Friday, January 22, 2010

News Ketchup for 21 January 2010

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Holidays, Blogger's Day, and the Vault series have put me way behind. To ketchup, here’s several FamilySearch and  news items.

Bullet Ancestry.comThe Genealogue wasn’t feeling the love when he wasn’t invited to In retaliation, the hilariously funny blogger penned his, “Top Ten Reasons I’m Not Attending Blogger Day 2010.” A minor warning to my most-conservative readers: if you find Conan O’Brian offensive, if Jay Leno or David Letterman occasionally cross the line, or if the Ancestry Insider’s humor has ever made you uncomfortable, some of Chris Dunham’s humor may also do the same. But if my warning only enhances your desire to check him out, you’ll definitely want to avail yourself of the “Top Ten Lists” link in The Genealogue website header.

FamilySearch BulletJames Anderson posted a newsy item on FHCNET last month with a bunch of insider rumors he’d heard during a meeting for community volunteers working on the FamilySearch Wiki.

  • New FamilySearch (NFS) version 0.99, released in December, has improved place name support. Anderson previously could not enter, but can now, a location with five levels. This might be necessary when including a cemetery name in addition to city, county, state, and nation.
  • Anderson heard that NFS will roll out to Asia before it goes to genealogists outside the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
  • FamilySearch knows that sourcing is a problem in NFS and solutions are being worked on. (I sure hope so!)
  • FamilySearch also knows that an uncombine is much more onerous than combine and is working on a solution.
  • IOUS problems are nearly resolved. Solving this problem has consumed a lot of resources that can finally be applied to enhancing NFS.
  • Randy Bryson, a FamilySearch employee, had indicated that Record Search would be getting a large amount of unindexed images added in about six months time. And if not in six months, then some other time…

Bullet announced last week that it is discontinuing publication of Ancestry Magazine. See the full announcement on the Ancestry Magazine website. (Private message: Best wishes to all my good friends at Ancestry Magazine. Let me know where you land.) “And another one’s gone. Another one bites the dust…”

FamilySearch BulletPaul Allen on the cover of Mormon Entrepreneur magazineSpeaking of magazines, a new magazine, Mormon Entrepreneur, is featuring in the current issue several successful Family History entrepreneurs and companies that you may be familiar with. Obviously, some material may target members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons) or at least to New FamilySearch users. But most of it is of interest to anybody in genealogy. Paul Allen made the cover. The magazine is online only, so there is no center fold. In this, the third issue, you’ll find:

BulletTreeAll you literary folk already know about William Wordsworth’s poem, “We are Seven.” But I discovered it only recently. I think because I am a genealogist—and because I believe in eternal families—I found the poem strangely poignant. Read it on the Google Books website.

Bullet recently improved the wildcard feature used in searching.

Wildcard Basics. There are two wildcard characters: the question mark and the asterisk. Use a question mark in place of a letter when a name can be spelled with alternate letters at that spot. For example, Nels?n will match Nelson and Nelsen. Use an asterisk when the alternatives are of different lengths. For example, to match Abbot and Abbott, use Abbo*. Don’t be surprised if the asterisk matches names that you hadn’t thought of, such as Abbordanddo for Abbo*. An interesting quirk of the asterisk wildcard is that it can also match zero letters. So Abbo* will also match Abbo. You can use this to your advantage, however. You could search for Abbot*. The same is NOT true for the question mark. If you use one, there MUST be a letter at that spot.

Previously, required you to have three regular letters before you could use a wildcard. Consequently, while you could use a wildcard at the end of a name, such as Han*, you could not use it at the beginning.

With the improvements, now the three regular letters can be anywhere, such as Ra*d. And a name can begin with a wildcard, like *ieffer, as well as end with one, like Jens*. However, you are not allowed to have wildcards at both beginning and ending.

FamilySearch BulletFamilySearch users have long complained that separate login accounts are required for the old, the New FamilySearch, the Wiki, the FamilySearch Forums, FamilySearch Indexing, and for other websites belonging to the Church. Users are finally seeing the first steps towards solving this problem. Members of the Church can now use the same login account for the FamilySearch Wiki as for Stake and Ward websites. Clicking Sign In displays this message:

FamilySearch Wiki Sign In Message

Now might be the best opportunity you’ll have to register the login name of your dreams. The login name you claim will eventually be used across all FamilySearch websites. Registration is open to all, regardless of membership in the Church.

Bullet Ancestry.comNear the end of December, DearMYRTLE discovered a flaw in’s “View Maps” feature. Genealogists have long included county names along with locality and state names.

Some localities are divided by county lines, such as Franklin Park, New Jersey, which is bisected by the Middlesex/Somerset county line. Sometimes separate localities share one name when separated by a boundary, such as Wendover, Utah and Wendover, Nevada. And some names are just plain duplicates, like the nine Springfield Townships of Pennsylvania.

The problem comes when passes a location name to for placement on a map. The mapping software expects “street, city, state” instead of “city, county, state.” If it can find a location matching this misinterpretation, it places the location there. DearMYRTLE found that “Wenatchee, Chelan, Washington” was interpreted as a location in Chelan City rather than Chelan County.

I tried to reproduce the problem last night and found another error. Actually, clicking the “View Maps” link from a census record worked correctly. Perhaps fixed the problem DearMYRTLE found. But when I clicked on locations in a tree, I got “Server Error: UserAccount service failed to log you in”. Perhaps this was a temporary condition last night. Or perhaps in fixing DearMYRTLE’s bug, they broke something else.

See DearMYRTLE’s entire article on her website.

FamilySearch BulletJohn Vilburn announced on FHCNET that PAF Pal is now available for free. He says,

Steve Cannon, the developer of PAF Pal, passed away a few years ago. He was a good programmer and a good friend.

PAF Pal was designed with the old TempleReady workflow in mind, although some of its functionality continues to be useful in some situations. Now that new FamilySearch is being used by so many people, we have contacted Steve's family and they have agreed to allow us to offer PAF Pal at no cost. To get your copy, go to and click on the Purchase menu. Scroll down to find the free license for PAF Pal. Once you have your license you can download PAF Pal by going to the Download menu and choosing the Freeware/Shareware link.

PAF Pal is an add-on program for PAF 5. It can expand or abbreviate US states, Canadian provinces, and Great Britain counties. It can add or remove “USA” or “U.S.A.” It can do search and replace parts of names, parts of notes, and LDS temple codes. It enables searches for,, and And it can print lists and reports. It can clear custom ID fields, Ancestral File Numbers, or all LDS fields. It can even play the songs that were included in PAF version 2.

Thank you to John and the Cannon family.


I’m out of time, but not out of news…

Check out’s beta Mundia website.

FamilySearch BulletFor NFS users, see comments about patron contributed ordinance data from FamilySearch’s Ron Tanner, posted on FHCNET.

I’m still not done. But I’m off to bed!


  1. Is's "mundia" kind of an updated version of their old site? Looks interesting....curious how will it work with private trees?
    As an aside...has anyone else noticed that does not play well with Google's Chrome browser?

  2. doesn't seem to be playing well with any browser today.

  3. Mundia was revealed last year by Tamura Jones. Here's the link to the Mundia article:


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