Software

Update to Google Duo Video Chat App

I wrote about the Google video chat app called Duo in the August 17, 2016 newsletter at https://goo.gl/PJm3ET. Duo is a two-way video chat application for both Android and iPhone/iPad devices. I consider it to be a great competitor to FaceTime which is limited to only iPhone/iPad devices. I have been using Duo on my Android smartphone to chat with iPhone users. I have been generally pleased with it but have noticed that the video is not as good as that of FaceTime, which I used when I had an iPhone.

Now Google has announced a new version, called Google Duo 5.0. The new version reportedly includes some “major video quality improvements” among its additions. Also, the new version fixes a bug that was causing sound to not play for some users.

Simple Note Taking Apps

gift_ideasSimple is often best. At least, I think so when it comes to making notes. Note taking programs are amongst my most frequently-used apps on my desktop, laptop, and tablet computers as well as on my cell phone. I typically use them several times a day. Best of all, when I create a note on any of my devices, it automatically gets copied to all the other devices. As a result, I always have my notes with me all the time. (I never leave home without the cell phone.)

I use two such apps frequently:

  • When I am sitting in the audience at a genealogy conference, taking notes while listening to an expert talk about a topic I am interested in.
  • When I discover something new about an ancestor in an old record of some sort, in a book, or even in someone else’s claims in a web site. I want to record the information now so that I can verify it later before entering the information into my favorite genealogy program. The note taking apps serve as “temporary storage.”
  • Measuring the windows at home for new curtains.
  • Creating a shopping list during the week before visiting the grocery store.
  • Remembering which inkjet cartridge my printer requires for my next visit to an office supply store.
  • Airline reservations.
  • And a lot more…

A New Product: GedSite creates Professional-Quality Web Sites from GEDCOM Files

I suspect this announcement will cause a lot of interest. John Cardinal, well-known for developing Second Site software for use with The Master Genealogist (TMG), has now released a brand-new product called GedSite and is selling it at a modest price. I predict GedSite will be a winner; very popular within the genealogy community.

GedSite builds on the technology developed for Second Site but adds a lot of new features. First, it accepts GEDCOM files for data input. (All modern genealogy programs can create GEDCOM files.) Next, GedSite can create gorgeous web sites to upload to the Internet or to share with relatives privately via flash drives, CD disks, or other removable media or via cloud-based file storage.

The following announcement was written by John Cardinal, CEO of Family History Hosting, LLC:

New tool for genealogists is fast and flexible, and sites can be published on the web or shared privately

gedsite_logoNorth Andover, MA – December 4, 2016 – Family History Hosting, LLC is pleased to announce GedSite, a must-have tool for any genealogist creating web sites from GEDCOM files. GedSite provides many of the features of Second Site, a web site builder also published by Family History Hosting for genealogy projects managed by The Master Genealogist (TMG).

“For more than a decade, genealogists have been asking me to publish a program to produce high-quality web sites from GEDCOM data,” said John Cardinal, CEO and Founder of Family History Hosting. “I’ve learned directly from our customers that they want the features and ease-of-use of Second Site, my popular web site builder for TMG, but for GEDCOM files. I am glad to offer GedSite in response to those requests.”

GedSite’s fast and flexible importer handles standard GEDCOM records as well as application-specific GEDCOM extensions for popular genealogy applications. GedSite includes the unique ability to interpret sentence templates from Family Historian, Legacy, and RootsMagic GEDCOM files, and provides its own sentence templates for GEDCOM files from source applications that do not support them.

MacFamilyTree 8.1 – New CloudTree offers Collaboration and Sync

The following announcement was written by Synium Software, producers of the very popular MacFamilyTree genealogy program for Macintosh, iPhone, and iPad:

December 2, 2016 – Mainz, Germany – Synium is proud to announce a huge update for MacFamilyTree, their popular genealogy app to discover your family history. Version 8.1 answers the frequently asked question “How can I work on my family tree and do genealogical research with other family members?” – and does it in a unique way . MacFamilyTree 8.1 introduces CloudTree Sync&Share – powerful, one of its kind, and free for all users of MacFamilyTree 8.1.

macfamilytree_screenshot

CloudTree Sync&Share creates a revolution in digital genealogy. No other service provides such speedy synchronization across any number of devices – directly from within the app, at no additional cost, and in line with the highest data protection standards. The iPhone and iPad version of MacFamilyTree, called MobileFamilyTree, has been updated to, offering the same set of features.

