Sunday, June 26, 2011

Why Do You Blog?

Susan Petersen of has been thinking, and asked the big question for bloggers:
Why Do You Blog?
And promptly threw it out as an Open Discussion topic.

Here's what she posted:
Why do you blog? Here are some possible reasons:

  • To document your research journey and discoveries?
  • To share information with other family members?
  • Hope that distant cousins will discover the blog and contact you?
  • To provide a forum for family members?
  • To promote your genealogy-related business?
  • To connect with other genealogists?
  • To plan and promote a family reunion?
  • To earn extra income through affiliate links?
  • To write scholarly articles about genealogy or history?
I'm sure the answers are different for every one of us. In the comments section below, please share the primary reason why you blog.

Okay, I'm going to add my two cents in here, even though I'm pretty sure I'm about as common and run-of-the-mill as most genealogy bloggers in my reasoning.  But I'll do it on my blog, as I'm pretty sure I'll be wordy enough that a comment on her post would be insufficient.

I've probably mentioned, I'm an IT guy by profession.  Comfortable with technology.  Embracing of the new media.  I've probably been blogging for years, right?  Wrong.  I started blogging in late 2010.  I'd considered writing a blog before, but was never sure I would have enough to say over a long enough period of time to make it worth starting a blog.  But something happened that strongly encouraged me to start a blog, a challenge of sorts.

At the time, I'd been unemployed for 18 months, and looking for another entry into the IT world.  I did networking the way they say you should now, LinkedIn and Twitter and FaceBook and so forth.  I'd been on Facebook for a couple of years already, but added Twitter so I would know how it worked (and why) if it was needed to support someone in a job.  I joined LinkedIn at the urging of my local Workforce Center case worker, though I could see the wisdom of the additional networking, and the online aspect just naturally appealed to the geek in me.  I was also attending seminars of various sorts, some for job search skills, some for IT skills, and happened on one for both.  This seminar was the challenge to start a blog to help networking in the job search. 

The specific challenge was to create a blog while still at the seminar, and to share your blog with the rest of the group, and to follow the blogs of all of the other participants.  Well, being a somewhat IT-related seminar, I started an IT themed blog.  I chose to use Blogger, both because it was easy to pick up, but also because it was the platform being demonstrated at the seminar.  That blog was The IT Guy.  Original, right?  But it got my feet wet, allowing me to get used to blogging by talking about something I knew, Information Technology.  Except I kept also throwing in photography.  Straying off-topic.  Hey, it's MY blog, I can do that if I wanna.

Around the new year, I got to thinking that a blog might make nice cousin bait.  And I had sufficient time to write.  And now I had an idea of what I was doing.  So I started this blog.  While cousin bait was the initial motivator, I had also been doing some work on researching and documenting my family history and that of my wife, and I considered that a blog might be a good way to preserve some of the more story-oriented family history, as opposed to strictly a data dump like a GEDCOM file.  And photographs, of course.  I have albums full of family photos from my paternal grandmother.  What better way to share them with my far-flung family than a blog?  And so on, and so forth.

Cousin bait, and a place to post family history, and a photo album of sorts.  But also, I wanted others in my family to have access and read and participate.  I sent out some notifications that I had started the blog, and I know a few people looked at it right off, but I'm pretty sure none of them are still reading.  At all.  So, who am I writing for?  I'm writing for me.  And potentially, for my descendants, and other descendants of my family that may one day pick up the genealogy bug, the family history bug.  By putting it on the Internet, I'm virtually guaranteeing it will be there for them when the time comes.  And for you, my readers, most of whom I am pretty sure are also genealogy bloggers.  I read yours, you read mine.  I get new ideas from you, and I hope you have learned a thing or two from me.  It's for you that I occasionally write about a technology issue that might be helpful, or something to be careful of.  Years down the road when my descendants might read this, the technology will have long since passed beyond what I discuss here.  But you can use it now.

