30 March 2015

High Cheekbones and Straight Black Hair

For many years a colleague of mine thought I was half Hungarian, half Japanese. Why? Because I resemble another friend of hers who is half Hungarian, half Japanese. You can see from my family's DNA results that there is no way I am half Hungarian or half Japanese.
Some of you seem to think certain physical traits can be assigned to a specific ethnicity. Like everyone with high cheekbones and/or straight black hair has Native American ancestry. That photo of your ancestor is not definitive proof that he/she was Native American.
Does this person "look Indian" to you?

Behind the scenes on Cecil B. DeMille's Unconquered, 1947. [Tumblr]

That is William Henry Pratt, a.k.a. Boris Karloff. He was born in London, England and is of Anglo-Indian descent, not Native American.
What about the iconic "Crying Indian"?

That is Espera Oscar de Corti, a.k.a. Iron Eyes Cody. He was born in Louisiana to Sicilian immigrants. He has no Native American ancestry whatsoever.
Your family photo is proof of nothing. Stop making assumptions based on looks. You just look foolish and sound racist.

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09 March 2015

De-lightful and De-lovely

By now you are probably aware that changes are coming to the Ancestry.com website. From Ancestry's perspective these are their priorities:

Isn't it great that they finally listened to their users? I mean, haven't we all been asking for a more "beautiful" and "delightful" site? I can't wait! [eyeroll] And "usable"? Shouldn't that be a given? Apparently Ancestry programmers need to be told specifically that the site needs to be usable.
I'm glad to see I'm not the only one who thinks the design team's goals are a joke. Here a few comments from a Facebook thread on Ancestry's fan page:
  • Too bad "functional" isn't one of the goals.
  • I´d really rather see that they fixed the problems, first, before creating, possibly, more.
  • how about not seizing up every few minutes, or being down entirely a lot; that would be an awesome change....
The comments on Ancestry's blog post are worth reading too. Here are a couple of examples:
  • Don’t forget that Function is the first and foremost need of the customers. All the pretty bells and whistles in the world won’t make up for the issues that customers have been encountering for several years now (system instability, phantom hints, poor messaging system, duplicate databases, etc.) Make sure those things are fixed before ever rolling this out
  • FUNCTION is the most important issue. Let’s not put lipstick on a pig.
Right now the media gallery is not functional in beta but there are plans, big plans, for a complete makeover.
"The Media Gallery makes it easier for you to manage all your media – records, videos, photos, stories – in one place to enhance the story of your family."
Um, that is different from the current media gallery how?
For years the most requested feature has been the ability to change the order of photos on a profile. If that isn't part of the coming changes the entire update will be a giant fail. All the emphasis has been on storytelling and the easiest way to tell a story is by putting photos in chronological order. As it is now the only way to do that is to upload and attach photos in reverse chronological order.
Yesterday a new site glitch made an appearance.

That's a sign that Ancestry's programmers are doing something. They've never been able to add anything without breaking things in the process.
Are you a beta tester? What's your opinion so far?

PREVIOUS POST: Wilder Than Your Tree
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02 March 2015

Wilder Than Your Tree

Posting *head/desk* without *head/desk* comment. *head/desk*head/desk*head/desk*

 Laura E. Ingalls  male
  Birth 7 February 1867 in Pepin County, WI,
  Death 10 February 1957 in Mansfield, Wright County, MO,

 Doung Blunt (1891 - ) male
 ✿ 3 Living Male Children
 ✿ 3 Living Female Children

 Mary (1889- ) female
 ✿ Gearld W Ackerman, b. 1895
 ✿ Amanda Aseneth Ackerson, b. 1907
 ✿ Amonda Ackerson, b. 1908
 ✿ Maud Ackerson, b. 1908
 ✿ Clonnie J Ackerson, b. 1910
 ✿ Clarence Ackerson, b. 1911
 ✿ Iola Rose Ackerson, b. 1913

 Claire Gillette Lane (1887-1968) male
 ✿ Wilder CaClaire Lane, b. 1910

 Almanzo James Wilder (1857-1949) male
 ✿ Rose Wilder Lane, b. 1886
 ✿ Wilder, b. 1889

 Almanzo James Wilder (1857-1949) male
 ✿ Rose Wilder Lane, b. 1886
 ✿ Wilder, b. 1889

 Bertha aka Birdie Byrd Ingalls (1878-1953) female
 ✿ 1 Living Female
 ✿ George W Ackerson, b. 1895
 ✿ Lela Pearl Ackerson, b. 1897
 ✿ Eva Maude Ackerson, b. 1899
 ✿ Clonnie J Ackerman, b. 1910

 Bird V (1878-1953) female
 ✿ George W Ackerson, b. 1895
 ✿ Lela Pearl Ackerson, b. 1897
 ✿ Eva Maude Ackerson, b. 1899

 Mary Caroline Buchholz (1889-1958) female
 ✿ 1 Living Female
 ✿ Gearld W Ackerman, b. 1895
 ✿ Amanda Aseneth Ackerson, b. 1907
 ✿ Maud Ackerson, b. 1908
 ✿ Clonnie J Ackersman, b. 1910
 ✿ Clarence Ackerson, b. 1911
 ✿ Iola Rose Ackerson, b. 1913


