Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Lessons Learned: Review Your Files; Think Twice as You are Cleaning; Don't Give Up

Tuesday's Tip
Spotted this little piece this morning at the UpFront with NGS website about a couple of found documents.

Lessons to be learned from these two articles mentioned: 

  • Review Your Files ... so you remember what you know and perhaps misplaced
  • Think Twice as You are Cleaning ... so that you don't accidentally throw something out. Take breaks and don't get overly tired because that is when things tend to tossed rather than reviewed before tossing.
  • Don't Give Up ... that document you seek might turn up yet even after a few hundred years.

Have a good and safe New Year!

See you soon at Mt. Clemens Public Library!

Monday, December 28, 2015

Just a Few More Days ... and then Family Tree Maker 2014 Program Sales End

As you have probably heard, Ancestry.com is discontinuing sales of its Family Tree Maker 2014 program on December 31, 2014. Just three days from now. But just to clarify, the website Ancestry.com is not being discontinued just the Family Tree Maker genealogy program that is installed on a computer.

Users of Family Tree Maker (FTM) can continue to use the program. But certain features like Search Merge (adding records/sources from the Ancestry website) and Tree Sync (linking a tree in your FTM program to an online tree at the Ancestry website) will only be supported until January 1, 2017. After that date, those features may not be maintained. The FTM program will still run after January 1, 2017, but there is the chance/likelihood that a future operating system update might render the program inoperable.

Hopefully by now you have figured out if you need to purchase the Family Tree Maker 2014 program download before sales end on December 31, 2014. If you are wondering why you might need to buy FTM before sales end, see our A Genealogy Decision - Post 1. By the way, you need at least Windows 7 operating system to run FTM 2014.

Now for those that purchased Family Tree Maker 2014 when it was first released or at any point between then and now, first you need to make sure you know where your program CD is located just in case you have a computer problem or change to a different computer. (If you purchased a download version of the program, make sure you have a copy of that downloaded installation file stored on a CD or USB drive or external hard drive and not just on your computer's hard drive. Again, this is in case you need to re-install the program because of a computer problem or you get a new/different computer.)

Second, in addition to your program CD or downloaded installation file, most everyone will also need to download and keep in a safe place (along with the program CD/file), the manual update patch for FTM 2014. (This is the patch for the PC version of FTM 2014; there may be something similar for FTM for Mac.) This patch includes all of the "updates" that have happened to FTM 2014 since it was first released. Normally, when you install FTM 2014 you are notified that updates must be installed and these are done automatically after the program is installed. In some cases this auto install of updates fails so this manual update patch was created. It is a good idea to download this patch and keep it with your program CD or on the same device (USB drive/external drive/CD) as your downloaded install file. This way you have the patch that you need just in case the embedded auto install links fail to work in the future. You can find the manual patch file to download at Answer ID 5588 in the Support Center at the Ancestry.com website. (You might also want to print this Answer ID or make it into a PDF and store this with the program CD/file and update patch so you have the how-to steps in the future.)

Another informative Answer ID in the Ancestry.com Support Center is ID 9048 which is a listing of the Family Tree Maker 2014 Patch Notes from December 3, 2015 (SP7) back to November 24, 2014 (SP4) which tells you the adds/enhancements/improvements/fixes made with each update/patch.

As we mentioned in our A Genealogy Decision post 1, even if you continue to use Family Tree Maker 2014 for some time eventually you will likely need to find another genealogy program. With our A Genealogy Decision - Post 2 we covered the current holiday/retirement sales going on for some other genealogy programs. In our A Genealogy Decision - Post 3 we provided some general information and links to these other genealogy programs.

For additional information, you can also check out the following.

The Family Tree Maker Message Board at Ancestry.com
The message boards are part of the free area of Ancestry.com. (These also happen to be the same message boards at RootsWeb.ancestry.com too.) Under the Genealogy Software category there is the Family Tree Maker software message board. Here you will find a variety of posts related to FTM posted by users and often answered by users and sometimes Ancestry staff. These most often contain very useful information and tips. That's how we learned about the manual patch file we talked about above. Check out the running posts on What GEDCOM -Export Issues Do You have? and FTM2012 Users BEFORE FTM2012 Must Upgrade ASAP to FTM2014. Don't panic over the title of the second running post. The various messages in that running post gives some good information and tips with regards to media files in FTM files and how it is handled. There is also a board for Family Tree Maker software (MAC) too. Remember, Message Boards are different than the Support Center. With Message Boards you are mostly communicating with other users like you, with the Support Center you mostly are dealing with Ancestry staff.

