Posts By Dick Eastman

(US) Census Comments Invited on Proposed Information Collection 2020 US Census

The following message was posted to the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies (IAJGS) mailing list by Jan Meisels Allen, Chairperson of the IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee:

The (US) Federal Register published on June 8, 2018 an invitation to the public to submit comments on proposed information collection for the US 2020 Census. Comments must be received by August 7, 2018.

Concern is that there not be an undercount of people living in different areas—cities, towns, rural areas as that results in the loss of federal funds. The undercounts may affect children, minorities including Asian Americans, Latinos, African Americans. American Indians and Alaska Natives, homeless, low incomes and people of Middle Eastern descent.

A major concern to some, and one which is the subject of several law suits is the addition of a question on citizenship which may deter some from responding. This has been discussed in previous IAJGS Record Access Alerts.

The Scanner in Your Pocket or Purse

NOTE: This is an update to an article I wrote four years ago. A newsletter reader asked about scanners today and I wanted to refer her to my old article. However, when I looked at the old article, I found some of the information I published four years ago is no longer accurate or relevant today. In addition, there are several new apps available today that did not exist four years ago. Therefore, I updated the article with today’s information and am re-publishing it now.

pixel-xlGenealogists have lots of uses for scanners. We like to make digital images of information from books, court records, old maps, and even records found on microfilm. High quality portable scanners are inexpensive these days, typically $50 and up. You can occasionally find them at even lower prices if you watch the sales. However, convenience is always an issue. Do you really want to carry a portable scanner with you at all times just in case you happen to encounter something you want to digitize? Actually, you probably already have such a scanner with you every time you leave the house.

Today’s Apple and Android smartphones typically have excellent, high-quality digital cameras built in. These make terrific scanners. Need to digitize a record in the deed books or the receipt you just received from a fast food restaurant? Make sure you have good lighting and snap a picture of it. I have been doing that for years and find it works well.

You Can Inherit Facebook Content Like a Letter or Diary, German Court Rules

A German court ruled Thursday that Facebook content can be passed onto heirs in the same manner as letters, books, or diaries are passed on today. The ruling comes after the parents of a teenager who died in 2012 after being hit by a train argued Facebook should allow them to access her account, including her private messages, to determine whether she committed suicide.

You can learn more at http://alturl.co.

Keep in mind that this is a decision by a German court. It probably will not affect the rules in other countries. Instead, you might want to think about what happens to your Facebook account (and other accounts as well) after your demise.

 

Beware of Paraskevidekatriaphobia

friday-the-13thToday is Friday the 13th this week. For many people, this means an attack of paraskevidekatriaphobia or a fear of Friday the thirteenth. Paraskevidekatriaphobia is derived from the Greek words Paraskeví (Παρασκευή, meaning “Friday”), and dekatreís (δεκατρείς, meaning “thirteen”).

The origins of this fear are are not well known, but several theories exist. One claim is that it originates from the story of Jesus’ last supper and crucifixion in which there were 13 individuals present in the Upper Room on the 13th day of the Jewish month of Nissan, known to Christians as Maundy Thursday, the night before Jesus’ arrest and crucifixion on Good Friday. While there is evidence of both Friday and the number 13 being considered unlucky, there is no record of the two items being referred to as especially unlucky in conjunction before the 19th century.

Other theories abound as well.

(+) Some Thoughts About Organizing Documents and Folders on Your Hard Drive

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

A few days ago, I wrote Another Reason to Store Your Data in the Cloud and published it at http://bit.ly/2NGS4BG. A newsletter reader then posted a comment and suggested, “Maybe sometime you could talk about how you organize so you find all of this.”

Good idea! In fact, I will suggest that how to organize and file documents and pictures is only the first part of “the problem.” The bigger question is: “Can you quickly find and retrieve files in the future?”

This article is the result of the reader’s suggestion. Indeed, the “problem” of organizing your files and photographs in a computer becomes even bigger as you store more and more information. However, one thought keeps popping to my mind as I ponder this “problem.”

OldNews USA – an Online Search of Old Newspapers

OldNews USA is the app that won the RootsTech 2017 Innovator Showdown. It makes it easy to find interesting stories and articles in historical US newspapers, using the Library of Congress’ Chronicling America collection of over 11 million newspaper pages from 1789 to 1943. Quoting from the OldNews web site:

Designed for both genealogists and history enthusiasts, OldNews USA makes getting started with historical newspaper research easier than ever. With OldNews USA, you can quickly discover interesting stories and articles in historical US newspapers, using the Library of Congress Chronicling America collection of over 12 million newspaper pages from 1789 to 1963.

With OldNews USA, you begin by entering who or what you are looking for. If you want to find articles about a person, all you need to enter is a name, a date range, and a location.

