Interesting Take on Find-A-Grave Update

I saw this link, http://familyhistoryfoundation.com/2018/01/05/4-annoying-problems-with-find-a-graves-new-website/, in a Facebook group.

1) Ad-heavy interface – I agree wholeheartedly. Way too many ads on the new site. If Ancestry is trying to kill Find-A-Grave, they couldn’t have chosen a better way than too many ads.

2) Huge ads between photo section and flower section – pretty much of a continuation of problem #1 above. Maybe someone high up at Ancestry will figure out why these are problems.

3) Read more button – Shouldn’t need a “read more” button to see the entire memorial. Seems they want you to see ads more than they want to see the memorial.

4) Missing information on memorials – haven’t noticed this too often, but enough people are reporting the problem which indicates it’s a bigger issue for many.

– – – –

For now, you can still go to the old website, https://old.findagrave.com/, but it is supposed to be retired in the near future.

I would add removal of too many FAQs and not making the remaining FAQs anything more than guidelines in most cases and not clearly defining which are guidelines and which are rules. Ideally, they need a list of “guidelines” and a list of rules that are marked as such. For example, one rule is the last name on headstone should match the memorial last name. For other names – first, middle, maiden, nickname – these don’t have to match the headstone if somebody knows any of the names. Where it gets dicey is when people rely on cemetery records, obituaries, and/or death certificates for last names. A woman with a hyphenated last name or two or more married names on either the headstone or death certificate, obituary, and/or cemetery record that doesn’t match the headstone leads to duplicates. The latest upgrade appears to solve the issue that was a problem on the old website. Specifically, if you had two married names in the last name field, the second name wasn’t searchable unless you searched both names as they were on the memorial.

Another thing missing is a field called Last Name At Death. This field is needed because the last name on headstone rule exists. If you have Mary Smith die and her name is recorded as Smith on her death certificate, in her obituary, and in cemetery records, but her headstone has Mary Jones because few people knew she had previously married Mr. Jones.

Another problem is regularly changing the FAQs, but not letting people know they have been changed. Unless you use a site like Change Detection or search the FAQs daily, you won’t know when they change most of the time.

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List of Schools I Attended

For K – 12, the list is pretty easy. With respect to colleges and universities, it’s a bit more complicated.

KindergartenNone as I was born the wrong time of the year to qualify for Kindergarten.

First Grade – North Central Elementary School, 2001 Pass Road, Gulfport, Mississippi – I believe it closed around 1977 and at some point, it became the administrative offices of Gulfport School District https://www.gulfportschools.org/. I covered First Grade in a blog post on January 7, 2018.

Second Grade – Westward Elementary School (not to be confused with West Elementary School which was a later replacement for it), used to face Highway 90 west of 30th Avenue and east of 36th Avenue. I don’t know if the school survived Hurricane Camille, but it was torn down at some point and is now the site of a casino.

Summer School between Second and Third Grade – Twenty-Eighth Elementary School, Gulfport, Mississippi. Had to attend Summer School because I was having trouble pronouncing either the letter r or s and in Third Grade getting me a speech teacher to work on the other letter. The school appears to still exist according to the school district website.

Third Grade Nederland, Colorado. At the time, Nederland only had one school for all grades and it was at the top of the mountain with most residents living at the bottom or side of the mountain. It may be the same school as the current Nederland Elementary School, but I am not sure. http://nee.bvsd.org/Pages/default.aspx

Fourth through Sixth Grades – Northeast Elementary School, Gulfport, Mississippi. It was closed several decades ago and became the school district’s bus barn.

Seventh through Ninth Grades – West Junior High School, Gulfport, Mississippi. Another victim of school downsizing. It was closed shortly after I left Ninth Grade and was going to be sold to a local hospital. It was supposedly going to be turned into a parking lot for the hospital, but as far as I can tell, the buildings are still around.

Tenth Grade – Gulfport High School (this was the one near the main public library), Gulfport, Mississippi. During the downsizing, it became the new Junior High School when the two high schools merged, but appears to now be a federal building.