Elsewhere out in the internet, there are various bloggers providing some good information and in some cases examples of what they are finding when trying to export their FTM files to another program. Here are a couple of those.

At GenealogyTools.com, Keith is doing a series of posts regarding preparing your Family Tree Maker files for moving to another genealogy program. The part 1 post warns that a GEDCOM export/import does not always go smoothly and then talks about the various GEDCOM tags and the use of a GEDCOM editor program.  The part two post talks about how to get your tree out of Family Tree Maker. Additional parts of the series are listed at the bottom of part two and each talks about importing your tree into a specific genealogy program. So far there are 13 parts to The Replacing Family Tree Maker series planned but not all of these posts have been written yet! So check back for progress on the series.

At Family Tree Maker User blog, "cousin Russ" (he is Dear Myrtle's cousin not mine) still plans to use Family Tree Maker but he's keeping his eye on the other programs and issues with moving. The questions and issues talked about so far have been helpful.

There are additional blogs listed at the end of our A Genealogy Decision - Post 3.

See you soon at Mt. Clemens Public Library!

Friday, December 18, 2015

Webinars, Webinars ... Learning Opportunities in 2016 are Plentiful!

For 2016 there are genealogy/history learning opportunities just about everywhere you look. This is the time of year when genealogy/history webinar hosts announce their schedules for the coming year.

Some webinars are for a fee but many of them are free. If you really like the webinars of a particular host or want to see an older, archived webinar the cost of membership is not very high for many of these webinar hosts.

Legacy Family Tree Webinars

Legacy Family Tree Webinars has released its 2016 webinar schedule. Several months ago the company redesigned its website. (It looks/acts more like a tablet/smartphone app now.) Unfortunately, there is no longer a way to see all the upcoming webinars in one convenient list. You can only view them by month and must click on each webinar image to learn more and to register. Also gone is registering for multiple webinars at one time.

Legacy Family Tree webinars are mostly held at 2 p.m. on Wednesdays though there are a few Friday afternoon and Wednesday evening webinars. They are free to view live and for almost a week afterwards at which time they become accessible to webinar subscribers only. There are well over 100 webinars archived for members to view. (Some archived webinars remain free for all to view.) Handouts are available only to webinar subscribers/members. Legacy webinar membership is currently $9.95/month or $49.95/year. (Note: If you view a webinar, there is often a discount code word which will get you 10 percent off items from the store, including webinar memberships.) Webinar members get an additional 5 percent off when signed-in.

Southern California Genealogical Society

The Southern California Genealogical Society (SCGS) has released its 2016 webinar schedule. The webinars, held the first Saturday and third Monday of the month, are free to live viewers and handouts are included. After the live webinar, only SCGS members can view the archived webinars. SCGS membership is $35/year and includes other benefits.

Illinois State Genealogical Society

The Illinois State Genealogical Society has released its 2016 webinar schedule.  The webinars are held the second Tuesday of the month at 9 p.m. ET and are free to live viewers and handouts are included. After the live webinar, only ISGS members can view the archived webinars. ISGS membership is $35/year.

Wisconsin State Genealogical Society

The Wisconsin State Genealogical Society will be releasing its 2016 webinar schedule soon. The webinars are held the third Tuesday of the month at 8 p.m. ET and are free to live viewers and handouts are included. After the live webinar, only WSGS members can view the archived webinars. WSGS membership is $35/year.

Minnesota Genealogical Society

The Minnesota Genealogical Society also hosts webinars. The society lists its webinars on its Events page. The 2016 schedule has not been announced yet. The webinars are usually held on the first Wednesday of the month at 8 p.m. ET and are free to live viewers and handouts are included. After the live webinar, only MGS members can view the archived webinars. MGS membership is $35/year.

Florida State Genealogical Society

The Florida State Genealogical Society also hosts webinars. The society announces its webinars on its upcoming webinars page. So far only one webinar in the society's 2016 schedule has been announced so check back for more. The webinars are held the third Thursday of the month at 8 p.m. ET and are free to live viewers. Handouts are usually for members only. After the live webinar, only FSGS members can view the archived webinars. FSGS membership is $25/year.


Last year, the Family History Library (FHL) in Salt Lake City, Utah, began broadcasting the genealogy classes held in the library. Information about these free webinars are located at the FHL's page on FamilySearch. Only classes through January 2016 have been listed so check back often. Sometimes additional webinars are added to the current month. Most of these webinars include handouts. Previously recorded webinars are listed under Past Webinars. You may find some archived in the FamilySearch Learning Center.

The societies and company listed above are not the only online webinar opportunities out there.

