Tuesday, May 3, 2016

New AncestryDNA Matching Update Now Online

We have been waiting for a couple of weeks now and as of minutes ago, all my testers pages and those of my cousins who have shared their pages with me have been updated.  I will have more on all this very soon.

Here is the accompanying supporting text:
AncestryDNA’s Cutting-Edge Science Gets Even Sharper

  We’re excited to share some of the advancements we’ve made to the science of finding your relatives through DNA, commonly referred to as DNA matching.
 Today, we’re rolling out an update to AncestryDNA that improves the precision of our DNA matching. And the good news for our AncestryDNA customers is, this update is free and has already been applied to your results.
 With the world’s largest consumer DNA database—1.5 million people and growing—plus the millions of family trees contributed by Ancestry members, we have been able to significantly improve the accuracy and quality of your DNA matching results.

What’s New?

- More precise matching—We can identify DNA connections with a better level of precision and accuracy than was possible before.
- More DNA matches—With this update, we have added more than 900 million cousin connections for DNA customers. And, you’ll continually get new connections since we have the largest consumer DNA database that is growing all the time.
- More time saved—We are providing an email notification for new 4th cousins or closer DNA matches so you won’t miss a thing.
 What to Expect

We’ve improved the confidence levels in estimating relationships by extending the comparison methods to potentially find longer segments of DNA shared between individuals. Individual results will vary, but because of this, you may see some DNA matches that were previously predicted to be more closely related to you at a higher confidence drop down in your list or no longer appear. Also, you may have new DNA matches that you haven’t seen before. If you have taken notes or "starred" a DNA match that no longer appears on your new list, you can download information about that previous match for a limited time from the DNA test settings page.
 To learn more about the confidence score for your DNA matches, check out our updated DNA Help article, "What does the match confidence score mean?" You can find this Help article on your DNA matches page by clicking on the question mark in the right-hand corner of the page.
 Have more questions? Read the frequently asked questions on this update.

Don’t Miss a New Discovery

With this update, we have also added a new weekly email that will notify you of 4th cousin matches (or closer). So, as new people take the AncestryDNA test, you can find out if a new close cousin is found.  
 If you haven’t opted in for notifications, it’s easy to do through the settings for your DNA test. Get the step-by-step instructions on how to do this here. If you manage multiple AncestyDNA tests in your account, you can set your preferences for each test.

  Advances in the Science
Phasing, trios, haplotypes, oh my. The AncestryDNA science team continues to make advances in the complex science of genetic genealogy. With this update, we’ve extended the areas in the genome that we analyze, so we can find larger areas of matching DNA. The new algorithm includes more diverse DNA than ever before, including many populations outside the U.S. In addition to that, we have now added more known DNA-tested parent and child (duo sets) and known DNA-tested parents (both Mom and Dad) and child (trio sets) to the process to make our phasing even more accurate. A big thanks to the AncestryDNA customers who are not just taking the test themselves but also encouraging parents and other close family members to take the AncestryDNA test.

What Makes These Advances Possible?

The short answer is that the 1.5-million people taking the DNA test plus the family trees they share are enabling new findings in the science of how we’re all related. Each person who takes the DNA test is connected into the vast family network of people using AncestryDNA. With each observation of relatedness in that DNA network, along with the confirmation of the family connections, our scientists are finding new methods to better predict who and how we’re related.
 We only know what we know with current data and research. As the database grows, what we know about our genetics and relationships grows with it.
 To learn more about the science behind this exciting update, our team has shared more of the technical details on our Tech Roots blog. Read it all here.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

AncestyDNA and FTDNA Sales - Get'em while it is cheap

As some of you may know, National DNA Day is April 25th, and commemorates the day in 1953 when a paper detailing the structure of DNA was published in Nature magazine. It also recognizes the completion of the Human Genome Project in 2003.

Ancestry is having a DNA sale to commemorate DNA day. DNA Day Sale for AncestryDNA. Only $79 and free shipping if you use the FREESHIPDNA code. Click below - http://www.tkqlhce.com/click-5455910-10508555-1404254934000

At  Family Tree DNA, they are also celebrating the DNA day accomplishments by having a sale on DNA tests for genealogy! 

