Plus Edition Article

(+) The Easiest Methods of Selling Information on the Web – Part #2

This is a Part #2 of a Plus Edition article written by and copyright by Dick Eastman. 

Genealogy societies, companies, and individuals often have reasons to create web sites with protected content. In many cases, material may need to be available only to society members or to those who have paid for access to restricted material. Selling information online is an excellent method of providing online “books” or transcriptions of genealogy-related information, such as family genealogy books, tax lists, local census information, and more. Genealogy societies have long sold such books in printed form; now it is easy to do the same online. Buyers can purchase electronic copies of the material and receive instant access.

Luckily, all of this can be done without much difficulty, using today’s technology.

In Part #1 of this article at http://eogn.com/wp/?p=42401, I described two methods of restricting access to documents, images, sound files, or even video files to those who pay for such access. Best of all, the access is granted immediately when the new customer or member makes a payment. This week, in Part #2, I thought I would explain the most common methods of instantly accepting payments safely and securely on a web site. The funds paid can automatically be deposited into a bank account of choice or held in a separate fund that you or your society can use as you wish.

(+) The Easiest Methods of Selling Information on the Web – Part #1

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

Many local genealogy societies as well as private individuals have created collections of information of interest to genealogists. These might include images of local census records, transcribed local tax records, extracts of land deed transactions, lists of veterans, scanned images of old and out of copyright genealogy and local history books, or even videos.

Traditionally, these collections have been printed in booklets and sold at modest prices to any genealogists interested in the data. With ever-increasing expenses of printing and postage, along with the inability to publicize these efforts, printing and selling these booklets continues to be more difficult every year. Luckily, publishing on the web reduces the expenses significantly. Search engines such as Google and Bing also help a great deal with the publicity. Even better, the buyer of the information can obtain electronic copies within seconds after payment, all without society volunteers or others having to stuff envelopes, calculate the postage, and take the packaged booklets to the post office. If it can be digitized, it can be sold online.

Lower expenses, less effort, instant gratification for the purchaser, and less labor involved sounds like a win-win-win-win process! There is but one question: “How do we do all that?”

(+) The Best-Kept Secret Competitor to Dropbox

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

Do you like Dropbox? However, are you frustrated with its shortcomings? If so, would you like to have a better service that costs much less? A service that gives you one terabyte of space for $5 a month? Yes, that’s FIVE BUCKS a month for a huge amount of storage space!

How about an online file storage and synchronization service that works with Windows, Macintosh, Android, iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, and even Kindle Fire devices? A service that has far better security than Dropbox, with all data encrypted not only during transfer to and from the online service but also when stored on the service? A service that is so secure that even the system administrators for the service cannot read your private files? A service that has been around for a couple of years and already has tens of thousands of users? A service provided by one of the industry giants that is famous for its security and reliability?

If so, read on.

(+) How to Use Evernote to be a Better Genealogist

The following is an update to a Plus Edition article I published several years ago. Some of the information has changed since the original article was published. I have updated the article and am re-publishing it today.

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

evernote_logoOne of my favorite computer tools is Evernote. I’ve been using it for more than six years now and love it. Sometimes I wonder how I ever got along before Evernote. While Evernote has many uses, I use it primarily as a digital filing system. In fact, I find that it is a perfect complement to almost any genealogy program, often compensating for the shortcomings of whatever genealogy program you might use to track your research.

Admittedly, all this didn’t happen overnight. When first installed, Evernote presents the new user with a blank screen. That user typically says, “Now what?” This article will hopefully answer that question.

(+) Is Your Genealogy Society Growing or Shrinking?

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

declineI am fortunate in that I travel a lot and am often asked to speak at local genealogy society meetings. I meet a lot of members and officers of these societies, and I hear a lot of stories about each society’s successes and failures. A few stories seem to be repeated over and over by multiple societies although I do hear a few exceptions. By far, the most common stories I hear are that a particular society is struggling and is slowly becoming smaller and smaller. A few societies report the opposite: they are steadily growing in both membership and in services.

What is the difference? I don’t have all the answers, but I do see a few common factors amongst the stories I hear.

(+) Questions to Ask Your Elders

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

For every genealogist who is completely content with the results of their efforts, I wonder how many more are nagged by questions they wish they had asked family members when they had the chance. We scour the vital records, consult the census reports, and probe the probate for clues about those lost to us. If you’re lucky enough to have old diaries or letters, you try to piece together their lives to discover what they really thought and felt. We spend hour after hour reconstructing our ancestors’ lives. However, if you have the ultimate good fortune to have older relatives still among you, think of the priceless memories they may have to share today!

“If only I had asked her before she died.” How many of us have uttered those words? I know that I have, and I suspect that you have, too. The greatest resource in family history is carried within the memories of our older relatives. Not only are names and dates remembered, but so are the many wonderful stories that were never recorded elsewhere. When someone dies, that information is lost forever.