GeneaWebinars is a blog that hosts a calendar specializing in keeping track of the numerous genealogy webinars being held. About 35 organizers/hosts list their webinars in the calendar. Organizers/Hosts use a variety of webinar delivery systems from GoToWebinar to Google Hangouts to Twitter. Most entries have links taking you to the registration page for that webinar or the website of the host.

So if you want to learn something new or review a specific topic, there is likely a webinar out there for you. But you might have to find some patience if the webinar is not scheduled until later in the year.

Have fun learning.

See you soon at the Mt. Clemens Public Library!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

MCGG Meeting Topics Revealed for 2016

Hi Everyone!
We have released MCGG's 2016 meeting schedules for our MCGG Friday Group and our Let's Talk...Genealogy discussion group on Wednesday.

The meeting dates and topics can be found on the respective pages of this blog site or in our Southeast Michigan Genealogy Events calendar on the Calendar page.
On both the MCGG Friday Meetings and Let's Talk Meetings pages, you will now find the PDF file of our current meetings flyer which can be viewed and downloaded. (Please note the image of the flyer in this post is just a low-res image. To see/download the flyer PDF you need to go to either of the meeting pages.)
We hope you enjoy the coming genealogy season.
See You Soon at the Mt Clemens Public Library!  

Monday, December 14, 2015

A Genealogy Decision - Post 3 ... Alternative Genealogy Database Software

Note: This article was originally posted at 11:35 a.m. ET on December 14, 2015.

Our "A Genealogy Decision - Post 2 ... Current Sales on Alternative Genealogy Software" summarized the various sales currently going on this month. With this post we will continue our decision by providing an overview and links to some of the alternatives to make further investigation of your options easier.

In our A Genealogy Decision - Post 2, we started out by learning what alternative genealogy software is out there; how these software programs have been rated; and making a list of which ones looked interesting to you. We paused to learn what is currently on sale and now it is time to investigate some of these programs further.

But before you jump into researching each software program, think about what your Must-Haves are in a genealogy program and make a list of them -- a Must-Have List. Then use your Must-Have List as you are investigating and comparing the various alternatives and wading through feature after feature to determine which genealogy software program has what you seek.

What features do you like in Family Tree Maker that you really want to see in your next program. (Aside from being able to search/merge Ancestry.com from within the program.) Or what feature is not in Family Tree Maker that you really wished had been there. Maybe it's a powerful sourcing and citation feature; maybe it's a particular type of report or chart or how you can customize them;, maybe it's how the interface works; maybe it is something else.

Remember your Must-Have List will likely be different than the next person's Must-Have List. And your Must-Have List might even change a little as you are doing your comparisons.

Here's one example of how one blogger did a comparison of three programs using her Must-Have features from one of them. The review is a couple years old but it still works as an example.

To investigate the alternative genealogy software that made your list, it helps that almost all genealogy software have a website devoted to providing information about the program, sales and customer service. Take a look at these to see the various features of the program, and screen captures of the program's interface and how it works. Does it make sense with how you work and your needs?

Some companies have video tours for a more interactive feel of the program. Look for these on the website and look to see if the genealogy software company has a YouTube channel with overview, feature and how-to videos. Watch them to learn more about each software program. Also, see if the company has a FaceBook page for its software and take a look at it's customer interactions. Does the company seem supportive and responsive? Do customers seem happy or upset? 

The impressions you get will likely weigh into your decision.

Taking it a step further some genealogy database software have free versions. These free versions allow you to really investigate to see if you like the way that program works for you. We strongly suggest "test driving" a program if possible. We know installing new software can be a little scary sometimes for some people. But being able to "test drive" the program can be very helpful. Be aware that sometimes free versions have set limitations like how many individuals can be entered or printing/saving is disabled. But sometimes the free version has no limitations because the pay version provides even more features for the user. Don't be afraid to try a program out to see if its interface and how it operates works for you.

Here are some of the alternatives out there. We've provided an overview of sorts along with links.

Legacy Family Tree
Legacy Family Tree 8.0
Legacy Family Tree 8.0 is the product of Millennia company, which also produces the Legacy Family Webinars. Legacy is a PC only program that comes in a free Standard version and a pay Deluxe version.

The Standard version is a full-feature program that has no limitations on how many individuals can be entered. Purchasing the Deluxe version unlocks almost one hundred advanced features, like mapping, a Source Writer, interview reports, and powerful search capabilities for within your tree file. See the Holiday Sale pricing mentioned in our Post 2.

There is a features overview and both a webpage tour (click on any screen image to enlarge it) and a video tour of the program. Also, at Legacy Family Webinars there are additional free videos on various Legacy features.

