Episode 127 - Storing Your Digital Material 'Forever' / "Genie" Leads Restoration of North Carolina Cemetery

podcast episode Feb 22, 2016

Fisher opens the show with David Allen Lambert, Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org.  David shares a story about a man who solved his own missing person case, and was proven correct through... wait for it... DNA testing!  David then gives details on the upcoming Ontario Genealogy Conference... what a list of speakers they'll have in June.  It's well known that we all have Neanderthal DNA, but now we know what medical conditions we may also have inherited from them.  David will tell you what you can now blame on the Neanderthals!  Finally, an amazing data storage breakthrough has happened at the University of Southampton in England.  You won't believe how long they say they'll be able to digitally preserve the recorded treasures of the world.  David then shares a genealogical pet peeve (Fisher says he's right!) and shares another NEHGS guest user free database and tip.

Fisher then visits with Glen Meakem of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, founder of Forever, Inc., a company that may have solved our long term storage issues as individuals and genealogists, with security and data preserving upgrades as systems change.  What does the model of a life insurance company have to do with all this?  Glen will tell you and what his company is up to in this terrific segment.

Then, Extreme Genie Ann Allred of Centerville, Utah visits with Fisher about her long sought after discovery of her grandfather's grave in Pennsylvania.  But of course, that wasn't the end of it... just a beginning.  Talk about the ultimate "snowball" project. Ann's story will inspire you.

Tom Perry, the Preservation Authority from TMCPlace.com, then joins the show and reveals some horror stories he heard about at his booth at the Roots Tech Family History Conference in Salt Lake City, Utah, two weeks ago.  Naturally, Tom will tell you how to avoid similar issues and how to repair some of the damage!

That's all this week on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show!

Transcript of Episode 127

Host Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Segment 1 Episode 127

Fisher: You have found us, America's Family History Show, Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com!

It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth, your congenial host on the program where we shake your family tree and watch the nuts fall out.

Hope you're having a great research week. I want to give a little shout out to my third cousin, Elaine, who just found me this past week. And we've been exchanging photographs and documents, and it's always so exciting to connect with somebody who's just far enough away where they have a lot of things that you don't and vice-versa.

We have a great line-up of guests today; one is the founder of a company called, ‘Forever’. And this is a brand new thing that could very well change the way we view storage of our data for the long term, and I'm talking about multiple generations on end. Wait till you hear this model. Glen Meakem, the founder is going to have that for you in about eight or nine minutes.

And then, later in the show, we're going to talk to a lady who finally through the use of some technology found the burial place of her grandfather, an overgrown cemetery in North Carolina, and what stemmed from this discovery, an astonishing story from Ann Allred, a Utah woman, coming up later in the show.

But right now, let's head out to Boston and talk to David Allen Lambert, the Chief Genealogist for the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org

Hello, David!

David: Hey, Fish, Greetings from Beantown! How are things with you?

Fisher: Just awesome as always. You know, I'm kind of excited about this list of stuff we have to talk about today, because there's a lot of news going on right now. Where do we start?

David: You know, sometimes we go to a place and we forget why we're there. Well, Edgar Latulip has been reported missing for three decades. Apparently, this 21 year old, years ago was travelling on a bus to Niagara Falls, and because of an injury, ended up forgetting who he was.

Fisher: Wow!

David: So, all of a sudden, he has determined who he is. He had suffered a head injury, but now, police say the DNA results have confirmed that is who he is, and he will now be meeting up with his family for the first time in three decades.

Fisher: Now wait a minute!  So, he's in his fifties now and suddenly he remembered his own name?

David: Absolutely!

Fisher: Oh, that's nuts.

David: He remembered his true identity.

Fisher: And the DNA test comes in as always. And yes, it works for living people as well, doesn't it?

David: It really does, you know. And on that Canadian slant maybe he'll be one of the people that will want to go up to the Ontario Genealogical Society Conference, which is coming up in June. This is a big conference, June 3rd and they have some national speakers like, CeCe Moore and Relative Race, and our good friend, Judy Russell, many of them who have been on our show.

Fisher: Right.

David: And it's going to be great. Lots of technological brick walls and of course DNA, so who knows, maybe Edgar will go up there and find a little more in his family tree.

Fisher: Or give a little lecture about how it suddenly dawned on him who he was. Amazing!

