Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Bill Mangum–What’s New with FamilySearch in 2012?

Bill Mangum of FamilySearchYou’ll recall I railed on after their RootsTech class titled “Five New Things to Try at” (See “You Are Wasting Your Money.”) Since I try to treat and FamilySearch evenly, it’s time to rail on FamilySearch.

Bill Mangum, nine years with FamilySearch, did a great job. Once again, the problem is me. I follow these organizations so closely, that what is new to the general public is not new to me. Unfortunately, at the St. George Family History Expo when I saw a class titled “What’s New With FamilySearch in 2012,” I thought I’d get a vision of what was coming in 2012.

The class could have been titled “What Was New at FamilySearch in 2011.”

Still, there were some forward looking statements.

FamilySearch has some aggressive goals concerning the 1940 census. When it is released, FamilySearch will have someone at the National Archives, ready to accept delivery of the images. FamilySearch will then immediately start posting images on According to Mangum it may take FamilySearch 10 days to get them all online. “We want to have them up just as fast as we can.” (If you don’t want to wait, the National Archives will have them posted on their own website, , by 9 am.)

The syllabus stated that in the near future FamilySearch would support searching multiple collections from the browse all collections page, the search form, and via filters on the results page. I have it on good authority that before you see multiple-collection search, you will see collection-specific search. Collection-specific search will allow a richer search form which supports the particular set of indexed fields in a specific record collection.

“FamilySearch will soon provide you with more options for deciding which matching requirements you want to use.” Today, each field in the search form has a little checkbox which activates “exact” matching for that field. “Shortly you will be able to specify Exact, Exact+Close or Exact+Close+Missing on a field by field basis.”

I’ve mentioned before that FamilySearch was replacing its Flash image viewer with an HTML viewer while was switching the other direction. Flash is a special technology that requires the addition of a browser plugin. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work in some libraries that don’t allow plugins. It also doesn’t work on many hand-held devices. HTML is a standard that requires nothing more than a current browser like Internet Explorer, Firefox, or Chrome. The new FamilySearch image viewer does everything the old viewer did save two things: it doesn’t have a thumbnail and it doesn’t allow printing of a rectangular portion of the screen.

FamilySearch plans to translate their wiki into different languages. It currently has 65,000 articles and 40 more are added every day.

FamilySearch would like to catalog all the holdings of the family history centers. They would also like to digitize the unique resources of each.

Online film ordering ( is available now pretty much anywhere but in the Northeast. Speaking of film, as of 15 February film rental prices went up. Short term loans are now $7.50 and extended loan costs $18.75.

There are 125,000 active volunteers indexing over 125 projects. About 200 million names are indexed per year.

In his subsequent session, “FamilySearch Global Initiatives,” Mangum shared a couple of stats you might find interesting. Nearly 1,000 people work for FamilySearch.

It used to take 290 days for an indexing project to get published. They have reduced that time by 3.5 times. By my calculation, that means it takes an indexing project 82 days to get published.

Now let’s apply the math to the 1940 census. If it’s released on 2 April 2012…

Monday, February 27, 2012

Susan Easton Black’s Great Joy

Susan Easton Black
Susan Easton Black
addressing a group
several years ago.
Photo credit:
R. Scott Lloyd,
LDS Church News

“The biggest problem they had to face was death,” said Susan Easton Black about the founding of Nauvoo, Illinois by members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1839. Death was prevalent because the settlers were trying to reclaim swampland on the Mississippi River.

“The most prosperous man in town advertised, ‘Come and get yourself measured for a coffin. If you wait we may not have one that fits you.’”

Black was the opening keynote speaker at the 2012 St. George Family History Expo. She is a professor of Church History and Doctrine at Brigham Young University (BYU) in Provo, Utah.

While her address was largely targeted towards members of the Church, her life-long love for family history is something we all understand.

“Why would I do this when I look so normal?” she said. At one point in her life she couldn’t see herself actively studying family history. “When I was old and could only fog a mirror I might consider it.”

But her Grandma had planted seeds of joy when she was just a little girl. “I thought my grandmother was terrific.” Instead of fictional bedtime stories, her grandmother would share stories of their ancestors.

When she was old enough to learn typing, she talked her father into buying a wide-carriage typewriter so she could type up her grandmother’s stories. She would sit next to here and ask her questions.

Why would she dedicate her life to a study of family history when “she looks so normal?” The answer was two words: “great joy.”

Yup. That’s something all of us can understand.

Friday, February 24, 2012

FamilySearch/ Cooperating?

Credit: Featurepics
On 17 February FamilySearch issued a press release announcing the last month’s newly published record collections. FamilySearch released 6.5 million indexed records and 5.6 million images.

What I found interesting is that the indexes of several of the collections were noted as “courtesy of” You’ll recall back in November 2011 I found that published a bunch of vital records they obtained from FamilySearch. (See “’s Vital-ity.”)

This suggests that perhaps the two exchanged record collections. On the other hand, there was three month difference in the two events so maybe the two are not related. Or maybe is more agile than FamilySearch.

Another interesting observation made from the press release regards the indexes and images. All the indexed records were from All the images had no indexes.

As I’ve previously reported, FamilySearch has stated its intension to publish images as soon as possible after the camera operator clicks the shutter button. If you figure 800 images per microfilm roll, 5.6 million images for the month is the equivalent of 7,000 rolls of microfilm. That’s exciting stuff.

But it reveals a big need. FamilySearch’s indexing work force can’t keep up with the amount of cool stuff coming from the field. Lest anyone misunderstand, I don’t want to decrease the number of camera clicks. I want to increase the number of indexing volunteers.

That requires your help. Visit and volunteer.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

“Against the Policy of the Church”

“The LDS Church has suspended access to its genealogy database for a church member who last month had a posthumous proxy baptism performed for the parents of famed Holocaust survivor Simon Wiesenthal,” according to the Salt Lake City Deseret News last week. (Read the entire article here.)

Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League and Holocaust survivor was quoted as saying he hopes the Church “will increase its vigilance of its computer system, launch an education program for its members and appropriately discipline those church members who violate the policy.”

It occurs to me I can play a small part in educating Church members that read my articles. So, if you are a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, please listen.

Before you can clear an ancestor’s name for temple ordinances, you are presented this screen:


Before you can click the button to go on, you must check the box that is labeled “I have read and will comply with the above statements.” Before indicating that you will comply with Church policies, you are expected to read them. Click the underlined words, “Church policies.”

