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  • 29 Dec 2022 2:56 PM | Anonymous

    Here is another reason to switch from Twitter to Mastodon: the (only) person in charge of Mastodon has turned down several offers of probably millions of dollars in order to maintain the not-for-profit status.

    From an article by Ian Johnston, published in the Ars Technica web site:

    Twitter rival Mastodon has rejected more than five investment offers from Silicon Valley venture capital firms in recent months, as its founder pledged to protect the fast-growing social media platform’s non-profit status.

    Mastodon, an open-source microblogging site founded in 2016 by German software developer Eugen Rochko, has seen a surge in users since Elon Musk bought Twitter for $44 billion in October amid concerns over the billionaire’s running of the social media platform.

    Rochko told the Financial Times he had received offers from more than five US-based investors to invest “hundreds of thousands of dollars” in backing the product, following its fast growth.

    But he said the platform’s non-profit status was “untouchable,” adding that Mastodon’s independence and the choice of moderation styles across its servers were part of its attraction.

    “Mastodon will not turn into everything you hate about Twitter,” said Rochko. “The fact that it can be sold to a controversial billionaire, the fact that it can be shut down, go bankrupt and so on. It’s the difference in paradigms [between the platforms].”

    You can read more at:

  • 29 Dec 2022 8:35 AM | Anonymous

    On January 1, 2023, copyrighted works from 1927 will enter the US public domain.  They will be free for all to copy, share, and build upon. These include Virginia Woolf’s To The Lighthouse and the final Sherlock Holmes stories by Arthur Conan Doyle, the German science-fiction film Metropolis and Alfred Hitchcock’s first thriller, compositions by Louis Armstrong and Fats Waller, and a novelty song about ice cream. Of course, many genealogy books published in 1927 can now be legally copied as well.

    Note: This applies only to the United States. The copyright terms in other countries are different.

    You can read more, including long lists of 1927 notable books and movies that are now in the public domain, at: I don't see any genealogy works on the list, however.

  • 28 Dec 2022 6:35 PM | Anonymous

    For the first time, scientists have been able to develop male and female near-identical human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) from the same person.

    hiPSCs are a valuable biological tool. These are cells that can be reprogrammed to return to a stem cell-like state. They are used for therapeutics, and molecular investigations of diseases and cellular behavior. However, it can be difficult to determine sex differences in hiPSCs, which is important as the different sexes can experience different disease incidence rates, medication responses, and symptoms.

    In humans (and yes, it does differ depending on the organism) biological sex is determined by the sex chromosomes. In females, there are two X chromosomes (XX); in males, one X and one Y chromosome (XY). However, some conditions cause the sex chromosome ratios to differ from the typical.

    You can read more about this in an article by Dr. Beccy Corkill published in the IFLscience web site at

  • 28 Dec 2022 4:28 PM | Anonymous

    Scientists have developed a blood test to diagnose Alzheimer's disease without the need for expensive brain imaging or a painful lumbar puncture, where a sample of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) is drawn from the lower back. If validated, the test could enable faster diagnosis of the disease, meaning therapies could be initiated earlier. The Guardian reports:Current guidelines recommend detection of three distinct markers: abnormal accumulations of amyloid and tau proteins, as well as neurodegeneration -- the slow and progressive loss of neuronal cells in specified regions of the brain. This can be done through a combination of brain imaging and CSF analysis. However, a lumbar puncture can be painful and people may experience headaches or back pain after the procedure, while brain imaging is expensive and takes a long time to schedule.

    Although current blood tests can accurately detect abnormalities in amyloid and tau proteins, detecting markers of nerve cell damage that are specific to the brain has been harder. [Prof Thomas Karikari at the University of Pittsburgh, in Pennsylvania] and his colleagues around the world focused on developing an antibody-based blood test that would detect a particular form of tau protein called brain-derived tau, which is specific to Alzheimer's disease. They tested it in 600 patients at various stages of Alzheimer's and found that levels of the protein correlated well with levels of tau in the CSF, and could reliably distinguish Alzheimer's from other neurodegenerative diseases. Protein levels also closely corresponded with the severity of amyloid plaques and tau tangles in brain tissue from people who had died with Alzheimer's.

    The research was published in the journal Brain. (Warning: That study has been published in the usual medical terminology. It is intended to be read by medical professionals, not everyday common folks.)