David: You know, we've chatted before about the Neanderthal percentages that we all have. I found out about twenty-three Neanderthals that out of an average European, 2.7 percent of their DNA is Neanderthal, well, I'm 2.5.

Fisher: Right. So, you're just a little below. I think I'm like 2.9, which explains my really furry eyebrows.

David: Well, that's why we do radio, isn't it? [Laughs]

Fisher: That's right. [Laughs]

David: You know, it's funny, I was reading an article, and I talked to you about it earlier this week, they're saying that if you have a tendency to have more Neanderthal in your DNA structure, depression and also an addiction to nicotine.

Fisher: Really?

David: Yeah. I didn't know they had cigarettes back then, thousands of years ago. And apparently, you know, these depressed Neanderthals were smoking, chain smoking.

Fisher: No, David, I don't think that's what they were saying, I think they were just saying, if they were around today, they would have a tendency for nicotine, but it is a funny picture, isn't it?

David: Yeah, it is the truth.

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: You know what? It's funny, I don't smoke, and maybe if my percentage was a little higher, maybe I would be the person that would be smoking.

Fisher: Who knows? Who knows? Fascinating find though!

David: It is. With DNA, it’s just amazing how more and more we're finding out about our past. Do you know, we're always thinking about how long our data is going to be around, and obviously, “Forever” is offering some wonderful solutions and a new technology, which isn't commercially available yet, but the University in Southampton, England, has come up with a 5-dimensional data storage. Yes, 5-dimensional.

Fisher: What!?

David: Yeah. It saves on it 360 terabytes of data, and can be safe for - get this – 13.8 billion years!

Fisher: And they've tested that, huh? [Laughs]

David: Well, I think they still have some in the works, and maybe they've got a time machine that they've tested it out, but apparently, this data storage has already been used to save the Magna Carta, King James Bible, Opticks, by Isaac Newton and the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights. So far, BluRay disks can store 128 gigabytes of data. A 5D disk can store 3000 times that amount. And again, it's not commercially available, but just think of the possibilities of being able to store a complete library on one image.

Fisher: Wow! Insane!

David: It is. Now, when you are at the library, my tech tip or my pet peeve is that sometimes a genealogy program or when you're writing up your genealogy and you're looking at old English records, now, 1837 is when civil registration happened.

Fisher: Right.

David: Well, they did have birth records.

Fisher: In England, yep.

David: If you're looking at a 1712 date, chances are it's not a birth date, it's a baptism date. So, do put 'bapt' or 'bpt' or 'baptized' or whatever you'd like to put down, and don't put it in as the birth date. The child probably was not born the same day, but countless genealogies have listed it as a birth date, and nowhere does it say in the original that the child was born that day.

Fisher: That's a good pet peeve and I'm with you on that.

David: Just be a little bit more detail oriented and it'll save frustration future generations down the line trying to figure out where you got that from. NEHGS, or of course, American Ancestors has a guest user database. And one of the data bases that we have, and I mean, this is specifically for Boston. It's a Boston 1890 city directory, but I can't stress to all of the listeners how important urban directories from 1890 are. With the loss of the 1890 Federal Census, urban city directories, our poll tax was or County tax was for the year 1889 - 1891 could successfully pin point where your family is, where we don't have the 1890 for the majority of the United States.

Fisher: That's right. That's right. Good advice, David.

David: Talk to you next week.

Fisher: All right. And coming up next, we're going to talk to Glen Meakem. He's the founder of a company called, 'Forever', and he may just have the long term solution that all of us are looking for in family history to preserving your records.  Coming up next in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show.

Segment 2 Episode 127

Host Scott Fisher with guest Glen Meakem

Fisher: And, welcome back to Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com

It is Fisher here, the Radio Roots Sleuth, and with all that’s going on with Roots Tech we’re starting to examine all kinds of new products and services that are available, that are going to make our lives as researchers and preservers so much easier, and I’m very excited to have on the line from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Glen Meakem, who is founder of a company called Forever.com

His Glen, how are you? Welcome to the show!

Glen: Hey Scott, what a pleasure to be here!

Fisher: This is exciting stuff because people who listen to this show regularly know that we’re always fretting over all the challenges that preservation brings to us, especially in the digital realm, and you may have come up with the ultimate solution... this Forever.com

Tell us about this whole thing because this looks like it may be the solution.

Glen: Basically, I’m a successful Internet entrepreneur; I’ve been at this for 25 years now.

Fisher: Right.