FTDNA is launching their much-anticipated DNA Day Sale. which will extend through Tuesday, April 26, 2016 (11:59 PM Central).

The prices are below, and are valid on new tests and add-ons only. Discounts do not combine with existing group discounts. Upgrades will be discounted in June.

Retail Pricing
   Sale Price
Family Finder
mtFull Seq
SNP Packs
mtDNA plus
Not on Sale

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

New Advances in DNA Science Coming Your Way

From the Ancestry.com Blog posted this afternoon:

Posted by on April 20, 2016 in AncestryDNA
We’ve been refining and expanding the science behind DNA matching to find your relatives. And we’ve got some exciting improvements coming your way soon.
These advancements are expected to deliver more-precise predictions of whom you are related to, and how closely, among the million-plus others in the AncestryDNA database. And we will be making this update for free to AncestryDNA customers.
What does this mean for you?
Your DNA match list will automatically show the new results when the update is available.
Of course, we can’t make your list of DNA matches more accurate without removing some of the less-accurate ones. So, while you’ll have new DNA matches to research, some of your current DNA matches may no longer appear as a relative. We’ll be providing a way for you to download DNA matches that you marked with a star or have added notes on the site that no longer appear on your updated list.
Also, if you recently sent in a DNA sample and are waiting for your results, your DNA matches will automatically include this update when your results are ready. While we complete the update for all existing customers, we will not be posting new results for this brief period of time. We appreciate your patience as we work to make these updates for all our AncestryDNA customers.
Stay tuned, we will provide an expanded update soon.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Update: Expect changes in your AncestryDNA results in next week or two.

As I mentioned in my previous post, changes are going to be made in Ancestry's Timber algorithm in the next week or two according to Blaine Bettinger in a post on his Genetic Genealogist blog.

Update: Action post from Roberta at DNAeXplained regarding this change. https://dna-explained.com/2016/04/19/upcoming-ancestry-dna-update-urgent/

I won't quote all of Blaine's post here, you can read it for yourself at
http://thegeneticgenealogist.com/2016/04/19/ancestrydna-plans-update-to-matching-algorithm/, but here are some significant changes mentioned by him in his post.

Among the changes that are expected in this update are the following (bolding below is mine):
"•Phasing Improvement – AncestryDNA has significantly increased the reference haplotype set used for phasing prior to cousin matching, meaning that the quality of AncestryDNA’s phasing will increase. This should result in fewer phasing errors, and thus fewer lost matches and false positives."
"•Matching Improvement – AncestryDNA is changing how they identify matches between individuals. Previously, AncestryDNA was using “windows” or blocks of DNA to compare two individuals. They will now be used a SNP-based method to compare people. The problem with the previous method is that if the windows didn’t overlap a segment properly, they could either miss the segment entirely or shorten the segment. The SNP-based method will no longer miss or shorten these segments. As a result of this switch, it is expected that many matching segments will increase in size. The total shared cM with many, and possibly most, matches will increase."

"•Match Confidence Changes – there will also be a change to the matching thresholds/confidence scores; specifically, the relationship prediction thresholds will be more stringent. As a result, we will see some of our existing matches SHIFT; they will NOT be disappearing. Thus, we will NOT be losing any 2nd, 3rd, or 4th cousin matches, in the sense that these matches are gone. Instead, we will see some 2nds go to 3rd or 4th (possibly, but this will be a rare shift for most existing customers), see some 3rds go to 4th or distant (slightly less rare), and we will definitely see many 4ths go to the distant category."

Bottom line for me, at least, is that I will have to go back to every match entry in my database and update them all with the new information. I would suggest that you all record your current total page count for each of your test an then when the change is made, you will have a better understanding of when the change has been made and the impact on your total matches. Depending on your preference you may wish to hold off recording info in your spread sheets until after the latest changes are made. I will get a real good look at what changes are made thanks to all the info in my spreadsheet already.

So I am batting a thousand. Teach Ancestry in genealogy one of my genealogy classes and expect major changes after class is over.  Guess that keeps me in business. ;-)

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Here we go again - another major AncestryDNA alert!