So I started writing, and with the time on my hands, I managed to keep up with daily posts for almost three months straight.  Not bad for a novice blogger!  But then I got a part time job, and suddenly didn't have as much time.  And a second part time job, and even less time.  And then a third.  By now, I'm trying to keep up with a few posts a week, usually induced by prompts such as Randy Seaver's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun or the 52 Weeks series.  I'm resolved to keep up with the 52 Weeks at all costs just to prove to myself I can keep it going.  And I enjoy the SNGF challenges when I can do them.  And I do enjoy writing the odd post every now and again, when I have energy and time to do it, and all of the things that need to go into a post, like scanning photos or funeral cards, or transcribing obituaries, or whatever.

Life is changing yet again, as I am preparing to start a new full time job back in IT Support, doing what I do best.  Hopefully the stability will leave me with more energy and time to keep posting! 

This an all other articles on this blog are © copyright 2011 by Daniel G. Dillman

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - Songs

Randy Seaver over at Genea-Musings is at it again with this week's Saturday Night genealogy Fun.

Hey geneaphiles - it's Saturday Night, time for more Genealogy Fun!!!

Tonight, we're going to go down memory lane a bit.

1)  What was the #1 song on the day you were born?  Or on your birthday when you were 15?  Or when you married?  Or some other important date in your life.

2)  Go to and enter the date and select from UK, US or Australia record lists.  Note:  the first date available is 1 January 1946. 

Alternatively, go to and enter the month and date and see a list of songs for each year since 1940. 

3)  Tell us what your results are (If you are sensitive about your age, don't list the date or year... ) on a blog post of your own, a comment to this post, or in a Facebook status line or note. 

 This week's SNGF ties in with this week's 52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History, which also covers songs.  I wrote in my post for that topic:

The week I was born, the number 1 song in the United States was Wild Thing by The Troggs.  I like that, as I've always liked the simple, straightforward nature of the song.  Basic power chords. 

Okay, since the blog prompts have overlapped, I'll play further and add some more significant dates.  When I turned 15 years old, the number 1 song in the United States was Jesse's Girl by Rick Springfield, another song I still very much enjoy.  In the UK, the top song was Green Door, by Shakin' Stevens.  I have no idea who that is/was, or what the song sounded like!

I enlisted in the Navy on 18 Feb 1987.  Top US song: Livin On A Prayer by Bon Jovi.  A decent rock song, though not one of my favorites.  I can say that while I was in boot camp, I recall two songs in heavy rotation:  The Beastie Boys' rock anthem, (You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (to Party!) and the remake of Lean On Me by Club Noveau.  Both were so overplayed I hated them.  I actually liked the original version of Lean On Me by Bill Withers, and I've since come to appreciate the Beastie Boys' song as long as it doesn't come up too frequently.

I got married on 3 Jul 1987.  The US number 1 song on that date was I Wanna Dance With Somebody by Whitney Houston.  I've never been partial to that song.  It's far too pop/dance, and I prefer more classic rock for my daily listening.  I've never really cared what place on the charts any particular song had.  I've been one to listen to what I like, regardless.  That can be anything from classical music from Beethoven or Bach or Chopin or any of a number of other great composers, to medieval music to ragtime to 1930's and 40's big band music to early rock and roll all the way up to 80's new wave and rock.  I've never been partial to country or hip hop (rap), with a very few exceptions.

This an all other articles on this blog are © copyright 2011 by Daniel G. Dillman

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History - Songs

Week 26. Songs. What was the #1 song during the week of your birth? Enter your birth date at This Day in Music ( and find out. If you were born before 1946, you can enter the year of your marriage, the birth dates of your children or some other significant event.

The week I was born, the number 1 song in the United States was Wild Thing by The Troggs.  I like that, as I've always liked the simple, straightforward nature of the song.  Basic power chords. 

This an all other articles on this blog are © copyright 2011 by Daniel G. Dillman

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - Omar H. Williams Family

Omar Holt Williams (L), Emma Gertrude (McMurry) Williams (back), India L. Williams, Eva L. Williams and Mary Ann Williams. Missing: Robert L. Williams.  Circa 1944.