(+) The Paperless Genealogist

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

paperlessofficeToo many genealogists are addicted to paper. In this day and age, that’s sad. I have no statistics about the amount of paper, ink, and toner consumed by genealogists every year, but I am sure we spend hundreds of thousands of dollars purchasing printers, paper, and supplies. That’s a huge waste of money, in my opinion. I wonder how many filing cabinets are sold to genealogists for in-home use. I will suggest there is a better way to store personal copies of genealogy records and related information.

The “paperless office” was an early prediction made in the June 30, 1975, issue of BusinessWeek. The article quoted George E. Pake, then head of Xerox Corp.’s Palo Alto (California) Research Center:

“There is absolutely no question that there will be a revolution in the office over the next 20 years. What we are doing will change the office like the jet plane revolutionized travel and the way that TV has altered family life.”

Pake claimed that, in 1995, his office would be completely different; there would be a TV-display terminal with keyboard sitting on his desk. “I’ll be able to call up documents from my files on the screen, or by pressing a button,” he claimed. “I can get my mail or any messages. I don’t know how much hard copy [printed paper] I’ll want in this world.”

The same article also stated:

(+) Why You Want to Archive All Your Email Messages – Part #2

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

This is Part #2 of a 2-part series. Part #1 is still available at http://eogn.com/wp/?p=41982.

Part #1 of this article described two reasons why we might want to archive all our email messages, both sent and received. One reason is genealogy-related, the other is not. The second part of this article describes some of the methods that can be used to save your email messages for years, possibly for decades.

(+) Why You Want to Archive All Your Email Messages – Part #1

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

This is Part #1 of a 2-part series.

iwantarchiveWe often take email for granted these days. For many people, it is a process of writing a quick note, reading a return note, clicking DELETE, and then moving on. However, is deleting a good idea? I can think of at least two reasons why we might want to archive all our email messages, both sent and received. One reason is genealogy-related, the other is not.

Did you inherit family heirlooms of love letters great-grandfather sent to great-grandmother during the war? Or perhaps other letters written for other purposes? While love letters are always great for sentimental reasons, other letters, even business correspondence, can offer great insights into the lives of our ancestors. Will your descendants have similar feelings about the correspondence that you write?

(+) 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.

future-computers

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.

(+) What They Never Told You About Immigration

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

Hundreds of articles about immigration to the United States have been published over the years in various magazines, books, and online sites. Indeed, a few dozen articles about immigration have been published in this newsletter alone. To my knowledge, the numbers and facts mentioned in all of those articles have been quite accurate. I would suggest, however, the more interesting facts and statistics are the ones that were never mentioned in most articles.

emigrants-arriving-ellis-island

Much has been written about the 47 million Europeans and Asians who entered the various ports of entry from 1820 through 1960. For all that, how many of those articles ever mention the fact that more than one-third of those immigrants RETURNED to their homelands?

(+) What is a Genogram and Why Should I Create One?

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

Almost all genealogists are familiar with pedigree charts. These are basic charts for recording parents, grandparents, and earlier generations for an individual. Pedigree charts are used to show bloodlines and are limited to displaying only ancestors. Pedigree charts do not display siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles or other extended relatives. Here is an example of a pedigree chart:

john_f_kennedy_family_tree

Click on the above image to view a larger example.

Pedigree charts have long been a standard tool used by genealogists and others. They are easy to understand and clearly display a lot of information in a small amount of space. However, pedigree charts are limited in what they can display, normally showing only the name of each individual and the places and dates of birth, marriage, and death. They do not show relationships of siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles, or other extended relatives. They also do not display the dynamics of a family over multiple generations.

(+) Hands On with the new Pixel XL and Google Project Fi Cell Phone Service

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

NOTE: This article has nothing to do with genealogy. If you are looking for genealogy articles, you might want to skip this one.

Project_Fi-logoI have written before about Google’s cell phone service called Project Fi (at https://goo.gl/oVU5aA). It is a low-cost service, providing unlimited phone calls and text messages for $20 a month plus data service available at very low rates. The interesting thing about Project Fi is that it uses three different cellular networks plus wi-fi connectivity to provide voice, text, and data service nearly everywhere. What I like best of all is that Project Fi also works in more than 135 countries with either no roaming charges or else very, very low roaming charges.

Today I received my new Pixel XL and thought I would write share my impressions of it. While I only have experience with the larger Pixel XL, I have read that the smaller Pixel phone is identical, other than screen size. Therefore, I believe my comments should cover both the Pixel and Pixel XL phones.

I will also compare the Project Fi cellular service to one of its major competitors.

