Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The AncestryDNA Shoe has dropped

Just in case you haven’t checked your AncestryDNA results lately, just 13 days after my class ended, yep they have made the big change I told you they would be making.

I have written several pieces on this blog (http://family-genealogy.blogspot.com/) regarding this and those of you in my DNA class got a full briefing on the last night.

So how did it impact my all the DNA test I manage?

 Using their new testing levels, kicking out the IBS and leaving the IBD (see you should have taken my class and you would know what that is), I have the seen the following reductions:

My AncestryDNA test
Before 182 pages of matches (9100 matches)  
After      30 pages of matches (1950 matches)   
78.6% of matches deleted

My father AncestryDNA test
Before 173 pages of matches (8650 matches)
After      57 pages of matches (2850 matches)
67.1% of matches deleted

My mother AncestryDNA test
Before 210 pages of matches (10500 matches)
After       37 pages of matches (2850 matches)
82.4% of matches deleted

My spouse AncestryDNA test
Before 320 pages of matches (16450 matches)
After      83 pages of matches  (4150 matches)
74.8% of matches deleted

My cousin paternal AncestryDNA test
Before 299 pages of matches (14950 matches)
After       74 pages of matches (3700 matches)
75.3% of matches deleted

My spouse’s cousin paternal AncestryDNA test
Before 329 pages of matches (16450 matches)
After       83 pages of matches (4150 matches)
74.8% of matches deleted

So now I get to scrap 2 1/2 years worth of careful work, research and study and start from scratch again.

That gnashing of teeth you hear are mine. I will have more to say on this here my blog as soon as the gnashing stops.

 

Friday, November 7, 2014

Finding Genetic Cousins – Separating Fact from Fiction

Blog Editor's Note: We discussed this at length last night in my last genetic genealogy class of the semester. Here is a detailed discussion of what Ancestry told some bloggers recently about the pending changes courtesy of The Genetic Genealogy blog.

Short Summary: Before the end of the year, AncestryDNA plans to update our match lists using a new algorithm that reduces the number of false positive matches. For the first time, matching DNA segments will be characterized as IBS (i.e., a false positive) based on something other than simply segment length.

Click on the link below for Blaine Bettinger's account of the meeting.
http://www.thegeneticgenealogist.com/2014/10/15/finding-genetic-cousins-separating-fact-fiction/

I'm still highly skeptical of this whole change over. There are a number of comments made in this post on the Ancestry blog that gives me pause. I just wish they would get on with it so the partial load errors, slow loads and other issues will finally go away.

Get this over with Ancestry, my patience is wearing very thin and my time to renew with you is right around the corner.

The Chief





I'm doing the "told you so" dance tonight

Here we go. Ancestry is starting their run of changes that I predicted in class that they would be making after our classes were over.

As I said last night in our last class of the semester and in previous post,

"ANCESTRY PLEASE STOP MAKING CHANGES AND GIVE US A CHANCE TO CATCH UP."

I tired of spending all my research time keeping up with your changes. Nuff is enough.

So here is the latest from the Ancestry.com Blog.

"Over the next few weeks, Ancestry will be rolling out an updated search form. Some of you may already have seen it and used it. Let’s take a look at what’s new.
First, you might notice that the search form doesn’t have a link for “Advanced Search.” Instead, there is a link to “Show more options.”



Just click “Show more options” to add more items to your search.


For a long time, we’ve suggested changing the “exactness” of some of your search terms to get better results. That ability hasn’t gone away. Simply start typing in a name and you’ll see a link appear where you can change how exact or broad you’d like it to be. The setting that appears will be the last one you used. If you want to change it, simply click and choose a different setting.


Another change is at the bottom of the search form in the Collection section. In the previous version of the search form, you could set a priority for collections from a specific country; results from that country would come to the top, but you might also see records from other countries unless you also checked “show only from these collections.

With the updated search form, when you set the country you will get records only from that country.


Use the drop-down menu under “Collection Focus” to select a country whose collections you’d like to get results from. You can set a country or leave it as “All Collections.”
 
 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Announcing the Spring 2015 TCCC Genealogy Classes!

OK here is the line up for genealogy classes I will be teaching this Spring at Tri-County Community College. If you know of "anyone" who is interested in genealogy and wants to take my Beginner/Intermediate Class, we will offer for the first time in a long time as day class on the Main Campus in Peachtree.

Here is the list of scheduled classes that will start in the second week of January.

