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  • 5 May 2021 12:28 PM | Anonymous

    NOTE: This isn't really a genealogy article. However, genealogists are usually very familiar with the reasons for writing a will. Whether the information in this article applies to you or to a loved one, I will suggest that all genealogists and everyone else should be aware of this information.

    Do you own Bitcoins or other cyber-currencies? Do your living parents or other family members own such digital assets? Yes, even your adult children may have digital currencies and probably have not considered inheritance issues in the case of their unexpected demise. If you or any relative who owns crypto-currencies should die unexpectedly, who gets the inheritance? Do the future heirs know how to claim and retrieve the cyber currency?

    Most cyber-currency experts agree that the safest method of storing digital currencies is in a hardware wallet, such as the very popular Trezor and Ledger devices. Use of these high security pieces of hardware almost guarantees that no one can hack in and steal the valuable assets that are stored within the hardware wallet. After all, these digital wallets are usually powered off and disconnected from any computer when being used to store assets. How can a hacker steal from something that is disconnected and powered off?

    Trezor Model T, a very popular hardware wallet for cryptocurrencies

    NOTE: The only exposure of hardware wallets is for the few seconds the wallet is being used to add or to remove assets from the device: plug it into your computer's USB port, add or remove funds, and then immediately unplug the hardware wallet.

    As secure as the hardware wallets may be, they create a problem for potential heirs. Not only hackers but also heirs are locked out if they do not know how to access the funds. The decentralized and unregulated nature of Bitcoin and other crypto currencies means that without the keys to access a hardware wallet, nobody has any method of accessing any funds. Unlike a bank or a stockbroker, obtaining a court order, along with a copy of the death certificate, is useless with a hardware crypto wallet. Nobody, and I do mean NOBODY, knows how to access the funds if the deceased did not share that information or leave instructions behind. There is no backup copy at any corporation's offices.

    Ledger Nano S - Another very popular cryptocurrency hardware wallet

    Some people store their crypto currencies online in less-secure online wallets and in online exchanges that will convert your dollars, Euros, pounds, or other government-issued currency into Bitcoins, Ethereum, Dogecoin, Monero, Dash, Ripple, and other forms of digital assets. If the funds are stored in such a service, the company that stores the assets probably (and let's repeat that word: PROBABLY) will release the funds to a legally-recognized heir as long as they have received the court order, a copy of the death certificate, and legal proof of identification of the heir(s). That would appear to be a solution.

    In fact, the solution isn't very good at all. First of all, hackers have stolen funds in the past from online exchanges whether the owner of the funds is deceased or not. Most security experts will tell you that no one should ever use online crypto currency exchanges to store significant amounts of funds.

    If you have $10 or $20 stored in an online wallet, you obviously don't want to spend $100 or so for a secure hardware wallet! However, if you have significant funds to be stored, a hardware wallet is considered to be a "must have." Next, the exchanges in different countries obviously operate under different laws. Will the exchange located in the Ukraine honor court orders of a U.S. court if the some of the heirs live in Hong Kong?

    Another problem is that there are hundred of online cryptocurrency exchange services in many different countries. The larger and better-known services include Coinbase, Coinsquare, bitFlyer, Kraken, Gemini, Cex.io, Poloniex, Bitstamp, Bitfinex, and many more. That's an abbreviated list; there are many more such services in the U.S. and overseas. The deceased may or may not have used a crypto-currency exchange service in his or her home country. It is completely legal and not unusual for a U.S. resident to use the services of a crypto-currency exchange in England, Singapore, or Belarus. Overseas cryptocurrency exchanges often offer better prices and may have stronger privacy laws than do the U.S., Canadian, or other exchanges.

    The future heir(s) will need to know which service(s) the deceased person used.

    So how does any person make sure that his or her heirs can obtain the assets to which they are legally entitled? Obviously, the person with the knowledge has to share that knowledge with a trusted family member, a friend, or perhaps an attorney. Perhaps the best way is to never verbally tell anyone else but to leave written instructions along with a message of "to be opened only in case of my death or total disability."

