The NorthEast Ohio Computer-Aided Genealogy Society


A Summary of Events and Topics of Interest to Online Genealogists

Vol. 13 No. 1--January 1, 2008

compiled by Luther Olson

NorthEast Ohio Computer-Aided Genealogy [NEOCAG] serves Eastern Cuyahoga,

Lake, Geauga, Ashtabula, Portage & Summit Counties.

Regular meetings 2nd Saturday of each month

St. Bartholomew Episcopal Church

435 S.O.M. Road, Mayfield Village, OH.

Jerry Kliot—President






> News and Views

> Getting Good With Google Docs

> Eastman Newsletter is Twelve Years Old!

> Geni Introduces Timelines and Family News in Bid to Become Top Digital Scrapbook

> "Show Me the Nation's Records,"--2008 NGS Conference and Family History Fair

> Coming Soon:  The Mother of All Genealogy Databases

> What DNA Ancestry Testing Will And Won't Tell You

> DNA Kits: Secrets Of Your Past Or Scientific Scam?


> Scanning Old Photographs

> Laptop XO a potent learning tool created expressly for children in developing countries

> Online rival to Microsoft Office launches clone of Microsoft Office 2007 /It's on an uphill road



> News and Views

It obviously is way past January 1, so I can’t tell you how pleased (relieved) I am to finally put this edition “to bed.” Many of you know of the many tribulations Margaret and I have gone through during the past year, so suffice it to say that the one major problem we are now facing is my diplopia, or double vision, one of the many issues that occur as we get up in years. Quite of number of you are familiar with this problem, and it has been a big help to me to hear your suggestions as I am struggling through this time.

The reason I can offer that as an excuse for my tardiness is that (1) I can’t drive, so we are dependant on the senior citizen vans to get us to our many appointments. This usually means that what should take an hour usually wastes half a day. That really cuts into the time I can spend at my computer (and other household chores.) And (2) though I am pretty good at word processing and projects like this newsletter usually are completed quickly and easily, it is now a slow and tedious struggle since it is so difficult to see the screen. Things are improving, however, so hopefully life will be more normal after a few more weeks.

Speaking of impaired vision, however, gives me the opportunity to remind you that Windows includes many helps for the handicapped. In the Control Panel you will find the handicapped icon with the title Accessibility Options. Here Microsoft has built in many aids for those with a wide variety of needs. It may be worth a couple of minutes to check it out._____LO

Thanks to Jerry Kliot, NEOCAG president, for this article on another of Googles advanced efforts. The best part is that Google software usually works right with the very first download. If any of you are using Google Docs we would love to hear about your opinions._____LO

> Getting Good With Google Docs

by Laura Fogle

I have been using Microsoft Word for decades. There have been passing relationships with Clarisworks and WordPerfect, but for all its flaws MS Word has stood the test of time and seen me through hours and hours of document creation. So when someone tried to introduce me to Google Docs I hardly gave it a glance.

Months later I took a second look. I was in a committee meeting struggling to compose a document with three other people. The evening was getting late and we didn't want to meet again just to complete our document. Google Docs to the rescue! The next day I imported a Word document with notes from the meeting, made a few changes and shared the revised version with the other members via Email. They each followed a link in my Email, viewed the document and made their changes. In two days the document was finished without having to call another meeting.

The Google Docs workspace looks very similar to that of other word processors. There is a tool bar at the top of the screen and blank space to start typing. You can import documents from other formats or start composing on the blank page. The keyboard shortcuts for copy, cut and paste are the same as for Word and for Claris Works. A yellow highlighted Check Spelling link at the bottom of the document window performs a spell check of the entire document.


If you want to collaborate with someone (or several people) on the creation of a document, Google Docs makes it easy. One person creates the first draft and then sends a link to the other collaborators via the Collaborate tab.

The file is stored on Google's site. All collaborators have access without using their own server space or an expensive commercial software program. The Revisions feature allows collaborators to compare versions of the document and see who made which changes and when. Each revision of the document is stored as a separate file so you can always look back to previous versions. A status bar at the bottom of the screen tells you if someone else is currently editing the document. Up to fifty people can view and/or edit a single document at one time. Students (even those without Word) could collaborate on group documents and the teacher can see who made which contributions. Google Docs could also be used for peer editing projects.

Access via Internet

Having the file stored on Google's site is an advantage for people who move from computer to computer. No more remembering to save the file to your flash drive before you leave school. Just save your Google Doc and when you go home you can access the most recent version. Even if there's no Internet access where you are word processing is no real problem and you can still use Google Docs. Simply create your file while you are off-line and then import it into Google Docs when you want to collaborate or publish it. Currently the Mac-based browser, Safari, is not supported. However, Firefox is supported on the Mac platform.


