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(+) 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 are often asked 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.

You can find many good reasons and bad reasons for selecting any of these file formats. However, from a genealogist’s point of view, there are two significant issues to deal with: image size and image compression.

Jewish Heritage Center at New England Historic Genealogical Society Is Named in Honor of Justin Wyner and Genevieve Wyner

The following announcement was written by the New England Historic Genealogical Society:

The Wyner Family Jewish Heritage Center Will Expand Its Work Chronicling the Vibrant and Influential History of Jews in New England

Boston, Massachusetts—November 16, 2018—The Jewish Heritage Center at New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS), the premier resource for exploring and preserving the histories of Jewish families and institutions in New England and beyond, will henceforth be named in honor of Justin Lawrence “Jerry” Wyner and his wife Genevieve Geller Wyner, for their far-reaching vision and support. The announcement was made by Brenton Simons, NEHGS President and CEO, at a recent gala honoring the Wyners held at Boston’s Taj Hotel.

New Records Available To Search this Findmypast Friday

The following announcement was written by Findmypast:

There are more than 383,000 new records and newspapers available to search this Findmypast Friday.

British Armed Forces, First World War Soldiers’ Medical Records

Over 224,000 new records have been added to our collection of National Archive’s First World War Soldiers’ Medical Records. Including both images of transcripts, these records will enable you to discover when and where your ancestor was wounded, the nature of their wounds, where they were treated, how long they were held for treatment and details pertaining to their service history.

This collection comprises The National Archives’ series, MH106, War Office: First World War Representative Medical Records of Servicemen. Only a sample of the medical records was retained. These records are a representative selection of the full collection of medical records created during the war. Due to data protection, Findmypast has only published records where the admission year is dated back 100 years. For this reason, more records will be released in the coming years. The records include admissions and discharge records from hospitals, field ambulances, and casualty clearing stations. You will also find records from Queen Alexandra’s Military Hospital before the First World War, dating from 1910. Below is a full list of the hospitals and medical facilities represented in the records.

King’s Royal Rifle Corps Chronicle 1900-1920

Over 60 Million Pages of Digitized Canadian Documentary Heritage soon to be Available at No Charge

As of January 1, 2019, 60 million pages of Canadian digital documentary heritage will be available at no charge to users. The Canadiana collections are the largest online collections of early textual Canadiana in the world. The removal of the subscription paywall will allow unimpeded access to this unique historical content for researchers, students, faculty, and all users in Canada and around the world.

The full announcement may be found in the Canadian Research Knowledge Network web site at: http://bit.ly/2PZXLyH.

Bullet Journaling for Genealogy

I must admit that I am not familiar with “Bullet Journaling.” However, a notice about an upcoming genealogy presentation in Ohio caught my eye:

The next meeting of the Lake County [Ohio] Genealogical Society is set for 10 a.m., Nov. 29, in the basement of the Morley Library, 184 Phelps St. in Painesville.

Carla Cegielski will talk about “Bullet Journaling for Genealogy.” Attendees can learn about how a bullet journal can help plan, guide, and organize genealogical research, according to a news release.

People can capture their random thoughts and midnight revelations and turn them into actionable tasks.

One Company Offers To Sequence Your Genome Free Of Charge, Then Let You Profit From It

“Everything is private information, stored on your computer or a computer you designate,” says George Church, genetics professor at Harvard Medical School, about the approach of Nebula Genomics.

The blockchain was invented in 2008 for the purpose of tracking the exchange of Bitcoins in a manner that cannot be hacked. So far, the blockchain has proven to be the most secure computer method available for tracking information about all sorts of things. Today, the blockchain is used to track financial transactions at major banks, for recording transfers of cryptocurrencies, for tracking the source of fish from the point of being caught to a sushi restaurant, and for the tracking of spare parts sold by large industrial manufacturers.

NOTE: For an explanation of what a blockchain is and how it works, look at Blockchain Explained at https://www.upfolio.com/ultimate-blockchain-guide.