  • 28 Dec 2022 4:02 PM | Anonymous

    If you are "into" Linux, you might want to know that a new release of Linux Mint is now available.  Linux Mint 21.1 (also known as “Vera”) Is now available for download.

    Linux Mint is available free of charge, as always. Not bad for the most powerful operating system for desktop computers available today.

    Of course, Linux Mint is not the only version of Linux available, but it is one of the most popular.

    You can read more, or download Linux Mint 21.1 and install it on your own computer(s), at

  • 27 Dec 2022 10:50 AM | Anonymous

    While I call these “rules,” they are really suggestions. These “rules” are just a start. I suspect you can think of additional “rules.” If you can add more, please post your suggestion(s) in the comments section below.

    OK, here are “Eastman’s Rules of Posting Genealogy Information Online,” a new set of rules invented today:

    If you don’t want everyone to know about something and use that something as they wish, don’t post it online! There are no secrets after you post information online. You can claim copyrights or legal protection, but the fact remains that information placed on the web quickly becomes common knowledge. You may be correct in thinking that nobody else should ever re-use your information, but not everyone will agree with you. Regardless of your intentions, some people will re-use your data elsewhere. Getting the data removed later will be difficult and frustrating. Think before you post!

    Keep in mind that all search engines will index your site (unless you take steps to do otherwise as listed in Note #1 below), and most of them will cache the information. One web site ( which is not a true search engine) will cache your data more or less forever, even if you later change or remove your data.

    A few specialty search sites will charge their subscribers a fee to search your site and millions of others. General-purpose search engines, such as Google, are usually free to the user. Specialty search engines that look only for financial data, legal data, real estate transactions, sports scores, etc. typically charge a fee. The more specialized the search engine, the higher the fee. Some charge very high prices. You and I don’t hear much about the fee-based search engines, but they exist, nonetheless.

    Facts are not copyrighted, at least not under U.S. law. If your web page contains only names and dates and locations of life events (birth, marriage, death, census entries, military service, etc.), you do not own that information. It is public domain.

    If your page(s) contains additional descriptive information, interpretations, stories, or other information that you wrote, the original information you added might be copyrighted. However, the dividing line between copyrighted information and public domain information is often fuzzy. Even legal experts who specialize in intellectual property issues often disagree with each other. You should realize that not everyone is going to agree with your interpretation of the legal issues involved.

    Actually, all of this is probably a moot point anyway. Whether legal or not, it is very difficult to force someone to remove copies of information you supplied.

    Never assume. You may have strong opinions concerning what is right or wrong, but not everyone will agree with you. Ask yourself, “What will happen if I place this information online?” Be realistic!

    The above are a few of my thoughts. Again, if you have further suggestions for additional “rules,” please post your thoughts in the comments section at the end of this article.

    Note #1: If you do want to place genealogy information (or any information) on the World Wide Web and do not want your information to be found by search engines, there is a simple way to do so: create a ROBOTS.TXT file and place it on your web site. Thousands of web sites do this already when they don’t want certain information to become too public. There are many web sites that will explain ROBOTS.TXT and tell you how to add such a file to your site. Start here: Once you add a ROBOTS.TXT file to your web pages, your information will disappear from all search engines within a few months. However, don’t be surprised if nobody visits your site anymore. It will be rather well hidden.

    If you are willing to have some search engines index and cache your site but do not want all search engines to do so, you can be selective. Again, the solution is a ROBOTS.TXT file. You can exclude specific search engines by name. The format of the commands is a bit tricky, so study the instructions carefully. Start here:

    Note #2:mYou should realize that search engines are not perfect. Even the specialty search engines designed for a specific purpose will erroneously add some extraneous data. The search engine’s filters may interpret words differently than a human would. For example, a financial services search engine might add your genealogy data to its search engine if your ancestor was named James Penney or Ezekiel Dollarhide. Likewise, a genealogy-specific search engine may add a page that describes the article describing music but entitled “roots of New Orleans jazz,” and a real estate search engine may add its own information about “the history of the House family.”

  • 27 Dec 2022 10:27 AM | Anonymous

    Despite the fast-moving digital world, it’s our family past that continues to pique interest.

