Plus Edition Article

(+) Essential Things I Never Travel Without – Part #1

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

I travel a lot. It is only April, and I have already been overseas twice this year. In a 12-month period I am visiting Iceland, Denmark, England, Ireland, New Zealand, Australia, and China, two trips to Salt Lake City, multiple trips to Massachusetts, and one trip each to Ohio and Pennsylvania, as well as several Caribbean islands. I may add some more trips to the schedule before the year is over.

Some of these trips are for business, but quite a few are for personal reasons. Several trips are to attend genealogy conferences. I also get to spend a bit of time researching my own family tree occasionally. Whenever possible, I try to combine business trips with a few days of vacation, especially when I have an opportunity to go to places I have never visited before. That includes most of my trips overseas.

I have become a fanatic on lightweight packing.

(+) Will a New Network Replace Our Present World Wide Web?

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

The World Wide Web probably is one of the greatest inventions of mankind. While perhaps not as important as the discovery of fire or the wheel, the World Wide Web is not far behind. The World Wide Web gives the average person unlimited sources to find out about nearly everything. However, it certainly is not perfect. In my opinion, all the biggest problems of the World Wide Web revolve around one element: security.

In today’s World Wide Web, your most private digital conversations and information are stored on hard drives someplace. Your finances are all online, accessible to government spies and, theoretically, accessible to private hackers alike. Everything about you is stored on servers. The storage of your information generates profits for the shareholders of the companies involved while you simultaneously pay fees to these companies for the “privilege” of keeping so much information about you.

(+) “Ceramic Microfilm” May Preserve Documents that Cannot Survive a Carrington Event

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

“What goes around, comes around.” That seems true in the case of pottery as well as stone, clay, and ceramic tablets. Japanese pottery from the Jomon period dates back more than 13,000 years and contains some of what is believed to be the oldest human writing that still exists in the world. Cuneiform tablets that contain writing created by the Sumerians have survived for 5,000 years. Acid-free paper is expected to survive only a few hundred years while today’s paper – with its acids – has a much shorter life expectancy. Microfilm and microfiche are expected to last only 300 years and even then, only if it is stored under ideal temperature and humidity conditions. Magnetic tapes, floppy disks, and other modern media are expected to last only a decade or two unless someone copies those items every decade or two. (Luckily, that is easy to do.)

Perhaps the greatest threat to the storage of electronic information is a rare solar storm called the “Carrington Event.” The last major Carrington Event to hit the earth took place in 1859, a time when there was almost no electronic information in existence. Studies have shown that a solar storm of this magnitude occurring today would likely cause more widespread problems for a modern and technology-dependent society.

The Carrington Event is a magnetic storm, not physical.

(+) Does It Still Make Sense to Buy CDs?

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

Several articles have appeared online in the past few years describing the slowly dying music CD business. In short, sales of CD disks are being replaced by directly downloading music online to iPods, computers, and other music playback devices. Remember the record and CD stores that used to be available at your local mall? Where have they all gone?

You can find dozens of articles about the declining sales of music CDs if you start at http://goo.gl/zVLs6. Those articles got me thinking: if sales of music CDs are plummeting, can data CDs be far behind?

For more than two decades, genealogists have been enthusiastic buyers of genealogy data CDs. At least, looking in my storage area in the basement confirms that I have been an enthusiastic buyer! I have several hundred genealogy data CDs stored in a large box, most of which haven’t been touched in years.

(+) Understanding Optical Character Recognition

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

Do you have a document or even a full-length book that you would like to enter into a computer’s database or word processor? You could re-type the entire thing. If your typing ability is as bad as mine, that will be a very lengthy task. Of course, you could hire a professional typist to do the same, but that is also expensive.

We all have computers, so why not use a high-quality scanner? You will also need optical character recognition (OCR) technology.

OCR is the technology long used by libraries and government agencies to make lengthy documents available electronically. As OCR technology has improved, it has been adopted by commercial firms, including Archive CD Books USA, Ancestry.com, ProQuest, and other genealogy-related companies.

(+) Pedigree Collapse

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

How many ancestors do you have?

It is a simple question and would appear to have a simple answer: Any of us can count the number of our ancestors by performing a very obvious mathematical progression: two parents, four grandparents, eight great-grandparents, and so forth. In the past twenty generations, you have a mathematical chance of having more than one million ancestors. Thirty generations produces more than a billion ancestors, and forty generations results in more than one trillion.

The numbers are correct from a mathematical viewpoint but deliberately ignore one obvious fact: there have never been that many humans on the face of the earth since the dawn of evolution! The reality is that it is impossible to have one trillion unique ancestors, regardless of the mathematics involved.

