Memories – My First Pet

Memories – My First Pet – Ginger?
Me playing with Ginger
Christmas Morning c. 1958
I was recently asked about my first pet. I thought immediately about “Ginger,” a ginger colored cat we had back in the late 1950s. Not only did Ginger love to play, but she liked to “hang out.” She was a great cat. I knew that I had a couple photos of her so I decided to find them. When I found photos of Ginger I realized a previous blog I wrote was wrong. When I wrote about my first television a couple weeks ago I completely forgot about having a television while we lived in Fridley. There, in the background of me playing with Ginger, was a television. Oh my. 
Ginger “hanging out” in my
tent. c. 1960
I then thought about memories and how we often need triggers to recall them. Because of that photo with Ginger, I knew that we had a television years earlier than I had recalled before. I don’t recall watching it, but now I know we had one. That makes me wonder about what was my first pet. I know about and remember Ginger because I have photos of her and me together. I remember that Christmas and her being totally freaked out by the electric train set I received that year. However, I believe that I remember Ginger, that Christmas, and the train set because I have reinforced that memory through seeing these photos over the years. So, was Ginger really my first pet, or did I have pets before her that I don’t remember because we don’t have any photos? Certainly, it is possible.
Donna with “Wolf” & a cat, c. 1951
I have a photo of my grandmother with a dog, Wolf, and a cat. It is from about 1951. My grandmother lived with us then so we must have had pets then. I just don’t recall either of them. The photo makes me wonder just how long we had Wolf and that cat. Were they replaced when I was a child and I just don’t recall them because we don’t have any photos of them? Maybe, maybe not, I just don’t know because I don’t have the photos to trigger those memories.
I guess the take away from this is that there is a need to take photos of family members, particularly young ones, with their pets. Those photos may be the basis for warm memories for their entire lives. Memories like my playing with Ginger on Christmas morning or memories of Ginger hanging out in my tent.

Pets of my Family

Aunt Barbara says: I grew up in the Chicago Julia Lathrop housing project and pets weren’t allowed…ha..ha..ha..I had a pet it was a little turtle I called him Turtle. He would get loose every so often and be gone for days

My niece Kerresa: Oh so many pets I guess the first pet of mine would be Dee Dee the extra furry pony when I was around five. I don’t remember how it got named Dee Dee maybe because she/he walked soooo slow. But my mom and aunt have always been into horses so naturally I loved it.

My sister-in-law Libby: Growing up we had a family cat named Meow Pinkel Purr. [The name] came from a book of poems [which included “Pinkle Purr” by A. A. Milne.] The first line was, “Tattoo was the mother of Pinkel Purr.”

My sister-in-law Liz: The family has always had either a couple of cats or a dog. Sunbug and George were the cats I grew up with and Tesha was our dog, My own cat wasn’t until I got Casey for Christmas when I was living in the Brookside building in the 90s. That cat went everywhere around the old Down East building with me.

My great niece Maggie: The first pet that I remember was a cockatiel named Amadeus. I was 6 or 7, I think (maybe [Libby] can confirm that), living in Indiana. I chose that name because I had recently seen the movie.

Future Actions 
Take lots of photos of family members interacting with their pets and print those photos for permanent use.

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Family Tree Maker for Mac Replacement Search – Part 2

My Search for a Family Tree Maker for Mac Replacement.

Part 2

I decided to go back to looking at Mac specific products. The difficulties of working with C: and F: drives and lack of adequately accessing my file system was too frustrating.


I blogged about Heredis in 2012 (See: Heredis 2.1.0 (Mac Version))
and again last June (Heredis 2015).
What I didn’t mention on my blog was that I only used it for three of the dozen or so family trees I manage. I liked a lot about it but the surname issue I mentioned before and the cumbersome process of associating my source and citations to a fact, event, or location that I couldn’t seem to overcome caused me to continue working with Family Tree Maker for Mac 3 with my larger trees and not convert them to Heredis. I tried working with it again in earnest and decided I might use it, but I thought there must be something I like better.


Gramps is an open source program for managing genealogical data. There were quite a few things about it that I liked. (No cost is good.) I liked how you could focus upon an individual and not be burdened by family unit information. The way you could enter relationships that didn’t include marriage yet did include children was nice. However, the proof of the pudding was how it handled entering source/citation/textual data then associating it to multiple facts involving multiple individuals. Again, I found it cumbersome. I only gave it a few hours and I think I might have figured out better processes to handle it, but I decided to continue and research some other products.

