• Projects
  • Apr8


    Note: See the Version Updates list at the bottom of this post for exciting new happenings, goings on, and, you know, stuff.

    Hello Pie Lovers!

    Back in the olden days of 2011 I created an Excel spreadsheet that took the world by… drizzle. But I thought it was cool. This update to my original Ancestry Pie Chart Creator lets you enter the names of you and your ancestors and the names of the countries they came from.

    Ancestry Pie 2 Generation SampleThen you could enter the percentage of each ancestry for your great-great-grandparents and Voila! .. some nice simple pie charts of your tree.

    You can see from the comments on that original blog post a few people used it, like CeCe Moore, which I thought was pretty neat.

    After I posted the first Excel sheet I made a few changes to streamline the look a little, then I let it go dormant. But, I always had a few things in it I didn’t like that were due either to limitations in Excel or to my available time to hack my way through them.

    When I saw J. Paul Hawthorne’s Excel sheet go pretty viral-y last month, I thought now might be a good time to spruce up the old Ancestry Pie recipe. The one thing I really disliked in Excel was the random color selection it chose when creating pie charts, and that you couldn’t use one chart to paint the rest the same colors. I often thought, “I want my Irish green and my Czech Blue, Dabnabit!” and I didn’t want to have to change the colors of 10 countries in 32 charts every time I ran the thing for a different person, with different countries, who wanted different colors.

    Well, with the latest version of Excel, you still can’t paint chart formats. But, I did figure out a way to automate matching the pie chart colors to the ones a user selects for each country. So, without further to do, I have uploaded this latest version of my Excel sheet – it can be downloaded here.

    I will warn folks right now – while I did include some summary info on how to use the sheet, and also included a more detailed “Help!” sheet within the Excel file, there may be a bit of a learning curve if you are not familiar with using Excel. Also, I had to use macros (*sharp intake of breath*) to automate the color painting etc.

    Because of this, when you open the file Excel might warn you that running macros from Internet downloaded files might be dangerous, scare off your kitty and cause premature hair loss. The macros I wrote are fairly benign, but if you are the cautious type, and you think my blog avatar looks slightly shifty, then this file may not be for you.

    I plan to make a video or longer blog post with details on how to use it. But, if you’d like to be the first kid on the block to have some of the newfangled Ancestry Pie (mmmm… pie) then please download it and give it a try. While I can’t promise to offer 24×7 support or any such thing, I welcome comments and suggestions here to help me make it a workable tool for genealogy peoples.

    Ancestry Pie: Part Deux
    Version Updates:

    30 NOV 2016
    * Added some conditional formatting on the chart pages so that a big yellow warning box will appear above the percentages table if you the ancestries you enter on the Ancestor Entry Sheet add up to more or less than 100%.

    26 APR 2016
    * Realized Last Modified Date macro was not being called properly. Fixed.
    * Simplified color scheme on Ancestor Entry Sheet slightly so that each Paternal/Maternal Ancestor section is Blue or Pink. I found it a little busy with the previously alternating colors for each person.

    11 APR 2016
    * Added Last Modified date at bottom of each sheet.
    * Found that the locked sheets were preventing people from changing the country cell colors – fixed.
    * Found that in some cases opening sheet with older versions of Excel (2007 at least), Excel will “forget” formulas that add the names to the pie chart sheets. If this occurs, Excel just keeps the last name that was in the sheet. This does not appear to be happening in later versions, and I will not be fighting this bug at this time.

  • Jul19

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    Back when my wife and I bought our new house, one of the first things that needed to be done was to raze the overgrown front yard that didn’t look like it had been touched since Nixon resigned. (I blame Nixon for all of my own failures to finish projects.)

    As I tangled with tons of ivy and yelled at yellowing yucca, I saw we had a bigger problem to deal with – the wood in our steps and a retaining wall was infested with termites. So, I ripped it all out immediately and began to devise a replacement.

    After some thought, I purchased several skids of Pennsylvania wall stone and other supplies, then spent several weeks building things back, all by hand. My technique was to lay out all the stone on the ground, then scan for the next “right” stone – and go until done.

