Fisher opens the show with David Allen Lambert, Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. David starts by sharing “terms of endearment” over the past century beginning with “my beloved.” David then describes a shopping list for a 13th century English King’s feast. What was on it? David will tell you. David then reveals he has discovered that another well known genealogist who has been a guest on Extreme Genes is a cousin! He’ll tell you who it is and how they figured it out. David then shares another weekly genealogy tip and NEHGS guest member database.
(Starting at 10:38) Fisher then begins the first of a two segment interview with Steve Rockwood, CEO and President of FamilySearch.org. Steve recently celebrated his one year anniversary at the helm of the world’s largest free genealogical site. Steve talks about a host of things, including his background, what FamilySearch is doing to solve their “merging” issue (mostly pre-1700), what the indexing volunteers are up to, new partners, and how FamilySearch views their goals moving forward. How far forward? That answer might surprise you!
Next, Tom Perry, our Preservation Authority from TMCPlace.com drops in with concerns about the security of genies’ material everywhere. Tom has some basic tips and explanations about what you need to do to protect all the material you’ve stored on your devices, and why.
That’s all this week on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show!
Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert
Segment 1 Episode 164
Fisher: Hey and welcome to 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 LegacyTree.com. And on today’s show, this is a very special episode. We’re going to be talking in two parts to Steve Rockwood and Steve is the president and CEO of FamilySearch International. These are the people that bring you FamilySearch.org. It is a free site. They do a great job with bringing you all kinds of material often through volunteer work. And we’re going to find out from Steve, where are we going with FamilySearch.org, and what kind of records we’re likely to see in the next few years and what the long term plan is. And you’re going to be surprised by the way how long term their plan is with FamilySearch.org! So our visit with Steve starts in about 7 or 8 minutes. But right now let’s check in with my good friend the Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org, David Allen Lambert, in studio today!
David: Hey! How are you, Fish?
Fisher: It’s good to see you my friend.
David: It’s good to literally see you.
Fisher: Yes! We don’t get to do this too often.
David: Exactly. Well, it’s about time that I came into the studio once in a while.
Fisher: Absolutely! Well, good to have you here and where do we start with our family histoire news today?
David: Well, you know, terms of endearment are a wonderful thing that you say to your loved one and what we call our loved one now is a little different than when our parents did and when our grandparents did.
Fisher: I remember the movies where the lovers called each “Poopsie” or something like that. I mean horrible names, terrible things!
David: Wasn’t that on “Gilligan’s Island?”
Fisher: I think so yes. The Howells! [Laughs]
David: [Laughs] All right. Back in the early 1900s, the term “Beloved” was used in love letters between poets such as Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Robert Browning.
David: And then, “My Intended.”
Fisher: Yeah I remember that one, what era was that?
David: That’s also the early 1900s, 19 teens.
Fisher: Didn’t that usually mean though someone you were going to marry?
David: Uh hmm, which hence your marriage intention so that kind of makes sense.
Fisher: Sure, right.
David: By the 1920s the term which we think is more modern… “Baby” started to be used.
Fisher: Yep and we still use it to this day.
David: Oh that’s true. But here’s one that you don’t see very much. Do you refer to your beloved girlfriend as Moll?
David: Yep. It was big in the ‘20s.
Fisher: Now wait a minute. Wasn’t that in Star Wars? That was one of the evil characters, right?
David: No, that would be Darth Maul. [Laughs]
Fisher: Darth Maul, right. Yes, yes, yes.
David: This is during the flapper era, in the days of bathtub gins.
David: So maybe someone meant so say something longer and got a little sidetracked.
Fisher: And shortened it yes, uh huh.
David: A “gentleman caller” in the 1940s would be called just that. “You have a gentleman caller arriving for you.”
Fisher: And that was for the interview usually, right? They get to know you before they ask you on a date. I think that’s how that worked.
David: Yeah that’s usually when the father is sitting, field stripping their gun on the living room couch right before the daughter came over!
David: All these former veterans happened to have their gun just handy that day.
David: By the 1950s the term “going steady” is something that you see.
David: By the 1960s and ‘70s the hippies and those of that generation often would use a term of endearment which you might not think is “old man” or “old lady.”
Fisher: Yeah, your old man or old lady. You still hear that.
David: 1990s is one I don’t recall using. It comes from the word beau, but “boo.”
Fisher: Yeah, I’ve never used it.
David: Exactly. I would only use it at Halloween! [Laughs] And then now in the 2000s the term “bae” referring to the acronym, before anyone else.
Fisher: Right. And that would also be short for baby too, right?
David: That’s very true.
Fisher: It could work both ways.
David: Well thank you Bustle for interesting ways of referring to your loved ones. The next story I want to talk to you about is, “What are you having for dinner tonight?”
Fisher: Good question. I didn’t ask my boo. [Laughs]
David: Well listen, my moll hasn’t told me either.
David: But I must tell you if we took a time machine back to the 14th century, a book known as the Forme of Cury which is a commission cook book in recipe list for a feast for King Richard II of England.
David: This list in 1387 included 14 salted oxen, 2 fresh oxen, 120 sheep, 12 boars, 14 calves, 140 pigs, 300 kegs of lard and grease, 3 tonnes of salted venison, 50 swans, 240 geese, 50 high fat capons, 8 dozen capons, 60 dozen hens and keeps on going down to 12 gallons of curd, 12 bushels of apples and11 thousand eggs.
Fisher: Wow! Yeah that’s a lot of food.
David: I’ve often thought, you know of what we eat, how different it has been through the centuries. This is a lot different.
Fisher: That’s a whole lot different. I wonder what half that stuff tasted like.
David: I don’t know but if you’re offering any salted oxen, I might pass on that one.
David: At NEHGS in Boston our good friend and council member Mary Tedesco, who many have heard on our show before, who is obviously on Genealogy Road Show on PBS came in and was looking at our genealogy. I glanced over her shoulder and said, “Mary what are you working on?” She said, “Oh it’s a new relative I found.” And I said, “Oh, you’re my cousin!”
Fisher: You just knew from looking at the name. I looked at the surname, the Hughes family of Newbury, Massachusetts. Mary and I are now seventh cousins twice removed and our ancestors were both alive during the American Revolution which is kind of fun.
Fisher: This is fantastic. Does she get invited to Thanksgiving now?
David: I think I’m going to have to. I’ll have to stock up on that salted ox. [Laughs]
Fisher: [Laughs] Yes, exactly.
David: Every week I like to think of a good tip to use, and you know last week we had Carolyn Tolman on from LegacyTree.com and she gave some really good questions on what to ask relatives.
David: My grandmother used to say charity started at the home. So on one of those days when you have nothing to do, why not interview yourself?
Fisher: Yeah that’s true. There are a lot of stories we’ve never told people, right?
David: That is part of it but the other thing is, think of the genealogical stories you’ve found or the adventures you have had that you haven’t written down. I mean, a lot of people don’t keep journals. A lot of people don’t write letters and postcards. So what legacy are we leaving? So think of yourself a 100 years from now where one of your descendents wishing they could have interviewed you. Do them the favor and do it. Well, every week on AmericanAncestors.org we bring you a free guest member database. You can try out our over 72,000 images from our manuscript collection and the North American cemetery transcription project. Years ago we put the transcriptions up, but now we’re matching them with the original hand written inscriptions, that’s on AmericanAncestors.org. Well, I’ll be heading back to Beantown soon, but it was sure nice to stop into the studio and see you my good friend.
Fisher: Good to see you, David.
David: Take care.
Fisher: Thanks for coming by and enjoy the oxen tonight.
David: I will try to.
Fisher: All right and coming up next, we’re going to talk to Steve Rockwood. CEO and president of FamilySearch International, talking about the future of FamilySearch.org and what we can expect soon, coming up in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.
Segment 2 Episode 164
Host: Scott Fisher with guest Steve Rockwood
Fisher: And welcome back to America’s Family History Show, its Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth. There are four major companies in the world that I think we’re all aware of that provide so much information that help us to grow our family trees, discover our stories. “The Museum of Me,” as this man’s predecessor used to refer to it as, Dennis Brimhall, and we’re so proud and excited to have with us today the President and CEO of FamilySearch International, Steve Rockwood. Steve good to have you on Extreme Genes!
Steve: Thank you very much. It’s a thrill for me to be with you. I’ve listened to you for quite a while and I can’t believe I’m on this side of the microphone.
Fisher: [Laughs] Well, you joined FamilySearch last October. We first met at RootsTech. Tell people a little about your background. I don’t think most people understand some of the people that are behind some of these great companies.
Steve: Well thank you very much. You’re right, it’s been a year now since I’ve been asked to be the President and CEO of FamilySearch, but I’ve actually been with FamilySearch International for over twelve years, but I was never here at headquarters. I’ve been out in the field that whole time during my career. I created a company in Golden, Colorado and that’s where I raised my family for thirty years. So I actually started my time with FamilySearch working in the field, building the customer care and patron services organization for FamilySearch which now allows us to help people in ninety different countries with ninety toll free numbers, with thousands of volunteers helping people do their family history. So I did all of that in the field and there were a few times when they were wondering “Should you come in to headquarters, Steve?” And we thought, “No, let’s keep a pure field perspective as we continue to develop this.” And then at one point when we were getting ready to launch FamilySearch in more than just English and we launched it in twenty nine other languages, they asked me to prepare for that and actually my family and I moved out to Frankfurt, Germany and we got ready for those languages as well as increased our presence in the European market, and so that was a fabulous experience. And it was while I was in Germany that Dennis came on board and we brought him out to Germany and a few years later we came back to the States and I was asked to take his place.
Fisher: And the fun part about it is, all the things you’re talking about, the languages, the new records, it’s all free!
Fisher: It’s all free for anybody in the world. Do you speak German by the way, or did you learn a little over there?
Steve: My son speaks very good German and my wife can order and buy food in German. I was terrible. We did everything in English in the office so I did not pick up the German like my family did. [Laughs]
Fisher: [Laughs] Well I think the one thing that is truly unique about FamilySearch, I mean there are many aspects to it, but the fact that you have one tree. It is the tree of mankind that is being created. It’s kind of unique. I think it presents some great opportunities because of the idea that we can actually go through and start documenting individuals in one place, and then it also creates some problems because you’ve got individuals who may not have a lot of experience in understanding how things work. What are you seeing with it? What are you learning from it? What are some of the improvements that you are excited about right now?
Steve: Well the first thing I would suggest is, we just need to thank everyone for taking this leap of faith, if you will, and allowing us to really turn things upside down. The fact that there’s just one public tree, we can see why people would question, “Do you really need to do that?” But when you look at the scope of what we’re trying to do, it’s no big deal right? We’re just trying to map humankind!
Fisher: [Laughs] Right.
Steve: You can’t do that with the old paradigm. So we’re seeing now with the public tree that actually this crazy idea is being validated. If you look at how many sources we now have, we have over six hundred and eighty million sources in this tree of over a billion people, and we are just on the tip of the iceberg of being able to truly reconstitute the human family.
Fisher: And what does that mean to you? Reconstitute the human family, because obviously there aren’t records of every person who’s ever lived, and maybe some never existed in the first place for a lot of those people. What does that mean exactly?
Steve: Well as you know, people get involved with family history for many different reasons. You’ve had guests that said, “I really wasn’t looking at this as a family history, I love the thrill of the chase.” Or that sort of thing.
Steve: You have others that approach it for religious reasons. Others that approach it because of the academia. Whatever brings you to the table. The great opportunity for us is to find out how we’re all connected and belong to each other. There is an inherent desire for people to belong, and why not have us belong to the family. And that’s what it means to us, is to truly connect, heal, bring together this great thing we call family.
Fisher: Boy, that’s absolutely the truth. What do you think? 1500 is an era where, from 1500 to the present we could fill in what percentage of the people who’ve lived in the earth the last five hundred years?
Steve: Well if you look at it, back in the times that you’re talking about there were no more than a billion people, now we’re over seven billion people on the earth. So really what we’re trying to do, to look in the past is a small, small fraction of what it really means to constitute the human family. The key thing is to capture the living memory today, the history that’s taking place today. We’re going to figure out how to continue to look in the past. But for us, we’re looking long term. How do we really capture history on an everyday basis so that it’s not so hard for those a hundred years from now to figure out what you and I did today.
Fisher: The better we get at going back, the further behind we are going forward, in many ways right?
Steve: [Laughs] That’s right!
Fisher: I mean, how many people actually keep track of their own family and grandchildren and great grandchildren and maybe descendants of the immigrants who came over, and trying to track that. I’ve been doing a lot of that personally. That’s been on my mind. You kind of get a view that the ancestor never got to see. You get to see what happened to his family moving forward for generations on end and what a unique sight that is.
Steve: And aren’t you grateful for that one ancestor who actually took notes or made some sort of record, or that wonderful church or government entity that made a record. But I would suggest to you that we’re living right now in a day… this is the most journaling generation that the world’s ever seen. When you look at what’s happening with social media, we are actually recording what’s happening in our personal lives better than we ever had in the history of the world.
Fisher: Hour to hour sometimes.
Steve: That’s exactly right.
Fisher: Then the question is, how much do you keep of it?
Steve: That’s right.
Fisher: Because we aren’t writing letters anymore and we don’t preserve those anymore. In fact, a lot of this generation now can’t even read cursive.
Fisher: How’s that going to work, you know, down the line? [Laughs] I think it’s going to be a speciality.
Steve: As you stitch those photos and those small character tweets together, you will actually find there’s a beautiful journal there of great history.
Fisher: Absolutely true. We’re talking to Steve Rockwood. He’s the CEO and President of FamilySearch International. Steve, let’s talk about merging issues that have been going on. I mean, you go back on the Family Tree, I think one of the problems that comes from the “one tree” concept, is that in the past on FamilySearch there were many, many, many entries for the same ancestors. So you go to try to merge those, maybe sometimes a hundred of them, a hundred entries of the same individual. And the system can’t take that. And it’s been that way for a while now and I think many of us had to take deep breaths and realize, you know, it’s okay, we’re pretty good back to about 1800 as far as merging goes. We don’t seem to have that issue, and mostly through the 18th century, the 1700s. But before that, it’s a real problem. And that’s a technology issue. Maybe you can give us an update on how we’re coming along with that.
Steve: Yes, I’d love to. And I have ancestors in that situation myself and it is a matter of, how do you take all of these dispirit and separate record sets and pedigrees that people have been keeping for hundreds, even thousands of years, and bring them all into one. You do run in to these people that we call “individuals of unusual size,” if you’re a Princess Bride fan.
Fisher: [Mimics Princess Bride] “Inconceivable!”
Steve: [Laughs] Exactly! But I will tell you, I remember when we first ran in to them because I was with the organization, and compared to where we are now, the technology is actually allowing us to take a look at that bowl of spaghetti and really start to make some sense out of it. Just this past summer in July, we were able to make a significant system upgrade that was, unbeknownst to all of our users, but is actually now allowing us to even further tackle the merging. So be patient with us. We’re continuing to do it, but we’re making big leaps forward.
Fisher: Boy, I think when that’s solved, that’s going to really help an awful lot of things, at least back to 1600, because if the records get a little smaller before that, you don’t have quite the problem again, right?
Steve: That’s right. And you’re talking about western genealogy.
Steve: So you know our scope includes the whole world and so we’re also looking at what does this mean for the genealogies that goes much further back than what you’re talking about, especially those in Asia.
Steve: So as we gear towards that, believe me it will solve the problems for western genealogy.
Fisher: Are there merging issues for other countries like that? Records where you have the multiple accounts that you have to bring together?
Steve: There are definitely “individuals of unusual size!”
Steve: First Dragon Long or whatever, but we won’t have the merging issues if you will, as we accommodate those.
Fisher: That’s exciting.
Fisher: Absolutely. Tell us about your partnerships. You know, we’ve had a lot of partnerships that we’ve seen developed by FamilySearch.org over the last several years, MyHeritage, FindMyPast, Ancestry.com and others, New England Historic Genealogical Society, and it’s worked out I think fantastic for everybody because of the recognition that no one organization can do it all. They all need their help. What else can we look forward to as far as partnerships go with FamilySearch down the line?
Steve: Well I’m glad you asked because partnerships is a huge part of our business plan and the reason for that is simply if you look at our scope, we have patrons that literally are in all countries throughout the world. We have developed and are continuing to develop very dynamic plans for over 165 homelands.
Steve: So it matters to us where the person lives, but more importantly is where is that person’s family from. And we live in such a wonderful society now where I might have my homelands be in Boston and in Scotland, in the UK and Denmark, where my neighbor’s homeland is in Mexico and in Spain.
Steve: And we need to accommodate for all of that. And the only way we can accommodate for all of those different homelands is through partnerships. And so we started with the partnerships that we’re all familiar with here in the United States, and that’s really accelerated and expanded our ability to service those from the United States and Western Europe, Northern Europe, but now we’re finding partnerships to help us in other areas like Africa, Asia and South East Asia, that sort of thing.
Fisher: All right. Let’s talk more about that when we return… talking to Steve Rockwood CEO and President of FamilySearch International. This segment’s been brought to you by FamilySearch.org. Back in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.
Segment 3 Episode 164
Host: Scott Fisher with guest Steve Rockwood
Fisher: And we are back, Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, talking to Steve Rockwood. He is the CEO and president of FamilySearch International. We were just talking about some of the partnerships that FamilySearch can uniquely do because of the fact you’re non profit. And we know you have partnerships with MyHeritage and FindMyPast and Ancestry and some others that are coming along, we didn’t quite finish that in our last segment. So who else have you got that you can tell us about right now that’s either coming along or has just signed on?
Steve: Well, we have AmericanAncestors as a major partner as well.
Steve: Yep. And we have, if you come to FamilySearch.org and look at our app gallery, you’ll see over 100 apps of partners that will further enhance your experience in doing your family history, especially with these neat discovery experiences. But I mentioned we’re doing a lot of work internationally because of the scope of our patron base, and we have a new partner, Geneanet. If you’d come to any of 4900 Family History Centers around the world you can access Geneanet’s unbelievable database of records from all over the world. So that’s just one example of many that we continue to develop.
Fisher: Well, and I’ve run into them in the past and it helped me to solve one of my western European issues a year or two ago, and I wasn’t even aware that they existed. So it was very exciting to find what they had and what a lot of their members are sharing there publicly. So that’s a great new partner. What new records do you anticipate coming out? There are a lot of hard-to-get countries, obviously, and you’ve talked about the vision of not only improving our ability to find records from the past, but also to keep up with the present and those people moving forward so we don’t fall so far behind as things go on. What other nations are we reaching into that perhaps we haven’t gotten so many records from before?
Steve: Well, it’s a great question. When we look at records we look at two things, there’s records, and then there’s searchable records.
Fisher: Right. [Laughs]
Steve: So, with the records that we have, we continue to digitize the microfilms that we have in the vault, and continue to publish those on a weekly basis. So, it’s good for anyone to come to FamilySearch.org every single week to see what else has been digitized.
Fisher: And that’s to be completed, right? In, like, three years?
Steve: That’s exactly right. That’s exactly right. But in addition to that, we’re looking at making the records searchable, because we know a certain percentage of people will have a wonderful time to come in and browse records, but when we’re trying to attract many more people to this wonderful experience of family history, well, you need to make those records searchable.
Fisher: Like the court records.
Steve: Exactly. So we’re making more and more records searchable through the efforts of our volunteers as well as the efforts of our partners so that more people can enjoy them. I would share, for example, we’re having some real breakthroughs with our marriage records here in the United States, with civil and church records from Mexico, records that we captured decades ago are now becoming searchable because of our efforts with partners. So those are just two great examples.
Fisher: How many volunteers do we have now?
Steve: Well, it’s a wonderful thing because we have many volunteers doing many different things. We have over sixty five thousand volunteers just helping people answer their questions. And then we look at the people that are contributing to the tree and contributing to indexing, now you’re in the 300,000 volunteer numbers there, as they’re contributing to this great public dream.
Fisher: How many pages a day are being indexed?
Steve: How many pages are day are being indexed? I’m not quite sure because it’s a…
Fisher: [Laughs] I mean, it’s a silly number.
Steve: But the result of the indexing we’re adding over 1.4 million new names for people to come search. That’s the end result per day.
Fisher: Per day?
Steve: Per day, yeah.
Fisher: All right, let’s talk a little about the next five years. And I ask people this all the time, some of the visionaries such as yourself. Where are we going? I’m hearing that DNA may have to be completely redone down the line. What happens in the realm of record gathering and indexing and making them searchable, what are you seeing in the next 5 years, Steve?
Steve: Well, it’s funny, when you ask us about five years, that’s our micro plan. Our short term planning is 15 years. We’ve been in this space for so long we’re looking at 50 years out and 100 years out when it comes to long term planning. When we look at our planning we’re thinking “What is this going to look like 100 years from now? 50 years from now?” Just 15 year planning, which I would consider short term planning. For these 165 different homelands we have plans that say “This is where we are today with the tree, where do we want to be 15 years from now? This is where we are with the records from that homeland, and where do we want to be 15 years from now? This is how we help people from that homeland, where do we want to be 15 years from now?” And we have five experiences that we are planning for for 15 years out.
Fisher: Wow! [Laughs] You take my breath away a little with that. Talk about technology. What’s new in technology that’s coming along that’s helping FamilySearch? How about converting some of the names in different languages to the native language of the user?
Steve: That’s one of the technologies we’re definitely going after. When I look up one name in English it means something totally different in another language. We are working on being able to do search and provide the search results in whatever native language that you have.
Fisher: Is this part of your partnership, say with MyHeritage because they certainly do that.
Steve: That’s exactly right.
Fisher: Obviously they have great technology for that. Are you looking to perhaps partner with them in that kind of technology?
Steve: That is exactly right. That’s why we have these partnerships. Each of them bring different things to the table and love to show them what we can provide for them as they provide their expertise to us. I would suggest on the technology side, the big nut for the whole industry to crack is how to make more records searchable. So we are doing a lot of R&D if you will, on how do you automate some of the manual process of indexing? There will always be human intervention in the process. But what can we do to start recognizing not just the characters but the patterns of words and different languages and different character sets, and that’s a major part of what we’re doing. You’ll see some breakthrough there I think within the next five years.
Fisher: We certainly heard a lot of talk about the idea of being able to use technology to read handwritten records, which is fascinating to me because everybody’s hand is different. I mean, if you ever look at old German, it looks like some art form.
Fisher: It doesn’t look like hand writing. [Laughs] Is this in process do you think? Where we’re going to be able to read things like that so we won’t have to use individuals to index some of those old records?
Steve: That’s exactly what we’re talking about. And when it comes to cursive or hand writing, it’s a matter of recognizing patterns versus characters, and so we’re exploring the technology in that regard. Another key thing we’re doing on the technology is, how do we personalize this experience more and more? If you come to FamilySearch.org, there’s now a personal dashboard right there that knows exactly what you were doing before, that can point you and help you on what you want to do in the future. So we’re personalizing this for you, the individual patron and finding ways that you can share it and actually collaborate not just with your fellow enthusiasts or that distant cousin that loves this thing as well, but you can start collaborating with the non-interested, but soon-to-be-interested family member. Your brother, your sister, your kids… our technology is allowing us to start to involve them.
Fisher: It almost sounds like it’s creating a customized personal website just for your family or smaller group.
Steve: That’s exactly what it is. We have this relentless pursuit to bring family back into family history. That’s how technology is allowing us to do that. I think one of the most exciting things we’re doing with technology right now is we’re finding what do we have in this great public tree, whether it’s relationships in the tree, searchable records in our record reservoir, memories, photos and stories or audio recordings.
Steve: Even things that you’ve done in the past where you got help, and now our technology can take all of those things that we know about you and with our algorithms, start to develop what we call “discovery experiences.” How do I take this record information, how do I take what’s in the tree, bring that together, and package it in such a way that I can email it or text it to you, put it on this personal homepage and give you a very small digestible discovery experience that might break through a brick or wall or actually entice you to do something that you never thought of doing before.
Fisher: Steve Rockwood, CEO, President of FamilySearch International. We’ll see you at RootsTech.
Steve: Yes please! We’re very, very excited. You’re going to see a big emphasis on family culture at this coming up RootsTech.
Fisher: Great! Going to be there. Thanks for coming on!
Steve: Thank you very much.
Fisher: And this segment of Extreme Genes has been brought to you by 23andMe.com DNA. And coming up next, we’ll talk preservation with the Preservation Authority Tom Perry, from TMCPlace.com, that’s in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.
Segment 4 Episode 164
Host: Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry
Fisher: And welcome back to America’s Family History Show, Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. Fisher here, the Radio Roots Sleuth Tom Perry is in the house from TMCPlace.com. He’s our Preservation Authority. How are you, Tom?
Fisher: And what do you have for us today?
Tom: We are going to talk cyber security. You’ve spent all this time digitizing all your films, your videos, all these kinds of things, now how do you protect them?
Fisher: Oh boy! And that’s important! I can’t imagine people would want to steal your old videos or home movies, or what purpose there would be in that, but I suppose it could get garbled up in people stealing other material.
Tom: Oh absolutely! They can go into genealogy sheets and see birthdates, places of birth, and get credit cards, do all kinds of fraud, because a credit card company doesn’t say, “Oh, this person’s 102 years old. This must be fraud.”
Fisher: Yeah. [Laughs]
Tom: So they use it for things like that. And unfortunately, there are just some mean people out there that all they want to do is cause destruction.
Fisher: All right, where do we start with this?
Tom: Well, the first thing I need to tell people, you can’t hide in a corner from paranoia. You need to do something. I had somebody just call us the other day as their hard drive crashed. They tried to recover it. They accidentally reformatted it. And they thought, “Oh, okay, well, I’ve reformatted it, but it hadn’t totally erased everything. Because when you format a disk, unless you do a clean wipe, the information’s still there, just the address is gone. It would be like if you went down and ripped everybody’s mailbox down and their address off of the front of the building.
Tom: They’re still there, and you might not know what is 2016. However, the building is still there.
Tom: We use a place called Disk Savers, that is wonderful, that can recover things. There’s a lot of software out there. Unfortunately, what happened to this guy is he did one thing which I absolutely hate. This is my opinion. People check on their computer, “Hey, anytime there’s a new update, update it automatically.” That really freaks me out because you don’t know what’s going to update. There might be something that turns you from one OS to another OS, and some of your software won’t work anymore. So I always put, “ask me first.” Because what happened is this guy thought, “Okay, I’m going to work on this again in the morning. I’ve recovered some things.” That night, his Windows machine updated and wrote over all that stuff that had been formatted.
Tom: So now it’s totally irrecoverable.
Fisher: Oh no!
Tom: So that’s just one of the bad things. That’s why I say, you need to do a cloud. And people say, “Well, you know, with all this cyber security and all this hacking? And I don’t want to use a cloud.” Well, you’ve got to do that if you want to protect this stuff. If you would have had it in a cloud, you would have been fine. So what you need to do is, find a good way to put passwords on your different items, and make sure you write down your passwords and code them. People think, “Oh, I’m going to put, “123admin” or something.
Tom: Anybody will be able to figure that out! Or “What’s the name of your first dog?” They’re going to know stuff like that if they’re somebody that knows you, there are things they can find out through family research. So what I suggest people do is code your words. You can spell things backwards.
Tom: You can actually have the word as your password, it can be the name of your first dog you ever had, but in your password that you have it written down, use the word “cat,” so somebody else thinks its “cat” if they find it, but you know that really means your first you ever owned.
Fisher: But think about all the names you have in your head from your research, right? You know your great grandparents, your third great grandparents, you know dates they were born, they died, they were married. You could take some combination of middle names and dates and places and create all kinds of passwords that only you would know.
Tom: Oh absolutely! All you need to do, like you just mentioned is, have a code. Like you can put “Uncle Grant four” and you know that’s four generations back, and his birth date is your code.
Tom: So it’s just tricks like that because people say, “Oh, I’ll forget my password! Oh no, I can’t do that!” Well, write them down, put them in your phone, put them in your tablet, put them in your computer, but code them, so if somebody finds this, nobody’s going to know what it means, except for you. And I do this exact same thing. If somebody found my phone, they would have all my passwords, but the codes would mean nothing to anybody.
Tom: What it means is like we said “Grandpa 4,” means four generations back. The password is his number. And you always want to make sure when you’re creating a password, you always want to have at least one number, one capital letter and one little letter, uppercase and lowercase. For instance, you can have the word “red” in your password that you have written down, but it really means Roof, because you know you have a red roof on your house.
Tom: There’s so many different ways you can do this. Now, after the break, we’re going to tell you some more ways to protect your stuff.
Fisher: All right, coming up in three minutes on Extreme Genes. This segment has been brought to you by Roots Magic.
Segment 5 Episode 164
Host: Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry
Fisher: And we are back for our final segment of Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show. We’re still talking preservation with Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com. And today we’re talking about cyber security, and actually protecting your family records, because as Tom has pointed out, sometimes those records can be used for fraud.
Fisher: And nobody wants that. So, let’s talk a little more about this, Tom. This is good stuff.
Tom: Okay. Another thing that you can do that’s really, really simple, and a lot of people in the old days did this, they just left their computers on 24/7, because it’s actually better to leave them on than turning them on and off.
Tom: But nowadays, you don’t want to do that. You want to turn off your computers at night. If nobody’s going to be using wifi in your house at night, just unplug your modem from the wall. You don’t have to shut it down. Just unplug it, because then nobody can access it. There are people that drive down streets looking for wifi, and then they break into your wifi. Once they’re into your wifi, if you don’t have a really good firewall on your system, they’re going to be able to get into your computer, pull out documents, do whatever they want to do. They could actually go onto your wifi, go to a pornographic site that’s maybe an illegal one. And then when people find out about it, they’re going to come to you, because you have the address that’s on that modem.
Fisher: Yes. There have been some horrible situations with that, with people who insist they were never there.
Fisher: But it went right back to their computer, because somebody hacked in, yep.
Tom: It could be a neighbor, it could be somebody in a car, there’s just so many options. Especially when you go out of town, make sure you unplug all your modems. If you have refrigerators and different items that are hooked to the internet, make sure that the internet connection is turn off on all of those, unless for some reason you need to have access to it. And make sure when you buy a modem, if you haven’t already, that allows you to have wifi in your house, or even just brings the internet. Even if you don’t have wifi, make sure it has changeable password that you can change it monthly. And come up with some kind of a code, so everybody in your family knows, “Oh, this is October. This is what it’s going to be.” And that is so important, because if you have one that’s “Admin1234,” that’s the first thing they’re going to try to get into it. So make sure your modem, whether you have a Comcast one or you go buy one BestBuy, make sure you can change your passwords.
Fisher: And getting back to this whole thing about people being concerned about clouds, I mean, let’s just talk about, say, Google Drive, I mean, they have countless servers out there to manage Google Drive, which gives you a lot of added protection.
Tom: Oh absolutely! Google Drive is a wonderful one, but nothing’s perfect. That’s why you want to be careful you change all your addresses, your passwords, all these things that you can. And one last thing you need to understand, a few weeks ago there was a big break where you couldn’t get to Amazon, you couldn’t get to Spotify, several different sites.
Tom: What had happened, they did not attack those sites, they attacked the post office which gets letters to go to your home, but in this case, its email, or you’re trying to go somebody’s website and you type in Amazon.com. Well, Amazon.com isn’t really where they are. Really, its numbers, it’s usually nine numbers, like 192.192.192.
Fisher: Right. Yes.
Tom: And that’s what it is. So if you have banking information, places that you have to get to that are really important, find out what those numbers are, so if something like this happens to Amazon or Spotify or your bank or whatever and the post office is compromised, you can still type in those numbers and get to the websites, because the websites were never compromised.
Fisher: How do you get that?
Tom: You can usually go to a place that’s called WhoseIsIt and type in the name of Amazon.com or whatever and it’ll usually go up and tell you who the owners are and it’ll give you that numeric number. If not, contact your bank, because anybody should be able to have access to that. And so then you know, “Oh, 192.192.192 is how I get to my bank,” or whatever. And then you’re always going to be able to go there. So if somebody does another thing like this and attacks your “post office,” so to speak, you can still go directly to the house or the business.
Fisher: Yeah. You may have noticed Ancestry was down last week as well. It’s all part of this WikiLeaks hack. Everybody was kind of upset about Julian Assange and what was going on with them.
Fisher: And so they were basically trying to shut down the internet in the United States, and did a pretty good job. Thanks so much, Tom. See you next week.
Tom: My pleasure.
Fisher: And this segment has been brought to you by MyHeritage.com. Well, that wraps up our show for this week. Once again, it just zipped by way too fast. If you’re liking what you’re hearing, don’t forget to sign up for our Weekly Genie newsletter. It’s free and it shares all kinds of great information about what’s happening in family history around the world. Just sign up at ExtremeGenes.com. Talk to you again next week. Thanks for joining us. And remember, as far as everyone knows, we’re a nice, normal family!