Read the policy and you will see that you are not to submit individuals that you are not related to (except for close friends—with family member permission).

The policy becomes most restrictive regarding Jewish Holocaust victims. Read it and comply.

Remember, I am not a spokesperson for the Church. But to the best of my knowledge, the leadership of the Church took this incident very seriously and involved brethren from the highest presiding quorums.

You may lose temple submission privileges. In my opinion, you also lose your integrity.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Next Stop, St. George Family History Expo

The Ancestry Insider discusses
the St. George Family History Expo
with Expo organizer, Holly Hansen
Now that RootsTech is over, it is time to start looking forward to the St. George Family History Expo on the 24th and 25th of February.

I’m teaching “Records Are the Darnedest Things” at 2:30 on Saturday. (What is it about me and the final session of a conference?)

I’m pleased to see that my Genealogical Maturity Model is referenced in a couple of sessions: “Baby Steps: Sources” and “Baby Steps: Evidence.”

This is the 8th annual St. George expo. The opening keynote is Dr. Susan Easton Black, popular speaker and professor of Church History and Doctrine at Brigham Young University. Over 50 classes are offered.

FamilySearch is involved in several ways. They will have several New FamilySearch Tree (NFS) administrators there who can perform all the fixing that require administrators. You know the ones: gender issues, looping pedigrees, and so forth. Sign up for 20 minute time slots at the FamilySearch booth.

FamilySearch will have book scanners on hand, as they did for the RootsTech conference. For more information, visit That address has an explanation, but no way to sign up. I haven’t heard how they’ll handle that.

FamilySearch will also be three free classes Saturday morning for family history consultants and priesthood leaders. Expo organizers will allow attendees to attend the keynote sessions for free, and the exhibitor booths are always free to everyone.

I don’t see any involvement from this year. That’s too bad.

For more information, visit

Monday, February 20, 2012

Annual Legal Notice Publication

It has been a year since I last published the legal disclaimer for my website and articles. This notice can be found at any time at the bottom of

The Ancestry Insider is written independently of and FamilySearch. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect those of or FamilySearch.

E-mails and posted messages may be republished and may be edited for content, length, and editorial style.

The Ancestry Insider may be biased by the following factors: 1) The Ancestry Insider accepts products and services free of charge for review purposes. 2) The author of the Ancestry Insider is employed by the Corporation of the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, owner and sponsor of FamilySearch. 3) The author is a believing, practicing member of the same Church. 4) The author is a former stock-holder and employee of the business now known as and maintains many friendships established while employed there. 5) It is the editorial policy of this column to be generally supportive of and FamilySearch. 6) The author is an active volunteer for the National Genealogical Society.

"Ancestry Insider" does not refer to Trademarks used herein are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners. The Ancestry Insider is solely responsible for any silly, comical, or satirical trademark parodies presented as such herein.

All content is copyrighted by the Ancestry Insider unless designated otherwise. For content copyrighted by the Ancestry Insider, permission is granted for non-commercial republication as long as you give credit and you link back to the original.

If You Prefer Fine Print

The Ancestry Insider is written independently of and FamilySearch. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect those of or FamilySearch. E-mails and posted messages may be republished and may be edited for content, length, and editorial style. The Ancestry Insider may be biased by the following factors: 1) The Ancestry Insider accepts products and services free of charge for review purposes. 2) The author of the Ancestry Insider is employed by the Corporation of the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, owner and sponsor of FamilySearch. 3) The author is a believing, practicing member of the same Church. 4) The author is a former stock-holder and employee of the business now known as and maintains many friendships established while employed there. 5) It is the editorial policy of this column to be generally supportive of and FamilySearch. 6) The author is an active volunteer for the National Genealogical Society. "Ancestry Insider" does not refer to Trademarks used herein are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners. The Ancestry Insider is solely responsible for any silly, comical, or satirical trademark parodies presented as such herein. All content is copyrighted by the Ancestry Insider unless designated otherwise. For content copyrighted by the Ancestry Insider, permission is granted for non-commercial republication as long as you give credit and you link back to the original.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Serendipitous Doppelgänger

It is as though our ancestors want to be found. Uncanny coincidences Olympian luck. Phenomenal fate. Tremendous intuition. Remarkable miracles. We call It, “Serendipity in Genealogy.”

The Other Paul Koelliker

imageOne day, Paul Koelliker of Salt Lake City, Utah had an interesting visitor: another Paul Koelliker. The other Koelliker thought they might be related and left a list of possible ancestors. However, Koelliker was never able to find any link.

Twenty-five years passed. Koelliker was travelling in Switzerland. At one hotel he found his reservation had been lost and the hotel had no vacancies. The kind hotel owner took the time to find them alternate accommodations. The hotel owner mentioned he knew another man in town by the name of Paul Koelliker and gave him a call.

As it turned out, it was the Paul Koelliker that had visited Salt Lake so many years before. The Swiss Paul Koelliker was the director of the local archives. The two got together and found a document containing their ancestors. Paul Koelliker learned of 350 families!

All the planets had aligned. Koelliker happened to travel to the right place. He happened to book that particular hotel. It happened to lose his reservation, prompting the involvement of the owner. The owner happened to be nice enough to engage in friendly conversation. The owner happened to know the Swiss Paul Koelliker. They happened to have met before. The Swiss Koelliker happened to be director of the local archives. And their archive search happened to be successful.

“Some might say this was a coincidence,” said Koelliker. He believes otherwise.


R. Scott Lloyd, “Love is the Power and Lesson,” LDS Church News, 11 February 2012, 6; also available online ( : accessed 11 February 2012).

Thursday, February 16, 2012

RootsTech Wrap Up

Saturday, 4 February was the last day of the RootsTech conference. The conference was larger and more successful than its debut year. Attendees came from every state and many countries, including Nigeria and India. Attendance was also up, as evidenced by the many “sold out” sessions. The many bodies overcame the air conditioning of many rooms. The many electronic devices overcame the Wi-Fi capacity.

Blogger Beads

Thomas MacEntee carries on a great tradition at national genealogical conferences. Thomas writes GeneaBloggers, “the genealogy community's resource for genealogy blogging.” Thomas passes out beads to genealogy bloggers.

