• Technology
  • Jan31

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    I have been toying with mapping some one-name study data sets I have been creating and would like to get a better feel for. This post is a simple quick test of using Google Fusion Tables to map out the McKinnon Births by Nova Scotia County as reported at the NovaScotiaGenealogy.com web site.

    So, below are the number of children born with a McKinnon parent for the years 1864-1877, 1908-1910 and delayed registrations 1830-1910. Note that I have found a few name typos in the database that need to be looked into further, and this does not yet cover the “MacKinnon” spelling of the surname. (A work in progress.)

    Since the Fusion Table map does not add a legend on its own and I have not had time to fiddle with the script to add it here, I’ve supplied a screen capture of the settings to provide a better reference for the icon colors.

    You can, of course, click on any icon in the map to see the county name and actual count of births.

    Legend - McKinnon Births in Nova Scotia by County

    My ultimate goal is to create an easy to use mapping system that will allow users to visualize the data by years, names and locations with simple clicks. When I get all of my trials and tribulations sorted out, I will post some how-to’s on my process to compile and present the data.

  • Nov15


    While watching today’s Ancestry.com webinar and seeing Crista Cowan‘s census table, I noodled around on the Google and created a quick version for download. Just enter names, birth and death years and it will calculate the persons age during each census from 1850 to 1940.

    Act now and it will also gray out cells for censuses in which the person was not around!

    Below is a static version – apparently you can embed Google spreadsheets, but they aren’t editable. Visit this link to use a live version of it.

    (Update December 16, 2014): I tried the cell protection in Google Sheets again after having trouble getting it working in previous years. Looks like it does work now – with lots of opening and closing of the sheet after making every sharing change, named range creation, and range protection change. I also had to sacrifice a chicken. So, only the GREEN cells are now editable in the sheet.

    I found someone had mistakenly overwritten the formula in at least one cell with a number, which I’ve fixed. This new cell protection should avoid that problem in the future.

    One thing to note: Google Sheets seems to show protected cells by default with a cross-hatch background that makes it hard to read the cell info. You can click on the View menu at the top of the sheet, then de-select the Protected Cells option to get rid of that cross-hatch. (The non-green cells will still be protected, of course.)

    (Don’t worry, I’ve got copies in case the sheet gets borked. And hey you – YES YOU, we all know you don’t have any Walter Melons in you tree so no funny names, Mister Smartypants.)

    You can also download a copy to use in your own Excel or Open Office software by clicking File… Download As… and saving it to your computer.

    Makes a great stocking stuffer!

  • Nov7

    1 Comment

    Ancestry Android App ScreenshotFor those that haven’t heard yet, Ancestry has released an Android app into the Beta-sphere. I’ve played around with it for a few days now, and it is absolutely a nice handy app to have.

    It is still in testing mode and their posting on the Android Market clearly says:

    This is a pre-release product intended for testing only. The ability to add and edit people, search for people in your tree, and more will be available in the final release.

    But, even with some quirks and functionality I think should be added, I am fairly sure that I will be using this app regularly in the future. For posterity, I am recording my first comments back to the Ancestry Beta contact, edited slightly for clarity and to use the screen captures: Read More | Comments

  • Nov1

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    And now for a third post in my trifecta of tools for information viewing and copying – the free HTTrack Website Copier allows you to download the entire Internet to your local drive.

    No, not really – but their web site does a nice job of explaining what it does:

    It allows you to download a World Wide Web site from the Internet to a local directory, building recursively all directories, getting HTML, images, and other files from the server to your computer. HTTrack arranges the original site’s relative link-structure.

    Simply open a page of the “mirrored” website in your browser, and you can browse the site from link to link, as if you were viewing it online. HTTrack can also update an existing mirrored site, and resume interrupted downloads. HTTrack is fully configurable, and has an integrated help system.

    Last year I was working my way through reading a fairly large set of local history interviews and photos from the town near where my grandmother was born. These interviews contained interesting stories and I believe more than a few clues to the relationships of various families in the area.

    Then, one day I noticed a new post on the home page of the website: due to lack of local interest, it was to be taken down within several weeks. To avoid losing access to this resource, I broke out my trusty HTTrack, pointed it at the web site in question, set a local directory on my PC to save it in and let it rip. Read More | Comments

  • Oct28

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    Readability Reader Guy In my previous post I wrote about the open source Greenshot screen capture tool. Here’s another quicker tip and tool to use –

    Have you ever read a site comprised of several columns, with unrelated ads embedded in the center of the article you are trying to read?

    Have you ever wanted to save an article for later, either by converting to PDF or just plain printing it – and all of the text and formatting gets discombobulated in the resulting output?

    Well then, Readability is for you! Their own web site describes it as follows:

    Readability is a web & mobile app that zaps online clutter and saves web articles in a comfortable reading view. No matter where you are or what device you use, your reading will be there.

    I have not used the features that allow things to be sent to alternate devices (like a Kindle), but I do use it regularly in my web browser to simplify articles for archiving.

    Times Example - Original PageTake a sample page from the Irish Times – while not a particularly bad offender in the world of confusing page layouts, there is a lot of “noise” on this page. If you’d like to copy the info in the article, more often than not you and your trusty mouse will be in a fight to the death to select the article headers and content. Read More | Comments