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  • 5 Jan 2023 6:14 PM | Anonymous

    For the first time, 1,954 ancient Hittite tablets are being read with the help of artificial intelligence (AI) thanks to a project implemented in Türkiye. When the translation part is completed, the cuneatic clay tablets will be put on display for the public in the Hittite Digital Library scheduled to open soon.

    The first phase of the project, which was initiated to read, scan and digitize the Hittite cuneiform tablets in the inventory of the Ankara Anatolian Civilizations Museum, the Istanbul Archaeology Museum and the Çorum Museum, has been completed. Within the framework of the project carried out in cooperation with Ankara University and the General Directorate of Cultural Heritage and Museums, this unsurpassed project will help researchers to easily analyze the historical documents of thousands of years, accelerating the deciphering the process

    Photographing them in high resolution and scanning them with 3D technology, 500 of the Hittite cuneiform tablets were translated at the beginning of the project. According to the testing, the AI's success ratio was 75.66%. The data obtained from the deciphered tablets will be shared with the scientific world by Hittitologists. In addition, when the AI finishes conducting all of the studies, the information obtained from the tablets will be shared in a digital library, making it available to Hititologists and history enthusiasts.

    You can read more in an article in the DailySabah.com web site at: https://tinyurl.com/4wmxjp3p.

  • 5 Jan 2023 8:39 AM | Anonymous

    Note: This article has been updated to correct the original article’s error in the time.

    When:      Saturday, Jan 28, 2023
    Time:       11 - 12 am EST 

    Where:    Online - Register at www.augustagensociety.org                 

    Learn how to find information about your ancestor using records for property, real or personal, and estate probates. Probate packets include much more than a will; they also include inventories, accounts, lists of debts, or distribution lists, along with census agricultural schedules and homesteading files. Ann G. Lawthers will help us "Follow The Money" as we learn how to research probate records thoroughly.

    Ann G. Lawthers, Sc.D., is a Genealogist with the Brue Family Learning Center at the New England Historic Genealogical Society – American Ancestors. She regularly lectures on behalf of American Ancestors at conferences, workshops, and meetings.

    At American Ancestors, she collaborates to prepare multi-week online courses, single-day online conferences, and single-session webinars. Ann focuses on New England and Mid-Atlantic research and migration patterns. Secondary interests include the Southern Colonies and Ireland. She graduated from Wellesley College and the Harvard School of Public Health with degrees in Health Policy.

    The program flyer is available at: https://tinyurl.com/3aub2xmk 

    The Registration deadline is Jan 28.  Registration is required to receive the Zoom link

    Price:       FREE to AGS members or $10 for nonmembers 

    Limited seating will be offered at Adamson Library to view the virtual presentation. To reserve a seat, please call (706) 722-4073.

    JOIN AGS NOW and enjoy the benefits of several programs, which will be free to members in 2023 - 2024.

    The Augusta Genealogical Society is a non-profit organization founded in Augusta, Georgia, in September 1979.

  • 4 Jan 2023 5:10 PM | Anonymous

    Warning: This article contains personal opinions of the author.

    I was driving down the road today, listening to a local news station on the car radio. The newscaster was interviewing a so-called security “expert” about proposed legislation supposedly designed to prevent identity theft and credit card abuse. This “expert” claimed that we needed legislation to prevent access to birth records by “unauthorized” individuals. Sound familiar? Yes, we have heard and seen this song-and-dance act before. This guy wants to lock genealogists out of the records that we have used for the past century or so. 

    The so-called “expert” claimed that the Internet makes it too easy for someone to find your mother’s maiden name, and that, of course, is the foundation of all security systems, right? 

    Let me press the button for that obnoxious sounding buzzer. BZZZZZ! Wrong answer!

    The problem isn’t easy access to your mother’s maiden name; the real problem is dumb security systems that depend upon public domain information for so-called security. Hey, if it needs to be secure, can’t you guys come up with a better key phrase that your mother’s maiden name? Sheesh, even I can do better than that!

    The only purpose for asking your mother’s maiden name is to create a “passphrase” that you can remember in case the company ever needs to identify you in the future. In reality, it doesn’t need to be your mother’s maiden name. They could just as easily use your great-great-grandmother’s maiden name or the name of your First Grade teacher or your favorite song or your pet’s name or your gym locker number. The only requirement is that it is something that you will be able to recall instantly at any future date and that it is not known to others. 

    Any institution that uses the mother's maiden name as a "security tool" is really behind the times and needs to quickly hire a real security expert, not some yahoo who uses fuzzy thinking. Even novice security managers would immediately change that policy. 

    In the United States, mothers’ maiden names and other personal information are available from numerous public sources. That information has always been in the public domain. The invention of the Internet did not really change anything. A mother’s maiden name could easily be discovered fifty years ago, and the same is still true today. Anyone who uses a mother’s maiden name “for security purposes” obviously doesn’t know much about security.

