You can now Tour the Revolutionary War Yorktown Battlefield Virtually

Do you have an interest in the Yorktown Battlefield? Perhaps you had ancestors there. In any case, you can now check out the location –– virtually.

“The Yorktown Tour Guide is your complete guide to Yorktown, Virginia – site of the last major land battle of the American Revolutionary War and witness to George Washington’s decisive victory over General Lord Charles Cornwallis,” according to the app’s description.

The tour guide app has three different tours with a total of 21 stops from the historic town to the battlefield and allied encampment with photos and historical facts, according to the news release.

The HTL Neighborhood Explorer

A new software product could be a nice addition to your genealogy toolbox. It won’t directly help you identify individuals in your family tree. However, it will add significant modern-day information about the neighborhood(s) in which they lived.

You can find (present-day) home values, average income, owner/renter occupancy rates, projected growth rates, boundary maps, LOCAL PHOTOS, comparisons to other communities, and more. If you are planning to move to a new home, the HTL Neighborhood Explorer also could provide you with a lot of information about the neighborhood you are considering

The HTL Neighborhood Explorer is available FREE of charge at https://www.hometownlocator.com/new.cfm. Since it is web-based, it should work equally well on Macintosh, Chromebook, Linux, Windows, Apple iOS, Android, and most other operating systems as long as the operating system includes a modern web browser.

For instance, here is what I found about my boyhood home:

Version 12 of the The Next Generation of Genealogy Sitebuilding (or “TNG”) has been Released

This is big news for one of the most sophisticated genealogy products of today: TNG. It is a genealogy program that installs on a web server and can be used by one person alone or by hundreds of genealogists at once. It is especially useful for family members working together to document their family history and to genealogy societies and other organizations involved in multi-member research efforts. The following announcement was written by Darrin Lythgoe, the man behind Next Generation Software:

SANDY, UT: A major upgrade for The Next Generation of Genealogy Sitebuilding (or “TNG”), is now available from Next Generation Software. TNG 12 includes many enhancements and new features, plus security and user access improvements. Existing users can purchase the upgrade at a discount by returning to their previous download page.

This release also includes three new template designs, plus added functionality for several others, and a new language is supported (Chinese). Several media handling functions have been improved, and two privacy-related tools have been introduced. Significant upgrades have also been made to the DNA testing feature and the Mod Manager, which allows users to easily install or remove add-ons.

Is It Time to Try a Newsreader?

Your paperboy just got smarter. This article will tell you how to easily read more information on the Internet in a shorter period of time. In short, you can use much of the Internet without all the clutter.

I used to spend 2 or 3 hours per day visiting specific web sites over and over in an attempt to find new information. I regularly visited CNN.com looking for news, weather.com looking for the latest weather forecast for my home town, various stock market web sites, and, of course, genealogy sites looking for information about a variety of topics. The old method meant visiting each and every web site, one at a time, then waiting for the page to appear on my screen, then looking at menus to find the new information, waiting again for the new pages to appear, and so on. It was a tedious way to search for new information.

Today I can accomplish the same thing within a very few minutes instead of spending hours searching for elusive information. Today I “subscribe” to CNN.com, weather.com, and several hundred other web sites. New information automatically appears on my computer’s screen whenever I want; I no longer have to open a web browser to visit dozens of web sites in search of new information. I only see new information. Older information that has already appeared on my screen earlier is not displayed to me a second time. Most of the advertisements are also not displayed although a few do manage to appear. The result is in the a form of a “custom newspaper” designed for me, containing new information about topics of interest to me.

Use a Twitter Bot to Colorize Your Black-And-White Photos in Seconds for Free

Use a Twitter bot to colorize photos? It sounds strange but is true.

If you tweet the Colorise Bot a photograph of a black-and-white photograph, will transform it into a technicolor picture. The best part? It’s super fast, with some images colorized in a matter of seconds. The new tool is the product of two British teenagers, Oli Callaghan and Finnian Anderson. Oli is 18, while Finnian is just 17 years old. The Colorise Bot uses a pre-made neural network that’d been trained on a large dataset of 4.5 million images.