I asked Randy Seaver to take a picture of Thomas and me (below). For some reason my beads barely show while his are hard to miss. Thomas says he starts the conference with small beads, but they grow. Can you can tell from the photograph whether it was taken at the beginning or end of the conference? (Thanks, Randy and Thomas!)

Thomas MacEntee and the Ancestry Insider at RootsTech 2012

This concludes my coverage of RootsTech. See you next year!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

You Are Wasting Your Money

“You are wasting your money,” said Anne Mitchell, if you aren’t clicking through to see images on “Always look at the image.”

Anne Mitchell (product manager) and Crista Cowan (community alliance manager) of co-presented “Five New Things to Try at” at RootsTech.

Unfortunately, when you follow Ancestry as closely as I do, “five new things” wasn’t  five new things. However, there were a few things that I haven’t reported on before.

All Hints Page has introduced an “All Hints Page.” Click in the box “Find a Person In this Tree,” then select “List of All People.” Just above the list you can select between “List of All People” and “People with Hints.” has added a list of all hints

“Find hints that have been generated within the last 90 days, or focus on specific types of hints.” Hints can be filtered to show records, photographs, stories, or hints to other members’ trees.

Live Broadcasts 

Ancestry has started doing live broadcasts almost every Tuesday and Thursday mornings at 11 MST (1 pm EST). Go to to participate. The presenter sticks around afterwards to answer questions via live chat. Recent broadcasts have been as short as six minutes and as long as 25.

Past broadcasts are archived on and are available 4 or 5 hours after the presentation.

Send suggestions for topics to

Sticky Notes

Ancestry has announced a new blog, Sticky Notes. The blog’s stated purpose is to share stories and ask questions.

After cancelled her 24-7 Family History Circle blog, it’s nice to see Juliana Smith has a new home.

Send your stories or contact Sticky Notes at

It wasn’t five new things. But three of five isn’t too bad. I guess I wasn’t wasting time or money.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Church Magazine RootsTech Write Up

RootsTech Expo HallRootsTech was the subject of seven articles in last Saturday’s LDS Church News, published by the Deseret News each week in Salt Lake City, Utah. As you might expect, articles are heavily slanted towards members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Still, there is information I didn’t cover and I concede the writer (R. Scott Lloyd) did a mildly good job of writing articles far superior to my own in every conceivable way. (Yes, there’s a little jealousy going down here.)

The articles noted that in January Dennis Brimhall replaced Jay Verkler as managing director of the department and as President and CEO of Church sponsored FamilySearch International. The managing director reports to the executive director.

The Church recently announced that Elder Richard J. Maynes would no longer serve as executive director. No replacement was noted.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Help Save the SSDI

Dear Ancestry Insider,

Call to Action - Help Save the Social Security Death Index 

Your help is needed in our Stop ID Theft NOW! campaign and our efforts to preserve the Social Security Death Index as an accessible record set for genealogists and family historians.

What you can do:

  1. Learn more at the SSDI FAQ here.     
  2. Sign the We The People petition at    
  3. Spread the word, especially to your genealogy society members and colleagues. Forward this email to them or send them the SSDI petition press release - download it here.

Our goal is to get as many signatures, as quickly as possible, so that the solutions to fraudulent tax refund claims based upon identity theft from recently deceased infants & adults can be taken seriously and implemented immediately. Doing so will help us ensure that the SSDI is available to not just genealogists, but all researchers and information professionals who rely upon its contents.

Thank you!

Note: click here for step-by-step instructions on using the We The People site to sign the petition. Some users have reported issues with creating an account and signing the petition.

Do not let technical difficulties keep you from signing! Contact if you encounter problems - we're here to help!

Follow all the latest SSDI and other records access news at the RPAC blog at

The Records Preservation and Access Committee

Dear Readers,

I heartily endorse these efforts to save the SSDI. The petition is one step in that process. As I write this we are far short of the goal of 25,000 by 8 March 2012. The only way to reach the goal is by involving your family and friends.

After signing the petition yourself, promote it on:

The Ancestry Insider

Friday, February 10, 2012

Promised URLs

Private message to attendees of my RootsTech Gems class:

Watching for new content at

Watching for new content at FamilySearch:

  • Interestingly enough, FamilySearch doesn’t announce its new content on its own blog, but in its list of press releases at
  • Check for new collections by going to and browse All Record Collections. Click on the column heading: Last Updated. Recently added or updates collections are indicated with an asterisk (*) next to the date.

Thanks again for attending my class and sharing your knowledge of Internet Gems.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

A Monstrosity, Wonderful Thing

“When you see all this kind of stuff, it’s really confusing,” said Ron Tanner of the mistakes and redundancies in new.FamilySearch. “How do I fix this mess?”

FamilySearch is working on a product called Family Tree that will allow anyone to fix anything.

“it’s scary,” said Tanner, “[but] that’s the only way to fix it. We’ve got to open it.” Tanner presented “The Future of FamilySearch Family Tree” at last week’s RootsTech.

FamilySearch is going to take and move it to and open it up to everyone, including the general public. You’ll want to get your new FamilySearch summary values right because that is what FamilySearch is going to bring over to Family Tree, said Tanner.

The FamilySearch Family Tree
The pedigree/butterfly view

“Our goal in the Family Tree is to document the genealogy of mankind, accurately,” said Tanner, “and preserve it for generations to come. That is our goal.”

To accomplish this, Family Tree will have changeability, accountability, recoverability. The system will track the who, what, and when of changes. And it makes it easier to revert back to good data than it is to create bad data. Changeability, accountability, recoverability. It will have discussions and notifications to encourage collaboration and to make recoverability more timely.

Additionally, the system has a new, easier to enter source reference feature. The system allows you to reuse source references many times. In the future they will provide a button on records. When viewing a record you can click the button to connect the record to a person in your tree.

In the future we’ll allow you to upload scanned images. And we’ll preserve them.

There will be two ways to contribute tree information to FamilySearch. One will be contributing your GEDCOM files. This was called Pedigree Resource Ffile, but FamilySearch is trying to call it Contributed Pedigrees. It will be different than PRF because an upload replaces your previous file. It will be searchable and viewable by others just like PRF. And FamilySearch is going to preserve it, just like they preserve the tree.

The other way to contribute, is adding your tree information right into Family Tree, working together.

