Thursday, August 18, 2016

Creating Books as PDFs

Why PDF?
I love to use multi-page PDF files to publish family history books. (They avoid the common problem of JPEGs and PNGs, where each page is a separate file that need to be found and then read sequentially.) In a multi-page PDF, you can have a fully formatted document or book, complete with photos, charts, etc. in a single file. And unless it has an unusual number of photos, it should weigh in at less than the maximum size of 15 MB allowed by FamilySearch. In my experience, this should accommodate 200 pages or more. And every computer or device can read them, unlike some file formats. (I have probably already told the tale of the CD of family history I received from a cousin in Australia, in a MS Publisher format that it took me 6 months to decode. Lesson learned: publish in a universal file format!)

How to Do It?
In most cases a word processor is the easiest place to create a multi-page PDF file, because it is the most familiar. And they make it easy to include photos, maps, charts and other things of interest. Once you have the book created in Word/OpenOffice/LibreOffice or whatever, use the software's ability to export/print the file as PDF.
What if your wordprocessor doesn't have this feature? If you are using Windows 10, choose Microsoft Print to PDF as the "printer".
If your wordprocessor and your operating system both lack this ability, download and install the free PDF Creator (or similar), and use this as the "printer" to generate PDF versions of word processor files.
I keep the master copy of each book as a word processor file, so it is easily changed.

Note that the multi-function printer/scanner/copier in my small Family History Center also has the ability to scan multiple pages into a single PDF file. It may take a little experimenting to become comfortable with it, but it has the advantage that any printed page can become part of a PDF file. (I believe that each page is handled as a large photo, so the resulting file will be larger than one generated from a word processor.)


I discovered a third cousin who is interested in family history. In fact her husband is a software engineer for  How cool is that?

As I wanted to share with her some family books I had created, it led me to reexamine them. I discovered that one of them had never been uploaded to FamilySearch Memories, and another had a page that listed the birth and marriage details of my living siblings. Oops! That should not have happened!

So I deleted the existing copy from Memories, and created a new version of the book by deleting that page in my master copy and exporting a new PDF copy. Then I uploaded the new version to Memories and tagged it to the main people in the book. Mission accomplished!

Sunday, June 12, 2016

An Easier Way to Find Duplicates?

You may be aware that in May, Membership Department reconnected to the Family Tree, after being disconnected since August 2014. As a result 3 different types of records from membership were brought into FT.

1. Records of members, that were previously hidden because no death was recorded. Yea!!!! We have been waiting for this to happen!

2. Records of non-member family members who are deceased. As I understand it, these are chiefly created to allow non-member family members to be shown in ward and stake directories. Okay, but confusing! These incomplete records need to be the surviving records in the case of a merge.

3. Ancestral File records, of which Membership Department had a copy. This happened by accident. Ouch!!! These records can mess up family lines for generations.

The Find-A-Record app can be a better way of finding the duplicates so they can be merged. (This is much more difficult to do in the Family Tree.) This app can be found at

Merge or Wait?
Do you really want to merge these duplicate records at this time?
Instinctively the answer tends to be "Yes, let's clean it up right now!"
But, until the Family Tree is moved off as part of the underlying platform for the database, the surviving record in any merge must be the record created by membership department! In other words, the record to which you have attached 15 sources, 20 memories, etc. needs to be deleted, along with its history and contributors. The surviving record will be a new record that shows as being created by LDS Membership, and you will need to remember to move all relationships etc. to that record.

However, if you are willing to wait until FT is moved to the new "tree foundation" and nFS is permanently shut down, you will be able to merge the records in either direction. Then the records can be merged in the logical order, and the new incomplete record from membership can be the one deleted by the merge.

Also by waiting, we will be able to merge two membership or IOUS records, which is currently impossible.

How long do we need to wait? At RootsTech2016, Ron Tanner said that the change will happen in 2016.
Quietly, FT recently stopped using nFS to manage ordinances. As I understand it, this is a big step towards shutting down nFS, but we aren't there yet. The managers and engineers need our prayers.

A new posting by Ron Tanner, the manager of FamilySearch Family Tree on 15 June 2016:
"... We are looking to see if we can remove them without adverse issues. I would wait until June 27th to see if they are gone, if not, then merge."

SSD and No Disk Space?