(+) Preserve Your Data for Generations

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

Bill LeFurgy has written an interesting report about ever-changing data formats and the effect on historical studies. The case he described concerns a survey of citizen reactions to the Kennedy assassination that was conducted from November 26 through December 3, 1963, by the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) at the University of Chicago. The survey results were recorded on paper punch cards, which were used to input data into the mainframe computer used to tabulate study data. Summary results were then published.

When another national catastrophe struck on September 11, 2001, NORC researchers wanted to replicate the 1963 study by asking the same kinds of questions to assess public reaction. The aim was to compare how the nation responded to two very different tragedies. There was but one problem: how to read the punched cards from the 1963 study?

(+) How to Encrypt Your Files for Security

Subtitle: Everything you wanted to know about encryption but didn’t know who to ask

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

encryptionI have written several times about the need to encrypt all computerized information that you wish to keep private. This week, I will tell you how to encrypt information stored on your computer, stored on a jump drive in your pocket, or being sent across a network connection.

Encryption is the one thing that allows computer users, financial services, and even governments to securely move information around the Internet and to store that information safely, away from prying eyes.

Wikipedia provides the following definition:

(+) How to Remotely Control a Distant Computer

…or perhaps a computer that is not so distant

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

Remote control software for desktop and laptop computers has been available for years. All systems administrators of large data centers are familiar with these programs, as are many “work from home” individuals who need to control computers at the office on nights and weekends. However, the same technology is available to everyone; you do not need to be a systems professional in order to access the computer on your desk at the office or the one at home when you are traveling. Best of all, many of these remote control products are available free of charge.

Remote control software has a very simple goal: add a second monitor, keyboard and mouse to a computer. The difference is that these secondary items are located some distance away, perhaps miles or even thousands of miles away. I was recently in Singapore and was able to access my computer in the US in essentially the same way that I do when I am at home. Everything that is displayed on my computer’s monitor at home was displayed on my iPad in Singapore. Everything that I normally would type on the home computer’s keyboard worked well when I typed on the (optional) iPad keyboard in Singapore. The mouse also worked as normal, although I used my finger as a substitute mouse on the iPad’s touch-sensitive screen. Still, it produced the same results as using the mouse when at home.

I had full access to my new and saved email messages, to all the files on my home computer’s hard drive, and more. The only thing missing was that I could not insert a CD into the slot in the home computer.

(+) Genealogy Books on CD

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

books-on-cdI have been reading an interesting book. In fact, it is a book about my family. The original book was published in 1901, so it has long been out of copyright. I have seen it offered for sale as a reprinted book for $150 to $250. In fact, I purchased a printed copy of the book about 25 years ago, and it now sits in a box in my basement. I ran out of bookshelf space, and I don’t open this book all that often. Therefore, it was banned to the basement years ago and, admittedly, I haven’t opened it since.

The new book that I purchased this week is exactly the same book. It has exactly the same words, exactly the same images, everything. Well, not quite everything: there are two major differences.

(+) Authors: Sell Your Books on Amazon

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

amazon-booksDid you write a book detailing your family’s history? Perhaps you wrote about the history of your town or perhaps a Civil War battle or almost any other topic. Another possibility is that your local genealogy society has extracted records from old documents and now wishes to publish them. Perhaps you self-published your book, had it printed, and now you have hundreds of copies stored in the basement. Indeed, one of the most difficult parts of self-publishing books is the marketing: how to advertise and sell the books. You may not know there is a powerful ally that would like to help: Amazon.

(+) A Single Server in a Data Center is not the Cloud!

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

A newsletter reader recently posted a comment about some articles I have written explaining why the cloud is good for genealogy and for many other purposes. The newsletter reader protested, “You constantly tout that cloud storage is much more secure than local device based storage. Yet, we constantly hear about celebrities, companies and national and state governments whose files have been hacked and published.”

Yes, indeed, there have been major security problems with government and corporate data servers. However, these problems did not occur on cloud computing services. The problems all arose (to my knowledge) from hackers accessing old-fashioned servers in data centers, not from true cloud services that use encryption. In every case I have read about, the stolen files came from individual servers or banks of servers, not from the cloud. The cloud is not the same thing as a server in a data center.

(+) Update: The Future of Personal Computers for Genealogy and Everything Else

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

In the June 1, 2016 edition of this newsletter, I published a Plus Edition article (at http://eogn.com/wp/?p=40235) entitled, (+) The Future of Personal Computers for Genealogy and Everything Else. In that article, I wrote:

“When it comes to technology, nothing lasts for very long. In fact, the concept of large desktop computers has already lasted longer than most other things in technology. It may be unwise to predict the imminent death of any particular technology and probably even more unwise to predict the death of the desktop PC, but obviously changes already surround us.

“The reality today is that the Windows or Macintosh desktop computer is no longer the primary computing device for many consumers.”