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Wednesday, June 18, 2014
Best Facebook Comments Re: Ancestry.com DDoS Attack
Posted by Diane
In case you haven't heard, Ancestry.com was down part of Monday and
most of yesterday, and intermittently today, due to what the company says was a DDoS (Distributed
Denial of Service) attack. Find A Grave and RootsWeb also were
In such an attack, multiple perpetrators use "bots" to bombard a
website with traffic, so that the site can't respond to legitimate
traffic. Both Evernote
and Feedly were targets of DDoS attacks last week; their
attackers demanded payment to stop the attacks.
On its Facebook page and in a statement,
Ancestry.com said the attack has been neutralized, but users may still experience intermittent outages or slowness while the site recovers.
They should clear their cookies and cache before logging back
on. Family Tree Maker users should switch the program's sync
setting to manual until service is fully restored.
No Ancestry.com members' family tree or personal data were compromised in the attack.
The site outage drew Facebook comments ranging from supportive to accusations of site mismanagement and demands
for refunds or subscription extensions. There were lots of capital letters
and exclamation marks.
Someone even suggested the real
reason the site went down is all the dads taking advantage of the
Father's Day subscription special. (Way to spoil it for the rest of us, dads!)
But I'll focus on the clever Facebook comments I saw. These appeared in response to Ancestry.com Facebook page
ancestry deleted their cookies and emptied their cache?
Old Search is exacting its revenge.
2.5 of my captivity.. my captors torment me with comments
about "intermittent" outages. Withdrawal symptoms are
setting in ... eyes blurry from staring at screen, mouse
hand shakey ... I have even tried gardening ... sorting my
books alphabetically ... even cleaning shower recess ...
family is getting concerned
MyFamily, MyCanvas, Genealogy.com, Mundia and the Y-DNA
and mtDNA tests, and the internet gods retire you!
can't get on the site. What am I supposed to do, actually
get some sleep or something?
am I supposed to discover which vastly wealthy relative
I'm related to now?
And this is the winner, which West
in New England blogger Bill West posted on his own Facebook
And lo, the servers of Ancestry were beset
by the Plague of DDOS, and then were the genealogists locked out
from the Realms of Ancestry. Neither could they work on their
family trees, nor add photos nor memorials to Find A Grave. Then
great were the lamentations of the genealogists, and many were
beset with frustration, weeping and gnashing their teeth in the
outer darkness as they waited for the servers of Ancestry to
once more open unto them.
Meanwhile, others turned to worshiping the false idol,
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Ancestry.com | Social Networking
Wednesday, June 18, 2014 2:15:15 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Reading Ancestors' Old Records: Problems to Watch Out For
Posted by Diane
When I look back at the letters my grandma wrote to me when I was in
college, I'm in awe of her beautiful handwriting. Most of us
would agree that handwriting isn't what it used to be. Thanks to
computers and email, we're all out of practice.
But that doesn't mean all the old, handwritten records you've discovered
through your genealogy research are a piece of cake to read. Old
writing styles, unfamiliar characters and abbreviations, fading ink, and
individual writers' idiosyncrasies can make the documents extremely
difficult to understand.
In our Tricks
for Reading Old Handwriting webinar, taking place Thursday,
June 26 at 7p.m. ET, professional genealogist D. Joshua Taylor will
show you strategies for understanding those hard-to-read old
records—including these letters and other characters to watch out
- u, n, w and m; a, o
and u; v and r: These letters that can
look alike in lower-case form.
- as, os, us: These letter combinations
often appear similar in lowercase form.
- i, t: Undotted is and uncrossed ts can
resemble each other, or an e or an l. Also watch
for misplaced crosses and dots (in the name below, Miller, the dot is over the e, making it look like an i).
- I and J; M and N; S,
L and T; T and F; U and V:
These capital letter groupings may look alike.
- ē: A double-letter formation may be abbreviated as a
single letter below a horizontal line.
- do or ": These abbreviations for “ditto,”
common in records formatted in rows (such as a census) mean
“same as above.”
- Ƒ or ƒ: The s, especially in a
double-s formation, may have a long flourish. This “long s” is
easily confused with a p or an f. (This word is "blessing.")
- : This character, called a thorn, occurs in very
old texts and looks like
a y. It represents
th, so the example here (from the 1620 Mayflower Compact), with an e over
the thorn, means "the."
Got old, handwritten records you're having a hard time reading?