It happened about a year and a half ago when Ancestry introduced their new Timber algorithm and half my matches for all six of my testers went away. Now their is the announcement below circulating among various DNA groups.

New Advances in DNA Science Coming Your Way

While you've been exploring your DNA matches, we've been refining and expanding the science behind DNA matching to find your relatives. And we've got some exciting improvements coming your way soon.

These advancements are expected to deliver more-precise predictions of whom you are related to, and how closely, among the million-plus others in the AncestryDNA database. And we will be making this available for free to all AncestryDNA customers.

What does this mean for you?
Your DNA match list will automatically show the new results when the update is available in the coming weeks. You’ll receive an email letting you know when it’s ready. In the meantime, it’s business as usual. You’ll continue to get new DNA matches as we find new possible relatives as the database grows.

Of course, we can’t make your list of DNA matches more accurate without removing some of the less-accurate ones. So, while you’ll have new DNA matches to research, some of your current DNA matches may no longer appear as a relative. We’ll be providing a way for you to download DNA matches that you marked with a star or have added notes on the site that no longer appear on your updated list.

What makes this possible?
AncestryDNA has quickly become the largest consumer DNA database, with 1.5 million people and growing rapidly. This is one of the major reasons our science team can develop significant improvements to finding and predicting relationships among AncestryDNA customers. We’re excited to share more details around the improvements when we release the update so you can dig into the science and technology.

So, stay tuned and look forward to the new possibilities for discoveries.


About right now all my genealogy students are laughing their heads off. I have this thing that happens anytime I teach a class involving Ancestry or AncestryDNA. Shortly after the class is over, Ancestry will always make major changes. This semester I taught a beginner and advanced class centered around AncestryDNA. Just damn!

Thursday, March 31, 2016

AncestryDNA Circles and NADs Restored

After much conversation and discussion with AncestryDNA today I am happy to report that all the missing DNA circles and NADs for my six testers has been restored. Still have not received a full explanation for what caused the disappeared Circles/NADs but glad to see them back on our pages.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

AncestryDNA is going to drive me to drink (the hard stuff)!

Every time I see that commercial on TV, the New Geico Spy commercial, it makes me think of AncestryDNA.

How you say?

The mom tells her super spy son on the roof of the building fighting the bad guys, "The Squirrels are back in the attic and your father won't call an exterminator – He says it is personal this time."

Well the AncestryDNA Squirrels are back. they are driving my crazy and it is personal this time. It is well known among my local genealogy students the accounts of my constantly fluctuating leaf matches on all the test I manage. Now Ancestry has taken it to a whole new level - the constantly fluctuating DNA circles and NADs. The sad part is it isn't just me, my all the students I have queried so far are experiencing the same thing.

So dear reader let me document the latest AncestryDNA issue below, among the many we have seen over the last four years. I maintain a spread sheet on all my testing results (AncestryDNA, FTDNA, GedMatch, 23andMe and DNALand), and because of this my statistics do not lie. I have/had the following DNA circles/NADs for my various family testers over the last two weeks.

Testers #1/2 are for my spouse's family and #3-6 are for my family.

Tester #1:
Middle March - 24 DNA circles and 20 NADs
March 26 - 14 DNA circles and 16 NADs
March 30 (Today) - 17 DNA circles and 16 NADs

Tester #2
Middle March - 14 DNA circles and 16 NADs
March 26 - 11 DNA circles and 10 NADs
March 30 (Today) - 12 DNA circles and 15 NADs

Tester #3
Middle March - 16 DNA circles and 2 NADs
March 26 -  8 DNA circles and 1 NAD
March 30 (Today) - 11 DNA circles and 1 NAD

Tester #4
Middle March - 6 DNA circles and no NADs
March 26 - 4 DNA circles and no NADs
March 30 (Today) - 4 DNA circles and no NADs

Tester #5
Middle March - 10 DNA circles and 8 NADs
March 26 - 4 DNA circles and 5 NADs
March 30 (Today) - 7 DNA circles and 6 NADs

Tester #6
Middle March - 4 DNA circles and 7 NADs
March 26 - 0 DNA circles and 7 NADs
March 30 (Today) - 2 DNA circles and 7 NADs

As has been the past leaf matches go up and down sometimes several times a day for my testers. Honestly, I am not sure what the heck they are doing out there in Provo.  I have seen NADs  and DNA circles go up and down on individual test but not by that much and that many testers (including my students).

