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Comment Re:Hire some new coders...EVERYDAY READER ALSO (Score 1) 1305

Just wanted to add that I also have been an everyday reader since the late 1990's. My deepest regret is that I couldn't remember my login from then, so I had to make a new one about 10 years ago. Darn :). I haven't made many posts, but love this site!!!! I agree with almost all the comments here on what makes this site so compelling. I like posts about FOSS, Linux, etc, and issues surrounding them. (Glad SCO died the terrible death it deserved!!). I enjoy articles about cutting edge issues and tech, and hope Slashdot lives long and prospers.

Submission + - SPAM: Ancestry to Retire Family Tree Maker

C0L0PH0N writes: After more than 20 years growing an avid genealogy customer base, Ancestry.com is abruptly discontinuing their flagship desktop product, "Family Tree Maker". Arguably, this product and its integration with Ancestry.com has been one of the most powerful engines of the growth in popularity of genealogy in recent years. Here is their startling announcement, giving users very little time to come to terms with this (announced Dec 8th, takes effect Dec 31st), and offering virtually no advice or guidance on how to cope:

"As we strive to provide our customers with the best experience possible, we are constantly evaluating our services and product offerings. True to this focus, we’ve taken a hard look at the declining desktop software market and the impact this has on being able to continue to provide new content, product enhancements and support that our users need. With that, we’ve made the tough decision to stop selling Family Tree Maker as of December 31, 2015 ."

What Ancestry.com is obviously up to is trying to abandon the desktop for the cloud. This decision has brought a firestorm of criticism on the company's "blog" comment platform, with nearly 4,000 negative comments in the first 7 hours! The "blog" is here: [spam URL stripped].... Competitors are wasting no time, the (seriously quite remarkable) family tree software by Legacy, for example, is already courting Family Tree Maker's abandoned customers, and this has all happened today (Dec 8): [spam URL stripped]....

Comment Find a Retired Computer Guy in the Neighborhood (Score 5, Interesting) 193

I'm a retired computer guy (71), and I do a ton of work for my senior citizen neighbors. I suggest a $20/hr "donation" to the R&R fund for me and my wife, for an hour or two of services that would cost them $80-$150 at any computer shop. If the person is really poor, or doesn't tumble that I accept "donations", then I just do the work for free. I go to their homes, and fix their problems (all over the map :). I am viewed as a local treasure by all the old folks I know, as most of them haven't a clue how to fix their problems. I don't advertise because I get enough by word-of-mouth to keep me as busy as I care to be, as I do other things too :). But if your parents have a retired computer guy in their neighborhood, perhaps they can establish a relationship with him/her. I would work for free, as I don't really need the money, but on the other hand, it gets old, and the $20 helps pay for a dinner out or a movie for me and my wife. She used to complain about my being gone, so I came up with the brilliant idea, I split the money with her. So if I'm gone for a 2 hour computer call, and I come home with $40, she gets half. Now when someone calls for help, she smiles and says, "off you go". Bottom line, a little bit of money makes everyone happy :).

Comment Re:I'm going to put a GUN on mine!!!! (Score 1) 235

You've made the point! The US gubmint realizes it can't do a thing about guns, that horse has left the barn. They don't want to repeat that mistake with drones, so if they get "registration" in place quickly, then they will be able to solve drone-related crimes in the future. I've been flying radio controlled hobby planes for years, and get that it is a widely spread hobby. But I also have a dread feeling that these fun toys, especially the newer expensive quadracopters, are simple to fly, very accurate, can be fitted with FPV (first point of view) cameras, and so can be sent on missions far out of sight with significant payloads. Witness the beginnings of crime with drones, where they are being used to drop payloads into prisons. We haven't had an incident yet where a terrorist has delivered a significant payload (ten pounds of C4 explosive?!), but technically it isn't all that hard. So maybe getting the ball rolling on registration will nip that in the bud. The BIG HUGE thing, is to do it without destroying a magnificent hobby. And the new ability to use drones for aerial videos is stunning, and countries all over the world will be encouraging this burgeoning new industry. I think a GoPro flying camera that tracks you as you mountainbike around or run a wild river is stunning! Or aerial views of our neighborhoods can make us feel like birds in the air. Wonderful. The US has to walk a fine line, not to destroy a goose that lays golden eggs, and yet be sure that goose won't be used to deliver weapons.

Comment Intrusive Advertising is Immoral (Score 1) 241

I think it is backwards to say "blocking ads is stealing". It is quite the other way around. When I want to watch a video online, or read an article, it is stealing from me to divert my attention to something I did not choose to see and which I have no interest in. That act of theft of my precious attention (I only have so much of it in my life, and it is MY attention that I have the right to direct as I choose) is an immoral act. We are so used to this immoral stealing of our attention that we have gotten numb to it. But that does not make it right. The immorality of advertising was a wake up call to me. I had never thought of it that way until I read a Slashdot article recently pointing this out: http://slashdot.org/story/15/0.... From that article: "Advertising is a natural resource extraction industry, like a fishery. Its business is the harvest and sale of human attention. We are the fish and we are not consulted." Touche, advertisers!!! You can pry my adblocker from my cold dead fingers!

