Archive for February, 2013

February 27, 2013

RootsTech 2013 — #Genealogy, #Conference, #Technology, #Apps

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

RootsTech.org is a genealogy conference that combines two of my passions: Genealogy (Roots) and Technology (Tech). Stanczyk went to last year’s conference and was impressed!

It is a Family Search International conference and is based in Salt Lake City at the Salt Palace Convention Center, not far from the Family History Library. It is a 3-day conference with a wide variety of topics covered. The dates for 2013 are: 21-March-2013  -  23-March-2013 (THU, FRI, SAT).

RootsTech2013

This jester thinks that last year was a better year, judging by the sessions that are planned for 2013 as compared to what sessions were done in 2012. However, the 2013 exhibitors seems to shaping up to be much better (they say 40% more).

The smartphone Apps were released:  25-Feb-2013.  So for those mobile genealogists, gear up by clicking on the following links:

Its a universal app (meaning it works on both iPhone and iPad).

The conference hall is wonderful and the people putting on the conference have conferences down pat. The logistics of this genealogy conference are well thought out.

February 25, 2013

Thinking About Gedcom — #Meme, #Genealogy, #RootsTech

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Stanczyk has been thinking about GEDCOM a lot these days. As you may know, GEDCOM is the de facto standard format for a genealogical family tree file, in order for it to be shared amongst the many genealogical software programs / websites / apps. Most genealogy programs still use their own proprietary format for storing data but will import / export the data in the GEDCOM standard for you to exchange data with another program or genealogist.

Did you catch the phrase ‘de facto standard’ ? OK it is NOT an open standard maintained by ISO or ANSI standards organizations. But it is widely supported and in fact you should NOT buy or use software that does not support the export and import of GEDCOM files!

Well we are coming up on RootsTech 2013 and my mind is turning back to the technical part of genealogy again!

Today’s blog is about the GEDCOM used by Ancestry.com. Were you aware that you can export your family tree from Ancestry.com? You can by selecting/clicking on ‘Tree Settings‘ under the ‘Tree pages‘ drop down menu (Tree Settings will be the second from the bottom in the menu list). If you click on ‘Tree Settings’ you will see a screen similar to:

ANCESTRY_TreeSettings

Notice that after you click on the ‘Export tree‘ button, that you get a new button named, ‘Download your GEDCOM file‘  in that same place.

In all likelihood if you click on the  ‘Download your GEDCOM file‘ button you will get a file in your Downloads directory on your local hard drive. It will have a name of:

<your-family-tree-name>.GED

Now the phrase ‘<your-family-tree-name>’  will actually be something like ‘Eliasz Family Tree.GED’ . So your Downloads directory will have a similar named file (complete with blanks in the file name). The size of the file will be dependent on how many individuals, families, sources, etc. that you have recorded in your family tree. Figure on a file size of 2MB for about 1,100 people.

Now this file you just downloaded from Ancestry.com is really just a plain text file with a set of standardized ‘tags’ defined by the GEDCOM standard. Software vendors are free to define their own custom tags too. Although CUSTOM tags must begin with an underscore (‘_’). I was curious as to how well Ancestry.com implements/adheres to the GEDCOM standard, so I wrote a little program (in PERL for you programmer types) to analyze my GEDCOM file that I just downloaded.

ReadGedcom_ANCESTRY

My program, read_gedcom.pl, spits out a slew stats about the GEDCOM including the tags used. As you may be able to see from the screenshot, there sorted at the end were 5 custom tags:

_APID,  _FREL,  _MILT,  _MREL,  _ORIG

These names do not have any meaning except to Ancestry.com and their website’s program(s). What you also see are that in 48,538 lines (in the GEDCOM file downloaded), that 5,158 lines have one of these five custom tags. Normally, I will just ignore these tags and import the GEDCOM file into my laptop’s genealogy software (REUNION, RootsMagic, PAF, etc.) and let that software ignore these non-understandable tags and within seconds I have my Ancestry.com family tree imported in to my computer’s genealogy software. That is fine  – no problems.