You can Purchase a refurbished HP 14 Chromebook for $110

I have written often about the many advantages of Chromebooks. See http://bit.ly/2pm21Iu for a list of my earlier articles about these inexpensive laptop computers. Also see Turn a Chromebook into a Powerhouse With the Best Chromebook Apps written by Tyler Lacoma at: http://bit.ly/2JlY3si.

I have a Chromebook and it has become my primary traveling computer. I also use it often when at the house. (“Who was the director of that 1993 movie I am now watching on TV?”) Now the Cheapskate Blog, written by Rick Broida, describes a bargain: a Chromebook you can purchase for $110 US. If you are thinking about picking up a laptop for yourself or for a family member, this might be a tempting offer for you.

The Hewlett-Packard 14-AK040NR is refurbished, not brand-new. However, it includes a 6-month guarantee, longer than most other refurbished items.

Common Misconceptions about DNA Testing

When learning about any new technology, it is equally important to learn what the technology CAN do as well as what it CANNOT do. In fact, there are numerous fallacies floating around concerning DNA testing.

A new article in the MyHeritage Blog explains why some of these fallacies are inaccurate. You might want to read the article at http://bit.ly/2KP5lKN.

 

Grieving Families Protest ‘Duplicitous’ Website that Reposts Death Notices in order to Sell Flower Deliveries

When does crass advertising go too far? Here is one strong candidate for that label: Everhere.com.

An Alberta man who, on the advice of doctors, is trying to keep news of his father’s death from his dementia-stricken mother, is the latest grieving family member to complain about a new website that reposts online obituaries alongside ads for flower deliveries.

His fear is that a bouquet and card will show up on his mother’s doorstep, and thus interrupt the delicate balance of what she knows about her husband, what she is capable of understanding through her dementia, and how it will affect her.

“I can handle it if she hears it from me,” Rick Laursen said. But finding out from a delivery would be needlessly traumatic. He has now put a sign on her front door directing any flower deliveries to a neighbour’s house.

Familypedia: the Biggest Genealogy Site You Probably Never Heard Of

Are you familiar with Familypedia, a web site with 242,770 online articles about deceased individuals plus another 366,615 genealogy-related pages?

Familypedia is a wiki, part of the commercial Wikia site. It is a place where YOU can create articles about your ancestors and easily link them to other articles about where and when they lived. The site is primarily text-based with biographical pages about deceased individuals. In some cases, you can find pictures of individuals as well as pedigree charts, maps, and other graphics. In most cases, each deceased person has a separate web page giving details about his or her life and also containing hyperlinks to other web pages that contain information about the person’s relatives. Entire families can be hyperlinked together.

Familypedia can be used alone as a separate service, or it can be linked via hyperlinks to other online services, such as MyHeritage.com, FamilySearch.org, Ancestry.com, or independent web pages created by individuals. Because the Familypedia web site has a wiki format, you can work collaboratively with others to create a network of articles about your ancestors and about those they lived and worked with. The site has no constraints on where the data resides, so you can provide links to your ancestors on whatever web sites host the information.

Another Reason to Store Your Data in the Cloud

I broke my eyeglasses a few months ago. While loading a toolbox into the back of the car, my eyeglasses slipped off my face and landed on the concrete driveway. One lens shattered.

Luckily, I also have prescription sunglasses that happened to be in the front seat console of the auto. I put the sunglasses on and had full vision but I wouldn’t want to wear them around the house and especially not at night.

I should also mention that I was in Florida at the time but I purchased the glasses a bit more than a year earlier from a big-name optical franchise in Massachusetts. I drove to a local franchisee in Orlando of the same chain, hoping they would have my prescription on file in their computers and could make new glasses for me quickly. Alas, it was not that easy. It seems the local store’s computers could not access prescription information from another store.

A very helpful clerk suggested I call the office of the ophthalmologist that wrote the prescription and ask someone at that office to FAX the prescription to the local store. I had a better idea.

Another Humorous Obituary

“Michael James Sweetack was born in Fond du Lac Wisconsin on May 27th, 1974 to Stanley and Debra Sweetack.

“He died on July 5th, 2018, leaving behind 8 packets of Szechuan sauce, a whole lot of debt, one 10 euro note, and other various things that could very possibly be used to make concentrated dark matter, the fuel for accelerated space travel- regardless of the issue with relativity.

“He was preceded in the death by approximately 101 billion other people and…”

There’s more. You can read the entire obituary at http://m.hovcremation.com/obituaries/events?obituaryId=3145136.

The Disappearing Story of the Black Homesteaders who Pioneered the West

An article by Richard Edwards in the Washington Post tells of a significant piece of American history that is in danger of disappearing. The once vibrant African American homesteading communities are now falling to ruin, their locations are mostly unmarked, and the achievements of their pioneers are mostly forgotten.

