Saturday, July 30, 2016

Brick Wall Busters


Christa Cowen of recently did a blog post on busting brick walls She outlines the steps (see insert above) and also provides a video explaining how to do this in an organized manner.

Hope you will take a moment to check it out.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Evernote Update

For those Evernote users among us who are upset by the recent pricing changes - specifically that the "free" version limits you to only two devices - a recent post on the Evernote blog has the following update:

Many people have asked whether Evernote Web, accessed from a desktop browser, counts as a “device” for Evernote Basic. It does not. You can access Evernote via the web browser from as many computers as you like, even on a Basic account. For more information about how devices are counted, please refer to our Devices FAQ.
This means that you can access your Evernote account from as many computers or devices as you wish so long as you are doing it through a web browser and not from a downloaded app.  So, if you have Evernote downloaded to your desktop and your phone you can then access it from your laptop by simply going to your browser (Chrome, FireFox, Explorer, or Safari to name a few) and type in in the address bar.  Voila!  You are taken to Evernote where you can sign in using your username and password and you have full access to the web version.

If you want to maintain free access to Evernote (and why spend the $$$ if you don't have to), I would suggest that you download the app to the two devices where you use Evernote the most (for me that would be my Windows laptop and Android phone) and then access it via the web everywhere else (for me that would be from my Chromebook).  Easy peasy and no extra expense.

Check the Devices FAQ if you have any other questions.


PERSI - Periodical Source Citation Index

Don't know what PERSI is?  According to A recent post in the Genealogy Gems blog:

PERSI is THE master index for periodicals with over 2.5 million entries. Thousands of magazines, newsletters, journals, and other periodicals from the U.S., Canada, Britain, Ireland, and Australia are indexed here. 
PERSI is maintained by the Allen County Public Library’s Genealogy Center in Fort Wayne, Indiana. They have the equivalent of 6 full-time staff who are dedicated to subject-indexing every issue of every known genealogy or historical periodical and even the tiniest society newsletter.
PERSI is currently available at the FindMyPast website - but the good news is that you don't need a subscription to search the database.  Yeah - I know - something for free.

Lisa Louise Cooke's blogpost explains PERSI and how to use it.  Hope you will take a moment to check it out!

Why Your Genealogy Searches Don't Work

Diane Haddad of Family Tree Magazine recently posted a great piece entitled Why Your And Other Genealogy Searches Don't Work.  It is a very thorough explanation of why you sometimes just can't find something that should probably be fairly easy to dig up.  She also lists causes for those failed searches and some possible solutions.

I think all of us can benefit from her wisdom.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Password Protected Thumb Drives

Following up on a conversation we had at our last meeting about the security of information you store and carry around with you on thumb drives, I recently found an affordable option at Best Buy.

This little guy comes in 32 and 64 GB options ($9.99 and $14.99 respectively).  According to the description on the Best Buy website:

"Store and transport your files securely with this SanDisk Ultra 32GB flash drive, which features password protection and file encryption with the included SecureAccess software. The drive is backward compatible with USB 2.0 for flexibility."

"Backward compatible" means it will work on a 2.0 or 3.0 USB drive - which means most of you should not have a problem with using this on your desktops or laptops.

I have not purchased one of these and cannot speak to how well the security option works - but if any of you are looking for a thumb drive that you can encrypt - this may be a good option.  If any of you decide to give it a try, I hope you will share your experience with the rest of us.

Remember - it is never a good idea to store sensitive personal or financial information on a thumb drive. If you find it necessary to do that, check out options for password protecting an individual file you are storing on a thumb drive. That may be your easiest and least expensive option.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Searchy App

Family historians are hungry for information.  We look for it in,, Wikitree, and a number of other genealogy websites.  But I bet you didn't know that a LOT of great information can be found by simply "Googling".

I recently came across a statistic that states we use approximately 30% of the computer power we purchase. That means that we are grossly underutilizing our desktops, laptops, tablets, and smartphones. The main reason for this is that we just don't know about some of the things our technology can do for us, and we could spend a substantial amount of our time and energy trying to stay on top of all the new technology, apps, websites, and blogs that bring that information to the public's attention.  

I recently discovered a new resource called Searchy.  This is a cool site that features tons and tons of tips that help you make the most of Google.  It is organized by groups depending on what it is you are looking for and does a great job of helping you hone in on the information you are seeking.

Take a look.  It may be something you can use, and maybe not.  But you won't know if you don't at least spend a few minutes checking it out. Might as well make the best use of the most-used research tool out there!


Become a Road Scholar

For any of you who are not familiar with the Road Scholar program - I highly recommend you visit their website and check it out.  For many years they have been organizing wonderful trips, to new and interesting places, at reasonable prices.  It's a chance to learn something new, meet new people and expand your horizons.

Just for fun, I searched for trips related to genealogy, and got four possibilities:
There are also many, many other trips that may tickle your fancy, domestic and abroad.  Many thanks to Ellie for sharing the current North America catalog with us and inspiring this blogpost.  

