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  • 2 Jan 2023 5:53 PM | Anonymous

    It's official: the floppy drive is dead. Dell and a plethora of other PC manufacturers have simply stopped including floppy disk drives, thanks in no small part to the smaller, lighter, and faster USB flash drive that can carry over 1,000 times the standard 3.5" floppy.

    In a recent conversation with a newsletter subscriber, I casually mentioned flash drives. These devices are also known as jump drives, thumb drives, USB drives, and probably a few other names as well. The subscriber mentioned that she had purchased a flash drive but didn't know how to use it. This article is for her and probably for a lot of other people who also have not yet used one of these great devices. I am also including information about programs and advanced uses that may be news even for experienced flash drive users. 

    First of all, flash drives/jump drives/thumb drives are not drives at all. So much for accuracy in naming! These pocket-sized devices contain a tiny circuit board, some amount of flash memory, and some supporting electronics. Flash memory is noted for its storage capabilities; when you turn the power off, the stored data does not disappear. It has been saved in the flash memory. You later can re-apply power and all the data will still be available, identical to what it was when the power was turned off.

    Flash drives tend to physically imitate conventional hard drives so that they may act as a replacement for hard drives or floppy drives. When you plug a flash drive into your computer's USB port, it appears in the Windows or Macintosh operating system as another disk drive. You can write data to it or read data from it in the same manner as reading and writing data to and from hard drives, floppy disks, and CD-ROM disks. Since they are portable and very rugged, flash drives are great replacements for floppy disks and CD-ROM disks. They are smaller, more durable, and have bigger storage capacities than floppies. They are also faster than floppy or CD-ROM disks and often are faster than hard drives. (Speeds may vary, depending on the type of flash memory used.) Many flash drives manufactured in the past year or two have even greater storage capacity than CD or even DVD disks. 

    I carry a 64-gigabyte flash drive in my pocket most of the time, a unit that I picked up on sale recently at a local computer store for a very few dollars. Similar units are available from nearly every computer store, department store, drug store, and other places. A local variety store near me sells smaller capacity flash drives for $4.95. 

    You can purchase a 64-gigabyte flash drive (equal to the storage capacity of 45,000+ floppy disks or nearly the storage capacity of a CD-ROM disk) for $14 at at any number of computer stores. Not bad for something that is about the size of a tube of lipstick! Try carrying 45,000+ floppy disks in a pocket or purse!

    I suspect you might find even lower prices if you look around long enough; the prices on these things seem to drop weekly.

    Unlike normal disk drives, jump drives contain no moving parts. The only thing inside the case is flash memory plus whatever other electronic parts are required to make it work. The entire unit is sealed and is more or less impervious to heat, cold, shock, dirt, or most other physical abuse. They will not withstand extreme abuse, however. I did have one jump drive stop working after I accidentally sent it through the washer and dryer. You'd think that would teach me to empty my pockets before doing laundry! However, a few months later I did the same thing again with the replacement jump drive that I purchased. The second one survived and is still in use today. It also looks very shiny, apparently thanks to the detergent used. However, I do not recommend using Tide on all your electronics gear!

    Using a jump drive in Windows or Macintosh ot Linux or Chromebooks is simple: insert the jump drive into your computer's USB connector, wait a few seconds for the operating system to detect it, and then start using it. The jump drive will appear as a new disk drive that is attached to your computer.

    In Windows, the new disk drive normally appears as the next drive letter in succession. For instance, if your computer has a hard drive that appears as Drive C: and a CD-ROM drive that appears as Drive D: and there are no other drives, the jump drive will probably appear as Drive E:. That is the default operation, but it can be overridden. A few jump drives may appear as a different drive letter, but most will appear as the next letter available.

    Operation on Macintosh is similar except that Macs don't use drive letters. The jump drive will appear on the desktop with a name assigned to it. My 64-gigabyte jump drive appeared with a name of "unnamed" when I first inserted it. Another jump drive manufactured by SanDisk first appeared with the name of "SanDisk." I always change the device's name to something that is logical to me by right clicking on the jump drive's icon and then selecting GET INFO. I then change the name that appears in the "Name and Extension" field and give it a new name of my choice.

    You look at folders and files on the jump drive the same way as you navigate any other drive. In Windows Explorer, double-click on the drive's letter to open the "tree" of directories and files. Macintosh users can do the same by using Finder.

    To execute any programs stored on the jump drive or to open any documents, simply double-click on the file name. This is the same operation you would perform on a hard drive, a CD-ROM disk, or a floppy disk. You can read files or write files from almost any application in the same manner as any other disk drive. For instance, if your jump drive appears as "Drive E:," you can create a word processing document and then save it as "E:\myfile.doc" or something similar. 