Glen: I founded a company in the 90’s called “Free Markets” which was a very successful, and took it public and we did very well with it. But in more recent years... going back to the 90s early 90s, I’m a Gulf War Veteran, I got this before my whole internet career but I got back from the war and I spent some time that summer videotaping my then living grandparents, my wife and my grandparents.

We have six different grandparents who are still alive and we have incredible interviews and it was the best summer of 2012, and I’m trying to figure out “Okay, I’ve got these interviews,” and I had them on VHS when I first did them and I distributed them among all my family members but none of them know where they are anymore and of course I had the tapes and I was digitizing them and I was thinking “Really what I need is a permanent cloud storage solution.”

Fisher: Right.

Glen: Where I can store these and know that not only myself in 10-20 years but my children and my grandchildren and my great grandchildren could all access these, find them even if there’s a break you know even if there’s some smucky grandchildren who don’t care about family history and family memory preservation, hey the great grandchildren will. I need to put them in the cloud in a way that I know that they’re going to be searchable and findable. So I went looking for a service that provided permanent cloud storage and sharing but it didn’t exist.

In fact, any major service including Google+ and Amazon cloud, and Dropbox and everybody else explicitly said “Don’t trust us, we don’t preserve your stuff long term, we can shut you off at any time.” And all you’ve got to do is go look at their terms of service to know that they explicitly renounce permanence.

Fisher: Wow.

Glen: So I realized there was no solution on the market. You know I’m an entrepreneur I start things, I try to solve problems for people and I said “This is a huge opportunity.” So I started the company and I was able to buy the URL, the domain Forever.com and it was the perfect name for what I wanted to do. So yeah, we are Forever.com, we are the world’s first and only permanent sharable cloud storage site. Basically it’s your permanent digital home. We give people full digital rights.  They own everything they upload to the site. They have their own sub-domain within the Forever domain where they can keep all their stuff. Right now it’s just photos, within the next couple of weeks we’re releasing documents so you can save all your documents, PDF documents there.

Fisher: Right.

Glen: And then we’ll be doing video and audio in the near future, I don’t have exact dates yet. But at this point we have thousands upon thousands of members already who are in fact... members of our service who are using Forever.com to store and share, and manage all their photos and soon documents and soon videos.

Fisher: This is very exciting because I’m thinking there’re also going to be changes in formats over time and I’m assuming that you’ve made some allowance for some of that, so that as things change just like you mentioned the old VHS, I mean people can’t even play them half the time anymore. 

Gen: Right.

Fisher: There’s a way for you to deal with that upgrade to keep them relevant?

Glen: Right. For all of us you know, I’m in my young 50s so all of our age group know that “Okay you know the VHS to DVD is a great example of format change and of course before VHS tapes there were 8 millimeter video in your personal video camera.

Fisher: Super 8.

Glen: Yeah that was the Super 8 films. But even in the digital world we know that digital formats change. A great company was WordPerfect in its hey-day in the 80s of course it’s long gone. But if you’re like me and you wrote papers in college in WordPerfect, you can no longer access those files without very, very specialized software to kind of bring back to life old files.

Fisher: Right. Convert it.

Glen: Right. So the problem we’re all going to have is today’s digital photo formats, today’s digital video formats are not going to be viewable by tomorrow’s devices, and so here’s what we do. When you buy permanent storage with Forever, most of the money you pay for that permanent storage up front goes into the Forever guarantee fund. We’re not just an internet company, a software company.

Fisher: Right.

Glen: We’re like a life insurance company. We’re like MetLife for your photos and your videos.

Fisher: Well, don’t cemeteries do that kind of thing as well?

Glen: Cemeteries do, do that kind of thing.

Fisher:  A perpetual care fund.

Glen: Yeah. Yeah, so it’s a reserve fund, I like to think of it less as a cemetery fund and more like a long term life insurance fund.

Fisher: Sure.

Glen: We’re a privately owned company like a MetLife, in other words we’re private sector, and we’re not public sector like a university. So, like an insurance company most of the money goes into the Forever guarantee fund which is a restricted fund like an insurance reserve fund. In a diversified portfolio, stocks and bonds etc. It generates income every year that income is used to pay for the storage and also to pay for some bandwidth and to pay for the digital migration of the files, the maintenance of the files. 

So over time part of our contractual commitment to our customers is that we will digitally migrate file formats so that your great grandchildren will really see all the stuff you’ve put together and all the stuff you saved.