Each user has a limit of 1000 documents and 1000 images. Each individual document can be up to 500KB, not including embedded images. Formatted text creates larger documents than unformatted text and choices of font and page formatting clearly make documents vary widely. You will get about twenty-five pages of formatted text in a 50KB file. Of course you could always break larger documents into multiple files. If you embed images in your document, each image is limited to 2MB. According to Google Docs 'Help' you can upload documents from any of the following file formats:


Plain text (.txt)

Microsoft Word


Open Office (.odt)


The public aspect of a document stored on a Web server may concern some users. Google assures users that unless they make documents public, they cannot be found by anyone not invited to share the document. To test this, I used Google to search for my documents, and didn't find any of them. See the Google Docs and Spreadsheets Help Center for more information.

Different from Wiki

If you are familiar with wikis, you may be wondering why you wouldn't just create a wiki, also highly collaborative and Web-based, instead of a Google Doc. The answer is that the format tools available in Google Docs set it apart from wikis. The basic keyboard shortcuts for italics, bold, and underline all work in Google Docs. You can create a bulleted list or change font size and color with one click on the tool bar.

Blogger Tools

There are several handy features for bloggers. You can post to your blog directly from Google Docs using the Publish tab.

It took me a few tries to get my blog settings (user ID, password and host) configured correctly. However, settings established posting from Google Docs is very easy. In contrast, I have used my old friend, Word, to compose blog posts and have found it cumbersome. In Word hyperlinks don't transfer and you have to add images after pasting. Google Docs carries over any hyperlinks that you create and even transfers embedded images beautifully without having to code in HTML. I did have to add the title and tags to the post afterwards. I will be looking for this feature in future versions of Google Docs.


If you want the world to have access to view your document, you can publish it in a blog or make your document public by sharing the link. To do this you click the Publish tab and click the Publish Document button. You are given a link to share. If an authorized collaborator follows the link it opens the Google Docs program with the document in question already loaded. For other viewers it opens an HTML document with a white background and your formatted text and images.

Google Docs is so easy to use that most people can start by just creating their first document. You do have to create a Google account if you don't have one, but you do not need a Gmail account. None of the members of my committee had ever used Google Docs before. I sent them a link and no one had any trouble.

If you want to get to know Google Docs before making a commitment, you can take the Google Docs and Spreadsheets Tour. Or you can take a look at the Google Doc that I created for this article.

 from Educators' eZine

TechLEARNING is brought to you by NewBay Media LLC

Copyright © 2007  

Congratulations, Dick. Your information has been a great service to us all. You have always been, and still are #1. It is my hope that every NEOCAG member subscribes.__________LO

> Eastman Newsletter is Twelve Years Old!

Boy, the time does fly! Twelve years has slipped by in almost the blink of an eye. It seems like only yesterday that I sent the first e-mail newsletter to about 100 people, mostly members of CompuServe's Genealogy Forums. None of them knew in advance that the newsletter would arrive; I simply mailed it to people who I thought might be interested. In 1996 nobody objected to receiving unsolicited bulk mail; the phrase "spam mail" had not yet been invented. I shudder to think if I did the same thing in today's Internet environment.

In that first newsletter on January 15, 1996, I wrote:

Well, it's started. This newsletter is something that I have been considering for a long time, but I finally decided to "take the plunge." I've subscribed to several other electronic newsletters for some time now and have found them to be valuable. On many occasions I have said to myself, "Someone ought to do a weekly newsletter for genealogy news." One day the light bulb went on, and I decided that perhaps I was that someone.

I hope to collect various bits of information that cross my desk and appear on my screen every week. Some of these items may be considered "news items" concerning events and happenings of interest to computer-owning genealogists. Some other items will be mini press releases about new genealogy software or other products and services that have just become available. I may write a few articles about things that are not genealogy-related but still seem to be of interest to me and probably to the readers. This may include articles about online systems, operating systems or other things that affect many of us.

You will also find editorials and my personal opinions weaving in and out of this newsletter. Hopefully I will be able to clearly identify the information that is a personal opinion.

The expected audience of this newsletter includes anyone in the genealogy business, any genealogy society officers and anyone with an interest in applying computers to help in the research of one's ancestors.

I chose to distribute in electronic format for two reasons: (1.) it's easy, and (2.) it's cheap. In years past I have been an editor of other newsletters that were printed on paper and mailed in the normal manner. The "overhead" associated with that effort was excessive; I spent more time dealing with printers, maintaining addresses of subscribers, handling finances, stuffing envelopes and running to the post office than I did in the actual writing. Today's technology allows for a much faster distribution, and it is done at almost no expense to either the producer or the subscribers. I want to spend my time writing, not running a "newsletter business."

Since the expected readers all own computers and almost all of them use modems regularly, electronic distribution seems to be the most cost-effective route to use. It also is much lower cost than any other distribution mechanism that I know of.

