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  • 20 Jul 2022 7:41 AM | Anonymous

    Genetic Genealogy and the analysis of DNA samples are happening almost everywhere but here is an application of DNA analysis that I never thought of before:

    A burglar broke into an apartment, cooked a meal and then stayed the night

    Police found dead mosquitoes and blood marks on the wall enabling them to trace the thief using his DNA

    Two mosquitoes have helped police in China catch a burglar after they bit and drank his blood which was then used in DNA testing to find him.

    On June 11, in Fuzhou, Fujian province, southeastern China, a thief broke into a residential compound at around 1pm. The thief stole several valuable items, according to a report released by Fuzhou Public Security on its WeChat account.

    After breaking in, the burglar cooked eggs and noodles before spending the night. He used a blanket in the owner’s bedroom and lit mosquito coils. Police found two dead mosquitoes and blood smears on the living room wall.

    The police quickly came to the conclusion that the two blood stains had been left by the suspect as the property was freshly painted, and reasoned that if they were left by the occupants, they would have cleaned the walls.

    Blood samples were then taken off the wall by police, who subsequently sent it for DNA testing against their records.

    The DNA sample matched exactly that of a known criminal, surnamed Chai, who was later detained on June 30.

    After being questioned, Chai confessed to the break-in and four other burglaries.

  • 20 Jul 2022 7:21 AM | Anonymous

    Analysis of the DNA in a single strand of rootless hair from a 1982 crime scene helped lead the authorities to arrest Robert J. Lanoue, a 70-year-old registered sex offender, officials said.

    On a rainy Thursday in January 1982, Anne Pham was getting ready for kindergarten at her family’s home in Seaside, Calif. Having developed an independent streak as one of 10 siblings, the 5-year-old successfully pleaded with her mother and an older brother to let her walk the two blocks to school by herself.

    But nobody at a busy grocery store along her route saw Anne. Nobody saw her at school, either.

    Not until dinnertime did her large family notice her absence. For two days, there was no sign of her. Then, in some bushes by a road less than two miles away, her body was discovered by accident. She had been sodomized and smothered to death.

    The Seaside Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation never developed a suspect or even a lead — until this year.

    With a recent resolve to examine unsolved cases, a mysterious strand of hair and the help of genetic genealogy — which has been used to crack unsolved cases across the country in recent years — the authorities in Monterey County were able to identify Robert J. Lanoue, 70, of Reno, Nev., as a suspect and charge him with first-degree murder in Anne’s killing.

    You can read the full story in an article by Alex Traub and published in the New York Times at:

  • 19 Jul 2022 4:56 PM | Anonymous

    In March 2019, the National Endowment for the Humanities awarded the City of Boston Archaeology Program a $350,000 Humanities Collections and Reference Resources grant to re-process, re-catalog, digitally photograph and place online in a database the complete archaeological assemblages excavated from five important Boston historical sites. Most of these collections were excavated by archaeologists in the 1970s and 1980s and were not fully cataloged, making them difficult to study.  With this project, the collections are fully documented and anyone from anywhere in the world can see these collections online or study them in person at the City Archaeology Program.

    The team hired by grant funds as well as volunteers have worked for years to individually identify and catalog each artifact for the first time, and then create a digital online artifact image database using new digitization tools including 3D imagery and automation software. Each collection now has a dedicated website on the Archaeology Program’s page, which includes links to their full catalogs, online images, and 3D scans.  

    In 1983, archaeologists surveyed the yard of the ca. 1680 Paul Revere House. In 2010 and 2011, they surveyed 5 and 6 Lathrop Place, two 1835 row houses on what was once the backyard of the Revere house property. The Revere House collection contained 13,765 artifacts, mostly from the house’s 19th century privy when the house was used as a saloon, boarding house, and private home for the Wilkie family. Excavations under 5 and 6 Lathrop Place, directly behind the Revere House, documented 11,785 artifacts from the 17th-19th century use of the rear of the Revere property.

    In the early 1990s, archaeologists excavating ahead of the Central Artery Project (Big Dig) uncovered the privy of a mid-19th century brothel containing 7,977 artifacts. The brothel was located at 27-29 Endicott Street in the North End. It was not known for decades that this privy was associated with a brothel until research and analysis by Dr. Jade Luiz revealed the true nature of the collection, including numerous artifacts associated with Victorian-era sex work.  