Fisher: Down the line now what happens to your company? What happens is somebody just doesn’t want to maintain it anymore, how does it get taken care of?

Glen: Well, we all kinds of safeguards in place so with every single customer we have there’s a contract and that contract is available... just go to Forever.com and look at our terms of service and the investment policy for the Forever guarantee fund, it’s all publically available.

But with every single individual permanent member of our service there’s a contract with them and it says the money they’re putting into the Forever guarantee fund is restricted.  It only can come out in these very small increments to pay for these specific storage and data migration and things like that. And we have thousands and thousands of these customers already, so basically the money that is in the guarantee fund just like if it was with MetLife, an insurance company.  The money is restricted and it’s restricted by contract between the customers and the company, and if we go public, obviously I won’t live forever, I intend to be CEO of this company for at least 20 more years but there’ll come a point in time where you know there’s a management transition.

But the future management, no matter what, whether it’s public shareholders or private shareholders doesn’t matter whether we’re owned by another company eventually doesn’t matter. The new management will be restricted by the same set of contracts. You know at that point is will be millions of contracts with millions of customers and if any management ever tried to violate that there would be a massive class action lawsuit against them by all the customers.

Fisher: Sure.

Glen: So all these other storage companies have all these limitations and all the things they say they won’t do and they shirk responsibility, they shirk long term permanence.  We embrace it all and we say yeah we’re taking on all those commitments. We do, and not only management today but future management would be taking on all those commitments and future management can’t walk away from those commitments because they’re contractual.

So, the secret to what we’re doing with permanent sharable storage is, yeah there’s a technology component but there’s also this financial component of the Forever guarantee fund and the way that’s managed like a life insurance company.

Fisher: Right.

Glen: And then, in addition there’s this whole contractual infrastructure which again is precedence setting. No one’s ever had these commitments for cloud storage before, so we give a guarantee.  We say to our customers “You become a permanent member forever, you put money in the Forever guarantee fund as a customer. We guarantee that we will preserve and maintain your photos and your material, your information for your life time, plus a hundred years.

But then it’s not just a hundred years, our goal is many, many generations beyond the hundred years.

Fisher: Sure.

Glen: We can’t legally guarantee past that 100 years because there are some laws in place, it starts to be not credible to offer a guarantee that’s out more than a 120-130 years.

Fisher: Yeah. [Laughs]

Glen: Our goal is many, many generations beyond and I keep mentioning life insurance for a reason. MetLife is a fabulous company, fabulous advertising.

Fisher: Right.

Glen: And they were founded in 1864.

Fisher: Right.

Glen: If you do a great job building an institution, when I say you, if one, if a person, if a manager, if a leader, if an entrepreneur does a great job building a great institution and it has that long term funding mechanism like a life insurance company, like a MetLife it can last hundreds and hundreds, and hundreds of years, that’s what my team and I are doing.

Fisher: That is an astonishing vision and very exciting in so many different levels because it is the problem. I was just thinking about all this, when I was a kid in the late 60’s and early 70’s the oldest pictures within my own family that I’d ever seen were 80 or 90 years old and we’re going to have descendents who are looking back at images of us 2,3, 4 hundred years from now potentially!  Assuming we don’t blow ourselves all up by then.

Glen: Great, assuming that but you know, I am an optimist humanity makes a lot of mistakes we all know nobody’s perfect. [Laughs] We are all flawed individuals, right, and collectively we’re flawed but with God’s help we seem to muddle through and I think we’re going to muddle through just fine. I think that our descendents will be there in 2, 3, 4, 5 hundred years. I actually think that... you know I like to kid that there might be a colony on a moon of Saturn. The internet is going to be there too it will evolve and everything technologically.

Fisher: Sure.

Glen: But your memories in a physical book on a book shelf, it’s going to get lost, it’s going to get burned, it’s going to get flooded. Most of our family memories never get organized and are thrown out in dumpsters when... I’ve seen it in my own family.

Fisher: Sure.

Glen: There are Civil War pictures; I have an ancestor who’s an Irish immigrant who then served in the union army in the Civil War. My father when he was alive remembered photos of this man and those photos don’t exist. Where did those photos go? They were lost.

Fisher: Oh that kills you.

Glen: The only way it’s going to be there long term is if you put it in a long term cloud storage solution.

