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GenSoftReviews Announces its Users Choice Awards for 2016

The following announcement was written by Louis Kessler who compiles the Users Choice Awards:

gensoftreviewsThe 8th annual Users Choice Awards have been announced at the GenSoftReviews website based on 750 reviews submitted by users during 2016.

44 programs were eligible having a minimum of 10 reviews and at least one review in 2016. Of those, 27 programs achieved a user-assigned average score of at least 4.00 out of 5, and each win a 2016 GenSoftReviews Top Rated Genealogy Software award.

The Winners include:

rootsTrust: a Genealogy Program for Windows, Macintosh and Linux

rootsTrust (always spelled with lower-case “r”) is an advanced genealogy program that runs on all three popular desktop and laptop operating systems: Windows, Macintosh OS X and Linux. It is one of the few genealogy programs that can make that claim. Actually, the program’s web site at http://www.rootstrust.com/read-me-first.html says, “rootsTrust has been successfully tested on Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8. It runs in either 32-bit or 64-bit mode. It also works with any of the aforementioned operating systems on a Mac using the Parallels emulator.”

rootsTrust is also a rather powerful genealogy program.

LibreOffice and Other Desktop Office Suite Programs Offer Better Choices than does Microsoft Office

NOTE: The following article has nothing to do with genealogy. However, I feel that every computer owner should know about these free and low-cost choices available.

Microsoft Office once had an unquestioned stranglehold on the world of productivity suites and programs. However, recent software products now compete with Microsoft Office, and I like one of them even better than Office. Best of all is the price tag: FREE.

LibreOffice_logoLibreOffice is a desktop office suite for Windows, Macintosh, and most versions of Linux that combines a word processor, spreadsheet program, presentation program, drawing program, math program, and a database program. It competes with Microsoft Office in most every way except one: price. LibreOffice is available FREE of charge. There is no “pro version” or upgrade to any other available versions. There is only one version, and all features are available free of charge in that version. Indeed, “Libre” is the Spanish word for free.

A Special Offer for Family Tree Maker Users: MyHeritage is Offering the Family Tree Builder Genealogy Program for Windows and Macintosh PLUS an Unlimited Size Family Site for FREE

ftbThe recent announcement by Ancestry of the “retirement” of Family Tree Maker (see http://goo.gl/BCk2qO for details) has turned out to be a great gift for other genealogy software producers. Thousands of disappointed genealogists are now looking for alternative products. Several companies have announced “special offers” for Family Tree Maker users who wish to switch to a Windows or Macintosh program that will remain supported for some time. I will suggest that a new announcement this morning from MyHeritage should be seriously considered by any Family Tree Maker user.

Disclaimer: MyHeritage is the exclusive sponsor of this newsletter so I could be accused of bias. In fact, anyone who accuses me of bias is correct! To be blunt, I probably am biased. Even so, I do think this is an excellent offer and I will invite readers who do not share my biases to read the announcement and decide for themselves.

MyHeritage has announced a two-pronged offer: both Family Tree Builder software and an unlimited size Family Site for FREE. Of course, Family Tree Builder software for both Windows and Macintosh has always been free. (See my Free Genealogy Software article at https://blog.eogn.com/2015/12/10/free-genealogy-software for details.) The real gem in this announcement is the offer of a FREE family web site of unlimited size on MyHeritage.com.

Convert Your Old Windows or Macintosh Computer into a Chromebook Clone

I have written often about the advantages of Chromebooks. (See https://goo.gl/lLcwMo for a list of my previous articles about Chromebooks.) These inexpensive laptop computers are great for many purposes. One obvious use is to provide a computer for anyone who is not computer literate, including children, senior citizens, or any adult who has never had a need to learn much about computers. The Chromebooks are simple: they just work.

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Chromebooks typically cost $200 to $300 although you can occasionally find them for less if you watch the sales. That’s cheap, but not free. Now a company called Neverware can provide software that will convert your old Windows or Macintosh into the functional equivalent of a Chromebook. Best of all, the software is FREE for individuals.