    You can read more in the announcement at:

  • 19 Jul 2022 3:54 PM | Anonymous

    Watching the comments posted to this newsletter's web site prompts many questions: Just how private are the facts that we record? Can we really "protect" our genealogy data? Should I copyright my data? Is my data automatically under copyright protection when I publish? Should I keep my data secret? Is it a good idea to do so? Or should I publish my genealogy data for all to see?

    I do not know all the answers, but perhaps I can offer a few thoughts for your digestion.

    First of all, there is one major issue that we all need to recognize: facts are not protected by copyright laws in the United States. A collection of facts is public domain information. We might be able to claim a copyright on the originality used in arranging of those facts, and we might be able to claim a compilation copyright on large collections of facts; but each individual fact remains in the public domain.

    Next, there is the question of exactly what is “my data.” The genealogy data that I have collected consists of a collection of facts. As already stated, facts are not “owned” or copyrighted by anyone. I don’t own that information, at least not in the legal sense.

    Next, most of the genealogy data we collect is obtained from public domain sources. I know that I obtained most of my information from birth records, marriage records, census records, military pension applications, and more. All of these are public domain sources of information and are already available to others, should they wish to look. In no way is the data to be considered "my private data" as I have no ownership over it. I simply transcribed data that is already in the public domain. I copied the information for my personal use, the same way anyone else can do by spending the same effort that I did to find the original (public) records. Therefore, it is not "my" data, it is everyone's public domain data that I happened to transcribe.

    In a few cases, I may have supplemented those public facts with even more information that I obtained from family members or other non-public sources. Indeed, I did obtain a few pieces of information from a family Bible in my possession, information that has never been published before. However, the U.S. laws still insist that facts cannot be copyrighted. I interpret this to mean that facts are facts, regardless of the source of information. Whether I obtain a fact from a public record or from a private conversation or from an ancestor's Bible, it is still a fact, is not subject to copyright, and is not owned by me. A family relationship that I learned from a cousin is also a fact, not my "private" bit of information.

    Next, what is the purpose of my hiding the information? Am I protecting anybody or any facts? As already mentioned, the facts are mostly public already. Most facts are readily available in public domain census records, birth records, death records and other locations.

    I cannot "protect" those facts. In the case of deceased people, I don't see how I am protecting anyone. I never publicize information about living people; so, whether I publish my data online or not, I am not protecting anyone.

    I have seen arguments that "Other people may take my data and republish it." In my mind, that's a good thing. If I have done a good job of research, wouldn't I want the correct information to be available to other descendants of these people, my distant cousins?

    Next, I have seen arguments that "Other people publish inaccurate information, so I don't trust them and I will not publish my information." This strikes me as self-defeating: you are allowing their inaccurate information to remain unchallenged and uncorrected. When others search the web, they will find incorrect information and will probably perpetuate it by republishing those errors themselves. If you have correct information, it seems to me that you could do more good by publishing the correct information and thereby refuting the errors.

    If you collect stories about the family and retell them in narrative form, you may be able to claim copyrights and “ownership” of those stories. However, that ownership excludes the facts buried within the stories. Facts are still facts and are not protected by copyrights or by any other legal protections in the United States.

    Again, I do not have all the answers; but there is one thing that I am certain of: private individuals do not own “facts.”

  • 19 Jul 2022 3:04 PM | Anonymous

    WARNING: This article contains personal opinions.

    It seems that every two or three months, I publish sad news about important records and artifacts being lost forever. Sometimes fires damage or destroy library or archive buildings and all the contents: including records, books, family histories, cemetery records, plat maps, military uniforms, and more. In other articles, I have written about similar losses caused by floods, hurricanes, tornados, earthquakes, burst water pipes, leaky roofs, and even about buildings collapsing. Genealogists, historians, art lovers, and others often lose irreplaceable items.

    With a little bit of planning, the worst of these tragedies could be averted or at least minimized.

