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

Friday, March 29, 2024

Google Search or AI Chatbot, that is the question

 

I hope I don't have to tell you this image is an AI generated image. 

I just read an article from The Verge entitled "Here's why AI search engines really can't kill Google." It started me thinking about the thousands of searches I had done in the past few weeks using Google Search, Google Gemini, and Microsoft Copilot. I realized that I had come to the same conclusion months ago. AI does what it does and Google Search does what it does. AI is not trying to copy Google Search and I assume that Google Search isn't even particularly aware of what AI does. The simple example of this statement is the following hypothetical example search.

Me: Amazon [typed in the Google Search field} (Note: I am wanting to look up a price on an item on Amazon.com but I am too lazy to search more specifically.)

Google Search: The first item is a link to Amazon.com 

Hmm. 

How about the same question and response from Microsoft Copilot easily the best generative AI chatbot at the present time. 

Me: Amazon

Here is the answer from Copilot after a few seconds of searching. 


Yes, it gave me the link to Amazon, but also gave information I did not ask for. No, I am not that stupid, I do not need to ask about Amazon's URL, I realize it is Amazon.com and that is the end of this example. 

The chatbot is sort of like one of my friends or even like me. If I just walked up to someone (a live person) and said the word "Amazon" They would probably say What? Why are telling me the word Amazon? Do you mean Wonder Woman or the online store? Copilot didn't mention Wonder Woman but it did, at least, give me a link to the website. I realize this seems to be a trivial example, but it really isn't trivial. 

Using a chatbot to do research is more that simply asking questions. You need to understand what you are trying to learn. Your questions or prompts need to reflect accurate information. You essentially get what you ask for whether you meant to ask for it or not. The chatbot, if it has a huge Large Language Model or a specialized Large Language Model will begin to learn from you about the information you are looking for. For example, If I use the term "Family Tree" with descriptions, a broad chatbot such as Microsoft Copilot will "understand" that I am asking about genealogy and family history. A lessor based chatbot will never recognize the distinction and keep answering with trees and families. 

Both the AI chatbots and Google Searches learn from your past searches. You might realize this by observing the pathetic "targeted ads" on nearly every website. Supposedly, they tailor the ads to what you are interested in buying. Because the ads annoy me, occasionally, I will start making random product searches. Right now, for example, I am getting ads for Alpha Romeo automobiles and random cruise ship offers neither of which have the slightest interest in purchasing. 

I am writing this post late in the afternoon. I went to my Google History and counted that I had done 231 Google searches since 7;00 this morning. During the same time, I had done 8 Microsoft CoPilot searches.  Those numbers and probably low for an average day. How many of those searches gave me responses I was looking for? All of them. Why the Copilot searches because I needed answers such as one URL not an explanation and the short wait for the explanation did not justify using Copilot. 

Working with both the Google Search and Copilot relies on a learned skill. With Google, I am guessing what Google will know and using words that give me the response I need. Copilot is a little more demanding. They call the search input to chatbots, "prompts" but that is not a very good name for the methodology involved. It is more like using a language. If I want to communicate with someone who speaks Spanish, I have to use Spanish. If I want to communicate with a chatbot, I need to use chatbot language. I am learning chatbot language by doing hundreds of searches (or beginning chatbot conversations). All in all, chatbots are pretty limited and not at all intelligent. Carrying on a conversation is an allusion. They are only marginal better in a limited number of ways to regular Google searches. What is helpful is that the chatbot answers questions rather than pointing websites that might answer questions. But as I illustrated with my Amazon example, most of the time I don't need an explanation, I just need a single short answer. 

So, will chatbots kill Google Search. Probably not in my lifetime unless they can learn to give a one work answer to a one word question.



Friday, March 22, 2024

RootsTech 2024 is still online and available

 

https://www.familysearch.org/en/rootstech/

My wife and I have been enjoying some of the presentations from RootsTech 2024 that we missed while being so busy doing other things. Here is a list of some of the current attractions. 

www.familysearch.org/en/connect

www.familysearch.org/discovery/famousrelatives

www.familysearch.org/campaign/lookalike

www.familysearch.org/campaign/photocollage

www.rootstech.org

You might want to look at the huge collection of videos also. There are 1,500 sessions on 185 topics in over 30 languages. The video collection is a marvelous resource for learning about almost everything genealogical. 