Fisher: Right. I see where you’re going with it.

Glen: And we’re the first in the world to do it.

Fisher: I love it. Glen Meakem, he’s the founder of Forever.com. You’ve got to look into it. Thanks for coming on Glen!

Glen: Thanks so much Scott! Have a great day.

Fisher: And, coming up next we’re going to talk to a Utah woman who finally made the discovery of her grandfather’s gravesite after many years of looking and wound up with a whole new project.  Wait until you hear what happened to Ann Allred, coming up next in five minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.

Segment 3 Episode 127

Host Scott Fisher with guest Ann Allred

Fisher: We are back! Extreme Genes America’s Family History Show. It is Fisher here, The Radio Roots Sleuth.

I’m always excited about finding your stories of discovery. The amazing things that happen on the journey to find your family history, and one of the people I found with an incredible story was at Roots Tech, Ann Allred. Ann where are you from?

Ann: I live in Centerville, Utah.

Fisher: All right, Centerville, Utah. You had a tale that went back to North Carolina, some time ago and all of a sudden it took on a life of its own. Get into this, how did it start and where did it go?

Ann: Back as a child, my mother and my aunt kept this family story alive, which taught me to continue and yearn and search for this sweet, great grandmother of mine. Her name is Marinda Ann Thomas, and her son Rudolph is my grandfather, and he was born and raised in Pink Hill, North Carolina. He died in 1967 and I was told that he was buried next to his mother in the Thomas family cemetery in Pink Hill.

Now fast forward, a lot of years we tried to figure out where that was, and in 2006 my sister-in-law made a trip to North Carolina. Through divine intervention she found this little cemetery which was in the middle of our family’s field, and it was an overgrown jungle. I mean I’m not exaggerating.

Fisher: Wow. Now wait a minute, when you say ‘Divine intervention’ what happened?

Ann: Well she asked all around town, she looked at the library and they said, “You know what, we’ve got to call so &so, he knows everything” and Mr so & so came and said, “Oh yeah, I know what you’re talking about” and he gave her some weird directions like over the river and through the woods, because this is how it is in the country and there are no directions to give for this.

Fisher: Sure.

Ann: So because of that he was able to find the place. But years later when I wanted to know exactly where it was, she said “I cannot tell you. I cannot retrace my steps.”

Fisher: [Laughs]

Ann: So now, fast forward again to 2014 Roots Tech and there was a booth called ‘Find-a-Grave’

Fisher: Yep.

Ann: And talked to the seller there and the gentleman says “We can find any headstone out there, provided someone took a picture of it” and I said alrighty, let’s put this to the test. I can’t find my grandfather’s headstone Rudolph Joseph Jefferson Humphrey. So I type him in, nothing, nothing comes up, and he said okay let’s put in someone else, so I said okay, he’s supposed to be buried next to his mother, Marinda Ann Thomas Humphrey, so I put in her name and voila! And included there was a picture of her headstone.

Fisher: Hello.

Ann: Thomas family cemetery

Fisher: Right.

Ann: But this is what was cool this time Mr. Fisher, there were GPS coordinates connected to that site.

Fisher: Yeah, that would be helpful.

Ann: It was very helpful. So this was in February, I excitedly call my daughter, Marinda, who lived in Springfield, Virginia, and she said, “Okay we’ll do it mom” and so April 11th they drove to North Carolina. The next morning, using the GPS, they drive to this address. Well here they are on this country road surrounded by farms, and fields, and a few houses, and the GPS says “You have arrived”

Fisher: Uh, oh.

Ann: But where? You know. Here we are on this road. Fortunately my little grandson had to use the bathroom. They stopped the car, walked across the street and knocked on the door of a little brick house, and Mr. Ralph Cartel answers the door. Not only did he let my little grandson use the bathroom, but he was the man that they needed to talk to. He owns the land and knew exactly where that cemetery was, it was right in the middle of his cotton field!

Fisher: Oh that’s crazy [laughs]

Ann: So then he says “Follow me” he gets into his truck and just drives down the road.  It was just a short distance, and sure enough they were close. They just didn’t think to go up to a field. They drove up a little lane, came to find out it was a cousin’s property, he had a pig farm, and then they walked across the newly planted cotton fields and there in the middle was a little tiny cemetery. It’s 85 feet by 60 feet, and it was indeed the Joseph Thomas Family Cemetery.