    I have refused to do business with a couple of companies that insisted upon using my mother’s maiden name as a security identifier. I don’t want to do business with any company with such a lame security policy. I advise you to do the same: boycott companies that have inadequate security policies.

    However, if you really need to do business with a company that insists upon using your mother’s maiden name for “security” purposes, please remember that you can always create a fictitious name on the spot. The bank doesn’t care what name you give them; all they want is something to enter in the blank space on their form, something that you can recall later. They couldn’t care less if it is the correct name or not. By using a fictitious name, your security will not be compromised by a Web site, by a minimum-wage employee at an insurance company, or by a criminal’s surreptitious visit to the state Vital Records Department.

    When I last created a new account and was asked for my mother’s maiden name, I answered "Fudpucker.

    I guarantee two things: (1.) I can remember that, and (2.) nobody is ever going to find that piece of information online unless they happen to read this article. The name of Fudpucker fits my needs perfectly as well as the needs of the company I was dealing with at the time. Oh, to be sure, I did get a strange look from the clerk filling out the form, but who cares? She wrote it down, and the name Fudpucker remains a part of that company’s records. I do feel much more secure than I would feel if I had used the correct name.

    I would suggest that you do the same. You can use the same funny name that I chose or some other name you can easily remember. It makes no difference. You might use the maiden name of some ancestress from 200 years ago. Will the company care? No. Will the criminal care? Yes! You just protected your privacy far better than any dumb piece of legislation restricting access to birth records can ever accomplish. 

    If an elected official or other bureaucrat tries to limit access to vital records, please feel free to send them a copy of this article. Tell them it’s time to wake up and look at the real issues and to stop trying to protect a maiden name policy that is ineffective to begin with. Then vote against the politician in the next election. You don’t want a backwards mentality like that in public office!

    If you send a damned fool to Washington, and you don’t tell them he’s a damned fool, they’ll never find out. -- Mark Twain, 1883

    A smarter politician would sponsor a bill to prohibit financial institutions from using a mother’s maiden name or any other piece of public domain information for security purposes. But, then again, when did you ever see a smarter politician?


  • 4 Jan 2023 4:53 PM | Anonymous

    The arrest of Idaho murder suspect Bryan Kohberger has eased fears in Moscow following the brutal murders of four college students.

    It has now been revealed that the FBI was able to track Kohberger by tracing his distant relatives through genetic genealogy databases.

    According to experts, a sample of his DNA was collected by officials and matched to the crime scene.

    Kohberger was arrested on Friday in Pennsylvania, thousands of miles from Moscow, Idaho, where Madison Mogen, Kaylee Goncalves, Xana Kernodle, and Ethan Chapin were stabbed in their sleep.

    Authorities had been quiet about the investigation up until Kohberger’s arrest but confirmed that the 28-year-old PhD student was traced through a combination of DNA tracking and investigative work.

    Instead, investigators used genetic genealogy, which has grown increasingly popular as law enforcement traces suspects through their relatives on ancestry websites.

    You can read the full story in an article by Cheyenne R. Ubiera published in the U.S. Sun web site at: https://tinyurl.com/5z672rjh.

  • 3 Jan 2023 6:47 PM | Anonymous

    Here is a bit of a mind-bender for any genealogist. Consider the lyrics to the song I Am My Own Grandpa, written by Dwight B. Latham and Moe Jaffe:

    Many many years ago when I was twenty three, 
    I got married to a widow who was pretty as could be. 
    This widow had a grown-up daughter 
    Who had hair of red. 
    My father fell in love with her, 
    And soon the two were wed. 
    This made my dad my son-in-law 
    And changed my very life. 
    My daughter was my mother, 
    For she was my father's wife.

    To complicate the matters worse, 
    Although it brought me joy, 
    I soon became the father 
    Of a bouncing baby boy.

    My little baby then became 
    A brother-in-law to dad. 
    And so became my uncle, 
    Though it made me very sad.

    For if he was my uncle, 
    Then that also made him brother 
    To the widow's grown-up daughter 
    Who, of course, was my step-mother.

    Father's wife then had a son, 
    Who kept them on the run. 
    And he became my grandson, 
    For he was my daughter's son.

    My wife is now my mother's mother 
    And it makes me blue. 
    Because, although she is my wife, 
    She's my grandmother, too.

    If my wife is my grandmother, 
    Then I am her grandchild. 
    And every time I think of it, 
    It simply drives me wild.

    For now I have become 
    The strangest case you ever saw. 
    As the husband of my grandmother, 
    I am my own grandpa!

    This song has been recorded by many artists, including Shel Silverstein, Lonzo & Oscar, Homer & Jethro, Ray Stevens, and Dave Grisman. It reportedly was inspired by an anecdote that Mark Twain related in a book, proving how a person could become his own grandfather.

