Computer Users’ Group

June 15, 2005

June 22, 2005

June 29, 2005


Subjects that we’ll cover: Creating custom reports in FamilyTreeMaker and PAF, Tips for better genealogical searching; Using email on the road and System maintenance.


Custom Reports

Introduction: Genealogy programs can be used to create specialized reports that you can target toward a special goal. We’ll consider both FamilyTreeMaker (FTM) and Personal Ancestry File (PAF).


FTM: Click on VIEW and then REPORTS and you’ll find 9 defined reports and an entry for CUSTOM. Here you can select under CONTENTS Items to Include in Report and Individuals to Include in Report. Under FORMAT you can choose how the report will look and you can sort the report. Suppose you are preparing for a research trip. You can select to include the name, birth date and location and death date and location for all individuals. You can then sort the report by Birth Location, highlight the entries for the location(s) you will be visiting and copy them to a new file that you can print out as a list of individuals who were born where you are researching. Repeat for death location. Review the available options to see how a custom report might benefit your research.


PAF: PAF has much more custom report capabilities than FTM does. Look through the TOOLS drop down list to see some of PAF’s capabilities and go to SEARCH to see more capabilities. We’ll investigate the ADVANCED FOCUS/FILTER found under SEARCH. Consider a search for all the males in your family tree that were of the proper age to serve in the Civil War. Click on ADVANCED FOCUS/FILTER and under FIELD FILTER click on DEFINE. Double click on SEX and choose MALE in the popup window. Then double click the word AND and then double click on AGE. In the popup window select RANGE. I entered 1815 in the FROM box and 1850 in the TO box. Then click on SAVE and and provide a name such as Civil War. Click on OK and then check the box SHOW RESULTS ONLY and you’ll have a list of Civil War candidates to look up at http://www.itd.nps.gov/cwss/ . Do the same for the Revolutionary War and you can look up records and pension files on Heritage Quest. Click here and enter your library card number. http://150.176.188.249:81/rpa/webauth.exe?rs=her Then click on Revolutionary War and enter the names you want to check out. You can download and print out the records.


PAF does not provide a way to print the file if it is obtained as described above but if you start with FILE and PRINT REPORTS and then CUSTOM and follow the steps outlined above, you can SAVE the resultant file and print it out.


Note the reports that can be printed out when you are at PRINT REPORTS. Note than one report type is LISTS and among the type of lists that can be printed is a sorted list of locations. This will accomplish in PAF what we did above in FTM.


Just understanding how to create a custom report will guide you to create reports in either FTM or PAF that satisfy your needs. Think of your goal and work back through all of the options offered to find a set of options that gets you where you want to go.



Search Tips:

Introduction: Whether you are searching a genealogical site or the entire web, techniques can be used to maximize your results.


The Web: Using a search engine such as Google, start with a broad search and continue to narrow it until you zero in on what you want. For instance, enter a surname and see how many hits you get. Then start to refine the search by adding new search terms such as a first name, wife’s maiden name, a birth location, a date, or the word, genealogy. Look through some of the search results as each new term is added to see if what you are after shows up. Generally there are too many items to reasonably look through except in the case of an uncommon name; that’s the reason for the additional terms. If a term narrows the search too much, try removing it and adding others. For instance, the first name may not reveal your ancestor if he or she went by a middle name, nickname or just initials. Using the man’s full name and the wife’s maiden name is usually successful in finding an individual. Or reverse the process if you are looking for the wife. Try alternate spellings of the surname since some names have a variety of common spellings.


Genealogical Sites: FamilySearch and Ancestry Plus allow for Soundex searching so that names that are nearly the same as that entered will be found. FamilySearch uses Soundex by default while Ancestry defaults to exact spelling. To get to Soundex in Ancestry you have to click on ADVANCED (under the word SEARCH) and then click the arrow next to EXACT and select SOUNDEX. If you don’t know about Soundex, go here:

www.frontiernet.net/~rjacob/soundex.htm


In Ancestry you can use a surname only search and limit the location to the state. You can select a census and further refine your search for that census by entering relatives’ names and or the county and township. FamilySearch allows only the country to be entered for a surname only search. Surname only searches are useful for locating others of the same name in a given location.. There may be more information available on them than on the object of your search. If you can connect to them you may learn a lot. It’s also useful for finding ancestors who don’t use their given name. How about given name searches? Sounds dumb but when a census taker or transcriber gets the surname wrong, searching by given name may help. Use it for census searches and limit the location. The results may be extensive for a common first name but you may find a surname that nearly matches what you want but was so misspelled that the Soundex didn’t catch it.


Gettimg Mail on the Road

Web Mail: Most Ineternet Service Providers (ISPs) allow one to get mail through their website. You’ll probably find it under Customer Service. Check with your ISP before you go on the road and then try it out from home to make sure it works.