Now it was overgrown, so Mr. Cartel left them on their own, and my son-in-law climbed up and over, there a tinder block kind of a wall around it, he climbed up and over and ripped out the vines that had sewn the gate shut and tried to let the family in. Fortunately straight in, right in front of the gate, not too many feet, was an upright head stone of Marinda Ann Thomas Humphrey. The namesake of my daughter Marinda who’s there finding this, and they look around and she said “Mom, I could see headstones towards the back but the undergrowth was so thick I couldn’t even get back there.” and the children had on flip-flops and shorts and they were cut and bleeding from the thorns.

It was quite an ordeal. And after a little bit of time, I don’t know exactly how much time, they kind of just decided they were through but they couldn’t find grandpa. At the very last minute, my son-in-law Elijah, pulled out a wire which had been suggested he bring, and he started poking around in the ground and two or three pokes when all of a sudden ‘clink’ 

Fisher: Oh boy.

Ann: Digs, digs, digs, and under several inches of earth, there was the headstone of my grandfather Rudolph Humphrey. There he was, and Elijah continued to poke around and right next to him was his sister, my aunt Blanch, who I didn’t know was buried there. And as it turns out, there were five rows it turned out, of headstones and they were all children of Mary Susan Miller Thomas, who is the matriarch of this family. And the Find-a-Grave records had said there were 17 people buried there, or 17 headstones.  All right. So this was in April. My daughter calls me and we are just rejoicing together as you can imagine, and I say “Okay I’m coming. I’ve got to see this place but, if you know me, I can't just go and say, “There it is and yes it’s a mess.”

Fisher: [Laughs]

Ann: I knew I had to do something about it. So, although Ralph Cartel owns the land, he has a tenant who farms the land. And I got a hold of him and he said, "My cotton will be harvested mid-October and by mid-November, I will be planting winter wheat. So, there's your window if you're going to come in here.”

Fisher: Wow!

Ann: So, we had to wait, but in the meantime I read and studied about cemetery restoration, I talked to all kinds of people, I got in touch with an LDS ward there, called the Albertson Ward.

Fisher: Okay.

Ann: Alvin, spoke with the bishop and said, "Can you help me?" And they were so kind and gracious, this project never could have happened without them. And we were due to arrive October 29th. Saturday, November 1st we had a big work party organized, because I was bound and determined to clean this place up. Well, Mr. Gene, the man who I spoke with, called me a week earlier and said “There’s a big storm coming in, we cannot wait for you to come.  If we wait we won’t get this equipment in there that we need to get these trees out of there.” And they were big trees that were pushing over these headstones.

Fisher: Wow!

Ann: Many of them were broke, cracked and tipped over. So the Saturday before I got there Gene and his work crew went in, they worked and worked I guess way longer than they had ever anticipated so when we arrived a few days later, it did of course not look like the pictures I had been given.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Ann: Because now the trees were out, I couldn’t believe it when I saw it, my initial thought was “Oh no! What have we done?” because it went from this neglected overgrown jungle to this barren lone and dreary world and I can never tell this story without feeling the emotion that I had as I stood there on the very ground that these people had walked on and I felt them, I felt them there with me and I sat down on the stumps and cried for about an hour and then my husband said “We came a long way and we’ve got to get to work.” Then we proceeded to clear the stumps and the underbrush and after we were done cleaning up... Find-a-Grave said there were 17 headstones... we found 37!

Fisher: Oh my gosh!

Ann: Those have all now been captured and Find-a-Grave now records it, there are 37 including my grandfather’s whose name was not even on the list.

Fisher: Ann Allred, what a great story! And what great service by the way, those people provided for you

Ann: Oh, Amen to that! Yes it could not have been done without their assistance .

Fisher: Thank you so much for sharing your story and I’m sure it’s going to inspire other people to think “Hmm I can do this too.”

Ann: That’s right!

Fisher: Thank you for coming on the show!

Ann: You’re welcome. Thank you!

Fisher: And, coming up next it’s Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com our Preservation Authority, with his stories of nightmares from Roots Tech, problems people came to him with at the booth, and he’ll tell you some of the solutions he gave. Coming up in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show!

Segment 4 Episode 127

Host Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry

Fisher: It’s Preservation time at Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show!

It is Fisher here with Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com our Preservation Authority, and Tom, I’m still just getting my voice back here after Roots Tech, trying to talk over the noise and fight a little bit of a cold, but wow what a time it was. What a party.

