Plus Edition Article

(+) How to Watch “Who Do You Think You Are?” on the TLC Network without Cable

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

The most popular television program amongst genealogists in the United States probably is Who Do You Think You Are? Admittedly, I don’t have statistics to prove its popularity, but my conversations and the email messages I receive from genealogists mention that program more often than any other.

Who Do You Think You Are? is broadcast on the TLC Network, a service normally available only on cable television channels and on satellite television. That’s a problem for anyone who doesn’t have one of those services.

NOTE: That includes me. I “cut the cable” 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 immediately 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. Actually, this is the second time I have “cut the cable.” I did the same thing a few years ago when I lived in a different place and had cable television service provided by a different company.

Luckily, for me and for other genealogists, there are multiple methods of legally watching each episode of Who Do You Think You Are?

On the Web

(+) Boolean Basics – Part #2

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

NOTE #1: This is part #2 of a 2-part article.

Part #1 of this article introduced the concept of Boolean search terms for use on Google. That article is still available to Plus Edition subscribers at You might want to read that article again now to refresh it in your mind before proceeding with new topics. This week I will describe several advanced topics.

(+) Boolean Basics – Part #1

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

NOTE #1: This is part #1 of a 2-part article.

Probably all genealogists have used Google for genealogy searches. For many of us, we go to, enter the name of an ancestor, click on SEARCH and hope that a reference appears that points to the person we wish to find. Sometimes the name search works well, and sometimes it doesn’t. When it doesn’t work, many genealogists give up and move on to something else. This is especially true with common names when a standard Google search may find hundreds of people with the same name. However, with just a little bit of effort, you may be able to quickly narrow the search to a single person or at least to a manageably small group of people. The trick here is to use some search terms defined 164 years ago.

(+) Consider the Source: Original, Derivative, or Copy

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

Experienced genealogists are always aware that they must verify information by looking at original documents or a microfilm or digital image of an original document. We should know better than to believe a statement on a web site, in a genealogy book, or a verbal statement from Aunt Tilley about the “facts” of our family trees. However, what is the definition of an “original document?”

Let’s take one well-known claim of an original document that isn’t really accurate: the U.S. Declaration of Independence. Almost all American schoolchildren are familiar with this document; and, if we paid attention in class, we know that the document is on display at the U.S. National Archives building in Washington, D.C. In fact, millions of us, myself included, have visited that building to view the document on display. However, how many of us were ever told that the document displayed in Washington is not the original, hand-written document? Instead, it is one of many copies that were produced on a printing press.

No, this isn’t a story plot from a Nicholas Cage movie.

(+) What Format Should You Use to Store Your Files?

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

One question that pops up frequently is: “What format should I use to save my files?” The question is often asked about digital pictures. Should they be saved as JPG or PDF or GIF or PNG or TIFF or some other format? Similar questions are often asked about word processing files, although there seem to be fewer options available. I thought I would offer a few suggestions and also tell what works for me.

Digital Pictures

Today’s technology allows for a selection of image file formats, including JPG, GIF, TIFF, BMP, PSD, RAW, PNG, EPS, PDF, and others in a seemingly endless alphabet soup of abbreviations and acronyms.

You can find many good reasons and bad reasons for selecting any of these file formats. However, from a genealogist’s point of view, there are two significant issues to deal with: image size and image compression.

(+) Where is Genealogy Technology Headed?

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

NOTE: This article contains personal opinions.

The genealogy software world is changing around us. This week, I thought I would look at the history of such software and then look into the crystal ball to see if the future can be discerned.

I have been using genealogy programs in my home computers for 34 years. In 1984, I started with Family Ties, a program written by Neil Wagstaff. I ran it on a homemade CP/M computer with two 8-inch floppy disk drives and a huge memory capacity of 64 kilobytes. No, that is not a typo error: those were 8-inch floppy disks drives. Many of today’s computer users have never seen an 8-inch floppy disk although the later 5 1/2-inch and 3 1/2-inch disks became quite popular.

8-inch, 5 1/4-inch, and 3 /12 inch floppy disks

Over the years, I kept upgrading both the hardware and the software in use. I upgraded from the CP/M operating system to MS-DOS, then to Windows 2.0 and through a series of Windows releases: 3.0, 3.1, Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows NT, Windows 2000 (which I still believe is the best version of Windows ever released), Windows XP, and Windows Vista. In fact, after using Vista for a few weeks, I finally made my best upgrade: to Macintosh OS X. (I really hated Windows Vista!)

(+) Recording the Locations of Your Family Photographs

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

When going through a box of old photographs or viewing the latest digital pictures on your computer, did you ever ask, “I wonder where this photograph was taken?” You can use software tools to record the exact location of every digital picture in your collection. This includes old family photographs that you have scanned as well as new pictures that you or someone else takes with a digital camera.