Wednesday, March 20, 2024

MyHeritage introduces All-New Profile Pages with Hints

 

https://blog.myheritage.com/2024/02/introducing-all-new-profile-pages-with-hints/

Qouting from a recent blog post:

The profile page is among the most visited pages on MyHeritage, and is one of the most valuable ones for genealogists. Many users requested that we add additional capabilities to the page. You asked, and we listened! Today we are proud to release the result: the all-new profile pages. This is a whole new experience that is more than just a single page; it’s a centralized hub for everything known about a person.

This major enhancement includes a more organized layout and cool features to help you maximize your discoveries about your ancestors and relatives. We’ve also added Hints, which are a unique, highly useful way of presenting new details from your matches within the context of an individual profile. The profile pages remain free and are now more useful than ever!

The new profile pages are available on the MyHeritage website on desktop. We will soon add Hints to the MyHeritage mobile app as well.

From my perspective, this reorganization of the profile pages is a very welcome change. I find the newly designed pages to be much easier to navigate. You can read more about the page changes in this blog post, Introducing All-New Profile Pages With Hints


Saturday, March 16, 2024

Come learn about your Central and East European Ancestors!

 

https://feefhs.org/

The 2024 FEEFHS Annual Conference will be an in-person event held at the Plaza Hotel in Salt Lake City, August 6-9. Prior to the conference there will be a hands-on workshop day (as an optional add-on), followed by the conference with four days of instruction with three instruction tracks taught in parallel. 

Conference topics will encompass countries and regions of Central and Eastern Europe, including areas of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire, German Empire, Russian Empire/USSR and more. Other topics will include DNA, minority research, resources, and technology. A preliminary conference schedule is posted (just class titles or with class summaries). 

At the conference you will have the opportunity to talk with presenters between sessions and in one-on-one consultations. In the evenings you can do research at the world famous FamilySearch Library—right next door to the conference hotel. The library has access to many resources that are not available online or at other libraries. 

I have attended and presented at this conference several times and will be presenting three classes this year. Their website is a valuable resource for Eastern European genealogy research and the those presenting at the conference are experts in their area. You can find out more by clicking Here with links to the registration. 

Hope to see you there!

Friday, March 15, 2024

MyHeritage opens OldNews.com website

 

https://www.oldnews.com/en

Here is the introductory video to the OldNews.com website. 

https://youtu.be/U_z9EEF9t8c?si=scwYwnWgmxM8Esat

Quoting from the MyHeritage Blog post about the new website:

We’re delighted to announce the release of OldNews.com, an innovative website for historical newspapers, by MyHeritage. OldNews.com enables genealogists, researchers, and history enthusiasts to search, save, and share articles about people and events throughout history. At launch, OldNews.com includes a huge repository of hundreds of millions of historical newspaper pages from around the world, with millions more added monthly. The website features easy navigation and consists of a diverse range of high-quality publications, from major international newspapers to small-town journals and gazettes.

At launch, OldNews.com more than doubles the amount of historical newspaper content that was previously available on MyHeritage. The website includes all the historical newspapers from MyHeritage, plus new, unique content.

 More as we get a chance to use the new website.

Friday, March 8, 2024

MyHeritage Tree Collaboration with FamilyTree DNA

 

MyHeritage Tree Collaboration with FamilyTree DNA

At RootsTech 2024, Aaron Godfrey, MyHeritage Vice President of Marketing, announced the following as quoted by Robeta Estes in her blog post on DNAeXplained - Genetic Genealogy, as follows:
I don’t have specific details about how it works, as this won’t happen for a few months yet, but FamilyTreeDNA customers will port their trees to MyHeritage which allows them to take advantage of MyHeritage’s record collections and such. Existing MyHeritage customers will simply connect their FamilyTreeDNA test to their MyHeritage tree.

You can read the details on the linked blog post. At the RootsTech conference I also talked to both MyHeritage and to Katy Rowe-Schurwanz, Product Owner at FamilyTree DNA and she confirmed that the connection at an unspecified time in the future. I am sure there will be more about this at the appropriate time. I suggest you watch Aaron Godfrey's presentation at RootsTech to hear the announcement for yourself. 

Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Introducing he FamilySearch Profile Quality Score


RootsTech 2024 was the forum for announcing a valuablefeature that helps with the FamilySearch.org Family Tree accuracy. FamilySearch announced the Profile Quality Score which is featured in the FamilySearch.org/Labs website. When this feature is activated by turning it on, it appears on Profile Page of entries in the Family Tree and when clicked on, it gives a break down of the accuracy and reliability of an entry. Here is an example from my own part of the Family Tree. 


The sidebar can be expanded to view additional evaluations. 