Comment I'm taking a "museum" approach to family archiving (Score 1) 174

I am an old retired computer guy with a dozen Rubbermaid tubs of old photos, documents and film/video inherited from my parents that go back generations and are priceless to my family. My goal is to have a method of preserving both physical and digital resources in such a way that they are accessible in 50 years. I have photos that are over 100 years old, so that is a reasonable goal.

After months of research, I have become most impressed by a "museum" approach. That means, cataloging the media resources with a defined vocabulary--I chose the Dublin Core (www.dublincore.org). It means developing a way to link the physical media to any digitized versions, by assigning a numbering system ("accessioning" in museum-speak). And the most important thing I learned was to plan to save a text file with each digitized item, that describes it and contains the stories about it. For example, a photo titled, "Grandma Kayaking the Missouri River.JPG" would have stored with it a file named "Grandma Kayaking the Missouri River.TXT". The reason for this is profound! The associated text file is MOST likely to survive 50 years. No matter how software changes, text files are likely to be readable in 50 years.

The plan would be to open and resave all the media, say every 10 years, and update as needed. For example, JPG files might need to be updated to JPG2000, etc, etc, as new software is developed. A slightly sophisticated wrinkle is to actually store the text in XML or HTML format. So instead of having a line in the text file that says, "Title: Grandma kayaking the Missouri River", it might read Grandma kayaking the Missouri River. The advantage of this is that it makes all the text files "machine readable".

If this level of approach is interesting to you, then the best site discussing these issues I have found BY FAR is "http://archivehistory.jeksite.org/index.htm". This amazing site contains basically a 250 book on the subject that is amazing. It isn't immediately apparent how extensive this site is, but it is just wonderful. There is vanishingly little else of this quality out there, I've spent months looking. The Library of Congress has a "Personal Archiving" program, but it basically says just "scan well, organize folders well and backup well". That is good advice, but doesn't touch the bigger issues. For small museums there are cool sites like "www.omeka.org". I adore the "ATOM" project ("https://www.artefactual.com/services/atom-2/", but it is just over my head in sophistication. Here is a website that discusses 29 "free and open source" solutions to digital archiving: "http://www.ethnosproject.org/digital-curation-digital-asset-management-community-archiving-systems/". I have gone through and examined each of them, but they are just a bit over my head. I have found several projects in Australia to be very interesting, but again, not an exact fit for us "family archivists".

I have finally decided to "roll my own" program. I am building a Microsoft Access database that will catalog my media resources, and which will then automatically generate my "text" file for each resource, putting the text file in the proper folder, and containing the correct XML depiction of my Dublin Core description of my photos, videos, documents, etc, including the locations of both the physical and digital media. I have made arrangements with some computer science folks in my family in the next generation (nephews), to "inherit" my "family museum" effort, and to carry it on to the next generation. My whole point with the "museum" approach is that it creates an intelligible system that can be left to the next generation! If my Microsoft Access program gets lost over the years, it won't matter, because all the database information about the digital media will be stored in those amazingly simple TEXT files!!! Good luck in your efforts.

Comment Repurposed Cold War Era Bomb Shelter in Seattle (Score 2) 122

There is a bomb shelter built under I-5 near Greenlake in Seattle, that was built in the early 60's (ok, fallout shelter). It was touted, I believe, during the 1962 world's fair in Seattle. Here's a King5 video about it: http://www.king5.com/story/new.... It is a circular room with bathrooms under the freeway, with a small entrance. Later, it was used to issue driver's licenses. I got one there myself in the early 70's. Now, it is a grown-over place used as a City of Seattle municipal records storage center for a few years, and then abandoned. A massive cement structure like a bomb shelter doesn't go away, nice they can be reused in peacetime. What could be more peaceful than marijuana :).

Comment I've Got a Win95 Toshiba T6600C Luggable Desktop (Score 1) 284

My 1993-1994 era Toshiba T6600C, a Win 95 486 machine, looks at first glance like a laptop, but it is a full desktop that looks like a compact little 20 lb suitcase. Here's a YouTube video of the computer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?.... (In the video, the T6600C uses Win 3.1, but mine has Win 95.) I have been using PC's since the first DOS days, and Win 95 was the rock star of its era. I once traveled with the T6600C after 9/11 (I was still using this computer in the year 2000!), and the airport officials insisted I go to a wall outlet (it doesn't run on batteries), and fire it up. Then they were fine with it. I would have thrown it out long ago, but it is so unique and charming that I just couldn't. So it currently serves as a quirky and rugged platform for my flatscreen TV in my home office, where I can see it every day. The fun (and amazing) thing is, it still boots to Windows 95 :).