NEW Genealogy – A Crash Course in Family History: This unique and innovative genealogy course blends traditional genealogy research with resources that can be found on the Internet to let you discover your family tree and stories. In this class you will learn about free websites, free genealogy tutorials and lessons, free online eNewsletters, free genealogy charts and forms, networking with others and millions of online genealogy records. Bring your ancestors to life and discover your ancestral village by accessing these millions of free records, and sharing your heritage and family stories with others. This new TCCC genealogy course will teach you how to plant your family tree online, using it to make new discoveries, and connect with family. The beginner/intermediate course is a prerequisite to take this advanced genealogy courses offered at TCCC. 32.5 hrs. (Class will not meet March 5.)
Instructor: Van Horn Min: 10
January 15 – April 16 TH
6:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. $75

Genealogy – Introduction to Family History: This course introduces the student to the basics of genealogy by exploring the heart of family history research - basic records and sources used in the pursuit of ancestor hunting. Some of the records and sources that the student will be taught include home and compiled records, vital records, census, church records, court, military, land and property, probate, and tax records. The course will also touch on the latest technology including Internet record resources and DNA testing. If you want to learn how to do genealogy research the right way or need a refresher on the latest techniques and sources then this course is for you. This beginner/intermediate course is a prerequisite for advanced genealogy courses offered at TCCC.32.5 hrs.
Instructor: Van Horn Min: 10
January 13 – April 7 T
9:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. $75

NEW Genealogy – Managing a Genealogy Project:  How to organize your family history filesAre you faced with "piles" of genealogy paper records, correspondence, charts, and genealogy forms in your family history work-space or electronic files scattered all over the computer hard drive? Most successful genealogist will usually end up with an embarrassment of riches - too much information in too many places. Whether you work on paper, electronically scan your genealogy records/files or do everything online, getting organized is essential to keeping track of ancestors and the records you have found about them. This course will rescue you from unhelpful habits and get your workspace—virtual or physical—tidy again. 7.5 hrs.
Instructor: Van Horn Min: 10
January 13 – January 27 T
6:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. $19

NEW Genealogy – Using Evernote for Genealogy Research:  Evernote is a genealogy researcher's best friend and one of the best tools you can use to capture almost anything. This means not just items found online, but also images, documents and more. This course will help you use Evernote to organize your genealogy material and notes, help you keep track of books you want to research, and a whole lot more. Evernote and your stored genealogy material is always at the ready whether you're using it on your computer, a tablet or on a smartphone, Evernote can be your 24/7 virtual genealogy assistant and the best part is the app is free. 5 hrs.
Instructor: Van Horn Min: 10
February 3 – February 10 T
6:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. $15

NEW Genealogy – Digital Imaging for Genealogists and Technologists:  This course will cover the ever expanding world of scanning, organizing, editing, and sharing your digital images. It will cover how to Handle and organize your family photos, learn about various photo software packages to spruce up your pictures and organize your digital files. It will even cover using you digital camera or smartphone and related type devices to copy records. 10 hrs.
Instructor: Van Horn Min: 10
February 17 – March 10 T
6:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. $25

NEW Genealogy – Family Tree Brick Walls and Problem Solving:  Complications in genealogy research arising from incomplete or missing records, census irregularities, individuals of the same name, and burned courthouses can stop even the most experienced genealogist dead in their tracks. At some point, every family historian encounters these types of barriers in their genealogy research. In genealogy, these barriers are known as brick walls and they can often appear impossible to work around. When you have exhausted all the obvious possibilities, sometimes you need to consider the less obvious. This class is all about the less obvious. Advance students only - must have completed TCCC Beginner/Intermediate Genealogy Course. 10 hrs.
Instructor: Van Horn Min: 10
March 17 – April 7 T
6:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. $25

For more information or to get your name on the interest list contact Lisa Long at (828 837-6810.

Ancestry Result Page Changes

OK Happy Campers. Remember what we discussed in DNA class last week? Well they aren't even waiting for class to end to start the changes. Here we go with a new look to their search results pages.

First her is the way the old search result page looks.

Click to enlarge image

And now the same results in the new look pages.

Click to enlarge image

Here is the explanation page from Ancestry.com

Click to enlarge image

As you can see down page the next shoe is almost ready to drop on the DNA stuff. So as Grace did on the old program "Will and Grace" I'm doing the "told you so dance" right now.

Oh by the way I was invited to fill out another Ancestry survey this morning. 15 minutes later I hit the send button. Gave them an ear full for sure. Even invited them to read some of my Ancestry.com rants on this blog. Right!

CU all in class.

Ancestry Annouces "Improved DNA Matching"

Well there is a bit of good news in this Ancestry blog post. Here it is without comment.

Posted by on November 3, 2014 in Ancestry.com Site, AncestryDNAdna connect
Over the past year or so, we’ve been in the AncestryDNA lab working to create new and improved ways to find distant family members with DNA. In the process, we’ve rewritten the book on AncestryDNA matching and made some significant breakthroughs we’re looking forward to sharing soon.

These advancements will make AncestryDNA matching far more accurate, and each new match will be more likely to lead to a new discovery. Best of all, we’re going to roll this out to all AncestryDNA members for free, and you don’t have to take a new test to get the benefits.

So how are we doing it?

AncestryDNA has quickly grown to over half a million people in its database. Pairing this data with well-documented family trees and the expertise of Ancestry has allowed the AncestryDNA science team to develop groundbreaking new algorithms for finding and predicting relationships through DNA. These new algorithms will lead to better matches for anyone who tests with AncestryDNA.

Of course, we can’t make your list of matches more accurate without removing the less accurate ones. So, your DNA match list may get a little smaller—in some cases, quite a bit smaller. For example, some of the more distant cousin matches will no longer be considered a DNA match and will drop off your list. You can learn more about the science behind these improvements in this blog post from AncestryDNA General Manager Ken Chahine. The post refers to DNA matching challenges found in specific populations, but these same kind of improvements can be made across all AncestryDNA tests.