You do not see anything unless this app is turned on using the FamilySearch.org/Labs page. I couldn't see any pattern to when the information appeared on an individual. 

Monday, March 4, 2024

Impressive New Updates and Releases from MyHeritage

 

https://youtu.be/kLi65EnnKxk?si=a-jmyQKWC0LyV1hY

There is a long list of impressive new releases and updates from MyHeritage.com. Here is Aaron Godfrey on the main stage at RootsTech.org to give you a short insight into the latest news. 

Here is a hopefully complete list of the updates and releases mentioned with links to the blog posts about the new products. 

Historical Records Added in February 2024

Introducing OldNews.com, A New Website for Exploring Historical Newspapers

Introducing All-New Profile Pages with Hints

New: AI Record Finder™Chat History

AI Biographer™

MyHeritage Documentary Part 1: The Early Years - A Dream Takes Root This is the first of a six-part series made for the 20th anniversary of the founding of MyHeritage.com. The series will continue with links to the remaining videos. 

Please take a few minutes to watch Aaron's information packed video above. 

Full-Text and AI comes to FamilySearch

 

https://www.familysearch.org/Labs/

RootsTech 2024 was filled with technology with an emphasis on artificial intelligence or AI. One long anticipated announcement by FamilySearch was the beginning Full-Text. 


https://www.familysearch.org/search/full-text

Full-Text is just what the name implies, the FamilySearch program can now search the full or complete text of historical documents. This opens up the ability to find more exact information. Previously and what is still the case with indexed records, the indexes only find records that matched the somewhat arbitrary index fields. With Full-Text searches, you can search for any possible word that may be in the document or record. Presently, there are only two large FamilySearch databases that are available to search; U.S. Land and Probate Records, a record dating from 1630 to 1975 and Mexico Notary Records, a set of records that is primarily dated before 1900 but with some records up to 1947. More additions are planned. 

The records that will become available are those that that have been prepared by sophisticated handwriting recognition software and Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software. So the process is that the original documents are processed by the handwriting recognition and converted into text files and then the Full-Text search program can search every word in the documents for your "Keywords." The keywords can be any text string such as names, dates, and places. The challenge is choosing keywords for search that may be in the documents or records you are searching. 

To test the system, I searched using the name of my great-grandfather, Henry Martin Tanner who was born in San Bernardino, Los Angeles, California in 1852 and died in Gilbert, Maricopa, Arizona in 1935. I immediately found the following deed that I had never seen before and was not attached as a FamilySearch Memory. 


I would not know to even look for this document much less have found it in unindexed records previously. 

These are full text searches and so you have to work with your search terms or keywords to get any specific results. 

These new FamilySearch developments give me a lot to write about and additional topics for videos. 

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Upload DNA Data to MyHeritage and enjoy FREE access to all DNA features forever

 Yes, forever. 

https://blog.myheritage.com/2024/02/this-week-only-upload-your-dna-data-and-get-free-access-to-all-dna-features/

Here is the announcement I received from MyHeritage:

For each NEW DNA file uploaded this week (i.e. one that hasn’t been uploaded to MyHeritage in the past), the uploader will receive free access to all advanced DNA features, saving them the usual $29 unlock fee per file. This rare offer is valid for the next few days only, until March 4, 2024 at 11:59 p.m. 

 

There are many great reasons to upload DNA data to MyHeritage. You’ll get new DNA matches from all over the world, ethnicity reports covering 2,114 geographic regions, and access to the most comprehensive set of tools for analyzing your relationships to your DNA matches. MyHeritage is the only DNA company that has committed never to sell or license users’ data to third parties, and we provide full privacy controls so only you can see your data.

 

Make sure to share the news with your friends and followers so they don’t miss out on this change to get free access to all MyHeritage DNA features! Feel free to use the graphic below, and read more about it on our blog.

Read this carefully. This offer applies to DNA results, the raw data, from another company that hasn't been uploaded to MyHeritage.com before.  You can read more about the offer on the blog post linked above. 

Sunday, February 25, 2024

Six-part 20 Year History of MyHeritage now on YouTube

 

https://youtu.be/iWXZLL180z8?si=t29TP8usaI6lUCrv

This is the trailer for this remarkable story of the 20-year growth of MyHeritage.com one of the most successful genealogy website company in the world. It has been my privilege to have been associated with them for much of that time. If you watch episode three you will see a picture of me and my wife which was used to promote the Photo Animation program that is one of incredible features of the MyHeritage.com website. I have hundreds of great memories from being involved with them and helping people learn about their own ancestral heritage from using MyHeritage. During the past year, I had a special experience help the MyHeritage engineers develop the MyHeritage Wiki. See https://www.myheritage.com/wiki/Home. I am proud to claim them as my friends. 