One of the Dell computers at our FHC is slightly different than the others. Instead of having a conventional hard disk, it has a solid state disk, with 128 GB capacity. For several weeks we were getting a message that the disk was full. The similar Dell machines have a 500 GB hard drive, but in my previous experience the hard disks in our FHC remain mostly empty. A full drive made no sense to me.

What could I do to solve the issue with the SSD? I ran a disk cleanup. No improvement! I removed the DOS virtual  machine with the Old Scottish Parish Records (never used in our center). The disk was still full! I removed a couple of other seldom-used programs, but the disk was still essentially full. I didn't dare remove any more programs, as we needed them. Our stake tech did not have a solution either.

Researching the question, I found the suggestion to install a free utility program to see what was using all of the disk space. Voila! The Windows Temp folder was using about 60 GB of space! I checked to see if I could safely delete the temp files.

I deleted them, and for the past several months the SSD has remained half empty. I reinstalled the things I had previously removed, and the last time I checked there was still 54 GB of free space. So we are good!

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

FamilySearch Apps Gallery

I prepared a list of apps and a little information on them to share in a class.

To my surprise, the number of free apps shown varied depending how you chose to view them.
Inputting FREE in the search form brings up an alphabetical list of 44 apps. But choosing the FREE filter instead produces an alphabetical list of 85 apps! What a difference!

These some that I personally found particularly interesting. I don't expect your interests to be the same as mine. And my opinions may not reflect official opinions seen elsewhere.
All the stories – I loved it. It is a single-purpose app that gathers all of the (text) Stories of your ancestors and their siblings for 9 generations. Unlike memories Gallery it includes stories by others.
Ancestors with Memories in Family Tree - Searches for ancestors who have memories in the Family Tree including photos, stories, documents and audio recordings. [I like it!]
FamilySearch Family Tree for Android and iOS is a handy way to take your genealogy with you when you are offline, including default portraits.
FamilySearch Memories for Android and iOS is an easy way to create audio files and upload them automatically.
Find-A-Record is useful for improving your FT records. [Useful but very picky!]
Grandma's Pie – shows a colorful pie chart of the countries where your ancestors were born. 
It allowed me to identify ancestors whose birth places were wrongly standardized as “Scotland, St Helena” instead of “Scotland”. [Unfortunately countries of christening are not shown.]
Hope Chest automates the process of finding ordinances that may be available (green temple icons) in your part of Family Tree. Opinions of whether this is a good thing are sharply divided.
Lexmark Capture Application Web - Any user can walk up to any Lexmark multi function device in a Family History center and automatically scan their family's birth certificates, death certificates, pictures, etc and route them to their own FamilyTree.
Ordinances Needed for Your Relatives This app shows opportunities for Requesting Ordinances in your Family Tree. When finished the results are displayed in a table which can be copied to an Excel spreadsheet. [Hope Chest does this more elegantly, but this one may give better control.]
Puzzilla Descendants Viewer helps researchers see descendants in FamilyTree using compact symbols that reveal patterns of incomplete research and other work in collateral-lines. Names and details appear as you move the pointer over the symbols. [free and paid versions]
RecordSeek – is a web app that does most of the work of Create a Source if the source is outside of FS. You find the source (on any website), click the RecordSeek link and attach the source to the person in FT. [If you don't know the person's ID, you can look them up in the app.] can be fun and inspirational. It converted my wife to family history! Relative Finder reports how you are related to your friends, presidents, royalty, LDS church leaders, etc.RootsMapper is a free, open source web site that allows you to easily visualize the migration patterns of your ancestors. It utilizes the data that already exists in your FamilySearch Family Tree to plot your ancestors onto an interactive map. [A perennial favorite of its kind.]
Save Your Stuff - Discover how to protect, save and preserve treasured memorabilia, valuable collectibles, precious keepsakes and original family history items. FREE download of fun, easy, how-to preservation manual 210 page multimedia e-book ($27 list value) with over 35 videos embedded in the text. [You will need room to download a 40 MB file.]
TapGenes- Your family's health story Preserve your family's health story because your doctors don’t know you like your family does. [An award winner at RootsTech!]
The Family History Guide The Family History Guide helps you get started - and get farther - with your family history. There are links to over 1,000 videos and articles, all integrated into a step-by-step learning plan for learners of all levels. Projects include Family Tree, Memories, Descendants or Ordinances, Discover (research for over 35 countries), Indexing, Help, and Technology. Classroom materials are also available for instructors who want to teach using The Family History Guide. [This has become widely endorsed since the Members Guide was discontinued.] – We have a wide variety of charts to view your genealogy. Whether you are looking for a fun chart, or a chart to display on your wall, or a working chart to do research, we have a chart for you! [They have rave reviews! The charts include a 9-generation pedigree.]
Virtual Pedigree – Navigating your family tree should be a dynamic experience. Many pedigree visualization tools show your tree as if it were a static sheet of paper. Virtual Pedigree uses elastic paper technology to allow you explore your tree without ever opening a new window. You can you can seamlessly navigate both the descendants and the ancestors of a person. This allows you to easily recognize errors in your tree and Virtual Pedigree will show you hints along the way. Virtual Pedigree will never limit the amount of generations you can view. [BYU-CS]