So AncestryDNA what is your story this time? You still haven't fix some issues with my testers that I submitted before last Thanksgiving. I really do not want to have to put you in the corner with 23andMe. I understand that these products are in Beta but the wild swings I have seen over the last 15 days has me wondering how much we can trust with either product.

So has anyone else seen this issue? Sure would like some answers Ancestry!

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Dustup Between 23andMe and FTDNA

I guess it was only a matter of time before lawyers got their hands on our good thing -- genetic genealogy DNA testing -- and turned it into one hell of a legal mess (as most thing lawyers get their hands on turn into).
This new "thing" has so many moving parts, quite frankly I have decided to sit back and let the dust settle and see who or what is left standing. So for the time being, here are links to the major pieces of this nightmare as I have been able to find them.
I've said this before but IMHO, the minute the ABA allowed lawyers to advertise on TV was the minute that everything has gone to hell in a hand basket in this country. They have managed to screw up way to many and made this country into a very litigious society.
Here are the three links I have some far.
Family Tree DNA and GedMatch Dustup
Family Tree DNA Class Action Lawsuit Alleges Privacy Violations
Alaska class action lawsuit says Family Tree DNA posted info on public websites
Will it is what it is and if I hear anything else, I will report it here. I could say something here but given how 1st amendment free speech has been under attack lately, best to keep my  yapper shut. I don't need and lawyers, subpoenas or lawsuits at this stage of my life.

No more 23andMe testing in this household!

I have mentioned this several times in classes in recent weeks, but now it is time to put a more public face, uh, lipstick on this pig. If you are in the DNA testing marketplace for a DNA test right now my best advice is "DO NOT" do any genetic DNA testing at the company 23and Me. They have gone completely off the deep end in regards to those of us who are interested in genetic genealogy. Quite frankly I have never seen anything quite like it.
But hey, don't take my word for it. Roberta Estes on her DNAeXplained blog does a much better job at this point of explaining the issues than I would, but everything she mentioned in her post I have experienced first hand.
So if you have been thinking about testing at 23endMe for genetic genealogy purposes, be sure to read Roberta's comments in her Closing Up Shop at 23andMe and the Trap post.
Caveat emptor!

Monday, January 25, 2016

Genealogy Talk at MCUG Feb 8

If you are local to the Tri-State I will be speaking to the Mountain Computer Users Group on Monday February 8 at 6:00 pm on Using Technology to do Genealogy Research in the 21st Century. I will also conduct a general genealogy "Q&A" session following the presentation. A brief meeting for announcements and door prizes will start at 7:45PM.

MCUG meetings are held at the Sharp Memorial United Methodist Church in Young Harris, GA, next to the college.

The program will be held in the Fellowship Hall of Sharp Memorial Methodist Church located in Young Harris. Entry is from the South side parking area about midway down the building.

You can find more on their website including a map at http://www.mcug.org/Meetings/february2016.html

I hope to meet a few of you there at the MCUG meeting Monday night.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Ancesrty DNA matching system just gets wierder

For about the last three months I have been fighting major gremlins in the AncestryDNA matching system. One of my first matches at Ancestry/FTDNA for me and my dad was with a Texas Witt family cousin. That leaf match has totally disappeared, his tree is listed as private (it isn't and I am a contributor to the tree), and when I do a DNA surname search for Witt it doesn't even show up. I have called their tech support three times (each lasting well over 1/2 hour) and even though they put a ticket in, no resolution to date.
That is just one of the here one minute, gone the next, shows up in a few days again, disappears, etc.
Now today I get the weirdest email ever from Ancestry. It is titled "New Shared Ancestor Hint for Warner Lee Van Horn" (my dad).
My dad has a match and the most recent common ancestor (MRCA) is him. He is listed as his own father and the match is to an unnamed son. See screen grab below.
When I open up the "explore the connection" link, I am greeted with a 4c cousin who is not a leaf match (in fact, her tree is now private. She is a she and not a son as the link above states. See graphic below (click on image to get a closer look).
So I will be on the phone again soon with Ancestry to try to understand this bizarre occurrence. I swear this folks are going to make an old man out of me yet! ;-)