    One good place to keep the instructions for accessing your digital assets is to keep the instructions in the same place as your will. However, most legal experts will suggest you not put those instructions in the text of your last will and testament. The reason is that, in most jurisdictions, after your death, your will processed in probate court and the text of the will becomes a public document. Anyone then has a legal right to obtain a copy of the will from the court and read its contents. (There may be exceptions in some jurisdictions.) If you place instructions in how to access your funds in the text of a will, those instructions will become public once the will is probated. Besides, there is no legal requirement to place access instructions in the text of a will.

    Perhaps the better solution is to document the information required to access your digital wealth, seal the instructions in an envelope, and store the envelope in a safe place alongside the last will and testament. Perhaps in your lawyer's office is a good place. Since the instructions are not a part of the will itself, most courts will not consider the external document(s) to be public information.

    As always, ask your attorney for advice concerning the rules and regulations in your area.

    NOTE: Of course, the person needs to inform future heirs that (1.) there is a will and (2). to provide information about the lawyer's name and office address.

    Providing for passage of digital assets to legal heirs is actually a simple process but only if the owner of the assets takes steps NOW to provide a smooth transition. If such steps are not taken and if the heir(s) of those assets cannot access the digital currencies, those coins will become abandoned.

    For more information about safely and securely storing your cryptocurrency and to make that information available to your heirs at the appropriate time, read: Cryptoasset Inheritance Planning: A Simple Guide for Owners by Pamela Morgan. It is available from Amazon as a FREE Kindle book (the Kindle hardware device is not included) or as a paperback, currently selling for $29.04. The same book may also be available in other bookstores. Look for ISBN 1947910116.


  • 4 May 2021 5:46 PM | Anonymous

    The following was written by FamilySearch:

    Explore over 1 million new United States, Enlisted and Officer Muster Rolls and Rosters, 1916-1939. And 2.6M more Catholic Church Records this week on FamilySearch from Venezuela 1577–1995Guatemala 1581–1977Bolivia 1566–1996, and Mexico (Coahuila 1627–1978, Distrito Federal 1514–1970, Guerrero 1576–1979, Jalisco 1590–1979, México 1567–1970, Nayarit 1596–1967, Oaxaca 1559–1988, Puebla 1545–1977, San Luis Potosí 1586–1977, Tamaulipas 1703–1964, and Zacatecas 1605–1980). 

    Look for new leads for your ancestral research questions in additional US Military Records, Bureau of Land Management Tract Books 1800– ca. 1955, and expanded US collections for Illinois, IowaLouisiana, and Wisconsin

    Search these new records and images by clicking on the collection links below, or go to FamilySearch to search over 8 billion free names and record images.

    (The full list is very long, too long to list here. However, you can find the full list at: https://media.familysearch.org/new-free-historical-records-on-familysearch-week-of-10-may-2021/)

     

    About FamilySearch

    FamilySearch International is the largest genealogy organization in the world. FamilySearch is a nonprofit, volunteer-driven organization sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Millions of people use FamilySearch records, resources, and services to learn more about their family history. To help in this great pursuit, FamilySearch and its predecessors have been actively gathering, preserving, and sharing genealogical records worldwide for over 100 years. Patrons may access FamilySearch services and resources free online at FamilySearch.org or through over 5,000 family history centers in 129 countries, including the main Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.

  • 4 May 2021 4:57 PM | Anonymous

    A new electronic system to modernise the way marriages are registered.

    Major changes to the way marriages in England and Wales are registered are being introduced to help modernise the system.

    From today (May 4), a single electronic marriage register will be created to make the system simpler and more efficient.

    It will also correct a historic anomaly to allow for the names of both parents of the couple to be included in the marriage entry and on marriage certificates for the first time, instead of only their fathers’ names.

    These regulations to amend the Marriage Act mark the biggest changes to the marriage registration system since 1837.

    Minister for Future Borders and Immigration Kevin Foster said:

    When Hazel and I got married in 2017, my dad and Hazel’s mum shared the day with us, but sadly my mum and Hazel’s dad could not be with us, both having passed away beforehand. Whilst Hazel’s dad could still be part of the day by being listed on our marriage certificate, one was missing - my mum.