Run Windows Programs on your Macintosh with Parallels Desktop

Do you want to switch to a Macintosh for reliability reasons but hesitate to do so because you want to keep some of your Windows programs? Many Windows programs do have Macintosh equivalents (Word and Excel for both platforms), Calendar programs (replace Outlook with iCal), desktop publishing (replace Microsoft Publisher with Apple Pages), photo editing (Adobe Photoshop is available for both platforms), and dozens of other equivalents. However, maybe there is that one certain Windows program that you like that does not have an exact clone on the Mac. Perhaps your favorite genealogy program does not have a Mac version. What can you do?

Parallels_11

Run the Windows program on the Macintosh!

Sophos Antivirus for Macintosh

For years, Macintosh owners felt smug with the statement that “Macs don’t get viruses.” Indeed, that was true for years but times have changed. Viruses and other malware (malevolent software) have appeared in recent years that will infect a Macintosh. Admittedly, these new threats are rarely seen. They don’t seem to spread as quickly and easily as the Windows malware. Nonetheless, Mac owners today can only claim, “Macs rarely get viruses.”

Most Macintosh owners have never installed anti-virus software simply because they never saw a need for it. In fact, that was a successful practice for a long time simply because most Macs never encountered a problem. New problems are appearing these days and I would suggest the prudent Macintosh owner now should install anti-virus and anti-malware software.

Luckily, there are free anti-virus programs for Macs that have an excellent reputation for preventing problems.

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

Announcing RootsTrust, a Genealogy Program for Windows, Macintosh and Linux

This sounds interesting. A new genealogy program works on all the popular desktop and laptop operating systems. It even will operate directly from a flash drive, not requiring installation on a hard drive. I suspect hard drive installation will result in faster operation, however.

The following announcement was written by the folks at Atavus, Inc.:

On October 31, 2014 Atavus, Inc. officially released rootstrust, an advanced genealogy program that runs on Windows, Mac OS X and Linux. It is one of the few genealogy programs that is portable across all three operating systems.

Atavus calls its product a genealogical data management system (GDMS), which is a computer program designed to manage relationships between people, and relationships between people and places as well as historical and administrative relationships between places and other places. A GDMS also allows users to import and export data, generate family tree charts and other textual reports, link document and multimedia image files as well as websites to the objects it manages: Persons, Families, Events, Places, Sources and Repositories (libraries, archives museums and private collections).

VueScan Scanner Software for Windows, Macintosh, Linux, iOS and Android

Most genealogists love scanners. I know I use mine often, both for genealogy purposes and for all sorts of other reasons, such as saving electronic versions of receipts, the users manual for the kitchen stove, recipes, directions to various locations, and much more. However, I sometimes hear other genealogists say something like this: “I bought this expensive scanner several years ago and love it. However, I later upgraded to a new computer with a new version of the operating system, and now my scanner doesn’t work on the new computer. What should I do?”

Well the easy answer is to purchase a new scanner that includes drivers for new operating systems. That’s easy to say but hard to justify financially. Another answer is to look at the scanner manufacturer’s web site to see if there is a new driver available for the latest version of your operating system. Should that fail, try VueScan.

(+) The Best Note-Taking App That You Probably Never Heard Of

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

I have been a big fan of Evernote for several years. At the moment, I have more than 4,200 notes, audio clips, photographs, web pages, scanned images, and more in my Premium account on Evernote. The program is available for Windows, macOS, Android, iOS (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch), Windows Mobile, Windows Phone, WebOS, Maemo, BlackBerry (including BlackBerry Playbook), and Google Wave platforms as well as a beta for Symbian S60 5th Edition. There are portable versions of Evernote available for flash drives and U3 drives. Notes can be shared with other Evernote users over the Internet.

The downside of Evernote is that the company added limitations to the free version, called Evernote Basic. It’s now accessible via a maximum of two devices. You can select any two from the above list of computing devices, but the limit is two. The company also raised prices on the premium versions of Evernote.

A No-Cost or Low-Cost Replacement for Microsoft PowerPoint

If you make presentations to genealogy audiences or to anyone else, you are probably familiar with Microsoft PowerPoint, available for both Windows and Macintosh. It has been the leading slide show presentation program for many years. However, PowerPoint hasn’t had a significant update in years, and the price is not what we expect of modern software: it is far too expensive!

Actually, Microsoft usually sells PowerPoint in a bundle that includes Word, Excel, and perhaps some other programs as well. The prices of the various bundles range from about $120 for a single-user version of Microsoft Office Home and Student 2016 to $360 or more for “Professional” versions that include OneNote, Outlook, Access, and Publisher. Those prices seem excessive when compared to the competition. For instance, LibreOffice does almost all the same functions and is FREE. However, LibreOffice’s presentation program is not as powerful as PowerPoint.