    I would suggest that copies be made of everything that is valuable to today's genealogists and historians as well as to future generations. Items such as church records, school yearbooks, family histories, wartime scrapbooks, cemetery records, and plat maps should be scanned NOW and have multiple copies stored in different locations. No single future fire or flood or other disaster should ever be able to destroy the only copy of such treasures.

    I would not limit the digitization efforts to paper documents and photographs. I would suggest that museums also should be digitizing high-resolution pictures of paintings, sculptures, handicrafts, military uniforms, and much, much more.

    Of course, looking at a digital image is never as satisfying as holding the original item in your hands. Digitizing is not a perfect solution for all purposes. Nonetheless, using a digital image is still much better than holding a few charred remnants of a valuable document or a priceless painting.

    Of course, once an item has been digitized, it is easily shared, at the organization's discretion. Such images can be shared with distant patrons who may never have the opportunity to visit in person. Access can be made free or kept behind a "pay wall," at the option of the organization. Many museums and libraries find they now serve many more patrons online than they could ever accommodate in person.

    Creating high-resolution digital images of art objects is also valuable when filing a claim with an insurance company.

    Digitizing documents is easy. Making true copies of statues, military uniforms, farm machinery, and other physical objects is more or less impossible. Even so, I would suggest that high-resolution, color pictures of these items should be digitized and stored off-site. That's an imperfect solution, of course, but is still better than looking at a mass of molten metal or burnt cloth and trying to imagine what it used to be.

    I have read numerous articles about various art museums' efforts to digitize the great art treasures of the world. A digital copy will never approach the experience of standing in front of a painting or a sculpture created by one of the Old Masters, but a digital image is still a better substitute than a destroyed or stolen painting or statue. A digital image still provides at least some value to art students and aficionados worldwide.

    I don't think anyone would ever recommend making a single copy of documents on microfilm or even on computer disks and then storing that single copy in the same building with the collection. By digitizing the images, multiple copies can be made and easily stored in many locations at minimal expense. If that is done, the odds of any one disaster having an impact on future research are minimized. Of course, those copies need to be updated every few years, copied to new storage media as the technology changes. Luckily, this is easy to do, too. Through occasional “data maintenance,” scanned images of our treasures can be preserved for centuries.

    Do you belong to a historical society, a genealogical society, a library, or some other organization that holds a unique and valuable collection? If so, what is that organization doing to ensure that their priceless possessions will be available for examination by future generations?

  • 19 Jul 2022 8:23 AM | Anonymous

    NOTE: This article isn't about genealogy, DNA, or any of the other topics of this newsletter. However, it describes how to save money while using your computer to perform additional tasks you could not do previously:

    You can read 8 Calling Apps to Make Free Phone Calls From Anywhere by Crystal Crowder at

    NOTE: Notice the first question in the Frequently-Asked-Questions (FAQs) near the end of the article:

    Question: Are calls on free call apps private?

    Answer: There is no guarantee that your calls are private when using free calling apps. Check the privacy policy of any app before you use it.

    If you want privacy, check out Signal at Signal is very private as all conversations (including 2-way video) are encrypted. It is also available free of charge. 

    I use Signal frequently. I found it easy to install and easy to use.

    The major drawback of Signal is that everyone in the conversation must have Signal software installed on their cell phone or desktop computer or tablet computer or iPad touch in order to communicate.

  • 18 Jul 2022 9:40 PM | Anonymous is proud to announce that the company added 22 record collections with 12.8 million historical records from across the globe, including the U.S., Canada, Belgium, France, Italy, Norway, Portugal, Spain, and Ukraine. Many of the collections include images and contain vital records such as birth, baptism, marriage, death, cemetery, emigration, and census records. Some of the collections go back as early as the 16th century. If you have roots in any of these countries, you may find valuable discoveries about your ancestors.

    Searching the new collections on MyHeritage is free. To view the records or to save records to your family tree, you’ll need a Data or Complete plan.

    If you have a family tree on MyHeritage, our Record Matching technologies will notify you automatically if records from these collections match your relatives. You’ll then be able to review the record and decide if you’d like to add the new information to your tree.

    Enjoy the new collections!