A startup genetics company says it’s now offering to sequence your entire genome (not just the markers on interest to genealogists, but EVERYTHING) at no cost to you. Nebula Genomics, created by the prominent Harvard geneticist George Church and his lab colleagues, seeks to upend the usual way genomic information is owned. In fact, you would retain ownership of the 6 billion bits of your genetic source code instead of giving the information away to some company in the manner that most of today’s DNA databases operate. You might even be able to make money off it, although the amount of money earned probably will be modest. The information would be stored privately in a blockchain that cannot be hacked.

International Tracing Service Adds 900, 000 Post-War Records Making Over 2 Million Records Available Online

The following is an announcement written by Jan Meisels Allen, Chairperson of the IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee:

The International Tracing Service (ITS) added 900,000 post-war documents online. This brings the total of number of documents freely available in the online archive to over 2 million. One can search by name. The newly added documents contain approximately 405,000 names of Holocaust survivors, former concentration camp inmates and forced laborers. They were under the care of the International Refugee Organization (IRO) in Austria, Italy, Switzerland and England after World War II.

National Genealogical Society 2019 Family History Program Now Available

The following announcement was written by the (U.S.) National Genealogical Society:

FALLS CHURCH, VA, 15 NOVEMBER 2018—The National Genealogical Society’s 2019 Family History Conference program is now available online and as a downloadable sixteen-page conference brochure. This year’s program, Journey of Discovery, will feature a variety of lecture tracks and topics including African American, English, French, German, Irish, and Scottish lectures. Other popular tracks include BCG Skillbuilding, eighteen DNA lectures, Immigration and Migration, Missouri, Military, Religion, Technology, and Tips and Techniques. In all, the conference, which will be held 8-11 May 2019 in St. Charles, Missouri, will offer family historians and genealogists more than 150 lectures, an array of social events, several workshops, and a family history expo with more than seventy exhibitors.

The program will begin with Judy G. Russell, JD, CG®, CGLSM, delivering the keynote address, “Journey of Discovery.” She will share tidbits about the Journey of Discovery of many people ranging from Marquette to Lewis and Clark, from Winny v. Whitesides to Dred Scott v. Sanford, from ancestors hiding in the pages of the Territorial Papers to clues lurking deep within our DNA. Americans are on their own journeys of discovery to find out who we are and where we come from.

Compress Images the Easy Way with Squoosh

NOTE: This is not a true genealogy article. If you are looking for genealogy-related articles, you might want to skip this one. However, the article does describe a general-purpose image compression tool that has many, many uses, including some uses by genealogists. As such, you might find it interesting.

The gnomes at Google Chrome Labs certainly keep busy. The latest product to be delivered from this software development group is an image compression tool called Squoosh. You probably won’t need to use it often but, when you need to make an image file smaller to send by email or to publish on a web page, it can be a valuable tool.

After all, you probably don’t want your web site’s visitors to download 60 megabyte images! That makes for a very slow web site when viewed on slower-speed Internet connections, such as on dial-up or over a cellular data connection.

Squoosh is a cloud-based app. To use Squoosh, you do not need to install any software into your computer. You simply open a web browser and go to https://squoosh.app/ and start using the app. Since it is cloud-based, Squoosh works on Windows, Macintosh, Chromebook, Linux, iPad, Android tablets, and probably any other computer that includes a modern web browser. Squoosh will even work on an iPhone or on an Android smartphone although the small screen size of those cell phones can be a limitation.

Did I mention that Squoosh is available free of charge?

What’s not to like?

Reclaim The Records Files Freedom of Information Act Lawsuit–US Department of Veterans Affairs

The following announcement was written by Jan Meisels Allen, Chairperson of the IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee:

Reclaim the Records has previously filed suit in different state jurisdictions—their new Freedom of Information Act litigation is against a federal agency– the US Department of Veterans Affairs. The law suit, filed on September 17, 2018, asks the US Department of Veterans Affairs to provide a copy of the Beneficiary Identification Records Locator Subsystem (BIRLS) Death File. A letter from the Department of Veterans Affairs dated September 13, 2018 states they “remanded the request to their FOIA Officer for further consideration, appropriate processing and issuance of a subsequent IAD”. [IAD means Initial Agency Decision] The case is still pending.