Tom: Oh yeah it was brutal. I was horse for a couple of days, which my kids loved because I couldn’t yell at them.

Fisher: [Laughs] All right, so let’s talk about some of the things we picked up there. A lot of people came to my booth wanting to go to your booth because they heard you on Extreme Genes, and one guy was talking about, “I’ve got everything taken care of for a long time because I listen to Tom and I put all my stuff, I digitized it on Taiyo Yuden disks” and I’m thinking, “Well, I know you say they’re the best ones out there” I guess the question is, how long will they last?

Tom: You know it’s really hard to say. I’m not a scientist by any stretch of imagination. I don’t play one on radio either, however, these disks, I’ve been using for twenty years as long they’ve been out, and no matter what you buy, you can buy Ferrari and you might get a lemon.

Fisher: Right.

Tom: I have never had one come back. We tell all of our clients, “If one of your disks ever fails, bring it back, we’ll do the transfer for you at no cost. If it’s a duplicate we’ll make you a new duplicate” and knock on wood, I have never ever had one come back. They say they’re a hundred year disk, but I mean there’s no way to know. Like I say, we’ve had them for twenty years, we know they’re that good and from what I understand from the Geek Squad, it’s some kind of an algorithm that they can figure out by the quality of the dye, they do testing, like they do with cars, real hot conditions, cold conditions, different things and see how the dye itself breaks down. So it’s just like the thumb drives you tell people, all thumb drives aren’t created equal, all cars aren’t created equal, so like thumb drives have the better circuit tree, the better chipboards on it, they last longer.

Fisher: Right.

Tom: So the dye that they use on a Taiyo Yuden disk is a higher quality dye and that’s why it costs a little bit more because it’s more expensive to make that kind of a dye, and that’s where I really get confused why everybody doesn’t use Taiyo Yuden disks. Because we’re not talking about one disk is thirty cents and one disk is five dollars, we’re talking about thirty cents to sixty cents.

Fisher: Wow.

Tom: And when you buy a whole bunch, it’s even a smaller deal. So the only thing I want to tell our listeners is, get Taiyo Yuden disks! There’s no reason not to use Taiyo Yuden disks, absolutely none. However, if you buying them online make sure you are buying them from a reputable dealer because some of the stinkers out there they know that everybody wants Taiyo Yuden. Taiyo Yuden won’t sell to them for reasons I don’t know, so they either get off brands or something like that and say, “Hey these are Taiyo Yudens.” So make sure if you buy Taiyo Yuden on the internet, make sure they come in a cake box and they usually have a label on them that say Taiyo Yuden or GVC by Taiyo Yuden.

Fisher: Okay. 

Tom: And if it doesn’t say that, unless you totally trust the people, then it’s not a Taiyo Yuden disk. Sometimes a disk when we buy them, we buy them in such huge quantities they come to us shrink wrapped but we’re buying them from the main distributor so we know exactly what we’re getting. But if you’re buying ones or two’s in a hundred spindle, you need to make sure what you’re getting is really a Taiyo Yuden. You don’t want to be paying for a Ferrari and getting a Yugo.

Fisher: [Laughs] Yeah that makes a lot of sense.

Tom: So another thing you want to do, there’s a couple of different levels of Taiyo Yuden, there’s the econo Taiyo Yuden, and the regular Taiyo Yuden. I use both. I’ve never had a problem with them. One thing that I would suggest if you have a lot of kids that are going to be playing with your disks, get the disks that have what we call a white flood on the top of it.

So when you buy the disk it’s actually white instead of being silver. The silver ones have a coating on them as well, but that little bit of extra white on the top side makes them a little bit less acceptable to have damage to them plus if they do start getting lightly scratched you will see it a lot quicker because the white paint will kind of be scratched or dirty versus trying to see it on a silver one. Because like I’ve said, and most people don’t know this, when we talk to people they go “Oh I didn’t know that” when you’re looking at a disk, the label side is where your data is. It reads it from the bottom but that’s where your data is, and in the next segment I’ll kind of go do a little bit more information on that and get back to some more Roots Tech information.

Fisher: All right so there’s so much to talk about that we took away from the conference.  We’ll get back to it in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.

Segment 5 Episode 127

Host Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry

Fisher: All right... back at it, Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.

It is Fisher here, The Radio Roots Sleuth, with Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com He is our Preservation Authority, and we’re talking about Roots Tech, we’ve already talked about disks and one of the things I’ve noticed Tom, at Roots Tech now for the last several years is that more and more people are bringing things to Roots Tech, either to be scanned or in your case to be digitized and for other treatments that they might receive like with photographs. There was a photograph I saw that was entirely yellow. There’s a product out there, one click fixed it.

Tom: Oh yeah, absolutely.

Fisher: It was an eighty year old picture. It was just absolutely astonishing. So people are bringing their things in to have work done on them, and I know you were telling me off air that you were getting horror stories being brought to your booth.

Tom: It’s really sad, and this is what I want to reiterate, my main goal is to help you get your stuff transferred. If you want to do it yourself that’s awesome, if you want to use a local company that’s great, if you want to send stuff to us that’s fine as well, you just want to be really, really careful and make sure you interview the people that are going to be doing your transfers, just like you would interview somebody if you were hiring to come work in your home.

Fisher: That’s right.

Tom: You don’t just say hey this is cool, yeah build me a new house or change my bathroom, you want to get references. You have to be really, really careful. A lot of people are really dropping their prices on transfers, and it’s like the old adjective, “If it’s too good to be true, it’s too good to be true.” You need to understand that a lot of these ‘Johnny come latelys’ they’re doing transfers now. Are doing what we call a ‘high speed transfer’ so whether it’s your video tapes, your audio cassettes whatever they transferring, they not doing it in real time, they doing it in high speed. And they do it in high speed to a computer, because we’ve talked before on the show, computers are not made to turn stuff from analogue into digital.

Fisher: Yes that’s right.

Tom: They’re made to take digital content and rearrange it, do magic with it. So what’s happening is if you’ve ever, ever in your life used your computer and you’re moving your mouse and it stops moving for a second, I don’t think anybody has not had that happen.

Fisher: Right.

Tom: So you understand that this tape is going through so fast, if that cursor freezes for even a second, you could lose a minute, two minutes of your video and you’ll never know until you look at it, and you might think “Oh I don’t have a video 8 camcorder anymore, this must be a glitch in my tape. No it’s not a glitch in your tape it’s a glitch in the people that were transferring it.


We had some people that brought us weddings from back in the sixties and seventies that are on VHS that got rejected by the big box stores they said something was wrong with it. We had one customer that brought us in a VHSC that half the tape was in a zip-lock bag that came back from one of the big box stores that said “Your tape is blank.” Well your tape is in a zip-lock bag, what do you mean it’s blank? In other words, they messed up. They have no idea how to fix a VHSC to go and try it again.

So they dropped that off, we’re going to re-spool that on to another one and try to transfer it for him. But these big box stores, you’ve got to realize that it’s an assembly line and they’re only charging you these cheap prices so they’ve got to figure out what their cost is. Hey we’re not going to look at this for more than a minute and if something doesn’t play, we’re going to reject it because we’re not going to charge you because there’s nothing on the tape.

Fisher: And you got high school kids running it.

Tom: Exactly. Like I heard somebody joke about somebody in the meat department, he’s kind of slow in the meat department today so they had him working in the photo place.

Fisher: [Laughs] Right, and that’s a problem

Tom: How important are your personal things? And I tell people you need to ask the right questions; is this done high speed? Do you go directly from tape to disk? Do you go from tape to computer to disk? How exactly do you do this? And if they don’t answer right, you need to walk away and find somebody else, whether it’s local, whether you do it yourself, don’t go to people that do high speed. If somebody is charging fifteen dollars to do two hours of VHS tape and you figure they’re paying some kid minimum wage, seven fifty an hour and they doing it in real time, that tape is going to cost them exactly what they charging you, not counting the disk, not counting making profit or anything, so if it’s too good to be true on the price, I guarantee you it’s too good to be true.

Fisher: All right, great stuff as always Tom. We will continue all of this about Roots Tech next week.

Tom: Sounds good!

Fisher: Wow! We covered a lot of ground today. Thanks once again to Forever founder, Glen Meakem, talking about his company that might be the storage solution that we’ve been looking for, for years on end.

Also to Ann Allred from Centerville, Utah, for sharing her cemetery restoration story and the story about how she discovered her ancestors there. Catch the podcast if you’ve missed it, at iTunes and iHeartRadios Talk Channel and ExtremeGenes.com. Talk to you next week and remember, as far as everyone, we’re a nice normal family!

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