The original plan has been followed rather closely in the twelve years since I wrote those words. The newsletter still consists of "events and happenings of interest to computer-owning genealogists," "mini press releases about new genealogy software or other products and services," and "a few articles about things that are not genealogy-related but still seem to be of interest to me." I have also frequently featured "editorials and my personal opinions."

One thing that has changed is that the newsletter was converted from a weekly publication to a daily effort more than three and a half years ago. I still send weekly "collections" of all the articles by e-mail to all Plus Edition subscribers as well as shorter e-mails to Standard Edition subscribers. I am delighted with the change to a daily format. There is a lot more flexibility when publishing daily and, of course, I can get the news out faster. Reception of the daily edition has been gratifying. The newsletter is now available on the web site, using a professional e-publishing platform, complete with RSS news feeds and other technology, all of which make life easier for subscribers as well as myself.

Another feature that I like about the current daily publication is that each article has an attached discussion board where readers can offer comments, corrections, and additional information. The result is a much more interactive newsletter that benefits from readers' expertise. The newsletter originally was a one-way publication: I pushed the data out. Today's version is a two-way publication with immediate feedback from readers.

The 2008 newsletter does differ from one statement I wrote twelve years ago: "Today's technology allows for a much faster distribution, and it is done at almost no expense to either the producer or the subscribers." If I were to re-write that sentence today, I wouldn't use the phrase, "at almost no expense." I would write, " lower expense than publishing on paper." Since I wrote the original words twelve years ago, I have received an education in the financial implications of sending bulk e-mails and maintaining web sites, complete with controls of who can access which documents. I now know that it costs thousands of dollars to send tens of thousands of e-mails. There are technical problems as well. Someday I may write an article about "how to get your account canceled when you repeatedly crash your ISP's mail server."

The truth is I did crash mail servers a number of times in the early days of this newsletter. And, yes, I got my account canceled one day by an irate Internet service provider. I was abruptly left with no e-mail service. The Internet service provider discovered that their mail server crashed every week when I mailed this newsletter, so they canceled my account with no warning. I also have encountered significant expenses for hardware, software, web hosting, bulk mailing services, and office expenses. In order to carry on the effort without breaking the piggy bank, I split this newsletter into two versions: a free Standard Edition and a for-pay Plus Edition. At least the newsletter now pays for itself, including paying for a professional grade bulk mail service.

I was amused a while ago when someone sent a message to me that started with the words, "I hope someone on your staff will forward this message to you." After twelve years, my staff remains exactly the same as when I started: myself plus one very talented lady who edits this newsletter every week. I do the up- front work; she then converts my written words into real English. She also functions as a business advisor, confidante, and good friend. She has done this for nearly every newsletter since the very first edition.

Pam has edited nearly every newsletter article despite the travel schedules of both of us; sometimes we both have been in hotel rooms but in different countries. I well remember one week several years ago when I was writing newsletter articles from a hotel room in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, and Pam was editing the articles from her hotel room in California. (We both live in Massachusetts.) In fact, tonight she is in Atlanta, but the newsletter is going out anyway, complete with her edits.

As a computer professional, her travel schedule has been at least as hectic as mine. She and I have passed the proposed newsletter articles back and forth by e-mail time and again. Thanks, Pam. I couldn't do it without you.

To each person reading today's edition, I want to say one thing: Thank you for being there and for making it possible for me to enjoy three of my hobbies: genealogy, computers, and online systems.

Also, one other sentence I wrote twelve years ago still stands: Suggestions about this newsletter are always welcome.

Posted by Dick Eastman on January 20, 2008

> Geni Introduces Timelines and Family News in Bid to Become Top Digital Scrapbook

Mon Jan 7, 2:01 AM ET

Top rated genealogy and family networking website,, introduces new ways for families to preserve their history and stay connected. Timeline and Family News are the latest features to be added to it's growing list of site enhancements. The launch of these features enables family and friends to begin working together to build digital scrapbooks of their lives and the lives of their family., the website that combines genealogy with family networking, today announced the launch of two new features to help families preserve their history and stay connected: Timelines and Family News.

The Timeline is a new profile section that shows a visual history of the events in a person's life. Each event has its own page that can contain additional information, photos, attendees, and comments. When an attendee is added to an event, the event appears in their timeline too. In the process of building their own timeline users are likely to help complete the timelines of other family members.

"We are making the process of building family history collaborative, in the same way that we made the process of building the family tree collaborative," said Geni's CEO David Sacks. "The most important events in people's lives involve family. The benefits and workload of memorializing these events should be distributed among family members," he added. Sacks continued, "Next Geni will introduce a Family Timeline that rolls up the individual timelines of family members thus creating a digital family scrapbook."

"Scrapbooking is a huge offline business that should move online, not only because media is now digital but also because collaboration and sharing are much easier online," explained Sacks. "Our goal is to enable family and friends to build together digital scrapbooks of their lives and the lives of their family."

