy way of copying those files and photos to your own tablet computer or cell phone.

Of course, the biggest concern of most users who are not familiar with cloud storage is, “Is it safe?”

Do You Use LastPass to Protect Your Accounts? You May Want to Change Your Password

If you use LastPass as your master password manager, you need to read the article at Now.

This points up a weakness in all password managers: they provide a single point of failure. If a hacker manages to access your password manager software, he or she gains access to EVERYTHING.

MacFamilyTree 7.5 for Macintosh is Now Available

Synium Software GmbH has just launched version 7.5 of their popular Macintosh genealogy application. Best of all, the program is being offered at half price for the next ten days.

Quoting from the new version’s announcement:

With MacFamilyTree version 7.5, you can create, share and print family books. Family books include all important data contained in your family tree and supplements it with impressive charts, statistics, and reports. Numerous templates and styles are available to help you create family books in a flash – they also make great birthday or wedding gifts.

Heredis 2015 to be Available Later this Month

I have written a number of times about Heredis, a great genealogy program that is available for both Windows and Macintosh operating systems. A companion app is also available for iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch operating systems. Heredis is available in many different languages and has thousands of users around the world. You can read my earlier articles about Heredis by starting at

The producers of the program have now released a “teaser” announcement of an update to be called Heredis 2015, to be available very soon for both Windows and Macintosh. A YouTube video about the new release is available at although it gives no details at all about the new features to be included in Heredis 2015. However, I do hope to write about the new features in Heredis 2015 whenever it becomes available.

MacFamilyTree 7 and MobileFamilyTree 7 are On Sale at 50% Off Until June 21

MacFamilyTree is one of the leading genealogy programs for Macintosh. It also has a great companion product called MobileFamilyTree for iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch devices. The powerful MacFamilyTree is on sale at half price: $24.99 US instead of the normal price of $49.99. MobileFamilyTree is also offered at almost half price as well: now $7.99 US instead of the normal $14.99. Both offers will end on June 21, 2015.

Both products are excellent genealogy apps and use the Macintosh and iOS interfaces to produce easy-to-use products with excellent graphics. Information entered on either the Mac version or the iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch program can automatically be copied to the other devices. If you are unhappy with your present, old-fashioned genealogy software, you probably want to check out these products. Free demo versions are available online.

Quoting from the producer’s web site:

Discount on Genealone WP (Genealogy Plugin for WordPress)

I have written before about Genealone, a product that allows you to quickly and easily build your own genealogy web site. See to find my earlier articles. The following message was written by David Nebesky of

You can get 50% discount on genealogy plugin for WordPress from Genealone now. With Genealone WP you can publish your family tree on your blog or WordPress site easily. The plugin imports GEDCOM files, displays charts and maps, finds relationship etc. For more information and for online demo please visit

Introducing the Redesigned MyHeritage Mobile App

MyHeritage (the sponsor of this newsletter) has updated both the company’s Android and iOS mobile app with a new look to improve your family history experience. The enhanced app enables families around the world to build their family tree, instantly discover ancestors and relatives, and preserve and share their legacy, all with a better looking and more intuitive interface.

More than 4 million people have previously downloaded the MyHeritage app, and its usage is growing worldwide. Within the last 3 months, the app was selected by Google as a featured Android app in more than 100 countries, making MyHeritage the first company in the family history industry to receive such a recognition.

Someday You Will be Able to Use Virtual Reality to Bring Your Loved Ones Back from the Dead

I am not sure if this is a good idea or not but the software developers seem serious about it. Project Elysium plans to use virtual reality to offer chats with a computer-generated representation of a deceased relative. The project’s web site explains:

“A place that offers you alleviation while dealing with the Goodbye. A place of remembrance and reconcile.

“The Elysium Project is a custom made virtual reality where people have the opportunity to spend time with their deceased loved ones.

“It’s intended to be a therapeutic experience aimed to help the people left behind deal with and work through their grief.”

Would you want to live forever in a computer simulation?

I would like to ask great-great-grandfather some questions, however.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 9,750 other followers