    Every family seemingly has that one member who takes it upon themselves to go down the genealogy rabbit hole becoming an online sleuth or simply using 23andMe’s DNA testing lab for ancestry roots.

    It’s also this interest in our personal history that draws viewers to “Finding Your Roots,” hosted by Henry Lewis Gates, Jr., which debuts its ninth season Jan. 3 on PBS.

    Using genealogical detective work and cutting-edge DNA analysis revealing buried secrets and inspiring stories, the fascinating series of “Finding Your Roots” features influential actors, athletes and celebrities learning about their detailed family trees.

    This season’s list of guests includes actors Carol Burnett, Jamie Chung, Brian Cox, Billy Crudup, Claire Danes, Jeff Daniels, Viola Davis, David Duchovny, Richard Kind, Joe Manganiello, Tamera Mowry, Edward Norton, Julia Roberts and Danny Trejo, as well as comedian Niecy Nash.

    There’s also pop star Cyndi Lauper, athlete and sportscaster Tony Gonzalez, journalists Jim Acosta and Van Jones, activist Angela Y. Davis and statesman Jeh Johnson.

  • 27 Dec 2022 10:07 AM | Anonymous

    NOTE: This article is not about any of the "normal" topics of this newsletter: genealogy, history, current affairs, DNA, and related topics. However, I believe that all computer users should be aware of the need for encryption when uploading information to cloud-based file storage services.

    Cryptomator is a FREE and open-source product that will encrypt data inside your own computer before uploading it to a cloud-based file storage service of your choice.

    Dropbox has acquired Boxcryptor’s key technology. This means that Boxcryptor’s services will no longer be available to new users and existing users will likely have to migrate when their contracts expire.

     Cryptomator is is a FREE and and open-source alternative that can be used without an account. Just download and get started.

    If you’re looking for a replacement, this is a great candidate for your consideration.

    Features of Cryptomator

    • Encryption of all major cloud providers (no restriction on Desktop app; mobile apps compatible with Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, pCloud, iCloud Drive on iOS, and any cloud via WebDAV and S3)
    • Available on Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS, and Android
    • Both for personal use and for businesses: Cryptomator Hub
    • End-to-end and zero-knowledge encryption
    • Free Desktop app, one-time purchase (€15) for the mobile app, no subscription
    • Maximum transparency through open-source software
    • Unlimited number of devices
    • Password recovery through offline key recovery
    • Software “Made in Germany”

    How to Easily Set Up Cryptomator

    1. Download and install Cryptomator.
    2. Once Cryptomator is installed, you can create a new vault.
    3. Give your vault a name.
    4. Now select a cloud storage of your choice as the storage location of your vault.
    5. Enter a password.

    And you have successfully created your first vault.

    If you want, you can unlock it immediately and reveal the virtual drive. From now on, you can store your sensitive files here, e.g., the data that you previously encrypted with Boxcryptor, in order to encrypt them in the cloud with Cryptomator from now on. Detailed instructions are available here.

  • 27 Dec 2022 9:49 AM | Anonymous

    The 23andMe Blog has an interesting article that neatly sums up the DNA developments of the past year. The introduction to the article states:

    "The past year in genetics has held no shortage of surprises. Fossilized bone fragments helped to rewrite parts of the Neanderthal story, including how some bands migrated and lived. A team of researchers in Spain learned that doppelgangers have more in common than meets the eye. The phrase “superdodger” officially entered the COVID-19 lexicon. And new analysis confirmed what anyone who’s ever hit a dance floor already knows–the ability to move in time to a beat is partly genetic.

    "From big discoveries that moved the field forward to work that improved upon existing findings, here are some of the year’s milestones."

    As I read through the remainder of the article, I learned about several new developments that I was unaware of previously. You might do the same at:

  • 26 Dec 2022 9:01 AM | Anonymous

    Boxing Day is a holiday celebrated the day after Christmas Day, thus being the second day of Christmastide. Though it originated as a holiday to give gifts to the poor, today Boxing Day is primarily known as a shopping holiday. It originated in the United Kingdom and is celebrated in a number of countries that previously formed part of the British Empire. Boxing Day is on 26 December, although the attached bank holiday or public holiday may take place either on that day or one or two days later (if necessary to ensure it falls on a weekday).

    A full description of the history of Boxing Day and its modern celebration may be found on Wikipedia at

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