What do you need to do in the meantime? Not a thing. We’re providing this update for free to all AncestryDNA members, and we’ll send out an email when your new DNA matching results are ready. Also, when our improved matching launches, we’ll be providing a way for you to download your pre-upgrade list of matches in case you have saved notes about a DNA match and want to preserve them for the future.
Be confident that your matches are in good hands with our team of experts. DNA testing is a huge, real-time science project we’re watching unfold, and we get to be a part of it. As the database grows you will get new matches, and now better matches, and even more opportunities to discover something new about you.
 


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About Anna Swayne

Anna Swayne has 8 years of experience in the DNA genealogy world. At Ancestry, she leads efforts in developing education to help our community maximize their experience with AncestryDNA. She believes there is real power behind DNA and the story it can unlock for each of us.When she is not talking DNA you can find her hiking or cycling in the mountains or cooking at home.

- See more at: http://blogs.ancestry.com/ancestry/2014/11/03/coming-soon-improved-dna-matching/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+ancestry+%28Ancestry.com+blog%29#sthash.HaGgQY3W.dpuf

Friday, October 31, 2014

Hey Ancestry and FamilySearch listen up! Here is another message just for you two!

OK, this is a blog editor warning message. What follows is a major rant and editorial on my part. If you don't like such things, move on. Nothing here for you to see.

Sometimes these two giants absolutely test my patience beyond belief.

Now don't get me wrong here, I'm not an old stuffed shirt who just likes to bitch and complain about change and technology and new things. I consider myself pretty darn tech savvy (heck I teach this stuff to local genealogists at the local college). But just darn. Will you guys just please quite changing your sites and quit adding pretty much useless functionality or at least slow things down a bit.

I just spent 10 minutes digging around the records section at FamilySearch looking for some specific records sets I wanted to search in. It wasn't that way the last time I checked. What I got on default after the map and digging thru a couple of levels was an all-in-one search template.

I absolutely "HATE" all-in-one search templates and to make that the default, well this is just another strike to the people who are suppose the smart ones genealogy community. Please FamilySearch just show me record sets that are available for searching and let me picked my search needs.  This is the second strike against you guys in Salt lake.

The first strike against you is your absolutely insane family tree system which I have documented on this site before.

And Ancestry you aren't off the hook either. When are you going to change the default view on your trees from Family to Pedigree. I have canvassed everyone I know that works with your trees and have yet to find anyone who likes the family view as the default.

And now Ancestry is telling us that they now have figured out the magic bullet in regard to IBS vs IBD DNA matches, and they will be applying their new research to all our DNA matches in mass at some unspecified time between now and the end of the year.

How in the hell did you know I wanted you to do that? And your going to magically make thousands of DNA matches disappear from my match pages because your genetic scientist on this stuff have found that IBS vs IBD DNA magic bullet?

Oh Lord, I hope this works out better than their first stab at ethnic estimates which had this old square headed German fellow (me) as 22% Scandinavian.

I have a good idea Ancestry. How about adding another filter that let's me kick in or out your IBS vs IBD research and switching between it and my original matches you have given me. That way I can make some basic decisions myself instead you of doing my thinking for me.

And then there was this little new graphic which popped up during my DNA genealogy class last night at the college.


Uh, Ancestry what the heck is this thing? You pop stuff up in "our" DNA accounts on each matches page with no explanation whatsoever what it is or what it is for.

As far as I can see it doesn't do anything, it isn't tied to a link, it is just there next to the relationship info on each match's page doing what? So let me get this straight. You have been spending your time and money putting a cute DNA graphic icon on my matches pages?

Here is where it is placed on the match page in case you haven't checked your match pages lately.



That sound you hear was some more of what little hair I have left being torn from the top of my head and hitting the floor.

And then there is this change. While showing the class last nights what finds you may come across by closely examining a "No Family Tree" DNA match page I get this big mess below (click on graphic to zoom in closer).




Hello Ancestry! Are you people kidding? I don't need a lesson on how to link my DNA test results to a tree, the match does. Send it to the match. I don't need to see all this "stuff" on every match that doesn't have a tree linked I open up. Honestly, I don't have the time to write each of these folks and send them a tutorial about why they need to link their tree to their DNA results.

Uh, I have an idea. How about you doing that Ancestry.

None of this makes any sense and instead of all this window dressing when are you going to give us some real tools to work with? My patience with you folks is really starting to wear a bit thin at this point and I have been a paying subscriber for nearly 14 years now.

So here is the bet I'll make with you dear reader. For the last 14 years every time I have taught a class on Ancestry these folks make major changes anywhere from a day or two up to a couple of weeks after the class is over.

I taught two advanced classes this Fall semester on Ancestry (living dangerously I guess). Since my Ancestry DNA class ends next Thursday night I know what is coming. And with this mess I showed you all above popping up now, I'll bet you a steak dinner that right after class is over they will make major changes to the functionality of the Ancestry match DNA pages. Happens every time. Me and my students have come to expect it.

