Famberry Launches “Famberry Search” and GEDCOM Upload

Famberry has been mentioned in this newsletter a number of times in the recent past (see Now the company has announced a significant new update:

London, England (February 27th, 2015) Famberry (, the private collaborative family tree builder, is pleased to announce the release of “Famberry Search”, an interactive search facility that uses key indicators from your family tree to give you the most relevant search results and an opportunity to connect with related family. The more you add to your family tree the better the Famberry Search results.

Blue Crab for Macintosh Downloads Entire Web Sites

An interesting Macintosh application will allow anyone to download part or all of a web site and then browse the site offline. This is a great application for making backups of a web site you own. I just made a backup of the web site, then did the same for the Encyclopedia of Genealogy at Blue Crab also can be used to take a web site with you on your laptop to peruse when traveling without a wi-fi connection, such as on an airliner or a train. It is also useful for creating a snapshot of a website for historical archiving as well as for checking a website quickly for broken links, or to generate a site map.

If a genealogy society’s web site looks interesting to you, the entire site can be downloaded with Blue Crab and you can then browse the site at your leisure later. This is especially handy for use on slow Internet connections. You can download an entire site at slow speeds in the middle of the night when you don’t care about speeds, then later peruse the site as fast as your computer’s hard drive can supply everything. Of course, it also works with non-genealogy web sites.

Dropbox adds a Major New Feature to iOS App

I know many readers of this newsletter use the free Dropbox service. If you are one of the Dropbox users and you also use an iPad or iPhone or iPod Touch, your device just gained new functionality. The latest update to the Dropbox app for iOS adds the ability to save files directly to your Dropbox storage from the apps that you use through an Action Extension. However, this new feature will only work on devices using Apple’s new iOS 8 version of the operating system.

Many iPhone and iPad applications will now display an icon to “Save to Dropbox.” The new functionality already exists when saving photos. Most third-party apps need to be updated to work in this new sharing system, so it will take some time for the new feature to be added to all apps.

Windows 10 Will Let You Say “Goodbye” to Passwords and “Hello” to Fido

Passwords are perhaps the biggest security problems in computers. Short passwords are easily guessed by hackers. Long passwords are more secure but are difficult to remember. The longer and more complex the password, the more likely it is to be written down someplace by the user. Of course, writing a password on paper or in a computer file increases the odds that it will be found by a hacker. Therefore, long passwords probably are as insecure as the shorter ones.

Catch 22.

Apple partially solved the problem by incorporating fingerprint readers on the latest iPhones and iPads. Still, that is not a total solution. Now Microsoft is adding support for the Fast Identity Online (Fido) standard to Windows 10 to enable password-free sign-on for a number of applications.

Kindle Convert will Convert Paper Books to Kindle

Kindle Convert is a new application from Amazon that will convert scanned images of your personal printed books and documents into Kindle eBooks. Kindle books can be read on Kindles, of course, but also on free Kindle reading apps for iPad, iPhone, Android smartphones, and Android tablets. (See my earlier article at for details.) Once converted, your book can be uploaded and digitally preserved in your worry-free Amazon Cloud Drive.

Anyone using Kindle Convert can either elect to leave a scanned page as an image, or run the image through Amazon’s OCR software and convert it to text. If you stick with the image, you can crop the image, rotate it, center it on a page, and perform other basic image editing tricks. The text generated via OCR can be edited to remove errors, and styled.

Genealone 1.5.0 Has Been Released

I have written before about Genealone, a product that easily allows you to build your own genealogy website. You can read my earlier articles by starting at Now a new version of Genealone has been released. I received the following message from David Nebesky of

I am pleased to announce that Genealone 1.5.0 has been released.

New features:

The Sims 4 Adds Genealogy

Millions of people have played The Sims, a life simulation video game series, developed by EA Maxis and published by Electronic Arts. It is one of the most successful video games series of all time. As of September 2013, the franchise has sold more than 175 million copies worldwide. A new version of The Sims will soon be released and it features a genealogy game along with numerous other changes.

The Sims is updated more or less monthly. The February update should be available soon and will include story telling through generations of a particular family. One The Sims 4 player posted the following on the official The Sims forums:

Magnifier Flash Apps for iPhone and Android

These have to be the neatest smartphone and tablet apps available for genealogists and for many others. They are also great for anyone who has difficulty reading smaller text in old documents, news articles, restaurant menus, nutrition labels and more. They can also be helpful while searching for objects in the dark.