MyHeritage Releases a Major Mobile App Update

The iPhone, iPad, and Android mobile apps from MyHeritage have just been updated. The new version now offers “Real-time Discoveries,” an impressive feature that automatically looks for matches with the 34 million existing family trees on MyHeritage while you are entering or update the profile of an individual in your family tree. The “Real-time Discoveries” have been available for some time in the web version at MyHeritage.com and should be equally popular in the mobile versions.

The new release also features a List View with improved search functionality and sorting options.

The Argument for Building an Offline Version of Your Family Tree

I am a big fan of storing all sorts of personal data, including my family tree, both online and also offline (in my computer’s hard drive). I like online access because of the increased security (assuming it is encrypted), the automatic backups, and the ease of access to the information when traveling, even when traveling to a local genealogy society meeting.

familyhistorian_screenshot

Simon Orde, the owner of the colorfully named company Calico Pie, has a different viewpoint. After all, he and his company produce Family Historian, one of the very popular genealogy programs for Windows. Simon has written an article that provides his opinions of online versus offline storage. I will say that his article makes a lot of sense.

Heredis for Windows and for Macintosh is on sale at 50% off until Sunday, October 23, 2016

Heredis is a very popular genealogy program that is available for Windows, Macintosh, iPad, iPhone, and Android devices. See https://duckduckgo.com/?q=site%3Aeogn.com+heredis&t=h_&ia=web for a list of my past articles about Heredis.) Now the producers of Heredis are offering a 50% off sale until October 23. The following is the announcement:

For 10 days, a mega deal is available for genealogists until Sunday, October 23, 2016 only inclusive: 50% OFF for Heredis software (PC and Mac) on http://shop.heredis.com/.

10 reasons to choose Heredis:

Unlimited program: you can enter as many persons, photos, copies of documents that you want!

Tens of features easy to adopt: from data entry, one of the Heredis strong points to tasteful family tree charts, Heredis advances your genealogy.

Unique functions as enter all members of one family on a single entry screen with the Family Group Data tab: the primary person, the parents, marriages, children, and even the partners of their children are represented!

Little Family Tree, A Genealogy App for Children

This looks like a great app! It is available for Apple iPhone, iPad, and for Android devices. The following announcement was written by Yellow Fork Technologies LLC:

Herriman, Utah, October 1, 2016

Yellow Fork Technologies LLC has just released a major update to their app, Little Family Tree, making it FREE to download through the mobile app stores. Little Family Tree is an app that teaches children about their family history through interactive games and activities with information obtained from an online family tree.

little-family-tree

Dropbox Has Problems with the new macOS Sierra for Macintosh But there is a Fix Available

Dropbox is a great tool for genealogists and most everyone else. It has been mentioned in this newsletter dozens of times. (See https://goo.gl/nx4GnP for a list of my past articles about Dropbox.) However, if you are a Macintosh user and you just upgraded to the new macOS Sierra version of the operating system, “strange things” may happen. Luckily, there is a fix.

GRAMPS Can Now be used as a Cloud-Based Genealogy Program

GRAMPS (an abbreviation for “Genealogy Research and Analysis Management Programming System”) was originally developed as a Linux genealogy program and later was ported to Macintosh, Windows, BSD UNIX and Solaris. (You can find my previous articles about GRAMPS by starting at https://goo.gl/gVUE9d.)

GRAMPS is now available as a cloud-based program. In theory, you should be able to use the cloud-based version of GRAMPS with any Android, Apple iOS (specifically iPad), Chromebook, Windows, Macintosh, or Linux computer. Since it runs from the cloud, no software installation is required. Best of all, GRAMPS is available FREE of charge.

I find GRAMPS to be a very powerful genealogy program. Perhaps the most attractive feature is its price tag: FREE.