Email: You can set up your laptop or computer of the host that you are visiting to get your mail normally. In Outlook Express, go to TOOLS and then ACCOUNTS and note how your account is set up. Note what entries there are under servers. You can change your existing account or add a new account called “away” or “away mail” and under server change the POP3 server to add a period and your ISP address as in .earthlink.net. For the SMTP server, use your host’s format and ISP as in SMTP.AOL.com. Make sure you know your password as you may have to enter it if you create a new account. If you are networked to your host’s network, that’s easy but if you have to dial his ISP you are better off using his computer than trying to dial his ISP with yours. You can get your mail this way at Starbucks or other places that have wireless Internet access including all Panera Bakery Shops. If you can’t find the host’s SMTP protocol to send mail, you can always send using webmail.



Maintenance

Introduction: Maintenance on a regular basis will keep your computer running at top speed without viruses and spyware. We’ll consider preventive measures to prevent infections, infection removal, routine checkups, hardware and software cleanups, software updates and routine scheduled tasks.


Firewall: Maintaining a healthy system should start with a few inoculations. These are preventive measures designed to keep the parasites out. One is a firewall. Windows XP has one and it prevents most unauthorized attempts to get into your computer but does not prevent your computer from calling out. Other firewalls operate in both directions. Zone Alarm is a good free firewall. Go to www.zonelabs.com.


Disk Cleanup: Places you visit on the Internet get saved in a temporary file folder. Removing them and emptying the recycle bin should be the first steps in routine maintenance. Click on MY COMPUTER and then right click on LOCAL DISK C: and then on PROPERTIES. Start with DISK CLEANUP. After that’s finished you can go to TOOLS and do any or all of the items listed there.


Defragmentation: Fragmentation occurs when you delete and add files to your hard drive. Each added file uses previously vacated space and if the new file won’t fit in that space, that space is utilized and the remainder of the file is inserted in the next available space. Thus, files do not occupy contiguous space on the disk. Defragmentation (defrag) corrects this condition but with today’s faster drives, fragmentation rarely is an issue. Right click on the drive you want to defrag, click on PROPERTIES and then choose the option that you want. Checking for errors first (Chkdsk) and then defrag is the appropriate approach. If it says that the disk is not fragmented enough to warrant a defrag, you can pass that over and check again after you’ve had some disk activity. You can schedule either or both of these tasks to run on a scheduled basis. If you normally have a three martini lunch on Thursday, schedule the tasks for Thursday at noon and they’ll be done when you return from lunch or choose some other time when the computer will be on but not used. Go to START, ALL FILES, ACCESSORIES, SYSTEM TOOLS, SCHEDULED TASKS. Double click ADD NEW TASK and then BROWSE to c:/WINDOWS/SYSTEM 32 and select CHKDSK.EXE for one task and DEFRAG.EXE for the other. Choose the schedule that you want. You may be required to enter a password. To get around having to enter a password each time it runs, go here:

http://www.pcworld.com/howto/article/0,aid,106724,pg,2,00.asp


You can use the scheduler if you can get it run reliably. Sometimes the program you want won’t run because the disk in use by another process or for some other reason and you may not be notified. I run the tasks manually when necessary. I start one when I won’t be needing the computer for a while. Choose what satisfies you.


Backup: Unless you feel comfortable retyping everything that you have in your computer you should back up any data that you don’t want to loose. See our March 17, 2004 program for details on backing up files. http://www.rootsweb.com/%7Eflpslc/cug31704.htm

The backup program in XP will not backup to a CD or DVD but you can backup files to you hard drive and then copy them to a CD or DVD. You can also get an external hard drive that plugs into the USB port that will comfortably hold anything you want to backup and some include backup programs that will initiate at the press of a key. Here’s a link to a list of free backup programs:

http://find.pcworld.com/47548 . Choose a program that satisfies your needs and use it as often as necessary to preclude losing all of your data.



Virus protection: A virus program is essential for preventing viruses and trojans from getting into your computer and for eliminating them if they sneak by. There are several out there and most require a yearly subscription. Try this free system scan http://housecall.trendmicro.com/ and then get some prevention. Viruses and trojans can’t spread unless there are unprotected systems to prey on. McAfee and Symantec are leaders in virus protection. You can buy programs at computer dealers or contact them online.


Spyware Removal: A spyware remover can remove spyware from your computer and Spybot Search and Destroy can “innoculate” your system to prevent spyware from being installed in the first place. www.safer-networking.org. Another free program is Ad Aware and you can get a download of that program at http://www.lavasoftusa.com/software/adaware/. Microsoft is Beta testing a new Spyware Removal Tool. Go here to learn more:

http://www.microsoft.com/athome/security/spyware/default.mspx One program may not catch it all so some people recommend using more than one.


Updates: Go to START, HELP AND SUPPORT and click on KEEP YOUR COMPUTER UP TO DATE and follow the steps to get automatic updates.


Temperature: How hot does your computer run? Overheating can lead to slow computer operation. Don’t let anything block the intake and outlet vents. On a thick carpet, you may want to place a board under your computer to raise it. To find out if your computer is running hot, you can download the free program, Motherboard Monitor. Go here, first to see if your computer is covered. http://mbm.livewiredev.com/ and click on Motherboard List in the left column. If it’s supported, download the program and install it and it will monitor the internal and external temperature of your microprocessor. Depending on your system, it may also read fan speeds and other temperatures. Use the information for your system at the above site to match built-in temperature sensors with the device that they are reading.