    I found that within each skid of stone I had picked there happened to be some larger flat pieces – which led me to build the part I’m most proud of – the new steps.

    It was terrifically hard work at times, but I was gratified in the outcome. Until today I had completely attributed my apparent innate ability in this regard to my Czech grandfather, who was a stone mason. He worked in the cemeteries of Queens and also built a summer home and garage in upstate New York out of native stone.

    But, after seeing a photo today, I now think my stonework ability is more likely an inheritance shared by both my Czech and Irish sides. Behold a photo of stone steps on Skellig Michael alongside my own off the cuff handiwork…

    Skellig Steps Comparison

    By the way – no mortar was used in my steps or wall, only gravity.

  • Mar21

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    Update March 24, 2016: Looking for some icons 4 years later I realized The Google’s original icon map now displays only red circles. But I dug up a new version and update the links and embedded map below.

    I originally posted this quickie a few years ago, and have noticed that Google has added a few interesting symbols to their map marker collection.

    So, if you like to personalize your Google maps head on over just to the left of Equatorial Guinea (which is where The Google happened to put these markers) and take a look. You can click on any icon to get the marker name, some tips on how to use it and a Learn More link that provides some additional info on creating maps using Fusion Tables. There is even more additional added information a their Change placemark icon page.

    Also, for the record: there is one icon that looks like a skinny swastika – be aware that symbol has ancient origins that go far beyond its use and corruption by he who shall not be named.

    Below is my original post, kept intact for reference by future archaeologists:

    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.

  • Jul18


    Update: 11 APR 2016: I have updated this Excel file to fix some formula errors and automate the coloring of the pie charts. See more info in the More Ancestry Pie blog post!

    After seeing a post online recently about creating a pie chart for of one’s ancestry, I thought it might be fun to create a spreadsheet that could calculate someone’s ancestry percentages by country and create a set of pie charts that mimics a standard ancestor chart.

    I’ve created an Excel 2007 spreadsheet that does just that. It may still need some tweaking, but I like the cleaner look of my latest version better than the previous one. (I found that including names above all of the charts made it too congested and hard to read.)

    Ancestry Pie: Excel sheet capture
    All one has to to in this spreadsheet is enter a their family’s names, an applicable list of ancestral countries and then the ancestry percentages for each GG-Grandparent. (An example is at left.)

    After entering the GG-Grandparent’s ancestry, everyone else’s is calculated from those and a group of pie charts is created on a separate sheet.

    Ancestry Pie: Charts
    I welcome any ideas and suggestions for improvement – I can’t promise any support, especially if it is used with versions of Excel older than 2007, but I’ll do my best to take a look.

    Also included in the spreadsheet is a separate worksheet with additional notes and some slightly more detailed info on how to enter your data. (If anyone knows how to get Excel NOT to put data labels for 0.00% data without actually deleting the label, please tell me!)

    It can be downloaded from my Downloads page. Be sure to look for the latest info and updates on the post  More Ancestry Pie.

    Note: I updated the Excel spreadsheet on 11 Oct 2011 to with the following:

    • An additional country column for families with up to 10 different ancestral countries
    • Added a 3rd sheet that shows just the pie charts for Parents and Child, all with percentage labels
    • Cleaned up some more formatting
  • Jan3


    Probate court? We don’t need no stinking probate court!
    Well, actually we do. But these images found in our family albums are a good reminder that you need to go through everything well: My grandmother’s uncle wrote his last will and testament (a few times) on a pair of her photos.

    Being a wallet-carrying guy and spying the folds on the left photo, I’m going to guess he carried that one in his wallet. (Or maybe she did?) While they are simple in content, and my family already knew that Uncle James had left his houses to my Grandmother May, they would be even more helpful if we were unaware of that fact.

    Front of Images

    Front Images: James Farrell's will written on photograph of his niece May Egan (Tierney)

    Transcription of right image: To May Egan I will everything I owen (sic) at Death. James Farrell (Signed)

    Read on for the images and an additional use for them…
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