A related feature that Geni has launched is Family News. Family News provides a single page where users can track everything going on in their family, including additions to their family tree and timelines, birthdays, photos, discussions, comments, and more. It does this by surfacing all the new content created on Geni by a user's family. Users can also quickly post news themselves. Privacy settings allow users to control who is in their Family group and which of their activity will appear in Family News.

"Before Family News, users had to dig around the site to figure out what was new or what had changed," explained Sacks. "Now you can easily see what your family members have contributed to the site and build on it."

Sacks summarized Geni's overall product direction: "Social networks tap into the need for communication. We are doing that for families, while addressing another fundamental human need: self-preservation."

Since Geni's launch in January 2007 as a simple tool to create a family tree, Geni has continued to add features and enhancements. Among these additions are enhanced privacy settings, unlimited photo sharing and tagging, birthday reminders, GEDCOM export, family discussion, map and calendar.

Geni was a winner of the 2007 Webware 100 Awards, which named it one of the top 100 sites on the internet and one of the top 10 reference sites. It is by far the youngest site to receive this honor. ( is a privately held company headquartered in Los Angeles, California. Geni was founded by former executives and early employees of PayPal, Yahoo! Groups, eBay, and Tribe. It is backed by venture capital firms Founders Fund and Charles River Ventures.

 Geni, Inc.

JoAnne Rockower

(310) 651-2006

E-mail Information

Trackback URL:

> "Show Me the Nation's Records,"--2008 NGS Conference and Family History Fair

UpFront with NGS

The Online Newsletter of the National Genealogical Society

Volume 8, Number 1-1 January 2008

Registration is open for the 2008 NGS Conference in the States in Kansas City, Missouri, 14-17 May 2008. Conference and hotel information can be found at The Hyatt Regency Crown Center is offering the discounted conference rate of $129 per night, single or double, from 8 May 2008 through 20 May 2008.

The entire event will be in the Hyatt Regency Crown Center and adjacent Exhibit Hall, which is connected to the Crown Center shopping area by "the link," an indoor elevated walkway. A variety of restaurants and small shops in the Crown Center await attendees.

If you would like to become an Exhibitor at the Family History Fair, please visit our website at <> for more information. There are only a few booths left.

* Librarian's Workshop, Tuesday 13 May, is available for librarians who work with family history patrons. This event requires a separate

registration and is sponsored by ProQuest.

* The Opening Session on Wednesday morning 14 May 2008 will feature Robert M. Sandfort, Ph.D., speaking on "Emigration to the Mouth of the Missouri - and Beyond." Dr. Sandfort will discuss the waves of emigrants to the area, including the French, early pioneers moving west, Germans, and later, Italians. Many moved through the area and further west after the Mexican-American War. Others chose to make the area their permanent home. The session will include the reasons for the emigration with an eye toward the richness of the genealogical records available to researchers.

John P. Colletta, Ph.D., will be the featured speaker at the National Genealogical Society banquet on Friday evening, 16 May 2008, with his talk, "The Keepers and I: Show Me the Records...Please?" Always entertaining, Dr. Colletta will share the skills and techniques he uses to obtain access to record collections, including cooperation, diplomacy, negotiation, good humor, stealth, and groveling.

On Saturday, 17 May 2008, Dick Eastman will be the NGS/GENTECH luncheon speaker, bringing us up to date on many of the new partnerships in the genealogical community and what we can expect from these new relationships.

Other highlights of the "Show Me the Records" conference include an Ethnic Track of Lectures:

- "Marriage and Courtship in Germany 1500-1800," "Deciphering Handwriting in German Documents," "German Immigrants in American

Protestant Church Records," and "Status in German Society 1500-1800: Where Did Your Ancestors Fit In?" by Roger Minert

-         "Finding German Ancestors in Published Sources," "Finding Your German Ancestor's Place of Origin," and "The World Wide Web of German Genealogy" by John T. Humphreys

-         "Como Comenzar: Beginning Hispanic Family History Research" and "Desde Lejos: Researching in the Archives of Spain and Mexico from the USA," from George R. Ryskamp, J.D., AG

- Several lectures on African American research: "Beginning African American Genealogy" by Lyle Gibson; "Harlem Hellfighters: Heroes of the 369th U.S. Infantry" by Edwin Bailey, Ph.D.; CG, CGL; "Civil War Border States' Records for Slaves and Slave Owners" by Ruth Ann Hager; and "What's Your Story?" by Traci L. Wilson-Kleekamp, reviewing resources available via the Internet.

- Native American lectures: "Indexes and Databases for American Indian Research" by Paula Stuart-Warren, CG, and "Doing the Dawes: Locating Ancestors in the Final Rolls of the Five Civilized Tribes" by Kathy Huber, MLS.  - "European Methodology" by Richard Camaur, J.D., CG.

- "Top International Sites for Researching Ancestors in France" and "Ancestral Research in France: Starting Points" by Earl F. Charvette

- "Out of the Ashes: Irish Genealogical Collections," by David Rencher, AG, CG, FIGRS, FUGA.