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

The Grumpy Genealogist

I can't pass this up. Granted it happened five years ago, but this incident put a smile on my face this morning. According to a newspaper article I found, one of my cousins - Wayne Witt Bates - took on the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) back in 2011.
The article below was originally published in the Washington Post in July 2011 and goes to show:
1) How hard it is to research a Rev War patriot, and
2) How rigid some folks can be in this world of genealogy research proofs as outlined in the article while allowing other original records (e.g. 1850-1870 census records) to pass as absolute proof.
I should add as a note of clarification that the DAR now allows Y-DNA testing for proof as long as the testing meets their demanding standards. The Y-DNA testing alone within their proof standard will not be enough. You have to have two males take the Y-DNA test, both with minimum 37 marker tests and these two closely related males must match exactly on "all" 37 markers. And to add insult to injury you still have to have all the written proofs you would have submitted anyway even if you had not submitted the DNA tests which requires a bunch of extra paperwork.
Sort of looks to me like someone wants to build a Y-DNA database for Rev War patriots courtesy of their descendants applying to the DAR for membership. I should add the mtDNA or autosomal DNA are not allowed as proof with the DAR.
Bottom line: I fully support my cousin Wayne on this one. Your one in a million Wayne.
Daughters of the American Revolution challenged by Bates family of Virginia
Wayne Witt Bates did not set out to take on the Daughters of the American Revolution. But he is not used to being challenged on his genealogy. A short list of his credentials: researcher for the Bates Family of Old Virginia (300 members and counting), coordinator of the Bates Family DNA project and, for 15 years, editor of the family newsletter, the Bates Booster.
“I am surprised DAR wants to fight me about the Bateses,” said Bates, 88, of Centreville, who has been researching his family tree since retiring as a Pentagon employee in 1974. “I know more than anyone wants to know.”
The genealogical throwdown began in January, when a cousin in Nevada, Suzanne Witt Adrian, told Bates that the Daughters of the American Revolution had turned away her application to have one of their ancestors, Reuben Bates Sr., recognized for his Revolutionary War service.
Proving direct descent from someone who aided the Revolutionary War effort has been a prerequisite for joining DAR since it was founded in 1890 as a response to women being excluded from Sons of the American Revolution. DAR — which describes itself as “dedicated to good works, such as promoting patriotism, preserving American history, and better education for children” — has more than 165,000 members, with hundreds of applications pouring in each month.
The organization, however, has strict standards when it comes to proof, with a preference for primary sources such as probate records, wills and census records. A DAR genealogist told Adrian, who is already a DAR member, that she didn’t prove she was descended from Reuben Bates or that he served in the war. She appealed to Wayne Bates for help. He submitted evidence to bolster their case, including DNA test results that, along with paper records, seemed to show conclusively that Adrian Bates descended from Reuben Bates Sr.
But in March, she learned DAR doesn’t accept DNA evidence, and the society turned back her application for a second time, saying she still hadn’t proved lineage or service to qualify Reuben Bates as a patriot. For Wayne Bates, this amounted to a declaration of war.
Bates, who resembles Colonel Sanders in giant square eyeglasses, began shooting off daily e-mails to DAR genealogists. He went on genealogy message boards and posted mini-screeds with titles such as “Current Rigid Methodology Renders DAR Immune to Logic” and “DAR credibility suffers.”
His lobbying campaign did not go over well at DAR’s downtown D.C. headquarters, at 1776 D St. NW. Stephen Nordholt, DAR’s administrator, warned Bates that if he didn’t stop bugging them, there would be “no further attention being given your matter — even if you are able to find new documentation that proves service of the individual in question.”
Among Bates family members, Reuben Bates Sr.’s Revolutionary War service has been accepted as fact since the 1970s because of something Wayne Bates had found at the National Archives.
Back then, when his knees still let him scour courthouses and church basements, he came across a book that contained a list of Continental Army soldiers assigned to Virginia. Inside was a description of what essentially was a pay stub for service in the Continental Army by one Reuben Bates.
It read: “Bates, Reuben — Soldier of Infantry — paid by Mr. Duval on March 4, 1783 — 36 (pounds).”
The payment record alone is not enough to prove service, Wayne Bates concedes. Colonial-era parents were not terribly creative when it came to naming their offspring. There were multiple Reuben Bateses and William Duvals running around the newly liberated colonies in 1783.