The concept of a smartphone’s magnifier and flash is simple: it is an app that converts your iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, or Android device into a magnifier and a flashlight. It uses the mobile device’s camera to view a document or other object and displays the image on the screen of the device. The user can zoom in to magnify the image up to six times the normal size.

As an option, the user also can click on an icon and the camera’s light is turned on, illuminating the object being viewed. Touch the icon again and the light goes off.


How to Read Kindle eBooks on non-Kindle Devices

In the recent newsletter comments, a couple of readers have expressed displeasure that certain ebooks were available only in Kindle format. Actually, that shouldn’t be a problem for anyone. Anybody can read Kindle books—even without a Kindle device—with the FREE Kindle app for smartphones, tablets and computers.

The free Kindle apps are available for most major smartphones, tablets and computers. With the Kindle reading apps, you can buy a Kindle book once, and read it on any device with the Kindle app installed. In fact, with most computing devices, you can read the first part of a Kindle ebook on one device, turn the device off, then later pick up on the page where you left off, even if you are using a different computing device.

Transcript: A Windows Program for Transcribing Documents

Click on the above image to view a larger version.

Many times I have transcribed information from books and older documents such as wills, deeds, and other documents that genealogists often use. In this day and age, most of the documents are in electronic format. I may have downloaded an image of a document from the World Wide Web, or I may have scanned it or snapped a picture of a document or a few pages from a book with my cell phone while visiting an archive or library. Obtaining the image is easy, but transcribing later into a text file or into a genealogy program is a bit more tedious.

In the past, I would open two windows simultaneously on the screen of my computer. I would display the image in one window and the word processor or genealogy program in another window. That works although with a few minor frustrations. Keeping the two windows in sync with each other can lead to an excessive amount of mouse movement and clicking.

Transcript 2.4 is a Windows program that simplifies and improves the process. It doesn’t eliminate all the mouse movements and clicking, but it does reduce the tedious actions a bit. The program is available in two versions: free and a Pro version for 15 Euros, roughly $17.50 US. Luckily, you can pay with PayPal, so there is no need to obtain a check or money order in Euros.

Family Tree Builder for Macintosh, a FREE Program, is Now Available

MyHeritage has just announced the release of Family Tree Builder, a powerful genealogy program for Macintosh owners. I have been a beta tester of this program for the past few weeks and must say that I am impressed with it. Best of all, it is available free of charge. It is obviously the most powerful free genealogy program available today for Macintosh owners.

Disclaimer: MyHeritage is the sponsor of this newsletter. However, I believe I would write the same or similar words even if the company was not the sponsor of this newsletter.

GenSoftReviews Announces its Users Choice Awards for 2014

The following announcement was written by Louis Kessler of GenSoftReviews:

January 2, 2015

The 6th annual Users Choice Awards have been announced at the GenSoftReviews website.

26 programs were eligible having a minimum of 10 reviews and at least one review in 2014. Of those, 16 programs achieved a user-assigned average score of at least 4.00 out of 5, and were awarded a 2014 GenSoftReviews Top Rated Genealogy Software award.

  • The Winners include:
    9 Windows programs: Ahnenblatt, Clooz, Family Historian, Ancestral Quest, Brother’s Keeper, Family Tree Builder, Behold, RootsMagic and Genbox Family History,
  • 1 Mac program: Reunion
  • 5 Online programs: The Next Generation, Famberry, My Great Big Family, MyHeritage and Family Echo
  • 1 Handheld program: Heredis for iOS

Organize Your To-Do List with ToDoist

This probably doesn’t qualify as a genealogy article although I certainly do use ToDoist to organize my future genealogy research tasks. Of course, I also use it to organize many other things in my life as well. New Years Day is the perfect time to make resolutions. One resolution I suggest for many people is to organize your life with ToDoist starting today.

I realized years ago that I often forget things. I may think, “I really need to (insert task here) soon. It would be convenient to do that next Saturday.” By the time Saturday rolls around, I have forgotten the task I had thought of doing.

