Monday, October 24, 2011

Was Footnote Now Fold3

Anyone been on the new version of Footnote lately? I've been a member of since the beginning. I found a lot of military information there but was never happy with how long images took to load. Well .... Ancestry purchased Footnote earlier this year and recently re-launched as

When I spoke with Ancestry personnel at the National Genealogical Society Convention in Charleston, SC in May, they confirmed what I expected. will focus on military records and original historical documents relating to government and national history. I was not surprised but I wasn't excited, either. I should have been, at the very least, more curious but I thought it was going to be a ho-hum.
It's not.

The new has a much better image viewer. It's fast! No more cup of tea in between each mouse move. Search results are also faster. Another thing to remember - many of the records are free! Footnote was a joint project among many public archives and Footnote. Some of the original provisions required free views of the records since the records were archived with public monies, originally. You do need to register, though.

Brady's Civil war photos - free
Custer's court martial - free
Continental Congress papers - free
Civil War Maps (66% complete) - free
Lincoln assassination papers - free
Pennsylvania Archives - free
and more

The other thing that is great about Fold3, and was true about Footnote, is crowd sourcing. Members can annotate records, add information, and easily keep track of those records that they've contributed to.

So - if you haven't been to, it may just hold the information you've been looking for.

Happy Hunting!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Ok – so it’s not “tomorrow”

I taught on Tuesday and Wednesday and didn’t have time to write. I didn’t forget, though. This is the third Google thing I found this week. (Remember Google is a company not just a search tool.)

What I found was a “Love it” (with apologies to Stone Cold Creamery but fewer calories) tool in Google. So – open your browser and go to Then Click on “more” and go all the way to the bottom and click on “even more.”

See – a new page with a heart next to the search bar. Now – this is the cool part – type in “genealogy” and click the heart; a whole page gets populated with genealogy “stuff.” Try different terms like “family history” (don’t forget to put quotes around phrases when you search) or “ancestry.”

What Google does is populate specific gadgets with these terms and lead you to places you may have never thought to look on in the Internet. The gray grid on the left shows you where you are on the page of gadgets.
Just in case genealogy isn't the only thing/person you love, try some other search terms. I even put my husband's name in just for fun!

Happy Hunting!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Using Google Chrome

I know I said 3 times a week but a week needs to have about 14 days for that to happen right now. Thanks for sticking with me. It’s not that I don’t think about what to write and I even have a backlog of ideas – it’s just that time thing! Anyway – I just discovered something on Google. Well – three somethings on Google.

First, if you open your browser and go to there is a microphone in the search bar (only in Google Chrome Browser.) If you click the microphone, you can use the embedded microphone in your laptop/tablet/phone, etc. to speak a search term or phrase. No typing needed!

Second, from that same search bar, click images so that your search looks for images, exclusively. The search bar will have a camera on the bar, now. This lets you drag an image or upload an image from your computer to the search bar. This works in Chrome and Firefox but did not work in Internet Explorer 9.

What’s so cool about this? Well, I have some “place” pictures in my genealogy folders and was not sure where they were taken. I dragged one to the search bar and waited. Guess what – GOOGLE search found similar pictures! Awesome! Now I know what the entrance to Green-Wood cemetery in Brooklyn looks like.

While the Google images results window was open, I clicked on Map and the picture then showed me where it was located. Very cool stuff.

So, play around with different browsers and the Google search bar. You may be surprised that there are different functions depending on which browser you use.

Oh, the third thing – well that’s for tomorrow.

Happy Hunting!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Easier File Selection in Windows Explorer

There will come a time when you need to copy, move, or attach a bunch of files from your computer. Windows Explorer (the Windows file manager) lets you see your files but picking and choosing the files out of many in a list can require an arcane method of clicking on the first file and then while the CTRL (control) key is pressed down you must click on each successive file without clicking on the wrong file or letting go of the CTRL key. THERE IS AN EASIER WAY!
How to turn on check boxes in Windows Explorer to make file selecting SO MUCH EASIER!
These instructions work with Windows 7. I’ve not tested Windows Vista.
Open Windows Explorer from the taskbar (note – this is the file manager in Windows NOT Internet Explorer Browser)
Click on “Tools”
Click on “Folder Options”
Click on “View”
Then Click on “Use check boxes to select items” you may have to scroll down the list to find this box.
Then Click “OK”
Now when you open Windows explorer you can just click the check boxes to pick and choose files instead of using the “click” “control-click” key combinations that can be frustrating to get the hang of. See – so much easier for picking non-contiguous files from a folder for copying, moving, or attaching.
There is even a check box at the top of the filename column to let you select all the files in a folder if you are in “details” view. (ctrl-A still works, though) You may not see the check boxes until you move your mouse pointer over a filename, though. If you accidentally check a file by clicking on the filename, just click the filename a second time to toggle the check mark on or off.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Tidbits and Hints