 ✿ 1880 U.S. Federal Census
     Ira Ackerson, male, b. abt 1873 in Iowa; living in Fairfield, Grundy, Iowa
 ✿ 1880 U.S. Federal Census
     Laura E. Ingalls, female, b. abt 1867 in Wisconsin; living in De Smet, Kingsbury, Dakota Territory
 ✿ 1892 New York State Census
     Ira Ackerson, male, b. abt 1872 in USA
 ✿ 1900 U.S. Federal Census
     Ira R Ackerson, male, b. Jun 1872 in Iowa; living in Beaver, Butler, Iowa
 ✿ 1910 U.S. Federal Census
     Ira Ackerson, male, b. abt 1874 in Iowa; living Iowa, Marshall, Iowa
 ✿ 1915 Iowa State Census
     Iva Ackerson, male, b. abt 1874 in Iowa
 ✿ 1920 U.S. Federal Census
     Ira Ackerson, male, b. abt 1873 in Iowa; living Albion, Butler, Iowa
 ✿ 1925 Iowa State Census
     Lela Blunt, female, b. abt 1898 in Iowa; father Ira Ackerson
 ✿ 1925 Iowa State Census
     Ira Ackerson, male, b. abt 1874 in Iowa
 ✿ 1930 U.S. Federal Census
     Ira Ackerson, male, b. abt 1874 in Iowa; living in Beaver, Butler, Iowa
 ✿ Family Data Collection
     Laura Elizabeth Ingalls, b. 7 Feb 1867, d. 10 Feb 1957
 ✿ U.S. WWI Draft Registration
     Ira Ackerson, b. 7 Jun 1873 in USA
 ✿ 10 Ancestry Member Trees
     8 for Ira Ackerson, 1 for Laura Elizabeth Ingalls, 1 for Rose Wilder

Thanks to Kristin for the link to this profile. ;-)
If you have a tree or profile to suggest please send the link to buwtree(at)gmail(dot)com. Thanks! 

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26 February 2015

Ancestry Tech

There has been so much I've wanted to write about that my brain just froze up and I haven't written in weeks. Sorry about that. So here I go trying to kick things into gear again.
Earlier this month The Ancestry Insider wrote an interesting summary of a presentation given by Ancestry.com at the RootsTech Innovator's Summit. You can read that post here. Three things stood out to me.

1) They "noticed that new users came to Ancestry.com and typed in their own names, then left when they found nothing." Tech Department meet Marketing Department.

You two might want to chat occasionally.

2) It's pretty standard to use stats to tout the site...

...but the numbers are not all that impressive once you take a look behind the curtain. The 60 million trees include junk trees and trees created users who click, click, click and are never heard from again once their free trial is over. A single tree back to Adam & Eve requires hundreds of unsourced, completely made up profiles. Hints accepted include clip art (ships, flags, coats of arms, etc.), images of fruit, urinals, and who knows what else. Urinals? Seriously? Even the number of records attached is worthless because it includes these collections, redundant Find A Grave collections, and tree owners who will attach absolutely anything and everything.

3) Of course I saved the best for last. This is the next to last paragraph:
"In the question and answer segment, someone asked that if Ancestry.com was so interested in learning from their customers, why wasn’t there a feedback link somewhere on their site. They explained that Ancestry.com has millions of customer interactions and that if they had a feedback link, they would not be able to review all the submissions. It’s a bad idea to ask for input and that you don’t actually read."
If they don't want feedback it's a good thing there's no feedback link on their site. Oh wait...

The screen cap is from this page which can be found by 
going to Ancestry.com and clicking the "Collaborate" tab.

Ancestry's answer confirms two things about their tech team that we knew all along. First, they don't read the feedback and second, they don't use the site.

PREVIOUS POST: Do Not Ancestry
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03 February 2015

Do Not Ancestry

UPDATE: Apparently there's a new subscription level for DNA users but the only reference I've found for it is this thread in the "community." Note that comments are closed on that thread.

AncestryDNA is now available in the United Kingdom and Ireland but it looks like Ancestry doesn't really want to sell any tests. The price of the test is £99. That's about $150 US. In the US the test sells for $99. Shipping to the UK and Ireland is three times what it is here, £20 ($30). US shipping is $9.95. And that's just the beginning.
For everyone purchasing a test after September or October 2014 (Ancestry has  not given an exact cutoff date) the following items are no longer included in the price of the test:
- List of surnames in common with matches.
- Ability to message your matches.
- Viewing the pedigree of your match's tree.
- Shared Ancestor Hints
- DNA Circles
Any tests purchased before the arbitrary date will still have those features with or without a subscription. AncestryDNA already lags behind when it comes to comparison tools and now they're moving what little they do have behind a pay wall.
The closest competitor for AncestryDNA is FamilyTreeDNA's autosomal test, Family Finder. Their test is $99. Period. Their prices do not vary by country. Standard shipping to most countries is $9.95 and they will ship everywhere except Iran and Sudan. And, most notably, using their comparison tools does not require a separate subscription.
When Ancestry jumped into the autosomal market they drove down prices. Once it became clear that autosomal tests would be the "next big thing" they dumped their Y and mt tests. Do they think they've cornered the market? Are they that confident in their minimal DNA tools? Do they think customers will be loyal no matter what?
Anyone have any insights on this?

[Full disclosure: I have no association with any DNA company except as a customer. I purchased a Y-DNA test from FamilyTreeDNA but have not purchased their Family Finder test. I received my first AncestryDNA test for free and have since purchased six more.]

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