Sometimes change is not a good thing Ancestry and FamilySearch. Maybe you should canvass some real honest to goodness genealogists who are actually out here in the real world trying to do genealogy using your websites. Maybe then you would get some honest and good feedback instead of bright ideas from programmers trying to keep their jobs by making constant changes.

Change can be good if it is useful, increases functionality and streamlines research time. But if I have to dig around to find stuff, learn new things about using your site every couple of months, buy a new book to learn about your new changes, and continually make changes to "my" tree because your computer is changing my stuff to something else which is usually wrong, what is the point.

You and your changes have left me with no time left to do, uh shall we say, "Genealogy Research!"

Monday, October 20, 2014

New Find A Grave Upload and Transcribe Beta Available

From the Ancestry.com Blog

We just launched a new Upload and Transcribe beta at Find A Grave. With this new feature, you can upload a whole trips worth of cemetery headstone photos and transcribe them in either new memorials, or attach the photos easily to existing memorials.

Upload Multiple Photos At Once

Add a group of headstone photos to Find A Grave using a new upload tool available on the cemetery page. Preview, rotate, and delete images from the photos you upload.

Quick Tip: Make sure “Location Services” is turned on in your smartphone camera when you take pictures, and when you upload photos through the beta, they’ll appear correctly on the photo map after uploaded! This works for both Android and iOS phones.

Easily Transcribe Uploaded Photos

You can turn your uploaded photos in to new memorials, or quickly attach them to preexisting memorials, using our new transcription tool. Find your photos to transcribe on your Contributor Tools page or on the cemetery page.

Get Help, Help Others

Photos that have been uploaded through this new feature, but haven’t yet been transcribed, will be opened to the community after 7 days. The photographer will still manage any new memorials created, and special attribution will be given to the transcriber. You can find community photos to transcribe at your friends profile page, any cemetery page, or on our home page.

Provide Feedback

We are constantly trying to improve Find A Grave, so please consider giving us your feedback. You can reach out to us through our online feedback form, and don’t forget to follow us on our Facebook page.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Update: AncestryDNA What is Coming Next? Not! It's a Google Chrome Add-On.

Thanks to Adriana Gerard on Ancestry's Facebook page, the mystery of Crista's extra Ancestry DNA tools has been solved. Turns out it wasn't from Ancestry but the extra tools actually part of a Google Chrome Add-On for AncestryDNA that you can see and download at https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/ancestrydna-helper/hjflmfphflaeehhpdiggobllgffelfee?hl=en-US. Oh, did I mention that the Add-On is "Free?"

Thanks Adriana for the heads up.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

After I posted last night to this blog about the updated matching coming to AncestryDNA I remembered a video I viewed back on June 19, 2014, presented by Crista Cowan, The Barefoot Genealogist. She does the learning videos for Ancestry online.

In this particular video, "AncestryDNA: The Search for Biological Family" Crista in the first part of the video was teaching us how to link your online Ancestry tree to your DNA results if you hadn't already.

What grabbed my attention at the time, but I put on the shelve was what her DNA page screens looked like compared to mine. They are definitely different and I wonder if this is what is coming to the rest of us common folk in the near future.

For instance, here is my current screen (click on any of the images below to enlarge):




And now here is that same screen in Crista's DNA account.



OK Ancestry and Crista, what is "Scan," "Download Matches" and "Download Ancestors of Matches" functions?  I don't have these features on my DNA match pages. How about an explanation for the rest of us and when do we get to see these neat tools?

Then there is even a more mystic and cryptic second screen. Here is Crista's page with her matches:


And here is what my screen looks like:


What is missing on mine that she has is that little brownish looking icon on the right.



What that appears to be is two people connected together type of icon? Is this the long promised new collaboration tool that will be better than the chromosome browser mentioned at the last RootsTech?

So what do we really have here and when will the rest of us see this on our DNA match pages?

I think I will post a link of this post here on the blog to the Ancestry Facebook page. Maybe I will get an answer, or be totally ignored which is usually the case with me an Ancestry. ;-)

I will post more when I hear something. Good genealogy hunting today to all.

Friday, August 1, 2014

AncestryDNA to Improve Cousin Matching

While this may or may not be the DNA research tools mentioned at the RootsTech conference earlier this year, Ancestry has just made a major announcement regarding an upgrade to how the system displays match results of their autosomal DNA test to the end users (that is us).

All AncestryDNA customers to some extent, but especially Jewish and Hispanic customers, have been getting false cousin matches (nice of them to let us know about this now).

If you were of Jewish or Hispanic ancestry, most AncestryDNA autosomal testers received matches which seemingly would indicate they're cousins with everyone else of the same ethnicity.  Ancestry.com's DNA team explains in an August 1, 2014,  announcement why these false matches can happen.

All humans are genetically 99 percent identical, so there are two reasons that two people might have identical DNA. As I explained last Spring in our TCCC DNA class, your DNA chromosome matches can be the result of either an IDB or IDS chromosome match.