Comment I'm Retired, I Already Live "Robotic Nation" (Score 5, Interesting) 755

As a retired person, I get both a small pension from my work, and Social Security. From my small income I purchase health insurance to supplement my Medicare. I have no savings (wiped out by "problems"). It's enough to live on. As a result, I already live as people in Finland/Utrecht do. I know a ton of retired folks in the same boat. Here is what I observe. Retired folks are as energetic as their health allows. There is an awesome amount of volunteering going on, and a bit of "small business" activities. I myself am a retired computer guy, and as such, get asked to fix a lot of computers. I ask for a "donation" of about $20 an hour for fixes that would cost them $90/$120 at any computer shop. Sometimes I fix things for free. I rationalize that I am helping poor old folks :), and also getting some money for an evening out for my spouse and I. I also maintain an number of community, club and museum websites as an unpaid volunteer. So I am in the category of "not needing a minimum wage". What I really see is this. People are as active as their health allows. There are a lot of social activities and game playing, such as dancing, musical jam sessions, theater presentations, variety shows, golf, pickle ball (like tennis), cards, bingo and water volleyball. Many of these activities require administration, and they are staffed with happy volunteers, who give an amazing amount of time. People into hobbies, such as my spouse who quilts, will work at them from dawn to dusk. People value life, their families, their communities and their world, and they do what they need to take care of their health. What I don't see is violence, drug use, laziness, or homelessness. I will concede that communities (I participate in several) of retired folks represent the result of a lifetime of a good work ethic. But what I don't see are bad results worried about by many. I read Marshall Brain's prescient "Robotic Nation" years ago, and the handwriting is on the wall folks, and I'm glad to see some early-adopter nations experimenting with our future.

Comment Lock down the Windows desktop (Score 5, Informative) 334

I support a Windows 7 PC in our community center (retirement community). I simply installed Drive Vaccine (http://www.drivevaccine.com/), which is cheap and allows you to either lock the PC down entirely (no virus infection possible :)), or keep say a "documents" folder writable, but locks the rest of the PC down. This PC has run for several years, and is restored to a "baseline" after each restart. Never an infection, as it can't survive the reboot. Users can surf the Internet all they want, and write and receive emails etc, etc. Occasionally, I unlock it to do updates of various sorts, but then I lock it down again. Sounds perfect for your parents.

Comment Re:Back up to optical media (Score 3, Interesting) 268

I second this approach. Keep a "master archive" of highest quality, both on local hard drives and backed up to the cloud (BackBlaze for example has unlimited backup for $5/mo). Then provide "exhibit" copies at a lower quality to the web and to friends. Backing up the "master archive" is critical! The "derivative" files shared out aren't so critical, as they can be reconstructed from the "master archive". An example is MPEG-2 will preserve videos at high quality, but with large file sizes. Scanning slides to TIF at say 4800 dpi will create 20mb files. These are "master archive" material. But you can prepare a copy of the video as an MPEG-4 or H.264 at much lower quality and much lower file size, that will still look stunning over the web. And you can derive JPGs from the master TIFs that at much lower quality, still look stunning over the Internet, for example. But for posterity, the "master archive" can become a museum collection for your descendants that they will cherish. An interesting thing to ponder is, will the US ever get hit with a few EMP nuclear bursts? If so, they may wipe out all magnetic media everywhere. That is where backups on optical disks, say, Blu-Ray, would be valuable. May be being a little paranoid there? :). For more information on this approach, consult http://archivehistory.jeksite.....

Comment Re:Do it yourself? -With Magnavox DVD Recorder/VCR (Score 1) 130

I bought a Magnavox ZV427MG9 DVD Recorder/VCR, available at Amazon for about $280, or on a Sears website for $180. I converted a large tub of precious family VHS tapes directly to DVD in this machine. I played around with different resolutions, but the highest resolution was visibly better, so I went with that. Then I copied the VOB files from the DVD's to my computer, and imported them into Cyberlink's PowerDirector, which has no trouble with the VOB files. The VOB files have a frame width and height of 720x480 at 29 frames/second, which I think gets the most information possible from these old VHS tapes. From PowerDirector, I can save these videos in a variety of formats, keeping the 720x480 and 29 frames/second, such as MP2, MP4, H-264, etc, etc. This has worked extremely well for me, and I think justified for my family the purchase of the machine. We are sharing it around to increase the benefit of purchasing it. In doing a bit of research before this project I read that combined DVD Recorder/VCR's automatically kept the voice in sync with the video, a problem apparently with some capture cards. I can only report excellent results for myself, given of course that VHS recordings aren't of the quality of modern hi def recordings.

Comment I Use Streets and Trips on RV Trips (Score 4, Interesting) 174

I am a retired computer guy, and an RVer. I've used Streets and Trips for the past three years, and have found it invaluable for RV travelling. What makes Streets and Trips work so well for travelers is that it is always there, whether you have Internet or not. And my experience even with a smart phone and hotspot capabilities, is that travellers do not always have access to the Internet. Which renders MS's "Bing" solution useless. And Streets and Trips on my laptop is connected to a printer, so printing out strip maps for the next day is easy. It makes it easy to create long trips, stop by stop, and save the whole route. I'm talking about several months and 10,000 miles of traveling here. I've tried using Google and Bing maps, but actually, the closest trip planning tool I've found that provides for long range planning and in any detail I want is actually Google Earth. But until Streets and Trips is dead, I will be using it. And it sounds like it should work for the next several years.

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