Wordless Wednesday – a great way to share your old family photos! Create a post with the main focus being a photograph or image. Some posters also include attribute information as to the source of the image (date, location, owner, etc.). Wordless Wednesday is one of the longest running “memes” in the blogosphere and is an ongoing series at GeneaBloggers.

This an all other articles on this blog are © copyright 2011 by Daniel G. Dillman

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day!

Happy Father's Day, dad!

This an all other articles on this blog are © copyright 2011 by Daniel G. Dillman

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History - Neighbors

Week 25. Neighbors. Who were your childhood neighbors? Have you kept in touch with any of them? Do you feel the concept of “neighbors” has changed since then?

Let me answer the last question first: My concept of "neighbors" has indeed changed since I was young.  Growing up, neighbors were any people you knew well and associated with regularly from your block and perhaps a couple of blocks around.  Now, neighbors are people in the houses one or two away from yours, whether you associate with them or not.  I tend to be a hermit when left to my own devices, so getting to know the people in the houses around me doesn't happen much.  My friendships are people I've known for many years, some of them exclusively online.

My next-door neighbors growing up were the Adams Family (not the Addams Family!).  Herb and Delores and their children, Jon, Cherilyn and Ron.  All were at least a few years older than me, and I only played much with Ron.  Later, Herb and Delores adopted two deaf Korean kids, Linea and Kevin, both younger than me by a few years.

Next to them was the Hanish family, I didn't associate with them as they had no kids when I was there.  Next was Blad's, I played with their son Mike some times.  Next to them was Mrs. Shotl.  I played some with her grandson Mark.  Next was Sturm's, Dick and Wilma and their kids Richard, Mike and Kandi.  Richard was much older, Mike was Ron Adams' age and Kandi was my age.  Dick Sturm died in an accident at work when Kandi and I were young.  Beyond them was the Zanith's, whose kids were gone by the time I was there, so I didn't know them.  De Rosier's moved in at some point at the next house, on the end of the block.  They were a large family with a range of kids from adult down to one my age and one younger.

On the other side of my house was a vacant lot.  It had the remains of a below-ground house, or the basement of a regular house, but was filled in with dirt.  There was a concrete block garage on the property.  We used to climb on the garage and jump off into the snowdrifts in the winter, which tells you how high snow drifted.  We played in the lot a bunch when I was young.  At some point, the lot sold, and Mr. Lahr and his wife built a nice house on it.  They lived there for many years, very good neighbors, but an older couple with no kids at home.  Their health failed and they sold the place long after I moved away from home, so I don't know details.  A family lives there now, running a daycare facility from the house.

Now, my next-door neighbor is a disabled Veteran named Rufus.  I know pretty much nothing else about him.  Rufus lives where Charlie and Janae used to live.  They were great neighbors, but moved away as Charlie is an airline pilot and had to follow the job where he was needed.  They moved several times and now live about 25 miles away.  We still see them several times a year.  Fritz and Carol live a couple more doors down, a nice older couple trying to sell their house and move.  I went to high school with one of their youngest kids.  Dave and Eileen live on the far end of the block, I used to work with Dave.  On the other side, kitty-corner, some very good friends of long standing bought a house and moved in.  Dawn and Gino were friends I met in college before the Navy, and are still very good friends.  We visit frequently, but they are the exception rather than the rule.  The information is much more sparse for the rest of my current neighbors than even my memories from 25 years ago and more growing up.  

We do have a neighborhood.  And once or twice a year we have a big gathering, everyone for several blocks around is invited to come and have potluck dinner and meet everyone, see who's moved out and moved in.  We have a big map of the area that we have each family write on their house, so we know who lives where.  Partly this is a bonding thing, and partly a security thing, so we know if odd people suddenly start showing up, we should inquire or call the police.  So all is not lost, I do gather with people who live in close proximity to me to socialize occasionally. But my real friends, most of them, anyway, have moved away, and we keep in touch online, or on occasions when we travel.