GRAMPS is a community project, created, developed and governed by genealogists. Dozens of programmers have contributed to its success. Now the folks at rollApp have ported GRAMPS to an online version, accessible to everyone in the cloud. One unique feature is that the online version of GRAMPS will save your data files in your choice of Dropbox, Google Drive, Box.com, OneDrive, or Yandex.Disk.

Why You Might Want a Personal Genealogy Blog on WordPress

blogYou probably can find dozens of reasons for creating a blog. In addition, you can probably find dozens of companies that will host a blog for you. Given the choices and the reasons available, trying to decide on the best blog hosting service for you can be an overwhelming decision. How do you find the best one for your use? I will suggest there is no easy answer, but I will suggest that WordPress should be one of the services you evaluate.

NOTE: I will quickly admit that I am biased. The words you are reading right now are hosted on a WordPress blog. I have used several different blogging services over the years to host this newsletter. I switched to WordPress several years ago and am very happy with the company’s services. I have no plans to switch to anything else.

Why would you want a blog?

There are a number of reasons why a genealogist might want to crate a blog. Here are a few ideas I can think of:

Twile Allows Users to Merge Multiple GEDCOM Files

I have written before about Twile. See http://goo.gl/jVVbaw for a list of my past articles about the company. Now Twile is introducing a new upgraded version. The following announcement was written by the folks at Twile:

twileDoncaster, UK: 7th September, 2016

Twile have today released a new feature allowing users to merge multiple GEDCOM files into one family tree and keep it updated with future changes.

The new feature means that family members storing their research independently in different family history sites – such as Ancestry or Findmypast – can now bring all of their findings together in one private family tree on Twile and import newer versions as they further their research. As well as building their tree, Twile will use the data in the GEDCOM files to automatically add events to the family timeline, such as births, marriages and deaths.

The Future of Genealogy Software

Warning: this article contains personal opinions.

genealogy-softwareI recently exchanged email messages with a newsletter reader who is looking for a replacement for his favorite genealogy program, the now-defunct program called The Master Genealogist. He raised some good points about today’s available genealogy products, and I responded with some of my views and predictions. I decided to write an article based upon our “conversation” and to also expand our comments as I imagine many newsletter readers also are interested in finding new and (hopefully) better programs.

First, let me write specifically about The Master Genealogist.

OpenOffice, the Free, Open-Source Microsoft Office Alternative, could be Shut Down

I have written several times about the advantages of OpenOffice and LibreOffice, two free alternatives to Microsoft Office. (See http://goo.gl/qtpYC3 for my most recent article about free replacement programs for Microsoft Office.) Now a volunteer vice president of OpenOffice says OpenOffice could be shut down if more developers can’t be recruited to support the project and keep the software secure. The immediate problem is that, according to Dennis E. Hamilton’s email, the team now consists of only about six core members and they are overwhelmed.

You can read the details in an article by David Z. Morris in the Fortune Magazine web site at http://fortune.com/2016/09/04/openoffice-possible-shutdown/.

Microsoft’s Evernote to OneNote Conversion Tool is Now Available on Macintosh

I have written several times about Evernote (see https://goo.gl/RXq5Ez for a list of my past articles about Evernote). I use Evernote more often than I use a genealogy program although I have to also add that I use Evernote for all sorts of things, not just for genealogy purposes. However, the producers of Evernote recently increased the price of the program and also reduced the capabilities of the free version. A number of Evernote users have now switched, or are contemplating switching, to other note-taking applications.

Probably the second-most popular note-taking application is Microsoft’s OneNote. While more complicated to use, OneNote has a great price: FREE. See Microsoft’s Office Blog at https://blogs.office.com/2015/02/13/onenote-now-even-free/ for details.

Why Not Linux?

How safe is your computer? If it runs Windows 10, it is not safe at all according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). The EFF accuses Microsoft of “blatantly disregarding” user choice and privacy, and says that by default, Windows 10 sends an “unprecedented amount of usage data” back to Redmond’s servers.

