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  • 15 May 2023 7:25 AM | Anonymous

    This looks like it might (1.) be fun and (2.) teach you what our Colonial-Era ancestors endured.

    Carnegie Mellon students make AI shine in new ChatGPT-based game.

    A tragedy looms over the town of Howlsbend — and asking the right questions of artificial intelligence may be the only way to discover the witch behind this wickedness.

    Chatbot AI(opens in new window) a team of Carnegie Mellon University Entertainment Technology Center (ETC)(opens in new window) students, have created a role-playing video game, Hysteria in Howlsbend, set in a fictional colonial town. The player takes the role of the deputy governor of Massachusetts and must interview three townsfolk to determine which of them is the witch who killed the local reverend.

    Even Charles Agriogianis, a game designer on the project, doesn’t know what the townsfolk will say. They are voiced, in part, by AI.

    "We can only exert so much control over what it's doing, so we had to think carefully about narrative in the game and how we defined a successful experience," said Agriogianis, a student at the ETC — a master's program that prepares students for careers in entertainment technology and interactive experience development.

    Players can chat one-on-one with characters Hope, Elizabeth and Adam to determine who is telling the truth, who knows what and, ultimately, who is the witch. Powered by ChatGPT, the characters will respond to anything. Players could ask "Hope, do you think Adam is the witch?" or "Where did you get your hat?"

    Amber Griffith, a narrative designer, game designer and 2D artist on the team, said incorporating AI means no two playthroughs have been the same.

    You can read more in an article by Caroline Sheedy published in the Carnegie Mellon web site at: https://tinyurl.com/5xmmn6m7


  • 15 May 2023 6:59 AM | Anonymous

    NOTE: This article is not about any of the "normal" topics of this newsletter: genealogy, history, current affairs, DNA, and related topics. However, I found it interesting so I decided to share it here.

    Bus stops in Boston are beginning to double as digital libraries under a new pilot program being rolled out across the city.

    Riders at 20 bus stops can now dip into free digital content by using a QR code to browse and borrow audiobooks, eBooks, e-newspapers and e-magazines for all ages, Boston Mayor Michelle Wu said Thursday.

    Library cards are not required and readers don’t need to download an app. The program, which runs through the end of August, features blue slip-proof decals on sidewalks at the bus stops.

    Wu said the initiative “builds on our efforts to make public transportation more enjoyable, while also connecting our residents to the resources the Boston Public Library already offers.”

    Riders will be able to enjoy offerings primarily in English and Spanish with a focus on items that are easy to read on the go, including poetry, short stories and short audiobooks, as well as a selection of bestsellers and titles for children and teens.

    The newspaper and magazine content includes 7,000 titles from over 125 countries.

    You can read the full story in an Associated Press article at: https://www.wbur.org/news/2023/05/12/boston-bus-stops-digital-library.


  • 12 May 2023 1:17 PM | Anonymous

    The following is a Plus Edition article written by and copyright by Dick Eastman. 

    This is the first installment of a multi-part article. 

    The computer revolution, and especially the Internet revolution, has created business opportunities for thousands of everyday citizens. To create and sell goods or information, it is no longer necessary to have a "bricks and mortar" store. Likewise, to launch a mail order business, it is no longer necessary to have a fleet of trucks. In fact, you do not even need to maintain specific office hours when your business is open to the public. All you need is a personal computer and a presence in cyberspace. Your business will be open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, even if you happen to be sleeping at the moment. 

    Many individuals have started part-time, "sideline" businesses on the Internet. The goods and services sold online run the gamut from artwork to zippers. Many of these sideline businesses have become profitable, and more than a few have grown to become full-time occupations. In fact, there are numerous stories around about online millionaires – those who converted an idea into an online business and now earn seven-figure incomes.

    I doubt if anyone will earn such riches by packaging and selling genealogy information. However, modest profits certainly are attainable. You can also earn satisfaction from helping other genealogists. In fact, a number of people are selling genealogy information today. It looks to me like the marketplace is not crowded; there's room for many more people to get into this "business." You do not need to be a large corporation to help others and earn a few dollars yourself. In fact, I see many ads for genealogy information being sold by one-person operations. 

