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Computer Users’ Group

March 19, 2008


Legacy Chart

Legacy is offering a free charting program that can be used until June 15, 2008. You can download it from here . It can take your existing file from any of several genealogy programs and create many different types of charts. But there are caveats. If you use FamilyTreeMaker, go to TOOLS/COMPACT FILE before you use a file in Legacy. But it’s fun to create a chart before you do that, just to see what you get! The charts that I got didn’t chart the person that I selected. Once I selected my father but he turned out to be a girl that had been adopted by two gay men! When I finally got a chart based on the selected person, it had boys marrying boys and girls marrying girls. Not a family tradition that I wanted to preserve and pass on to my descendants! We’ll look at a couple of my results.


Some interesting charts are the DNA charts that show the path of DNA inheritance and some of the pie shaped charts. Charts can be printed and taped together or they can be sent to Legacy for professional printing as wall charts.


Internet Privacy

When you receive a cute message that has taken someone a bit of time and effort to create and suggests that you send it to everyone you know, the reason is generally to provide a method of gaining email addresses and tracking where you go on the Internet. Messages are generally about patriotism, love, humor or religion. Here’s what they do.


Cookies: Cookies are placed on your computer when you visit most Internet sites. Only the web site that posted it can read it but if that web site owner is a member of a consortium of web sites then they all can read it when you visit, thus tracking where you go.


Web Beacons: When an email or a web page includes a graphic, it lists the source of the graphic and your browser goes to get it. In order to receive it, the browser has to tell the web site where to send it; ie your email address. (Technically, it’s the URL of your web browser). If the graphic is on a web site other than the one you’re are looking at, your address is sent there too so now someone else has your email. So as not to be noticed doing this, many sites use Web Beacons which are images that are transparent images only one pixel high and wide. But your browser has to go and get them. Thus, an advertiser ends up adding web beacons to a web page for each of it’s clients and they all get your email address so that they can Spam you. The Thunderbird and Outlook Express email programs warn you if there are images in the message and lets you choose whether to allow them. Thus you can prevent the downloading of images unless you specifically request it. When the email only contains a link to a web site, however, you don’t get such a warning so be careful. Birthday cards, St. Patrick Day greetings etc are typical of such cards. You can see what company created the card from the URL (address) and visit their website and scroll down to find their Privacy Policy before you open the card. All privacy notices start with “we value and respect your privacy” but then explain all of the different ways that they ignore it.


What to do: If Outlook Express or Thunderbird don’t tell you that they have blocked images, it’s probably ok to open. If you do download blocked images, you can try to find the originator and read the privacy policy. In Thunderbird, you can go to VIEW and click on MESSAGE SOURCE. You can then search for HTTP and find all of the web sites that posted graphics. Or, you can clear all of your cookies and then open the message again. Then check your cookies and if you have any, that’s probably from the message creator. Go to the web site indicated in the cookie and read the privacy policy listed at the bottom of the page. If you don’t like it, dump the cookies and don’t forward the message. Try ccleaner ( (Pastfinders covered ccleaner at our November, 2007 meeting. Go here ). Run a spam remover program to get rid of any spam that was added. Spybot Search and Destroy will immunize you against known threats.


Genealogy Sites

We’ll look at a few genealogy sites that are worth your attention. There is a fast growing collection of English data that allows you to search for records to see if what you want is available and then lets you pay either through a pay per view plan or a monthly or yearly subscription to see the record. Pay per view is good for 60 units for 90 days and costs $14. Subscription cost is about $30 a month or $140 a year but vary in what you can view. Subscriptions allow unlimited views. Go to .Check the site out for information that you seek and if you find enough to make an investment worthwhile, sign up.


For Scottish records, the National Archives of Scotland has web site that allows you to search records free but pay for what you view. Records start with civil registration in 1855, census records from 1841, wills and testaments from 1513 and parish records from 1553. Search results are limited to numbers of records for the name in each category but detailed indexes are available for 30 page views for $12. However, the index to wills is free. Viewing a record image is about $2. Go here .


The US National Archives (NARA) has records available for research on site but little is available on line directly from NARA. But through a partnership with Footnote, 28 million NARA records are available. Searching and viewing a summary or small size image is free but viewing a larger size image costs $8 a month or $69 a year. Access to records is unlimited during the subscription period.

As above, search to make sure what’s available before you invest. There is a 7 day trial offer that you can quit when you want. Go to .