The EFF further states that while it’s possible to opt out of some of Microsoft’s data hoovering, this is “not a guarantee that your computer will stop talking to Microsoft’s servers”. Indeed, you’re forced to share at least some telemetry data with Redmond unless you’re running an enterprise version of Windows 10.

You can read the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s report at https://goo.gl/IY3TX5.

What should you do if you are presently using Windows 10?

How to Print Directly to a PDF File in Windows 10

Go-PaperlessI have often written about the benefits of going paperless. (See https://goo.gl/dq0QCo for my articles concerning going paperless.) Instead of printing things on paper, I suggest using your computer to create PDF file of the documents instead. PDF files are easy to create, require less space, are easier to send by mail (by using email), are easier to copy, are easier to find in the future, and, if you really need something on paper in the future, can be printed at any time.

Macintosh users have had the capability for years of creating PDF documents from any application. Strangely, Windows did not have that capability until recently. Windows users have always needed to install third-party software in order to create PDF files. Now that has changed. Windows 10 lets you print directly to PDF from any application.

Dropbox Paper Challenges Evernote, Google Keep, Zoho Notebook, OneNote and Other Cloud-Connected Note-Taking Products

Evernote has long been one of the best note-taking apps for use by genealogists and by millions of others. I have been a big Evernote fan for years and still am. However, Evernote recently increased the prices of its Plus and Premium versions. Evernote Basic remains available free of charge but is now limited to two devices per account, like a computer and a phone, two computers, or a phone and a tablet. Bummer! (See my earlier article at https://goo.gl/n0v4qa for the details.)

Many Evernote users were disappointed by the news and have since looked for replacement programs. See my article about one possible replacement at https://goo.gl/EwKVFN while others are switching to Microsoft’s OneNote (see https://goo.gl/deGfCZ). Now a new candidate from a well-known vendor is entering the marketplace.

Dropbox has long been a very popular cloud-based file storage service. Most Dropbox users find it is an excellent service for making backup copies of files as well as copying (or “replicating”) those files amongst multiple computers, such as keeping the same files at all times on both your your desktop and laptop computers. The same files also can be retrieved on an iPad, iPhone, Android device, Windows Phone, or even on a Kindle Fire. Now Dropbox is adding a new trick that appears to be aimed at enticing Evernote users to switch to Dropbox’s new service.

Family Book Creator is now Available in French and Spanish

I wrote about Family Book Creator last year at https://goo.gl/kO7kp1. Now there is an update to my earlier article: the program is now available in both French and Spanish. Here is the announcement from Stefan Harms, the program’s author:

FBCLogo_Plugin

Now with French and Spanish
Family Book Creator is a plugin for Family Tree Maker on Windows which turns research results into detailed personalized books with just a few clicks. Different book types and languages are supported. A free trial version is available. Go to www.FamilyBookCreator.com for more details about this Family Tree Maker plugin, download the free Trial Edition and try the plugin with your own data.

FBC_Workflow

Zoho Writer in the Cloud

If you already have a word processor installed in each of your computers and are happy with your present choice, you probably will want to skip this article. However, if you do not have a good word processor, or if you want to look at other possibilities, this may be the article for you. If you are presently using Google Docs or Microsoft Word Online or some other cloud-based word processor and are frustrated by your program’s lack of some features you want, this is the article for you. If you need a better word processor for sharing documents with co-workers or with family or even with genealogy society members, this is the article for you. If you want a good word processor for an iPad or Android tablet computer, this is the article for you.

Oh, by the way, this article describes a word processor that is FREE for personal use.

zoho_onlineZoho is an online Web service that lets you do almost anything online that you can do on a desktop computer, from creating documents to building a spreadsheet to managing a database, plus conferencing, project-management, chatting, and a dozen other functions. Zoho also duplicates many applications that Google offers with sophisticated calendars, spreadsheets, presentations, email and chat. In some cases, Zoho’s products may be more powerful than Google’s; but, in other cases, the opposite may be true. For this article, I will focus on one product called Zoho Writer.

Zoho Writer is an online word processor that is very easy to use. Yet it has most of the bells and whistles of an expensive, traditional word processor. I also find it to be much more powerful and useful than the word processor available with Google Docs.