This and all other articles on this blog are © copyright 2011 by Daniel G. Dillman

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - Unknown

Randy Seaver of Genea-Musings is at it again:

Hey geneaphiles, it's Saturday Night again - time for more Genealogy Fun!!

Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to:

1)  Determine who your most recent unknown ancestor is - the one that you don't even know his or her name. 

2)  Summarize what you know about his or her family, including resources that you have searched and the resources you should search but haven't searched yet.

3)  Tell us about it in your own blog post, in a comment to this post, or in a status on Facebook.

This is a great mission!  This is a great way to snag help from distant cousins who might know something you don't...

My closest Unknown is Albert McMurry.  I know his sons, Robert E. Lee McMurry and James Adelbert McMurry.  These two are pretty well documented.  Albert and his wife, however, are virtually invisible, non-existent.

Robert was born 26 Mar 1870 in Poplar Bluff, Arkansas and died 19 Jul 1944 in Alexandria, Rapides Parish, Louisiana.  I'm descended through him on my maternal side.  The 1880 US Census shows Robert in De Bastrop, Ashley County, Arkansas as the nephew of  James R. and Luvenia C. Smith.  Brother James is not listed.  Robert's birthplace is listed as Arkansas, and his father's as Ohio, and his mother's as Arkansas.  Robert's surname is given as McMurray with the 'a'.   By the 1910 US Census, Robert is head of household in Grant Parish, Louisiana, married to Lela L. (Dark) McMurry in 1891.  Parents' birthplaces are not listed.  Robert's is given as Arkansas.  In 1920, Robert has six children at home.  His parent's birthplaces are listed as Ohio and Arkansas for his father and mother, respectively.  They are listed the same way in 1930.

James Adelbert was born 19 Aug 1872 in Arkansas and died 16 Apr 1948 in Pleasant Hill, Winn Parish, Louisiana.  James was ordained a Baptist minister at about age 25.  James was head of his household in the 1900 US Census for Louisiana in Winn Parish, and already married to Clara B. Collins.  He already had 4 children.  His birthplace is listed as Arkansas, as are both his mother and father's birthplaces.  By the 1910 Census, he has nine children.  His father's birthplace is now listed as Ohio.  It's also listed as Ohio on the 1920 and 1930 Censuses.  By the 1930 Census, he has an additional four children.

Here's what's been checked:
  • 1840, 1850, 1860 Ohio census does not have Albert McMurry or the children listed. 1850 Arkansas census had no McMurry or McMurray family from Ohio.
  • 1860 Arkansas and Ohio census do not have Albert
  • The Arkansas Confederate Veterans and Widows Pension Applications List had no Albert McMurry 1870 Arkansas census had no McMurry or McMurray family from Ohio
  • 1870 LA census did not list Albert.
  • 1880 Louisiana census did not list Albert McMurry.
  • The Louisiana Confederate Veterans and Widows Pension Applications List has no Albert McMurry.
This is one brick wall I could really use some help with!  Everything I've checked, I've used both surname spellings, Ohio and Arkansas. 

This and all other articles on this blog are © copyright 2011 by Daniel G. Dillman

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - Peter A. Theisen Family

Peter Adam Theisen (seated, front) and family, ca. 1958

Wordless Wednesday – a great way to share your old family photos! Create a post with the main focus being a photograph or image. Some posters also include attribute information as to the source of the image (date, location, owner, etc.). Wordless Wednesday is one of the longest running “memes” in the blogosphere and is an ongoing series at GeneaBloggers.

This and all other articles on this blog are © copyright 2011 by Daniel G. Dillman

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - Answer!

Yesterday I posted for Saturday Night Genealogy Fun, three "facts" from my family data; two of those facts were correct, and one was false. Did you guess?