So Bates narrowed his search. He found four men named Reuben Bates living in Virginia during the Revolutionary War and looked up their vital statistics. Only one would have been the right age to have served and lived in the same county as a Duval: his ancestor, Reuben Bates of Louisa County.
Bates surmised that Duval was most likely Maj. William Duval, whose service in the Continental Army is verified by military pension records at the National Archives. In his pension application, Duval said he commanded troops from Louisa and several other counties and that he also owned land in Louisa in 1783. He was, in fact, the only Duval in Louisa County in 1783, tax records show.
Bates thought for sure that was all the proof he needed. He figured that as Reuben’s neighbor and probably his commanding officer, Duval had paid him for his service.
But DAR was still not convinced. Genealogist Thomas Ragusin, in a letter to Adrian and Wayne Bates, said the Duval on the payment record could not have been Maj. William Duval of Louisa because the record mentions “Mr. Duval,” not “Maj. Duval.”
Bates offers his own explanation for that. The war had been over for two years by then, and Duval would have returned to being a civilian.
‘An art form’
Bates admits to being a tad obsessive. For fun, he once tracked down every man who served on his Navy destroyer in World War II. He spent much of the 1980s researching the causes of railroad accidents after his brother, a railroad engineer, was wrongly blamed for one. “I cleared his name, clean as a whistle,” he says proudly. “It took 12 years, but I did it.”
The genealogical staff at DAR, by contrast, gets about two hours with each application. More than 90 percent are approved. The Bates case is part of a small minority that, instead, receive detailed “analyses” that lay out what is missing and what other documents to look for.
Genealogy “is not a science. It’s an art form,” says Terry Ward, who is DAR’s chief genealogist and leads a staff of 40.
Ward has short, gray hair and a slightly gravely voice. She’s worked in the DAR genealogy department for 14 years and remembers the days when correcting an old record involved scratching off the typewriting and then typing in the right information.
She has been the most frequent target of Bates’s barrage.
Ward has seen her share of applicants get upset when they are turned away, although they’re not usually as relentless as Bates. She doesn’t take it personally, she said. Nor do her staff members. They understand that genealogy is, at heart, an emotional exercise.
“It’s research and human nature. Someone goes up into the attic and finds Grandma was married twice and my uncle isn’t my uncle,” she says. “We understand that. We all started out researching our own families.”
She said proving service for a soldier in the Continental Line is rarely easy. Given the proliferation of identical names, proof of residency is critical to properly identifying someone. But the men who served on the Continental Line were pulled from different states, making it harder to know whether an ancestor is, for example, Reuben Bates from Virginia or Reuben Bates from New England.
Wayne Bates and other proponents of using DNA in genealogy argue that is precisely what DNA could help with. Within the Bates family, DNA has helped distinguish who descends from which branch. He said DNA evidence also backs up his claim that he is descended from Reuben Bates Sr. The Y chromosome DNA is passed down from father to son. Wayne Bates’s DNA was an exact match for that of a relative who, by paper, can document his lineage to Reuben. Other lineage societies, including Sons of the American Revolution, accept DNA evidence.
Ward and her colleagues said their problem with DNA is that it is still too imperfect a tool for them to rely on, unless someone is able to find every ancestor, dig them up and test their DNA. “If life were like ‘CSI,’ ” Ward says, “that would solve all of my genealogical problems.”
On a recent morning, Wayne Bates makes his way down to his cluttered office in the basement of the home he shares with his wife, Rose. At the foot of the stairs is a map of Fairfax County in 1760.
Refusing to quit
He grumbles that he doesn’t move as well as he used to and that he has to fork out $40 an hour to send a professional genealogist to ferret out documents for him. He does most of his research perched in front of his computer, his face hovering a few inches from the screen.
He picks his way around piles of binders, boxes, an old exercise bike, file cabinets and an armchair. He points to a volume titled “Ancestors and Descendents of William Whitt (1775-1850),” by David F. Whitt.
“That’s a tremendous book,” he says.
Bates looks around at the mess. “You ought to see it up here,” he says, tapping his forehead.
“I still think the first genealogist made an innocent mistake,” he says. But the rejection by Ragusin, the other DAR genealogist, was galling. “He ignored all the evidence.”
At one point, Bates’s cousin suggested they ditch the effort to recognize Reuben Sr., but the old man refused.
“My poor ancestor is blue in the face from holding his breath,” he says. “DAR is still holding him in limbo.”
I tip my hat to you cousin Wayne.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Happy New Year 2016