Legacy has put together a How to Import from Family Tree Maker page which includes a video. There is also a comparison guide to other programs but it is a little out of date because the comparison is to older versions of its competitors rather than up-to-date versions.

Reviews of the program can be found at Family Tree Magazine, Budding Genealogist, Dick Eastman's blog, The Legal Genealogist, and elsewhere.

RootsMagic 7
RootsMagic is another alternative genealogy database program company that has both a free version, RootsMagic Essentials, and a pay version, RootsMagic 7, of its product. The company also has a Mac version of the RootsMagic 7 software.

According to its blog, the company has set up a special website that includes training videos and more. It is also where you go to access the "because FTM is retiring sale" offer mentioned in our Post 2. (You will not find the special sale in the RootsMagic Store front.)

RootsMagic has also created "Magic Guides" on a variety of topics like importing data from Family Tree Maker 2008 and later, importing data from Family Tree Maker 2006 and older as well as media import from Family Tree Maker.

RootsMagic Essentials is promoted as containing many of the core features of the pay version. The RootsMagic 7 product page gives an overview of the pay versions features and includes a link to new features as well.

Reviews of RootsMagic can be found at Family Tree Magazine, Genealogy GemsThe Legal Genealogist, as well as other places.

MyHeritage's Family Tree Builder 7.0
Family Tree Builder 7.0
Family Tree Builder (FTB) is the free genealogy database program of the MyHeritage.com website. Its current version, 7.0, has a limitation of 100,000 individuals on your computer but the company plans to release version 8.0 in early 2016 and it will support up to 500,000 individuals.

MyHeritage's current offer to Family Tree Maker users was mentioned in our prior post. The company also created a step by step guide to exporting a GEDCOM from Family Tree Maker and importing it into Family Tree Builder.

According to its overview, Family Tree Builder (FTB) supports over 40 languages; has a PC and Mac version; creates charts; has a maps feature; can be linked to a private family site (free and pay site); has SmartMatches Technology, Record Matching Technology and Instant Discoveries (when used with a MyHeritage data subscription); and more.

More details can be learned on version 7's initial announcement page. And you can watch an overview video and videos on other features over at the MyHeritage YouTube channel.

One thing the company does not mention is the program's sourcing and citation features which are really important if you are serious about your genealogy. Reviews can be found online by non-company sources like at Genealogy and Genomics, TransylvanianDutch, and Nutfield Genealogy, etc.

Family Historian
Family Historian 6
Calico Pie Ltd., the makers of Family Historian 6 hail from the United Kingdom. The company is welcoming current Family Tree Maker users with 20 percent off a Family Historian license.

Several webpages have been created with Family Tree Maker users in mind. There is a welcome page, user questions page, a discount verification page, as well as a guide to migrating from FTM to FH.

There is also a screenshot tour as well as a video tour of the program. Videos are also available on the software's YouTube channel.

Family Historian does offer a 30-day trail of the program after which a license to the program must be purchased to continue using it. We are not sure if there are customer service issues with the time difference between the United States and United Kingdom.

Ancestral Quest 14
Incline Software are the makers of  Ancestral Quest 14 which has a Windows and Mac version of the program. The program has a variety of features and has been described by some as an alternative to the old, discontinued Personal Ancestral File (PAF) software. There are a variety of tutorials on the website also.

The company has setup a special page for Family Tree Maker users moving to Ancestral Quest. Details of its FTM competitive upgrade sale are in our Post 2. There is also a video of how to bring your FTM file into Ancestral Quest on the software's YouTube channel.

There is also an Ancestral Quest Basics version that is free. It is fully functioning but does not contain all the "bells and whistles" of Ancestral Quest 14.

Heredis 2015
Heredis 2015 is the product of a European company and the program is available for Windows and Mac. Details of its holiday sale are included in or Post 2. 

The website, which feels more like an app, details the software's features and includes a video on the program's new features.The video and others can also be seen on the company's YouTube channel.

Reviews of Heredis can be found at Family Tree Magazine and the Why Are My Ancestors Hiding from Me? blog as well as an announcement on Dick Eastman's blog. Reviews of earlier versions can be found by doing a web search.

Brother's Keeper
Brother's Keeper 7.
Brother's Keeper 7.1 is a stand alone genealogy program that is actually shareware. According to its website, the program works on a variety of windows operating systems, but there is no Mac version. Brother's Keeper has 18 foreign language versions as well as many features.

The program's reports capabilities have been described as highly customizable and the program easy to use. 

Because Brother's Keeper is shareware you can download a trial version and try it before you buy it. The trial version is not limited by size or time but purchasing the program unlocks a lot more features. Though not on sale, pricing details are included in our Post 2.