    One thing that is different is the removal of the jump disk. You should not remove the jump drive while it is in use. You should first close all applications that access the jump drive. 

    NOTE: I must admit that I have unplugged jump drives many times while in use and have never lost data as a result. However, a warning message usually appears and there certainly is a POSSIBILITY of data loss. I suspect that I will lose data sooner or later if I don’t abide by the rules, so I do try to remember to follow the recommended procedure. 

    For Windows users, the correct method is to find the "Safely Remove Hardware" icon in the desktop's System Tray at the bottom right of the screen. Briefly hold the mouse pointer over each icon there until you see the pop-up "tool tip" that says "Safely Remove Hardware." Right click on that icon, and then follow the displayed menus to stop access to the jump drive. When complete, a message will appear on the screen, stating that it is safe to remove the jump drive.

    Macintosh users go through a similar, but simpler, process. Right click on the drive's icon on the desktop or in Finder, and select EJECT from the menu that appears. That's it. Within a second or two, the drive's icon will disappear, and you can safely unplug it. An even simpler method for Mac users is to drag the drive's icon and drop it on the EJECT icon in the bottom right of the desktop screen. Either method accomplishes the same goal. 

    With both operating systems, if you ever encounter a situation in which you cannot stop access of the drive, power down the system and then remove the jump drive. Power up and proceed as normal.

    Anyone who owns both Windows and Macintosh systems will be pleased to learn that a single jump drive can be used on both systems. I frequently move files from a Windows system to a Macintosh system and back by using a jump drive. In fact, jump drives also work with most Linux systems as well. A jump drive is also a great way of copying data from a desktop to a laptop system or back again.

    Backups and Archival Copies

    I often keep copies of important files on jump drives. When traveling, I carry all my past newsletters plus "work in progress" copies of the articles I am presently working on. These are backup copies in addition to the copies on my laptop and the copies on the desktop computers at home. Carrying backup copies in your pocket or purse provides a lot of protection against hardware malfunctions or human errors. However, just remember that it is easy to lose these small devices! (I speak from experience!)

    If my laptop should fail when I am traveling, I can always borrow a computer, insert my jump drive into its USB port, and start using the files I’ve put on it. Of course, that assumes that the borrowed computer has compatible word processors or other programs installed. 

    When I travel to genealogy conferences to make presentations, I always have a copy of my PowerPoint slides stored on a jump drive that I keep in my pocket. More than once I have encountered a laptop that wouldn't work or was not compatible with a presentation room's overhead projector. It is a great relief to pull the jump drive out of my pocket, insert it into a borrowed laptop, and start my presentation without missing a beat. 

    One store owner I know uses a Windows 10 system with point-of-sale software installed, sort of a "computerized cash register." He leaves a flash drive plugged in all day and instructs his programs to store all data automatically on that jump drive. At the end of the business day, he powers down the computer, removes the jump drive, places it in his pocket, and takes it home. Once home, he copies all critical files to his home PC to make sure he always has a current off-site backup. 

    Jump drives are great storage media because they are small, lightweight, and impervious to normal handling problems when being jostled around in a pocket or purse. However, the life expectancy of data stored on a jump drive has not been proven. I would suggest that you use jump drives only for short-term storage: a few weeks or a few months. Don't count on them for long-term archival purposes. They might save data for years, but there is no guarantee. 


    Not only can you save documents on a jump drive, but you can even store programs on them and run them directly from the jump drive. Actually, this is easy to do with almost all Macintosh programs, but it may be a problem with Windows. Most Windows programs read and write data to the Windows Registry, something that is not stored on a jump drive. Generally speaking, Windows will only let you run programs on jump drives if those programs are specially written for use on jump drives. Almost all Macintosh programs will operate directly from a jump drive, however, since Macintosh does not have a registry.

    NOTE: For a detailed discussion of the Windows Registry, look at

    For more information about running Windows programs directly from a jump drive, look at Also check out the next section about U3 drives. 

    Macintosh owners need no special "shortcuts" for most Macintosh programs; simply place the application software on the jump drive and then double-click to run.