February 29th through March 2nd will be RootsTech 2024. MyHeritage will once again be there on the Expo floor and will presenting a series of classes. If you come to MyHeritage in person check the schedule for all the classes being taught by MyHeritage and look at the schedule of classes at the MyHeritage booth. I will be there on Thursday and Friday teaching a class. 

The most recent advanced programs released by MyHeritage are the AI Record Finder and the AI-Biographer™ 



I am sure we can see more great tech advancements in the future. 


Family Trees are not Fractals: Why duplicates in family trees should not exist

 

A fractal is a type of geometric shape that has a repeating pattern at different scales. Fractals are often very complex and beautiful, and they can be found in nature, art, and mathematics. Some examples of fractals are snowflakes, tree branches, coastlines, and the Mandelbrot set. The Mandelbrot set is one of the most famous fractals, named after the mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot who coined the term fractal. It is generated by a simple equation that produces an infinite variety of shapes and colors. See What are Fractals? – Fractal Foundation

Family trees are NOT fractals. So, what is a family tree? A human family tree is structured representation of the biological and cultural relationship of unique individuals. Fundamentally, each person is a unique node in the family tree structure. The basic concept is that individuals are biologically related in a unique pattern consisting of two biological parents. Because of cultural considerations this biological relationship has been modified to include other culturally defined relationships including adoption. foster parents, guardianships, and a variety of other relationships. 

Presently, the FamilySearch.org Family Tree is possibly the largest unified family tree in existence. However, the Family Tree is plagued with duplicates, constant revolving door changes, and unconnected individuals among other problems. 

I was reading about recent studies that are finding that despite the commonly held idea that trees and other natural objects are fractal in nature, forests are not fractal. Here are a few examples of what is being published. 

Why is it important to understand that a family tree is not fractal in nature? First, it is because of the word "tree" and secondly because of the unique nature of each node or individual. A family tree is a way to show the biological and cultural relationships between these unique individuals; all of us in the human family. 

So, how does this affect the structure and maintenance of the FamilySearch.org Family Tree? Because each individual is uniqe, each family is also unique. So, if my family has a traditional structure of two biologic parents and a certain number of children, once those individuals and the family unit are identified, the family is not subject to addition added children or biological parents. Here is where the FamilySearch.org Family Tree fails to adequately represent each family. Families in the FamilySearch.org Family Tree are not fractals, they are not subject to infinite expansion by mere mathematical formulas. Once all the actual members of the family are determined, the structure is frozen. However, there is another factor that is unpredictable: history and the further fact that the Family Tree is a wild-west free-for-all that allows changes by anyone at anytime except for a few restricted (Read Only) arbitrary and random individuals. 

Even if we take into account that families in the Family Tree are largely constituted from historical records and therefore subject to possible change due to presently unknown discoveries, there is a time when the amount of research necessary to establish the family structure such as the number and identity of the children born to the family exceeds some reasonable limit. In these cases, the failure of the Family Tree is to fail to recognize this established limit and impose a higher level of restrictions on making changes. Why can't there be a limit to the changes that can be made to families once they meet some rational criteria? It would be fairly easy to freeze families and then allow additions only upon application. Lack of this type of limitation is the most damaging evidence that the information in the Family Tree is not completely reliable. 

So, how could this happen? The simple method of establishing a threshold for freezing (or locking or restricting) a family would be to set a standard for documentation. For families in the United States for example, the required documentation could include census records, vital records where available, and other standard records. Further changes could only be made if a record was found such as a DNA test that showed additional family members. This could be structured to not limit the addition of sources, memories, or standardization but would severely avoid duplication. With the development of artificial intelligence programing, it is now possible to set these intelligent types of limits and avoid the constant changes made to established family units such as the Mayflower descendants and most of the families documents in New England. The changes could be avoided by requiring anyone trying to change the contents of the family to present historical sources showing a need to make a change with an explanation before any change would be allowed. In addition, some of the information in the Family Tree has been well established for over 100 years and yet is still being subject to constant change such as the Royal Families of Europe and other families structures.

More about this later, after RootsTech. 