Reviews of earlier versions can be found at Family Tree Magazine, and elsewhere.

MacFamilyTree 7
Synium, a company in Germany, is the maker of MacFamilyTree 7.6.2 which is available in 16 languages. The software's current pricing sale is detailed on our Post 2. The company does not make a Windows version of the software.

For version 7 the user interface and navigation has been updated. These features and other have been detailed on its website and a variety of screen shots can seen at the website. On overview and a support tutorial videos are on the company's Youtube channel.

MacFamilyTree has also produced a migration guide to help users migrate from Family Tree Maker. There is also a demo version of the program so you can try the program out but it does not allow you to save or export your entries.

Reunion (for Mac only)
Reunion 11
Leister Pro. is the maker of Reunion 11 software for Mac. The company does not make a windows version of the program.

The program has many features/capabilities and website has many tutorial videos. Though Reunion is not on sale at this time, pricing details are in our Post 2. Reunion has created a special page to walk users through the transition from Family Tree Maker.

There is a demo version that let's you play around with the program a little bit. You are limited to entering 50 individuals; import/export is locked; charts and slideshows can not be saved; and printed output contains a watermark. Purchasing a license unlocks the full features of the program.

Reviews for Reunion can be found online (some to an earlier version) like at Sassy Jane Genealogy and elsewhere.

Lastly, with any company's genealogy software you investigate, do not be afraid to contact the company and ask your questions about their software and its capabilities.

We hope this overview of the main genealogy database software options helps you to make your decision. If you have questions, remember you can always ask at one of our meetings. By the number of hands raised at just our Wednesday night meeting, you are definitely not alone in having to make this genealogy decision.

See you soon at Mt. Clemens Public Library!

A Genealogy Decision - Post 2 ... Current Sales on Alternative Genealogy Software

Note: This article was originally posted at 7:52 p.m. ET on December 13, 2015. It was updated to fix an html problem.

So with A Genealogy Decision - Post 1 we looked at the facts and what this means to us. With this second post we're going to start investigating what alternative genealogy database software exist BUT first we are going to focus on the current sales of these alternative genealogy software options because some of these sales won't last long.

Two of the first steps we have to take are: figuring out what options are out there and learning what various reviews have said. 

We suggest starting with reviews like the Top Ten Reviews with side-by-side comparisons of the various features of different programs or the ones that have been printed in various genealogy-focused magazines. Family Tree Magazine put together lists of PC genealogy programs and Mac genealogy programs recently and they are available at its website. There is also a genealogy software comparison chart over at wikipedia.

Starting this way will let you know what options are out there and the opinions of others who may spot something about the software you might miss yourself. (Many software options might get buried in the many results of a search engine query.)

So having learned what possibilities are out there and how they have been rated take note of the software programs that interest you.

Normally now it would be time for you to investigate some of these programs further. 

And you will do some investigation ... but holiday sales and "because FTM is retiring" sales are going on right now and they will not last forever. We want to point these sales out first so if any of these software options are on your investigate list you can start looking at these now and perhaps take advantage of the sale opportunities.

So What is on Sale?
Legacy Family Tree
There's a holiday sale on Legacy Family Tree until December 31, 2015.  You can purchase the Deluxe* software as a download or on CD and there are various bundled packages. The holiday sale includes books and other products also.

  • The "Legacy 8.0 Download Bundle" including the software and PDF manual via download is on sale for $24.95 ($34.95 regular price)
  • The "Legacy 8.0 Deluxe" including just the software via download on sale for $19.95 ($29.95 regular price)
  • The "Legacy 8.0 Deluxe software on CD & download with PDF manual" is on sale for $29.95 ($39.95 regular price)
  • The "Legacy 8.0 Deluxe Bundle including software on CD & download, PDF manual and training CD volume 1" is on sale for $49.95 ($59.95 regular price)

There are shipping/handling costs for any items that require shipping.

*Note: the Legacy standard version is free and fully-functioning. The Deluxe version unlocks over 100 features.

RootsMagic announced on its blog it is having a "because FTM is retiring sale" on its RootsMagic 7 software. The sale is the same as it's Holiday sale. Using a special webpage set up for the sale, Family Tree Maker users will get the full version of RootsMagic 7 for $20 and get the printed book, "Getting the Most Out of RootsMagic" absolutely free ($14.95 value.) This is a limited time offer, however no end date of the sale has been spotted on the special sale webpage.

MyHeritage's Family Tree Builder 7.0
Via My Heritage's blog on December 11, MyHeritage.com began offering FTM users to join its site and get its Family Tree Builder software with an unlimited size Family Site for free.