None of the products I will mention will do the detective work for you. You must still find where the picture was taken in the traditional manner. For instance, “Here is Aunt Millie and Uncle Fred at Niagara Falls” or something similar. You then scan the photograph, saving it as a JPEG image. Once the photograph is on your hard drive, you use a Windows or Macintosh program or an online app “in the cloud” to embed the longitude and latitude information into the photograph in a hidden area of the image. Once the information is recorded, you and future viewers of the image will wonder no more. Even better, with the appropriate software, you can just click on an icon to display a map that shows the exact location.

(+) Get a Facelift: Why You Want Your Own Domain Name

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

Do you have a blog or a personal web pages? If so, you want to make it easy for others to find on the World Wide Web. Which do you think works better, something with your name in it or a “generic” domain name? For instance, if your name happened to be Bill Smith, which would be better for you:


Insert the name of your own blog or personal web pages in place of “BillSmith” in the above examples.

For instance, many years ago the “real address” of this newsletter used to be, but I found that nobody could remember that. I changed it to and found that most people could remember the four-letter domain name of eogn, which stands for “Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter.” The number of readers of this newsletter jumped dramatically within a few weeks after I changed the domain name.

(+) One Easy Method to Create Online Databases for Your Website, Replacing Spreadsheets

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

Have you or perhaps your local genealogy society accumulated a lot of information that you would like to make available online, either free or for a fee? Indeed, many societies would like to publish tombstone information, local tax tax records, school records, and a lot more local history records online. However, there is one difficulty that often blocks organizations that do not have web publishing experts amongst their members: “How do we do that?”

Unfortunately, publishing listings of thousands of pieces of information is not as simple as creating an HTML document or an Excel spreadsheet. A true database is a better way of publishing records online, especially if there are hundreds or thousands of records to be made available, but such a solution also can be rather complex. The most common solution is to create a SQL database or something similar, then write a custom “front end” to it that users can use to query the database.

Simple? Well, yes, that is simple IF you are an accomplished programmer. Luckily, there is one solution that requires some technical skills, but you don’t need to be able to write a single line of SQL code.

(+) Protecting Your Genealogy Records from Natural Disasters

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

This time of year is stressful for genealogists who live in areas where hurricanes are an issue. High winds, flooding, downed trees, and more are common. During hurricanes, the news media often reports numerous cases of homes and the contents of homes that were damaged or destroyed.

The hurricanes of recent years should teach all of us many lessons. One lesson concerns preparedness; waiting until a hurricane is bearing down on you is not the time to start planning!

Of course, hurricanes are not the only disasters we face. Other parts of the nation face tornadoes, wildfires, flooding, and other threats. Some years ago I remember watching a television news story from California when a reporter interviewed a woman in front of her burning home during a wild fire that leveled the entire neighborhood. The woman was obviously crying and, when asked about her losses, she moaned that she had lost years of genealogy work in the flames.

(+) Waymarking for Genealogists and Historians

This article might be subtitled “How to Have Fun with Your GPS Receiver and Simultaneously Provide a Public Service for Others.”

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

A new hobby has appeared that is a “natural fit” for genealogists, historians, and many others. It is called “waymarking.” It is fun, gives you a chance to get a little exercise, and also provides a great public service. If you join in the waymarking activities of today, you can help future genealogists and others for decades to come.

Wikipedia lists the term with a description of “Trail blazing or way marking is the practice of marking paths in outdoor recreational areas with signs or markings that follow each other at certain, though not necessarily exactly defined, distances and mark the direction of the trail.”

(+) Tracing the History of Your House

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

Perhaps you have spent a lot of effort studying your family’s history. However, have you ever considered studying the history of the family’s home – either the home in which you live or perhaps the ancestral home in which your parents or grandparents lived? To be sure, many families may have lived in the same house, sharing the joys and tragedies of family life throughout the years. Are you curious who they were and perhaps what their experiences were? Who built your house? When was it built, and by whom? What did it cost? Who were the previous owners and residents? What did the interior and exterior originally look like? Those questions can usually be answered by a bit of investigation. In fact, you can create a social genealogy: facts about the owners and residents of the house.

(+) Are Your Digital Photos Too Big? There’s a Solution!

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

I recently purchased a new digital camera that can create pictures of up to 12-megapixels. I love the quality of the photographs this camera gives. However, storing and sharing 12-megapixel images creates a few problems.

First of all, the file sizes are huge. Most of the pictures I take consume megabytes of disk space to store a single image. The 12-megapixel files are too large to use a single standard floppy disk just to store one picture! (Does anyone still use floppy disks anymore?) Of course, there are no film developing costs; so, I click the shutter many, many times in hopes of obtaining the perfect picture. I may not save all of the photos, but I often keep two or three variations of everything I photograph. The result consumes many megabytes of disk space.