Check out our Tricks
for Reading Old Handwriting webinar in ShopFamilyTree.com.
- 3, 6, 8: These numerals may look
alike. If the record has page numbers, copy pages one through 10
to use as reference samples.
Research Tips | Webinars
Wednesday, June 18, 2014 11:46:42 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Tuesday, June 17, 2014
British Genealogy Company Findmypast Buys Origins.net
Posted by Diane
British family history company Findmypast.co.uk,
part of DC Thomson Family History, announced today that it has
bought Origins.net, another genealogy site focused on British and
Origins.net, according to the announcement
from Findmypast.co.uk, is the first company to set up a
pay-as-you-go model for accessing online genealogy records. Its
records include marriage indexes, poor law records and the National
Origins.net will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Findmypast and
its founder Ian Galbraith will continue to work for the site on
collection development. The site will continue to run as usual,
though its records also will become part of Findmypast's offerings.
"This rich collection will help descendants of early North American
settlers to bridge the gap to the old country, as well as anyone
with UK ancestry looking to delve beyond 19th and 20th century
records,” says Findmypast partnership director Elaine Collins.
Genealogy Industry | UK and Irish roots
Tuesday, June 17, 2014 11:32:42 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Friday, June 13, 2014
Genealogy News Corral: June 9-13
Posted by Diane
Are you planning on attending the joint RootsTech/Federation of
Genealogical Societies conference, February 11-14, 2015, in
Salt Lake City? Four Salt Lake City hotels are now taking
reservations with reduced rates to conference attendees. I have a
feeling hotels will be sold out, so book early. FamilySearch's
announcement about conference hotels is here.
- The Council for the Advancement of Forensic Genealogy (CAFG) will
hold its fourth annual Forensic Genealogy Institute (FGI) March
26-28, 2015, in Dallas. Intensive courses are designed for those
interested in researching genealogical cases with legal implications
(for example, to establish inheritance in court). You'll find details
about the courses on the CAFG blog, and you can learn
more about FGI here. Registration will open this summer.
FamilySearch | Genealogy Events | Land records
Friday, June 13, 2014 12:48:15 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Thursday, June 12, 2014
"Retirement" Tips for Ancestry Y-DNA & mtDNA, MyCanvas and MyFamily.com Customers
Posted by Diane
By now you've probably heard Ancestry.com's
announcement about the retirement of Mundia, Genealogy.com,
Y-DNA and mtDNA testing, MyCanvas and MyFamily.com.
I haven't seen many expressions of sadness about Mundia.com (whose
trees are duplicated in Ancestry Member Trees) and Genealogy.com
(whose forums, family sites and popular articles will remain online in
read-only format). But users of the Y-DNA and mtDNA tests, MyCanvas
and MyFamily.com have a lot to say.
If you're a member of one of these services, here are some tips and
blog posts I've found to save your information and move it to
AncestryDNA Y-DNA and mtDNA
- You should receive an email with instructions for downloading
your raw Y-DNA or mtDNA data as a CSV file (which you an
open in Excel).
- Then you could upload to another photo service, though you may
need to convert the files to JPG format first—this website
has four ways to convert PDFs to JPG (click the "Four
Methods" links at the top, not on the big green arrow). Of
course, because the pages are images, you won't have the ability
to edit them as you make new research discoveries.
- If you want to save written text so you can update it and
publish a photo book elsewhere, you can go into the edit mode
for your project, copy what's inside each text box, and paste it
into a Word document.
Thursday, June 12, 2014 10:54:30 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Tuesday, June 10, 2014
How to Use Your Tablet to Make Genealogy Research Trips Easier
Posted by Diane
I have to admit, I don't use my Android tablet much except to surf the
internet or read in bed (when I really should be getting to sleep).
As a minimal tablet user, I wanted to try out the video classes
planned for our Maximize
Your iPad (or Tablet) for Genealogy one-week workshop, taking
place online June 23-30.
I watched "Using Your Tablet on a Research Trip" by workshop
instructor and self-professed tablet-aholic Kerry Scott.
When she said that she no longer brings her laptop computer on research trips, I was hooked. Boy would I love to stop lugging
that thing around at conferences, trying to use it half open on a
plane when the guy in front of me reclines his seat, and getting possessive about the single electrical outlet within walking distance of wherever I am.
Kerry uses her tablet when planning a trip, while traveling, and while
researching at the library or archive. Here are a few ways she does
- She puts all her travel documents, confirmations and notes in
Evernote and shares them with her husband.