    Genealogists are hungry for information. Genealogy information is often available in old printed books and records, printed works that are not covered by copyright laws. The problem is that identifying and locating these records can be very difficult. Genealogists often want information about a particular ancestor but don't know what books exist that might list the ancestor's name. Many genealogists are willing to pay reasonable fees to obtain these books and other publications.

    For years, many vendors have been republishing old books, tax lists, and other records of genealogical interest. However, these mostly small-time vendors often had difficulty finding buyers. Advertising expenses are significant for those who expect to sell limited numbers of republished books. The books typically sell for $20 (for small booklets) to $150 or more (for large volumes). That is a lot of money for someone who simply wants to look to see if one person or one family might be listed. 

    Buyers cannot find vendors easily, and the vendors have similar difficulties finding would-be buyers. Do you see a common theme here? This is a perfect opportunity for the Internet!

    Whenever there is a need, you can expect that some entrepreneurial businessperson will find a means to meet this need. Indeed, there may be a number of people who go into business to fulfill the needs of others. This has been the case with genealogy information. 

    The first installment of this article covers the republishing of entire books, pamphlets, public records, and other original published information. Sales of extracted information will be discussed in a later installment.

    Republishing Old Books

    The remainder of this article is reserved for Plus Edition subscribers only. If you have a Plus Edition subscription, you may read the full article at: 

    https://eogn.com/(*)-Plus-Edition-News-Articles/13200814.

    If you are not yet a Plus Edition subscriber, you can learn more about such subscriptions and even upgrade to a Plus Edition subscription immediately at https://eogn.com/page-18077

  • 12 May 2023 10:07 AM | Anonymous

    USB thumb drives are a convenient and portable means of storing data. However, how long can flash drives actually keep your data maintained? Are they really useful for storing information for an extended period of time?

    Note: These are often called flash drives or flash memory or thumb drives or USB drives or possibly other names. The reality is that they all are the same things.

    Most technical gurus will tell you that a good USB drive can function for an average of 10 years or longer. The actual data lifespan varies depending on build quality, write cycles, temperature, and storage conditions of a thumb drive. However, the “real-world” life expectancy is somewhat more complicated.

    First, there is the phrase “an average of 10 years or longer.”  Think about that one word: “average.” What that really means is that of all the “good USB drives” available today, an average means that about half of them will last less than 10 years while the other half will last longer than 10 years. That’s the definition of an average. The question is: how do you tell in advance that the flashdrive in your hand is going to last more than or less than the average of all flashdrives?

    Yes, half of the “good USB drives” will fail in less (sometimes much less) than 10 years.

    Next, how do you tell that your flashdrive is one of the “good” ones? Does the flashdrive you purchase on sale qualify as a “good” one or is it perhaps a more-cheaply built one?

    How about the storage conditions of a thumb drive.? Are you keeping it in a room at home or the office where temperatures and humidity remain fairly constant or are you keeping it in the glovebox of your automobile or perhaps in your purse or pocket? Yes,  temperature, and storage conditions of a thumb drive will greatly affect the life expectancy of a flashdrive.

    Luckily, there are a few simple solutions to these questions.

    First of all, you should have a basic understanding of how usb thumb drives store data. They use NAND flash memory to store data. NAND flash memory is a non-volatile storage type, meaning it retains data even when the power is disconnected. This feature makes it ideal for portable storage devices like USB thumb drives.

    Unlike old-fashioned hard drives, there are no moving parts in a flashdrive. Next, they are rugged. Yes, even the cheapest flashdrives can be bounced around, dropped, and otherwise abused. They don’t withstand crushing, however

    NAND flash memory stores data in memory cells. These cells use electrons trapped in a “floating gate” to represent binary values (0s and 1s). The biggest threat to data stored in flashdrives is that, over time, the electrical charge in these cells can leak, leading to data degradation because it becomes harder to read whether the charge level represents a 1 or 0. While a thumb drive might seem like a pretty sturdy storage device thanks to its solid-state nature, several factors can impact the longevity of data stored on a USB thumb drive.