Here were the "facts" I gave:
  • My paternal great-grandfather was adopted by his maternal grandfather.
  • One of my paternal ancestors was a very early settler of Hartford, CT.
  • One of my paternal ancestors was an officer in the Luftwaffe.
My paternal great-grandfather, Clyde Taylor Dillman, was indeed adopted by his grandfather, Peter Dillman, after his mother Jemimah Hattie Dillman died when he was only a few months old.  In fact, I have mentioned this several times in the past on this blog.

One of my paternal ancestors, Robert Day, was indeed a very early settler of Hartford, CT.  He sailed from Ipswich, England in 1634 on the bark, Elizabeth, arriving in Boston, MA.  He was made Freeman there on 6 May 1635, and then moved to Hartford with the pioneering group.  He is listed on the Founders Memorial there.  An original proprietor at Hartford, his home lot in 1639 was on the road from Centinel Hill to the North Meadow near the junction of the streets now Main and Village Streets.  He died at Hartford in 1648 and is buried in at Cemetery Church Center.

So far as I know, none of my relatives was ever in the Luftwaffe.  In fact, my lines all crossed the Atlantic a long time before the Luftwaffe came to be.  So the false "fact" was the last one.

Were you right?

This and all other articles on this blog are © copyright 2011 by Daniel G. Dillman

Genealogy Software Devs: It's MY Data!

I've been following Randy Seaver's experiments with source citations and data sharing with some interest.  If you haven't been reading, I suggest you go over to Genea-Musings and check out his Source Citation Saga, an ongoing process of trying to determine the best way to be able to share his genealogy data with others, without losing or mangling the data in any way.  The gist of the results so far is that there is no major genealogy software that properly exports a database to at least a few other major genealogy softwares without either losing or mangling some of the data.  Even the venerable GEDCOM "standard" doesn't help, as it's not kept pace with developments, and genealogy software vendors invariably extend the data such that there are no GEDCOM equivalents to export, necessitating non-standard fields which are not guaranteed to import into any other software properly.

That said, here's an open letter to the genealogy software vendors. 

Dear Genealogy Software Vendors:

Thank you for creating such wonderful tools to help me find and record my family history!  I really find the computer to be of great value when trying to record and organize my information, and your software makes it so much easier than if I had to dump it into text or spreadsheet files to work with it.

But there's a problem: I can't reliably share my data with my cousins!  They use someone else's software, and every time I try to give them my data, they either can't import it, or some of the data gets corrupted so that they need to spend endless hours cleaning up citations and so forth.  And when they try to send data to me, I have the same problem.  I've already spent so many hours collecting this data that I don't have the additional time it would take to clean up every time someone sends me a family addition.

It's my understanding that data transfers are "simply" a matter of making sure the databases "line up", so to speak, that is, the data exported gets imported into the same field on the other end.  This shouldn't be all that difficult, but it would require cooperation between vendors to make sure the format was standardized and worked correctly.  I realize that "simply" is relative, and it will take some effort, but surely you have developers talented enough to make this happen? 

So what's the problem?  Yes, I see the issue of wanting to retain your customers on your product, and making it difficult to move away is a sort of lock-in.  You know what?  YOUR CUSTOMERS DO NOT LIKE THIS.  For one thing, if you change versions, and my obsolete computer cannot handle the new one, what do I do?  What if the new version does things, or works in a way I cannot deal with, or do not like?  What if I simply find a software I like better?  I can switch to some other software, yes, but now my data is held hostage in a software that will not allow me to export it without spending many hours repairing the damage.  Computers are supposed to make data sharing easy!  This is unacceptable.

If you wish to keep me as a customer, please understand that this issue is becoming important enough that it is one of the main things I am looking for in my genealogy software going forward.  I will not be purchasing software without this being addressed!  I realize it is unreasonable of me to expect to transfer data to dozens of different, closed, data formats.  But if you all insist on retaining your custom formats, then I'd better be able to transfer WITHOUT losing or mangling data, to at least half a dozen of the major players' packages.  GEDCOM is no longer a viable option! 