Microsoft has recently added a new, free offering called Office.com, also known as Office Online. It is a cloud-based offering that works well although the feature set is limited. Office Online does not have all the features of Office 365 and does not include OneNote, Outlook, Access, or Publisher. Its online version of PowerPoint is also stripped down. However, the basics of document editing, spreadsheet formulas, and presentation options are all covered. You can check out Office Online at no cost at https://www.office.com.

A New Option Called Slides

slides-screenshot1

I have been experimenting with Slides, a new cloud-based program that lets you create, present, and share slide show presentations in a web browser. Unlike traditional presentation software like PowerPoint, there’s no need to download anything. All of your work is stored securely on slide.com’s servers, accessible wherever you are. You can create your presentation and display it to an audience with most any device that has a web browser: Windows, Macintosh, Linux, Android, iPad, iPhone, and most “smart” cell phones.

Dropbox Paper Challenges Evernote, Google Keep, Zoho Notebook, OneNote and Other Cloud-Connected Note-Taking Products

This is an article I published last August. At the time, the program was still in beta. I have been using it occasionally and find it is a simple word processor but also one that works well. Today, Dropbox took the program out of beta test status and is now supporting it fully. Therefore, I decided to republish the article. If you are looking for a FREE word processor, you might want to use the one you already have: Dropbox Paper.

Evernote has long been one of the best note-taking apps for use by genealogists and by millions of others. I have been a big Evernote fan for years and still am. However, Evernote recently increased the prices of its Plus and Premium versions. Evernote Basic remains available free of charge but is now limited to two devices per account, like a computer and a phone, two computers, or a phone and a tablet. Bummer! (See my earlier article at https://goo.gl/n0v4qa for the details.)

Many Evernote users were disappointed by the news and have since looked for replacement programs. See my article about one possible replacement at https://goo.gl/EwKVFN while others are switching to Microsoft’s OneNote (see https://goo.gl/deGfCZ). Now a new candidate from a well-known vendor is entering the marketplace.

Dropbox has long been a very popular cloud-based file storage service. Most Dropbox users find it is an excellent service for making backup copies of files as well as copying (or “replicating”) those files amongst multiple computers, such as keeping the same files at all times on both your your desktop and laptop computers. The same files also can be retrieved on an iPad, iPhone, Android device, Windows Phone, or even on a Kindle Fire. Now Dropbox is adding a new trick that appears to be aimed at enticing Evernote users to switch to Dropbox’s new service.

The Genealogy World of Twenty Years Ago

This week I decided to take a trip down memory lane. I re-read the first 50 issues of this newsletter, all published in 1996. The genealogy world indeed has changed. Here are a few of the more memorable newsletter items from twenty years ago, along with a few comments:

20_years

Only the more advanced computer users in 1996 had state-of-the-art software: Microsoft’s latest operating system, called Windows 95. However, because I was now writing a “techie” newsletter, I purchased a very high-speed system (a 90-Mhz Pentium I) with a huge amount of memory (32 megabytes) so that I could use the latest professional operating system from Microsoft: Windows NT 3.51. During the year, Microsoft also released Internet Explorer version 3.0. Most of the 30 million users of the World Wide Web used Netscape, however. A few used the older Mosaic web browser.

The annual GENTECH conference was held in Plano, Texas, with several hundred attendees.

While at the GENTECH conference, I first saw a GPS unit designed for use by consumers. I saved up my money and purchased my own GPS later in the year. GPS devices certainly have become much more popular in the past twenty years!

Are You Seeing Unwanted Advertising on this Web Site? If So, Here is the Fix

UPDATE: This article describes a problem with unwanted advertisements that appear on the EOGN.com web site. Ads that appear in email messages are a totally different issue, unrelated to this article.

For years, I have received occasional reports from newsletter readers that all sorts of obnoxious pop-up ads and similar, obnoxious advertising is appearing on the www.EOGN.com web site. Not everyone sees the ads but a few people do see them. However, in the past few days, the number of such reports has increased greatly. If you are seeing unwanted advertising, the problem is in your computer, not with the web site.

deals-ads

The above is an example of bogus ads

The EOGN.com web site always contains exactly one advertisement and that is from MyHeritage. MyHeritage is the exclusive sponsor of this newsletter and no other ads are allowed. Here is the only advertisement you should ever see on www.EOGN.com:

myheritagead

Above is the legitimate ad from MyHeritage. It is the only advertisement you should ever see on EOGN.com.

