Plus Edition Article

(+) 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.

(+) Internet Archive Wants to Store Everything, Including Books

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

What does a library look like anymore?

When Egyptian King Ptolemy I built the Library of Alexandria nearly 2,300 years ago, the great library became the intellectual center of the ancient world. Ptolemy hoped to gather as much human knowledge as possible. Even ships anchored in the port were impounded until all the manuscripts they contained could be copied. World leaders lent their scrolls for duplication, and library officials traveled far and wide to purchase entire collections. Meanwhile, dutiful scribes hand-copied the library’s awesome collection, which eventually grew to as many as 700,000 scrolls.

NOTE: Books with bindings and covers had not yet been invented. 2,300 years ago, “books” were available only as long scrolls of parchment.

Brewster Kahle is a modern-day Ptolemy: he wants to ensure universal access to all human knowledge. And now he thinks that goal is within our grasp. In fact, his web site has already stored 380 billion web pages. Yes, that’s BILLIONS of web pages. However, this online archive has a lot more than just web pages. It serves as an online library, the largest such library in the world. It also has 20 million books and texts, 4.5 million audio recordings (including 180,000 live concerts), 4 million videos (including 1.6 million Television News programs), 3 million images and 200,000 software programs, all available at no charge to you. As of the day I wrote this article, the web site has 7,295,193 users. In fact, this online library gets more visitors in a year than most other libraries do in a lifetime.

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

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

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.

The term ” personal computers” includes Windows, Macintosh, Chromebook, and Chromebox computers, including desktop and laptop systems. It does not include tablet computers or Apple or Android “smartphones.”

The term “post-PC” refers to the computing world after sales of desktop and laptop computers have slowed to a trickle.

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.

(+) Digitize Your Life

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

One of my ongoing projects involves digitizing most every document that I may possibly need in the future and then having it available at my fingertips at any time. You might consider doing the same. Today’s technology makes it simple to have all your required documents available whenever and wherever you need them.

For instance, I had a doctor’s appointment recently, and the doctor asked what medications I was taking. The problem is that I have difficulty remembering names of medicines that look like a mumbo-jumbo collection of random letters. I can’t remember the names. Instead, I grabbed my ”smartphone,” touched an icon for my notes program, entered “prescriptions,” and then touched SEARCH. A second or two later, a list of my prescribed medications appeared on the screen of the cell phone, which I was able to show to the doctor. Total time elapsed: about twenty seconds. That’s not bad considering I was in the doctor’s office at the time. It wasn’t practical to go home and retrieve a list of medications.

If the doctor wanted a copy for his records, I could display the list on the smartphone’s screen, press SHARE, select EMAIL, and then send it to the doctor’s office’s email address. That’s easier, faster, and produces better results than making photocopies! If the doctor wants a hard copy, he can print out the email message. Luckily, my doctor runs a paperless office; he doesn’t save any paper. Everything in his office is digital. I like that doctor!

(+) Convert Your Old Computer into an In-Home Server

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

If you upgraded your home computer to a more modern system, you may still have the old system lying unused in a closet or some other place. There are many uses for old computers, such as giving it to a family member, installing Linux on it to experiment with a new and more secure operating system, or any other number of worthwhile projects. I would suggest you consider converting the old computer into an a server.

There are several good reasons for having a server in your home:

1. A server is a good place to store backup copies of your important files. In case of a hard drive crash or an accidental erasure in your primary computer, you can quickly and easily restore the needed file(s) from your file server.

2. Placing your data in one place makes it easy to share files amongst your own desktop, laptop, and tablet computers, as well as with your cell phone and even with the devices of other family members. You can use the server as a “media server” to let all computer devices within the home access the music, videos, and other files that you have stored on the server and make them available to all computer devices within the home.

3. Making backup copies of files stored on a server is generally much easier than making backup copies of files stored on multiple individual computers, such as your desktop and laptop computers and the computers of other family members. For example, if you use a backup service such as Backblaze, you can first copy all your important files to the in-home server, then use Backblaze to copy all those files from the server to off-site storage space in the cloud. This makes it easy to ensure that all devices in the home get backed up while no device runs slower while the backup is in progress.

4. A server can easily also share printers, CD-ROM drives, and other computer devices amongst family members’ computers. If your new laptop does not include a CD-ROM drive, you can use the one installed in the server in the same manner as if it was installed within the laptop. The same is true with a printer: connect a printer to the server computer, and then make it accessible to all family members.