    A list of the new collections may be found in the MyHeritage Blog at:

  • 18 Jul 2022 3:17 PM | Anonymous

    Do you have an old Windows or Macintosh system that you have since replaced? For instance, how about that older computer that is now simply sitting in a closet gathering dust? Here's a suggestion: simply convert it to a Chromebook.

    I say "simply" because that is what it is: a very simple conversion. All you need is the old computer plus a flashdrive (that is only used during the conversion).

    This works well especially if the older, no-longer-used computer is a laptop. However, the conversion also works well for desktop systems. You can then use the newly-converted system as a traveling laptop (assuming it is a laptop) or as a second system for use at home or at the vacation cottage or for a gift to a non-computer-literate senior citizen or to an adolescent or for most any reason you might want a second (or third or fourth or ???) computer. Best of all, it is FREE (if you already have an older, working computer).

    For the reasons why you might want to have a Chromebook, see A Google Chromebook Should Be Your Next Laptop And Here's Why by Ian Morris published in Forbes at

    I travel a lot and usually take only a Chromebook with me on trips simply because a Chromebook is cheap. I won't feel too bad if the (cheap) Chromebook gets stolen or damaged. That would be much less of a financial loss than having the same thing happen to my (much more expensive) MacBook Pro system.

    Chromebooks work well for about 95% of why most people use computers. It reads and writes email, surfs the web, plays games, reads the news and sports, accesses social media sites, and much more. You probably won't want to use it for editing videos but, then again, that is something for which you probably want to use a $1,000+ Mac or Windows system anyway.

    Google has officially released ChromeOS Flex, a method of replacing the operating system on older PCs and Macs that essentially turns them into Chromebooks.

    The idea is that if you have an aging Windows (or Mac that can't run macOS 12 Monterey), then you can install ChromeOS Flex on it using a bootable USB stick and then try out what Google's cloud-first operating system has to offer.

    If you're not yet ready to install ChromeOS Flex on devices, you can temporarily run it using the USB installer. That way, you can test and verify that device functionality works as expected. For more help on the installation and configuration process, consult the ChromeOS Flex installation guide at.

    Google claims that ChromeOS Flex (as used on Chromebooks) will allow you to "easily try modern computing with cloud-based management" while extending the lifespan of older devices, thereby reducing e-waste.

    I agree with Google's claims. (I love my Chromebook.)

    Want to spend an hour or so breathing new life and useful productivity into an old and no-longer-used laptop or desktop? To learn more, go to

  • 18 Jul 2022 11:01 AM | Anonymous

    Families come in all shapes and sizes. MyHeritage users can now specify up to three sets of parents for any individual in the online family tree: biological, adoptive, and foster. For example, if an individual was adopted and his or her biological parents are known, both relationships can now be accommodated in the family tree in a few simple steps.

    You can read a lot more in the MyHeritage Blog at:

  • 15 Jul 2022 3:15 PM | Anonymous

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

    A few years ago I published an article entitled, “I am Moving to the Cloud.” Since that time, I have continued my move to a cloud-based personal service for genealogy and other applications, and now I am almost completely cloud-based.

    In the original article, I described several cloud-based services, explained actions I had already taken, and described what I planned to do. Since I published that article, I have followed most of the items in my plan. However, a couple of vendors have changed their services slightly, and some new services have been introduced. One of the new services was so appealing that it caused me to change my original plans. I also experimented a bit as I moved through my planned changes. The result was even more changes in my plans as I gained experience.

    The original article is no longer accurate because of these changes. I decided to re-write that original article and to include the changes in the new version that I am publishing today. This is the extensively revised article.

    I've decided to move. Well, not my personal possessions, my clothes, my tools, or even my computers. Instead, I have moved my data and my applications. I have moved to the cloud.

    First, here is a quick definition of a cloud as the word is used in computer technology.

    Cloud computing is Internet-based computing, whereby shared resources, software, and information are provided to computers and other devices on demand, similar to the electricity grid. In other words, most computing functions and data storage are provided by remote computers connected via the Internet. The computing power is shared amongst many users, and each user obtains as much or as little computing power and storage space as he or she needs. Expenses are also shared, and the result is more computing capability per dollar spent for everyone. In other words, using the cloud is much cheaper than purchasing tour own hardware.