The MyHeritage ads are always displayed as the first article, just below the banner. There are no other ads on the web site and there have never been any pop-up ads on EOGN.com as I hate pop-up ads and I will not subject my readers to such junk. If you are seeing any other ads, those ads originated in your computer, not in the EOGN.com web site. If you are seeing “extra ads,” read on.

(+) Update: My Move to the Cloud

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

A few months ago I published an article entitled, “I am Moving to the Cloud.” Since that time, I have continued my move to a cloud-based personal service for genealogy and other applications, and now I am almost completely cloud-based.

In the original article, I described several cloud-based services, explained actions I had already taken, and described what I planned to do. Since I published that article, I have followed most of the items in my plan. However, a couple of vendors have changed their services slightly, and some new services have been introduced. One of the new services was so appealing that it caused me to change my original plans. I also experimented a bit as I moved through my planned changes. The result was even more changes in my plans as I gained experience.

The original article is no longer accurate because of these changes. I decided to re-write that original article and to include the changes in the new version that I am publishing today. This is the extensively revised article.

I’ve decided to move. Well, not my personal possessions, my clothes, my tools, or even my computers. I am moving my data and my applications. I am moving to the cloud.

First, here is a quick definition of a cloud as the word is used in computer technology.

The Future of Genealogy Software

Warning: this article contains personal opinions.

genealogy-softwareI recently exchanged email messages with a newsletter reader who is looking for a replacement for his favorite genealogy program, the now-defunct program called The Master Genealogist. He raised some good points about today’s available genealogy products, and I responded with some of my views and predictions. I decided to write an article based upon our “conversation” and to also expand our comments as I imagine many newsletter readers also are interested in finding new and (hopefully) better programs.

First, let me write specifically about The Master Genealogist.

Zoho Writer in the Cloud

If you already have a word processor installed in each of your computers and are happy with your present choice, you probably will want to skip this article. However, if you do not have a good word processor, or if you want to look at other possibilities, this may be the article for you. If you are presently using Google Docs or Microsoft Word Online or some other cloud-based word processor and are frustrated by your program’s lack of some features you want, this is the article for you. If you need a better word processor for sharing documents with co-workers or with family or even with genealogy society members, this is the article for you. If you want a good word processor for an iPad or Android tablet computer, this is the article for you.

Oh, by the way, this article describes a word processor that is FREE for personal use.

zoho_onlineZoho is an online Web service that lets you do almost anything online that you can do on a desktop computer, from creating documents to building a spreadsheet to managing a database, plus conferencing, project-management, chatting, and a dozen other functions. Zoho also duplicates many applications that Google offers with sophisticated calendars, spreadsheets, presentations, email and chat. In some cases, Zoho’s products may be more powerful than Google’s; but, in other cases, the opposite may be true. For this article, I will focus on one product called Zoho Writer.

Zoho Writer is an online word processor that is very easy to use. Yet it has most of the bells and whistles of an expensive, traditional word processor. I also find it to be much more powerful and useful than the word processor available with Google Docs.

A (Possibly) Better Notebook Program than Evernote is Available Free of Charge

Evernote has long been a useful tool for genealogists. Indeed, I have written several times about the use of Evernote in genealogy research. It is one of my favorite programs. I use Evernote more often than I use a genealogy program although I have to add that I use Evernote for all sorts of things, not just for genealogy purposes. (See https://goo.gl/RXq5Ez for a list of my past articles about Evernote.)

Evernote disappointed many of its users a couple of weeks ago when the company announced a price hike and also a reduction in service for free users. (See my earlier article at https://goo.gl/iBShNp for details.) Even though the price hike is modest, a number of Evernote users are now looking for alternative programs that perform the same tasks as Evernote but are either more powerful or else free of charge or both. One product from a little-known company appears to meet the needs of many Evernote users although perhaps it is not a 100% replacement. Then again, a price tag of FREE and the ability to use it on as many computing devices as you wish is very attractive.

Introduction