Our 23andMe DNA test results are in! And our impressions of their service . . .

Yesterday, I got back the results of my son's atDNA test. It is my first experience with this genetic genealogy testing company. I have tested in the past at Ancestry and FTDNA. And in my opinion of 23andMe - what an absolute utter mess.

The site is not user friendly (very difficult to navigate), the genetic tools, especially the chromosome browser, if that is what they call it, is non-standard and it is darn near useless.

They have loaded their plate up for all this health stuff and turned away from the genetic genealogy part of DNA testing. To add insult to injury it looks like they may have hired some of Ancestry's programmers to make their site real pretty, but like Ancestry and their "new site" the trade off is it is non-functional as a working DNA testing site (tongue firmly planted in cheek).

This experience has been a huge disappointment and as a genetic genealogy instructor I will make sure to let my students know not to utilize this service if they are interested in doing real genetic genealogy testing.

Bottom line: I immediately took his raw data and uploaded it to GedMatch (will also populate his test to FTDNA), and will wash my hands of this site, their tests, tools and company. For something that I have heard others rave about in the past, the 23andMe of today pretty much sucks and is a huge disappointment IMHO.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Gedmatch's new spreadsheet feature

I am a huge fan of Gedmatch, a tier 1 supporter. It is a place where you can read the tea leaves, and tell the story that your atDNA test results hold for you. TL Dixon on his Roots & Recombination DNA blog just posted about a new feature - a spreadsheet option when you run your Gedmatch kit number (mine is A343022) through the Gedmatch admixture calculators (ie Dodecad, MDLP, PuntDNA, Eurogenes). This new Population Spreadsheet corresponds to your ORACLE results --- simply a population-fitting program measuring your genetic distance to a set of chosen reference populations based upon your Gedmatch admixture calculator results.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Tri-County Community College Spring 2016 Genealogy Classes

Here is a list of genealogy classes that I will be teaching at Tri-County Community College in Peachtree, North Carolina, during the Spring 2016 semester.

Genealogy – Searching for Your Ancestors

Who am I and where did I come from? It's that intriguing question that has made genealogy research one of America's most popular hobbies. But where does one begin such research? What resources exist? How can you prove that what you find is true and valid? How do you go beyond America's borders to find roots in other English speaking nations? This "new" TCCC genealogy course - Searching for your Ancestors - offers the beginner and experienced genealogist alike a fresh approach to genealogy research. Subjects cover the full gambit from organizing your research to exploring your family history using traditional and electronic research, social media, and our newest tool DNA testing. Whether you are new to genealogy or have been family hunting since microfilm days, this course will assist you in researching your family in the 21st century. This beginner/intermediate course is a prerequisite for advanced genealogy courses offered at TCCC. 32.5 hrs.(13 weeks)
January 19 - April 12 - Tuesday 6:30 p.m. - 9:30 p.m.

Genealogy – Getting Started with Genetic Genealogy

Genetic science can help you with your genealogy research, but you are going to have to take a test first. That test is a "low cost" autosomal DNA test available at DNA testing companies such as Ancestry, Family Tree DNA or 23andMe. This course will cover the new and expanding field of genetic genealogy basics and is designed for DNA newbies and other genealogists who want to get the most from their DNA testing. Some of the topics to be covered include an introduction to DNA testing and technical terms, the different types of autosomal DNA tests available, how DNA testing will help your genealogy research, what are your ethnic origins and how to interpret your results. Special emphasis will be given to the AncestryDNA autosomal test. If you want to demystify genetic genealogy, and you want to use this new and exciting research tool in your family history study, then this course is for you. This course is a prerequisite for the advanced DNA course. 7.5 hrs. (3 weeks)

January 21 - February 4  - Thursday 6:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.