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Anti-Virus Software

Those of you who are Windows users have been encouraged for years to install anti-virus software on your devices. Now that more and more Windows programs are crossing the line into the Apple universe, Apple devices are becoming more vulnerable as well and programs are being developed and advertised all the time for Macs. The cost of this software has been increasing and it can get pretty pricey to "protect" your computer.

Virtually all of the "bad" stuff that gets into your device is stuff you let in yourself - usually through an email or email attachment - or in your haste to download a legitimate program you accidently give it permission to load something else that causes you a problem. You have to read EVERYTHING carefully before installing anything. Viruses don't appear all by themselves. But as consumers, we have been programmed to believe that installing anti-virus software on your device will protect you.

No so. After having one of our devices infected twice under the watchful eye of expensive Norton anti-virus protection, I canceled the subscription. Since then I have not used anti-virus software on any of my family's Windows computers for years, and we have not had a single infection. I don't open any email from an unrecognized sender. I regularly run a clean-up program and a malware program (both of them free) as well as making sure Windows Defender (Windows built-in security program) is running in the background at all times. I didn't make this decision lightly. I did a lot of research on the subject and asked a lot of questions of people who know a lot more about this than I do.  I chose free malware and cleaning programs that came highly recommended by folks who use them regularly. 

CBC News-Technology and Science recently posted an article on their blog entitled, Antivirus software is 'increasingly useless' and may make your computer less safe. It pretty much debunks the myth of anti-virus programs.

How you choose to protect your device is a personal decision - and I highly recommend you employ some system for keeping your computer(s) safe and running smoothly - but if you are spending up to $100 a year for an anti-virus program, you should read this article. 

Friday, July 8, 2016

Family Search Research Wiki

When it comes to genealogy websites, there is always more to them than meets the eye. That is very true of Keeping in mind that this research tool is available to anyone, for free, it's hard to believe just how much research power is available. It's always a good idea to explore a site such as this, perhaps take a look at any tutorials they offer and make sure you are getting the most out of it.

In her blog, Empty Branches On The Family Tree, Linda Stufflebean recently posted about Research Wiki on For those of you who are not familiar with this research option on the LDS website, I recommend you read Linda's blogpost and spend a few minutes exploring this valuable tool.

I often talk about "drilling down" when we explore research options during our meetings. There are many, many tools hiding behind tabs and lurking under links that go undiscovered because we don't take the time to explore.

Some of the best material is found when you are looking for something else! Hope you will give Linda's blog a "read" and take wander over to and take a look.

Low-Cost Computer Options

Most of us have a computer.  Hard to imagine getting by without one these days.  Each of us has our own preferences - laptop, desktop, Windows, Apple, etc.  Personally, I am a Windows laptop fan and just two years ago purchased a new Dell, with all the bells and whistles, for $700 - and that wasn't my most expensive option. But it had all the power and storage I needed - so it worked for me.  But it's big (17 inches) and a bit on the heavy side.  I was hauling it around all the time and getting tired of it - so last year I purchased a Chromebook to take to the library and on vacation and everywhere else I use it. I seldom leave the house without it these days.  It's nice to have something small, compact, light and easy to use. Also, it doesn't require any maintenance, isn't prone to malware or viruses, and is fast and efficient. No - it isn't too good to be true. Chromebooks need access to the internet to function and you cannot download programs (such as Family Tree Maker or Photoshop) to a Chromebook. But I have a laptop for those things. Like everything else, you have to buy what you need to fit how you work and what you are going to use it for.

For those of you who may be looking for a small, less expensive 2nd computer or a replacement for your current laptop or desktop, and don't want to spend the $$$$ for a MacBook (they are on the expensive side), Dick Eastman posted an article yesterday about a Widows laptop for $149.00.  You almost can't buy a smartphone for that price these days.  He gives it a pretty good review and on the face, this laptop appears to be a pretty good option in terms of its portability and function.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

More Ways To Use Google Drive

google drive logo

Lisa Louise Cooke has a wonderful website called "Genealogy Gems".  She recently posted an article entitled, Google Drive: A Challenger to Dropbox and Evernote.  For those of you who are already Google users, or are looking for an alternative to Evernote (now that they have changed the rules and raised their prices), you might want to take a look at this article. Google Drive is free, as far as I have been able to determine, there is no limit on how much you can save to it, is backed up regularly, and is accessible on any device with access to the internet.  Lisa also has also just published a 2nd Edition of her book, The Genealogist's Google Toolbox that is available through her website or at

I also found a PC World article entitled 3 Tips and Tools for Saving Web Content to Google Drive that you might want to take a look at.

There are many, many tools out there to make your job easier and even more fun!

Monday, July 4, 2016

Genealogy Videos

The National Genealogical Society has a great blog entitled Upfront with NGS. They recently posted a piece on genealogy videos that you might find interesting.

There are a LOT of videos out there that can help you with your genealogy research.  The field is exploding with new information every day and the internet is chock-full of wonderful resources.

Thanks, Ellie, for sharing this post with us - hope you will all check it out.

Have a wonderful and safe Fourth of July!