Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Friday, June 2, 2023

Goldie May now on FamilySearch Portal and free in FamilySearch Centers


One of the most innovative and useful programs that have been developed in the past few years, is now included in the FamilySearch Portal and is therefore free to use in all FamilySearch Centers. 

If you need a quick review about the program, here is a video from

Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Reimagine, An Innovative Photo Mobile App by MyHeritage

 For a full explanation of this remarkable app, see the MyHeritage Blog, "Introducing Reimagine: An Innovative Photo App by MyHeritage." Here is a video that explains the app.

I have it on my iPhone and started with taking a photo of a page of images in a photo scrapbook. It easily separated the photos into individual images and saved each image to my Apple Photos app. I also saved a copy to my photos on Very slick and easy to use. Down near the end of the long article it does say the following:

Anyone can scan a limited number of album pages for free, to experience the power of the photo scanner. Improving a limited number of photos using the photo features is also free. Beyond that, scanning and improving an unlimited number of photos requires a subscription.

A yearly Reimagine subscription costs only $49.99 (or equivalent in local currency) and begins with a 7-day free trial, so users can experience the app before they commit. A monthly subscription costs $7.99/month and does not come with a free trial. Both plans include unlimited use of all Reimagine features.

Users with a MyHeritage Complete plan can colorize, enhance, animate, and repair unlimited photos on Reimagine, and enjoy unlimited photo storage. Scanning full album pages is a new feature that is unique to the Reimagine app, so to scan an unlimited number of photos, a subscription to Reimagine is required even for Complete subscribers. For an introductory period, we’re offering Complete subscribers a discount of 25% off the Reimagine annual plan.

If you have a number of photo albums or scrapbooks, like I have, this app can pay for itself in time saved. coupled with the online MyHeritage website expanded tagging feature, the app could pay for itself in saved time. 

Thursday, May 11, 2023

Billions and Billions


Actually, Carl Sagan never said "billion and billions." See Wikipedia: Billions and Billions. But the number of online, digitized records is now literally in the billions and billions. is claiming that they will add an additional 15 billion records to their website in 2023 after claiming to have added 5.2 billion in 2022. See  For some time, has been claiming to have 30 billion records on their website. MyHeritage adds billions of new records every year and currently says that they have over 19 billion records. claims to have over 13 billion records. probably has billions more and the list can go on and on. I guess I need to note that the estimates of the number of people who ever lived is about 100.8 to 121 billion. See

The number of people on the earth today is also an estimate of about 8 billion. See So, the number of online records in just this small group of genealogy websites is much greater than the number of people presently on the earth. Unfortunately, even with the overage of records most of the world's current population probably doesn't show up in any of the websites. One main reason being the lack of information about living people. 

In case you are thinking that the number of digitized records in the major genealogy websites has somehow made a dent in the existing records, you should also know that the overall global datasphere has exceeded 64 zettabytes. A zettabyte is 1000 exabytes and an exabyte is 1000 petabytes that is 1000 terabytes that is 1000 gigabytes. We are literally drowning in information. 

Despite the billions of records on the major genealogy websites, it is still highly likely that you will be unable to find at least some of the records that theoretically could exist about your own ancestors. But one thing the numbers do point out is that you should be aware of the content of all the major genealogy websites and not astigmatically focus on only one.  That said, it is important to realize that for the foreseeable future, there will always be more paper records locked up in archives and libraries than are available online. 

Saturday, May 6, 2023

FamilySearch Investigates Facial Recognition

 Well, we are interested but don't have a lot more information other than our interest. Facial recognition is not a particularly new technology but tagging historical photos is more complicated than identifying possible relationships from. similar facial features. One genealogy program with facial recognition has a moderately low rate of accuracy. Yes, the concept is helpful but if you tell me I have a cousin that isn't much help, I have thousands, actually tens of thousands of cousins. Tagging photos is the first stage in identifying individuals in old photos. Unfortunately, I have thousands of old photos for which I have no identification. Here is an example. 

I know that this photo was likely taken by my Great-grandmother, Margaret Godfrey Jarvis Overson. I can tell approximately when the photo was taken but that is about all I can identify. Even if I knew that I was related to these people, it would not be much help. I am related to a large percentage of all the people that lived in Apache County, Arizona from pioneer times. There is also a possibility that this particular photo, which is a copy of an earlier photo, was taken by Margaret's father, Charles Godfrey DeFriez Jarvis because with the animal hide and the backdrop, this may be from a photo taken as early as the 1880s. It may also be possible that my great-grandmother was just copying the photo from someone else because she was a professional photographer and the photo was taken somewhere else and the people in the photo are not even remotely related to me. Hmm. Photo ID seems to be complicated. 