     IDB: The autosomal DNA is "Identical By Descent," meaning the two people it belongs to are related

     IDS: The autosomal DNA is "Identical By State," meaning that the two people it belongs to are simply of the same ethnicity or are at a minimum both human (duh!).

It can be difficult to ferret out the DNA segments that are IDB from those that are IDS, but according to this announcement by the AncestryDNA team they have developed a new way to analyze results that can tell the difference.

According to this informational release, in the coming months, "all customers will see increased accuracy of their DNA matches, and significantly fewer 'false' matches." Existing customers will receive an email when their new matches which are more accurate are ready for review.

You can read more about this coming feature on the Ancestry.com blog at
AncestryDNA to Improve Cousin Matching

I hope to have more information on this very soon, and will probably be discussing this in more detail in my Ancestry.com class starting on August 21 on the TCCC Main campus in Peachtree, North Carolina. If you are interested signing up for for that class, seats are filling fast, so contact the director of community enrichment class, Lisa Long at (828) 835-4241 to reserve your seat.

Fall TCCC Genealogy Classes on the Horizon


Well we are less than a month away from starting our fall genealogy classes at Tri-County Community College. Boy is this summer flying by fast.

So in case you didn't get a catalog from TCCC, here is the class list and descriptions of the three classes I will be teaching this fall. I strongly encourage you to get a hold of Lisa Long (828) 835-4241 and sign up as soon as possible so we can be assured that these classes will make.

If you are aware of anyone that is getting started or new to genealogy be sure to point out our beginner/intermediate class. If you haven't been in the classroom in some time, this class may also be for you. It is a good opportunity to get some good refresher genealogy training and learn some new techniques/record sources that we teach in that class.

Genealogy – Introduction to Family History

This course introduces the student to the basics of genealogy by exploring the heart of family history research - basic records and sources used in the pursuit of ancestor hunting. Some of the records and sources that the student will be taught include home and compiled records, vital records, census, church records, court, military, land and property, probate, and tax records. The course will also touch on the latest technology including Internet record resources and DNA testing. If you want to learn how to do genealogy research the right way or need a refresher on the latest techniques and sources then this course is for you. This course is a prerequisite for advanced genealogy courses offered at TCCC. 30 hrs.

August 19 – November 4 Tuesday Evening 6:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. Cost $65

Genealogy – Introduction to Ancestry.com
This course will cover in-depth one of the world’s most popular genealogy websites – Ancestry.com. With more than six billion historical records, in excess of 20 million family trees available, and over 400,000 people that have DNA tested, Ancestry.com is the world’s largest genealogical database and research website. Have you explored what Ancestry.com has to offer? Or are you needing guidance in navigating the website? If you want to get more out of your Ancestry.com experience, then this course is for you. Topics that will be explored include the website layout, family trees: construction and use in research, the “new” Ancestry search engine, the AncestryDNA autosomal test and the site’s DNA research tools, and how to make effective use of their community collaboration tools. A paid subscription to the site is not necessary, but a good basic knowledge of genealogy research principles is a must. 17.5 hrs.

August 21 – October 2 Thursday Evening 6:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. Cost $39

Genealogy: DNA – Using Genetic Genealogy in Family History Research
Science can help you with your genealogy research, but you will have to take a test first. This course will cover the new and expanding field of genetic genealogy basics and is designed for DNA Newbies. Some of the topics to be covered include an introduction to DNA testing and technical terms, the different types of DNA tests available and their applications, how DNA testing will help your genealogy research, and what are your ethnic origins and how to interpret your results. Special emphasis will be given to autosomal DNA testing. If you want to demystify genetic genealogy and use this new and exciting research tool in your family history study, then this course is for you. 12.5 hrs.

October 9 – November 6 Thursday Evening 6:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. Cost $29

As always I look forward to seeing each of you in class, sharing your genealogy adventures and helping you to Find Your Family Roots.

More Ancestry Tree Insanity

There are times I wish I could scope up all the genealogist of the world and make it mandatory that they go to my classes before they ever post or click on an Ancestry tree. While working some DNA results this afternoon and cleaning out some links, I found this little bit of genealogical insanity below.

 
 
That is a pretty good trick for Daniel Jennings b. 1816 to have a daughter Elizabeth Jennings born in 1676. Come on folks, this isn't a clicking contest here. We are suppose to be doing genealogy research not having a contest to see who can "run up the most number of people in my family tree." 
 
Bad part about above, more than a dozen "researchers" (sic) clicked and picked up the same data in their trees. Nuff said, I'm off my gen soapbox (for now).

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Update: Ancestry DNA - Are they adding some new tools this weekend?

Update: Well as it turns out the tech I talked to at Ancestry didn't understand what I was asking him and was not correct about the lack of DNA surname search capability. It was, in fact, some major issues (it was broke). As of this afternoon it appears to be working again so the new Ancestry DNA tool watch continues. Hopefully they will get on this soon as I will be teaching this stuff starting next month at the college.