Sunday, February 18, 2024

Kristin Chenoweth to Keynote RootsTech 2024

 

https://www.familysearch.org/en/rootstech/?icid=LIHP-00038782

Quoting from an email, 

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH—RootsTech by FamilySearch, a global celebration of family and genealogy, announced Emmy® and Tony® Award-winning actress, and singer, Kristin Chenoweth, as the final keynote speaker at RootsTech 2024. Chenoweth will take the main stage on Saturday, March 2, 2024.  Chenoweth will share her personal family story with RootsTech’s global audience and showcase her renowned soprano voice as she performs a curated selection of songs. You won’t want to miss Kristin Chenoweth live in person or online. Register now at RootsTech.org.

Chenoweth has performed for sold-out audiences across the world and received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. She is perhaps most famous for starring as Glinda in the original Broadway cast of Wicked. She has appeared in various television shows such as The West Wing, Pushing Daisies (Emmy® Award), Glee,Disney’s “Descendants”, and American Gods, a Starz Channel original. Kristin won a Tony Award for her role in “You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown”, and also played Velma Von Tussle in NBC’s Hairspray Live! in 2016. For her next major project, she will be starring in and producing the new musical “The Queen of Versailles”, based on the 2012 award-winning documentary. 

Look me up if you come in person to RootsTech 2024.  

Thursday, February 15, 2024

Relatives at RootsTech 2024

 


I guess I am not going to be inviting my cousins over for dinner. This is an interesting number that came in an email to me. Here is the web version from a screen shot on RootsTech.org. Obviously, your results might vary. You can click on the image to see a enlarged version. 




it is also obvious that the numbers between the first image which arrived by email and the second image that is a screenshot done on the day of this post. Is there some way that this information can be processed? I know I can look at a list, but why and how would I look at 6,000+ names or much less the 39,000+ in the email notice sent to me. If there are 39,210 of my relatives registered for RootsTech 2024, and if the number of registrants is 108,064, then I am related to a little more than 36% of the attendees or about one out every three people at the conference. 

I will be at RootsTech 2024 in person and teaching 3 live classes see this link.

I will also be teaching at the MyHeritage booth, the BYU booth, and The Family History Guide booth. Come and look me up. 

The Relatives at RootsTech is on the website at RootsTech.org and available as part of the RootsTech 2024 app for Android and iOS. 

Monday, February 12, 2024

RootsTech 2024 Family Discovery Day

 

RootsTech 2024 Family Discovery Day

Quoting from an email announcement:

RootsTech 2024 is coming up soon, and we are looking forward to hosting our annual Family Discovery Day on Saturday March 2, 2024, during the conference.

Come visit the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, Utah, and take part in a full day of free activities, games, and inspiration for you and your family! Remember, connect, and experience the impact of family with your loved ones this year at Family Discovery Day.

Register for Family Discovery Day for Free!

Register for the Full 2024 RootsTech Conference

If you cannot join us in person at Family Discovery Day 2024, participate online by tuning in to live-streamed events on the main stage.

The Late President M. Russell Ballard’s Family Discovery Day Message

A special Family Discovery Day message will be broadcast at 1:30 PM MT on March 2, 2024. For both in-person and online attendees to RootsTech 2024, tune in to a never-before-seen film (produced in 2023) of the late President M. Russell Ballard recounting his own family story and pioneer heritage.


 https://www.familysearch.org/en/rootstech/registration/in-person/discovery-day?lang=eng


Saturday, February 3, 2024

Announcing a new partnership between The Family History Guide and the National Genealogical Society

ngsgenealogy.org

The illustration above is part of an announcement of the new partnership between the National Genealogical Society and The Family History Guide

thefhguide.com

Here is some additional information from the announcement quoting from a Facebook post by The Family History Guide:
Today we are excited to announce an official partnership between The Family History Guide Association and the National Genealogical Society (https://www.ngsgenealogy.org). The Family History Guide Association will provide educational materials and training to the National Genealogical Society, enabling their members to accelerate their learning and research skills in genealogy.  
"We are thrilled to connect our organization members with the wealth of information provided by The Family History Guide website. The website offers an incredible selection of resources that make genealogy more accessible, particularly to those just starting their journey. By partnering with The Family History Guide Association, we can point societies, libraries, archives, and museums to tools that will enhance their programs and services and help them develop education that sparks a love of family history research and discoveries for more people." - Matt Menashes, CAE, National Genealogical Society executive director
"The Family History Guide website debuted in 2015 with the goal of making everyone's family history journey easier, more efficient, and more enjoyable (and free!). An educational partnership with the National Genealogical Society is a match made in heaven, as it provides their organization members with training and research tools that will take their members and patrons to the next level of success in genealogy. I couldn't be more excited about the future of genealogy learning and doing with The Family History Guide Association and the National Genealogical Society joining forces now."
- Bob Taylor, originator of The Family History Guide website

As the Chairman of the Board of Directors of The Family History Guide Association, the sponsoring 501(c)3 charitable organization of The Family History Guide website, I am thrilled to join this important and significant partnership with the National Genealogical Society. This partnership will expand our mutual goals of helping people discover, explore and feel better through their family history and genealogical research and advance each of our missions to provide high-quality, online family history education and resources. I am honored to be part of this collaboration and I will do my best to promote this mutually beneficial partnership.