(+) Big Disk Drives – Cheap!

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

A newsletter reader sent an e-mail to me asking about disk drives. His message was longer, but he basically asked, “Where can I find cheap disk drives?” He also said he wasn’t prepared to open the case of his computer, bolt things in, and then hook up cables.

I took this as a bit of a personal challenge. Besides, I wanted another big disk drive for a backup project I had in mind. I decided to purchase a 10 terabyte or larger external disk drive.

NOTE: 10 terabytes is the same as 10,000 gigabytes or 10 million megabytes. By today’s standards, that is a big storage capacity but certainly not the biggest available.

As it turned out, the price even surprised me. It was cheaper than I expected.

(+) A GPS Device That is Accurate to Within One Centimeter

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

My earlier article Don’t Use QR Codes on Tombstones! at https://blog.eogn.com/2015/12/31/dont-use-qr-codes-on-tombstones/ about defacing tombstones by attaching new objects with adhesives has generated a lot of comments about one thing I didn’t expect: the use of GPS (Global Positioning System satellite navigation system) in a cell phone to determine the location of a tombstone. Some of the comments questioned the accuracy of cell phone devices; so, I decided to write a separate article to address those questions. I will divide this into three different points in time: what the cell phone accuracy was a few years ago, what it is today, and it what it might become in the near future.

At https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_Positioning_System, Wikipedia states:

(+) 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:

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.

Medical professionals also have a need to show family relationships in order to understand inherited medical conditions. The medical community often needs to collect and display information about patterns of mental and physical illnesses such as depression, bipolar disorder, cancer, substance abuse, and other diseases that seem to run in families. Pedigree charts are ineffective for such uses.

(+) A Simple Explanation of Cloud Computing

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

Many of the articles in this newsletter refer to “the cloud.” Feedback from several newsletter readers indicates that not everyone understands what a “cloud” is in the Internet world. I thought I would publish this introduction to cloud computing and also explain how cloud computing is used to provide digital images of census records to millions of online genealogists.

A number of companies provide cloud computing services, including Amazon Web Services (often referred to as “AWS”), Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, IBM Cloud, Rackspace, Red Hat (recently acquired by IBM), Backblaze B2 Cloud Storage, and several others. To keep things simple, I will describe Amazon simply because it is the largest cloud services provider and is the one that I use the most. However, I believe most of the other cloud service providers are similar in operation.

(+) The 1890 U.S. Census: Not Everything Was Destroyed

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

Beginning U.S. genealogists soon learn that the 1890 census records were destroyed in a fire in the basement of the Commerce Building on January 10, 1921. Many people who would like to see these records just shrug their shoulders and move on.

Some of the 1890 census records after being damaged by fire and water.

A short search on the Web, however, soon reveals that not all of the records were destroyed. In fact, census fragments for 1890 in Alabama, Georgia, Illinois, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, South Dakota, Texas, and the District of Columbia survived and are available now.

(+) Are You Ready for the Future of Computing?

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

I am writing this article while seated at a desk in my home. I am staring at a large monitor on the desk and typing these words on a keyboard that sits on that desk. The keyboard is connected to a boxy-looking computer on my desk. This is how I use a computer most of the time. It is the same method that I used thirty-five years ago, in 1984.

This is modern technology?

(+) Enjoy Internet Access Nearly Anywhere and Anytime with a Personal Wi-Fi Hotspot

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

One of the phrases we often read in technical articles these days is “Internet everywhere.” Indeed, wi-fi Internet connections, often called “hotspots,” are available at thousands of coffee shops, restaurants, libraries, schools, and dozens of other places as well. I have successfully connected online from fast food burger places and while riding at 34,000 feet in an airplane However, despite the phrase “Internet everywhere,” we still cannot connect online from anywhere. A few places do not have wi-fi networks. And then there is the universal question: what do we do during power failures?

The answer is simple: anyone can connect to the Internet from almost anywhere by providing their own wireless modem, or “personal hotspot,” that connects to a cell tower within a few miles. It even works during power failures, as proven yesterday and today in my neighborhood.

So how do you connect a wi-fi equipped laptop, tablet, or other computing device to a cellular tower? There are two popular solutions.