Eleventh and Twelfth Grades – Gulfport High School (the former Gulfport East High School), Gulfport, Mississippi, that was enlarged to take the extra students from the old Gulfport High School. This school was torn down a couple of years ago and replaced with new buildings.

Colleges and Universities – this is a bit more complicated as some semesters I attended multiple schools with varying semester lengths and in a couple of cases, I attended classes for a while, took a break, then went back to the same school. In other cases, I took non-credit or Ed2Go courses that don’t count for graduation purposes. Feel like I am missing a couple, but here’s the basics. I included degrees or closeness to degrees where appropriate.

Mississippi State University (MSU), Mississippi State, Mississippi – first college experience

Jefferson Davis Junior College/Community College (MGCCC or MGCCC/JD), online – Gulfport, Mississippi – no degree, but I would be close, depending on requirements since many schools require you take so many of your last courses at the school. In theory, I have more than enough credits to graduate, barring any requirement to the contrary. I checked J.D.’s website and it appears I need to earn 25% of the degree’s coursework at the school. I don’t see a requirement that it has to be the last 25% and considering I have more than enough hours to hit 100% taken at the school, minus any transfer hours that would be needed to meet the degree’s minimums, it should be okay.  It’s on my bucket list of degrees to complete.

Wichita State University (WSU), Wichita, Kansas – I have taken numerous courses over many years at WSU, including LEAP and CAP with some of the courses taking place on WSU’s main campus and others taking place off-campus – Senior Center among other places. Fairly low on my bucket list, but it’s there. I would need to take probably 20+ college hours at WSU to meet the school’s graduation requirement.

Butler Community College, online – Andover, Kansas – in the past, all I needed was a P.E. course and I took one at Cowley County Community College after being advised by Butler it was an acceptable substitution. Butler later changed their mind and I haven’t felt like continuing the fight or taking another P.E. course to finish. It is on my bucket list.

Barton County Community College, online, Kansas – depends on which adviser I go with. Some have said I have enough coursework and others have said I need to take certain courses. It’s on my bucket list as I am looking at an AGS in Military Studies.

Southwestern College – online – Wichita, Kansas – a combination of online courses and courses in Wichita. Degree: B.S., Not-for-Profit Management – believe I was the last person to receive this degree as I completed requirements two (2) years after they stopped offering the degree. However, because I took at least one course/year during the time after it was no longer offered, I was allowed to get the degree. On a funny note, my graduation program listed my degree as “No-for-Profit Management.” I took a few Master’s courses at Southwestern, but didn’t pursue it due to financial considerations.

Friends University – Wichita, Kansas – the first college I graduated from. It’s also the only school I have two (2) degrees from – B.S. and Master’s.

Cowley County Community College, online – Wichita, Kansas – took a few courses, but would need a fair amount to graduate if I wanted to pursue the option.

Neosho County Community College – online, Kansas – a few courses. It’s on my bucket list because my paternal grandfather was born in Neosho County.

Kansas City Community College – online, Kansas – not very many courses, but it had a course I wanted and the price was right.

Leadership Academy (University of Kansas), online – Wichita, Kansas – a non-credit three (3) semester series of courses.

Paul Smith’s College – ed2Go online, New York – ed2Go only coursework because the school does not offer online degrees. It’s pretty low on my bucket list as I would need to move to New York to finish a degree there.

Southeastern Community College – online and ed2Go, North Carolina – Volunteer Management coursework. It’s on my bucket list, but not very high on the list as I would probably need a lot of hours at the school to meet their requirement.

 

 

 

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Limited Post-1940 U.S. Census Access

I recently found out that in certain cases we can order federal census records for 1950 – 2010. First, you can only order these census records for yourself, as an heir, or legal representative. If the person is deceased, you need a certified copy of their death certificate and in the event you are part of an insurance policy, will, or estate, you would need a copy of those documents.

http://www.census.gov/history/www/faqs/genealogy_faqs/how_do_i_request_census_records_that_are_not_available_from_the_national_archives.html or

http://www.census.gov/genealogy/www/data/agesearch

You also need to know where they lived at the time of the census- as in a street address.