Genealogy – Getting More Out Of Genetic Genealogy Research

This advanced course is intended for the genealogist who has a thorough understanding of genetic genealogy basics and has experience applying DNA testing to family history research. The course will examine the methods used by genetic genealogists to thoroughly and accurately analyze DNA testing results to advance knowledge of an individual’s genealogy. Instruction will include the incorporation of various types of DNA testing results, analyzed in conjunction with documentary evidence. Part of this course will include comparing DNA testing data from all of the companies offering products to the genealogy community with explanations and demonstrations of the most valuable features and tools for the genetic genealogist. Students in this course will be exposed to skills for integrating DNA testing with traditional genealogy research. Pre-Requisite: Getting Started with Genetic Genealogy course. 12.5 hrs. (5 weeks)

February 11 - March 10 - Thursday 6:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.

Genealogy – Genealogy Research in Military Records

Military records are from times of war and times of peace. They identify individuals who served in the armed forces or who were eligible for service. How can Military Records help in our genealogy research?  Military records can help you learn more about your ancestors who served their country and can often provide valuable information on the veteran, as well as on all members of the family. It is highly recommended that you have taken one of our beginner/intermediate courses before you take this course. 7.5 hrs. (3 weeks)

March 17 – March 31 - Thursday 6:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.

Genealogy – Getting It Right

If you are one of the millions of people who research, record, organize, or share family history, then this course is for you. You will learn a systematic approach to recording information in your genealogy databases and online trees. This course will teach you the rules and language you need so that your research will fit smoothly and efficiently with the rest of the family trees and histories being compiled worldwide. We will teach you how to compile a style guide for all your data entry regardless of the genealogy platforms you use. Whether you are a beginner or seasoned veteran in the world of genealogy, this is a class you do not want to miss. 5 hrs. (2 weeks)

April 7 – April 14 - Thursday 6:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.

For more information or to get your name on the interest list contact Lisa Long at (828 835-4241).

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Merry Christmas Family Tree Maker Users

Well if you were using Family Tree Maker (FTM) software and you used it to interface (tree sync) with your Ancestry tree(s), this announcement will not make you a happy camper. Got it yesterday in e-mail and confirmed it on their Ancestry blog. Also thank you Karen Howard, one of my genealogy students, for also passing along the heads up on this.
Dear Family Tree Maker™ community,
Ancestry is proud to have made a significant investment this year to bring valuable new content and records to the Ancestry site. In 2015, we’ve made 220 million searchable historical records from Mexico available, more than 170 million pages from the largest collection of U.S. will and probate records, among others. We’ve also introduced new features such as Ancestry Academy, and major advancements for AncestryDNA.
As we strive to provide our customers with the best experience possible, we are constantly evaluating our services and product offerings. True to this focus, we’ve taken a hard look at the declining desktop software market and the impact this has on being able to continue to provide new content, product enhancements and support that our users need. With that, we’ve made the tough decision to stop selling Family Tree Maker as of December 31, 2015.
We will continue to support existing Family Tree Maker owners at least through January 1, 2017. During this time, all features of the software, including TreeSync™ will continue to work. Our Member Services team will also remain available to assist with questions or issues you may have.
These changes are never easy. But by focusing our efforts, we can concentrate on continuing to build great products for our loyal Ancestry community.
You can find additional details about the retirement of Family Tree Maker on our blog.
So this is more fallout by the implementation of their new Ancestry website next week. This company continues to amaze me how they manage to tick off their members on a regular basis.
Not sure who is advising Tim Sullivan Ancestry CEO in these matters, but I guess when you are the 10,000 pound gorilla in the room, you will do what you want subscribers be damned.
My guess is this represents the Internet cloud mentality that permeates the net these days. Also this looks like more a marketing ploy to keep you as a subscriber rather than doing good genealogy. I can't imagine doing genealogy in a net/tree only environment.
If you are using FTM software I highly recommend making the move to Legacy genealogy software.
Geoff Rasmussen at Legacy is smiling all the way to the bank.