Today’s blog is little tidbits of information that don’t fit into their own full blog topics. They are just hints. Some I’ve picked up along the way from other people. Some are from my own experience. I wish I could have learned some of these from others instead of having to learn them the hard way. I’m hoping to save you some of the pain that experience can bring with it.

First, as was a topic of one of my earlier posts, backup your data. I have a bit more to add to that, though. I have multiple external hard drives and flash drives. I take care of my family’s computers and they expect me to protect their data and magically know which drive has the latest version of their files. They are woefully misguided. Most automatic backup software creates proprietary files that people cannot read by just opening them. You’ll have to know what software was used to create the backup, first, in order to figure out what is in the archive. You’ll also need to still have the software installed in order to read the files.

I recommend creating a text document with Word, WordPad, NotePad, etc. and put this file on the backup device. Make note of what you backed up, when, and what program was last used – even if you just dragged and dropped the files. Don’t forget to include which computer the data came from! This will become more important to you if you get a new computer and need data from the old one. That’s what I’m dealing with, today. See – I didn’t create that little text file and now I’m not sure which drive has the data I’m looking for. Paper sticky notes on the drives can also help but that does not work on flash drives and they fall off too easily, anyway.

The second hint for today is to use a digital camera, phone camera, or navigation unit to record the longitude and latitude of headstones, family homes, and other geographic landmarks that are pertinent to your family history trips. If you took the time to find a grave marker, make it easier for the next generation or even yourself, to find it again by recording its co-ordinates. Roads move, landmarks can be destroyed or moved, buildings get built. If you take the time to record the longitude and latitude in your records, then there will be no question about where the family burial plot is. This information is particularly useful in the mid-west when farmers buried headstones to preserve them. The burial yard is still there but without knowing where it is no one can find it again.  

The third hint for today requires that you still have older living relatives. Don’t assume that you know where people came from. Ask if they remember hearing any accents around their homes or at holiday gatherings. These accents may lead you to other parts of the world or even regions in your own country. Also, ask what foods were served. I have relatives with Irish surnames but all of the holiday foods were Hungarian.

The fourth hint for today goes along with the third one. Are there any colloquial expressions or sayings in your family? In my family I always remember hearing “Outen the light” – that’s pure Pennsylvania Dutch. Now that I’m in the South  - it’s “Cut off the light.” These regionalized idiomatic expressions can lead you to where a family might have originated.

Thank you for your time and Happy Hunting!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Family Tree Maker 2012

The New Family Tree Maker  (FTM) 2012 arrived today and I still took time to cook dinner!

First impressions – on the surface the program looks much like the 2011 version but “under the hood” there are a bunch of enhancements and new tools. These have been covered in other media, blogs, articles, and reviews. What I want to take some time with are the "Options" under the "Tools" Menu.
These Options found under the Tools menu at the bottom do not seem to have changed from 2011 to 2012 but …I never bothered to look at them before!

Options Screen in FTM 2012
So, even if you have an older version of Family Tree Maker you may want to check out these settings. It’s possible that you can personalize the software to suit your needs better. The first thing I’m playing with is the color theme! The classic theme gives a black and white tone to the borders and menus. The Windows theme changes the greens to blues. It’s the little things!

The other setting I was quick to change was the Internet speed. This helps optimize uploads and downloads. My broadband connection speed is considered “Corporate” in Family Tree Maker.

You’ll note that the other setting changes on the above screen include using large fonts and using captions instead of filenames for media.

The one setting I’d not noticed before is the “Exclude Ancestry Family Trees from automatic search.” Now, as much as I like the online trees, I hate when a leaf is waving at me and when I click on it – it’s my cousin’s online tree – AGAIN. So, now I can turn the online tree hints off until I’ve exhausted the documented links.

There will be more to come as I work with this new version of Family Tree Maker. The important thing to remember – the features you may want may be there in an older version if you check the tools menu.

Happy Hunting!