FamilySearch put a copy of Ancestral File and parts of Pedigree Resource File into new FamilySearch, but they are going to take them back out. Ancestral File and Pedigree Resource File are available under Trees.

“When are you going live with this monstrosity, beautiful, wonderful, thing?, Tanner asked rhetorically. FamilySearch’s intentions are to offer it to everyone before the end of this year. He didn’t say “the year.” He said, “this year.”

Stay tuned…

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

What Does it Take to Get a Good Result from vice president Tony Macklin once told me that genealogists like to have control of their searches. They liked exact search because they knew what the search engine was doing. Ancestry subsequently improved the, so called, New Search to give users more control of the search, adding to individual search parameters control of exact, phonetic, geographic matching, and so forth.

But advanced users have still disliked Ancestry’s ranked search results. What was going on under the covers? What determined which matches were listed first? The lack of transparency bothers us. Inquiring minds want to know.

That’s why I enjoyed “What Does it Take to Get a Good Result: The Inner Workings of the Search Engine” by Ancestry’s John Bacus. We learned more about how ranking is done. Bacus is the principal product manager for Search.

The simple search form

The Simple Search form, shown above, starts with name, approximate birth date, and a location. If you know an age instead of a birth date. a calculator is available. The location doesn’t need to be the birth location. It can be birthplace, death place, or any place in between. For slightly more advanced searches, use one or more life event or family relative containers.

Relevance, Ranking, and Scoring

Results are ranked and sorted in an attempt to present the most relevant results first. This is done by calculating a score for each result, and listing the highest scoring records first. The more a record matches the information you enter in the search form, the higher its score. It’s like grading a test, where each record is a student’s test and the information you type in the search form is the answer key.

However, not all fields score the same. The last name field scores the most points, followed by first name, locations and dates. All other matches score the least. An exact match scores more than otherwise, such as a phonetic match. However, using the Exact search option doesn’t change the score; it merely excludes records that don’t match.

News to me was this: the more fields you enter, the higher the possible score. It’s not like a test where the score always adds to 100. Instead, the total possible points depends on the total number of fields you supply. In mathematical terms, the result is not normalized.

This has an interesting effect. A mediocre match can score higher than a perfect match, if a lot of information is specified in the search form.

Different record collections have different amounts of information, as if the length of the test passed out to each student is a different length. A census collection has a lot more questions than a birth record collection. It’s possible to enter so much information in the search form (which is like the answer key), that a mediocre-matching census record might be able to score higher than a perfectly matching birth record, simply because it has more opportunities to score points.

I’ve always advocated tree-based searching. And I’ve always advocated entering as much information as you can. I still recommend doing that as a first, shotgun search. Then you need to take a rifle shot at specific record types. A census record might list brothers and sisters, but a military draft record doesn’t. If you want to take a shot a a military draft record, don’t enter names of siblings. Does that make sense? You don’t want census records to score higher on the test than draft records.

Search Categories

The problem with entering less information is that you might not enter enough information to uniquely identify your ancestor. What do you do if you wish to find an ancestor in a city directory, a phone book, a voter list, or a yearbook. Entering a common name may return results from thousands of record types for which you have not interest. Some other method must be used to cut down the number of results. One possibility is categories.

Categories are accessible in several places. Among other ways, categories can be used to filter search results. The categories are listed along the left edge of the results. (Below, left.)

The category filters  The passenger list category search form

The search form is automatically created based upon which fields are present in the category’s record collections. Passenger lists might include fields such as arrival and departure. (Above, right.)

Sometimes indexed fields are not included in a search form, such as ship’s name in the passenger list form above. Use the keyword field when this occurs.

Advanced Form

“One of my objectives coming out of here,” said Bacus, “is that all of you will use the advanced form.” It has many advantages. “Additionally, it makes you cool.”

[Note to my readers: As I write this, I’m getting pretty sleepy, so don’t be surprised if something hereafter doesn’t make any sense.]

One choice available on the advanced form is Exact. Setting a field to exact excludes records that have different info for the respective field. And it excludes records that don’t have or index the respective field. For example, requiring family members will exclude US censuses before 1880

A number of options are available for searching with names. Regardless of how many fields are included in the search, the only thing that is required to match is last name. Click on “use default settings…” to change options.

When using Exact name matching with multiple first names, they can math in any order, but must all be present.

Exact scores the most, then similar, then soundex/phonetic.

For dates, dates within a specified range are scored the same no matter where the date is in the range. However, if a date is outside the range, the score gets progressively lower the further it falls outside the range. To give a little extra bump to the score for a particular range, add an Any Event life event container, without exact. However, the more search fields you’ve used, the less the effect.

Ancestry employs lifespan filtering to remove clearly extraneous results. Specifying just a birth year limits results to –5 and +102 years. Entering just a death, limits dates to –105 and +2 years. Entering both limits dates to birth-5 and death+2. Lifespan filtering doesn’t work for record collections with implicit dates, such as a census date.

Speaking of censuses, the 1930 census has a bunch of people who were (incorrectly) listed as age 120. When birthdates were specified, lifespan filtering inadvertently filters these out. To counter this bug, specify a death date also, many years afterwards.

For locations, the highest scores are given to a city match, then county, then adjacent counties, then state, then adjacent state, and finally, entire country.

Like FamilySearch, the Ancestry list of places contains mostly modern place names. if a place doesn’t exist anymore, use smallest matching location, then add the specific historic place name in the keyword field. [Note to self: There’s a lot of Washington, Iowas. Note to readers: still sleepier. I’m trying to hold it together to get this posted tonight. Note to self: FamilySearch has a long, long, long way to go to catch up to Ancestry.]


Specifying a gender excludes the other gender, but not those without gender.

Specifying a keyword searches all indexed fields, whether or not they are shown on the search form.

When Collection Priority is not specified, a country is favored matching which Ancestry website you are using. If you specify collection priority explicitly, it changes scoring.

Some of these options are “sticky.” That is, they are remembered. Last name filters, collection priority, and Restrict To are sticky.

When using wildcards, the first or last letter can be a wildcard, but not both.

Regardless of the Restrict To setting, tree results are not mixed in with record results. However, if a really great tree result is found, it will be listed before all record results.

Note to readers: I made it! I’m done! I’m sorry I wasn’t able to take the time to make that last stuff intelligible. Please imagine that it was.

Oh, and play like I came up with a pithy conclusion.