    These changes bring the registration process into the 21st century and means no parent will be missing on their child’s wedding day.

    Marriages are currently registered by the couple signing a register book, which is held at each register office, in churches and chapels, and at religious premises registered for marriage.

    Creating a single electronic marriage register will save time and money and is a more secure system, eliminating the need for data to be extracted from hard copies.

    You can read more in the GOV.UK web site at https://www.gov.uk/government/news/improvements-introduced-to-marriage-registration-system.


  • 4 May 2021 3:33 PM | Anonymous

    A newsletter reader posted a comment today in the Discussion Forum stating he couldn't find past articles in this web site. I thought I'd post an answer here just in case anyone else has the same problem:

    1. Go to (almost) any page on this web site and click on the SEARCH BOX:

    2. Enter "Book Review" (or any other word or phrase that you seek) and press ENTER.

    3. A second or two later, a link to every book review will appear.

    Click on any one of them to read the full text of that article.

    Try it!

    Again, you can search for any word or combination of words that you see. The SEARCH command is one of the most powerful features of this web site! I use it more-or-less daily.

    - Dick Eastman


  • 3 May 2021 5:06 PM | Anonymous

    Happy Star Wars Day!

    Perhaps I should say, "May the Fourth Be With You."

    Star Wars Day is a (very) informal commemorative day observed annually on May 4th to celebrate George Lucas's Star Wars media franchise. Observance of the day has spread quickly through media and grassroots celebrations since the franchise began in 1977.

    The date of May 4th originated from the pun "May the Fourth be with you", a variant of the popular Star Wars catchphrase "May the Force be with you". Even though the holiday was not created or declared by Lucasfilm, many Star Wars fans across the world have chosen to celebrate the holiday. It has since been embraced by Lucasfilm and parent company Disney as an annual celebration of Star Wars.

    The first recorded reference was the phrase being first used on May 4, 1979, the day Margaret Thatcher took the job as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. An online news article from the Danish public broadcaster says her political party, the Conservatives, placed a congratulatory advertisement in The London Evening News, saying "May the Fourth Be with You, Maggie. Congratulations."

    Of course, that reference to May 4, 1979 has nothing to do with Star Wars. However, why let that stand in the way of a good promotion?

    Perhaps a better reference is that on May 4th, 2015, astronauts in the International Space Station watched the Star Wars movie.

    Whatever the reason, I would like to wish you and Yoda a Happy Star Wars Day!

    By the way, the next day, May 5th is Cinco de Mayo in Mexico but is also known as "Revenge of the Fifth" day in a galaxy not so far away.



  • 30 Apr 2021 4:50 PM | Anonymous

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

    Flash drives have generally replaced CD-ROM disks, DVD-ROM disks, Blu-Ray disks, floppy disks, magnetic tape, and even old-fashioned punch cards as the preferred method of storing backup copies of computer data. Indeed, these tiny devices are capable of storing as much as 1 terabyte (1,000 gigabytes) of data for reasonable prices. ("Reasonable prices" are defined as prices that are lower than purchasing equivalent storage capacity on CD-ROM, DVD-ROM, and Blu-Ray disks.) If history repeats itself again, even today's unreasonably-priced high-capacity flash drives will be even cheaper within a very few years.

    Flash drives are often used for the same purposes for which floppy disks or CDs were used in the past, i.e., for storage, data back-up, and transfer of computer files. They are smaller, faster, have thousands of times more capacity, and are more durable and reliable, mostly because they have no moving parts. Additionally, they are immune to electromagnetic interference (unlike floppy disks), and are unharmed by surface scratches (unlike CDs).

    One question arises however: will the data stored on flash drives still be readable in a few years? A second question also arises: "How many times can I write to a flash drive before it becomes unusable?"

    Wikipedia offers a simple statement about flash drive life expectancies at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USB_flash_drive:

    “The memory in flash drives was commonly engineered with multi-level cell (MLC) based memory that is good for around 3,000-5,000 program-erase cycles. Nowadays Triple-level Cell (TLC) is also often used, which has up to 500 write cycles per physical sector, while some high-end flash drives have single-level cell (SLC) based memory that is good for around 30,000 writes.[ There is virtually no limit to the number of reads from such flash memory, so a well-worn USB drive may be write-protected to help ensure the life of individual cells.

