Plus Edition Article

(+) How Long Will a Flash Drive Last?

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

Flash drives have generally replaced CD-ROM disks, DVD-ROM disks, Blu-Ray disks, floppy disks, magnetic tape, and even old-fashioned punch cards as the preferred method of storing backup copies of computer data. Indeed, these tiny devices are capable of storing as much as 256 gigabytes of data for reasonable prices, and even higher capacities are available, although perhaps at somewhat unreasonable prices. (“Reasonable prices” are defined as prices that are lower than purchasing equivalent storage capacity on CD-ROM, DVD-ROM, and Blu-Ray disks.) If history repeats itself again, even today’s unreasonably-priced high-capacity flash drives will be cheaper within a very few years.

(+) Finding Unmarked Graves with Ground Penetrating Radar

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

One of the vexing problems with old cemeteries and historical sites is the difficulty of finding the locations of unmarked graves. In many cases, the desire is to locate the graves so that they may be identified and left undisturbed by new construction. To be sure, the locations may have been marked at one time with wooden or even stone markers. However, the ravages of time, weather, animals, vandals, and acid rain over the years may have removed all traces of those markers. Locating unmarked graves is also vitally important in solving murder cases.

Historically, the only method of finding unmarked graves has been to start digging – not a very practical solution. However, modern technology now allows cemetery associations, historical societies, family societies, genealogists, archaeologists, police departments, and others to identify the locations of buried bodies and other objects with no digging required.

(+) Perform Focused Searches on Google

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

Google.com and DuckDuckGo.com are wonderful inventions for genealogists and all other Internet users. The world’s most popular search engine (Google.com) and its privacy-oriented competitor (DuckDuckGo.com) are both capable of finding specialized information about most anything imaginable. However, many users do not know much about ll the options available when using Google’s most powerful search tools.

Many of us only know how to enter a query into Google’s Search Box.

Such a search can find all sorts of information, often overwhelming you with too many “hits.”

(+) Is Your CD-ROM Data Disappearing?

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

Genealogists are generally concerned with long-term data preservation. A lot of genealogists believe that the only method of preserving data is to print the information on paper. Yet, many of us have handled old pieces of paper that are decaying, crumbling, or fading to the point that the information is not readable. In fact, most paper manufactured in the past 75 years or so contains acids that will hasten the deterioration of the information you wish to preserve.

Even worse, the inks and laser printer toner we use today will fade in a few years, even if the paper survives. I already have papers in my filing cabinet I wrote or photocopied 25 or 30 years ago that have faded quite a bit. Some are already difficult to read because of faded ink or photocopy toner. Those papers probably will be unreadable in another 25 or 30 years.

As we have seen recently in several places around the world, paper is especially fragile. Paper documents are easily destroyed by fires, floods, earthquakes, mold, mildew, or building collapse. On several occasions, valuable paper documents have been lost forever due to simple burst water pipes.

(+) Leave Your Existing Genealogy Program Behind and Look to the Future

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

Are you thinking about upgrading to a new computer, possibly including an upgrade to a new operating system? If so, this article is for you.

Over the years, a number of popular genealogy programs have been discontinued. Do you remember Personal Ancestral File, The Master Genealogist, CommSoft’s Roots 5, Carl York’s The Family Edge, Quinsept’s Family Roots, Ultimate Family Tree, or SierraHome’s Generations 8.0? Those and a number of other, lesser-known genealogy programs have all faded away over the years. May they all rest in peace.

The reasons for each program’s demise vary, but a few themes seem common. Obviously, a lack of customers is often a major factor. Developing software, distributing it, and supporting it with a customer service department is not cheap. Any program needs to sell a lot of copies in order to generate enough revenue to cover expenses and hopefully to generate a profit for the producer. Some programs never sold enough copies to achieve profitability.

(+) 1960 U.S. Census Myths and Facts

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

The U.S. Census is very much in the news these days, and for good reasons. The final specifications for the 2020 census are still being defined and are frequently in the news. It reminds me of the controversy about the 1960 U.S. Census.

For years I have heard stories about the 1960 U.S. Census. The stories vary a bit on each telling but usually say something like, “The 1960 U.S. Census was stored on a computer media for which there no longer was any equipment to read it. The census data has been lost because of the change in technology.”

I always doubted that story. I was just starting my career in computers in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and I remember well the tape drives of that era. I spent many hours repairing those half-inch and three-quarter inch tape drives that weighed 800 pounds each! I think I still could disassemble and reassemble a Honeywell 204B-9 half-inch tape drive while blindfolded. That device was a maze of electronics (without integrated circuits), disk brakes, a big vacuum pump, and numerous solenoids. Those are the tape drives shown in the background of the picture below, showing a Honeywell H-200 computer circa 1970.

(+) What’s in a Name?

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

onomastics

noun (used with a singular verb)
the study of the origin, history, and use of proper names.
From Dictionary.com

Onomastics or onomatology is the study of proper names of all kinds and the origins of names. The word is derived from the Greek word, “onoma,” meaning name.