Friday, February 2, 2024

RootsTech: Keynote Speakers and Special Guests

 



In addition to this lineup of Keynote Speakers, Saturday, we will have a class and a visit from local basketball celebrity, Jimmer Fredette.


Here is the planned schedule.

Spend the day with the Fredettes on Saturday, March 2, 2024!


9:30 - 10:30 am: Take part in a beginners class alongside Jimmer and Whitney Fredette. Learn how to use the memories feature in the FamilySearch app while hearing stories about the Fredette family.

12:00 pm - 12:45 pm: After class, join the meet-and-greet and take a picture with Jimmer!

12:45 pm - 1:15 pm: Youth ages 8 – 14 can participate in a shoot-around with Jimmer himself! (Registration required, use the link above to sign up!)

Meanwhile, here is my own in-person, live class schedule (for now). 





Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Check out the full list of RootsTech sessions both live and online

 

RootsTech.org


Yes, the schedule of classes including rooms and times for the live classes is online on the RootsTech 2024 website. The schedule is divided into the In-person schedule and the Online Schedule. 


There are 222 speakers scheduled over the three day conference. You can still register for the in-person conference from the website. I am presenting three classes. Here is a screenshot of the classes that are all three scheduled for the afternoon of the first day, Thursday, February 29th of the conference. You can check out a video preview of the classes on YouTube.com https://youtu.be/F8t8NK-PkN4?si=H3txpVFH5dVrClYV

https://youtu.be/F8t8NK-PkN4?si=H3txpVFH5dVrClYV

You can view the class schedule by hour and day. https://www.familysearch.org/en/rootstech/schedule


But you have to click around on the website for a while to see all the different lists and offerings. My classes are at 1:30 pm, 3:00 pm, and 4:30 pm. 

I will also be presenting in the Expo Hall for The Family History Guide, MyHeritage.com, and at the Brigham Young University booth. You can look for the schedule at the booths in the Expo Hall. 

Hope to see you there. 


Friday, January 26, 2024

World-renowned photographer Nancy Borowick -- RootsTech Keynote Speaker


 https://www.familysearch.org/en/rootstech/

Quoting from an email announcement:

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH—RootsTech by FamilySearch, the world’s largest family discovery and genealogy conference, and Pictureline, a gold sponsor at RootsTech 2024, are excited to announce Nancy Borowick as a main-stage keynote on Friday, March 1, 2024, and part of the globally broadcasted event. Pictureline is sponsoring Nancy Borowick, a world-renowned Sony Artisan photographer, speaker, and teacher, with a unique gift and talent for capturing the moments to not be forgotten—a great fit for RootsTech’s global audience and this year’s theme of “Remember.” Learn more at RootsTech.org

RootsTech invites a wide range of talented celebrities to its annual event’s main stage. Each one has offered different perspectives and inspiration regarding the importance, diversity, and yet uniqueness, of each family, and the importance of uniting with your family and remembering who you are. Nancy Borowick will continue that strong tradition as she takes to the main stage at RootsTech 2024 on Friday, March 1, 2024. 

You can read more about Nancy Borowick on her website.  

Here is a further quote from the email announcement:

Borowick’s family has left an indelible imprint upon her life. They taught her that life is precious, to live it on her own terms, and to face uncertainties courageously. She saw both her parents struggle with stage 4 cancer together, passing away just a year apart. She honored them with a special photography tribute and book that celebrates their strength and grace while illustrating the simultaneity of life (see The Family Imprint: A Daughter’s Portrait of Love and Loss).

"I'm so excited to speak at RootsTech 2024! Family, memory, and storytelling through photography is an integral part of my life and work, and I can't wait to share my personal family journey and story in Salt Lake City at RootsTech 2024." Nancy Borowick, RootsTech 2024 Keynote 

Nancy Borowick graduated from the International Center of Photography and has made a career as a photojournalist, author, teacher, and speaker. Borowick’s work has been exhibited in more than 100 cities worldwide, as well as in many notable publications such as National Geographic, Time Magazine, O the Oprah Magazine, Glamour magazine, Le Monde, Stern magazine, the Wall Street Journal, and outlets such as CNN and Bloomberg. A few of her many renowned accolades and awards include World Press Photo, Pictures of the Year International, and the 2018 Humanitarian Award from the organization Women That Sour. 