This database contains basic information on about fourteen million deceased American veterans who served in the US military and then later received benefits from the VA, such as healthcare or the GI Bill, between approximately 1850-2017. Each record includes the veteran’s dates of birth and death, dates of enlistment and release, and branch of service. Some years have a little more information available than others, including the veteran’s basic cause of death (i.e. natural or combat-related), gender, and possibly other fields.

Sometimes Things Don’t Turn Out as You Expected

I was chatting with a friend of mine this evening, using Signal, the encrypted app for cell phones that provides text messaging, voice calls, and two-way video calls.

No, that’s not me or my friend. That is a promotional image for Signal. But it looks about the same as our two-way video call of today.

For years, futurists claimed that some day we all would have two-way video phones. Indeed, we do. Signal, FaceTime, Duo, Skype, and probably a dozen or so other apps all offer 2-way-video calls today and they are available free of charge.

Still… it didn’t work out exactly as predicted. For instance, here is a woman talking on a movie producer’s vision of the future videophone in the 1955 short film The Future is Now:

MyHeritage Announces a New Feature for DNA users — the Display of Shared Ancestral Places for DNA Matches

MyHeritage now can show you towns, countries and U.S. states where birth or death events of ancestors took place that appear in your family tree and that you have in common with your DNA Matches. This feature makes the company’s DNA Matching even more useful by helping pinpoint how you and your DNA Matches could be related.

Quoting from the announcement:

“Shared Ancestral Places refer to towns, countries, or U.S. states that appear in your family tree as well as in the family trees of your DNA Matches, where birth or death events of your ancestors (and those of your DNA Matches’ ancestors) took place. These places are identified going back up to 10 generations and can play a vital role in family history research.

New Historical Records on FamilySearch: Week of November 12, 2018

The following announcement was written by FamilySearch:

FamilySearch added 3.5 million records from the 1901 Ireland Census, and 1.4 million naturalization records from New York. Other countries include Honduras, Peru, and the United States (Minnesota, Oregon, and Texas).

Research these free new records and images by clicking on the collection links below, or go to FamilySearch to search over 8 billion free names and record images.

The Essential Ebook Converter Guide

Genealogists tend to collect lots of books. Of course, the trend in recent years is to obtain ebooks, not books printed on paper. Ebooks are much easier to store and carry, especially if you have hundreds of books. Ebooks are usually cheaper to purchase, although not always. They are also much, much easier to search for specific words or phrases than are printed books. However, ebooks are not perfect.

Here is a common scenario amongst people who use ebooks: One ebook that the ebook’s owner references often might be stored on the reader’s tablet computer in Kindle’s AZW format. Now the reader would like to have the same ebook on another computer and in another format, such as in EPUB format. How can anyone translate and copy from one format to another?

Findmypast Partners With Living DNA to Launch the Most Detailed Ancestry Discovery Experience

The following announcement was written by Findmypast:

  • Findmypast, in collaboration with Living DNA, has launched the most advanced biogeographical ancestry discovery experience on the market
  • This British brand partnership uses cutting-edge science to reveal users’ unique British and Irish heritage across 21 regions and is the first to connect DNA to Findmypast’s archive of more than 9 billion historical records
  • Findmypast and Living DNA’s combined service allows users to pinpoint exactly where in the UK their family roots come from and then use the findings to explore their family history in extensive archives
  • Those who have already taken DNA tests can upload their tests here and make discoveries that only Findmypast DNA can provide

Leading British and Irish family history website, Findmypast, has launched their partnership with leading British DNA testing firm, Living DNA, to create a new biogeographical ancestry experience to help family historians explore their worldwide and British and Irish roots.

Available from today, the partnership combines science and history to allow people to explore their past in more depth than ever before possible. It uses Living DNA’s unique test employing cutting-edge science to provide a unique breakdown of 80 global regions, including 21 across Britain and Ireland. Exclusive to Living DNA, this method delivers a level of detail currently unmatched by any other DNA test available on the market.

Announcing a New South-West of England Family History Show

The following announcement was written by the organisers of the Discover Your Ancestors Family History Shows:

With the success of the Discover Your Ancestors Family History Shows’ sellout London event, the organisers have now announced the introduction of a new South-West of England Show to be held in the Exhibition Centre at the University of West of England, Bristol.

The organisers have some great offers on these new shows and they now all feature an enhanced format.

  • The Family History Show South-West event will be held on Saturday July 6th 2019
  • With low prices for both exhibitors and attendees, it is a really affordable event for all
  • Featuring fascinating Free Family History Talks
  • A dedicated Ask the Experts section
  • Wide variety of exhibitors from societies and genealogical suppliers

Let the Ontario Genealogical Society Preserve Your Website!

The Ontario Genealogical Society has adopted a policy of working to preserve and keep publicly available privately operated websites of genealogical interest which were in danger of closing or being abandoned due to changes in the circumstances of the site owner/developer. In effect, the Society offers succession planning for the website owner/developer.

According to an email message I received from David Thompson, Volunteer & Director of the Ontario Genealogical Society:

“We have quietly pursued the acquisition or hosting of a few sites, most notably CanadianHeadstones.com, which is currently undergoing a major face-lift and upgrade. In addition we are hosting CanadaGenWeb’s Cemetery project (http://cemetery.canadagenweb.org/), a local history site in Port Hope Ontario (http://alivingpast.ca/), a family genealogy site, a Canadian WW-II troopship memorial site, and others, including a GEDCOM site (https://ontariofamilyhistory.org/tng_2017_11/) which currently contains some 62,000 individuals and 21,638 families.

The New York Times will Digitize its Photo Archive

This may turn out to be a gold mine for historians and genealogists alike. The New York Times is planning to digitize more than a century’s worth of photographs, and it is going to use Google Cloud to do so.

The plan is to digitize MILLIONS of images — some dating back to the late nineteenth century — to ensure they can be accessed by generations to come. The digitization process will also prove useful for journalists who will be able to delve into the archives far more easily in future.

Until now, historic news articles and photos have been stored on microfilm and in other physical forms. This is not only difficult to catalog and navigate, but also prone to deterioration over time and through use.

Brian Stevens, Chief Technical Officer of Google Cloud, stated:

Plus Edition Newsletter Has Been Sent

To all Plus Edition subscribers:

A notice of the latest EOGN Plus Edition newsletter was sent to you a few minutes ago. Here are the articles in this week’s Plus Edition newsletter:

(+) Where is Genealogy Technology Headed?

A Video of MyHeritage LIVE’s Keynote Address by CEO Gilad Japhet is Now Available Online

My Progress on Digitizing all my Old Genealogy Books

CZUR Aura: the Inexpensive Book (and Other Things) Scanner that Does Not Require Cutting the Bindings from the Books

720,000 Newly Digitized Historic Photos Show Where New Yorkers Lived in the 1940s

The 1926 Canadian Census of the Prairie Provinces is to Be Released by March 2019

(+) Where is Genealogy Technology Headed?

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

NOTE: This article contains personal opinions.

The genealogy software world is changing around us. This week, I thought I would look at the history of such software and then look into the crystal ball to see if the future can be discerned.

I have been using genealogy programs in my home computers for 34 years. In 1984, I started with Family Ties, a program written by Neil Wagstaff. I ran it on a homemade CP/M computer with two 8-inch floppy disk drives and a huge memory capacity of 64 kilobytes. No, that is not a typo error: those were 8-inch floppy disks drives. Many of today’s computer users have never seen an 8-inch floppy disk although the later 5 1/2-inch and 3 1/2-inch disks became quite popular.

8-inch, 5 1/4-inch, and 3 /12 inch floppy disks

Over the years, I kept upgrading both the hardware and the software in use. I upgraded from the CP/M operating system to MS-DOS, then to Windows 2.0 and through a series of Windows releases: 3.0, 3.1, Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows NT, Windows 2000 (which I still believe is the best version of Windows ever released), Windows XP, and Windows Vista. In fact, after using Vista for a few weeks, I finally made my best upgrade: to Macintosh OS X. (I really hated Windows Vista!)