Saturday, April 15, 2023

Is ChatGPT worth using? Especially for genealogy and genealogy related uses?


The answers to the questions in the title of this post are both NO. So far, I have tried a number of different types of questions or suggestions to ChatGPT and the results have been helpful only if I just need some ideas and words. I find any reference to dates, places, or specific facts to be almost uniformly wrong. It may work for planning a trip, but I wouldn't rely on any specific facts about dates, times, or even addresses. It appears to me to be only a way to gather suggested topics. If you want facts, use Wikipedia which at least has some source references. If you want to see my analysis of a ChatGPT response on a post for Walking Arizona, see

Friday, April 14, 2023

United States Social Security NUMIDENT records added to


This is one of the collections of 63,700,494 records on the website that has only been available for a relatively short time. Here is the description of the files from the entry shown above. 

The Social Security Administration created these records to track the earnings of US workers and determine benefit entitlements. The publishable index only contains information for deceased individuals and was gathered from all three record types in the collection: applications, deaths, and claims. Each compiled record includes fields for the name of the deceased, social security number, parents' names, gender, birth city and state or country, birth date, and death date.

Here is an example of the content of a record for one of my relatives. 

Several of my searches for other relatives did not find any records and I am guessing that they either died too recently or did not have a social security account. You can see from this record that Donnette did not apply for Social Security coverage until she was about 73 years old. 

There is a more detailed description of the record set in the FamilySearch Research Wiki.,_Social_Security_Numerical_Identification_Files_(NUMIDENT)_-_FamilySearch_Historical_Records

I will be highlighting other useful collections from time to time. 

Saturday, April 8, 2023

How long do SSDs and Hard Disk Drives Last?


Most of us (especially genealogists) probably assume our flash drives (Solid State Drives or SSDs) and hard drives will last forever. Of course, the biggest challenge with flash drives is the loss of the small devices. But as with all electronics, they have both a life expectancy and a technological-obsolescent life-span. By the way, electronics are consumables not durables. Another, by the way, hard drives are at the last stage of their existence due to obsolescence and are being rapidly replaced by SSDs. As of the date of this post, SSDs are still significantly more expensive per unit of storage than hard drives. For comparison, an 8TB (Terabytes or 1000 Gigabytes) Seagate external hard drive is going for about $140 online. However, an 8TB external SSD is in the range of $800 to over $1000.  

Even though SSDs are commonly thought to be longer lasting than hard drives because they have no moving parts, actual statistics indicate that we don't yet know how long they will last because the large server farms (data storage facilities) are just now getting enough of the drives to form a real basis for making predictions. The main issue during the ramp up of a new technology is whether to pay the premium price or wait until the new technology is established and the prices come down. 

Hard drive technology is well established and there are adequate statistics to determine a good rule of thumb for replacement of about five to six years. Of course, you could just keep using an old hard drive until it died, but if you want to do this, I suggest backing it up either with another newer hard drive or with online storage. The best practice is to have redundant backup capability. I suggest both external hard drives and online storage depending on your pain level if the data on your hard drive was lost. 

Ideally, you would have an external hard drive dedicated to backing up your computer's internal drive and then at least two or three other hard drives dedicated to backing up archived files such as scanned documents, scanned photos, digital photos, and any other documents and records that you would like preserved. You start with two or three new drives and then start rotating them with new drives every few years until you get a series of hard drives about two to three years apart in age. Then you begin rotating out the oldest drive as it reaches about five years of age. 

As of the date of this post, 16TB and 18TB hard drives are becoming available and the prices are dropping rapidly. Unless you are determined to document every moment of your life with video, it is unlikely that you could ever fill up a 16TB hard drive. My forty years of accumulated computer files are just about 8TBs, but I know that a lot of those files are duplicates. 

You also need to realize that your computer has a hard drive and that after about five years, not only will your computer be obsolete, but the hard drive will be ready to die. These facts should clearly demonstrate the need for a redundant backup system. We all think our homes are a safe place until a fire or a tornado or an earthquake or a flood happens in our immediate location and destroys everything in or on our homes. Insurance is great in these situations, but can insurance compensate you for the loss of the information on the drives?

Right now, the possible increase in longevity of flash drives does not warrant the increased cost, but like anything having to do with technology, all that might change tomorrow.