- "Researching Irish Here Before Going There" by Elizabeth Kelly Kerstens, CD, CGL

- "British Isles Internet Strategies I: General and England," and "British Isles Internet Strategies II: Scotland, Ireland, and Wales" by Paul Milner

More details are available about each lecture at <>

The local host societies include the Missouri State Genealogical Association, the Mid-Continent Public Library, the Northland Genealogy

Society, the APG Heartland Chapter, and the Johnson County (Kansas) Genealogical Society.


Thanks again to Jerry Kliot for recognizing the potential of this fantastic creation, and passing it on to you. It should be interesting to follow this project, knowing the seemingly impossible task undertaken by Google—and carried off without a hitch. It would be great to have one of our members send in a follow up and let us know your opinions._____LO


> Coming Soon:  The Mother of All Genealogy Databases

September 26, 2007

Mike Elgan recently wrote an article in Computerworld with some interesting predictions. Among other things, he believes that Google will someday unveil "Google Maps" of genealogy, which will result in a massive, interactive, mashable, public, and free online Human Family Tree. In short, he believes that Google will someday be able to list information about all humans who ever lived and left records behind. Not only that, but he also predicts that the records of most of these people will be linked together to point to similar records of their parents, children, siblings, and other relatives.

Is combining all genealogy data too scary?

Elgan also takes a look at the DNA databases. He writes, "A team of computer scientists, mathematicians and biologists have come up with a computer algorithm that can trace the ancestry of thousands of people in a few minutes based on a DNA sample, according to the September 2007 edition of the journal PLoS Genetics. The researchers claim that their method is 99% accurate. They plan to build a massive database of people and how they're related."

He also makes other predictions:

Such a database would enable you to do absolutely amazing things. For example: 

Is he correct? I read Mike Elgan's article and found it to be a bit simplistic and short on details. I disagree with some of what he wrote, and yet I do think it makes for interesting reading. In fact, perhaps we should read his article and then stop to consider what might happen if we are not careful. Perhaps concerns about privacy and other issues should be addressed now in order to prevent the "Big Brother" image that Elgan paints.

You can find "Coming Soon: The Mother of All Genealogy Databases" by Mike Elgan at


> What DNA Ancestry Testing Will And Won't Tell You

Yahoo! Top Stories

Monday December 10, 2007

REUTERS - A range of genealogy companies now offer DNA testing to those curious about their ancestry.

Here are a few facts about DNA genealogy tests:

- Tests cost between $119.00 and $895.00 and are available from a variety of online vendors.

- Different tests are used to trace maternal and paternal ancestry.

- Paternal DNA is found on the Y chromosome, which is passed down unchanged from father to son. Because women do not have a Y chromosome, those wishing to test their paternal line must have a brother or father take the test for them.

- Maternal DNA is found in mitochondria, the organelles that provide energy to cells. Women and men can take this test.

- DNA tests can't give a complete picture of your ancestry because they are only capable of tracing direct matrilenial and patrilineal lines, in other words, your mother's mother's mother, or your father's father's father. The test does not reveal the genetic makeup of other forebears, such as your maternal grandfather.

- The tests show your broad genetic category, or "haplogroup," and where in the world that group is commonly found. But the tests cannot identify more specific ancestral information such as which town or river valley your ancestors came from.

- Tests can indicate that two people are related if their results match up closely.

Scientists have called on test providers to better educate consumers about their limitations and have warned that the tests should not be used to resolve legal disputes, such as whether somebody qualifies for membership in an American Indian tribe.


> DNA Kits: Secrets Of Your Past Or Scientific Scam?

Meredith F. Small

LiveScience's Human Nature Columnist

Sun Dec 9, 2007

One of the by-products of human consciousness is self-consciousness, that is, knowing deeply that you are alive. Part of self-consciousness is also wondering where we came from; it's clearly human nature to seek one's roots.

For some people, that task is relatively easy because there are oral legends or written words that go back at least several generations (assuming family history is passed down accurately). But for most people, the path backwards is rocky, cluttered with confusing detour signs, or simply blank.

For Americans, citizens of the quintessential melting pot, the quest for identity often propels older people (it's interesting that we often search for our dead relatives while looking death square in the face) to the lists of immigrants into Ellis Island or other ports of entry into the United States and to the repository of genealogy in Salt Lake City.

It also leads unwary seekers of the past right into the hands of scam artists who claim they can trace anyone's DNA back to its source.

Anyone with a spare $100 to $900 can buy a "DNA ancestry kit." Self-collection of DNA requires only a quick swab of the inside of the mouth to gather cheek cells. Mail that smear back and the company will then compare your DNA to various other samples.

But claims that this analysis will tell you much about where you came from are downright fraudulent, anthropologist Deborah Bolnick of the University of Texas at Austin and 14 co-authors recently reported.