    "Estimation of flash memory endurance is a challenging subject that depends on the SLC/MLC/TLC memory type, size of the flash memory chips, and actual usage pattern. As a result, a USB flash drive can last from a few days to several hundred years.”

    The word "can" in that statement makes me uncomfortable. Will the flash drive I am using allow that many read/write cycles, or is mine one of the flash drives that is included in the statement “a USB flash drive can last from a few days?.” Will my device last 10 years if left on the shelf, or will it have a life expectancy of much less than 10 years? Also, how many read/write cycles will I consume in normal use?

    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/10414844.

    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.


  • 30 Apr 2021 4:21 PM | Anonymous

    I have written often about my vision of the future of computer hardware and software. One thing I am certain of is that today's computer state-of-the-art will not be the same the state-of-the-art in a few years. Just ask anyone who owns a Radio Shack TRS-80 computer or has a collection of floppy disks or even CD-ROM disks. In that vein, I was interested in a survey which predicts that computer keyboards are already being replaced in many cases by voice input.

    A survey conducted by Pindrop Solutions queried 4057 consumers in the UK, USA, France, and Germany. According to the survey, nearly half (48 percent) of the general public think keyboards will barely be used by 2023 as voice technology takes over. That's just two years away.

    You can read more about the recent Pindrop Solution survey, the lack of keyboards in future computers, and even watch a video about the same subjects, in an article by Greg Nichols on ZDNet's web site at https://zd.net/2IFHP0q.

    Of course, I never believe one article, so I went looking for a second opinion. I asked Alexa (Amazon's Echo device). Seeking a third opinion, I asked Google Home (Google's competitor to Alexa). Still not satisfied, I also asked the GPS navigation system in my automobile that is solely voice-controlled.

    OK, so I didn't exactly receive clear predictions from any of these computer devices; but, all of them are excellent examples of the direction in which our computing devices are headed. I see four obvious trends: one about voice input replacing keyboards and three other closely-related predictions:

    1. Keyboards are becoming less and less popular. New computing devices that depend less on keyboards are therefore becoming more and more popular. While some growth in voice input has occurred on Windows, Macintosh, and Chromebook systems, the largest growth of voice input has been on both mobile computing devices (cell phones, iPad and other tablets, in-automobile uses such as GPS) and similar computing devices that are not used for “traditional” programs like word processing, spreadsheets, and similar operations.

    2. Expensive, general-purpose computers (Windows, Macintosh, Linux, etc.) are becoming less and less popular in the home. In fact, the manufacturers if Windows computers have been reporting declining sales numbers for several years now. Macintosh sales are still growing but not as fast as they used to. Instead, Apple’s primary focus these days is on iPads, cell phones, and other specialized computing devices that are not general-purpose computing systems.

    Instead, these are being supplemented or sometimes even replaced by cheaper, single-purpose computers designed only for specific tasks. The surge of Chromebooks has proven the interest in cheaper devices that still provide many of the traditional programs, now offered online, but many of these now provide touchscreen input, just like tablets and smartphones. Even more telling, you can purchase a Google Home Mini for about $40, several versions of Amazon Echo (Alexa) devices for about $25. and up, and voice-controlled GPS devices for $150 or so. Even the Waze GPS app is available for Android and iOS “smartphones:” is free and it even includes voice input capabilities. Yet all of these are computers. The difference is that these low-cost computers are designed for limited tasks, not for “general purpose” applications such as spreadsheets, word processing, and other traditional computer applications. Owners of such devices can simply ask their computers to perform common tasks like setting a thermostat or timer, building a shopping list, getting the daily news or weather, and finding the best route to a given destination.

    3. Voice control of Windows, Macintosh, and Chromebook computers as well as smartphones already exists. For instance, look at Siri, Cortana, Google Docs, Microsoft Word, Google Voice Typing, Dragon Naturally Speaking, and a number of other products that already convert spoken words into computer commands and text. Today's smartphones (primarily iPhones and Android phones) already have extensive voice input capabilities.

