Plus Edition Article

(+) Never Save Original Photos in JPG Format!

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

Genealogists and millions of others have saved hundreds of millions of digital photographs on their hard drives as well as on CD-ROM disks. Perhaps the most popular file format for digital photographs is JPG (or JPEG), a commonly used method of compression for photographic images. The degree of compression can be adjusted, allowing a selectable tradeoff between storage size and image quality. JPEG typically creates very little perceivable loss in image quality.

JPEG is the most common image format used by digital cameras and other photographic image capture devices, such as scanners. It is also the most common format for storing and transmitting photographic images on the World Wide Web.

(+) Lifestyles in the Seventeenth Century

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

We all have read history books about the brave and noble heroes who helped shape today’s world. Hearty explorers, brave immigrants, exemplary church-goers and the like did indeed create today’s modern world. Yet these same history books rarely describe the everyday world of those heroes and heroines. Sometimes their lives were not all fame and glory. In fact, their lives were often repulsive by today’s standards. I thought I would focus for a bit on everyday life in the 1600s in Europe, in England, and in the newly-created colonies in North America.

In fact, knowledge was a scarce commodity in the seventeenth century. It is difficult for us to comprehend just how ignorant people were. Most Europeans knew nothing about geography and didn’t know or care what happened on the other side of the horizon. The majority of people never traveled more than five miles from their place of birth although there were a few more adventurous soles in those days.

(+) How to Rescue Old Photos and Documents: Make a Humidification Chamber

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

Old documents, newspapers, and photographs are often improperly stored. They may have been rolled or folded for years. By the time that you, the family historian, find these items and wish to view them, the documents may be damaged if forced open. Old paper, especially that manufactured after 1885, becomes brittle with age. This will be doubly true if the document has been stored in a very low-humidity environment, such as an attic. Old or fragile items may even crack and crumble if not handled properly.

Try to avoid this result! Use controlled humidification BEFORE uncurling a photograph or document.

(+) The PC and the Macintosh are Dying

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

Most of today’s genealogists use some sort of computer program to keep track of the information found during their searches. Popular programs include RootsMagic, Legacy Family Tree, Family Tree Builder, Reunion, Family Historian, AncestralQuest, Family Tree Maker, Heredis, Mac Family Tree, and quite a few others. They all have one thing in common: they are all becoming obsolete.

To be sure, obsolescence won’t happen overnight. Even so, if you use any of these Windows or Macintosh programs, you might start thinking about your future plans for these programs.

NOTE #1: Windows computers are usually referred to as “personal computers,” or PCs. In fact, Macintosh computers are also personal computers and are also qualify for the term “personal computers” or PCs. In this article, I will use the term “PC” to refer equally to both Windows and Macintosh desktop and laptop systems.

The PC industry is now losing money. After about three decades of spectacular growth, sales of PCs are now decreasing every year. Market research outfit IDC recently updated their estimates, and they now project a drop of nearly 5 percent in PC sales this year. The company earlier had a forecast of a 3.3 percent decline. PC manufacturers, including Dell, Lenovo, Apple, Hewlett-Packard, Asus, Acer, and others are all reporting decreasing sales.

The numbers reflect the number of PCs sold. However, when examining profits, the numbers are even worse. Not only is the number of PCs being sold decreasing, but the total profits are dropping even faster. Today’s PCs are cheaper than ever, resulting in less and less profit per computer sold. The combination of fewer computers being sold plus lower profit per computer is “double trouble” and is worrying the executives of almost every computer manufacturer.

(+) Turn Vacations into Genealogy Fact-Finding Trips

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

It is winter time in the Northern Hemisphere, the ideal time to start planning your summer vacation. Where will you go on your next vacation trip? A trip to New England? Washington, D.C.? How about to the beach? Or how about a European vacation? How about taking a trip to the town where your grandparents grew up or a visit to the country of your ancestors? Wouldn’t you like to actually walk the same streets as your great-great grandparents or see the home where your grandmother was born? This is something you probably want to put on your bucket list.

A trip back to the home town or to “the old country” can be an immensely satisfying experience. Those who prepare for the trip usually report they have great memories and photographs of the experience.

Update to “(+) MoIP Explained”

This is a follow-up to my earlier Plus Edition article, (+) MoIP Explained. That article is still available in the Plus Edition web site at:

In the earlier article, I wrote, “I will describe a new technology that probably will create equally big, or even bigger, changes in the lives of today’s families.” I also wrote, “Many people believe MoIP will become as popular as email, cell phones, or Netflix. In fact, MoIP may become even MORE POPULAR than those other services.”