Mac Family Tree

I had version 5.5.5 several years ago and see that they have updated it several times since. The latest is Mac Family Tree 7. I downloaded their demo version, 7.6.2. It is supposedly the same as their paid version except you can’t import, can’t save, and can’t print. So, I began putting a tree together using my process for documenting a source and then associating it was individuals and their facts and/or events. Not bad — certainly better than Gramps and Heredis and much simpler than RootsMagic. I decided that it was definitely a contender, but I wanted to continue.


One of the many websites I looked indicated that they thought Reunion was the best. I had Reunion 9 a number of years ago and liked it. I used it until I went to Family Tree Maker for Mac (FTM4M) because I wanted the replication to Ancestry Trees that FTM4M allowed. Their new version, Reunion 11, has a free evaluation version that allows for 50 people, no import or export, watermarked reports and some other limited features. Luckily, it allowed enough functionality for me to test my work processes. Wow – I was impressed.

I really loved how you can put almost anything you want on the left side of the screen, including sources. Then you can enter your facts, events, or notes and drag and drop the appropriate source citation to the fact. It was a really a smooth process.

Reunion, like many other systems, doesn’t deal well with multiple names. For example, my grandfather was born Clifford Durwood Brown. He went by Richard Durand for many years (married and had two children) and then changed his name to Richard Earl Brown. RootsMagic handles that really well. Most other genealogy programs don’t. Many require you to pick one name as the individual’s name then make aliases for the other names. Reunion has a few suggestions. In the case of my grandfather, I could use Richard Earl Brown because that was his name at his death. I could also use Richard Durand because that is the surname that most of his children were raised with the Durand surname. In either case, Clifford Brown would be an alias or “AKA.” It just doesn’t seem right to me to make someone’s birth name an alias. They mention the problems with that as the alias names don’t show up in the indexes reports.
They also suggest using brackets to for the alias names. For example, my grandfather would be: [Clifford Durwood] Richard Earl for his first and middle name and [Durand] Brown for his surname. It just seems cumbersome confusing. I wish they did what Roots Magic does where both names are entered and are visible in the indexes with the aliases identified by a prefix of “+.”
I wish that Roots Magic, or Legacy Family Tree for that matter, made an actual Mac product. Until they do, I’m going to use Reunion and hope they can improve their multiple name handling issues cause the rest of Reunion seems to be just what I’m looking for.
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My Search for a Family Tree Maker Replacement – Part 1

My Search for a Family Tree Maker for Mac 3 Replacement

Part 1 of 2

Legacy Family Tree

I have long recommended Legacy Family Tree to my friends that have Windows. Their product only operates in a Windows environment. On a Mac that means you need to run Parallels, CrossOver, VMWare, or something similar that allows you to run Windows programs on a Mac. I used VMWare for a year or two when I switched to Mac. It allowed me to run all of my legacy Windows programs on my new Mac while I converted to using Mac programs. That way I didn’t have to replace all of my software all at once. I upgraded my Mac to a newer OS (operating system) a couple years later and found that my version of VMWare didn’t run on that updated OS. I had to do a paid upgrade of VMWare to continue using it or drop it. I only had one Windows based program remaining and buying a new Mac version of that program was less expensive than upgrading VMWare. If you have a Mac, have a Windows running program, and are used to Windows programs, I still recommend Legacy Family Tree as a solid solution to your Family Tree Maker for Mac dilemma.

Roots Magic 7

The president of my local chapter of the Maine Genealogical Society posted a sales notice regarding Roots Magic. I have long heard good things about Roots Magic. I went to their site and saw it was on sale for $20 instead of the regular $44.90 price – A sale too good to pass up. They also indicated they have a new Mac Version. I’m not big on “free” versions of software, so I bought the full version, installed it, and ran it. I quickly found out it isn’t an actual Mac version; rather it uses CrossOver as a Windows environment emulator. As such, it works like Windows software and not like Mac software.
I opened one of my smaller trees in Family Tree Maker for Mac and exported to a GED file. I then imported it into RootsMagic 7. Then I walked through each of the menu options and looked at what my options were. Some of the options I really liked, such as identifying the married name for a woman. Some of the options I didn’t understand, such as “general source, an individual source, and a family source. Some of my work didn’t import as I expected, for example my “to do” tasks, but I expected that. Those minor shortages were overcome by the some of the really cool features, such as generating the files for a website and creating a shareable CD.
As I expected much of my data was all over the place. I had descriptions in locations and many other problems. All in all, it will take a long time for me to clean up all of my files, sources, places, and individuals — A very long time.