Members of royal families still use single names. A few celebrities, such as Madonna or Prince, also adopted single names to further their careers. The rest of us use two or more names to reduce confusion in identifying individuals. In most of the world, hereditary family names, or surnames, have become the norm. Many names originally were based on a person’s physical characteristics, place of residence, occupation, or other distinguishing characteristics. As the centuries passed, the surnames have remained although those who carry the name today usually bear little resemblance to the ancestral namesake’s original unique characteristics.

(+) Nine Tips for Getting the Most Out of Genealogy Conferences

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

The benefits of going to genealogy conferences cannot be overestimated. Yes, we can probably sit at home and surf the web or go to local libraries and learn a lot. However, most conferences compress more learning experiences into a day or a few days than what most of us can experience on our own in a year.

(+) Why Isn’t It Available Online?

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

NOTE: This article contains personal opinions.

Earlier today I received an email message that announced the publication of a new (printed) book that documents all the readable tombstones in a cemetery and provides a map of that cemetery. The only copy of this hand-made book is available at a public library near the cemetery that was documented. That effort results in a valuable resource for anyone researching ancestry in the area IF THEY CAN TRAVEL TO VIEW THE BOOK. For some descendants, that may require travel of thousands of miles.

Of course, thinking about the publication of a single book immediately begs the question, “What about those of us who are unable to travel to a specific library that might be thousands of miles away?” I will suggest it is time to change everyone’s thinking about publishing.

(+) Preserve Newspapers for Years!

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

Most all paper manufactured in the past one hundred years or more contains acids. If left untreated, these acids will slowly decompose the paper itself. The use of acids in the manufacture of paper did not become popular until the early 20th century. Older newspapers of the 19th century were printed on paper that had no acids so they tend to last much longer.

Newspaper clippings or any other documents not printed on acid-free paper will eventually disintegrate. Today’s newspapers usually contain more acids than other paper so newspapers are often the first to disintegrate. Luckily, modern science has created methods of slowing down or even stopping the decay of such paper.

(+) One Secret to Making Money from Your Genealogy Web Site

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

Disclaimer: I think all computer users should be aware of this information. In fact, I would suggest that all computer users should be aware of this so that each of us can understand why some sites are trying to obtain some of your money, and how. The information is provided here for your education only and should not be interpreted as an endorsement or a recommendation by me. I will list some of my opinions and experiences near the end of the article.

This week I will tell you how to make money from your genealogy web site. Yes, it is true: you can place genealogy data online about your own family tree although you can probably make more money by providing “how-to” information or even images of old records or even digitized books. You will quickly ask, “How much money can I make?” I can only answer, “It all depends.” You might only make enough to buy a cup of coffee, perhaps not even at Starbucks’ inflated prices. Then again, rumors float around claiming that a handful of genealogy-related sites are making thousands of dollars per month.

(+) Which Protects Better: Cloud Storage or Local Backups?

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

I have written often about the need to make frequent backups in order to protect your valuable information. After reading a message from a newsletter reader, I decided to write one more article about the topic to clear up one possible misconception. The email message asked:

“You tell us to back up our data often, to many places, in case of physical disaster. But what happens if you get a virus that infects your computer, in spite of having virus protection. Do all the copies then have the virus also? What is the solution for that?”

First, let’s define some terminology. A file copy program is not a true backup program.

(+) Is it Protected Under Copyright Laws?

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

Genealogists often republish information from old books as well as from archives, courthouses, web sites, and other sources. Sadly, many modern day genealogists simply ignore copyright laws. Doing so can result in an unpleasant notice from a law firm appearing in your mailbox. The laws that limit someone’s right to copy a work have changed in recent years. Your awareness of the current laws can protect you from land mines of liability as you prepare your research for publication.

This article will address copyright laws and issues in the U.S. Other countries will have different laws concerning copyrights.

Here is one of the most important issues concerning copyrights, as written by an attorney:

(+) How to Watch TLC and other Live TV on Roku

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

NOTE: At first glance, this might seem to not be a genealogy-related article. However, it is a follow-up to my previous Plus Edition article, (+) How to Watch “Who Do You Think You Are?” on the TLC Network without Cable.

Scissors cutting the cable cord saving money not paying for cable television.

I “cut the cable” on my television a few weeks ago when my local cable company sent me a notice saying that the company was going to increase my monthly bill significantly. I reacted by calling the cable company and demanding they cancel my subscription to cable television but keep my subscription to the company’s high-speed broadband internet service.

Even before calling the cable company to cancel their service, I purchased an inexpensive indoor television antenna and experimented with it for a bit. I found that I received picture-perfect signals from many television stations, including the local CBS, ABC, and PBS affiliates. I received a marginal signal from the nearest NBC station as that station’s transmitter site is further away from my home than the others. In addition, I discovered a lot of local independent stations, some of them broadcasting in foreign languages, some devoted to religious programs, and others that simply broadcast constant reruns of old or even ancient television programs. I must admit I am not too interested in constant reruns of The Honeymooners with Jackie Gleason. I have little interest in such programming but occasionally have found a program worth watching on these local independent stations.