Instead of tracing our genetic past, what we get is a scientific scam.

"It sure looks like science," says anthropologist Jonathan Marks of the University of North Carolina, Charlotte, one of the authors of the study. "Well, it is science. It’s done by scientists, and it’s done on DNA samples. And it produces real data."

But, Marks points out, these companies are preying on the public because they simply don’t have enough comparative information to pinpoint a gene on a world map. They might match your DNA to some group on some continent, but what they don’t tell you is that you would probably also match the group next door if only they had some of those samples as well.

More insidious, these companies pretend to trace your unique ancestry through mitochondrial DNA, but that’s simply not possible. A few hundred years, a few generations, and every person's history is a genetic mishmash. One little gene isn't going to inform anybody about anything.

As Marks puts it, "That’s the beauty of this scam. The companies aren’t scamming you. They’re not giving you fraudulent information. They are giving you data, real data, and allowing you to scam yourself."

Humans have, in fact, turned the whole world into one large genetic melting pot. We have always been a species that crossed mountains, continents and oceans; we have always loved to mate outside our ancestral group.

If you want to know who you are, look in the mirror. Written on your face is countless generations that have survived to reproduce, and the only thing you can realistically do at this point is thank them and then move forward.

Meredith F. Small is an anthropologist at Cornell University. She is also the author of "Our Babies, Ourselves; How Biology and Culture Shape the Way We Parent" (link) and "The Culture of Our Discontent; Beyond the Medical Model of Mental Illness".



 > Scanning Old Photographs

by Kay Spears

Genealogy Gems: News from the Fort Wayne Library, No. 45,
November 30, 2007

Do you have some old photographs you want to scan, but you're not sure what format to use when saving them?  Well, here's the definitive answer:  it depends.  Yes, what format you choose for saving images depends on how you intend to use them once they are scanned.  Here are some general guidelines.

1. If the image is to be used for the Web/online, use JPEG, PNG or GIF. If the image is to be printed or used in a print publication, use

2. JPEG should be used when you need to keep the file size small and don't mind giving up quality for a significant reduction in size.
JPEGs are optimal for posting and transferring photos online.  JPEGs aren't suitable for images with text because crisp lines will blur.
If you plan on doing any kind of restoration work on your photograph, JPEGs are not the format to use.

3. PNG is ideal when you need smaller file sizes with no loss in quality.  PNG supports alpha transparency (soft edges).  PNG files
offer greater compression and a much wider range of color depth than GIFs.  However, not all web browsers support PNGs.

4. GIF is a good choice for simple Web graphics with limited colors. GIF should rarely be used for photos.

5. TIFF is good for any type of bitmap image.  If you want to archive your family photographs, this is the format to use.  This is also the
format to use if you are planning on doing restoration work.  Unlike JPEGs, TIFFs do not lose any compression when edited and resaved.  I recommend that you scan your family photos as TIFFs; you can always reduce them to JPEGs for sending through emails or putting online. Always keep the original TIFF saved in a separate file. The downside: TIFF files are extremely large and take up a lot of storage space. However, the cost of disk storage continues to plummet while options continue to increase.

6.  BMP may be used for any type of pixel-based image.  BMPs are huge files, but there is no loss of quality.  BMP has no real benefit over TIFF, except you can use it for Windows wallpaper.

A final tip: for sharing a photo via the Web or email, scan at 75 or 100 dpi.  A standard computer monitor is only 72 to 96 dpi, so it's
not necessary for anything larger. For printing, scan at 300 dpi. Printers have higher resolution than monitors.  If you're planning on
enlarging an image, the general rule of thumb is double the resolution when doubling the size.


During the last three years Google has been engaged in the huge project of digitizing all the books in some of the major libraries in Europe and the U. S.  The objective is to make the knowledge of these institutions available online to the entire world via the internet. This is a spectacular project I have mentioned many times recently in both this newsletter and in group presentations.

I’m sure that some of you have wondered, as have I, how those in distant third world countries or in geographically isolated areas would be able to access this digital information. Much of the world that is the target of this project is so poor that purchasing the hardware and software as we know it would be out of the question. With the next article we discover the XO project that is meant to fill this need. It appears that this work has been going on for some time, and that they are continuing to update. BRAVO! _____LO

> Laptop XO a potent learning tool created expressly for children in developing countries

Laptop News 2007-12-01

The XO is a potent learning tool created expressly for children in developing countries, living in some of the most remote environments. The laptop was designed collaboratively by experts from both academia and industry, bringing to bear both extraordinary talent and many decades of collective field experience for every aspect of this nonprofit humanitarian project. The result is a unique harmony of form and function; a flexible, ultra-low-cost, power-efficient, responsive, and durable machine with which nations of the emerging world can leapfrog decades of development—immediately transforming the content and quality of their children's learning.

