The NYG&B Announces NYG&B Labs

The following announcement was written by the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society:

NYG&B Labs will create an innovative space which leverages the latest trends in technology and digital services to assist in telling the stories of New York’s families.

nygb-colorNEW YORK, NY — The New York Genealogical and Biographical Society (NYG&B) announces the creation of NYG&B Labs, an innovative space which leverages the latest trends in technology and digital services to assist in telling the stories of New York’s families.

NYG&B Labs will be a destination for aspiring digital professionals who seek to advance their expertise in technology and its applications for the fields of history and genealogy. Each quarter team members will work on a designated, pre-approved project. Once completed, projects may be added to resources at newyorkfamilyhistory.org and beyond.

Members of the NYG&B Labs team will benefit from one-on-one interaction with experts in the fields of genealogy and technology as they work to creatively apply technology to traditional genealogical methods relating to New York’s history. Team members will also receive a quarterly stipend and can work from anywhere in the world.

The History of Groundhog Day

groundhogEvery February 2nd, residents of the United States turn their attention to the small town of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. A group of men in top hats put a groundhog on a log in front of hundreds of people and wait for it to notice or not notice its own shadow. If Phil the groundhog sees his shadow, we’re supposed to have six more weeks of winter. If he doesn’t see it, winter is supposed to end earlier.

NOTE: A groundhog is also known as a woodchuck. It is a member of the family of rodents known as marmots.

A rodent in Pennsylvania, watched by men in top hats, can tell what the weather will be like for the next several weeks? Sounds strange to me! Actually, it is based upon the traditions of some of our ancestors.

The Best Laptop for Traveling Is One You Can Afford to Lose

laptop_stolenThis is not a genealogy-related article. However, I wrote an article that describes a problem and a solution that I think every person who is contemplating purchasing a laptop should read. I won’t publish the article here but will mention that it is available at https://goo.gl/CvYS4i in case you would like to read it.

A No-Cost or Low-Cost Replacement for Microsoft PowerPoint

If you make presentations to genealogy audiences or to anyone else, you are probably familiar with Microsoft PowerPoint, available for both Windows and Macintosh. It has been the leading slide show presentation program for many years. However, PowerPoint hasn’t had a significant update in years, and the price is not what we expect of modern software: it is far too expensive!

Actually, Microsoft usually sells PowerPoint in a bundle that includes Word, Excel, and perhaps some other programs as well. The prices of the various bundles range from about $120 for a single-user version of Microsoft Office Home and Student 2016 to $360 or more for “Professional” versions that include OneNote, Outlook, Access, and Publisher. Those prices seem excessive when compared to the competition. For instance, LibreOffice does almost all the same functions and is FREE. However, LibreOffice’s presentation program is not as powerful as PowerPoint.

Microsoft has recently added a new, free offering called Office.com, also known as Office Online. It is a cloud-based offering that works well although the feature set is limited. Office Online does not have all the features of Office 365 and does not include OneNote, Outlook, Access, or Publisher. Its online version of PowerPoint is also stripped down. However, the basics of document editing, spreadsheet formulas, and presentation options are all covered. You can check out Office Online at no cost at https://www.office.com.

A New Option Called Slides

slides-screenshot1

I have been experimenting with Slides, a new cloud-based program that lets you create, present, and share slide show presentations in a web browser. Unlike traditional presentation software like PowerPoint, there’s no need to download anything. All of your work is stored securely on slide.com’s servers, accessible wherever you are. You can create your presentation and display it to an audience with most any device that has a web browser: Windows, Macintosh, Linux, Android, iPad, iPhone, and most “smart” cell phones.

MyHeritage Introduces New Discoveries Pages

MyHeritage (the sponsor of this newsletter) has just introduced a new improvement called Discoveries Pages. These pages provide a unified experience for all matches, organizing them into two main pages:

  • Matches by People
  • Matches by Source

discoveries-pages

The new pages allow you to look at all matches that were found for a particular individual in your family tree, or all matches found in a particular collection of historical records or matching family tree. Whatever you choose to use, the new pages combine Smart Matches (matches with trees) and Record Matches (matches with records) into the same unified and consistent interface.

It is the First Day of the Month: Back Up Your Genealogy Files

BackUpYourGenealogyFilesIt is the first day of the month as well as the first day of the year. It’s time to back up your genealogy files. Then test your backups!

Actually, you can make backups at any time. However, it is easier and safer if you have a specific schedule. The first day of the month is easy to remember, so I would suggest you back up your genealogy files at least on the first day of every month, if not more often.

Will Checks Soon Disappear?

