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Pastfinders Computer Users’ Group

December 19, 2007


On Wednesday, December, 19 we’ll cover several topics.


We’ll look inside an email and a web page to see what’s there.

We’ll use what we learn to identify what type of image exists there.

Then we’ll look inside the animated image and see how it’s put together.

We’ll search for and find thousands of free animated gifs on the Internet.

And we’ll look at some early maps on the Internet to find where our ancestors lived.

We’ll look at the newly updated and expanded genealogy links page on the Pastfinders’ site.

And finally, we’ll examine the page produced by the FamilySearch Laboratory where they test new products before release to the public.


The Squirrel

Let’s start by looking at an email that Joan received. How can you save that cute image to send in emails to others? While there’s no copyright notice on the email or the image, the originator took pains to prevent it from being copied.


First we’ll right click on the image and select SAVE AS. The image has a name dependent on the folder in which it is located with no extension to identify what kind of file it is so we don’t know what program to open it in. We can save it and then see if we can figure out what it is.


Before we get to that, I was able to determine the type of image by going to VIEW/MESSAGE SOURCE in Thunderbird, the email program that I use. You can’t do that in Outlook Express. We’ll cover that later.


In the beginning of computers, you had to open a program first and then use it to open a file you want to see or work on. Microsoft said “why don’t we let Windows determine from the file extension what program to open so we only have to click on the file name.” But if there’s no extension then Windows won’t know what program to open. When we double click on the file name, we get a dialog box asking what file we want to use to open it. We’ll scroll down to select Windows Picture and Fax Viewer (Win Pix Fax). The image opens with the animation intact. But we still don’t know what the extension is. Perhaps if we look at the code that makes up the message we can learn something. IrfanView lets you open a file in HEX format that lets you see the basic numbers that make up the file. Hex is based on the 16 digit number system; 0-9,A,B,C,D,E and F. We’ll open IrfanView and select FILE/OPEN AS/ HEX FILE. Note that the image starts with GIF89. That’s the last update to the Graphics Interchange Format (1989) created by Compuserve. So we can add the extension GIF to this image and it will open where GIF images are supposed to open. We RIGHT CLICK on the file name, go to RENAME and add .gif to the name cug. Now when we double click it it opens in Windows Picture and Fax Viewer. But how did it know to do that? We close the program and double click on MY COMPUTER. We’ll click on TOOLS/FOLDER OPTIONS and then select the FILE TYPES tab. Then we’ll scroll down to find the file type, GIF. Toward the bottom of the page it tells us that GIF files open with Win Pix Fax but we can click on CHANGE to select something different. You can also get to FOLDER OPTIONS by clicking START/CONTROL PANEL/FOLDER OPTIONS. It’s your computer; use folder options to make files open where you want them to. I have all of my image file types set to open in Win Pix Fax; JPG, TIF, BMP, and GIF.


Let’s look further at the image and see what makes it tick. I’ll open Picture Publisher and use that to open cug.gif. Note that the image shows without movement. There are tabs at the top so let’s click on list. There are 30 frames listed that make up the image. The picture shows the full image of frame 0. If we click on the right double arrow we can move up one frame at a time. Frame 1 shows only part of an image; the rest is black. The black area represents transparency where the original image shows through and the image overwrites the original to show what changed. So if it doesn’t move, it’s transparent and what does move is shown as a new image.


January 3, 2008

Here's the squirrel.

Creating An Animated Message

There are many sites on the Internet where you can get lessons on creating animated gifs or find free ones already created. Just type animated gif into Google and you’ll find over 4 million sites. We’ll go to download a gif and show how to put it into a simple email.


We’ll go to the pane on the left and select Holidays and from the resulting list we’ll select Christmas. Taking the first one we see, we’ll right click on it and select SAVE IMAGE AS. I have a folder called Downloads where I place everything that I download. Think ahead where you want to save this and make a new folder if necessary. We’ll select Downloads as the save folder and it will be saved there.


Next we’ll create an email and include the animated image. When we have finished the message, we’ll click on INSERT and select PICTURE and then browse until we find the file that we just saved and we’ll either double click it or click and then click SAVE. The image appears where the cursor was in your message.


Viewing Email and Web Page Source Code

Let’s open the squirrel email in Thunderbird. Then we’ll click on VIEW and then MESSAGE SOURCE. This looks like what we saw in IrfanView except that the image starts with RO1GOD instead if GIF89. Perhaps another attempt to prevent the image from being recognized, it is coded in 64 bit code as noted just above the image. IrvanView changed it to 32 bit encoding. It was here that I found that the image was a GIF image.


Lets go to Pastfinders’ home page In Internet Explorer, we can click on VIEW and then SOURCE to see the code that makes up the page. In Firefox you go to VIEW and click on PAGE SOURCE. If we go down the page a little bit we see the code img src. After that there’s the “Graphics.htg/pfimage1.jpg”. This says that an image called pfimage1 is located in a folder called Graphics.htg. You can go to EDIT/FIND and enter img and search the document for all of the images.



Pastfinders has an article on maps on its web page

Three new sites have been added. They are Vermont and Minnesota and the map collection of David Rumsey. We’ll click on them in the order they are listed.


Lets look at the Vermont site and see where my GGGgrandfather first settled. The site lets you select a map location and we’ll select Athens and click on SUBMIT. In the box that comes up, click on the ITEM NO and we get a maps of Athens, VT. We can press the + key to enlarge it and in the corner of Athens on the Townsend and Acton borders is James Nichols who held several lots. The lot below that may be that of my GGGgrandfather, Reuben Nichols who had a son born there 1801.