XO is built from free and open-source software. Our commitment to software freedom gives children the opportunity to use their laptops on their own terms. While we do not expect every child to become a programmer, we do not want any ceiling imposed on those children who choose to modify their machines. We are using open-document formats for much the same reason: transparency is empowering. The children—and their teachers—will have the freedom to reshape, reinvent, and reapply their software, hardware, and content.

The desktop metaphor is so entrenched in personal computer users' collective consciousness that it is easy to forget what a bold and radical innovation the Graphical User Interface (GUI) was and how it helped free the computer from the “professionals” who were appalled at the idea of computing for everyone.

OLPC is about to revolutionize the existing concept of a computer interface. Beginning with Seymour Papert's simple observation that children are knowledge workers like any adult, only more so, we decided they needed a user-interface tailored to their specific type of knowledge work: learning. So, working together with teams from Pentagram and Red Hat, we created SUGAR, a “zoom” interface that graphically captures their world of fellow learners and teachers as collaborators, emphasizing the connections within the community, among people, and their activities.

As first conceived, the XO laptop display used LCOS (liquid crystal on silicon) in the form of a projector. Nicholas Negroponte demonstrated the concept in early 2005, using a set of black sticks sliding across a frame to convey some sense of how the folding optics would work.

The laptop began to evolve in June of that year, when Mary Lou Jepsen, newly named as acting CTO, began considering a dual-mode display: one a conventional color LED laptop screen, the other a sunlight-readable, black-and-white e-book. The concept made abundant sense for the developing world, where outdoor classes are common and the cost of shipping textbooks is a major expense.

At a July board meeting, Design Continuum presented an array of innovative prototype designs that would lead, by November 2005, to the famous “green machine”, with its distinctive pencil-yellow crank, which was unveiled to the world by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan at the World Summit on the Information Society at Tunis.

The yellow crank, while cute, in the end proved impractical; it migrated to the AC adapter as it also morphed into one or more other types of human-power devices. Its status as an icon for OLPC would be supplanted by the mesh-network antennas, or “ears.” At the same time, Quanta Computer, our ODM, made a strong case for fitting the laptop with a so-called transformer hinge to simplify the machine's transformations from classic laptop, to game device, to e-book reader. In the spring of 2006, Yves Behar, the noted San Francisco industrial designer, came aboard to complete the final design of the Generation-One XO.

In November of 2006, the first XO test machines, the B1 (Beta1), rolled off the Quanta assembly line in Shanghai.

In early 2007, the B2 iteration of XO, stronger, sturdier, with a slight increase in tilt, was ready for its debut. B3 followed in May 2007, and pallets of B4 machines arrived in OLPC offices on July 6, 2007.

Most of the nearly two–billion children in the developing world are inadequately educated, or receive no education at all. One in three does not complete the fifth grade.

The individual and societal consequences of this chronic global crisis are profound. Children are consigned to poverty and isolation—just like their parents—never knowing what the light of learning could mean in their lives. At the same time, their governments struggle to compete in a rapidly evolving, global information economy, hobbled by a vast and increasingly urban underclass that cannot support itself, much less contribute to the commonweal, because it lacks the tools to do so.

Given the resources that developing countries can reasonably allocate to education—sometimes less than $20 per year per pupil, compared to the approximately $7500 per pupil spent annually in the U.S.—even a doubled or redoubled national commitment to traditional education, augmented by external and private funding, would not get the job done. Moreover, experience strongly suggests that an incremental increase of “more of the same”—building schools, hiring teachers, buying books and equipment—is a laudable but insufficient response to the problem of bringing true learning possibilities to the vast numbers of children in the developing world.

Standing still is a reliable recipe for going backward.

Any nation's most precious natural resource is its children. We believe the emerging world must leverage this resource by tapping into the children's innate capacities to learn, share, and create on their own. Our answer to that challenge is the XO laptop, a children's machine designed for “learning .”

XO embodies the theories of constructionism first developed by MIT Media Lab Professor Seymour Papert in the 1960s, and later elaborated upon by Alan Kay, complemented by the principles articulated by Nicholas Negroponte in his book, Being Digital.

Extensively field-tested and validated among some of the poorest and most remote populations on earth, constructionism emphasizes what Papert calls “learning learning” as the fundamental educational experience. A computer uniquely fosters learning learning by allowing children to “think about thinking”, in ways that are otherwise impossible. Using the XO as both their window on the world, as well as a highly programmable tool for exploring it, children in emerging nations will be opened to both illimitable knowledge and to their own creative and problem-solving potential.

OLPC is not, at heart, a technology program, nor is the XO a product in any conventional sense of the word. OLPC is a non-profit organization providing a means to an end—an end that sees children in even the most remote regions of the globe being given the opportunity to tap into their own potential, to be exposed to a whole world of ideas, and to contribute to a more productive and saner world community.

Until then, stay tuned.