While teaching photography classes to children in rural Ghana, Borowick learned of the villagers’ need for a fresh water well and spearheaded a project to raise the monies needed to provide one. She also sponsors an initiative to honor and help mothers heal from the trauma and grief of losing a stillborn child and to reduce public bias regarding pregnancy care and infant mortality.

"Pictureline is pleased to be a part of RootsTech 2024 and to sponsor renowned Sony Artisan Nancy Borowick as the Friday morning keynote speaker. Photography has a way to foster memories, bring together communities, and strengthen relationships. Our camera store has been part of RootsTech for over 10 years, and we love seeing how passionate RootsTech attendees are about helping bring life to their genealogy through photos and videos. We are excited to see how RootsTech will inspire all of us again this year.” —Jens Nielsen, founder, Pictureline

Meet Nancy Borowick in Person

Join Nancy Borowick on the RootsTech main stage as she shares her enthralling family story of what family and memories mean to her, and her personal perspective on the RootsTech theme “Remember.” Following her keynote address in Salt Lake City, Utah, Nancy will hold a meet and greet and book signing. 

Attend RootsTech 2024 in person at the Salt Palace Convention Center, or online for free. Learn more or register at RootsTech.org

Tuesday, January 16, 2024

On Enjoying Your RootsTech 2024 Experience

 

RootsTech.org

Coming to Salt Lake City, Utah at the end of February and the first of March for the RootsTech.org conference can be a weather challenge. It could be snowing and/or raining or cold or not-so-cold. Whether you are a local and drive to the Salt Lake Salt Palace Convention Center or fly into town to the newer Salt Lake City Airport, the weather is always a factor and it is a good idea to prepare for the alternatives. Here is a link to a map of the Salt Palace

RootsTech is worth the time and expense of attending in person. However, there are two options. You can attend in person or view hundred of online classes for free. The website, RootsTech.org, is the source for what information is available about the event with two tracks for those who choose to come in person and those online. I have been to every RootsTech conference either in person or online since the first one in 2011. Quoting from Wikipedia

While some claim that RootsTech is an outgrowth of three former conferences, the Conference on Computerized Family History and Genealogy, the Family History Technology Workshop and the FamilySearch Developers Conference, these three conferences were invited to participate in the original 2011 RootsTech, but some of them remain in existence today. The RootsTech conference was an entirely new and different event.

Actually, the BYU Family History Technology Workshop is alive and well and is being held this year on February 27th at the BYU Hinckley Alumni Center in Provo, Utah. I will be presenting at both the workshop and the RootsTech conference. 

Here is a link to my classes at the RootsTech 2024 Conference. This link might or might not work, but you can search the class list online by presenter to find me. I am a media representative, a speaker, and an exhibitor at RootsTech so you can find my by asking around. In past years, I have found that internet connections in the Expo Hall are spotty to non-existent. Perhaps this year will be different. 

There is also a booth in the Expo Hall for the BYU Library which includes the BYU Library Family History Center. A number of the BYU Library Family History Center missionary volunteers with be working at the booth. 

What else do you need to know in order to enjoy the RootsTech 2024 conference in person? You need to know that there is a lot going on during the conference besides classes and presentations. For some, the main attraction is the Expo Hall. Although there will be 250+ class sessions that are available only in Salt Lake City, there are an additional 120+ exhibitors/sponsors in the Expo Hall. My wife and I will spend most of our time in the Expo Hall. We are involved in The Family History Guide booth and my wife is in charge of all the volunteer workers at the booth. I will be involved in presenting some short classes at the MyHeritage.com booth and wandering around talking to people and learning about the updates to all the developers and vendors at the conference. 

Salt Lake is a good place to visit any time of the year, regardless of the weather. There are hotels and restaurants within walking distance of the Salt Palace. But if you want to stay close to the Salt Palace, you may have to make a reservation far in advance. By the time this blog post appears, hotel space near the convention center will be at a premium.