    Perhaps the biggest risk concerns the quality of the drive: The quality of the NAND flash memory and the overall construction of the drive can significantly affect data retention. Cheaper, lower-quality drives may have a shorter lifespan. Unfortunately, there is no method of determining the quality simply by looking at the flashdrive.

    Flash memory has a finite number of write cycles (i.e., how often data can be written and erased). As the number of write cycles increases, the likelihood of data degradation also increases, and eventually, you’ll get total drive failure. In short, they may be considered to be “write infrequently, read frequently” devices.

    Extreme temperatures can negatively affect data retention. Prolonged exposure to high temperatures can cause the trapped electrons to leak faster, leading to data loss.

    Humidity, dust, and other environmental factors can also influence the longevity of data stored on a USB thumb drive. Unfortunately, there is no easy way of determining how much of an impact environmental factors can impact a particular flashdrives. Some (higher quality) flashdrives are hermetically sealed while cheaper drives normally are not. Again, there is no method of determining the quality of construction simply by looking at the flashdrive.

    So What Should You Do to Ensure Longevity of Your Data?

    The easiest way to is to do the same as you do to making backups to other media: make multiple copies and store the copies on different flashdrives (or a variety of other media). You DO make multiple copies of your backups, don’t you?

    Next, verify the stored data periodically. The easiest way to do this is to copy the entire flashdrive from one flashdrive to another flashdrive periodically. Your computer is very good at detecting errors when the copy software encounters errors. If there is a problem with corrupted data on the flashdrive, you will know about it withing seconds after encountering the error. This also has the added benefit of easily making extra copies of your data, as mentioned earlier. There is no “magic” as to determining how often to copy the device. I try to copy my stored flashdrives once every fiscal quarter (every three months).

    How Long Should It Last?

    There is no definitive answer to this lifespan question for data stored on a USB thumb drive because it depends on the above-mentioned factors. However, under normal storage conditions and usage, a high-quality USB thumb drive should be able to retain data for at least 10 years. Again, I will repeat what I wrote earlier: “The actual data lifespan varies depending on build quality, write cycles, temperature, and storage conditions of a thumb drive. However, the “real-world” life expectancy is somewhat more complicated.”

    Flashdrives are some of the most useful tools any computer user can own. However, like all other tools, it is necessary to know how to use the tool and what the tool’s capabilities are. Perhaps knowing the limitation of each tool used is the best method of preventing frustrations.

  • 12 May 2023 7:09 AM | Anonymous

    "A study has now found that some of the ancestors of Native Americans in the Americas included people from China! It does appear counterintuitive as China and the US are separated by the vast Pacific Ocean and human migrations, particularly in prehistoric periods did not appear to involve crossing of large water bodies. It was widely held before that ancestors of Native Americans came from modern-day Siberia. They crossed the prehistoric land bridge that joined eastern tip of Russia with Alaska and entered the American continent.

    "But now, a research says that the some of those people who migrated to the Americas included those from China.

    “'Our findings indicate that besides the previously indicated ancestral sources of Native Americans in Siberia, the northern coastal China also served as a genetic reservoir contributing to the gene pool,' said Yu-Chun Li, one of the report authors as quoted in a report by The Guardian.

    "Li also added that during what was called the second migration, some of the people of that lineage settled in Japan.

    "Kunming Institute of Zoology researchers studied the lineage known as D4h. It is associated with Mitochondrial DNA which is passed on to next generation only by mothers.

    "The team of researchers analysed 100,000 modern and 15000 ancient DNA samples to hunt for D4h. The researchers at the end, landed on 216 contemporary and 39 ancient individuals.

    "They studied the mutations that had occurred over time. By looking at the samples' geographical location and by using carbon dating, the researchers were able to get an idea of D4h's origin and expansion history."

    You can read a lot more in an article edited by Manas Joshi and published in the wionews.com web site at: https://www.wionews.com/science/some-ancestors-of-native-americans-came-from-china-says-study-590927

    I found it interesting that the study claimed it was not a one-time migration. It stated there were a number of different migrations and some perhaps were by different routes.