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> Online rival to Microsoft Office launches clone of Microsoft Office 2007 /It's on an uphill road

By Egan Orion

THE TIMES reported yesterday that the co-founder of the Hotmail webmail service has released a web based software clone of Microsoft Office 2007 to compete with the Vole.

Microsoft bought Hotmail for $400 million ten years ago. At the time, it probably didn't anticipate that the acquisition would help fund the design of a rival to its crown jewels, the Office suite cash cow that generates $20 billion annually, a third of Microsoft's revenue.

Sabeer Bhatia calls his web based office applications suite Live Documents. He believes it can challenge Microsoft's dominant Office suite by being significantly less expensive, with a subscription business model that allows customers to avoid the high initial cost of Office.

The software suite will be given away to individuals along with 100MB of free online data storage space. Companies can subscribe to use the software, hosted either remotely or in-house, for less than the cost of Microsoft Office. Its first customer has 6,700 employees.

Live Documents was developed over four years by just 32 software engineers at Bhatia's company InstaColl in Bangalore, India. The company is backed by SoftBank's Bodhi Fund.

Google Docs is another web based group of software as a service office applications like Live Documents. Released in February, Google's office suite already has major corporate customers, including CapGemini, General Motors and Proctor & Gamble, who see it as a lower cost alternative that handles both Volish and Open Document Format (ODF) files.

Other free, local client based alternatives to Microsoft Office are the several ODF based offerings including open sauce Open Office, Sun's StarOffice and IBM's Lotus Symphony, all compatible with Microsoft Office, though that might not continue in the future as the Vole changes its formats.

Live Documents is better than Google Docs and the other alternatives, Bhatia contends, because it closely imitates Microsoft's latest Office 2007.

He believes office applications delivered as a service over the Internet is the wave of the future, due to lower up front and later upgrade costs. He said, "This will do for documents what Hotmail did for e-mail. Why spend $400 on an upgrade when you can get it for free?"

"We are just a few years away from the end of the shrink-wrapped software business. By 2010, people will not be buying software," Bhatia said.

Mr. Bhatia might be onto something with his Live Documents office suite, delivered as a service, but we're not convinced. The overwhelming majority of users of Microsoft Office haven't yet upgraded to Office 2007, and many might not for quite a while yet. There is significant resistance among Office users to the many user interface changes Microsoft made in Office 2007, and that will limit the appeal of Live Documents as an alternative for office applications.

Then there's its dependence on Microsoft file formats, which the Vole changes regularly in order to disadvantage competitors and slowly force users through network effects to pay for expensive Office upgrades. Bhatia's potential customers can't be confident that Live Documents will keep up with Microsoft's future changes to its Office file formats, and since it doesn't support ODF files, they can't use it to migrate away from the Microsoft vendor lock-in of Office to ensure that their files will always be accessible.

Google Docs has the first mover advantage and has already attracted recognition and the respect that comes with an impressively large early customer base. It has the advantage of being compatible with both Microsoft Office and ODF file formats, too. And Google certainly has the financial resources to persevere in an extended contest with Microsoft.

We somewhat like the idea of office software as a service, but Google was there first and Live Documents is chained to the Vole, so we think it's going to have an uphill road to go. But then, maybe Microsoft might eventually just buy Live Documents, like it did Hotmail.

The Times

THE INQUIRER (News, reviews, facts and friction)

23 November 2007




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The internet has certainly cut into membership of our genealogy groups. But there are other reasons as well that have unfortunately come along during this same short time span of our "golden years."
1. During the first years that our members owned computers they needed much help and advice. Many had been doing genealogy for decades, but now it was how to use this complicated machine that was of much greater concern.
2. Software was also of concern and members looked forward with anxiety to the release of new versions that promised to have more changes and the addition of new "bells and whistles." By now we all know pretty much what to expect so new releases are hardly mentioned. Members have now gone through a half dozen new versions and know how to do most of the chores they desire.
3. Before the internet as we know it, the CD was medium that brought all the new information to our computer. Remember the "12 free CDs with this version" and 24 if you bought the most expensive. We sometimes made our decisions more by the CDs than by the software itself. Special databases were all available on CD, seldom by download.
4. The many presentation topics that we heard at our society meetings were often new to us, and we looked forward to them with anticipation. By now, many of these (or offsprings of these) have been brought back in up-to-date offerings, but the interest and enthusiasm is often not what it was in earlier times.
We have to recognize that many of our members during the past decade, are for one reason or other, not going to be with us much longer. Fortunately, we have more and more prospects for new members if we can find a way to reach them. It seems that the number of those who have an interest in genealogy is growing, not declining.
However, these new members are going to be much different that those of the past. They will come to us with a greater knowledge of computers (and other digital devices)then we have, and software and the internet are just taken for granted. Hopefully, our societies can adapt quickly enough that we can attract these younger members--who will be the leaders of tomorrow.


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