Original Post (7/19): There maybe some changes in the wind at AncestryDNA. The surname search module has been disabled from use (confirmed by phone call to their tech support) all day today. When I asked the tech, who spoke in broken English if they were bringing online the new tools promised at Rootstech earlier this year, the reply was yes (hope he understood what I was asking him). If these are in fact the changes I have been expecting, we may see some major changes tomorrow or more than likely Monday. This is the usual scenario I see at AncestryDNA when they are doing a major upgrade to the DNA tools so we maybe on the verge of getting some pretty unique genealogical genetic tools to help us all in our research. Fingers are crossed and some toes also.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

DNA testing eyed for graves exhumed from historic Waco cemetery

By J.B. SMITH jbsmith@wacotrib.com Waco Tribune-Herald
                                   
The committee tasked with planning the reburial of some 300 human remains unearthed from the old First Street Cemetery are hoping to enlist DNA technology in a quest to identify them.
The First Street Cemetery Memorial Advisory Committee has asked Baylor University forensic anthropologist Lori Baker to extract bone samples from each set of remains before the reburial, which is expected in 2015.

The city of Waco discovered the unmarked graves during a construction project behind the Texas Rangers Museum in 2007 and determined they were part of the city’s historic First Street Cemetery, established in 1852.

But so far, none of the remains has been identified.

So the committee this spring turned to Baker, who is known nationally for her work in mitochondrial DNA testing on subjects ranging from prehistoric Americans to migrants who perished in the Southwest desert.

Baker volunteered to collect bone samples that ultimately could be analyzed to establish kinship with living descendants or with other family members in the cemetery.

Do you have someone buried in the Waco, Texas, old First Street Cemetery. Read more at http://www.wacotrib.com/news/city_of_waco/dna-testing-eyed-for-graves-exhumed-from-historic-waco-cemetery/article_7de0ccb2-b2fc-5212-8adc-5c337e9feef2.html.

 

FamilySearch Trees - Don't waste your time

While I give the nice folks at FamilySearch an A for effort in attempting to put together a one world family tree, their latest attempt at trees gets an F for failure to execute a viable system.

In my humble opinion this latest nuance (previous attempts by the LDS church were known as ancestral file, pedigree resource, etc) is probably the worse yet, this time not only is the computer system at Familysearch making changes to your trees that are flat wrong, much like the insanity of the old Ancestral File, but now you have even in some cases unknown individuals inserting wrong information , names, places and dates into your tree, after you have inputted your correct, source data. Then you are suppose to have discussions with these folks about who is wrong or right.

The flag I just threw and whistle I just blew means time out and a penalty. Hey FamilySearch I do not have the time, energy, or inclination to keep changing my stuff back to right, have a discussion with people who pull stuff they call genealogy from God knows where, and spending an enormous amount of time constantly correcting my files only to have your computer or someone think they are smarter and changing it to something else again. Then the cycle repeats itself in an endless loop.

This is suppose to aid in my research, not hinder it. I haven't spent one single minute of my time at FamilySearch and their new trees learning anything new about my family. Instead I have spent my time correcting bad info from everyone except me. But hey don't take my word for this. Let's take a look at only a tip of the iceberg illustrated in the screen capture I made this morning from my, uh their, uh the FS community tree. Let's just see how many of you catch the problems I captured in one instance in the image below from "my" FS tree (click on image to enlarge).

 

 
The second image below really show you dramatically what I'm talking about. I put the info in about John H. Mallory and his two parents. The rest came from so called cousins and the FS computer system who think they are smarter than me. I do not have the time to address the dozens of issues in this lineage and corrections needed to make it correct (and then have the whole things wiped out in a week or two) by their computer or others.
 
 
Wonder how many reader can spot all the problems in this chart and nothing past the second generation was created by me.  The "computer and other cousins" created it all and it is now attached to my tree!!!
 
The worse of the abuses above was Lucinda Paynes b. 1718 whose mother was identified as Lucinda Pynes, born in . . . 1718. Really??? As my son would say when he was a little guy, "Are you Kidding." Sad really, really sad.
 
The bottom line in all this as far as my personal research is concerned, I will no longer participate in this madness. If I could take my data out at this point, I would so I can wash my hands of the whole thing. I didn't get much of a response from FamilySearch when I attempted to address the issue. They wanted me to me to watch a brief video telling me how this is all done. I guess they figured I was uninformed how this was all suppose to work.
 
So if you take any of my classes are doing so in order for me to explain how to do FamilySearch trees, don't bother. I will not be covering anything in regards to FamilySearch's trees. I will also be sending a link of this in feedback to FamilySearch. You folks can reach me via email at familyhistorian  at  frontier  dot com. I will also be happy to discuss this on the phone with them, but please do not patronize me by telling me I need to watch a video so I can better understand how to do your trees.
 
Bottom line, this whole thing is extremely labor intensive to input, update and maintain; very frustrating to use; and definitely not an aid to genealogy research. Oh yea, you won't be seeing any of my pictures of other electronic research records either.
 
PS - (That means post script for all you common core students). I attempted to provide feedback with a link to this post to FamilySearch and guess what, it didn't work (the send button did not work). I got a message saying I need to update my Internet Explorer to then latest version (I'm using version IE 11) or switch to another browser such a Chrome. I did switch to Chrome and the send button and you guessed it the send button still didn't work. Does anything at FamilySearch work at all????
 