Now a new article by Andy Mukherjee published in the Bloomberg web site agrees and then describes where the first implementation of this new technology will soon be implemented, probably by the end of 2020. He writes, “Ever since the advent of the 17th-century goldsmith-banker in London, the most crucial thing in banking has been the ledger, a repository of irrefutable records to establish trust in situations where it doesn’t exist.”

Andy Mukherjee then goes on to describe the new replacement system that probably will be available within a year. You can read Andy Mukherjee’s new article at:

(+) Convert your Old Videotapes to DVD or to Digital Files Before They Deteriorate!

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

Now is the time to copy your old VHS tapes to digital DVD media. Over a period of many years, some of us have collected boxes of videos in whatever formats were available at the time.

One problem with stored videos in boxes is signal deterioration. For the remainder of this article, I will write “VHS videotapes,” but the same is true of the 8mm and Hi8 videotapes that came along later. All of these tapes are recorded in an analog format, and the information recorded on the magnetic tape will deteriorate and become “noisy” over a period of years. This noise will appear as “snow flakes” that show up momentarily within the displayed video images. Colors may also fade. Most VHS tapes will start to degrade after just five years.

As the signal deteriorates even more with passing years, the pictures eventually will become so weak that vertical synchronization is difficult to maintain; the displayed image will flicker and roll. After a few more years pass, the data recorded on the videotape becomes so weakened that the video is no longer watchable. Your videos of long-past family events will be lost to future generations.

(+) Digital Preservation for Genealogists

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

One of the more common arguments against saving things digitally is, “The required equipment to read it probably won’t be available in 25 years. I am going to save everything on paper because I know paper will still be readable forever.” Perhaps the time is 50 years or 100 years, but I hear similar comments frequently. Indeed, there is some truth to that argument but it is somewhat misleading. Still, there is a simple solution.

Experience over the years has proven that paper is not a good preservation mechanism, and microfilm isn’t much better. The news reports frequently mention earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, building collapses, fires, and other disasters that have destroyed thousands of paper and microfilm documents within seconds. While not mentioned as often in the national news, burst water pipes will do the same.

For the past sixty years or so, microfilm was the storage mechanism of choice because it took up so little space, compared to paper. However, microfilm is almost as fragile as paper. Microfilm is only slightly more impervious to earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, fires, and burst water pipes. To be sure, water-soaked microfilm probably can be washed and then dried for preservation purposes, but the other disasters will destroy microfilm as quickly as paper or anything else.

(+) MoIP Explained

NOTE: The following article has almost nothing to do with genealogy. However, I find that most genealogists are also “micro-historians” who study their ancestors’ lives as well as the world in which they lived. Changes in technologies obviously had a huge impact on the lives of our forebears.

In this article, I will describe a new technology that probably will create equally big, or even bigger, changes in the lives of today’s families. I will suggest these changes should be recorded and preserved for our descendants to read and to better understand the changes we witnessed. Who is best qualified to record today’s changes? I will suggest YOU are the best person to record and preserve these revolutionary changes to our families’ lives.

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

In case you have been hiding under a rock for the past 30 years, I would like to mention that the entire world has gone digital.

Here are just a few examples:

(+) Use Boolean Logic to Improve Your Search Results

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

George Boole

In 1854, self-educated English mathematician George Boole published a paper that eventually resulted in 21st century genealogists finding more information about their ancestors. Boole published The Laws of Thought that illustrated new ways of looking at mathematical data.

NOTE: Boole’s The Laws of Thought may be found as an ebook at:

(+) Hands-On Review: the Best Bargain Tablet Computer Available Today

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

A few weeks ago I purchased a new tablet computer and immediately fell in love with it. I now use it daily at home. I also took it to a genealogy event last weekend in Nashville. I am leaving tomorrow on a 9-day trip, and the new tablet was the first item I packed.

The bad news for me is that if I had waited a couple of weeks, I could have purchased the same tablet computer for two-thirds the price I paid. However, that’s good news for you if you are thinking of purchasing a new tablet computer: the same device is available today as a “Black Friday” sale for the lowest price ever.

The Apple iPad dominates tablet computer sales. The device I purchased is not an iPad. Instead, it is made by one of Apple’s largest competitors. However, it begs for side-by-side comparison with an iPad.

In fact, my new tablet is NOT “just as good as an iPad.” However, I will state that it is ALMOST as good as an iPad and now sells at a fraction of the cost. (An iPad costs $329 US or more, depending upon the model and options selected.) As a result, I will suggest that my new tablet computer is the most COST-EFFECTIVE tablet computer available today. However, the price will go back up shortly after Black Friday.

(+) How to Find Someone Who Has the Book You Seek

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

Perhaps the full title of this article should be How to Find Someone Who Has the Book You Seek and Also Let Everyone Else Know About the Books You Own and Also Catalog Your Own Personal Library with Minimal Effort.