Here is another change in lifestyles that is happening around us. In the 21st century, what could be more ridiculous than checks? A paper check is a little piece of paper upon with incredibly sensitive information printed in a font from the punch-card era of computing. Anyone can easily steal money from your checking account if he or she can obtain the numbers printed along the bottom edge of your checks.

checkIf you pay by check anywhere, anyone who touches the check has access to the routing and account numbers, they are encoded on the bottom of the check in magnetic ink. It’s called the MICR line. When you pay your mortgage payment, your electric bill, or any other bill by check, a dishonest employee in the company’s mailroom can easily copy the numbers printed along the bottom edge of your checks and then have new checks printed that he or she can use to empty your checking account.

Luckily, paper checks for paying bills are fast disappearing. As genealogists/micro-historians, should we be recording this change in our lives? Our descendants will probably be fascinated that we used paper “I.O.U.s” in the good ol’ days, I.O.U.s that promised payment if given to a bank.

Genealogy and Seniors

Kimberley Fowler has written an introductory article that describes some of the reasons why senior citizens are often attracted to genealogy. She writes:

“Retirees across America are leaving their families an unconventional legacy — knowledge of their family’s ancestral roots. In the age of the internet, ancestry and genealogy research has increased with additional access to online historical records.Genealogy and Seniors

“Older adults who are retired and have time on their hands are taking advantage, making “genealogy the second most popular hobby in the U.S., after gardening,” according to Time.”

You can read the full article in a Place for Mom blog at: http://www.aplaceformom.com/blog/1-30-17-genealogy-and-seniors.

Heredis 2017 for Windows and for Macintosh is Now Available

Heredis is a powerful genealogy program for both Windows and Macintosh that is very popular in Europe and in a number of other countries as well. You can see my earlier articles about Heredis by starting at: https://goo.gl/Xe7jPJ.

heredis-2017

Now the team that produces Heredis has announced a new update to the program is available today. The new version includes a number of improvements. Perhaps the most notable is the new “Dashboard.” Today’s announcement says (in part):

With the Dashboard, at a glance, genealogists know where they are: what they have already found and what they still have to do.

Like a real on board computer, genealogists conduct their genealogical activities very easily. They note their progression: the genealogical and demographic statistics give them valuable indications. Detailed information enables them to analyze their file in depth and to measure the progress of their work, to check the completeness of their sources, to identify what remains to be done and to identify goals. Also, genealogists can customize this workspace by following only the indicators or widgets they have chosen.

HOW WAS THIS IDEA BORN?

You are Invited to the EOGN Dinner after the RootsTech Conference in Salt Lake City!

Are you planning to attend this year’s RootsTech Conference in Salt Lake City? Do you think you will be hungry after the conference closes on Saturday evening? Would you like to have dinner with a large group of genealogists? If so, join us for dinner!

You are invited to join other genealogists for dinner on Saturday evening, February 11, after the close of the RootsTech 2017 conference. Rumor has it there will also be a few door prizes.

You can make a reservation now at http://eogn.com/slc2017.

You are invited to join us if:

You subscribe to the Plus Edition newsletter or…
You subscribe to the Standard Edition newsletter or…
If you occasionally read the newsletter online or…
If you have heard of the newsletter or…
If you promise to read the newsletter in the future or…
If you are a genealogist who has no other place else to go Saturday night.

You also may bring your spouse, girlfriend/boyfriend (or both!) or anyone else who would like to join us.

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

This is an article I published last August. At the time, the program was still in beta. I have been using it occasionally and find it is a simple word processor but also one that works well. Today, Dropbox took the program out of beta test status and is now supporting it fully. Therefore, I decided to republish the article. If you are looking for a FREE word processor, you might want to use the one you already have: Dropbox Paper.

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.

Ancestry’s CEO, Tim Sullivan’s Message Concerning the Recent Restrictions on Immigration

With the recent political climate, Ancestry’s CEO sent an email to the entire company. Tim also wanted to share it with others. Feel free to share this as well:

The last 48 hours in the U.S. have been both heart-breaking and outrageous. Of immediate importance is the status of our Ancestry employees and/or their families. We do not believe that any of our employees are currently affected, but if we are wrong, please let us know immediately, and we will do everything we can to help.

Our company values decency, works hard to embrace diversity, and is very familiar with the difficulties that families all over the world have endured for centuries in their attempts to stay together and to improve the lives of the next generation. We are a company that lives history, so we’re familiar with the ugliness that we’re witnessing right now. We’ve seen how families were impacted by the quotas on Chinese immigration less than a hundred years ago, by the refusal to accept Jewish refugees fleeing the horror of Nazi Germany, and by the absurd detainment of Japanese Americans during that war. Today, it is broadly understood that these policies each left a black mark on our history and ran counter to the fundamental values of openness and inclusion that are our country’s strength.