    You can listen to the lyrics and watch any of several videos by going to http://facebook.com and entering “I Am My Own Grandpa” in the search box in the upper left corner of that page. My favorite rendition of the song is the one by Willie Nelson at https://tinyurl.com/yuaudh55.

    Can your genealogy program handle these relationships?

  • 3 Jan 2023 6:22 PM | Anonymous

    There’s a new option for people in New York trying to figure out what to do with their bodies after they die. Over the weekend, Governor Kathy Hochul signed Assembly Bill A382 into law, which legalizes the process of natural organic reduction—more popularly known as human composting—in New York State.

    There are several reasons to choose being composted over alternative end-of-life methods. Burial uses a hefty amount of nasty stuff that’s harmful to the environment. One corpse needs about three gallons of chemicals, including formaldehyde, methanol, and ethanol, which can leach into soil and groundwater; around 5.3 million gallons get buried with dead bodies each year. Meanwhile, cremating bodies takes energy and in the U.S. generates about 360,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide each year from the burning process.

    Natural organic reduction works by curing a human corpse with wood chips in a special container for several weeks, where it breaks down into mulch. Each body produces a cubic yard of soil—about what can fit in a pickup truck—that the family of the deceased can then use in gardens or scatter outdoors. Industry estimates show that the process could save around one metric ton of CO2 per body. The movement around human composting in the U.S. has picked up steam in recent years. In 2019, Washington became the first state to legalize the process; it was quickly followed by Colorado and Oregon in 2021. New York is the third state, following California and Vermont, to legalize human composting in 2022; Delaware, Hawaii, and Maine have all proposed similar legislation. Bills in New York to legalize the process were proposed in 2020 and 2021 but never got traction to come to a vote; this past year, however, the bill sailed nearly unanimously through the House and Senate. Human composting in the U.S. has been almost entirely spearheaded by a Seattle-based organization called Recompose, which was the first organization to license human composting in the U.S. and whose founder, Katrina Spade, patented the natural organic reduction process.

    You can read more in an article by Molly Taft published in the Gizmodo.com web site at: https://gizmodo.com/new-york-legalizes-human-composting-1849945144.

  • 3 Jan 2023 9:48 AM | Anonymous

    The Tekeyan Cultural Association (TCA) of Armenia unveiled its new website, www.armtmm.com, in Yerevan at the Tekeyan Cultural Center on December 16, 2022. The new platform aims at popularizing artists of Armenian origin both in the homeland and abroad. It presents Armenian culture and famous Armenian authors and their creations.

    The website has a section called Cultural Exhibition Hall, which includes the works of contemporary folk artists of the Republic of Armenia whose creations adorn world famous exhibition halls and museums. Visitors from any part of the world can view paintings, jewelry, sculptress, musical instruments, and Armenian national costumes. In addition, there is a genealogy service available which provides the opportunity of becoming familiar with family histories, providing explanations, stories, excerpts, documents and sources. It is even possible to apply for a copy of your family crest, in different formats.

    You can read more in an article by Christine Melkonyan published in the Armenian Mirror-Spectator at https://tinyurl.com/yu5wbu23.

  • 3 Jan 2023 8:40 AM | Anonymous

    Here is a chance to see a once-in-a-lifetime event. In fact, it will be a once-in-many-lifetimes event:

    A comet discovered less than a year ago has traveled billions of miles from its believed origins at the edge of our solar system and will be visible in just a few weeks during what will likely be its only recorded appearance. The comet, C/2022 E3 (ZTF), was first seen in March 2022 as it made its way through Jupiter's orbit. According to NASA, it's a long-period comet believed to come from the Oort Cloud, the most distant region of Earth's solar system that's "like a big, thick-walled bubble made of icy pieces of space debris" that can get even bigger than mountains. The inner edge of this region is thought to be between 2,000 and 5,000 astronomical units (AUs) from the sun -- between 186 billion and 465 billion miles.

    This means that C/2022 E3 (ZTF) has made a rare, once-in-a-lifetime journey to be close to Earth. "Most known long-period comets have been seen only once in recorded history because their orbital periods are so, well, long," NASA says. "Countless more unknown long-period comets have never been seen by human eyes. Some have orbits so long that the last time they passed through the inner solar system, our species did not yet exist." 

    Now, the recently discovered E3 comet, which has been seen with a bright greenish coma and "short broad" dust tail, is set to make its closest approach to the sun on January 12. It will make its closest approach to Earth on February 2. Astrophotographer Dan Bartlett managed to capture an image of the comet in December from his backyard in California. He was able to see "intricate tail structure" in the comet's plasma tail, he said, and "conditions are improving."

  • 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. 

    Programs

    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 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windows_Registry.

    For more information about running Windows programs directly from a jump drive, look at https://portableapps.com. 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?


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