Good night.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The FamilySearch Indexing and Linking Tool

Grant Echols, principal engineer at FamilySearch presented “The FamilySearch Indexing and Linking Tool” at last week’s RootsTech conference. FamilySearch is working on a tool to link indexes to images. The tool is needed because the FamilySearch International Genealogical Index (IGI) did not have images. FamilySearch has published record collections from the extracted vital records contained in the IGI. Examples are

The Indexing and Linking Tool associates images to names. The tool displays a list of names that were indexed off a roll of microfilm. And it displays successive images from the microfilm. The operator places a rectangle around each record on the image. Then the operator drags and drops to connect names listed along the left side of the screen with the associated rectangles.

There are known problems with the indexes. They are the result of single keying, additional fields need to be keyed, and some records may have been missed. Associating the indexes to the images brings greater value to the existing collections, but they will ultimately have to be reindexed. The current indexes will be used as the A Key. Not all fields will be reindexed, as fields like sex have a high degree of accuracy already.

The tool is currently in private testing. There is currently about 14 users working on 3 projects. It will soon begin beta testing. It will be invitation only.

The tool requires a high speed internet connection, as images are downloaded during the linking process.

Echols said the tool will be released later this year, after the 1940 Census has been indexed. He said the 1940 project will start in April and is hoped to be complete in ___ months. (Bloggers were told in our pre-conference dinner that FamilySearch is not ready to give an estimate, so I’m redacting Echols’s comment.)

Answers to audience questions revealed some unrelated information.

  • An indexing project takes about 3 days to set up. Project sizes go no smaller than about 80 to 100 films.
  • The accuracy of current indexers, as measured by arbitration, is greater than 90%.
  • In addition to the Android mobile indexing app (which I mentioned last week), the iOS app for iPad and iPod is now available.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Tim Sullivan: A Fantastic Era in Family History

“We don’t want to build things because they’re cool,” said Tim Sullivan, “but because they provide a better experience.” Sullivan, president and CEO of, was joined onstage at RootsTech by Eric Shoup, senior vice president of product; Scott Sorensen, vice president of development; Ken Chahine, senior vice president of DNA; and Jonathan Young, senior vice president of technology. The panel presented the final RootsTech keynote, “Making the Most of Technology to Further the Family History Industry.”'s Tim Sullivan, Eric Shoup, Scott Sorensen, Ken Chahine, and Jonathan Young

“What is the single thing that you think will be most different in 10 years,” Sullivan asked panelists. “A frictionless user experience so I can get on with the business of discovering my family history and not figuring out the website,” replied Scott Sorensen. The audience enthusiastically indicated their agreement.

Content Accessibility

That’s not to say that content is not important. Ancestry spent $21 million on content last year.

But in a recent study they found new users weren’t connecting to the content. Consequently, Ancestry is developing a new image viewer. The trappings around the image are minimal. Ancestry demonstrated the viewer for us. It is currently in beta test on the 1911 English Census but will soon be available on 1930.'s new image viewer utilizes highlights and popups to make the record more accessible

Semantic Extraction

Ancestry also showed technology it has developed to make city directories more accessible. Normal OCR produces “a bag of words.” Ancestry’s semantic extraction software takes the bag of words and classifies areas of the image that contain names. It recognizes that the image is a city directory and that surnames are printed first. It picks out the names and puts them together.

Ancestry showed us a live demo. It took a couple of minutes, but the software successfully extracted the names from an image. is making city directories searchable

“Clearly those are examples of technology behind the scenes to make the user experience easier,” said Sullivan.


Ken Chahine and other panelists were obviously excited about the “Soon to Be Launched but We’re Not Going to Say Anything About it DNA Product.”

”We’re in the midst of a revolution that most people are not aware of,” Chahine said. We’re going to be able to tell what town an ancestor lived in and when they lived there. Chahine and his team of computational biologists are utilizing the rate at which gene mutations occur and analyzing millions of genetic markers from living people. Sorensen and his team will develop software to implement the resulting models. Ancestry will utilize cloud computing to implement massively parallel algorithms to analyze users’ DNA.


Eric Shoup said the acceptance of the Ancestry mobile app has also inspired Ancestry regarding people’s interaction with the computer. Since its introduction, the app has been downloaded 2 million times. That’s more than Ancestry’s 1.2 million worldwide subscribers.

Sixty percent of downloaders are registering for an Ancestry account. Two million hints have been accepted via mobile. One million photos have been uploaded. Twelve percent of all visits are from mobile devices. “This totally blows me away.”

“Mobile is the future. It is our most personal device,” he said. “we’re going to start building our new products on mobile first.” This forces them to understand better what the user truly wants.

“Innovations today are coming at a faster pace than anytime I have ever seen,” said Sullivan. “We’re in a fantastic era right now in family history.”

FamilySearch Watch Feature

I recently experimented with the FamilySearch watch feature of Family Tree (and legacy new.FamilySearch). You can indicate which people in your tree you wish to watch. Then each week you receive an e-mail detailing the changes. Here’s an example of the e-mail.

FamilySearch Family Tree notification e-mail

On the positive side, you aren’t spammed with an email for every change, each time a change occurs. On the negative side, you aren’t informed of changes until they are a week old.

I continue to be amazed at FamilySearch’s tenacity in ignoring its users needs and feedback. With genealogy’s appeal to an older audience, it defies logic that FamilySearch continues to use a low contrast user interface. Light gray on white? Dark grey on light gray? Genealogy is hard enough. Why make it difficult to read the screen?

The premise behind watch is more powerful. This feature is another in a series making the FamilySearch Tree—a common pedigree of all mankind—more wiki-like. I’ve written before about Ron Tanner’s presentations on the subject. Like Wikipedia, the idea is to let anyone add to or fix anything. Most people I talk to don’t believe the concept will work. I happen to be one that hopes it will.

Change notifications and discussions are key features. The wiki philosophy is that someone who wants to make a change sticks their neck out and does so. Other interested parties get the change notification and they revert the change and begin a discussion. The parties of interest discuss the change and come to a mutually agreeable decision. Then one of them makes the change.

This works well for a neutral-point-of-view encyclopedia, as both sides of an issue are appropriate for inclusion in an encyclopedia entry. But it may not work so well for the FamilySearch tree. The tree designers have designated some facts as having a primary value and alternative values. They think that there is always one best, right answer that genealogists can decide upon. That’s pretty naïve.