Ah, those teenagers! What will they think of next? When I was 17 years old, I wasn’t thinking about neural networks!

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:

Our Present History Could Be Lost to Future Generations

One of the fathers of the Internet claims this century could be lost to future historians. I am not sure I agree with Vint Cerf, now a vice president at Google, but I do believe his comments are worth reading and considering.

Data presently stored on outdated technology such as VHS tapes, vinyl records, cassette tapes and floppy disks has already been lost, according Cerf. That is just the beginning, he told a conference last week hosted by the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

The lack of an electronic storage mechanism that can withstand centuries of time threatens to erode documents and digitally-stored memories through a process he has often referred to as “bit rot.”

You can read more in an article in MarketWatch at http://goo.gl/ETtfgK.

I agree with Vint Cerf that this is a significant problem and the need to preserve data deserves attention. However, the article ignores that fact that corporations, governments, and even non-profits are already preserving their data to make sure it lasts for centuries.

How to Easily Keep Up With Lots of Newsletters, Blogs, News Sites, and Even CraigsList

Anyone who wants to read a number of blogs and other web sites that contain frequently-changing information may find it slow and tedious to go from one web site to another in a web browser to find the latest articles. If you want to follow 20 or 30 blogs, newspaper sites, stock market reporting services, sports news about your favorite teams, CraigsList listings, and more, checking each one manually in a web browser will consume a lot of time. Luckily, there are two easy solutions that can save you a lot of time, allowing you to monitor all those sites within a very few minutes:

How to Watch Genealogy and Other Television Programs from Other Countries

I like to watch the British television programs, including Who Do You Think You Are? When I was in Scotland last year, one evening in my hotel room I watched a movie on the U.S. version of Netflix. A Canadian friend of mine watches Netflix movies from his home in Canada.

How is that possible? The answer is simple: use a VPN.

Cloud Storage for Everyone

2014 was the year when cloud storage stopped being a novelty and became a useful tool for all computer owners. I have become more productive in the past year because of the ease of having all my data with me wherever I go.

At the beginning of the year, 5 to 10 gigabytes of online file storage space was standard and 100 gigabytes was something to brag about. Only the moderately wealthy could afford 100 gigabytes of online data storage on January 1, 2014.

Then, in March, Google cut the price of a terabyte (1000 gigabytes) on Google Drive to $10 a month. Microsoft soon responded by including a terabyte on OneDrive with every subscription to Office 365, even with the $70-a-year Personal subscriptions. Dropbox lowered its prices in August to $9.99 per month for one terabyte of storage space and even a bit cheaper if the account was paid in advance: $99.99 per year ($8.33 per month).

As if that was not cheap enough, late in the year Microsoft removed all storage limits from OneDrive and OneDrive for Business accounts for anyone with an Office 365 subscription. That’s right, unlimited online storage space.

Create a Custom Email Newsletter from Any Blog

Do you like to read a particular genealogy blog or perhaps any other sort of online blog? Do you sometimes forget to check that blog frequently to read new articles? Would you prefer to receive frequent email message when new articles are posted rather than having to take time to check the blog manually? Perhaps you write a blog but would like to send it to readers via email in addition to the online web site? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, there is a simple and easy solution for you.

Blogtrottr converts your favorite blog sites’ RSS newsfeeds into a scheduled email newsletter that you receive as often as you want, so you can stay on top of all the news.

Almost all blogs offer RSS newsfeeds, as do many news services, stock market reports, weather forecasting services, sports sites, and hundreds of other web sites. If an online site you wish to monitor offers an RSS newsfeed, you can use Blogtrottr to convert those RSS newsfeeds into email messages that are sent to you at the times you specify, ranging from every 2 hours to once a day. If there are no new articles posted in the timeframe you specify, Blogtrottr doesn’t send an email.