Oh, did I say walking distance? Yes, you will find that Salt Lake City is a walking city. The blocks in the downtown area are 660 feet long and the streets are 130 feet wide. The Salt Palace is large and you will spend a lot of time walking. Make sure your shoes are comfortable and your feet are ready for the exercise. The Salt Palace Convention Center is "across the street" from a major shopping mall called the City Creek Center. There is a lot of parking available but be prepared to pay for parking. There are a number of good hotels within walking distance also. About hotels, you need to realize that Salt Lake City is a major metropolitan area with traffic challenges and parking challenges. Here is a link to the SLC.gov website about parking

If you come to Salt Lake City by air, there is transportation by light rail called the TRAX from the airport to downtown Salt Lake City. The price of the TRAX is very reasonable and free in the downtown area. We live in Provo, Utah 45 miles (approximately) south of Salt Lake City and there is train service from Provo to Salt Lake on the FrontRunner. Even though we could stay in our home and commute (as many people do every day) from Provo to Salt Lake City, we find that staying closer to the Salt Palace helps us survive being at the conference and walking all day into the night. 

Of course, the RootsTech conference is right down the street from the world famous Salt Lake City, Utah FamilySearch Library. During the day, there are free ATV shuttles back and forth to the FamilySearch Library. There is a lot to see in downtown Salt Lake City and a lot of construction. Fortunately, the major hotel construction around the Salt Palace is finished but there will likely be construction in the area. 

Since I spend so much of my time online. Attending the RootsTech conference in person is not to be missed. It is the only opportunity I have to meet some of the people I talk to online in person. Find me if you can, I am glad to meet and talk to as many people as possible. 

Thursday, January 11, 2024

Keynote Speaker Henry Cho at RootsTech 2024

 

RootsTech.org 2024 has announced a the distinguished comedian, Henry Cho, to the stage as our keynote speaker on February 29, 2024. Here is some additional information about Henry Cho from RootsTech. 

RootsTech 2024 is gearing up to host a truly unique and unforgettable mainstage experience as it welcomes the distinguished comedian Henry Cho as its keynote speaker on February 29, 2024. This year’s conference theme “Remember” has the ability to elicit a wide range of emotions from longing to laughter—and Henry Cho is no stranger to laughter. Born to Korean parents and raised in Knoxville, Tennessee, Cho draws upon the memories of his life and upbringing to spread joy to his large audiences. Cho brings a wealth of laughter and a rich tapestry of life experiences to the main stage.

Henry Cho’s story is one of a kind. “I’m an Asian with a Southern accent,” remarks Cho. “To a lot of people, that right there is funny.” So funny, he’s currently working on the development of a sitcom based on his life. Known as “Mr. Clean” within the comedic stand-up industry, Cho has gained a reputation to make audiences roll with laughter without compromising his desire to only use wholesome comedy. Cho's unique identity as an "Asian with a Southern accent" has become a trademark of his comedic style. His ability to draw humor from his cultural background, upbringing, and life experiences has endeared him to audiences across the country. 


 Register for RootsTech 2024 by clicking here. 

Saturday, January 6, 2024

FamilySearch Year-in-Review 2023

 


https://www.familysearch.org/en/blog/2023-familysearch-year-in-review

One interesting observation from this year-end report from FamilySearch.org is the extent to which artificial intelligence or AI is having on the website's records. The searchable names and records continue rapidly increase, due in part, to the use of AI based handwriting recognition and AI assited Computer Aided Indexing or CAI. 

The FamilySearch Family Tree grew by more than 80 million people and contributors added 450 million sources. The rest of the statics are equally as interesting. You can click on the link above to read the entire article. 

Friday, January 5, 2024

Impressive MyHeritage 2023 Review

 

The highlight of the year for MyHeritage.com was the last minute, December 26th, introduction of their AI Biographer™ and AI Record Finder™. You can read about the details of all of the above accomplishments in this blog article:


https://blog.myheritage.com/2024/01/2023-myheritage-year-in-review/

Another major accomplishment was the introduction of the MyHeritage.com Wiki



Remember, this is what happened in 2023 and we are now in a new year. 

Tuesday, January 2, 2024

MyHeritage Two Part Movie Kate's DNA Journey; My Secret Egyptian Father

 


A MyHeritage DNA Match: Uncovering Kate’s Hidden Egyptian Heritage


Part Two - Unveiling the Mystery: Kate's Journey to Her True Heritage

The MyHeritage.com YouTube Channel is filled with remarkable stories about family relationships found from MyHeritage DNA testing in partnership with the huge MyHeritage database and user base. Take a few minutes to watch this two-part remarkable story. Here are some links for more information and more stories. 

MyHeritage.com

The MyHeritage YouTube Channel

MyHeritage DNA 

MyHeritage Wiki

MyHeritage Knowledge Base