That brings us back to gray on gray text. FamilySearch’s tenacity in ignoring its users will spell certain failure for a wiki-type common pedigree.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Rolling in the Aisles Comedy at RootsTech

Josh Coates delivers keynote at RootsTech 2012He was one funny guy. We were rolling in the aisles. I’m not talking about the Thursday evening comedy performance of Ryan Hamilton (although that was rolling funny as well).

No. I’m talking about the Friday morning keynote session of Josh Coates, “Exabyte Social Clouds and other Monstrosities.”

Coates, was the founder of cloud backup company and is currently CEO of Instructure, an education-focused software company.

He set the mood for his presentation from the moment he set foot on stage—barefoot—and announced that “you hear a lot of people blab at conferences. Half of them are full of crap.” From that moment on he was tit for tat. Serious point. Funny comment. Serious point. Funny comment.

In less than 60 minutes Coates walked us through social networking, exabytes of storage, and cloud computing.

Coates started with a history of social networking. His first participation in social networking was the old BBS dial up systems. (Remember those? Can you say “300 baud”? Sure, but can you say it painfully slow?)

A scientist named Dunbar studied interactions among monkeys and found they could integrate no more than 148 other monkeys in their social structure. Later scientists extended the study to humans and decided we weren’t much better, upping the number to 231. He joked about people on Facebook claiming more friends than that. And if you have less friends? You should be more friendly.

The idea behind a social network is that you link people together electronically, and really amazing things can happen. Take Wikipedia for example. Coates thought the idea would fail.

“Never underestimate the tenacity and drive,” he said with a long pause, “of unemployed PhD graduates.”

While there will be another Facebook at some point in the future, don’t bother trying to be the one that gets rich creating it. There are several necessary requirements that you are unlikely to meet. You won’t be able to achieve critical mass—that is, having enough participants for the network to have value. It costs too much to acquire users (even free has costs in time and effort). And you won’t be able to provide users a compelling reason to return.

No small special interest group will ever make one work. (Say, genealogists?)

The humor sprinkled throughout the presentation is illustrated by one of his slides. Right in the middle of a series of slides, up popped a slide about zombies. He paused.

“I don’t…” Long pause. “…even know…” Another pause. “…how that slide got in there.”

Josh Coates, Types of Zombies

Coates went on to illustrate the size of an exabyte.

  • 1 gigabyte is equivalent to the human genome. The 3.2 billion base pairs would take 9.5 years to read aloud.
  • 1 terabyte is equivalent to 32,000 trees worth of paper (18” diameter trees).
  • 1 petabyte is equivalent to a truck filled with one ton of paper. Then get 1,400,000 of them.
  • 1 exabyte is equivalent to all trees in the US that are larger than 8” in diameter being cut down and turned into paper. (That’s 30,000,000,000 trees.)
  • 1 zettabyte is equivalent to all the grains of sand on every beach in the world, seven times over, 1 grain representing 1 kilobyte.

Finally, Coates talked about “the cloud.” Cloud computing is a metaphor. He compared the cloud to electric utility companies. In the early days of the industrial revolution, manufacturing plants had their own power generators. They had to generate their own power. That required tons of equipment, large costs, and wasted capacity. With the development of power companies, factories could buy their electricity for a fraction of what it cost to generate it themselves.

That is what the cloud is like. We buy electric power from the cloud. Even computer servers can be marshaled from the cloud. And the cost is pennies on the dollar of running your own data center. A teenager can assemble a super computer in his room for a few hundred bucks. Really.

We live in a day when amazing things impossible just five years ago, are possible today.

In closing, Coates brought it all together in one question.

“The question of the era is, ‘what would you do with unlimited bandwidth, storage, and CPUs?’ No other generation has had this question posed to them. It’s a pretty heavy responsibility.”

“What are we going to do with this?”


(The zombie slide was actually an inside joke, perhaps known to no one else in the room. Coates had previously done a comic presentation including the slide. See “Effective Tactical Responses in a Post-Apocalyptic Environment.”)

Ryan Heaton: A New GEDCOM

“Legacy GEDCOM has done a great job,” said Ryan Heaton, “but it’s time to move on.”

imageRyan Heaton, senior software engineer at FamilySearch, presented two sessions describing a new GEDCOM standard. I was able to attend the first, “A New GEDCOM: Project Scope, Goals, and Governance.”

To be useful, a standard has to be adopted by a lot of different people. It must meet their needs.

A standard needs community collaboration, “a rich ecosystem.” Crowdsourcing plays an important role. The community needs to provide technical support to each others. The community needs to own the standard.

“Nobody is as smart as everybody.”

FamilySearch has been working on a new GEDCOM for the past year. The proposed name is GEDCOMX. “We’re not here to announce that the standard is here and ready to go.” That’s why we’re here talking about creating a project.

When you abstract a record, you in essence create a little tree. These evidence records (as I would call them) are applied to build a conclusion tree. From the conclusion tree, you need to be able to trace a conclusion back through the evidence records back to the actual artifacts. “That is the vision of GEDCOMX.”

I was not able to attend the second session, which was titled “A New GEDCOM: Tools, Syntax and Semantics.” The class description stated, “The GEDCOM standard is stale. What would a new GEDCOM look like in terms of its syntax and semantics? What tools would be made available to promote and apply it?”

Perhaps he will go into detail on a couple of comments Jay Verkler made in the keynote. Accordidng to Verkler, a new GEDCOM will include three things: 1. an exchange mechanism. 2. an API standard 3. a repository model.

Heaton went on to talk about some software development stuff. The rest of this article may not make any sense otherwise.

There is a project set up on GitHub, a popular tool for collaborative development. The results of the user documentation is on a website. The code is all available openly. Three websites are now public.

FamilySearch has not yet funded personnel to work much on this, so don’t expect too much while FamilySearch is ramping up.

“This project is not one that is going to fall by the wayside,” said Heaton. “We are really committed to this.”


Jack Reese: Advanced Photographic Techniques

image“We sometimes encounter damaged documents,” wrote Jack Reese, “that are difficult to read because they have faded due to exposure to water, mold, fire, excessive light, or natural fading.” In these situations, advanced photographic techniques can be used to produce legible images of the documents.

“For these challenging documents, the quality of digitization can often be greatly improved by performing multispectral analysis.” Reese is a systems architect at There he helped design, develop, and use the Ancestry DARC camera system. DARC stands for Document Restoration Camera.