What Is the Cloud?

One word that has crept into computer terminology in the past few years is “cloud.” Just what is the cloud? I hear that question often. Luckily, a new video from LearnFree.org does a nice job of answering the question in 3 minutes and 28 seconds.

The video is explains the basic concepts although it ignores the many more sophisticated cloud-based technologies available. Then again, that’s perfect for an introductory explanation.

You can watch What Is the Cloud?  at http://youtu.be/gu4FYSFeWqg or in the video player below:

Dick Eastman Discusses How Tech Has Changed The Family History Industry

DE-Ancestry-InterviewI recently had the pleasure of talking with Jessica Murray of Ancestry.com. She and I discussed a number of genealogy-related topics, including the availability of apps on your mobile and tablet devices, saving many hours by verifying research, the quality of software, and how blogging technology has revolutionized genealogy.

You can view a video of our conversation in the Ancestry.com Blog at http://goo.gl/IphbV6.

Saving Your Family History Securely in the Cloud

Many of us have pictures or information that we want to keep on our home computers or devices, but in case of fire or other disasters, we want to be able to keep them safe. Pre-Cloud users kept copies of pictures and information on CDs or DVDs and hard drives in bank vaults or other safe storage. They also gave copies to others and sent discs or memory sticks to interested parties. When we put our data into cloud storage, though, we keep the original information at our home, and store the data in a format that can be used by others in facilities in different places in the world. Now, everyone can have access to this data, with permission, in a much easier way.

Jane Wilcox to Interview Robert Charles Anderson on Internet Radio

Here is a notice from “The Forget-Me-Not Hour:”

Robert Charles Anderson will join host Jane E. Wilcox on “The Forget-Me-Not Hour: Your Ancestors Want Their Stories to Be Told” radio show on Wednesday, 20 August at 10:00 a.m. Eastern time. Bob will talk about his latest book — hot off the press — entitled Elements of Genealogical Analysis. He will discuss this genealogical research methodology approach that he has used for more than 30 years in his work on the Great Migration Study Project. He’ll tell us what we can find in the book and how it can help us in our genealogy research.

Listen live or on-demand after the show airs at http://goo.gl/ZJLDWd.

Add Gigabytes of Storage Space to your iPhone, iPad, or Android Device with Amazon Cloud Drive

I love the mobile computing gadgets available today, but most of them are normally restricted to whatever storage space is available within the device. In most cell phone and tablet computers, that can be anything from 8 gigabytes to 64 gigabytes of storage space. A very few mobile devices, such as the iPad, may offer more. I often find that I need more storage space than that to store all the pictures, videos, songs, and documents I create. A second issue is the ability to share pictures and videos amongst mobile devices as well as with desktop and laptop computers. After all, if you take a picture with your cell phone’s camera, you probably want to also save it on your other devices, including the desktop system at home.

You can find dozens of services that offer the capability to copy and to share anything from your cell phone or tablet computer. However, one of the easiest products to use is Amazon Cloud Drive. I have been using it for several months and am pleased with it. Amazon Cloud Drive offers up to five gigabytes of free storage space with more space available at reasonable charges. I also like the fact that my photos and videos are saved in multiple places, including a cloud-based storage service that is managed by data professionals. I doubt if any disaster will ever cause me to lose all copies of my precious pictures.

Google Chrome Gets One-Click Video Chats, No Download Required

I love video chats with my grandchildren and other family members. I also get invited to video chats for business meetings and occasionally also make video presentations to genealogy societies that may be hundreds or even thousands of miles away. A few years ago, I sat in the audience at a genealogy conference where the presenter was about 12,000 miles away but she appeared on a large screen in front of the audience. In fact, it was a two-way video conference: she could hear and see us as we watched and listened to her.

Video conferencing equipment used to cost thousands of dollars only a few years ago. The improvements in home computers since then has dropped the prices dramatically. Most of us can now participate in two-way video conferences at no additional charge by using the computers we already own.