  • 2 Jan 2023 5:35 PM | Anonymous

    Scientists at Oxford University have made a major breakthrough in their study of a large collection of Greek and Roman writings. Many of the documents known as the "Oxyrhynchus Papyri" were found at an ancient rubbish dump in central Egypt. The writing on these documents is meaningless to the naked eye as the papyrus has decayed, has become worm-eaten, and has also been blackened by the passage of time. Using an infrared technique originally developed for use with satellite imaging, scientists are now able to view the original writing, which could lead to a 20 percent increase in the number of great Greek and Roman works in existence. Thus far, works by Sophocles, Lucian, Euripides, Hesiod, and others have been re-discovered. Additionally, scientists think they are likely to find lost Christian gospels, the originals of which were written around the time of the earliest books of the New Testament.

    Hmmm. Do you suppose this same infrared technique could be used on some of the documents down at the local courthouse?

  • 2 Jan 2023 11:14 AM | Anonymous
    (+) It’s Almost 2023. Do You Know Where Your Family Photos Are?

    January 1, 2023 is Public Domain Day: Works from 1927 are open to all!

    Rules of Posting Genealogy Information Online

    2023 NGS Family History Conference

    ‘Finding Your Roots’ Host Henry Louis Gates Jr. Previews New Season

    Making Family Health History Work for You

    Scientists Develop Blood Test For Alzheimer's Disease

    Genetically Male And Female Cells Have Now Been Created From The Same Person

    Morven Park’s 246 Years Project Expands Access to Enslaved Family History

    Over 6,500 Kodavas Gather At One Venue To Break Guinness Record

    The Year in Genetics

    Linux Mint 21.1 “Vera” Is Now Available for Download

    Boxcryptor Shuts Down – Here is Your Cloud Encryption Alternative

    Twitter Rival Mastodon Rejects Funding to Preserve Nonprofit Status

    It is the First Day of the Month: Back Up Your Genealogy Files
  • 2 Jan 2023 9:56 AM | Anonymous

    Kamilah V. Moore, the chairman of the California Reparations Task Force, is demanding the creation of a Bureau of African American Affairs to award up to $223,000 to every descendant of African slaves.

    The task force, formed by Calif. Gov. Gavin Newsom in 2020 to study reparations proposals, met on December 14 and 15 for their final public meetings of 2022. The committee previously approved the first step of a proposal to compensate descendants of slaves for up to $223,000. A final proposal will be announced in early 2023.

    Moore has also clarified that it is not true every person in a Black family is entitled to the $223,000 to make up for past housing discrimination.

    She said $223,000 is the “maximum” amount those who qualify will receive, and it will only target the Californians who suffered housing discrimination in California between 1933 and in the web site at:

  • 1 Jan 2023 3:29 AM | Anonymous

  • 1 Jan 2023 3:27 AM | Anonymous

    Today is the first day of the month. Today is an excellent time to back up your genealogy files. Then test your backups!

    Your backups aren't worth much unless you make a quick test by restoring a small file or two after the backup is completed.

    Actually, you can make backups at any time. However, it is easier and safer if you have a specific schedule. The first day of the month is easy to remember, so I would suggest you back up your genealogy files at least on the first day of every month, if not more often. (My computers automatically make off-site backups of all new files every few minutes.)

    Given the events of the past few months during the pandemic with genealogy websites laying off employees and cutting back on services, you now need backup copies of everything more than ever. What happens if the company that holds your online data either goes off line or simply deletes the service where your data is held? If you have copies of everything stored either in your own computer, what happens if you have a hard drive crash or other disaster? If you have one or more recent backup copies, such a loss would be inconvenient but not a disaster.

    Of course, you might want to back up more than your genealogy files. Family photographs, your checkbook register, all sorts of word processing documents, email messages, and much more need to be backed up regularly. Why not do that on the first day of each month? or even more often?

  • 30 Dec 2022 9:19 AM | Anonymous

    Now THIS is a family reunion!

    Kodava Clan portal, which had entered the India Book of Records for the largest family tree, attempted to break the earlier Guinness Book of World Records after hosting ‘Okkoota’ the largest-ever family reunion on Dec. 24. The event was attended by over 6,500 people/family members at ‘Coorg Ethnic’ in Bittangala, Kodagu district.

    This was the first-of-its-kind attempt across the world to beat the existing world record of 4,514 family members meeting in France documented in the Guinness Book of World Records in 2012.

    Kodava Clan is the first ever, a one-of-its-kind interactive, crowd-sourced virtual museum that has created the largest online family tree of the Kodava community going back at least 18 generations, comprising 751 families. It is the first online museum cataloguing data, statistics, history, culture and festivals, heritage, and language of the Kodavas dating back from the 16th Century.

    Kodava Clan is also a social networking site for the Kodava community to find or establish their familial association with other Kodavas, irrespective of the generation he/she may be a part of, from any part of the world.