Reese explained the system in his RootsTech session, “Using Advanced Photographic Techniques to Recover Content from Damaged Documents.” Different colors of light in the rainbow are different light frequencies. Beyond the visible frequencies in the rainbow are infrared and ultraviolet frequencies. DARC changes several properties. It can change the frequency of the lights shining on the document. It can use visible light, but it can also use infrared or ultraviolet. Likewise, it can change the frequencies of the light that are seen by the camera.

Here are examples of documents faded in visible light, but made readable when imaged in alternate spectrums.

Visible Light
Alternate spectrum light
Sample 1 in visible light Sample 1 in infrared light
Sample 2 in visible light Sample 2, probably IR light
Sample 3 in visible light Sample 3 in UV light

For more information, see “New Technology Saves Records” from Ancestry Magazine.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Blogger Dinner: Help Index the 1940 Census

“A national service project is what we’re organizing,” said Don Anderson of FamilySearch., brightsolid, and FamilySearch sponsored a dinner for RootsTech bloggers Wednesday night and one subject was predominantly on their minds: 1940 census.

1940 US Census Community Project

Anderson is FamilySearch senior vice president of Patron Services. His support organization utilizes 250,000 volunteers, 110 phone lines, and provides 24x7 support anytime, anywhere in the world, and in any of 30 languages.

The National Archives and Record Administration (NARA) will release the 1940 census to the public on 2 April 2012. I understand that images will be available immediately on ( won the contract with NARA to host the images for them.)

FamilySearch and its partners, and brightsolid, ( see “1940 Census Consortium”) will post images on their websites as quickly as possible. (My money is on beating them.)

Then FamilySearch will engage its volunteers to begin the long task of indexing.

They will need to add 100,000 indexers to complete the project, so they want everyone to sign up. (See

FamilySearch’s partners have provided funding as part of the partnership. “If we can use only volunteers,” said Anderson, “then the money will be used to produce more records.”

Volunteers will be able to select batches of records from states of interest. Initially, only some states will be available, but eventually all states will be available. FamilySearch will publish completed state indexes once a month.

Will the initial surge of volunteers crash FamilySearch’s indexing system, as has happened so many Sundays in the past?

Stay tuned…


P.S. A FamilySearch spokesman yesterday alerted me that you can now find in the Android marketplace an application named FamilySearch Indexing (Beta). The iOS/iPhone/iPad application is under review.

P.P.S. brightsolid told us their beta U.S. census website has been online for a little while. It is at

P.P.P.S. Thursday FamilySearch released U.S. censuses for years 1790 through 1840, and for 1890. Among, brightsolid, and FamilySearch, FamilySearch was the last to get the entire U.S. census online. With that in mind, who do you think will be the first company to get the entire 1940 census index online?

Records Availability in Nevada

It is time for another in my continuing series on record accessibility. Information is taken from the Records Preservation and Access Committee (RPAC) white paper titled “Open Access to Public Records: a Genealogical Perspective.”

For Nevada, the white paper lists record availability as of 2008 as follows. (RPAC is currently updating the information. Please contact them at with updates. Source citations are appreciated.)

Record Type Year begins Access (Closed, Open, Restricted) Years Restricted Copy for Genealogical Purposes Statute Notes
Birth 1911 Restricted   Abstract copies open NRS 440.650, NRS 440.670  
Marriage 1968 Open     NRS 440.170  
Divorce 1968 Open     NRS 440.170  
Death 1911 Restricted   Non-certified copies open NRS 440.650  
Adoption   Closed     NRS 440.310 Operates the Adoption Registry, Nevada Department of Human

Election year is a great time to let your state legislators know what you think about your state’s restrictions. Keep in mind the state’s legitimate need to prevent identity fraud. Then fight fear with facts.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled presidential election, already in progress…

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Inventing the Future at RootsTech 2012

Jay Verkler talks about the future at RootsTech 2012“The best way to predict the future is to invent it,” said Jay Verkler. “What will the world look like in 2060?” asked Verkler. “And what can we do in 2012 to make it better?”

Verkler is the immediate past president and CEO of FamilySearch International. (See “FamilySearch Announces New CEO.”) He made the remarks during his opening keynote presentation, “Inventing the Future, as a Community,” at the second annual RootsTech conference.

RootsTech is a technology conference created by Verkler last year. Technologists can learn about technology designed to help them produce better genealogy products, while genealogists can learn about the latest technology designed to help genealogists be more productive. Conference attendance has grown from 3,000 people last year to 4,000 this year.

Verkler presented a framework that could enable a dazzling future.

The framework will require the collaboration of many companies and organizations. ”I think there is a case for building this as a community,” said Verkler. There is a pretty compelling case for open standards.

Verkler brought several partners onstage to show how realistic the cooperation can be.

Two gentlemen from Google, Robert Gardner and Dave Barney, showed a browser plugin utilizing microdata. Microdata is a standard for making data on a web page understandable to a search engine. They showed what a user sees and what a search engine sees when viewing a website. All the search engine sees is a bunch of bunched up words. If the website adds genealogy microdata, the search engine sees people, names, birth dates, birth places, and so forth. Werelate, Geni, and FamilySearch have adopted the new format. Barney showed a browser extension—now available to the public. Looking at a record on FamilySearch, he launched a Google search that returns matching records on other websites. Barney also showed an example viewing a person on Geni. With one or two clicks, he had all the matching records on

Verkler invited Chris Van Der Kuyl, brightsolid CEO, to join him on the stage.

“We at brightsolid—across all our websites,” said Van Der Kuyl, “believe that the more we can collaborate, the more success we will have as an organization, and the more people will have success doing genealogy.”

Verkler also had Matthew Monahan of join him.

“I appreciate the precision and thoughtfulness of the vision Jay has presented,” said Monahan. “I’d like to echo the message of collaboration.”


Verkler walked through each element of a community framework and illustrated how it could impact us as genealogists.

Jay Verkler presented a community framework for the future of genealogy

The “half life” of a link is 2 to 3 years. That is to say, half of all URLs and addresses today will be broken in less than 3 years. “We believe solving this problem is possible.” (I know FamilySearch is working on this issue, but as Jay didn’t mention anything, neither can I.)