 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Ancestry Issues Continue

Those of you who have followed this blog for any length of time know that I have a love hate relationship with Ancestry.com. In the nearly 14 years I have been a member it seems like things run along well then ... boom ... all hell breaks loose. While I am well aware of the DDOS issues that recently hit Ancestry, this isn't part of that problem. This has been a long term issue that I have repeatedly addressed and have heard nothing, nada, not even a peep. So I filed another feedback this afternoon and promised them I would also be posting it here so let's see if I hear back (bet you a dozen Georgia lottery tickets I won't).

From my feedback to Ancestry -

I have seen this before your DDOS issues so I am confident that your recent DDOS attack has nothing to do with this feedback. It has never been fully explained how initiating a surname and location search from the DNA match page is suppose to work and I have asked this question before with no one at Ancestry being able or willing to answer. But if I use both the surname and location searches to narrow things down (e.g. Smith, Virginia USA), here lately after doing such a search and looking at a match or two, I consistently get the message "Trees unavailable" message when I go back to the match page with both surname and location still selected. This is very very frustrating and its does it regardless of the browser I use (IE11 compatibility on/off, Firefox or Chrome). If I clear the search parameters and return to the matches pages the trees come back and display as normal. Initiate another search such as surname only and it also works fine. Initiate surname and location and after viewing a match or two the error message mentioned above comes back. So can someone at Ancestry please address this. Exactly how is the surname/location search function on the DNA matches page work and is it in fact broken? Is the surname/location search function together an AND/OR function or are they in fact separate? I will be posting this to my general genealogy blog so I really expect someone to provide and answer about what is really going on here."

We shall see what we shall see. I will let my readers know if I here anything.



Friday, June 6, 2014

Ancestry.com to Retire Five "Old" Genealogy Services


Ancestry.com announced yesterday that it will "retire" five of its services as of 5 Sep 2014. Ancestry.com's executive vice president of products, Eric Shoup, said that ending these services will allow Ancestry.com to focus on its core products and mission.

"We’re always looking to focus our efforts in a way that provide the most impact, while also delivering the best service and best product experience to users," said Shoup. "To that end, we’ve decided to retire some of our services."

The services that will be retired include:
Subscribers and active users of each service will receive an email with details on any refunds (if applicable) and how to retrieve their content. The links I have included above for each site will send you to the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) pages for that service and each site will also have a retirement landing page.

I want to emphasize that the AncestryDNA (autosomal) test is not affected by the retirement of the company Legacy Y-DNA and mtDNA testing. AncestryDNA autosomal testing will continue to be available as Ancestry continues to invest in this new technology. Only the y-DNA and mtDNA tests will be retired.

If you did do a Y-DNA/mtDNA test with Ancestry, after September 5, 2014, you will no longer be able to view your Y-DNA and mtDNA results on the website, but you can download your raw DNA data prior to that time by visiting www.DNA.ancestry.com and logging in to begin the download process of that raw data. Your raw DNA data will be exported into a .csv file format, and that can be uploaded to other Y-chromosome and mtDNA testing services, and online databases.

As far as the Genealogy.com and its older GenForum messages databases, these will remain in the read-only mode. Shoup noted, "We're pleased to announce that GenForum message boards, Family Tree Maker homepages, and the most popular articles will continue to be available in a read-only format on the Genealogy.com site." This means you will be allowed to view the older messages and articles, but they cannot be changed or edited.

The following areas at Genealogy.com will be retired: All member log-in functionality will be retired, and the following pages will no longer be accessible after September 5, 2014 -- MyAccount, MyGenealogy, My Home Pages, HeritageQuest (ProQuest) content; Virtual Cemetery; Outdated and less popular help articles; and Shop.

If you had any data or content that you created on the sites closing above, you will have the ability to print or export My Trees and manually print or save additional content you've uploaded until September 5, 2014. To preserve the information you've added, you will have to log in to your account to export, print, or save your information.


Tuesday, June 3, 2014

From the what were they thinking department!

Death is never a funny matter but some tombstones can be. From the what were they thinking department, I present to you . . .

Another Ancestry Tree Faux Pau

As one of my favorite western actors Chill Wills said in the movie McLintock -- People, People, People!!!


Ah come on folks. Please use a bit of sense. You can't be the parents of a child if you weren't yet born. Case in point is this sad Ancestry tree below (and all the ones who have picked up this same stuff on a click through).

I have purposely left off the name of the tree involving the Debnam, Townley and Gyrmes families so as to not totally embarrass the person who owns it. Sad part is there are a "big bunch" of people who have this same lineage in their Ancestry trees.



So to my genealogy students who follow the blog, and anyone one else who is just tagging along for the ride, what is wrong with the lineage above?

Here is another one that is even worse to illustrate my point.


This one is even sadder. Look closely at the third generation for the couple who had a child at age 9 for both parents.

If you can't see the graphic click on it and it will blow it up. Sorta like I just did on these rotten lineages above.

"Drago break out that hog leg and get me some attention."

Monday, June 2, 2014

What can you use to clean gravestones?

