Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Ancestry Issues Continue

Those of you who have followed this blog for any length of time know that I have a love hate relationship with Ancestry.com. In the nearly 14 years I have been a member it seems like things run along well then ... boom ... all hell breaks loose. While I am well aware of the DDOS issues that recently hit Ancestry, this isn't part of that problem. This has been a long term issue that I have repeatedly addressed and have heard nothing, nada, not even a peep. So I filed another feedback this afternoon and promised them I would also be posting it here so let's see if I hear back (bet you a dozen Georgia lottery tickets I won't).

From my feedback to Ancestry -

I have seen this before your DDOS issues so I am confident that your recent DDOS attack has nothing to do with this feedback. It has never been fully explained how initiating a surname and location search from the DNA match page is suppose to work and I have asked this question before with no one at Ancestry being able or willing to answer. But if I use both the surname and location searches to narrow things down (e.g. Smith, Virginia USA), here lately after doing such a search and looking at a match or two, I consistently get the message "Trees unavailable" message when I go back to the match page with both surname and location still selected. This is very very frustrating and its does it regardless of the browser I use (IE11 compatibility on/off, Firefox or Chrome). If I clear the search parameters and return to the matches pages the trees come back and display as normal. Initiate another search such as surname only and it also works fine. Initiate surname and location and after viewing a match or two the error message mentioned above comes back. So can someone at Ancestry please address this. Exactly how is the surname/location search function on the DNA matches page work and is it in fact broken? Is the surname/location search function together an AND/OR function or are they in fact separate? I will be posting this to my general genealogy blog so I really expect someone to provide and answer about what is really going on here."

We shall see what we shall see. I will let my readers know if I here anything.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Ancestry.com to Retire Five "Old" Genealogy Services

Ancestry.com announced yesterday that it will "retire" five of its services as of 5 Sep 2014. Ancestry.com's executive vice president of products, Eric Shoup, said that ending these services will allow Ancestry.com to focus on its core products and mission.

"We’re always looking to focus our efforts in a way that provide the most impact, while also delivering the best service and best product experience to users," said Shoup. "To that end, we’ve decided to retire some of our services."

The services that will be retired include:
Subscribers and active users of each service will receive an email with details on any refunds (if applicable) and how to retrieve their content. The links I have included above for each site will send you to the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) pages for that service and each site will also have a retirement landing page.

I want to emphasize that the AncestryDNA (autosomal) test is not affected by the retirement of the company Legacy Y-DNA and mtDNA testing. AncestryDNA autosomal testing will continue to be available as Ancestry continues to invest in this new technology. Only the y-DNA and mtDNA tests will be retired.

If you did do a Y-DNA/mtDNA test with Ancestry, after September 5, 2014, you will no longer be able to view your Y-DNA and mtDNA results on the website, but you can download your raw DNA data prior to that time by visiting www.DNA.ancestry.com and logging in to begin the download process of that raw data. Your raw DNA data will be exported into a .csv file format, and that can be uploaded to other Y-chromosome and mtDNA testing services, and online databases.

As far as the Genealogy.com and its older GenForum messages databases, these will remain in the read-only mode. Shoup noted, "We're pleased to announce that GenForum message boards, Family Tree Maker homepages, and the most popular articles will continue to be available in a read-only format on the Genealogy.com site." This means you will be allowed to view the older messages and articles, but they cannot be changed or edited.

The following areas at Genealogy.com will be retired: All member log-in functionality will be retired, and the following pages will no longer be accessible after September 5, 2014 -- MyAccount, MyGenealogy, My Home Pages, HeritageQuest (ProQuest) content; Virtual Cemetery; Outdated and less popular help articles; and Shop.

If you had any data or content that you created on the sites closing above, you will have the ability to print or export My Trees and manually print or save additional content you've uploaded until September 5, 2014. To preserve the information you've added, you will have to log in to your account to export, print, or save your information.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

From the what were they thinking department!

Death is never a funny matter but some tombstones can be. From the what were they thinking department, I present to you . . .

Another Ancestry Tree Faux Pau

As one of my favorite western actors Chill Wills said in the movie McLintock -- People, People, People!!!

Ah come on folks. Please use a bit of sense. You can't be the parents of a child if you weren't yet born. Case in point is this sad Ancestry tree below (and all the ones who have picked up this same stuff on a click through).

I have purposely left off the name of the tree involving the Debnam, Townley and Gyrmes families so as to not totally embarrass the person who owns it. Sad part is there are a "big bunch" of people who have this same lineage in their Ancestry trees.

So to my genealogy students who follow the blog, and anyone one else who is just tagging along for the ride, what is wrong with the lineage above?

Here is another one that is even worse to illustrate my point.

This one is even sadder. Look closely at the third generation for the couple who had a child at age 9 for both parents.

If you can't see the graphic click on it and it will blow it up. Sorta like I just did on these rotten lineages above.

"Drago break out that hog leg and get me some attention."

Monday, June 2, 2014

What can you use to clean gravestones?