We could do the same for Pomfret and we’d find more ancestors of mine. Many of the maps, however, just show how the lots were laid out and numbered without listing the owners’ names.


The Minnesota site has many historic maps but I didn’t find any that list occupants’ names.


One of the most fantastic historic map collections is that of David Rumsey, Cartographer. Maps from everywhere and any era, 15,000 in all. We’ll click on Explore the Collection Directory at the top of the page. Then we’ll click on the letter F in the left hand pane to find a map of Florida. Because I’ve been here before, I know we’ll find Florida if we go to page 3. We scroll down and we can find several old maps of Florida. It’s interesting that none seem to show Lake Minnehaha, Minneola or Louisa.


Before you try to use these maps, read the introductory material. You have to download a viewer to see them and you have to shut off your pop-up blocker.


Genealogy Links

Pastfinders has had a link to two pages of genealogical web sites that grew over time was not well organized. I’ve updated it to place sites into categories. The most common category is State Resources where many records from individual states are organized alphabetically.


Let’s look at it by opening our home page and then going to the Genealogy Link in the left pane or we can go directly there from this. . As we scroll down the page you can see how the page is divided into sections defined as Beginner, General, National, States, and Ethnic


Note that when you click on a link where the written text is not the same as the URL that you are trying to visit, your phishing filter may warn you of the difference. These sites have all been visited and there is no need to worry that you are being mis-directed to a hoax site.


Lets start at the top with Beginner and visit some beginner sites. If you’re just starting out, there are some good tutorials to get you started. But remember; you have to start with what you know and then branch out.


Next we’ll go to General and click on STATE ARCHIVES. This is a free list on that lists all of the URLs for the states. You can go to the state you are interested in and search through the records to find what you want. The amount of data online varies significantly from state to state so you need to spend some time to find out what your state has and how to get it. And remember to come back often as data is continually being added.


Also under General is a list of State Libraries provided by the Library of Congress. Find the library of the state you are interested in and see what they have to offer. Take the time to fully explore it to gain the maximum results. Check the Ask a Librarian feature if there is one and ask about what you want to know.


We can’t take the time to visit all of the state sites but look to see if your state is listed. If so, you may find the answer to your burning question about your ancestor. Note that some of these state sites are local libraries that have been singled out for the data that they have online. Some are volunteer sites that have put together record collections and posted them for the benefit of all.


And finally, we have Ethnic sites and Canadian sites. The ethnic sites cover those sites that deal with genealogic information from mostly European countries. You may find information on your ancestors on one of these sites.


FamilySearch Labs

If you like to stay at the forefront in genealogical research, FamilySearch, the Mormon site has just what you need. They have a laboratory site where they test technology before it’s released to the public. Go to and try out some of the items that they are testing. You can register and send feedback to help improve the program. Lets go down the page until we find Pedigree Charts and select Viewing 12 Generations. We could upload our own GEDCOM to see how it looks and then print it out but we’ll use a GEDCOM that they’ve provided and see what a 12 generation pedigree chart looks like. There’s a box that has tips on how to navigate the chart and expand on the details provided in each box. We can move the chart around by either holding down the left button and using the mouse to drag the chart around or use the arrow keys to move. We can use the icon to the upper left to increase or decrease the magnification or use the + and - keys to do the same. We can click on a name and a box pops up with tools to help us learn more. Click on the left EXPAND button and we get the Vital Statistics of the pair of people selected. Close it by clicking on the EXPAND again.


When you try to print the chart by pressing PRINT, you only get the page you are looking at and that prints on only the top half of the page. It would be useful if it allowed you to print the whole chart on several pages that could be pieced together.


Once you’ve played with that chart, spend some time looking at some of the other items that they are testing. There is a blog that keeps you informed about what is happening that you can go to or subscribe to in order to stay abreast of developments using an RSS link. (See our program of December 20, 2006 for both phishing and RSS.)


Merry Christmas to all and thank you for the gift certificate.


January 2, 2008

During the meeting we were unable to get on the Internet at the library even though we could get onto the wireless network. I had planned to go to the library after I returned from a trip to Massachusetts to find out why. In visiting my granddaughter who has a wireless network, I found that I could get on her network but not the Internet. I was planning to check out my Norton Internet Security to check out the firewall but when I talked later that day with my grandson he said to check out the IP settings. Even later that day I went to my son's house and he said I should check out the DNS settings. (DNS is the Domain Name Server that translates the URL name that you enter into it's 12 digit address.) Who's right? IP or DNS? Under Network Connections (you can get there from the Control Panel) there is a connection shown for the wireless connection that you're on. If you right click on that and then click on properties you'll see a box containing a listing of the protocols that are invoked, the last being Internet Protocol (TCP/IP). If you click on that to highlight it and select Properties you'll get a box that allows you to Obtain an IP Address Automatically or use the one that you enter. The same is true for DNS. So both suggestions led to the same place. But what was the problem? In order to slightly speed up the time it takes to get on my own wireless network, I had entered the address of the DNS server instead of allowing the network to find one. The library's server did not find the DNS server I had entered and thus the problem. Since finding the servers automatically is the default, unless you deliberately change the setup, you will not have a problem getting on the Internet at the library. I changed mine to find the DNS server automatically and was able to get on the Internet at my granddaughter's. I don't think that the time I thought I would save was even measurable.