Okay, so maybe you're willing to work on an open standard, to which all of the vendors can standardize, and contribute.  There are at least a couple of projects out there trying to do just that.  One of them is the Build A Better GEDCOM Project.  I don't insist it be this particular project, although I would encourage it.

If you want to keep me as a customer, don't imprison me.  The old saw about catching more flies with honey than with vinegar is true.  Provide better features.  Provide nicer charting.  Let me share my data with my family.  Give me a better customer experience, I'll stay with you.  Don't fence me in!

Thanks for listening,
Daniel Dillman

If you feel the same way, maybe you can write your own open letter to the software vendors.  Put it in the comments below, or on your own blog.  This issue really is important enough that we need to make it known in no uncertain terms that this needs to be addressed now.

This and all other articles on this blog are © copyright 2011 by Daniel G. Dillman

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - Pajama Party

Randy Seaver over at Genea-Musings has another challenge for us tonight!

It's Saturday Night -- time for more Genealogy Fun!!

Of course, I'm at Jamboree and completely forgot about writing this post until someone said "what's our Genealogy Fun tonight?"

Tonight at Jamboree is the Geneabloggers Pajama Party, and everyone knows that fun folks play games at their pajama parties.  So, for SNGF tonight:

1)  Play "two truths and a lie."  Tell us three facts about your family history -- two have to be true and one has to be a lie.

2)  Put them on your own blog post, in a Facebook status or in a comment on this blog.  Ask readers to guess which one is a lie.

3)  After one day, be sure to put the right answer as a comment to your blog. or Facebook status.

Thank you to Susan Kitchens for suggesting this topic.  We're going to play it tonight at the Geneablogger pajama party too!

Okay, here's my three "facts":

  • My paternal great-grandfather was adopted by his maternal grandfather.
  • One of my paternal ancestors was a very early settler of Hartford, CT.
  • One of my paternal ancestors was an officer in the Luftwaffe.
Okay, now which one of those is not true?  Put your guess in the comments below, or post it in your own blog!

This and all other articles on this blog are © copyright 2011 by Daniel G. Dillman

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History - Clothing

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History by Amy Coffin is a series of weekly blogging prompts (one for each week of 2011) that invite genealogists and others to record memories and insights about their own lives for future descendants. You do not have to be a blogger to participate. If you do not have a genealogy blog, write down your memories on your computer, or simply record them on paper and keep them with your files.
  • Week 24. Clothes. What types of clothes did you wear as a child? What was “in fashion” and did your style compare?
I've pretty much always been a jeans and t-shirt guy.  As far back as I've been allowed to choose my own clothing, that's been it.  There was a while in the 80's when I indulged in the parachute pants and so forth, but I was young, and it was the style for a certain segment of the population.  When I was very young, I wore what my parents supplied, which was usually jeans and t-shirts or similar.  I remember being pretty hard on pants, going through the knees fairly quickly.  Sorry, mom!

Later, I enlisted in the Navy, and wore what they told me to wear.  Which was dungaree (denim jeans) pants with a chambray work shirt if working in other than office spaces, or either dress whites or blues if working in office settings.  Occasionally there would be ceremonies for various things, and then it might be the Service Dress Whites or Service Dress Blues (the Crackerjack uniform), depending on season.  Whites were for summer, blues were for winter, although Service Dress blues were sort of the ultimate uniform - if nothing else was available, SDB was it.  I think I wore my Service Dress Blues less than 5 times.  The trousers literally had 13 buttons.  Don't drink anything before putting them on.  You can't get out fast enough.  The dungarees have since been replaced by a digicam uniform much like the Army and Marines wear, colored slightly differently for the Navy.  When I was at sea, the dungarees got ditched for color-coded clothing that indicated at a glance what sort of work I did on board the aircraft carrier.  They were more comfortable, too.  Dungarees were not made for human forms, I think.