The cost starts at $65 for one person’s census record, but if you want some of the extras, it will cost more. For some years, you can order full schedule information for another $10. However, the full schedule information is ONLY for that person. If you have death certificates or include permission from the other people in the household, it’s another $10/person. Normal processing is 3 – 4 weeks, but $20 gets you 1 business day processing. They won’t send it expedited, but if you include a prepaid expedited mailing envelope, they will use it.

Here is a copy of the form BC-600,  but you can download or view it from the Census website at http://www.census.gov/genealogy/www/data/agesearch/BC-600.pdf .

The form can be filled out on your computer, but it cannot be saved with the information. Although a workaround would be if you have a PDF program that allows you edit it or if you use the Print as a PDF file option

Read the instructions, especially #6 before you fill out the form.

I have not tried ordering a copy of a post-1940 census yet. If you have or know someone who has, please let me know. It’s a nice option to have, but it can get expensive fast.

 

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Latest Find-A-Grave FAQs and How Fast It Disappeared

This change to Find-A-Grave’s FAQs showed up early briefly June 2017 on ChangeDetection.com (have to search for *Update or look for the highlighted text which is light yellow on my monitor), but is now gone. I use ChangeDetection to monitor changes to the FAQs since they change so often and it’s rare for admins or the site to let us know they have changed. Here’s the exact wording from the above link:
*Update: This type of content is still not allowed and should not be posted to memorial pages, However, staff is currently not removing obituaries, news articles and other document images. This content should not be reported for removal leading up to the launch of the new, updated website (coming soon). This type of content will possibly be moved to a separate tab found directly on memorial pages. Find A Grave staff will respond to document image removal requests from copyright holders only. See the Terms of Service for information on copyright.
Shame how often the FAQs get changed and how fast some of the changes disappear. If that’s not bad enough, sad how often the admins use admin discretion to decide if an edit, merge, or memorial deletion happens. There appear to be several categories of exceptions that have more to do with who is requesting the change, who manages the memorial, and their relationship with the site. For example, somebody with lots of memorials appear to be free of the limitations that apply to most memorial managers. Also, if you are a personal friend of an admin (as opposed to having an admin on your friend list), you appear to have more latitude on getting away with FAQ violations than if you are an average memorial manager.
For example, it used to be first memorial added was kept no matter what. However, at some point, it went to admin discretion and numerous memorials added later have been kept. A newer addition was first memorial in the correct cemetery, provided the original memorial has been up 30 days. This is more often the case in recent burials that are added as Burial Unknowns (BUs). A BU is a memorial where the final resting place isn’t known as opposed to a Cremation memorial where the final resting place is supposedly with family. The problem with a family member keeping the ashes is the fact that’s not a permanent resting place. At some point, the family member will die and the ashes will wind up somewhere, possibly in a cemetery in a best case scenario and don’t ask in a worst case scenario.
Sadly, I believe ChangeDetection is no longer available if you don’t already have a free account on it. It was replaced by another site that only allows a small number of notices before they block you for the remaining portion of your month if you don’t buy credits or a monthly plan. For now, I am still able to access the old Change Detection website, but no word on how long it will stay available.
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Several Nifty Find-A-Grave Tools

There are/were several nifty Find-A-Grave tools. Since the latest update not too long ago, some of the tools may disappear or become non-functional. For now, replace www. with old. in the URL if the tool doesn’t show up on the new site. Once they totally do away with the old site, there is no telling if they will keep the older tools.