To get the unlimited Family Site for free, the blog post says:

Former FTM users: after installing Family Tree Builder, we recommend that you sync your family tree with your MyHeritage family site. You'll get many benefits such as enhanced Smart Matches and Record Matches, ability to view and edit your tree using our free mobile apps, robust online backup of your tree data, and more.  If you choose to sync, we will be happy to gift you with unlimited tree size capacity on your online family site, which is normally limited to 250 individuals on a free account. Simply email our support team at upgrade@myheritage.com to ask for this free upgrade. Feel free to email us if you have any questions regarding the transfer of your data to Family Tree Builder.  

The Family Tree Builder software is actually a free program and it is available for Windows and Mac. Currently the software program has a limitation of 100,000 people. According to MyHeritage, it plans to release version 8.0 in early 2016 which will support up to 500,000 individuals.

The MyHeritage website offers records/search subscriptions and family site subscriptions. As with any subscription website, determine if its records/locations availability and subscription pricing fits your research needs before you subscribe.

Family Historian 
Calico Pie Ltd., the makers of Family Historian 6 hail from the United Kingdom. The company is welcoming current Family Tree Maker users with 20 percent off a Family Historian license. The software is available for download from the website for $46.50 in US dollars. The sale price would be $37.20 in US dollars.

Ancestral Quest
The makers of Ancestral Quest 14 are offering a $10 competitive discount for a limited time. Details and the promo code are given on a special page on the website. The download Windows version is regularly $29.95 and the download only Mac version is $38.95 regularly. A CD of the Windows version is regularly $34.95 plus shipping and handling. Ancestral Quest is similar to the old, discontinued Personal Ancestral File (PAF) program.

There is a holiday sale of Heredis 2015 going on until January 3, 2016. This European company's Windows software download is half off so instead of $29.99 the full version is now $14.99 US dollars. If you own any previous version of Heredis, the upgrade is also half off so instead of $19.99 the upgrade cost is now $9.99 US dollars. The Heredis 2015 Mac version is also half off from either the website or the Apple store so instead of $49.99 it is now $24.99 US dollars.

Brother's Keeper
The maker of Brothers Keeper 7.1 is not having a sale at the moment. The cost of the full registered program is $45.00 for a new user. If you have a previous version the cost of an upgrade to version 7.1 with a manual is $24.00 or $19.00 for just a CD with the upgrade. There is a trail version which does not have either a time or individual count limitation but does have some features locked.

Synium Software, the maker of MacFamilyTree is offering a welcome discount to Family Tree Maker users who use Mac computers. MacFamilyTree 7 and MobileFamilyTree 7 are now half off making the sale pricing now $24.99 for MacFamily Tree and $7.99 for MobileFamilyTree. There is a demo version of MacFamilyTree with the saving and printing features disabled.

Reunion (for Mac only)
Leister Pro, the maker of Reunion, is not having a sale at the moment either. Both the download only and CD version of the software cost $99.00 for new users. If you own a previous version of the software, $49.95 is the upgrade cost.

Of course there are more alternative genealogy software options out there and some of those may be having sales also or some of them may even be free programs. Investigate and see what interests you.

So in our next post "A Genealogy Decision - Post 3 ... Alternative Genealogy Database Software" we return to the next steps of investigating software options further and provide you with information (and links) for some of the various program choices out there to hopefully make this decision process easier.

See you soon at Mt. Clemens Public Library!

A Genealogy Decision - Post 1 ... Family Tree Maker And What I Need to Know

Note: This article was originally posted at 7:40 p.m. ET on December 13, 2015.

Now that our last meetings of the year are done, we can turn to what is on the genealogy minds of most of our members: What Do I Need to Know about the Family Tree Maker Software Retirement?

First, let us review the facts:
Ancestry.com will stop selling Family Tree Maker 2014 software download (FTM 2014) on December 31, 2015. (Ancestry.com stopped selling the boxed CD version of the software earlier this year.) 

Ancestry.com will continue to support FTM at least through January 1, 2017. In a follow-up blog post to the retirement announcement, Ancestry.com said, "After January 1, 2017, features that require connectivity to Ancestry, such as TreeSync, uploading and downloading trees and media, and Web Search, may no longer be supported. Most Family Tree Maker features are designed to work offline, and should continue to function unless a change on your computer, such as an operating system update, causes the functionality to break." Ancestry.com continued on to day, "You will continue to be able to access your data through the desktop software beyond Jan. 2, 2017, however over time there will be a gradual degradation of features. You can always export your tree and save it."
So what does this mean for me?