Ancestral Quest / RootsMagic / Legacy Family Tree
are Windows software programs able to sync a personal genealogy database with Family Tree without uploading a gedcom to PRF. (From personal experience, this is much quicker and easier than the gedcom option.) Each has a free version plus an inexpensive version with more capabilities. All three have good support organizations of their own. [AQ and RM are also available for Mac.]

I found that some apps were no improvement over the Memories Gallery, and some seemed confusing and incomplete; and others did just one job, but did it well. (These apps are supported by their creators, so FamilySearch Support only supports the FamilySearch Family Tree App and the FamilySearch Memories App.)  

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Additional Search Links

As of yesterday, we now have four SEARCH RECORDS links on the Person page of Family Tree instead of just one.

Clicking a link to one of the commercial partner sites takes you to a warning that you are leaving FamilySearch. When you agree, it takes you to the partner site. But it does not log you in, if you are not already logged in. If you are already logged-in, it conducts a search on the partner site using the data from the Family Tree Person page ... very handy!

If you are not already logged-in, you will still need to sign in using your username and password for the commercial site (or it will allow you to sign up for a trial account).

Patrons may have questions about how this works. When they are using the FHC Portal, what happens when they click one of these links? I should find out during my shift tonight! 

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Recent glitches affecting many patrons

AdBlock Plus
A week ago AdBlock Plus did an update that affects many websites, including  Until AdBlock releases their next update, patrons using AdBlock Plus will find that many things on our websites do not work: For example: sharing, uploading to Memories, and the FamilySearch Link under SEARCH RECORDS (on the Person page) have disappeared or have stopped working. These problems will occur in all browsers that have this popular advertisement blocker installed. The solution is to turn off AdBlock Plus or re-configure it to make an exception. 
Chrome Pop-up Problems
About a month ago, Google released an update to Chrome that automatically turned ON the popup blocker. To print a FOR in Chrome, turn OFF the popup blocker. In fact, you can forestall this problem by turning OFF the popup blocker in Chrome in all FHC computers.

Browser-based applications have many benefits, but they also have some vulnerabilities, depending which browser and add-ons are being used.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Errors in Standard Dates and Places in Family Tree

In Family Tree, the dates and places we see are not necessarily the ones the computer sees.
(You may want to read that sentence 2 or 3 times so it really sinks in.)

I have seen places spelled-out perfectly that have been interpreted (standardized) by the computer as being some other place in some other country. A bunch of my ancestors born in "Scotland" were standardized as born in "Scotland, St. Helena"! Ancestors shown as born in "Paddington, London, England" have been standardized as born in County Tyrone, Ireland". has left us a legacy of interesting "standard" forms! 

What has changed recently is that FT is informing us if a date or place has NOT been standardized. This is a major improvement but it is unable to detect places that have been WRONGLY standardized.

Hint: To see how any date or place has been standardized, see the pop-up when the mouse pointer is hovered over it.

Look at this record: 
Name: Robert Teal
Birth: abt 1790
of Holme, Yorkshire, England

Are the date and place of birth standard? You might think not from their format, what does the pop-up say? (Please don't change it as I may want to use it in a lesson.)

To Fix Errors: If a date or place is standardized incorrectly, edit it and choose a standard date or place that pops up.