It is a very common query I get from my genealogy students out at Tri-County Community College, "How do you clean tombstones." My answer has always been carefully and gently.

Well I have heard of the product that Dick Eastman mentioned in his newsletter over the weekend, but haven't used it yet, but I will.

Without further ado, I will let Dick explain this in his own words from his column at (http://blog.eogn.com/2014/06/01/use-d2-biological-solution-to-clean-gravestones/)

"Genealogists and anyone else interested in preserving cemetery tombstones and other objects exposed to the weather should become familiar with D/2 Biological Solution. It is useful for cleaning tombstones without causing any damage to the stone.

"The solution is safe for use and does not harm the tombstone. Even the highly-respected Association for Gravestone Studies recommends the product in the organization’s FAQs (Frequently-Asked Questions) at https://www.gravestonestudies.org/knowledge-center/faq-s#faqnoanchor:

“Treat a wet gravestone with D/2 Biological Solution, scrub into a lather using a plastic bristle brush, and smooth the lather into the inscription to make the letters more readable. Afterward, rinse the stone thoroughly.”

"Further details may be obtained from A Graveyard Preservation Primer, 1st Edition, by Lynette Strangstad and published by the Association for Gravestone Studies at http://goo.gl/xM4Qx4.

"D/2 Biological Solution is even used to clean the outside of the White House and also recently won a Veterans Administration contract to supply cleaner for over 3.5 million headstones and another contract to clean Civil War monuments at the Chickamauga battlefield. (Details may be found at http://d2bio.com/news.)

"D/2 Biological Solution is a biodegradable, easy-to-use liquid that removes stains due to mold, algae, mildew, lichens and air pollutants. It is effective not only on tombstones, but also on marble, granite, limestone, brownstone, travertine, masonry, terra cotta, concrete, stucco, wood, and other architectural surfaces, including monuments and sculptures.

"D/2 Biological Solution is easy to use. Apply it to the surface to be cleaned, preferably by using a soft-bristle brush. Wait 10 to 15 minutes, and then scrub the surface to be cleaned, again by using a soft nylon or natural bristle brush to loosen most biological and air pollutant staining. Never use a stiff brush or anything abrasive on a tombstone or other stone surface! Be sure to bring a watering can or other water source along so that you can rinse the solution off the cleaned surface when you’re done.

D/2 Biological Solution:
  • is biodegradable
  • will not harm plants, stone, animals or people
  • contains no acids, salts, or chlorine
  • is pH neutral
  • will not etch metals or glass
  • is not a hazardous material and requires no special handling or protection
  • is used full strength with no in-field mixing required
  • contains no carcinogenic compounds as defined by NTP, IARC, or OSHA
  • is considered essentially non-toxic by swallowing
  • requires no special ventilation during use
  • has a shelf life of 5 years
"D/2 Biological Solution is available in 1-gallon and 5-gallon containers and 55-gallon drums.

"All in all, I’d suggest this is a good product used to clean many surfaces, including tombstones. You can learn more about D/2 Biological Solution at http://d2bio.com. It can be ordered from a number of distributors with a list available at http://d2bio.com/buy-d2. I also found it available in 1-gallon containers from Amazon at http://goo.gl/LfebAH."

Thanks Dick for sharing that with the rest of us. I have a tombstone in New Orleans that could use this stuff (see below).

Sunday, June 1, 2014

An AncestryDNA Research Tip Revisited

So you have taken the AncestryDNA autosomal DNA test (over 400,000 of us have), and you now have one of the most useful genealogy tools ever invented since the microfilm reader.

But, and you know there is always a but to these things, sometimes you get the dreaded . . .

Private tree graphic

And what is even worse is this . . .

Leaf match in a private tree graphic

Then things take a turn for the worse when you write the match via Ancestry and never get an answer from them about who the identity of the MRCA ancestors are.

Down page from here in this blog I wrote a detailed research tip on clicking on the profile of your match and see if they have some public trees listed in their profile.

Based on my research about 25% to 30% of the private trees on my DNA pages have public trees listed on their Ancestry.com profile page. More than likely this is just a issue of your match not knowing that they should link their DNA results to their public tree or they didn't have a tree when they took the test, but they do not or haven't remembered to attach that tree to their DNA results (or do not know how to do it).

When I get one of these profile tree results, I will send them and Ancestrymail message letting them know I am willing to help them link their tree to their DNA results. It has paid off.

But, another item that I should mention is that Ancestry has admitted that they have some occasional issues with their Ancestrymail system. I have no less than a dozen different times when my cousins indicated they did not get a notification from Ancestry that they had mail from me. In one case this was a leaf match in a private tree and after three months, a couple of emails and a feedback report to Ancestry my match finally got back to me.

While this whole AncestryDNA thing is not perfect, I much prefer working with my AncestryDNA results than my FTDNA Family Finder. That site is much more labor intensive and about the only thing I use it for is their advanced tools for matches such as the chromosome browser, etc.

Bottom line dear blog reader, if you get either of these two graphics below be sure to check that match's profile page. You may still get the info you seek for that DNA match.