  • 11 May 2023 8:54 AM | Anonymous

    The following is a press release written by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA):

    The United States Senate voted today to confirm Dr. Colleen Shogan as the 11th Archivist of the United States. Nominated by President Biden on August 3, 2022, Shogan will begin her tenure as the head of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) next week. She will be the first woman to hold the position permanently, succeeding David S. Ferriero, who retired in April 2022.

    Shogan most recently served as Director of the David M. Rubenstein Center for White House History and Senior Vice President of the White House Historical Association. She previously worked for more than a decade at the Library of Congress, serving in senior roles as the Assistant Deputy Librarian for Collections and Services and the Deputy Director of the Congressional Research Service. Earlier in her career, she worked as a policy staff member in the U.S. Senate and taught at Georgetown University and George Mason University. She earned a BA in Political Science from Boston College and a Ph.D. in American Politics from Yale University, where she was a National Science Foundation Graduate Fellow. She is a member of Phi Beta Kappa and of the United States Capitol Historical Society’s Council of Scholars. Additionally, Dr. Shogan served as the Vice Chair of the Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commission and the Chair of the Board of Directors at the Women’s Suffrage National Monument Foundation.

    As Archivist of the United States, Shogan will oversee NARA, an independent federal agency that serves American democracy by safeguarding and preserving the records of our government, so people can discover, use, and learn from this documentary heritage. The National Archives ensures continuing access to the essential documentation of the rights of American citizens and the actions of their government. From the Declaration of Independence to accounts of ordinary Americans, the holdings of the National Archives directly touch the lives of millions of people. The agency supports democracy, promotes civic education, and facilitates historical understanding of our national experience. The National Archives carries out its mission through a nationwide network of archives, records centers, and Presidential Libraries as well as online at www.archives.gov.

  • 11 May 2023 8:27 AM | Anonymous

    A new resource for tracking Native residential schools affiliated with the Catholic Church marks a major advance toward healing the wounds of systemic abuse, said one project organizer.

    An undated photo from the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis archives shows a Catholic missionary with Native American youth. On May 9, 2023, a group of archivists, historians, tribal members and other supporters unveiled a list of some 87 Catholic-run Native boarding schools that had operated in 22 U.S. states prior to 1978. (OSV News photo/Archdiocesan Archives, Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis)

    “While there are more steps for the Catholic Church to take to move toward truth, healing and reconciliation, this list is a powerful step forward,” said Maka Black Elk, executive director for Truth and Healing at Red Cloud Indian School on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota.

    On May 9, Black Elk and a group of archivists, historians, tribal members and other supporters unveiled a list of some 87 Catholic-run Native boarding schools that had operated in 22 U.S. states prior to 1978. The schools were among more than 400 overseen by the U.S. federal government in the 19th and 20th centuries, with many sites operated by Christian churches and organizations.

    The list, accessible online at http://ctah.archivistsacwr.org, provides school names, locations and dates of operation, along with the dioceses in which the facilities were located and the orders that operated and staffed them.

    You can read the full story by Gina Christian published in thedialog.org web site at: https://thedialog.org/national-news/unveiling-of-list-of-catholic-run-native-boarding-schools-allows-for-subsequent-generations-to-achieve-healing/


  • 11 May 2023 8:08 AM | Anonymous

    We recently updated the MyHeritage 1910 Norway Census to include beautiful high-quality scanned images of the original census. This important project was done in collaboration with the National Archives of Norway. The addition of images makes this valuable collection an even richer source of information about individuals living in Norway in 1910, as the images can provide information not included in the original index  — for example, a person’s occupation. If you have Norwegian roots, you may find exciting details about your ancestors from this pivotal period in Norwegian history.

    Search the 1910 Norway Census

    The collection includes names, genders, residences, relationships, marital status, birthplaces, and, for most people, full birth dates. Censuses rarely include full birth dates (day-of-month, month, and year), making this an important birth index that provides this detailed information for almost everyone living in Norway in 1910.