- Downloads reading material and music, as well as PDF versions
of research guides for the place she's going
- Makes a lookup list of records in Excel (which she likes for
its sortability) and saves it to the cloud (Dropbox, in Kerry’s
case; I’d keep mine in Google Drive). These are her newspaper
- Downloads a flight-tracking app such as FlightTrack, plus the
airline’s travel app (which usually lets travelers quickly
rebook when flights are canceled or delayed)
- Downloads traffic apps for states along the driving route, a
restaurant-finding app, and news apps for big cities on the
itinerary (you know, in case the place shuts down due
to a grasshopper plague)
- Uses Evernote's camera feature to capture record images (such
as from microfilm) along with source information for easily
pairing the record with its citation. Her video has a demo of
how this works.
- Uses a family tree app for quick lookups while at a repository
- Downloads apps for libraries she's visiting (if available) for
- Downloads a note-taking app, which would be a biggie for me.
Kerry uses a stylus to "write" notes on the tablet, like so:
The tips will work for both iPads and Android tablets—Kerry mentioned apps for both, and the course has videos for both. Now I can't wait to check out the rest of the video courses and
chat about apps on the workshop message board.
Click here to see
the course lineup and other features for our Maximize
Your iPad (or Tablet) for Genealogy one-week workshop.
Family Tree University | Genealogy Apps | Webinars
Tuesday, June 10, 2014 3:28:10 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Friday, June 06, 2014
Genealogy News Corral, June 2-6
Posted by Diane
- British technology company brightsolid (part of DC Thomson,
which owns findmypast.com)
has a new game called Family House you can play on your iPhone,
iPad or Facebook.
Players build and restore a "family house," moving in more
family members as they explore their family history. Players
even can represent these virtual family members with avatars
dressed in period clothing. Download the app from the iTunes
store or play
it on Facebook.
- The subscription-based digital
archive of The Stars and Stripes, a newspaper
published for the American community in Europe, has been updated
with WWII-era editions from London (1942-1945) and Northern
Ireland (1943-1945). The archive launched in 2008 with papers
from 1948 to 1999. Subscriptions range from $4.95 for a one-day
pass to $47.40 for one year.
- Registration has opened for the Foundation for East European
Family History Studies' 2014 conference, taking place Aug. 12-15
in Salt Lake City. The opening reception features Eastern
European hors d'oeuvres—yum!—and classes cover German, Russian,
Austrian, Polish, Czech, Jewish and other Eastern European
ancestry. See a
program and register at the conference website.
- FamilySearch.org's record additions this week come from
Chile, China, Denmark, Poland, Portugal, Sweden, and the United
States (Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana and
Texas). You can
see the list of new and updated databases. and click to search
or browse each one, here.
FamilySearch | Genealogy Apps | Genealogy Events | Military records | Newspapers
Friday, June 06, 2014 12:57:20 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Thursday, June 05, 2014
Ancestry.com to Retire Five Genealogy Services
Posted by Diane
today announced that it will "retire" five of its services as of
Sept. 5, 2014:
Ancestry.com's executive vice president of product, Eric Shoup, said
yesterday in a conference call with genealogy media that ending
these services will allow Ancestry.com to focus on its core products
- MyFamily.com, the family
- MyCanvas, the photo
book publishing service
- Genealogy.com (though the
site will remain online with some content)
- Mundia.com, the worldwide
family tree site
- Y-DNA and mitochondrial DNA testing
Subscribers and active users of each service will receive an email with details
on any refunds (if applicable) and how to retrieve their content, and each site will
have retirement landing pages and FAQs for customers. Here's an
overview of what will happen:
customers can export their group data using an Export Now button
that appears on the site when you're logged in. Prorated refunds
will be automatically issued to owners of active sites.
customers can complete projects through Sept. 4. After then,
printing orders won't be accepted and saved projects will be
deleted. Kinda makes me sad, because I created my wedding photo book here. You should be able to print a project for free at home
by going to My Projects, clicking Preview for a project, then
clicking the Print button (if you have trouble, try selecting pages to print a
couple at a time).
subscriptions and member accounts will end, but the site will
remain online (it would be silly to give up a domain name like
Genealogy.com) with the message boards and Family Tree Maker
home pages in read-only format, as well as the most popular
- Mundia family trees
also are on Ancestry.com, where you can search them for free
(you must subscribe in order to contact tree owners, which is
the case with all of Ancestry.com's member trees). Mundia
tree owners can download their family trees in their native
language before Sept. 5.