The first one is the county cemetery map. http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/mapCems.cgi?countryer=4&stater=7&countyId=247&searchType=allCems This one is set for Boulder County, Colorado All Cemeteries, but you change the state and county to fit your needs; you can also change from all cemeteries to photo requests only or those with famous interments. The mapped cemeteries are those with GPS coordinates in the Find-A-Grave system. Unmapped cemeteries do not have GPS coordinates in Find-A-Grave’s system. Clicking on a Mapped Cemetery will highlight its icon in blue. You may have to zoom closer if there are cemeteries in a cluster. The advantage to the mapped cemeteries is the ability to find them on the map. There is a problem with some cemetery GPS coordinates. The problem is a result of faulty GPS coordinates – usually either bad GPS from old government data or the person entered them incorrectly, but other times the system is off by a bit. This choice is best for the cemeteries with GPS coodinates on Find-A-Grave and you are wanting to view a geographic map.

Accessed  from Find-A-Grave on 10 October 2014.

Accessed from Find-A-Grave on 10 October 2014.

 

In many ways, this is better than using the Cemetery Search option http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=csr&CScn=&CScntry=4&CSst=7&CScnty=247

Accessed  from Find-A-Grave on 10 October 2014.

Accessed from Find-A-Grave on 10 October 2014.

This choice is better if you want an alphabetical listing of cemeteries in a county.

The second tool is strictly for people looking for Canadian graves or cemeteries.

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/37259330/findagrave_canada_search_fix.html 

I found it on this blog: http://lisalouisecooke.com/2014/07/find-a-grave-canada-now-search-province

The third tool is not a tool so much as a website: http://institutionalcemeteries.org

Here is how the website describes itself on its About Us page:  http://institutionalcemeteries.org/about.html

InstitutionalCemeteries.org is an attempt to catalog all known cemeteries established for residents of asylums, poorhouses, poor farms, prisons, orphanages, and similar institutions – in other words, cemeteries for the unclaimed.

The fourth tool is this one: http://sents.net/fg/gps.php You need the cemetery ID number from Find-A-Grave. There is a major limitation on this tool. If the total number of memorials, unphotographed memorials, or photographed memorials is 10,000 or higher, you won’t be able to get the benefit in those section(s). If one or more of those sections has less than 10,000 memorials, you get the full benefit of this tool. It may seem simple, but it gives you all of the names on one page instead of the 40 names/page limit for the old site when searching Find-A-Grave.

Accessed  from http://sents.net/fg/gps on 10 October 2014.

Accessed from http://sents.net/fg/gps on 10 October 2014.

 

I chose a cemetery from the earlier Boulder County list. In this case, it shows all categories (No Photo, Has Photo, All Graves, and Photo Requests) are below 10,000 so you can click on any of them.

Here’s a partial screenshot of what you can see in a category. You get the person’s name, his/her birth and death information listed on the Find-A-Grave memorial, and a clickable link to the memorial.

Accessed  from http://sents.net/fg/gps on 10 October 2014.

Accessed from http://sents.net/fg/gps on 10 October 2014.

 

Another nifty tool was this one, Adding Sibling Links to Find-A-Grave. It no longer works on the new site if you try adding it that way. For now, if you add it to the old site, it appears to still work if you access it using the new site later. While it is less useful since Find-A-Grave added the ability to link siblings, it still has its advantages. In my case, I have many relatives where I do not know where the parents are buried. With the existing system, you can only link siblings by adding parents to their memorials. With her system, you can add them without needing to find out where the parents are buried. In some ways, it is easier to use the existing HTML coding in Find-A-Grave’s FAQs for linking memorials. Would be nice if Find-A-Grave went with how BillionGraves handles it. On BillionGraves, you can add, parent, child, sibling, grandparent for relationship, and it doesn’t matter if you don’t have the other people on BillionGraves to add the link. For example, I could add my maternal grandfather to his paternal grandparents without knowing where his father is buried. Which is good because I don’t know where or when his father died.