    Comment: I grew to love Dragon Naturally Speaking several years ago when I slipped on wet ice, fell forward, and broke both arms. I “wrote” this newsletter through the use of Dragon Naturally Speaking’s voice-to-text conversion for several weeks while both arms were in casts.

    I later prevented the problem from happening again by moving to Florida where ice is not a problem.

    4. Connections to the cloud are more and more commonplace, and that coverage obviously will become more and more popular every year as the internet continues to expand. More and more devices are now cloud-connected. The result is the computing-intensive tasks, such as converting spoken words into computer commands and text, can be “off-loaded” to very powerful artificial intelligence systems in the cloud with the converted commands and text then returned to the inexpensive cloud-connected devices. The result is cheaper computers for consumers and computing providers alike.

    After all, you don’t want to use a $20,000 server in your home to turn the lights off and on. However, thousands of $40 or even cheaper cloud-connecting computing devices in thousands of homes, connected to a single powerful $20,000 server in a remote data center, can be very cost-effective when the expenses are distributed across thousands of users. This is the business model behind Google Home, Amazon Echo (Alexa), Siri, Cortana, and other voice input computing devices.

    In short, voice input applications are supplementing and (in some cases) replacing the old-fashioned keyboard-input applications. Indeed, keyboards may someday join floppy disks, CD-ROM disks, and 80-column punch cards in the local computer museum. This probably will happen whether we want it or not.

    Did you ever see the Star Trek episode where Scotty encounters a computer from the 1990s, picks up the mouse of that computer, then speaks to the mouse saying, “Hello computer?” The process didn’t work very well for Scotty.

    That still remains science fiction today, but we all are getting closer and closer to voice input-controlled computing devices that have no need for keyboards.

    Will the conversion happen overnight? Probably not. It will be slowly integrated into our lives and that integration has already started.

    Will voice input ever completely replace keyboards? Again, I would say probably not, at least not for a long time yet. However, in many cases, using voice input is easier and safer than using keyboards. For example: I don’t want to be typing on a keyboard while traveling on a superhighway at 70 miles per hour when I need to find where the next rest stop is. Voice input is far safer. Voice input is a great idea for many applications although not for all of them.

    Is the slow disappearance of keyboards a good thing? I think so. Then again, I never did learn to touch-type! I much prefer voice input.


  • 30 Apr 2021 3:46 PM | Anonymous

    The following is an announcement written by the (U.S.) National Genealogical Society:

    FALLS CHURCH, VA, 30 APRIL 2021—The National Genealogical Society (NGS) is pleased to announce that six organizations will receive awards during its 2021 SLAM! Idea Showcase on 18 May. The award winners were selected from among thirty-two recorded poster sessions highlighting innovative projects, programs, and activities benefiting genealogical researchers. Three submissions will receive cash prizes of $250 each:

      • St. Louis Genealogical Society, St. Louis, Missouri: “Congregation Project”
      • German Historical Institute, Washington, DC: “German Heritage in Letters”
      • Chester County (Pennsylvania) Archives: “1777 Chester County Property Atlas Portal”

    Three will receive honorable mention:

      • Godfrey Memorial Library, Middletown, Connecticut: “Genealogy Roundtable”
      • Kentucky Historical Society, Frankfort, Kentucky: “Kentucky Ancestors Town Hall”
      • St. Louis Public Library, St. Louis, Missouri: “Rooted in Inclusion: Forgoing the Family Tree Model”

    All six will receive a one-year library subscription to photo enhancement software from VIVID-PIX. 

    Videos submitted by the award winners will be featured at the SLAM! Idea Showcase mainstage program on 18 May beginning at 3:00 p.m. (EDT). The program will also include the announcement of the 2021 Filby Award for Genealogical Librarianship and a greeting from the Library of Virginia, the 2021 NGS Conference host library. Following the mainstage event, attendees will have the opportunity to view poster sessions and chat live with their submitters. The event is free, but registration is required. Visit the conference website to register.
     
    The SLAM! Idea Showcase is a new NGS event to promote information sharing, collaboration, networking, and collegiality among genealogical information providers. The program is sponsored by VIVID-PIX, Ancestry, and Collectionaire.   
     