1. This means you have just 19 days to decide if you need the last version (FTM 2014) or not. (Note: Ancestry.com stopped selling boxed CDs of the program months ago so this would be the digital download software.) The cost $69.99 but if you own a previous version then upgrade cost is $48.99 for the software download.

Why would you buy FTM 2014? Well, if you plan to use FTM for as long as possible (despite no customer support after Jan. 1, 2017) you will probably want the latest version which runs on Windows 10. Earlier FTM versions may not work on more recent operating systems.

Please note that if you have an older FTM version (2006 or 16 or earlier) you may have as many issues upgrading to FTM 2014 as you would changing software programs. As you research alternative software, keep an eye out for GEDCOM/import issues found when moving from earlier versions of FTM to a particular program.

If you currently have just an online tree at Ancestry.com and you decide at some point you want to move your tree to your computer or elsewhere, FTM's TreeSync feature makes this easier. Without using the online Ancestry tree/FTM TreeSync capability, your only alternative is to create a GEDCOM from your online tree. Unfortunately a GEDCOM does NOT export/move your tree's attached images. These attached images would have to be manually downloaded one by one.

2. If you purchased Family Tree Maker 2014 (or any prior version of the software), make sure you know where your software CD or downloaded installation file is and do not misplace it. If you purchased it as a download (meaning no CD) make sure you have a copy of the installation file you downloaded saved to somewhere other than your computer's hard drive. This means burn it to a CD, store it on an external hard drive or a USB/flash drive. For either case (CD or download) this is a precaution in case you ever need to reinstall the program on your computer.

3. If your only genealogy tree is currently online and you are fine with that, then your genealogy decision is a lot lighter. We do strongly suggest that you have a backup plan of some sort ... just in case.

4. If you like having your family tree in a genealogy database software program on your computer under your own personal control (regardless of whether you have a version of it online somewhere or not), you more than likely will need to eventually find another genealogy database program to replace FTM. 

How do I decide which software is right for me? First, don't panic. Do some research and learn about your alternative genealogy database software options.

Though you have about a year to make this decision, there are some holiday and "because FTM is retiring" sales going on right now that might make it worthwhile to do some investigating now rather than later. We will continue this discussion in, "A Genealogy Decision - Post 2 ... Current Sales on Alternative Genealogy Software," which will be posted next.

In the meantime (which won't be very long) here are some blog articles on the FTM retirement that may help you.

Lisa Louise Cooke's Genealogy Gems blog post shortly after Ancestry.com's initial announcement gives us her opinion of what to do and reminds us that we are the CEO of our own genealogy and that our information has value.

At the Week of Genealogy blog, the author Margaret MacMahon gives her understanding of the situation.

The Nutfield Genealogy is one of the many blogs out there whose authors are themselves writing about how the FTM retirement is effecting them. The author has two posts so far and plans to write more. Here is a link to Post 1 and Post 2 at Nutfield Genealogy.

And, of course, don't forget the more mainstream blogs, Geneabloggers, Genea-Musings, The Legal Genealogist, Dick Eastman and Dear Myrtle's video discussion for their thoughts and opinions. And don't forget to read some of the comments to these various blogs too.

See you soon at Mt. Clemens Public Library!

Friday, December 11, 2015

Got Books? Donate to the Mount Clemens Public Library's 2016 Used Book Sale

The shelves are ready.
This is just a friendly reminder to remember that the Mount Clemens Public Library is accepting used book donations for its next Used Book Sale in 2016. The Macomb County Genealogy Group will once again host the sale.

So as you are cleaning up for the holidays and once you are finished with any books bought or received throughout the year, consider donating them to our used book sale. Simply bag or box the books, label them "Used Book Sale" and drop them off at the library's Information Desk.

We could also use good/decent condition office/paper case boxes with lids so we can keep the donated books organized as we sort. These also can be dropped off at the Information Desk.

We thank you for your support.

MCGG members and genealogists (or anyone else) please note that if you have genealogical or historical books to donate for the MCGG Silent Auction in May, please be sure to label your bag or box with "For MCGG Silent Auction" so we sort the items to the proper place.

See you soon at Mt. Clemens Public Library!

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Shock Heard Around The World --- Ancestry.com to Retire Family Tree Maker

What Did You Find?! Wednesday  

It started Tuesday shortly after 5 p.m E.T.

Many of us may have walked away from the computer or shut down to make/eat dinner or attend to life's other things. Or we may have been on the way home from work perhaps hoping to fit in some time for genealogy. For myself it wasn't until I returned home after volunteering at our favorite library that I heard the news via email from a cousin across the country and an MCGG member -- both emails sent at just about the same time.