    The 1910 Norway Census was the first one conducted after Norway’s separation from Sweden in 1905, which led to a period of significant national pride. Consequently, many of the Danish or Swedish city and municipality names were replaced with traditional Norwegian names. For instance, the capital Kristiania, named after Danish King Christian IV, was renamed Oslo in 1924.

    The census was conducted on Thursday, December 1, 1910, and continued on subsequent business days until completion. Due to Norwegian privacy laws, which restricts public access for 100 years, the 1910 census only became available to the public in 2010. It differs from the 1900 census in the following ways:

    • It includes a full date of birth for all people listed; the 1900 census listed full birth dates only for children under the age of two
    • More details regarding emigration and repatriation are included
    • People who were unemployed were required to state this on the 1910 census
    • Ship crews were listed only if they were located in Norwegian ports and waters; Norwegian ships in foreign ports and waters were not included

    Example

    Among the records in this collection is that of Roald Amudsen, the Norwegian polar explorer who made the first trek to the South Pole in 1911. In fact, when the census was taken, he was already en route to Antarctica, and his team reached the South Pole almost exactly a year later. The census record lists his birth date and place, July 16, 1872 in Borge; his current age, 37; his residence in 1910, Uranienborg, Nesodden, Akershus, Norway; and his marital status, single. It mentions that his residential status is “temporarily absent.”

    You can read the full article at: https://tinyurl.com/2p86yhum.

  • 11 May 2023 7:36 AM | Anonymous

    From an article by Antonio Regalado published in the technologyreview.com web site:

    The joke about the Human Genome Project is how many times it’s been finished, but not actually.

    The first time was in 2000,  when Bill Clinton announced the “first survey of the entire human genome” at a White House ceremony, calling it “the most important and most wondrous map ever produced by humankind.”

    But the job wasn’t done. A year later, the triumph was announced again, this time with the formal publication of a “draft” of “the genetic blueprint for a human being.” In 2003, researchers had another go at the finish line, claiming the “successful completion” of the project, citing better levels of accuracy. Nineteen years later, in 2022, they again claimed victory, this time for a really, truly “complete” sequence of one genome—end to end, no gaps at all. Pinkie promise.

    Today, researchers announced yet another version of the human genome map, which they say combines the complete DNA of 47 diverse individuals—Africans, Native Americans, and Asians, among other groups—into one giant genetic atlas that they say better captures the surprising genetic diversity of our species.

    The new map, called a “pangenome,” has been a decade in the making, and researchers say it will only get bigger, creating an expanding view of the genome as they add DNA from another 300 people from around the globe. It was published in the journal Nature today.

    “We now understand that having one map of a single human genome cannot adequately represent all of humanity,” says Karen Miga, a professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and a participant in the new project.

    Diversity in detail

    People’s genomes are largely alike, but it’s the hundreds of thousands of differences, often just single DNA letters, that explain why each of us is unique. 

    You can read the full story at: https://tinyurl.com/yauae6de.


  • 10 May 2023 11:02 AM | Anonymous

    If you have Irish ancestors, especially some from Cork, you will be interested in the Cork Graveyard Project run by Skibbereen Heritage Centre. An article in the corkbeo.ie web site describes the Cork Graveyard Project:

    Volunteers in Cork have put together an impressive genealogy database to help people look into their own history and fill out the family tree.

    It's all part of the Cork Graveyard Project run by Skibbereen Heritage Centre which has compiled an online database of Cork County Council burial registers and graveyard surveys.

    The records have been transcribed by hard-working volunteers and include details such as the deceased's name, the date of their death, the date of their burial and their address. In total, the heritage centre now has a database of over 380,000 local historical documents which includes more than 57,000 burial records.

    Skibbereen Heritage Centre has created an interactive map of graveyards in Cork. This works in tandem with a database on their website that allows you to search by name, place of burial and year of death. It even includes a 'sounds like' feature that helps people who only have a vague notion of their ancestor's name search for their records.

    You can read more at: https://www.corkbeo.ie/news/history/cork-genealogy-database-holds-57000-26874923.

    You can check out the Skibbereen Heritage Centre database here.

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