 

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Posted in BillionGraves, Cemetery, Find A Grave, Mental Health | Leave a comment

Cell Phone Savings Update

 

I will be doing several blog posts about cell phone service with a focus on those offering unusual ways to save money and/or get free or cheaper service. My initial focus will be on BoostMobile, CellNUVO, Tello, TracFone, and Twigby. You can find more information about these companies on their websites (insert website links here: ) or by checking out reviews on places like PrepaidNews or BestMVNO. I am not receiving any compensation for providing these reviews, and am doing them because I see the value in what these companies are doing.

For cell phone service, you need to look at several things.

1) What’s available in your area (specifically which cell phone companies provide reliable service in the areas you will be using the phone most of the time; by reliable service, I am referring to things like cell tower coverage, dead zones, etc.)
2) Your budget
3) Your needs (have to have) vs. your wants (want to have)
4) Will your existing phone work with the new company or will you have to get a replacement phone?

BYOD/BYOP (Bring Your Own Device/Phone, hereafter referred to as BYOD) – not all companies offer BYOD. After the rise of RingPlus and several other companies that allow BYOD, most companies now lock their phones if you buy a new one for a period of time which ranges from six months to a year or longer. You can buy unlocked phones (generally cost more, but you can use them with any company that has the same frequency range as the phone).

CellNUVO and Tello both offer

My BoostMobile basic bill is $35/billing cycle (30 days). I auto-pay which knocks $5 off the bill. Using what I am about to blog can shave another $20 off my monthly bill, bringing my monthly bill down to $10. BoostMobile also recently went with straight billing which means the taxes they were adding to my bill previously are now factored into the bill. Net effect was a drop of roughly 22% for the taxes. I am still paying the taxes, but BoostMobile opted to factor them into the bill instead of raising my rate. It’s a smart move as several cell phone companies do the same thing. My plan includes unlimited talk and text with 3 GB of LTE data. Once I use the 3 GB of LTE data, I drop to 3G speed (I think it’s 3G as it is much faster than the 2G I had with another carrier once I hit the cap) until the next billing cycle.

BoostMobile ups the game. While smaller MVNOs have offered ways to earn free or reduced service, BoostMobile is one of the largest to join the move. For example, if you install the Boost Dealz app, you can earn up to $20/billing cycle (they say month, but it’s actually a 30 day billing cycle which is becoming the norm for “monthly” cell phone billing). You need to earn 20,000 points (1,000 points is $1.00 credit and the system rounds to the nearest penny when you go to cash the points in as long as you have earned at least 3,000 credits – i.e., if I have 12,705 credits which is rounded to $12.71 credit if i were to cash it now) to get the full credit, and you need to earn at least 3,000 points to get any credit. Boost rolls over the points to the next month if you don’t hit 3,000 credits. However, if you view one of the ads that shows up when you are online (usually after either turning on your phone or waking it from sleep mode), that’s 15 points (I think that’s /day and not per ad, but I haven’t been tracking it to verify) and 20 days of doing this will get you 3,000 points; if you do nothing else, you have just saved $3 on that month’s bill. You do have to unlock the savings to get the credit, but that’s pretty easy to do.

You will need a cell phone that works with the app, but most newer smartphones should be fine. Boost did a major upgrade to the app recently and included a second survey category (only worth 295 point as compared to the 925 for the other survey section). There are two basic ways to earn points:

1) view ads – each of the ads are worth 15 points
2) do surveys – there are two types of surveys. The original surveys are worth 925 points (and 5 points if you don’t qualify for the survey) The newest survey category is only worth 295 points, but they are frequently. but not always, shorter in length than the 925 point surveys.

In my opinion, it is best to use all three options (viewing the ads and both survey types) to maximize your chances of getting the full $20 credit/billing cycle. When you have spare time during the day, click on the ads. The ads typically run around 30 seconds and you have to wait until the ad finishes to “X” out of it. The surveys generally run 15 – 30 minutes (ignore the estimated time listed on the survey page as it tends to underestimate the completion time). Some of the surveys have taken an hour, but most are in the 30 minute or under range. In my experience, about half are 30 – 40 minutes, most of the rest are 15 – 25 minutes with a handful being 45+ minutes. The ads go old fast as they tend to run the same ones on a regular basis, but I can live with seeing the same ads over and over.