(+) Conference Handouts: Do You Ever Later Refer to Them?

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

If you have ever been to a major genealogy conference, I’m sure you’ve received more than your fair share of syllabi, handouts, and other paper. Some of this paper comes from the organizing body while the remainder comes from presenters and vendors. In addition, you probably will also have whatever notes you took during the conference. Here’s the question of the day: Do you ever refer to any of that information later?

(+) How Lithuanian Descendants Can Obtain Dual Citizenship and a Lithuanian Passport

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

lithuanian-passportDual citizenship is a very handy thing. Not only can you honor your ancestors, but dual citizenship often can open new opportunities for employment, retirement, travel, and more as well. If today’s political climate encourages you to move to a new home overseas in “the old country,” citizenship in that country can make things much easier. Citizens of most countries are welcomed “home” without a need for immigration documents, residency permits, or other paperwork.

Several countries offer citizenship to descendants of those who left many years ago, including Ireland, the United Kingdom, Italy, Mexico, and Australia. The rules for obtaining citizenship based on an ancestor’s citizenship vary widely. In some countries, the grandchildren of emigrants are eligible for citizenship while other countries only extend citizenship to children, not grandchildren, of emigrants. In addition, Israel’s “Law of Return” automatically grants Israeli citizenship to all Jews as well as to non-Jews who are either children or grandchildren of a Jew, the spouse of a Jew, or the spouse of a child or grandchild of a Jew. Last September, I wrote about obtaining citizenship in each of these countries in a Plus Edition article that is still available at http://eogn.com/wp/?p=41348.

(+) The Differences Between Simple File Storage Services and True Backup Services

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

Back Up And Restore Keys For Computer Data Security

Back Up And Restore Keys For Computer Data Security

NOTE: In this article I often refer to “Dropbox or Google Drive.” I picked those two simply because they are the most popular online file storage services. The same things can be said about many other services as well. However, there are a few services that are different; they make true backups.

A newsletter reader asked, “I don’t know Google Drive. Do you consider it primarily a ‘backup’ service or a ‘storage’ service? Can it be used for either? Does this persuade you to drop Dropbox for Google Drive or would you keep both?”

My answer cannot be condensed to one or two sentences. I decided to write this article which, hopefully, provides some in-depth information about the differences.

(+) The Best Note-Taking App That You Probably Never Heard Of

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

I have been a big fan of Evernote for several years. At the moment, I have more than 4,200 notes, audio clips, photographs, web pages, scanned images, and more in my Premium account on Evernote. The program is available for Windows, macOS, Android, iOS (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch), Windows Mobile, Windows Phone, WebOS, Maemo, BlackBerry (including BlackBerry Playbook), and Google Wave platforms as well as a beta for Symbian S60 5th Edition. There are portable versions of Evernote available for flash drives and U3 drives. Notes can be shared with other Evernote users over the Internet.

The downside of Evernote is that the company added limitations to the free version, called Evernote Basic. It’s now accessible via a maximum of two devices. You can select any two from the above list of computing devices, but the limit is two. The company also raised prices on the premium versions of Evernote.

(+) 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.

st-laurence-church

St Laurence, the Parish Church at the heart of the village of Downton , six miles south of the Cathedral city of Salisbury, Wiltshire. 

Three months ago, I visited the town where the first Eastman to move to America lived before he emigrated in 1638. Walking the streets of the village was interesting but the highlight of the trip (for me) was visiting the church built around 1150 AD where he and generations of his ancestors (and mine) undoubtedly attended services, were baptized, were married, and probably also had their funerals. I cannot find the words to express my feelings as I walked in and around the medieval church.

You may have similar feelings when you visit the places where your ancestors lived, worked, raised families, and died.

(+) Save Something for Future Generations: Create a Time Capsule

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

timecapsuleAccording to the International Time Capsule Society at https://goo.gl/ZISrDr, “The 1989 Oxford English Dictionary defines a time capsule as ‘a container used to store for posterity a selection of objects thought to be representative of life at a particular time.’ Time capsules are interesting to people of all ages and touch people on a world-wide scale. Properly prepared time capsules preserve the salient features of history and can serve as valuable reminders of one generation for another. Time capsules give individuals, families and organizations an independent voice to the future.”

Time capsules often are created by historical societies or other organizations who wish to preserve a “snapshot” of life today. However, creation of time capsules certainly is not limited to historical organizations. You might use a time capsule to mark a special anniversary, whether your tenth wedding anniversary, your baby’s first birthday, or your home town’s centennial or sesquicentennial celebration. Then again, you may just want a time capsule for fun or for a temporary learning project.

(+) 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.