I started by keeping a to-do list: a list of tasks that need to be completed, typically organized in order of priority or in chronological order. In fact, the to-do list soon became my lifesaver. With a few exceptions, it reminded me of household tasks to be accomplished, bills to be paid, and even genealogy research tasks to be performed online or on my next visit to a library or archive. Life got better when I had a constant reminder available.

Start the New Year with a Clean Windows PC

Here is a great suggestion for Windows users:

“Undo a year’s worth of wear and tear

“Consider what your PC has been through in the past 12 months: Windows Update added dozens of patches to your operating system; you’ve likely installed some new third-party software, uninstalled other programs, and upgraded or patched apps and utilities; and you’ve probably altered, tuned, and tweaked various aspects of your system’s user interface and software settings. And you’ve undoubtedly created and deleted myriad new emails, documents, photos, MP3s, videos, spreadsheets, and such.

“All during that time, your hard drive spun hundreds of millions of revolutions and the system fans rotated for hundreds of hours. Heat, dust, and chemical degradation did their inevitable damage, reducing the remaining physical life of your system’s components. In short, just as we’re a year older, our PCs are not the same machines they were a year ago.

HSTRY – Create Multimedia Timelines on Your Laptop, Chromebook, iPad, or Tablet

HSTRY is a FREE multimedia timeline creation tool that will work on your laptop, Chromebook, iPad, or tablet. It is designed for classroom use by teachers and students. However, I think it is also a great tool for use in history and genealogy. The first application that springs to mind is showing historical events that happened during an ancestor’s lifetime. Another use is to record the births, marriages, deaths, and other important events within a family over a period of years, possibly over centuries.

HSTRY is free to use to create and share timelines. The company does offer some pre-made timelines for sale.

Photo Editing Just Like Photoshop on a Chromebook

I have written often about the advantages of Chromebooks, the low-cost laptops that boot up quickly, never get viruses, and have price tags of $180 to $300 or so. Their security, ease of use, and portability is rapidly making them a popular choice for schools, businesses, and university students – all of whom are taking note of their advantages.

When Chromebooks first appeared, they were limited to using simple programs that ran in a web browser. However, time marches on and so do the programmers. Chromebooks today can do most, although not all, of the tasks that a Macintosh or Windows laptop can accomplish.

MacFamilyTree and MobileFamilyTree are 50% off for the Holidays

Both MacFamilyTree for Macintosh and MobileFamilyTree for iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch are being offered at 50% off until December 27th. MacFamilyTree is now available for US $24.99 instead of the normal price of US $49.99. MobileFamilyTree is being offered for US $7.99 instead of the normal price of US $14.99.

Sherwood Labs Drops Price of Branches for iPad to FREE

The following announcement was written by the folks at Sherwood Labs:

As a Thank You to the genealogy community, and in anticipation of the release of new products, Sherwood Electronics Labs is giving away their iPad app “Branches for iPad” for FREE. The app formally cost $4.99 but for a limited time the app can be download from the Apple App Store at no charge.

The description of the product is:

GenScriber – a FREE Transcription Tool for Genealogy Research

One of the best tools for transcribing old handwritten documents is called GenScriber, a FREE program for Windows and Linux created by Les Hardy. A Macintosh version is also available although it operates as a Windows version packaged inside a wineskin wrapper. While not ideal, the “pseudo-Windows” version is still a reasonable solution for Macintosh users.

GenScriber is a transcription editor for census records, church records, birth, marriage, baptisms, burials, index records, and more. GenScriber is useful for transcribing both free-form text as well as columns of data, such as U.S. census records. It is designed to be used for easily transcribing digital images of old, handwritten documents.

Famberry now Offers One Terabyte of Space for your Family, for Free, Forever

The following announcement was written by the folks at Famberry:

One terabyte of space for your family, for free, forever.

London, England (December 16th, 2014) To celebrate the move to new server facilities, Famberry, the popular collaborative family tree builder, is giving all users who sign up, a massive one terabyte of space to store their photos and memories. That’s enough space to store over 300,000 photos, so all your family’s memories can be shared for generations to come. All for free.

As part of the project to move onto new, physically secure, high- grade servers, Famberry has been completely re-written to work even more seamlessly on mobile phones, tablet devices and desktop computers, with no additional software or plug-ins; your family can always stay connected, wherever they are.


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