After that, it was back to jeans & t-shirts for a while when I was working, going back to college, and finding my permanent career.  I ended up working IT in Academia, so jeans & t-shirts were acceptable for a long time.  When I left that, I went to retail IT, which demanded a slightly more upscale look, so I moved to slacks (preferably cargo pants) and polo or similar shirts.  When I moved back to academia, I kept the upscale, wearing mostly cargo pants and button down shirts.

I own a suit.  I've worn it far too often lately for job interviews.  I rarely wear it for anything else, and probably could use an updated one for style.  It's just not something I'm comfortable in.  I've worn a tuxedo, three times.  Junior and Senior Prom back in high school, and my wedding day.  My wedding tux was white with tails, a top hat and cane.  Classy, and it was fun for the day, but I can't see myself needing to wear one of those again, ever.

I think I own a pair or two of shorts.  I'm not sure I could find them, or if they fit.  I don't wear shorts.  Most of the year in Minnesota, that's not unusual.  But most Minnesotans seem to like to wear shorts in the summer.  Call me an oddball, I don't. 

Anyone who pays attention to fashions knows that jeans and t-shirts have not always been the fashionable thing to wear.  I never let that bother me.  Aside from that 80's period, I never much let fashion dictate what I wore.  Even then it was also somewhat of a comfort thing, as the styles then were comfortable for me to wear, unlike, say, the tight 70's disco clothes.  I don't tend to pay too much attention to fashion, like most aspects of popular culture.

This and all other articles on this blog are © copyright 2011 by Daniel G. Dillman

Friday, June 10, 2011

GenDetective Update #3

So, I'm now patiently waiting for Rumblesoft, Inc.'s technical support folks to get me that test file to try to make GenDetective work with MyHeritage Family Tree Builder's GEDCOM export.  While waiting, I figured I'd take the GEDCOM 5.5 exported from Legacy 7.5 and play with GenDetective, even though the data is a little out of date.  At least I could get a good idea of what I could expect from GenDetective.

So, like Randy Seaver over at Genea-Musings, I ran the GenDetective Analyzer.  It appeared to import the data properly, not even an error in the process.  Great!  I looked at the data statistics, and they look reasonable.  Okay, exit the Analyzer, which automatically runs the Reporter (I left the little box checked to do that). 

Let's look at some reports...   Hm.  Lots of people in here, but there's a problem.  The people in the report are NOT MINE.  These are the sample data people!  How did they get in here?  I exited the Reporter, looked for and deleted every sample file I could find, and tried again.  Same results! 

Okay, I really want to play with this software, but the problems I'm having, and the problems Randy is having, are making me think Rumblesoft needs to work on this a bit longer before releasing it.  I'll wait until the tweaked version gets installed to make a final pronouncement, but so far it doesn't look good. 

I've used GenSmarts for a while now, and never had a problem with it.  It's not real pretty, but it does a good job of showing me where I need addiditonal research and data.  I was wondering if GenDetective would do a better job, or maybe be prettier, but so far I can't even get it to run properly.

More updates as they happen...

Thursday, June 9, 2011

GenDetective Update #2

For being in attendance at the Jamboree, the tech support folks at Rumblesoft, Inc. sure are responsive!  I the support is this good when they're out, it should be truly awesome when they're in the office.

Per my post earlier today, I sent a copy of my GEDCOM file produced by Myheritage so the folks at Rumblesoft could try to figure out why it wasn't working with the newly released GenDetective product.  I was unsurprised to hear back from them that GEDCOM files produced by MyHeritage are not currently supported.  However, they do say that they are working with the MyHeritage team to get support added. 

I was offered two choices: either 1) wait for the support to be added (estimated to be the end of the month) or 2) let Rumblesoft connect to my computer and tweak my installation of GenDetective with a test version that would (hopefully) allow the MyHeritage-created GEDCOM file to import properly.  They also included two report files generated by using my data, which let me get a sneak peak at some of what I could expect to get from GenDetective when it's working properly for me.

Well, being 1) not always patient, and 2) an IT professional of some experience, I replied that I am willing to go the test route.  I am now waiting to hear from them to arrange the tweaking.  I will post more as things happen on my end.