New Leadership Team Members at Ancestry Announced

The following announcement was written by Ancestry.com:

Ancestry Bolsters Product, Tech and Marketing Leadership Teams with Industry Veterans

Nat Natarajan, from Intuit, Joins as Executive Vice President of Product and Technology

Vineet Mehra, from Johnson & Johnson, Joins as Executive Vice President and
Chief Marketing Officer

LEHI, Utah and SAN FRANCISCO, Jan. 30, 2017 — Ancestry, the global leader in family history and consumer genomics, today announced two new appointments to its growing executive team. With more than three million having taken its AncestryDNA test and record sales during the fourth quarter of 2016, Ancestry remains the world’s largest consumer genomics provider and first choice for consumers looking to understand more about who they are and where they come from.

Auschwitz Death Camp: Poland Puts Database of Prison Guards Online

The names of Nazi SS commanders and guards at the Auschwitz death camp in German-occupied Poland have been put online by the country’s Institute of National Remembrance (INR). It has been hailed as the most comprehensive list to date.

These children were photographed by a Red Army soldier on the day the camp was liberated

These children were photographed by a Red Army soldier on the day the camp was liberated

About 9,000 names – nearly all German – are on the Auschwitz garrison list, some with photographs attached.

How to Digitize Old Photos with Your Android or iPhone Smartphone with PhotoScan

I wrote briefly more than two months ago at https://goo.gl/VxqVlx about the free PhotoScan app from Google. It uses your present cell phone to convert print photographs into high-quality digital images. I wrote:

PhotoScan is a new smartphone app used to “take a picture of your pictures.” That is, it will snap photos of all those old pictures you have stored in photo albums or in Fotomat envelopes. It will then create enhanced digital scans, with automatic edge detection, perspective correction, and smart rotation. Even better, it also automatically recognizes the four corners of the frame and displays circular overlays on each corner of the scanned image. You then point your phone camera at each circle, create a robust scan of the image, and PhotoScan gets to work from there.

I have used PhotoScan a number of times since I wrote the brief article. Now the How-To Geek web site has published a very detailed tutorial and has included lots of pictures showing how to get the most from PhotoScan.

School Time Capsule Buried 25 Years Ago is Missing

This a bit of a follow-up to my Plus Edition article, (+) Save Something for Future Generations: Create a Time Capsule, published a bit more than a week ago at http://eogn.com/wp/?p=42480:

Students and faculty at the Lieser School in Vancouver, Washington, buried a time capsule in 1992. It reportedly contained bits of memorabilia from that year. Instructions were left to open the time capsule in 25 years: 2017.

lieser-school-time-capsule

The time capsule was opened last week on January 27. Inside, Leiser School students and alumni found … nothing.

(+) 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.

Today is Thomas Crapper Day!

thomas-crapperThomas Crapper was a plumber in the late 19th century who founded Thomas Crapper & Co. Ltd. in London. He is widely (but erroneously) credited with invention of the flush toilet.

Thomas Crapper’s date of birth is unknown but a record exists of his baptism in Thorne, Yorkshire, on September 28, 1836. He died January 27, 1910 so that date every year is dedicated to his memory because of all he did for England and the rest of the world.

Actually, Crapper did not invent the flushing toilet. It was invented by John Harington in 1596 but it never achieved much success commercially. Most people had never seen a flush toilet until after the 1880s. Crapper improved the design and used his skills as a shrewd businessman and salesperson to make it extremely popular. His company, Thomas Crapper & Co, owned the world’s first bath, toilet and sink showroom, in King’s Road, London, England.

Over 3 million Victoria Petty Sessions Records Available To Search This Findmypast Friday

The following announcement was written by Findmypast:

findmypast_logoOver 4.5 million new records and newspaper articles are available to search this Findmypast Friday Including;

Victoria Petty Sessions Registers

Over 3 million Victoria Petty Sessions records have just been releases in association with Public Records Office Victoria to coincide with Australia Day 2017. This fascinating collection includes both transcripts and scanned colour images of original court registers that will allow you to discover whether any of your Australian ancestors had a brush with the law.

Covering both civil and minor criminal cases, the Court of Petty Sessions’ brief was wide, making these records a powerful resource for those with Australian ancestors. Your ancestors may appear as a witness, defendant, complainant or even as a Justice of the Peace. Cases ranged from merchants who had not paid duty on their goods, to workers suing for unpaid wages. Debts were collected and disputes settled. Public drunkenness was a common offence, as was assault and general rowdiness.

ArkivDigital to Add Millions of Aerial Photographs from all over Sweden

ArkivDigital has acquired several million aerial photos from Svenska Aero-Bilder AB. These will now be digitized and added to ArkivDigital’s online archive. These images will complement the church books, estate inventories, military documents, court books and other archival records that currently exist in ArkivDigital.

“Our goal is to continually add new material and create new services for our customers to help them in their research. These images will complement other records in our archives such as the images of the church records. Through this acquisition, we will have millions of aerial photographs of farms, cottages, villas, petrol stations and much more from the 1950’s to the present day from all over Sweden,” said the company’s CEO, Mikael Karlsson.

You can learn more at https://goo.gl/C7EgYG.