It is a very common query I get from my genealogy students out at Tri-County Community College, "How do you clean tombstones." My answer has always been carefully and gently.

Well I have heard of the product that Dick Eastman mentioned in his newsletter over the weekend, but haven't used it yet, but I will.

Without further ado, I will let Dick explain this in his own words from his column at (http://blog.eogn.com/2014/06/01/use-d2-biological-solution-to-clean-gravestones/)

"Genealogists and anyone else interested in preserving cemetery tombstones and other objects exposed to the weather should become familiar with D/2 Biological Solution. It is useful for cleaning tombstones without causing any damage to the stone.

"The solution is safe for use and does not harm the tombstone. Even the highly-respected Association for Gravestone Studies recommends the product in the organization’s FAQs (Frequently-Asked Questions) at https://www.gravestonestudies.org/knowledge-center/faq-s#faqnoanchor:

“Treat a wet gravestone with D/2 Biological Solution, scrub into a lather using a plastic bristle brush, and smooth the lather into the inscription to make the letters more readable. Afterward, rinse the stone thoroughly.”

"Further details may be obtained from A Graveyard Preservation Primer, 1st Edition, by Lynette Strangstad and published by the Association for Gravestone Studies at http://goo.gl/xM4Qx4.

"D/2 Biological Solution is even used to clean the outside of the White House and also recently won a Veterans Administration contract to supply cleaner for over 3.5 million headstones and another contract to clean Civil War monuments at the Chickamauga battlefield. (Details may be found at http://d2bio.com/news.)

"D/2 Biological Solution is a biodegradable, easy-to-use liquid that removes stains due to mold, algae, mildew, lichens and air pollutants. It is effective not only on tombstones, but also on marble, granite, limestone, brownstone, travertine, masonry, terra cotta, concrete, stucco, wood, and other architectural surfaces, including monuments and sculptures.

"D/2 Biological Solution is easy to use. Apply it to the surface to be cleaned, preferably by using a soft-bristle brush. Wait 10 to 15 minutes, and then scrub the surface to be cleaned, again by using a soft nylon or natural bristle brush to loosen most biological and air pollutant staining. Never use a stiff brush or anything abrasive on a tombstone or other stone surface! Be sure to bring a watering can or other water source along so that you can rinse the solution off the cleaned surface when you’re done.


D/2 Biological Solution:
  • is biodegradable
  • will not harm plants, stone, animals or people
  • contains no acids, salts, or chlorine
  • is pH neutral
  • will not etch metals or glass
  • is not a hazardous material and requires no special handling or protection
  • is used full strength with no in-field mixing required
  • contains no carcinogenic compounds as defined by NTP, IARC, or OSHA
  • is considered essentially non-toxic by swallowing
  • requires no special ventilation during use
  • has a shelf life of 5 years
"D/2 Biological Solution is available in 1-gallon and 5-gallon containers and 55-gallon drums.

"All in all, I’d suggest this is a good product used to clean many surfaces, including tombstones. You can learn more about D/2 Biological Solution at http://d2bio.com. It can be ordered from a number of distributors with a list available at http://d2bio.com/buy-d2. I also found it available in 1-gallon containers from Amazon at http://goo.gl/LfebAH."

Thanks Dick for sharing that with the rest of us. I have a tombstone in New Orleans that could use this stuff (see below).




Sunday, June 1, 2014

An AncestryDNA Research Tip Revisited

So you have taken the AncestryDNA autosomal DNA test (over 400,000 of us have), and you now have one of the most useful genealogy tools ever invented since the microfilm reader.

But, and you know there is always a but to these things, sometimes you get the dreaded . . .

Private tree graphic


And what is even worse is this . . .

Leaf match in a private tree graphic

Then things take a turn for the worse when you write the match via Ancestry and never get an answer from them about who the identity of the MRCA ancestors are.

Down page from here in this blog I wrote a detailed research tip on clicking on the profile of your match and see if they have some public trees listed in their profile.
 http://family-genealogy.blogspot.com/2014/05/ancestrydna-research-tip-leaf-and.html

Based on my research about 25% to 30% of the private trees on my DNA pages have public trees listed on their Ancestry.com profile page. More than likely this is just a issue of your match not knowing that they should link their DNA results to their public tree or they didn't have a tree when they took the test, but they do not or haven't remembered to attach that tree to their DNA results (or do not know how to do it).

When I get one of these profile tree results, I will send them and Ancestrymail message letting them know I am willing to help them link their tree to their DNA results. It has paid off.

But, another item that I should mention is that Ancestry has admitted that they have some occasional issues with their Ancestrymail system. I have no less than a dozen different times when my cousins indicated they did not get a notification from Ancestry that they had mail from me. In one case this was a leaf match in a private tree and after three months, a couple of emails and a feedback report to Ancestry my match finally got back to me.

While this whole AncestryDNA thing is not perfect, I much prefer working with my AncestryDNA results than my FTDNA Family Finder. That site is much more labor intensive and about the only thing I use it for is their advanced tools for matches such as the chromosome browser, etc.

Bottom line dear blog reader, if you get either of these two graphics below be sure to check that match's profile page. You may still get the info you seek for that DNA match.