Conclusion sharing would allow transfer of your tree and all its links, citations, photographs, and scanned documents. You could save them to your local hard drive. Or you could transfer them from your tree, say on RootsMagic, to and have everything in the tree transfer over.

Structured records were pretty cool. The record could “talk” and could “know” about where it is used. You could look at the record and be able to link to all the trees that link to it. Or you could take a person in your tree (say one that you’ve corrected) and find all the other trees that were copied from yours.

Authorities are standardization tables that allow search engines to match on alternate name forms, such as Jim, James, or equivalents among Oriental names. The same need exists for places, dates, and even event types. ( and WeRelate just announced they are collaborating in this area.) This technology allows you to find all the records about your ancestor, even when spellings, calendars, and place names vary among the records.

imageA source authority is like a catalog of all the world’s records. If you found a record listed, you could lookup the archive. The source authority would allow standard ways of citing sources.

Verkler shared quotes from Elizabeth Shown Mills explaining the importance of citations. (Personal aside: the writer of the Ancestry Insider provided the quotes to him! I was proud of Jay for including a citation to the quotes. Unfortunately, he used a 1 pt. font. Oh well. Baby steps. )

Recognizing Verkler

Since his retirement at the beginning of the year, this was Jay Verkler’s last big FamilySearch hurray. As FamilySearch leadership joined him onstage the audience rose and gave him a standing ovation. Verkler was visibly moved.


FamilySearch chief genealogical officer, David Rencher presented Verkler with a plaque recognizing his ten years of service and innovation.

Plaque given to Jay Verkler, former FamilySearch CEO

Well deserved, Jay. Well deserved.

RootsTech Expo Free to the Public

RootsTech Expo Hall is free to the publicCan’t afford the money or time to attend the RootsTech Conference in Salt Lake City this week? Consider attending the free RootsTech Expo instead. The Expo consists of vendor booths, 30-minute product sessions, and 5-minute lightning presentations.

Expo Hall

The Expo hall has 74 vendors this year, promising to satisfy the genealogy product needs of almost anyone. The hall is located at the north end of the Salt Lake City Salt Palace. Exhibitors include:

  •, AGES-online, Ancestral Quest,
  • Billion Graves, brightsolid,
  • FamilySearch, Family Chartmasters, Family Roots Publishing, Family Tree DNA, FGS, Flip-Pal mobile scanner, Fold3
  • GenDetective, Genealogy Wall Charts, Gene Tree, Geni,
  • Legacy Family Tree
  • Maia’s Books, My Heritage
  • Progeny Link
  • Ready Micro, Real-Time Collaboration, RootsMagic
  • YouWho

Hours are 10:00 am to 5:00 pm Thursday and Friday. Saturday hours are 9:30 am to 3:00 pm. See a map of the Expo Hall.

Demonstration Theater

Each day from 11:00 to 3:00, vendors will be giving 30 minute presentations in the Expo Hall Demo Theater. These are free, interesting, and open to the public.







10:30 AM


Virtual Private Data Center—The Production-Grade Cloud for Genealogy Practitioners and Developers


Memory Medallion

Sharing Family History from the Grave Site


Billion Graves

Geocaching for Ancestors: Using Smartphones & GPS to Crowdsource Cemetery Data

12:00 PM

Lightning talks

9 different five minute individual presentations



Using Military Records at Fold3


My Heritage

My Heritage Super Search Engine


The Next Generation

Changes in TNG 9


Sort Your Story

Sort Your Story Demo


Flip-Pal Mobile

Wireless Communication with Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner




10:30 AM


Newspapers: Finding the Details about your Family



What’s New in RootsMagic 5


Group National Publishing

Presentation is Everything

12:00 PM

Lightning talks

9 different 5 minute individual presentations


About One

A Fast Easy Way to Organize Your Busy Life


Rumble Software

Introduction to GenDetective


Roger Pack

FamilySearch Screen Saver


Mollie Shutt

FamilySearch Tech Tips

3:00 FamilyTree DNA A “Primer” on DNA Testing: What to know before you test



10:30 AM

Progeny Link

The Benefits of Industrial Strength Cooperation



What You Can Do with DNA


LifeStory Productions

Organize, Find, and Share Pictures and Family History

12:00 Lisa Louise Cooke 3 Cool Tech Tools for Finding Your Family History in Newspapers
12:30 Behold Genealogy Behold-See Your Genealogy Data Like You’ve Never Seen It Before


Lightning Talks

At noon on Thursday and Friday, come hear 45 minutes of lightning presentations. Presenters sign up at 11:50 and then give 5 minute/3 slide presentations on their “personal or professional passions.” That could be interesting, brilliant, or inane.

If you had 5 minutes to stand on your genealogy soapbox, what would you say? Come hear what others have to say, free, in the Expo Hall Demo Theater.


Don’t miss out on RootsTech just because you can’t afford to pay. Come to the Expo and learn a bunch about genealogy products and passionate ideas.

See you at RootsTech!

Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy

The Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy is produced by the Utah Genealogical AssociationKory Meyerink, one of the instructors there, tells me I should mention my attendance last week at the 2012 Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG). SLIG is an intensive, full-time education event. Attendees receive classroom instruction from industry leading genealogists, individual research time in the Family History Library, and individual consultation from institute faculty. Students sign up for a single track. Tracks concentrate on different localities or methodologies, such as Advanced New England Research.

(Let me make a private shout out to my classmates. Thank you, Linda, for discretely posting my photograph on your blog.)

SLIG is one of several genealogical institutes available throughout the country. These are excellent opportunities for learning. Other institutes are the British Institute (Salt Lake), NIGR (D.C.), IGHR (Alabama), and GRIP (Pittsburgh).

SLIG is produced by the Utah Genealogical Association.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012


Dear readers,

Are you one of those people whose stomachs tense up as your roller coaster car is clanking up towards the top of the hill where you know you will face your doom? Splash Mountain is my nemesis.

Anyway, that’s the way I’m feeling about RootsTech. I’m presenting three sessions (two as the Insider), moderating a fourth, attending several special events, interviewing current and previous FamilySearch CEOs, and looking at covering for you three keynotes and six sessions.

I planned on doing a nice write up for Who Do You Think You Are?, the fascinating TV show. Season 3 starts this Friday, 3 February, at 8:00 (7:00 central).

Please play like I wrote up a wonderful article that totally convinced you to watch Martin Sheen, this week’s episode.

-- The Insider