I was looking at the Media gallery and under tools, found “fix broken media links.” I found the disconcerting Windows type of file system. The prompt didn’t allow me to select any directories so search so I had to search an entire drive.  Not cool. I let it run for several hours and it seemed to have locked up. I gave up and hit cancel. It did give me the option to import what it had found thus far. Therefore, I was able to import 80 of the 133 media items that I had in Family Tree Maker for Mac. That said, I’m not positive if the 53 missing items were because of RootsMagic or because my Family Tree Maker file had already started corrupting – Probably the latter.
I adjusted the fonts and other settings to make it better for me and used it for a couple days. Roots Magic is a complicated program and I just couldn’t get the hang of it. There were times I felt like the tail was wagging the dog. That is to say, it seemed that the software was driving what I needed to do rather than my workflow being able to be documented easily by the software. Using Roots Magic really helped me understand how I like to work.
Painting by Henry Thomas Alken
[Public domain]
As I mentioned in a previous blog posting (Jump Hunting and the Maine Register), it is like jump-hunting ducks. I decide where I’m going to go hunting, go there, and “bag” the available information. Then I clean it, cook it and eat it – analyze the information, extract the information, and incorporate it into my family history. I don’t like to eat things I don’t know where they came from. Likewise, I try to have every fact, event, and story in my family history clearly documented as to the source.
The bottom line is that after a couple days of working with Roots Magic 7, I just could not learn to love it. I can definitely see why many others use it, but I just couldn’t fit my jump shooting stratagy into it’s use. Between the complexity of the software and the Windows interface, I decided to abandon my Roots Magic test and begin my search for a Family Tree Maker for Mac replacement once again.

To be continued….

[By the way, if you are interested in converting from Family Tree Maker to Roots Magic 7 , now is the time to do it with their special FTM to RM offer of only $20.]

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My Response to Ancestry’s “Business” Decisions

I have never done a rant before, but I think it is finally time…. 


Angry Face Gnome IconI used to really like Ancestry. They were my go-to company for everything genealogical. However, over the past couple years, they have really let me down.
First, I did my Y-DNA testing through Ancestry. Ancestry quit doing Y-DNA; so whatever matches I had when they quit is all that I will ever have from them. I had to transfer my results to FamilyTree DNA and pay them their fee. I really feel that the money I spent on Ancestry’s Y-DNA test was wasted because they canceled the program about a year after I tested with them.
Next, I decided to go “all-in” with Family Tree Maker for Mac. I had used Family Tree Maker long ago. I tried Mac Family Tree, Reunion, and Heredis but found that Family Tree Maker was better for my needs.  So I bought it, upgraded it, and learned the nuances of its use. Then I started having more and more problems with the synchronization between my database and what was at Ancestry. Whenever the two (my local and the Ancestry) trees got out of sync and corrupt, the answer Ancestry support had was to accept what I had on Ancestry and replicate it back down to my local machine. Of course, that would break any private information I had or any media that I hadn’t uploaded to Ancestry. I have a lot of private sources, mostly correspondence or interviews with living individual where personally identifiable information is included in the original text or recording.
I decided to continue with Family Tree Maker for Mac but stop any synchronization with Ancestry. My trees seemed to remain stable and I figured I could upload what I had once or twice a year and keep the public parts of my work fully shared. Sound like a great idea except we know it won’t work after next December when Ancestry quits all support for Family Tree Maker.
Ancestry’s decision to eliminate Family Tree Maker is more than just a nuisance. What it did was eliminate any trust I had and crushed my respect for the company. I now truly believe Ancestry does not care about their customers and will not support them in the long run. What they seem to care about is maximizing their profits. It appears that lower profit product lines and legacy products just aren’t worth supporting.
The bottom line is I do not trust Ancestry any longer. When the bubble bursts on atDNA and something newer and better is in the market, I’m sure that Ancestry will drop atDNA support too — It seems to be their way.
Photo of "Angry Mob"What can I do? First, I’ll quit using Family Tree Maker for the Mac. I know they will support it for another year; however, I will not. I will quit recommending Ancestry for atDNA, mostly because I can’t trust they will keep with the program. Finally, over the next few weeks, I plan to review alternatives to Family Tree Maker for Mac 3. Once I find a desirable solution I will begin the tedious process of exporting my trees from Family Tree Maker for Mac 3 to GED files then importing them into whatever software I decide on using. It is a lot of tedious work to restart a tree and fixing anything that broke during a migration from a GED file, but it is clear that Ancestry doesn’t care about that. You know what? I don’t care about them either.  
I know that for Ancestry it is “only business,” but because of their attitude I’m weaning myself off Ancestry products, ‘cause you know, it is “only consumption.”