Edwards writes:

“These places are precious not just to descendants but to all Americans, and their loss is a national shame. The homesteading story is usually told as one of white Americans’ westward movement. But the 1862 Homestead Act had no racial restrictions, and after the 1866 Civil Rights Act clarified that black Americans were citizens, they too were entitled to 160 acres of public land if they paid a modest fee and lived on the property continuously for five years.

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:

(+) Embedding EXIF Data in Photographs

Will RootsWeb be Restored?

Book Reviews: Some Lesser-known Resources

How to Get in Touch With Loved Ones During and After a Disaster

Court Rules Copying Photos Found on Internet is Fair Use

Celebrating Immigration on the Fourth of July

(+) 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 information can be stored inside the digital file itself, such as:

  • Date and time information. Many digital cameras will print this on the picture, but they also can save it with the image file.
  • Camera settings. This includes static information such as the camera model and make, and information that varies with each image such as orientation, aperture, shutter speed, focal length, metering mode, and ISO speed information.
  • A thumbnail for previewing the picture on the camera’s LCD screen, in file managers, and in photo manipulation software.
  • Descriptions and copyright information.
  • Longitude and latitude where the picture was taken
  • Any information about the picture or its subject that you choose to add, using one of the free or cheap photo editing packages I’ll describe in a bit.

This extra information is called metadata. Simply put, metadata is “data about data;” that is, it describes the context, content, and structure of a file.

Book Reviews: Some Lesser-known Resources

The following book reviews were written by Bobbi King:

Below are some resources that may be useful to genealogists.

Guide to Cuban Genealogical Research

By Peter E. Carr. Genealogical Publ. Co. 1991, reprinted 2001. 103 pages.

This small volume is several years old, but the content offers historical perspective on Cuba and its inhabitants that could be useful to the researcher looking into Cuban records and sources. A few examples of chapter content are information about land records, census records, newspaper records, consular records, along with a list of genealogical societies and social clubs. There is a list of references for further reading, and an index.

Cuban Census Records of the 16th, 17th, and 18th Centuries; Censos, Padrones y Matrículas de la Población de Cuba Siglos 16, 17 y 18

Recent Updates to the Calendar of Genealogy Events

The following pages have recently been updated in the Calendar of Genealogy Events:

United Kingdom, Florida, Indiana, Maryland, Missouri, New Mexico, Oregon, South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia

Some of the above changes may have been deletions of past events.

All information in the Calendar of Events is contributed by YOU and by other genealogists. You can directly add information to the Calendar about your local genealogy event.

How to Get in Touch With Loved Ones During and After a Disaster

NOTE: This article has nothing to do with genealogy. However, it is information that I suggest everyone should know, so I am offering it here. If you are looking for a true genealogy-related article, you might want to skip this one.

From flash flooding and hurricanes to earthquakes and tornadoes, disaster can strike at any time. One of the first things on the minds of those directly or indirectly involved in such situations is the well-being of their loved ones.

 

When Hurricane Harvey pounded Texas and Louisiana in 2017, many users on Twitter and Facebook reached out to strangers for help in locating their missing loved ones. Success was limited as these services were overwhelmed. There are better ways of communicating.

Depending upon the nature of the emergency, all electricity, telephones, and even all cell phone towers might be out of commission. In such cases, the use of telephones, cell phone towers, the Internet, and other high tech means of communications will be useless. If you really need to make contact under those conditions, your choices are limited. I’d suggest contacting a nearby ham radio operator and asking him or her to relay a message for you. Many ham operators, but not all, are prepared for such conditions and can make long-distance contacts using equipment powered by batteries or generators.

This article will focus on the days following a disaster as communications systems come back online or for those situations when some, but not all, of the high-tech communications systems do not go off line. I would suggest everyone should think of their own preparedness for power outages, whether caused by weather, automobiles running into telephone poles, or any other calamities.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington Presses the U.S. National Archivist on Record Preservation

A nonprofit legal watchdog on Friday asked the national archivist to investigate the reported disappearance and destruction of records linking immigrant families separated at the border.

The request was prompted by a July 5 New York Times report, which said that Customs and Border Protection officials had deleted records with family identification numbers in hundreds of cases, according to two Department of Homeland Security officials who spoke to the Times anonymously.

DHS spokeswoman Katie Waldman denied that the agency had destroyed any such records.

Will RootsWeb be Restored?

RootsWeb, a subsidiary of Ancestry.com, suffered a major outage in October of last year when a system crash destroyed many of the pages on the web site. Most of these web pages had been created by RootsWeb users. The folks at Ancestry.com managed to restore a few of the pages but thousands more have not yet been restored. See my past articles about the problem by starting at http://bit.ly/2KYARlO.

Now Ancestry is asking their users to resubmit information about their previously-hosted web pages so the Ancestry technicians can find and restore the pages.

The following is a short copy-and-paste from the new RootsWeb Blog at http://rootsweb.blog/: