Scott Fisher opens the show with David Allen Lambert, Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. Fisher talks about a memorial product he came across involving taking a fingerprint of a deceased loved one and engraving it on a necklace or other piece of jewelry. How do the guys feel about that? Catch the podcast! David then reveals MyHeritage.com’s new offering… a “Sun Chart…” that can fit countless generations of ancestors and descendants. David then talks Flag Day and reveals the unique story of the creator of the 50 star American flag. David then shares this week’s “Tech Tip” and the NEHGS free guest user database.
(At 11:09) Fisher next visits with Heath Jones, founder of “Task Force History,” a fast-growing Alabama-based group that researches (in particular) Civil War battle sites and then uses metal detectors to locate and salvage unique treasures. Heath fills us in on the group’s latest finds and introduces us to Justin Emmons of Paducah, Kentucky, another member of the team. Over the past several years, Justin and his father have worked over the location of a Union camp where Justin recovered a unique item with the name of soldier Henry Cuppet Garlock carved into it. Justin found that Garlock’s history is well documented and he is hoping to locate a descendant of Garlock’s with whom he would like to talk and share his find.
(At 24:47) Then, Fisher catches up with Danny Klein, a librarian with the Jersey City (NJ) Public Library. Klein recently wrote a terrific article in NJ.com about the realities of digitization, which many of us genies now take for granted. The interview gives fascinating insight into digitizing at the local level and all that goes into getting searchable images onto the internet.
Tom Perry of TMCPlace.com wraps up the show talking preservation with Fisher, answering a listener question about ideal programs for salvaging and editing audio.
That’s all this week on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show!
Transcript of Episode 144
Segment 1 Episode 144 (00:30)
Fisher: And you have found us! It’s America’s Family History Show, Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth, on the program where we shake your family tree and watch the nuts fall out. This segment is brought to you by MyHeritage.com and by our friends at 23AndMe DNA. And I’m so glad to have you along today. We have some great interviews! First starting out with Heath Jones later in the show. Now he’s with a group called “Task Force History” and we’ve had him on before. They’re based in Heflin, Alabama. And they go around and actually research different places, Civil War battlefield sites, and they gather materials and sometimes they find things that relate to specific families and try to track down descendants who might be interested in owning those items, just as a service. And Heath is going to be joined by one of his buddies whose actually had that experience recently, and you won’t believe some of the stuff that he’s uncovered. It’s going to be a great interview coming up in about eight minutes. And then later in the show we’re going to talk to a Jersey City librarian, who has written a fabulous digitizing article in NJ.com (NewJersey.com) talking about some of the challengers for smaller organizations like local libraries when they go to digitize, and how you might be able to help as a volunteer. We’ll talk to Danny Klein, later in the show. But right now let’s check in with my good friend the Chief Genealogist for the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org, David Allen Lambert. How are you sir?
David: I’m not too bad out here in Beantown. It’s a nice sunny day. Looking forward to some summer weather very shortly.
Fisher: Yes! I’ve got to tell you a strange thing has come up. Recently the father of a dear friend of mine passed away and a bunch of neighbors got together and said, “Look we’re going to get her flowers but we’d like to get her something else.” And one of the things that this person proposed was that we get a piece of jewelry with the fingerprint of the deceased on the jewelry!
David: Oh! Was this done before they died?
Fisher: No! No they wanted to see if they couldn’t actually get to see the mortician to get the fingerprint of the deceased and then pass this on to the people who would create the jewelry from the corpse!
David: Oh! That’s intriguing. Well I can say that I’ve looked at a lot of funeral home records… that’s a line item that I’ve never seen before!
Fisher: [Laughs] Well I went online and found that there are such things there but I’m just a little creeped out by it myself and wanted to get your take on it. What do you think? Would you want that?
David: Well, you know I might just have to put that as a codicil to my will, you know for my kids to have a Christmas ornament made out of all my fingerprints so I can touch upon every Christmas. No pun intended.
Fisher: [Laughs] And on the back, by the way, you could have the photograph of the deceased. Now I don’t know if that’s that different from a lock of hair or something that they’ve done historically in the past. But I’m just picturing the mortician grabbing the thumb of the deceased and then dipping it in ink. I’m bothered by this!
David: Going through eternity with a dirty thumb, hmmm!
Fisher: Yeah. Yeah. Well let’s get on with our Family Histoire news for today. What do you have my friend?
David: Well in technological advances MyHeritage, one of our sponsors has released a new thing called a “Sun Chart.” The sun chart was created to solve a particular problem in genealogy. Through a regular chart you’re limited to the space. This chart is to plot out as many descendants as possible on a smallest chart. And the chart will have hundreds or even thousands of people on it, and it can be prepared in a circular format. If you go to MyHeritage you will see an example of it. And if you’re not a My Heritage user, you can import your Gedcom and generate this chart.
Fisher: Now we’re talking not just descendants, you can do it for ancestors as well, right?
David: Absolutely it works in both ways.
Fisher: And it’s great because you can have photographs in all these things so it can be a huge photo chart. And I’ve seen it, it looks really attractive.
David: Yeah. My good friend Daniel Horowitz who is the chief genealogist and officer there sent an example of the chart and it looks quite impressive. Makes me want to get all my cousins to send photographs so that I can actually do one for my grandmother’s 100th anniversary of all of her descendants from her first marriage, so that might be a holiday present but hopefully I won’t be sending any fingerprints of the dead!
David: By the way, happy belated Flag Day. But here’s a little piece of trivia for all of our genies out there. Most of them will probably remember that Betsy Ross designed our nation’s first flag. But the real question is do you know who designed our current flag?
Fisher: The fifty star flag?
David: Correct! Most people will have to stop and think and they’ll probably think its some government agency but it’s not the case. It was actually a kid. It was a 17 year old boy, the late Robert Heft, who died sadly at the age of 68 in 2009. He had a high school project to design it, and the teacher originally gave him a B minus and discussed the grade with him after school and the teacher said, “Well if Congress adopts your flag. I’ll reconsider the grade.”
David: And lo and behold, Congress adopted his flag and the kid got an A!
Fisher: Well I’m sure it was more meaningful to him that Congress adopted his flag than what the grade was!
David: I think so, and Bob will go down in history and also his having ideas to design from the 51st to the 60 star flag, so he probably has patterns for his descendants that are lying in wait in case we had Puerto Rico or get even bigger.
David: So fabulous little historical trivia for you. One of the things that I always like to toss out is that NEHGS, besides our free database and the Vita Brevis which is our blog, and my good friend and colleague Lindsey Fulton, director of our research service, wrote one today called “Something old, something new.” And it talks about the day of the wedding when you get something borrowed, something old, something new, and something blue. And it made me think what a wonderful tech tip this is. What did you have at your wedding? Can you recall? I’m going to have to stop and ask my wife what she used, and do we have it written down.
Fisher: That’s a good point. I don’t remember those things, you’re right.
David: Then you know if our listeners have their parents or grandparents, or great aunts and uncles, why not ask them? It’s filling in that dash in our life between the dates on that stone. This is one avenue that may not be in your wedding album. So it’s something cool to consider.
Fisher: All right.
David: Every week NEHGS has a free guest user database and this week is no exception. We have the western Massachusetts families in the 1790s census continue added sketches to that. Well that’s about all I have for this week from Beantown. Catch you next week for more exciting family histoire news.
Fisher: All right. Thanks so much David, always good chatting with you! And coming up next we’re going to talk to the man who put together a group called “Task Force History” in Heflin, Alabama. Heath Jones joins us in about three minutes talking about some of his group’s latest discoveries, and he’ll introduce us to a friend who made an interesting discovery of his own. That’s next on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.
Segment 2 Episode 144 (11:10)
Host Scott Fisher with guest Heath Jones and Justin Emmons
Fisher: I’m thinking it was somewhere around two years ago when I first learned about my next guest, Heath Jones with “Task Force History” based in Heflin, Alabama. And Heath is one of those people who loves to go out and investigate things buried under the dirt, especially when they relate to the Civil War. And Task Force History has been kind of growing and getting a lot of publicity over the last couple of years but it’s been like a year since we’ve had him on. Heath, welcome back to the show!
Heath: Hey, thanks for having me on Fisher, it’s good to be back as always.
Fisher: Fill me in on what you guys have found recently and how that might tie into some families.
Heath: Well, you know we’ve been out looking as we always do trying to find something new. Some of our recent finds, not necessarily families, but we’ve narrowed a couple of finds down to one of the last of the iron clads of the Confederacy, which you know people may have family members that were on those cruisers. I recently found part of a shell that we know came from one of two Confederate gunships, iron clad gunships the CSS Huntsville or the CSS Tuscaloosa.
Heath: While we can’t tie that to an actual family, we can find out who the sailors were that were on those ships and chances are one of those sailors that are one of those guns that we found the projectile also or part of the projectile also.
Fisher: Isn’t that amazing? Where was this area?
Heath: That was down in south Alabama, near the Mobile coast.
Fisher: Now you guys go out what, on a regular basis every weekend, every month? How often and how do you do it?
Heath: Well, you know Scott we use metal detectors for what we do. That’s pretty much the consistence for everything we do and then we research spots. We don’t have a set time. We research spots that we have enough information on it and then we go about the spot and search it and grid search it and try to find items. And sometimes we find items that relate to individual soldiers and tell a story.
Fisher: Right. And in fact, you’ve got one of your colleagues on the other line right now in Paducah, Kentucky. Justin Emmons. Justin, welcome to Extreme Genes.
Justin: Thanks for having me on.
Fisher: Hey, I was looking at your story here, Justin, that you wrote about and your experience here recently, doing the same kind of thing that Heath does. Tell us about this adventure you recently went on.
Justin: Well, my dad and I, as Heath has pointed out, we metal detect. So we do the same things as Heath and his guys do. So we research sites either with their first hand journals or letters written back and forth from their officers. And out here in western Kentucky, western Tennessee where my dad mostly hunt its really early war sites.
Justin: So we find a lot of artifacts that kind of link towards the soldier using kind of older weapons, older gear. Because you know when the war started and ramped up here in the west they still had those older weapons. So we find a lot of artifacts that most people are kind of hard pressed to find like 69 calibre bullets. But my dad and I stumbled upon this specific site mostly because of one of my under grad friends, who knew that I metal detected, and she actually told me that supposedly there was a Civil War site or camp around her house. So me and my dad went out there probably about five years ago and we started finding you know, mostly bullets. We found a union breastplate. We hadn’t really been back for probably about one or two years, until my dad and I went back in February of this year. And we extended out our search from the main camp and started to search a gently sloping hill in the back side of the property.
Fisher: So was this where they were all spread out? You think maybe they were camped individually, just going further and further from the center of the camp?
Justin: Yes and no. So, we knew that this site must have been a camp or a picket because it was guarding one of the entrances into the small town.
Justin: So we knew at least that they had a small camp there just to watch the road for any Confederates coming one way at least.
Justin: It’s kind of on a nice gently sloping hill so we expanded the search to go further out and that’s when we started finding knapsack hooks and knapsack pieces that look like they were either blown off the hill or had been moved by dirt works pushing dirt off the hill. But in this small area where I found some knapsack parts, I found a little small printing press letter box.
Justin: It’s probably one centimeter by three centimeters and it’s a rectangular object and these would have been used to stack the letters you know to make words and then articles for it to print newspapers and papers to hand out.
Justin: So I found this and didn’t give it much thought.
Fisher: Why would a soldier have something like that?
Justin: See that’s the mystery because normally a soldier, a private, the regular fighting man wouldn’t really have access to a printing press block. So that’s kind of a mystery on how this guy actually got the printing press block.
Justin: But as I went home and cleaned it up I noticed there was some sort of carving on it, and right then I got really excited because when you see something carved, either a bullet carved or something carved, you know that that’s very personal. So I started cleaning it off and noticed that there was a name carved on the two sides of the block.
Fisher: And the name was?
Justin: Well, one side it had the letter “H,” and then “Garlock” was on it in cursive.
Justin: On the other side it had just “Garlock,” but in lower case.
Fisher: Okay that’s kind of a confirmation there.
Justin: Yes it was. So I used the National Park Service on their website their Civil War soldiers’ database. Very useful, and started searching up soldiers’ names with the first letter of the first name starting with H and Garlock. And I stumbled upon this soldier’s name, “Henry Garlock,” who was a private in the 21st Missouri infantry, company D. And using research through the internet I figured out that, that specific unit had been camped in that town during 1862 to ’63.
Fisher: How cool is that? Oh that must have been thrilling.
Justin: Yeah. So I kind of got a clarification that, yes, Henry Garlock, that was his personal piece and it is a mystery on why he had a printing press block, and that possibly could have been in that knapsack because I found tons of little odds and ends around that knapsack area.
Justine: So the mystery is that it could have been Henry’s knapsack that either broke or he lost it and he lost his little personal named piece.
Fisher: Or maybe there was somebody in his family that was tied to the newspaper business and it was a little trinket.
Justin: It could be that, yes. You just never know because dad did more research on him and the unit, and before they had gone up to the small little town, they were down in Vicksburg and Tupelo, Mississippi, and Arkansas. They had been down there so he could have picked it up in one of the bigger towns down there. Maybe just found it lying on the side of the road, you never know.
Fisher: Thought it was interesting, yeah. So tell me, have you made any attempt to locate descendants of this guy?
Justin: I have and I ran into some problems.
Justin: So, I at the time had a subscription to Ancestry.com because I was looking at my own family history and I was also using FamilySearch, which you know is the free one.
Justin: And I was also using “FindAGrave” and all through those I found that Henry’s middle name was Cuppet, and I figured out where he was born, his birth year and his family. And through specifically FindAGrave they had a lot of information on him and his descendants. And I got to about his great, great grandson which was still alive about 6-7 years ago. And that is kind of where it fizzled out.
Justin: Because most of his descendants – there’s only one family line with the name Garlock still.
Justin: The other ones either have the woman who married off, so there’s only one line of Garlocks left, and I’m having trouble finding their descendants right now.
Fisher: With the name line?
Justin: With the name line.
Fisher: Now Heath, you’ve had a couple of experiences, we’ve talked on the show a year or two ago about how you and one of your colleagues actually returned a family piece to a woman who was living on the property of her ancestors of about a 150 years ago. This is kind of a really fun thing to do isn’t it?
Heath: Oh yeah. You know it’s just part of what we do, and really a rewarding part of what we do Fisher, just to be able to return something like that and watch somebody’s face light up. In some cases not as far removed but still really cool to see that.
Fisher: Well Justin, maybe we can help you see if we can’t find somebody who descends from Henry Cuppet Garlock.
Justin: Oh yeah I would love that. Because you know we’re really good at finding the site, finding the relics but I am not that experienced in ancestry and that. So I would love if we could either a direct descendant Garlock or a direct descendant from him that may have gone down a female line.
Fisher: Yeah that would be exciting, wouldn’t it? Then to see their expression to see that you’ve got something that belonged to their great, great, great grand pappy in the Civil War. Unbelievable stuff!
Heath: Scott, if I can interject, we’re always looking for members who have experience in genealogy as well as metal detecting. If you have any members that are interested in both, we’re always looking for members at Task Force History.
Fisher: Awesome. And where do they go?
Heath: They can go to our Facebook page, Task Force History. Search that on Facebook and you’ll find us.
Fisher: Well, it’s always fun to check in with you guys at Task Force History and see what’s going on in Alabama and in this case Paducah, Kentucky as well. Justin thanks for coming on. Heath as always great to catch up with you and see what you’re up to!
Heath: Hey, we enjoyed it, thanks for having us on, Fisher.
Fisher: Thank you buddy, take care. And this segment is brought to you by LegacyTree.com and coming up for you in five minutes we’re going to talk to Danny Klein, a New Jersey librarian, about what it takes to get into digitization at the local level and how you might be able to help, on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.
Segment 3 Episode 144 (24:50)
Host Scott Fisher with guest Danny Klein
Fisher: And we are back! Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth. And the changes we have seen in family history research and the documents that are available online right now, especially over the last ten years, incredible! And I think we start taking it for granted that so many pages are being added to all the major sites every day, FamilySearch, MyHeritage, Ancestry. But there are a lot of other places that are digitizing things as well, smaller places. And it’s a little bit more of an issue for them to get a lot of stuff done. And I greatly enjoyed a recent article written by my next guest. His name is Danny Klein. He’s a librarian at the Jersey City Public Library in Hudson County, New Jersey. And Danny, welcome to Extreme Genes. Nice to have you!
Danny: Thanks for having me Scott.
Fisher: You guys are constantly digitizing, even at your level every day. And there’s a lot to this, isn’t there?
Danny: There is. It’s a long and can be very tedious and intricate process in digitizing documents.
Fisher: Now, what kind of documents do you get at the Jersey City Public Library?
Danny: Well, we do a lot of images for our photo collection, but we are looking into starting to do some of the documents from our manuscript and other collections.
Fisher: Okay. And so you have.
Danny: Like our city directories.
Fisher: Your city directories, which are very important of course, especially filling in gaps during certain census years.
Fisher: Take us through the process of how this works.
Danny: Well, you know, you put a city directory, which some of the ones that we have going back to 1849 are very fragile. So you have to be very careful in scanning them. And then there’s a process of taking that scanned image which is basically a picture of words. There’s no way to gather the information off of it other than looking at it and then turning that into searchable text.
Fisher: Right. And that’s quite a process even in itself. It’s one thing to make the image and get it scanned. It’s another thing to actually make it usable, right?
Danny: Absolutely. And you know the software that actually does, that is certainly not perfect. And it can take quite a bit of editing and looking at things to try and get them into the proper shape.
Fisher: Do you actually have to go through a directory, which can be one or two hundred pages I would assume, and look for errors in terms of how the software has interpreted each character?
Danny: Well you know we go through with as best we can and then that text has to be turned into something that can be searched. And then looking through it, like I say, we try and go through it the best we can.
Fisher: Right. But if you find an error, is there actually a way to correct it?
Danny: Well, it’s basically a text file which is part of the metadata.
Fisher: Right. And let’s talk about that. You did a great job of explaining metadata in your article in NJ.com. Talk about what that means and why it’s important.
Danny: Well, metadata, the standard description that goes along with metadata is that it’s data about the data. So if you take for instance the music that might be on your phone, then as you do a search for that, the metadata for this song, which would be the data, then you’re looking for the data about the data which would be the song title or the time or who the composer was or even the album art that gets displayed while you’re listening to it. That is the metadata. And all that is stored into a database.
Danny: So, bringing that to a genealogical document like a city directory, the person’s name or their address might be separate metadata fields, which would accompany the picture of the page which can then be searched. Those fields can then be searched. And that helps to display the document that you’re looking for.
Fisher: And certainly makes it a lot more useable. Although, certainly we see at times like with FamilySearch, there’re a lot of things that have been scanned and are available online, but they haven’t put the metadata in there yet. You can still go through it and look, but it’s a lot harder, isn’t it?
Danny: Absolutely. You know those kinds of browsable databases where they’re browsable, but not searchable. By posting them, you’re actually doing, it’s a little bit of a service in that you’re posting them and people can look at them, but the information you’re looking for isn’t readily findable in that document.
Fisher: It’s a lot harder to do unless you already have an idea of the era or the place or something like that that can lead you to the right page in there. They do that, for instance, with a lot of probate records from around that country, because there’re so many of them. They just want to get them up first. And in time, they’ll be able to add that metadata to make them much more searchable. So in your role at the Public Library in Jersey City, do you actually use volunteers to help you with this process?
Danny: Right now we’re not. We are currently testing out a visual asset management software that will enable us to eventually put all our things online, but right now, we’re just kind of in the testing stage.
Fisher: Talk about those fragile documents a little bit more. I’ve got to imagine that’s got to be a very delicate operation with some.
Danny: Absolutely. Fragile documents need definite TLC, because just by touching them in the wrong way or manhandling them, it can do a lot of damage to these documents. So you know taking photographs is definitely a way around that.
Fisher: Yeah, and that kind of brings us to the question about books, Danny, because obviously you’ve got a binding in there. And often they’re photographed badly, either in a scanner or just with a picture taken of them, because of the fact they kind of curve into the binding. How do you deal with those? Obviously you don’t want to damage the books, but they’re also not very useable if people can’t get to see them, right?
Danny: Right. Well you know you have to be very careful with books as well. Because of the binding, you can’t open them up too much, so you may have to create some kind of a stand where you’re able to place the book and then do a flat, so the page is flat and then more easily photographed. Some books are different though because of the way that they’re bound. Sometimes the text seems to go right into the crevice of the binding. So that makes it a little bit more difficult. And a stand, by photographing it, can actually help display the book correctly so you can take a good photograph of it.
Fisher: Fascinating. Well, you know, it’s great to know that this is all being done at local levels. And I would assume this is kind of going on within libraries everywhere right now. We tend to think mostly about you know, the big companies, but you guys are doing important work, too. Is this common throughout the state of New Jersey and in the east and throughout the country, are you aware?
Danny: No, it’s not really common, because of the, trying to get volunteers, and then the complexity and just the workflow that’s involved. It can be long and tedious work to get some of this work done.
Fisher: Well, there’s such a hunger for it. And we’re sure appreciative of organizations like yours, Danny, that’s getting this work up there. Because once it’s done, it’s there forever, for all of us to take advantage of. So, thank you so much for your time. Great article in NJ.com. He is Danny Klein. He’s with the Jersey City Public Library in Hudson County, New Jersey. And thanks for the education on it. You know, I’ve never really thought much about the process, because obviously the big boys kind of have it all down, but there’re some small ones who are out there trying to do the same thing and its important work.
Danny: Well thank you very much, Scott, and thank you for having me.
Fisher: And by the way, the New Jersey room of the Jersey City Free Public Library has scanned 112 documents, maps and images related to the Dutch settlement of what is now Jersey City. And those items have been included in the New Jersey digital highway, a statewide digital initiative run from Rutgers University. And they’re also testing a local digital library which they hope to expand and make public in the future. So, smaller organizations are making a big impact. And this segment has been brought to you by Roots Magic. And coming up next for you in three minutes, our Preservation Authority returns, Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com. He’s going to be answering another listener question about preserving audio this time, on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.
Segment 4 Episode 144 (37:10)
Host Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry
Fisher: And welcome back to America’s Family History Show, Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. My name is Fisher, I’m your Radio Roots Sleuth. He’s Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com. He’s our Preservation Authority. Say hi, Tom, so they know you’re here!
Tom: Hi Tom!
Fisher: [Laughs] Okay very nice. And Tom, we’ve got another email, this from Mary Lee Cole. She wrote to you at AskTom@TMCPlace.com about a cache of thirty mini cassette tapes she’s got, all from her dad. She says, “She’d like to use Audacity to digitize the tapes, unless you have something else to suggest.” So, what are your thoughts Tom?
Tom: You know, it depends exactly how deep you want to get into things like I’ve explained on this show numerous times, what’s your end means? What do you want to do? If all you want to do is just get it digitized, not do any editing, or very minor editing, Audacity is a great program. We’ve talked a lot about “Pro Tools” on this show it’s what you use yourself, it’s what professionals use.
Fisher: That’s correct, yeah. I’ve done it for years. Pro tools is a great program.
Tom: It gives you so many more options if you want to really get in there, clear things up, clean things up, you know add more narration on top of it all different kinds of things. Pro tools is definitely the way to go, and so what she’s got basically, she’s got those old micro cassettes and she wants to get them on her laptop but doesn’t know how to get them on her laptop. Thank heavens somebody in her family kept the old machine that they were recorded on. It wasn’t one of those old tiny ones this is like a big desktop module.
Tom: And the problem is okay she’s got all these cassettes and she wants to get them digitized so she can use them in Audacity or Pro Tools but something in the middle is missing, and luckily it’s something really, really simple. In fact, we have people coming in the store right now and talk to us about – which I’ll get into in a minute. As long as you have a piece of equipment that has a headphone jack that you can plug headphones into. Whether it’s the big headphones or the micro headphones, any time there’s an “Out” on it, you can ways find a way to get it into your computer. In her situation, all she needs is a cable that has a miniature stereo plug on one end and then on the other end depending on what your computer is like. If you have a PC that has a little RCA jacks usually one is red and one is white.
Tom: That’s what she would need on the other end of her cable, plug it in and just run the tapes. Do it all in real time, don’t do it in high speed, you know. Because a lot of people do it in high speed and then change the speed. Use good cables. In the old days I’d tell you to go to Radio Shack, but Radio Shack is basically a cell phone store now.
Tom: You can go to “bnhphoto.com.” They have things, and you can go on Amazon and find cables. And if you have a question like she does, send me a picture of your equipment. Both the machine that you have and your laptop or your desktop, whether it’s a Mac or a PC, and I can tell you exactly what kind of cable you need to look for and then you can go and type that into Amazon or Google search and you’ll be able to find the cables. You want to make sure you get the right kind of cables because you don’t want to jury rig it so something’s not going to sound good.
Fisher: Well, sure and you start changing the speeds, it really does cause some problems, and we’ve had that before too. I’ve actually worked on some audio and tried to compress it to get it from like a minute and three seconds if you’re cutting a commercial and you want it down to one minute, and it leaps, it causes some leaps in the audio. So it’s easier to actually edit breaths than it is to compress or change, or alter the speed, and certainly this would be the case with these as well. Especially, you know, if you did it at double time.
Tom: See, that’s what people don’t understand. They know “Okay, this is my tape. I want it on a disk, no big deal.” Well, you know you’re changing people from French to English basically. You’ve got this item which is analogue, it just flows just like a wave form does or you throw a rock into a pond and the waves go, that’s how analogue works. Where digital isn’t. Digital is like if your kids play Mind Craft. Its little squares.
Fisher: Um hmm.
Tom: There’s zeros and ones, there’s on and off, and so if you have a zero here and a one over here what goes in between it? And if you’re doing something high speed and the machine goes, “Hey, what am I supposed to do here?” There’s something missing, you’re going to hear a clicks and glitches and things like that. So you want to make sure you’ve got good equipment. That’s why you go to some place like Costco and buy this piece of equipment for $200 and find out why isn’t it compatible with my stuff I sent off to my nephew? We’ll go into more detail on that in the next segment and tell you where you can get good equipment.
Fisher: This segment’s brought to you by Forever.com we’ll get to that in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.
Segment 5 Episode 144 (44:20)
Host Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry
Fisher: All right, we are back, final segment of Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here. We’re talking preservation with Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com, our Preservation Authority. And Tom, we’re talking about transferring these old mini cassette tapes from Mary Lee Cole, her question about what program to use. And you’ve given her some great advice so far. What else do you have to add to that?