- Y-DNA and mtDNA tests are no longer being sold on
Ancestry.com (but the company will continue to sell its AncestryDNA autosomal tests,
and autosomal DNA customers aren't affected). Customers who've
taken Y-DNA or mitochondrial DNA tests can download their raw
data by visiting the
AncestryDNA website. Y-DNA and mtDNA customers' samples
will be destroyed (it might become possible to upgrade samples
to autosomal testing, such as for someone who is now
Click here to read Ancestry.com's
blog post on the discontinuation of these services.
Thursday, June 05, 2014 12:06:09 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Using Search Wildcards on Genealogy Websites
Posted by Diane
Searching for ancestors online is about more than just typing a name
into a database or search engine, as you probably learned after the first few dozen
times your search for a problem ancestor came up empty.
For example, my third-great-grandmother Elizabeth (Teipel) Thoss
mysteriously vanishes sometime between her youngest child's birth in
1894 and the 1900 census, when her husband is a widow. She's not
where she should be in death records, and searches on genealogy sites net few results. When I search
collections indexed with optical character recognition software, I
get hundreds of hits on the word "those."
There are a bunch of variants for Elizabeth's maiden and married
names, too. Wildcards, which you'll learn about in our upcoming Secrets
of Successful Web Searches webinar, can be helpful when you
can't find an ancestor because the name in the record (whether the
original or a searchable index) isn't spelled as you expect.
Usually, a * wildcard stands in for zero or more characters in a
name, and a ? stands for one character, but genealogy websites
handle them differently:
You even can use
* as a
wildcard with some search engines: Put it at the end of a truncated word to find related words (such as Thos* to find
Thoss, Thossen or Those). But on Google, *
stands in for a whole word.
In addition to wildcard searching, our Secrets of Successful Web Searches webinar will show you
The Secrets of Successful Web Searches webinar is next Thursday, June 12,
at 7 pm Eastern (6 p.m. Central, 5 p.m. Mountain, 4 p.m. Pacific).
You can learn more about it in ShopFamilyTree.com.
- Search secrets that work across popular genealogy websites, as
well as with Google
- How to use FamilySearch.org and Google to unlock family
history information on Ancestry.com
- How browsing can help you find ancestors that searches
- How to get results by searching without a name
Ancestry.com | FamilySearch | MyHeritage | Research Tips | Webinars
Thursday, June 05, 2014 10:43:38 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Wednesday, June 04, 2014
"Who Do You Think You Are?" Premiere Announced + More Genealogy TV News
Posted by Diane
Cable television network TLC has announced the premiere date and the stars of the 2014 season
Do You Think You Are?" (US version).
The new season will start Wednesday, July 23, at 9/8 central on TLC.
(If you don't have cable or can't watch that evening, the episodes
usually become available on
the show's website after they air.)
Six new episodes will air, featuring the family histories of:
In addition, TLC has acquired 10 of the episodes that aired on NBC
during previous seasons. Those feature
Matthew Broderick, Lisa Kudrow, Rob Lowe, Reba McEntire, Tim McGraw,
Gwyneth Paltrow, Sarah Jessica Parker, Brooke Shields, Vanessa
Williams and Rita Wilson.
- Valerie Bertinelli, an actor whose work includes the 70s/80s
series "One Day at a Time" and the current "Hot in Cleveland"
- Jesse Tyler Ferguson, an actor on "Modern Family"
- Lauren Graham, actor on "Gilmore Girls" (one of my
most-favorite-ever TV shows)
- Kelsey Grammer, actor on "Cheers" and "Frasier"
- Cynthia Nixon, actor on the "Sex and the City" TV series and movies
- Rachel McAdams, Canadian actor in movies such as "The
Notebook" and "About Time," and her sister, celebrity makeup
artist Kayleen McAdams
You can read
about the new "Who Do You Think You Are?" season on The Wrap.
In other genealogy television news:
- "Finding Your
Roots With Henry Louis Gates Jr.," will premiere on PBS Sept.
23. Guests will include actor Sally Field, Food Network chef
Aarón Sánchez, actor Ben Affleck,
singer Carole King,actor and comedian Tina Fey, political
commentator Alan Dershowitz,
White House senior advisor Valerie Jarrett
"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Genealogy TV
Wednesday, June 04, 2014 2:20:39 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)