    You can read more at:

  • 30 Dec 2022 8:58 AM | Anonymous

    Amateur genealogy has become a national passion. But Black Americans researching their family histories often find dead ends at 1865, with the trauma of slavery, family separations, and missing documentation. Now, a local historic site is launching a project to help fill in the blanks.

    The 246 Years Project is an initiative of Morven Park (in Leesburg, Virginia) and Loudoun County Circuit Court Clerk Gary Clemens and his Historic Records Division team. Morven Park is building an online database organizing fragmentary information about Loudoun’s enslaved communities, allowing descendants to delve deeper into their family histories.

    “At 1865, you hit this brick wall. … You had to be your own researcher to find your family,” Morven Park Executive Director and CEO Stacey Metcalfe said. “We’re pulling it all together.”

    You can read more at:

    For more information about the 246 Years Project, go to

  • 29 Dec 2022 6:31 PM | Anonymous

    The National Genealogical Society 2023 Family History Conference gives genealogists and family historians of all levels the insights necessary to take their research and writing to new heights and make exciting new discoveries.

    Join us at the Greater Richmond Convention Center or Online at Home!

    Learn the latest from the best speakers in the genealogy community. Discover what genealogy companies are bringing to market. Gain insights from genealogy societies and organizations throughout the United States. Attend your choice of more than 110 lectures and special luncheons. Have fun at the SLAM! Idea Showcase reception and Expo Hall opening. Celebrate Virginia’s deep roots with a special Friday evening event sponsored by the Virginia Genealogical Society.

    Designed for family history researchers at all levels ─ beginner, intermediate, and advanced ─ the conference lectures feature:

    • records and repositories in Virginia and neighboring states
    • resources and techniques for researching African American, Indigenous Peoples, Jewish, and other ethnic groups
    • local and federal government records including military, tax, and land records
    • the use of DNA to help determine relationships
    • methods to analyze and evaluate evidence
    • and much more.

    Keep checking the NGS website for updates and new information as it becomes available.

  • 29 Dec 2022 6:16 PM | Anonymous

    23andMe has a Blog article that I recommend as required reading for every genealogist. It will expand your outlook beyond looking for ancestors (only) to helping yourself and your loved ones enjoying life more and, in some cases, possibly even saving lives.

    Here's the introduction:

    Family members share DNA and have other things in common, like where they live, what they eat, or how active they are. All these factors can play a role in determining health, which makes knowing your family health history so important. It’s important to acknowledge that depending on family circumstances, not everyone has access to their family health history, but there is a lot of value in understanding how it can benefit you. 

    So what do we mean when we refer to your family health history? This is an actual  record of current and past medical conditions for you, your biological family, and your healthcare provider to use to manage your health. 

    Why is a family health history important?

    This one is easy! 

    Health conditions can run in families. Knowing your family health history can help a doctor, clinician, or other healthcare professional understand your risk of developing certain conditions. 

    Family health history also helps them decide how often you need checkups and other preventative screenings. Some people, like 23andMe customers Mary and Tracy, have been inspired to make positive lifestyle changes after learning more about their family history.

    What type of medical information matters?

    During a genetic counseling session, gathering family health history is central. A genetic counselor might ask about relatives in four generations of your family. Starting with you, they might ask about your parents, grandparents, children, siblings, half-siblings, aunts, uncles, and first cousins. The names of any medical conditions and the general age of diagnosis are collected. 

    If you are gathering this information yourself and you or someone in the family does not know the official medical term or exact ages when conditions were diagnosed, use your best guess. Family health history is kinetic. You can and should expect to update it over time. 

    How do you talk to relatives about medical history?

    Medical history can be a sensitive topic. It might be more challenging for some people and some families to talk about family health history. Read these tips we’ve gathered for how you can approach family health questions in a way that is both careful and considerate.

    What about adoptees and donor-conceived individuals?

    If you’re adopted or donor-conceived, your family health history might be limited or take more time to collect. This is where other information, like that from 23andMe, can help fill in gaps for adoptees and others. Access to a more complete and accurate family health history is important to many people. In fact, it can be the main reason some, including adoptees and those who are donor-conceived, decide to start searching for DNA relatives. 

    What do you do with family health history once you have it?

    A  family health history gathers information about genetics, lifestyle, and environment in one place. Learning more about the medical history of your close relatives can give you insights into what conditions could be common in your family and can help you make healthier choices. Just remember to talk to a healthcare professional before making any changes. Learn more about genetic counseling and how genetic counselors at 23andMe are working at a broader level to help. 

    You can read the full article at:

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