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Backup Software for the Museum

Backup Software for the Museum

I was recently talking with some folks at the Scarborough Museum regarding disaster contingency planning. With my computer background, I quickly thought about backups and off-site storage of important computer files.

Time Machine logo with space background By FHKE - ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0) - via have a Mac, so for my personal use I have Time Machine for my local backups. It is awesome and easy to use. It allows me to go back to the version of a file I had on just about any date.  It was great when I had to replace a disk drive. However, in the event of a major disaster, I know I need a good off-site backup solution.  I use CrashPlan for that and love it. But, I didn’t know if it would be really good for the Museum, they use various Windows based systems. I also wondered about costs for them. 

I thought about their requirements.  They have a multi-terabyte disk drive they use for local backups.  That gives them a good system to restore the occasionally damaged or corrupted file from a backup on site. To accommodate their backups, off-site storage needs to be large, very large. Photos scanned at 600dpi and saved in TIFF format make for large files. A recent scan project that another person was doing resulted in hundreds of files all nearly a gigabyte each. So, off-site storage needs to accommodate that. Because of the local storage, they will seldom, and hopefully never, need files recovered from off-site. If they do, recovery can be slow, so restoration speed isn’t paramount. I can’t imagine the Museum needing to backup Android or IOS devices anytime in the near future so those capabilities are nonexistent. Another important aspect of their requirements is how they use their systems. Generally, they are used for a short time, when the volunteers are there. Real-time backups to the cloud aren’t critical as long as backups to the cloud can occur before another individual uses the computer on another day. Another critical requirement is that the software should be easy to use. It should be set and forget. Finally, the off-site storage should be inexpensive; the museum has a limited technology budget. That said, I know you get what you pay for and free or super inexpensive software typically doesn’t have adequate feature.
After considering basic requirements, I began an internet search.

My first stop was PC Magazine’s site and a review of The Best Online Backup Services for 2015.

They listed three as their “Editor’s Choice” services: iDrive, Crash Plan, and SOS Online Backup.
IDrive has a 1TB storage limit, which disqualified it as an option in my mind. Because I dropped iDrive my contention, I added their next choice, Carbonite to my list for consideration.
Next stop, About.Com’s site and 34 Online Backup Services Reviewed. Their top choice was BackBlaze followed by Crash Plan, Carbonite, and SOS Online Backup.  Back on the PC Magazine site, BackBlaze was number six on their list, so I felt it should be a top contender.
That gave me four off-site backup storage services to consider.

Crash Plan
90 Days
Business Cost
CrashPlan Pro for businesses. $9.99/month
Business version $15.99/month 
BackBlaze for Business $50.00/computer/year

Cost: Not enough difference to matter. Although some have free versions, their features are scaled back enough that none of their free versions should be considered.
Storage: All are unlimited.
Copies: Carbonite only keeps 12 versions of a file. This isn’t really an issue for documents and images, however, can be a killer for databases that change daily. The other three services keep unlimited copies of files.
Retention: Carbonite has a retention period of 90 days. If you delete a file, you need to restore it within 90 days. If you don’t, it is gone. I can visualize a situation where a file is deleted and no one notices for months and then the file can’t be restored. Because of that, I thought their retention policy is inadequate for the museum, so I dropped Carbonite from further consideration; however, I believe it is still an excellent choice for personal use.
External/USB Drives: The three remaining products all backup External and/or USB Drives.
Business Costs: Most reviews and pricing notes relate to individual licenses for software. In the case of the museum, a business license(s) would be necessary. I was taken aback by the additional costs for the business use. I contacted the three remaining products via email for cost information for the Museum’s environment.

CrashPlan replied with a form email. We would need CrashPlan Pro for $9.99 per month ($119.88/year). 

SOS Online Backup impressed me with their response.  They sent an email indicating that someone would call. An individual did call and provided pricing for our environment. He told me that as a non-profit we would receive their best possible pricing. A computer plus an external drive would require two licenses which would run $15.99/month ($191.88/year). To backup all five computers at the museum, the license would run $34.99/month ($419.88). I really appreciated the call. Again, I think it is an excellent choice for personal use, but not the best pricing model for the Museum.

BackBlaze and BackBlaze for Business are the same price and have the same features. $50.00/year ($4.16/month). Clearly the most cost effective choice.
BackBlaze Online Backup Logo

For the Museum, I recommend BackBlaze Online Backup for Business as the archive and backup off-site as their solution. See: BackBlaze Online Backup for Business for more information.