Not all sites cost money. There are a few free ones and one of the early ones is GenWeb, going back 12 years. It covers all of the states and usually each county within the states and sometimes several towns or cities. The coverage is very uneven as the work is all done by volunteers and some states have more records posted than other states. Some have biographies, obituaries, cemeteries, histories and links to other state resources. Go here and pick the state that you want.


USGENNET This is a non-profit site that provides web space for volunteer sites. It also has a few sites of its own. Sites that it owns are US Data Repository, Heartland Folk and Southern Folk. Sites that it hosts are varied in content from town data to surnames. One of the best is the American History and Genealogy Project (AHGP) You can get to USGENNET here. We’ll go to AHGP site that is set up by states; content varies depending on the ambition of the volunteers. One of the best that I’ve seen is Vermont and we’ll visit that site. One of the best features is the gazetteers that provide a detailed history of the towns including information on the founders and early settlers. There is also the American Local History Network (ALHN). For Florida, you get the same page as with AHGP but in Vermont, it’s a different page.


Another site that is free is Rootsweb which is owned by The Generations Network, owners of Ancestry. They vowed to keep it free when they bought it. It hosts the Pastfinders’ Home Page and has many links to other sites. It has a database of genealogies which it calls WorldConnect. Use it with care but it can lead you in the right direction sometimes. There are also message boards, various vital records and links to other sites. Posting you own genealogy here may lead to finding cousins and it’s a great way to back-up your data. When your computer crashes, at least all of your hard work on your genealogy won’t be lost.


If you are looking for the ship your immigrant ancestor came on, the Immigrant Ships Transcribers Guild may be of help. The site is run by volunteers interested in transcribing all available ships’ lists. You can go here and type in a surname to find a ship your ancestor may have come on. . Cyndi’s List has many other sources of ships’ lists.


Turn-off, Standby or Hibernate?

How do you rest your computer when you’re not using it? There are three choices and a description and the benefits of each are discussed below.


Turn-off: This shuts down the computer so it uses no power. It’s certainly best for long term idleness and should be done occasionally if one of the other modes is chosen in order to activate updates that may have been installed. It takes the longest time to start up and shut down.


Hibernate: This mode takes everything that you have open and were working on and saves it on your hard drive. Then it uses only enough power to sense when it receives a wake-up call. There’s no limit on how long a desktop computer can stay hibernated and a laptop can survive several days. It is reasonably fast waking up (only a few seconds) and is a reasonable approach to overnight or weekend idleness. You can have the computer hibernate after a specified period of non-usage or you can manually hibernate it by going to START/TURN OFF COMPUTER and clicking on HIBERNATE if it’s available or hold the SHIFT key down and STANDBY becomes HIBERNATE.


Standby: Resumes operation faster than from hibernation but uses slightly more power. Can be scheduled after a short period of idleness. Best if you use the computer several times a day and want it to resume in a hurry. Laptops are limited as to how long they can stay in standby; generally about day. Check your documentation.

Note: In either standby or hibernate, a networked computer can be set to Resume on LAN (Local Area Network). Thus, you can cause a networked computer to respond if you need access to it from another network computer.


Closing the Laptop Lid: What do you want the computer to do when you shut the lid? Hibernation is a good choice unless you use it several times a day and then standby may be better; the time difference to resume is small.


Controlling These Features: If the power icon is shown in the system tray, you can RIGHT CLICK on it and select ADJUST POWER PROPERTIES. If not, RIGHT CLICK on and empty space on your desktop select PROPERTIES and then click on the SCREEN SAVER tab. Then click on the box labeled POWER. There you can choose what type of POWER SCHEME to use, when to turn devices off and what state they should go to. Under ALARMS you can tell when and how you want to be notified of a low battery. POWER METER shows the meter that tells how much battery power is left. ADVANCED lets you show select to show the battery power meter icon on the task bar, and lets you choose what action your laptop will take if you shut the cover and what your computer will do if you press the power button. HIBERNATE allows you to activate the hibernate option. When you click on START and TURN OFF COMPUTER you are presented with three options; STANDBY, TURN OFF and RESTART. (Some may also show HIBERNATE.) Point to STANDBY and press SHIFT and STANDBY becomes HIBERNATE. When the power icon is shown in the task bar, you can just point to it and it will tell you how much power is left if you are on batteries.


We discussed how to maintain the battery in your laptop. My Toshiba manual in one place says not to leave it plugged in for more than a month at a time. Further on it says if you're not going to use it in the next 8 hours, unplug it. It also says that the battery should be run down at least once a month.