GenDetective Update

Despite the e-mail I received that Rumblesoft, Inc.'s tech support people are all attending the Jamboree, I received another e-mail this morning informing me that the issue I reported has not been reported by anyone else.  It also requested a copy of my GEDCOM file for testing purposes.

For being gone to Jamboree, that's a reasonably quick response.  I did expect to wait until they returned next week, reasonably.  I have sent them a copy of the GEDCOM file in question, and will let you know what answers I get.

Unitl then, enjoy the Jamboree, Rumblesoft!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

A Map of the Newspaper World?

I just found out today about newspaper map, a new website that lays out and links to literally thousands of newspapers around the world.  Not only that, but they're adding historical content as well!  There's even a mobile version of the site for use on tablets and smartphones.

The premise is simple - this is a Google Maps mashup website.  That is, they took location data for all of the newspapers they could, and put location markers on top of Google Maps all over the world.  Each newspaper they have located is represented by a colored pin on the map.  Clicking that pin brings up a link box to that newspaper's home page, as well as (in many cases) translations into various languages.  The color of the pin indicates the original language of the newspaper.  The link box frequently includes the date range the newspaper was published as well.

Right now, with over 10,000 newspapers included, there's a good chance you can find one near where you're looking.  Historical coverage is more spotty at this time, but they're working on adding more content, and there's actually a button to add or correct information if you have it.

The site is still beta, meaning there are some rough edges, and performance can be slow, but this looks like a very promising tool for research in the months and years to come.  Check it out!

This and all other articles on this blog are © copyright 2011 by Daniel G. Dillman


After seeing a few others posting about the new GenDetective product from Rumblesoft, Inc., I decided I would download it and use the 10-day evaluation to determine whether to recommend it or not.  I've used GenSmarts for a while now to help me figure out which data is still missing, where I have errors, and so forth.  I wanted to see if GenDetective would give me a compelling reason to switch products, and better help me clean up and fill out my database.

Unfortunately, I ran into a slight problem.  GenDetective appeared to install correctly,  and when I ran to program, it started with a setup wizard like many programs do now.  However, after importing my GEDCOM file (apparently successfully, as it reported some statistics on the data), it crashed on the screen where I would select individual(s) as my anchors.  Try as I might, it crashed at that point every time.  I tried their sample GEDCOM included with the download, and it ran fine, allowing me to look at the reports it creates.  Even after that success, it failed again when trying my data.  I even went back and tried an older version of my GEDCOM (exported from MyHeritage Family Tree Builder, my main genealogy software)that I used when playing with Legacy after the 7.5 release.  Same crash, at the same point.

My GEDCOM has over 5,000 people in it, I wonder if that's the issue?  I could see a trial version being limited.  Or maybe there's a problem with the way MyHeritage's Family Tree Builder exports a GEDCOM?  I've never had a problem with that before, but to test that, I exported a GEDCOM 5.5 file from Legacy 7.5 (also with over 5,000 people, to test that theory).  Well!  Fortunately, that exported GEDCOM file was accepted into GenDetective just fine.  I'll report back on my findings once I've had some time to play around with it.

In the meantime, I sent an e-mail to Rumblesoft's Technical Support folks.  I got a response that was understandable, but less than helpful in the short term:

We will be out of the office from Wednesday June 8 thru Monday June
13th attending the Southern California Jamboree!  We will respond to
your email as soon as possible.

-- Regards, Technical Support
So, all of you folks at the Jamboree, enjoy yourselves, and send those guys back to work so they can look at my problem! 

This and all other articles on this blog are © copyright 2011 by Daniel G. Dillman

Wordless Wednesday - Arline May Dillman

Arline May Dillman, 1931.

Wordless Wednesday – a great way to share your old family photos! Create a post with the main focus being a photograph or image. Some posters also include attribute information as to the source of the image (date, location, owner, etc.). Wordless Wednesday is one of the longest running “memes” in the blogosphere and is an ongoing series at GeneaBloggers.