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Pastfinders Computer Users’ Group

May 17, 2006

Cruisin’ the Web

Cooper Library Online Reference Databases

You can start at Pastfinders and click on Libraries and then Lake County Library Catalog. Then look for Online Resources in the panel on the left and click on Reference Databases. As with any page you want to go to again you can save it under Favorites.

Subjects covered are

    * Business, financial and investment data

    * Encyclopedia, directories, biography and comprehensive sources

    * Genealogy

    * Health

    * Literature

    * Magazines and newspapers

    * Student Reference

    * En Espanol (Spanish)

You can get there either through the alphabetical listing or the subject listing as shown.

One example:

Info Trac One File

Natalee Holloway disappeared on the Island of Aruba and Vanity Fair had an article about it in the January, 2006 issue. Going to did not get the article. Can we get it here?

Click on Magazines and newspapers and click on Info Trac One File. Enter your library card number. I swipe across mine and copy it (CTRL-C) because it will ask for it again and you can then just paste it in (CTRL-V).

Go to Info Trac One File and then click in the heading Publication Search. Then enter Vanity Fair in the box. Click on the name Vanity Fair and then select Jan 2006 in the subsequent listing. Voila-the entire article. There are loads of ways to search but knowing the publication date made this easy. Searching for Aruba turned up too many answers and Aruba didn’t appear in the title so searching Vanity Fair for Aruba got no results.

Another Example:

Heritage Quest

Search Books:

Find a book about Clermont, Florida. I clicked on Places and entered Clermont, FL. There was not a History of Clermont that I expected but four genealogies of people who had family members that moved to Clermont. But one is interesting. Clarence Almon Torrey’s parents moved to Clermont. If you don’t know him, he wrote New England Marriages Before 1700. When I expanded to Lake County I found more information about the area. Other searches by place name will likely produce histories and gazetteers.

Search Revolutionary War:

Lets see if we can find the pension record for my ancestor, Levi Pratt. Typing in his name and the state of Mass we get three Levi Pratts. Mine is the last one and his full pension application is shown as is his wife’s application upon his death. Hers, however was never granted in spite of many appeals because of confusion over other Levi Pratts.

Search Census:

Where was my dad in 1930? Unfortunately, Heritage Quest uses the census indexes that were done by the WPA and only a few southern states were indexed for the 1930 census. If you know where a person resided you can browse the census for that state, county, city and ward or district. You can use the Ancestry census data at the library which is indexed and will give you the complete listing and let you view the census image or you can use Ancestry from home to find the county your relative lived in and then browse that county at Heritage Quest. My dad was in Mercer County, Princeton Boro, NJ but that list is 148 pages long!

Fortunately, all of the other years are indexed and entering a name will bring results. As with other searches, I like to start with surname only because there may be other ancestors that show up. Start broad and then narrow it down. Try Nichols, 1790, Windham County, Vermont and check out the town of Athens. 

How’s the Weather?

Doppler Radar:

Central Florida is the lightning capitol of America. Being able to track storms and lightning can be useful to getting out of harm’s way. You can go to the Pastfinder Home Page, click on Florida in the left column and then click on National Weather Service Melbourne. From there you can choose what you want to see. Click on Radar Imagery, Melbourne to get the Melbourne NEXRAD Radar. Click on anything of interest to get the present image. At the top of the page there is Short Range Reflectivity. Click on loop to see the last 10 radar scans that cover a period of 45 minutes. Base is the result of the lowest elevation angle radar scan; composite is the result of all elevation radar scans. Note that you can also see the cumulative rainfall based on radar data. Melbourne and Tampa use different formulas so it’s hard to compare results between radars. They also don’t start and stop measuring at the same time.

You can click on Mouse Over off to turn mouse over on and then pointing at any type of presentation will produce that without having to click. (This function was not available on my last check). At the top of the page you can switch between Standard and Enhanced view. At the bottom of the page is Automatic Update off and you can click there to update the display for every new scan (about 5 minutes; the 10 scans in a loop take 45 minutes).


You can go here to see the lightning tracker that shows all lightning strikes within 300 miles of Orlando.

Bureau of Land Management

Government Land Office:

Start here and then click on Search Land Patents. If you know the state you’re interested in choose a state and enter a name to search for. I usually start with just a surname to all of that name that received patents. If you don’t know which state, select Standard and then enter at least a surname. Let’s try Joan’s family and see which Van Houtens acquired land from the government. Note that there are many of them including one in the state of Washington. After selecting an ancestors name, you can choose to view the original record and see which president was in office when it was granted. Perhaps you’ll find your ancestor’s signature.

Search the Web

Google: You can use any search engine but Google is my choice. Try searching for your surname. Enter it and see how many hits you get. Then try to narrow it down by adding terms to include or exclude. Use a - (minus sign) before a term to exclude it. No symbol is needed to add something. Use “quotes” around a phrase to include the entire phrase. Try a first and last name in quotes of a person in your genealogy and add the surname of one or more other ancestors. You can also add a place name to limit it to a given area. The following is an example:

“David Dill” Walker Hants. David married Jane Walker and they lived in Hants County, Nova Scotia.


Computer Checkup:

To get a comprehensive test of your computer go to . You’ll have to register to use it. View their privacy policy if you have any worries. I’ve used it for years. Click on Full PC Tune-up shown under Favorites. Just follow the instructions from there.

Fix it Yourself:

PC World has an article in the June, 2006 issue entitled Never Call Tech Support Again. You can get it at,aid,125161,00.asp Here’s just one item from the article. When you do the three fingered crash (CTRL-ALT-DEL) you can see what processes are running but what are they? Download this and it will tell you what each process is and whether you can remove it.

Computer Security: Nobody knows computer security the way Steve Gibson of Gibson Research does . He has a program that you can run; Shields Up. There is a wealth of security information on his site so check it out and see if it applies to you. Click on Shields Up which is under Hot Spots (you may have to scroll down a few times). Read the text he offers and then click on Proceed. Check out File Sharing and at least the Common Ports. If you have any open port, anyone can get data from your computer. You need a good Firewall. Zone Alarm is free from

Internet Speed:

Although Gibson tests Internet speed, there is a better test at Click on Tools and then navigate down to speed tests. Follow the instructions. If you don’t get what you think you should get, read through some of the tips for improving speed.

Real Estate

The founders of Exdpedia have launched a new site that is supposed to represent a lot of money as in zillions and a place to lay your head as in pillow hence the name Zillow. We’ll go to where they have assembled the prices for 65 million houses in the US. Let’s look at the house that we sold in 1997 for a bit over $200K. Perhaps we should have stayed a little longer. All you have to enter is a street address and a zip code or city and state. And be sure to check the Bird’s Eye View if it’s offered.

Search Library Catalogs

Lake County:

You can start at the home page of the Lake County Library System, To conduct a search, click on Catalog. Once you’ve conducted a search by author, subject or keyword you can go to the right hand side of the page and select Cooper Memorial Library under Limit By and then press on the arrow. That gives all of the searched for items that are available at the Cooper memorial library.

Orange County:

Go to to get the catalog for Orange County. You can search for titles that you want and then see if they are available at any branch library. Or you can search by keyword such as genealogy to see what books on that subject are available and at which branch.   If you find books at Winter Garden you won’t have so far so drive.