    The Virtual NGS 2021 Family History Conference is scheduled for May 19-22. Conference and registration information is available online.

  • 30 Apr 2021 3:25 PM | Anonymous

    The 41st Annual IAJGS (International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies) International Conference on Jewish Genealogy has now been changed to an All-Virtual Conference, as announced in this press release from the organizers:

    Based on the successful full virtual format last year, as well as uncertainty with Covid, we are again moving to an All-Virtual Conference with many exciting interactive components,” said Judi Missel, lead co-chair.

    The conference will feature live-stream presentations as well as more than 100 pre-recorded, on-demand video presentations, both available for 60 days after the conference ends. Sessions will cover virtually every aspect of Jewish genealogy.

    The special Conference tracks this year are: Early Jewish Settlers of the Americas, Innovative Methodology, Keepers of the Shoah Memory, Beginners Research, DNA Insights for Genealogy, and Heritage and Cultural Materials.

    Conference programs will range from those geared to first-timers through conference veterans. Zoom-type networking will be available through Special Interest Groups (SIGs) and Birds of a Feather (BOFs).

    Early Bird Registration is $250 until June 10. Registration and Conference program details will be posted on the conference website: www.iajgs2021.org . Ongoing information and questions will also be posted on the IAJGS Conference Discussion Facebook page at www.facebook.com/groups/IAJGS.

    Keynote speaker will be Michael Hoberman, professor of American Literature at Fitchburg State University in Massachusetts and author of the books New Israel/New England: Jews and Puritans in Early America and A Hundred Acres of America: The Geography of Jewish American Literature.

    The IAJGS is an umbrella organization of more than 93 Jewish genealogical societies worldwide. It coordinates and organizes activities such as its annual International Conference on Jewish Genealogy and provides a unified voice as the spokesperson on behalf of its members.

    The IAJGS’s vision is of a worldwide network of Jewish genealogical research organizations and partners working together as one coherent, effective and respected community, enabling people to succeed in researching Jewish ancestry and heritage. Find the IAJGS at: www.iajgs.org and like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/iajgsjewishgenealogy.

  • 30 Apr 2021 11:07 AM | Anonymous

    The following announcement was written by Findmypast:

    Grow your Findmypast family tree with thousands of new parish records

    What secrets are hidden in your wondrous Welsh heritage? Find out with this week's Findmypast Friday releases.

    Read on for all the details on what's new. Plus, don't miss your chance to explore all of Findmypast’s British census records for FREE.

    Monmouthshire Parish Records

    Privacy rules have allowed Findmypast to release another set of baptism, marriage and banns records from parishes across the Welsh county.

    The new arrivals include over 8,300 baptism records from 1921 and over 5,600 marriage and banns records from 1936. Check Findmypast’s handy Monmouthshire parish list to see which churches are covered.

    Glamorganshire Parish Records

    Like those for Monmouthshire, Findmypast have updated their Glamorganshire collection with baptisms from 1921 and marriages and banns from 1936. The parish list shows exactly what's new.

    Findmypast is home to the most comprehensive Welsh parish record collection online. Alongside Glamorganshire and Monmouthshire, you’ll find collections from every Welsh county. Visit their full list of records and type in a Welsh county to see what's available.

    Newspapers

    Cambria Daily Leader and Cleave’s Weekly Police Gazette have joined Findmypast’s newspaper archives this week.

    Cleave’s Weekly Police Gazette covers 1835-1836 and features some striking early illustrations.

    Cleave's Weekly Police Gazette, 30 July 1836. View the full article.

    Cleave's Weekly Police Gazette, 30 July 1836. View the full article.

    While Swansea paper, Cambria Daily Leader currently has pages from 1861-1870, 1882-1895 and 1899-1905 online.

    Explore British census records for FREE this weekend

    Clear your diary this weekend because all of Findmypast’s British census records (1841-1911) are completely free to access from 10:00 (BST) on Friday 30 April until 10:00 (BST) on Monday 3 May.

    Amazing snapshots of the past, census records can help you trace your family tree, generation by generation.

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