Tom: Well, you know, kind of where we left off in the last segment. What you mentioned, too is, you don’t want to do stuff at high speed because you lose fidelity. And as with the old statement “Garbage in, garbage out” you know you kind of get what you pay for. You know, you’ve got to be really careful with stuff like this. We have a lot of customers that come into our store that have tried going to the big box retailers and had problems with them saying they couldn’t fix the stuff when their stuff were really okay. You’ve got to realize, when you go into the big box retailers, yeah they make their own bread there, and they make a lot of their own daily items there. But when you’re dropping off tapes to have them transferred, they’re not doing it. They’re popping it off to someplace, sometimes in the states, sometimes overseas. And you don’t know until you get your thing back. And sometimes it’s stamped “Rejected.” And we’ve had those come into us all the time and they work fine. So you really need to be careful. If you want to stay local, find a local engineer that actually does this work onsite that you can ask the questions. If you have questions with us, ask us and we can maybe lead you to somebody.
Fisher: When you think about it, I understand why people would go to a big box store. They have a brand name, they do things well, they do it inexpensively and that’s mostly how we operate, right?
Fisher: Well, with reputation we don’t necessarily realize there’s a lot more to things like digitizing and preserving things than what a big box store can do. And a local person can do a much better job typically.
Tom: Oh absolutely! Yeah, take an 8 track into a big box store, hand it to the guy across the counter and day, “Can you transfer this?” He probably doesn’t even know what it is!
Fisher: [Laughs] That’s true!
Tom: Yeah, you go to a local guy, they’re going to say, “Oh, I can’t do this.” or “I can recommend this place.” We have people that come into us that need repair jobs done that is beyond our scope, but we know somebody that we trust that we can send you to. Whereas you go across the counter and they have no idea what you even have there. There’s no way they have the experience to send you to someplace that is able to take care of you. And like we talked about, a good source for finding things, if you want to do your own transfers yourself is B&HPhoto.com, has a lot of good quality equipment that you can buy. They’re good people to call and talk to. They’ll find out what your needs are. But every time, which we mentioned in the first segment, find out what your final need is. And as we kind of mentioned in the first segment too about cables, you want to make sure you get the right kind of cables, because that’s important. You don’t want to spend five dollars on a cable that you’re going to transfer all your old memories, where you can spend ten dollars and get one that’s going to sound so much better.
Fisher: So, getting back to Mary Lee’s original question then Tom, what are your thoughts on a program for her and digitization?
Tom: You know, I love Audacity, if you’re familiar with it and it works for you, rock and roll! If you’re going to be learning a new program, I really recommend Pro Tools, because it gives you so many more options, different things you can do. And one thing that’s really interesting, we had just a few weeks ago, on June 10th, we had our forty three year anniversary. And we had somebody come into store that had a little cell phone and they go, “Hey, this doesn’t take SD cards. How can I get these phone conversations off of here? I want to record them.” And sometimes it’s so simple, it’s right in front of you. All the new smart phones have an ear jack where you can listen to headphones or whatever. That’s all you need. You can plug a cable into that, plug it into an audio card on your computer. In fact, if you’re a Mac person, it usually has USBs. They make little cables you can get from Amazon that has a USB and a small jack on the other end which is what plugs into your phone. Plug it in, put it in the USB and rock and roll. If you have an old PC tower, you can buy cards for like twenty five dollars and audio cards. They’re very inexpensive. They’re really good. They have them on Best Buy, get them on Amazon, and plug them in. Load them into Audacity, Pro Tools however you want. And then one thing you always want to make sure you do, once you get it in there, before you do your editing, make it in an MP3 and put it on the cloud.
Fisher: All right. Always great advice Tom, thanks for coming on and we’ll see you again next week.
Tom: Sounds good. We’ll see you then.
Fisher: And this segment has been brought to you by FamilySearch.org. Well that wraps up our show for this week. Thanks once again to Heath Jones from “Task Force History” down in Heflin, Alabama and his buddy Justin Emmons from Paducah, Kentucky for coming on and talking about their recent metal detecting finds and how they’re tying them back to descendants of Civil War soldiers. And to Danny Klein from the Jersey City Library, talking about the challenges of digitization and how you can be part of it. Hey, if you missed any of it, catch the podcast. Talk to you again next week. And remember, as far as everyone knows, we’re a nice, normal, family!