As a word of caution, you will hit dry spells where you won’t have ads to view or surveys to complete. That’s why I recommend stocking on ad viewing and surveys when you have the time. In general, I usually have a couple of dry spells every day. Another word of caution: viewing the ads or taking the surveys will count against your data limit if you are using your data instead of Wi-Fi.

In addition to the above categories, they do offer a discount section for various things. I haven’t used it yet, but it gives various levels of possible savings on whatever they are highlighting for the month. This is probably similar to any of the various discount apps/add-ons you see out there.

Posted in Cell Phones, Boost Mobile | Leave a comment

MyHeritage DNA Ethnic Update and Chromosome Browser

As mentioned on MyHeritage’s blog https://blog.myheritage.com/2018/01/major-updates-and-improvements-to-myheritage-dna-matching/, here’s a brief blurb from the blog:

We’re excited to announce major updates and improvements to DNA Matching rolled out today for all our users. Anyone who took a MyHeritage DNA test, and anyone who uploaded DNA data from another service, will now receive more accurate DNA Matches; more plentiful matches (about 10x more); fewer false positives; more specific and more accurate relationship estimates; and indications on lower confidence DNA Matches to help focus research efforts. We also added the long-requested Chromosome Browser feature, described below.

MyHeritage recently hit 1 million people (1.075 million from the second paragraph in the above blog post) who have tested or transferred their results; this puts them third behind Ancestry (8+ million tested) and 23andMe (over 3 million tested) although FamilyTree DNA has probably processed over 2 million kits between the 550,000 Family Finder results, the 1 million from MyHeritage, and over 830,000 from Geno 2.0, and not counting the numerous Y-DNA, mtDNA, and other DNA tests FTDNA has run.. About 20% were free transfers and the rest were people who tested directly with a MyHeritage kit. The minimum shared cMs have dropped from 12 cMs to 8 cMs. MyHeritage is still accepting free transfers from other companies. They have a temporary hold on accepting 23andMe v5 chip uploads, but I expect this will eventually be resolved in the not too distant future. Considering that over 8 million people have tested with Ancestry and probably another 2 – 3 million between the other large DNA testing companies and we are looking at over 10 million, possibly 11 million unique testers. Of those, around 500,000 have uploaded to GEDmatch. Suppose if only half to a third of the Ancestry testers uploaded to MyHeritage. That could easily triple to quadruple the number of people in MyHeritage’s database. If you haven’t transferred to MyHeritage, now is a great time. For those sitting on the fence, there are some who have only tested at MyHeritage and who may not upload to GEDmatch. The only way you will find those matches is through either testing at MyHeritage (currently on sale for $69) or uploading your DNA results for free. It’s a win-win situation. I am in the process of trying to get some relatives to transfer to MyHeritage and hope they will do so in the near future.

MyHeritage uses FamilyTree DNA (FTDNA) to process their kits, a company that has lots of experience processing DNA kits. They used to process all Geno 2.0 kits for National Geographic (Nat Geo)  and they still process non-U.S. kits for Nat Geo.

In addition to the ethnicity and matching improvements, MyHeritage listened to numerous requests to add a Chromosome Browser. Of the major autosomal DNA test companies, Ancestry is the lone hold-out that hasn’t added a Chromosome Browser or similar comparison tool.

Here are the results of my 23andMe (v3 chip) transfer to MyHeritage DNA (still looking for my earlier ethnic results before the update:

Europe 100.0%
North and West  88.6%
North and West European 49.3%
English 27.5%
Irish, Scottish, and Welsh 11.8%
South Europe 6.1%
Iberian 6.1%
East Europe 5.3%
Balkan 5.3%
Total: 100.0%

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Posted in 23andMe, Ancestry.com, AncestryDNA, FTDNA, GEDmatch, Geno 2.0, Geno 2.0 Next, MyHeritage DNA | Leave a comment