Ancestry.com had announced just hours before that it was retiring its Family Tree Maker software.

Shocking! But considering the company's past actions it shouldn't be but none the less it is.

By about 11:30 p.m. E.T. over 3,600 comments were made to the Ancestry.com blog post announcing the change and twelve hours later that number is pushing past 5,500 comments. The vast majority are negative about the news. Ancestry.com's FaceBook page made no mention of the announcement Tuesday night nor this morning although there are many visitor comments about it.

We've done various surveys at our Let's Talk...Genealogy discussion group meetings to get an idea of our attendees' skills, programs used, interests and other related issues. Family Tree Maker software was always the top program used AND the majority of those surveyed did not have their trees online.

Ancestry.com did not announce another software product to replace Family Tree Maker (FTM.) It appears that the company expects everyone to use its online tree "product." Ancestry.com's online tree product does not contain the same robust features as FTM and under the "New Ancestry" website environment (which becomes the only environment on December 15th) the online tree has been buggy with glitches and problems.

Why is Ancestry.com doing this? My professional I.T./programmer/analyst/disaster recovery/internet security family member says it likely boils down to cost and that one platform is easier/less costly to maintain especially when experienced programmers are harder to find. There are a lot of opinions out there as to the company's reasonings.

MCGG members don't panic. Even though Ancestry.com will not be selling Family Tree Maker downloads of FTM 2014 after Dec. 31, 2015, the company's customer service will support the software at least through January 1, 2017. (The company has not sold physical CDs of the software for at least several months.) Please also realize that your software will still work on your current operating system though a future OS update one day might cause problems. The question is whether the Tree Sync or FTM's Web Search (Record Merge) will continue working after Jan. 1, 2017.

So what does this mean? If you want to keep your genealogy on your computer at some point you are going to have to find another genealogy program. Yes, that means eventually there will likely be some transfer hiccups as data is moved between programs. No one is doing a happy dance over this one.

We've talked about various genealogy programs before at our meetings, we'll keep you informed about where you can find information about deciding on alternate programs and related matters. We'll also try to inform you here about posts and other articles on blogs and websites that we feel are important to understanding this situation and on making a decision for yourself about what to do.

See you soon at Mt. Clemens Public Library!

Get Ready for Our Annual Holiday Party/Pot-luck this Friday, Dec. 11

After tonight's Let's Talk...Genealogy meeting it is time to get ready for our holiday party.

Friday, December 11th at 12:00 p.m. (noon) is our Annual Holiday Party and Pot-luck at the Mount Clemens Public Library. It is a joint meeting of the Macomb County Genealogy Group Friday group and the Let's Talk...Genealogy Wednesday group.

Bring a dish (home-made or store-bought) to share and come have some fun. (Remember this meeting starts at noon rather than our usual 1 p.m. start time.)

Please email Ann at the MCGG email (see our contact page) if you plan on attending so we know approximately how many tables to set up. But if you don't know until the last moment, come anyway.

Again this year, just for fun, we are going to have a White Elephant Auction. Look around your house and if you find something that you don't want (but someone else might) wrap it up and bring it. Oh, and bring a few dollars so you can bid on an "elephant" and raise some money for the genealogy room equipment. Bidding opens at 50 cents.

See you soon at the Mt. Clemens Public Library!

Friday, December 4, 2015

This Wednesday's Let's Talk...Genealogy is Come to the Dark Side of the Force: Sharing Our Black Sheep Stories

This Wednesday, December 9, at 7 p.m. in the Genealogy/Local History Room of the Mount Clemens Public Library is MCGG's Let's Talk...Genealogy meeting.

The discussion topic of the night is Come to the Dark Side of the Force: Sharing Our Black Sheep Stories. In Star Wars, Luke Skywalker's black sheep was just one generation away, most of us know that story by now and we'll soon learn what happened afterwards. Let's share stories of our ancestral black sheep and ideas on how to research them.

See you soon at the Mt. Clemens Public Library!

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Unearthing Grave Markers Near Eloise; Hopes for Site Recognition as a Cemetery

Grave sites near Eloise featured on Channel 4.
A few days ago on our local Channel 4 WDIV news, a feature ran on the rediscovery of grave markers near the closed Eloise Hospital/Sanitarium.

Twelve volunteers are working to unearth the markers and to get Wayne County to recognize the site as a cemetery. The group has permission to uncover the grave markers. Currently, about 400 graves have been marked; there could be up to 7,000.

You can see the news report feature and read more at Channel 4's website using the link above.

See you soon at Mt. Clemens Public Library!