But what do you think happens you if turn right around and upload that GEDCOM file into your RootsWeb family tree? If you use RootsWeb, then you know you get a LOT of _APID notes across all of your ancestors and sometimes, if you have many facts/citations for any ancestor, then the RootsWeb page for him/her will be horribly marred by all of these _APID tags!

TIP

Remember I said the GEDCOM file is a TEXT file. As such it can be edited by whatever your favorite text editor that you use. If your editor does global search/replace, then you can easily remove these CUSTOM tags (_APID, etc.). That will make your RootsWeb family tree individual pages look MUCH better.

Now I know what you are thinking. Do NOT go editing your GEDCOM file!  I agree.  Make a copy of your GEDCOM file and edit the copy of the downloaded GEDCOM file to remove the lines with ‘_APID’ on them. You can remove all custom tags, but I just bother with the _APID which are so irksome. If your editor can remove the lines with ‘_APID’ then that is what you should do. But if all your editor can do is replace the lines that have _APID on them with a blank line then that is OK too. Make those edits and save the edited (copy) file.  The blank lines seem to be ignored by RootsWeb – thank goodness.

Now you can upload the edited file, with the _APID custom tags removed to RootsWeb and your family tree will again look the way it used to before,  without these irksome custom tags.

Next time I will tell you what I found when I looked closely at what ANCESTRY.com was putting into the downloaded GEDCOM file.

February 16, 2013

Presidents Day — #2013

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

AllUSPresidents

It is President’s Day on Monday. That got me to thinking about Washington and Lincoln. Stanczyk, has had an awful lot of mathematical training – the product of a degree from a School of Engineering. It is funny, the teachings that stick with you your whole life. One of the things that I learned that stuck with me was a little factoid from a Probability & Statistics course. I was taught that in a gathering of just of 19 people that the probability that two of them having the same day of birth (not the same year though) would be 50-50. That in any gathering of 19 people it would be a 50% chance of two people celebrating their birthday on the same day each year!

This being President’s Day weekend, I noted that we have had  44Presidents (only 43 different, since Grover Cleveland was the 22nd and the 24th President). So I asked myself did any two Presidents have the same day of  birth? Now if we ignore the Grover Cleveland issue, and we examine the dates of birth of all US Presidents, we do indeed find that two Presidents had the same day of birth. The day in calendar is November 2nd. The two Presidents who share that day are: Warren G. Harding and James K Polk.

Now you might expect that since we have > 38 Presidents, that there should be two pairs of matches. But the odds are only 50-50. So we have just one matching pair of Presidents. There were a lot of near misses (off by one day). If your birth month is not September or June (each of which only had one President) then the odds are pretty good that you, my dear reader, share a birth day with one of the Presidents. I’d say better than 50-50. So click on the link and see for yourself.

Happy President’s Day!

February 11, 2013

Polish National Archives to post 2.4 Million Historic Church Records — #Genealogy

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Stanczyk ‘s position has been overrun! I was trying to write a blog, but the course of events has been running at EXTREME Internet speed so much of this blog post may be “old news” to you — but in case its not, this is very exciting news!

NAC Scanning 2.4 Million RecordsAccording to a Polish website (The National Digital Library of Poland) …

URL: http://nac.gov.pl/node/682

  • By mid-year (2013), they plan to digitize 2.3 Million  historical  (>100 years old) vital records.
  • This will happen in two phases: March,  June
  • This PDF file (see link) lists 40 pages vital records from MANY parishes (a few synagogues too):
  • It appears the plan is to digitize about 1.37 Million records by March and the remainder (another 1 Milliion) by the end of June.

These are actual church record images! I hope they plan on digitizing records from the Kielce Archive (please do PACANOW, BIECHOW, SWINIARY, BESZOWA, ZBOROWEK, KSIAZNICE and STOPNICA parishes).

Can anyone detail the plans for JUNE yet? Unfortunately, the 1.37 Million records in March are NOT from the KIELCE archive or any parish where Stanczyk’s ancestors resided?

Do not forget about GENETEKA database in the meantime:

Thanks in advance for any answers from our genealogists resident in Poland!

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