You can find dozens of programs that will help you catalog your personal book collection. Some of these will create a list that you can print or store on your own computer or store on your smartphone or even upload to the World Wide Web. Some products also keep track of the books you want to read (sometimes called a wish list) and will also keep track of books you have loaned out to others, including the date loaned. Some cataloging products will also track other media, such as CD and DVD disks, video games, and more. However, one online service does all that and lots more. Best of all, you can share your catalog with others and also see what others have in their collections. The service is available either free of charge or for very low fees, depending upon the options you select.

The product I use is primarily a service for cataloging books, but it can also be used to catalog and track other media, including music and videos. It even works for ebooks. You can sort, share, explore, import, and export data pertaining to your personal or even institutional library. You can track who has borrowed which book. You can see other users who have similar libraries to yours and browse books they have that you might be interested in. Perhaps best of all, you can find reviews of thousands of books on the system.

(+) Scanning Old Books

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

Genealogists love old books. Many of us would love to scan some of these books for our own use or to make them available to others when copyright laws allow. Scanned books can easily be distributed on CD-ROM disks or via online web sites. The only difficult part is the scanning of the original books.

Almost any scanner can be used to make images of old books. However, using a desktop “flatbed” scanner purchased at the local computer store has significant disadvantages. For one thing, these units are designed for scanning photographs and other individual sheets of paper. They do not work well for bound books. Trying to place a bound book onto the glass plate of a typical inexpensive scanner can damage the book’s binding. In addition, words printed near the center binding will not be flat against the glass, causing “curling.” That is, the images of the words seem to curve away from the reader. If OCR (Optical Character Recognition) software is used, the words near the center binding are difficult to decode and will lead to high error rates.

(+) Create Better Pictures and Scanned Images

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

Digital cameras are perhaps the most universal technology of today. Hundreds of millions of people around the globe own and use digital cameras – not bad for a technology that barely existed 25 years ago. In fact, you do not need to be an electrical or optics engineer to produce good pictures from a digital camera. You don’t even need to own a computer, although a computer will allow you to accomplish a lot more than what you can do with just the camera alone.

Most people use digital cameras like the old box cameras: point and click. Very few people spend the time to learn how to obtain the best pictures possible. Indeed, “point and click” works well; but, there is so much more that one can do.

The same is true for another similar technology: desktop scanners. Most people install the software that came with the scanner, insert a piece of paper or a standard photograph to be scanned, click the mouse, and then wait a few seconds for the results. Whatever appears on their screen is simply saved and never touched again or improved in any way. Most people are satisfied with the default operation. Again, these people miss out on the highest quality images possible.

(+) How to Preserve Newspaper Clippings

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

Many family members collect newspaper clippings of marriages, death notices, birth announcements, school graduation announcements, and similar items. If kept under proper conditions, these newspapers clippings may last for generations. The key phrase in that statement is “if kept under proper conditions.”

In fact, there are several things you will want to do to preserve the information:

(+) Why You May Need to Hire a Professional Genealogist

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

Genealogy research is a fascinating endeavor. After all, your family tree is a puzzle that needs to be solved. In fact, you are literally finding out where you came from. I strongly recommend that anyone with an interest in ancestry do their own research. After all, it is fun and challenging.

As author of this newsletter, I sometimes field questions from genealogy newcomers — questions like how they can hire someone to research their family tree for a fee. I typically respond with still another question and a comment: “Would you pay someone to play a round of golf for you? While that might complete the objective, you will miss out on the entire experience.”

(+) Why Search Engines Cannot Find All your Online Genealogy Information

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

Genealogy web sites contain information about millions of deceased individuals. Yet sometimes you cannot find anything about the person you seek. Even with unusual names, you might not be able to find anything about a particular man or woman. Indeed, perhaps the information isn’t yet published online; but, another common scenario is that the information IS online but the search engines haven’t found that information and haven’t indexed it. How is that possible? Perhaps a bit of knowledge of how search engines work will explain the “missing information” and help you create an alternative plan to find what you want.

(+) Follow-Up: Genealogy Record Keeping in the Post-PC World

About two weeks ago, I published a Plus Edition article entitled, (+) Genealogy Record Keeping in the Post-PC World. In that article, I wrote, “I believe the post-PC world is upon us. That is, personal computers as we know them are slowly disappearing and will become museum pieces within the next ten years.” I also wrote:

True to the predictions of industry pundits, both consumers and businesses are now replacing desktop and laptop computers with “smart” cell phones, tablet computers, and likely other lightweight computing devices that haven’t even been invented yet. In many cases, the ever-growing, high-speed wireless networks and cloud computing are allowing tiny, lightweight devices to replace traditional desktop systems. Having a powerful computer of your own is no longer essential; the power can exist either in your own computer or someplace in the cloud.