• Technology
  • Jun25

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    While going through some of the Czech family records I found on Actapublica.eu today, I headed over to the Google Maps to look up a town name I hadn’t heard of before. I might be late for this party, but I found that they had added street view images for the Czech Republic!

    My grandfather Josef Vanac’s family lived in House #3 in the town of Zámlyní, and my grandmother Marie Simanek’s family lived in House #6 just down the road in the town of Předmíř. So armed with a fistful of family photos I started “walking” through the towns to see if I could find some of the locations.


    View Larger Map

    Even though I know the house number in Zámlyní and found the house easily, it looks like much of the home has been rebuilt. (A cousin told me last year that three was still a Vanac relative there until several years ago.)

    Simanek Family Home Photo, Predmir, Czech RepublicThe group of family photos I think are from Zámlyní just didn’t make an obvious match at first glance, although you can see a similar building style to most structures in the town. I’ll have to take another crack at it that town later.

    But, once I moved over to Předmíř with the photo at right, House #6 jumped right out!

    See the street view below for the location today…

    View Larger Map

    (Note: I tried to set up the current day street view above to the exact angle as the old photo, but you might notice that the view resets to a spot right in front of the house. You can drag the view and move it back to right for a better comparison.)

  • May10

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    Update: I have made some changes to the Import tool – you can download the latest version at the original link listed below. See more info at the bottom of the post.

    After creating and writing up my last post on the process to automate the download of 23andme Ancestry Finder data files for your matches, I could not resist working on a way to combine all of those data files into one.

    I figured Microsoft Excel was the best common denominator to use for this process – there are any number of tools I could use to combine the files and work with them at the command line, but that would limit the number of people who could use it.

    So, here’s the quick scoop: My Excel spreadsheet is designed for use with the .CSV data files you have already downloaded from 23andme’s Ancestry Finder. (Again, see my Ancestry Finder Download Tool post for more info on that process.)

    • It will import ALL .CSV data files in a selected folder
    • It will add a column with the name of the 23andme user the data file came from. (It uses the data file name for that, so don’t rename them after you download them!)

    Then it will make you a sandwich. A nice juicy data sandwich.

    Each data row will have the source person AND matching person’s name in it – otherwise you would have a list of a few hundred thousand matches without knowing whom they belonged to!

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  • May9

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    UPDATE (11 July 2013): It has been more than a year since I created this tool and process, and the 23andme site has gone through some extensive changes. I have not had time to test if the process in this post nor the spreadsheet is still working properly with any possible data format changes.

    Feel free to give it all a shot, but I recommend that you may first want to take a look at the DNAGedcom.com site, which has automated things in a much more user-friendly way!

    Ancestry Finder Drop DownIf you are a 23andme customer, you may have noticed that they updated their Ancestry Finder (AF) tool to make it possible to see the matches of the people with whom you share genomes. You can also download this data in comma-separated-variable (.csv) format.

    That. is. great. stuff.

    I’m sure that people will soon come up with interesting new ways to triangulate their genetic matches and learn more about their ancestry. But, there is one problem: If you are sharing your results with a few hundred people and want to get all of their AF data files, it takes a drop-down selection, wait a few seconds for AF to reload, then a button click and a Save File As click FOR EACH PERSON IN YOUR LIST.

    Holy carpal tunnel.

    I suppose 23andme might make it possible within their system to get them all at once which will make this all moot. But, I thought there must be a better way to get all of these data files and I found a slightly clunky, yet completely workable method.

    There may be more elegant ways to do this, but for now I created an Excel spreadsheet that will help you get you all the data with only a bit copying and pasting – along with some help from a Firefox add-on.

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  • May4

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    File Naming Convention - Files List

    Click image to see larger version

    Lately I began to wonder if other researchers are as naming-convention-specific as I have become when it comes to saving records. Are they? Are you?

    I do my best to keep a standard convention for the various files types, but usually I try to keep the info within it flowing from the most general to most specific within it.

    For example, this is all one filename for a 1901 Irish Census document:
    File Naming Convention - detail

    The idea is: FileType.Year.Country.County.Town.Subtown.Address.SURNAME Names.NOTES.jpg

    While it looks a bit of overkill, it comes in especially useful with images – I use Google Picasa to work with my image sets locally. I have more than 4,700 images in my document folders alone – and that doesn’t include the few thousand family photos I have scanned so far, nor my newer and natively digital photos.

    In a perfect world, I would have used tags to categorize all of the images so I could search for things that way. But, that didn’t happen back in the early days of my research. However, the good news is that as you search within Picasa, it uses various things to find what you want.

    That includes the file names, folder names in addition to tags. So, my crazy-long file-naming conventions not only make them easier to parse when looking through folders, but help me break them into sets when searching in Picasa. Two birds with one pixel. or something.

    As a bit of trivia, did you know there’s also another neat search feature in Picasa?
    It can search for colors!

    Picasa search - White legsI’m not talking about file or folder names here- I’m talking about color within the image itself. So, type ‘BLUE’ in the Picasa search box and get all of them sky photos. Type ‘GREEN’ and get grass photos.

    Funnily enough, in my photo sets, if you type ‘WHITE’… the first result is a photo of my legs.

  • Mar21

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    A quick post for today: During my research to create my Tierneys in NYC Directories map, I happened upon a nice reference over at The Google’s fusion tables – a map containing all of the available Google maps icons and their names…

    You can find it here, or see below for a quick peek.

    I’m also in the process of reading “Beginning Google Maps Mashups with Mapplets, KML, and GeoRSS: From Novice to Professional“, so far I’m liking the format and content. I’ll report back when I’ve had a chance to get all the way through.