    Some of the shared computers may be across town while others may be located on the far side of the world. The user typically doesn't know or care where the computers are located; all he or she knows is that a connection is made across the Internet, and then the remote computer is used in much the same manner as a local computer.

    Cloud computing is literally "computing on demand." That is, as much or as little computing power as necessary is available whenever the user wishes to use it. In some cases, all that is needed is some disk storage space to store information. The computing might be performed by a local computer, but information is stored "in the cloud."

    In other cases, both computing power and programs might reside in the cloud, along with data storage. A simple example might be Google Docs, which provides word processing, spreadsheet, and even a presentation program (somewhat like PowerPoint) on remote computers. In other words, Google Docs is “in the cloud.” Those programs are stored in the remote computers and can be used on your Windows, Macintosh, Linux, Android, or Apple iOS (iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch) computer whenever you need the application. Other cloud applications include Google Mail (called Gmail), Hotmail,, and Yahoo Mail in which not only are the email messages stored in the cloud but so are the programs used to read and write those messages. You just open a web browser and log onto one of those services. All software is included, replacing the email programs we used to use in past years, such as Microsoft Mail, Outlook, Eudora, Thunderbird, Apple Mail, and other email programs that needed to be installed in the local computer.

    A more robust cloud computing service may be found on Zoho at This multi-purpose cloud-based service provides word processing, a spreadsheet program, and even a presentation program, all similar to Google Docs, but generally with more features. In addition, Zoho Docs also provides email services, online chat services, a money management program, remote meetings and seminars (somewhat similar to WebEx or Zoom), project management software, a password manager, wiki services, an online calendar, a notebook, and more. Zoho also has many business services, including CRM (customer relationship management), human resources programs, invoicing systems, a customer service system, and more. All the programs are stored in the cloud, not installed on your computer.

    Many of the Zoho services aimed at individuals are available free of charge. The Zoho services designed for business purposes usually require payment of fees although those fees are usually much lower than purchasing equivalent software, the hardware required to run it, hiring the personnel needed to keep the programs running, and a data center to house everything.

    Another well-known example of cloud-based services may be found at In the past, most companies spent thousands of dollars for Oracle, SAP, SalesLogix, SageCRM, or similar products. Then the same companies needed to spend tens of thousands of dollars for the required servers and other hardware, all installed in an expensive data center with air conditioning and filtered electricity. Finally, the biggest expense of all was usually the salaries of the people that needed to be hired to maintain the hardware and software. Labor costs often are the biggest expense in major database projects.

    In contrast, provides similar services in the cloud, sometimes better although sometimes not, with very little overhead. Any company that wants's CRM services only needs to provide inexpensive computers for each employee (which would also be needed with most any other solution) along with high speed connections to the Internet. Then the company pays a modest fee each month to then provides the servers, the data center, and the required personnel to keep everything operational. The service isn't cheap but usually is much less expensive than buying software, servers, and data centers, and hiring additional employees.

    In addition,, Google, Zoho, and Amazon (which I haven't mentioned previously but is a major provider of cloud computing services) perform all the day-to-day data maintenance procedures. They repair the hardware when it breaks, install software upgrades as needed, make the backups, and generally take care of the computers. The data center is managed by professionals who serve hundreds or thousands of customers. The cost per customer is much less than having similar functions performed by paid employees in a customer's own data center. Businesses refer to this as “economy of scale.” In a large data center shared by many companies, the expenses paid by each company will be significantly less than each trying to perform the same functions locally.

    Businesses are learning that the use of cloud-based services instead of "rolling your own" can save thousands of dollars and simultaneously reduce headaches while also providing increased uptime.

    You can learn more about cloud computing in Wikipedia at as well as in an article in the PC Magazine web site at,2817,2372163,00.asp.

    My question is: can individuals also take advantage of these services? Can the individual computer user save money and reduce headaches like large corporations do? I decided to find out.

    Planning and implementing an individual’s cloud-based computing operation

    1. Security

    The first concern when talking about placing personal information on computers controlled by someone else is security. Will my data be safe? Can I keep it under my control and keep others out? Will it be backed up properly?

    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:*)-Plus-Edition-News-Articles/12850186.

    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

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