Episode 195 - Most Common DNA Questions, Part 2

podcast episode Jun 11, 2017

Host Scott Fisher opens the show with David Allen Lambert, the Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. The guys begin with a story about a family that chose a very funny Hallmark birthday card for their father. But a close examination of the photo on the card caused their jaws to drop! Find out why.  Then, David tells us about an organization called “Reclaim the Records.” It’s a non-profit that’s out there using Freedom of Information requests to make public important records that haven’t yet made their way onto the internet. They’re working over states throughout the country and have just announced another major database has been “won.” Hear all about it. David then shares his excitement in locating descendants of people found in photographs left anonymously to David in a bag a year or so ago. Find out why this was such a meaningful experience for the recipient.  Our Blogger Spotlight this week is shining on ThePastFinder.wordpress.com. Give it a click and see whose it is! 

Then, Fisher begins his two part visit with Paul Woodbury, the DNA specialist from LegacyTree.com.  This is a second edition of “Most Common DNA Questions.” Everybody’s doing it… learn a little more about it.

Then, Fisher and Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com talk preservation. Tom’s on the war path over a man with ten year’s worth of photos and memories on his phone, but doesn’t have a cloud account to back it up. Then, he talks the significance of PDFs in writing up your family history.

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

Transcript of Episode 195

Host Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Segment 1 Episode 195

Fisher: And welcome to America’s Family History Show. It’s Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here the Radio Roots Sleuth on the program where we shake your family tree and watch the nuts fall out. This segment of the show is brought to you by FamilySearch.org. And we are loaded up today with DNA. Well I think we all are, right? We’re going to be talking to Paul Woodbury. He’s the DNA Specialist from LegacyTree.com in a two-part visit where we talk to him about some of the most common questions he hears all the time, and certainly questions I get as well about DNA… all kinds of stuff that you’re going to find interesting and informative as you prepare to take your DNA test or prepare to analyze the information and the results you got back. So that’s good stuff coming up a little bit later on. Hey, and I also want to remind you that during the month of June, if you sign up for our Weekly Genie Newsletter which is absolutely free, your name will be in the hopper for a free DNA kit. We’re going to be giving it out and announcing on July 10th so sign up at ExtremeGenes.com or the Extreme Genes Facebook page, the Weekly Genie newsletter. Right now it’s time to head out to Boston and my good friend David Allen Lambert. He is the Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. How are you David?

David: Well I’ll tell you this is my birthday month. I won’t say how old I am but I’m hoping to get you know, a couple of birthday cards. But nothing compares to the birthday card that this person got in a store for their grandfather out in Kansas. They got this greeting card, Fish, and on it is an old fashioned family group photo. And as the grandfather looked at the picture he recognized his own relative.

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: Lo and behold, somebody at Hallmark had a person buying old photos and it just happened to be this person’s family. The chances of that are probably better to win the lottery.

Fisher: Oh yeah, no question, that’s crazy. What did the card say?

David: Quote, “We haven’t seen this much excitement since Aunt Lulu was picked up by a tornado, set down nude in the middle of the hog auction and sold to the highest bidder.”

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: Who knows, maybe it’s been lifted from somebody’s family letters! [Laughs]

Fisher: Isn’t that funny? And you know the odd thing about it is after they discovered all this they went back to the store and they bought out all the copies of it, took them and then framed them and shared them with other relatives. Isn’t that great?

David: I think it’s wonderful. It almost wants to make you want to make up a similar card for your own family as a joke.

Fisher: Right. [Laughs]

David: [Laughs] Well one thing that isn’t a joke is this exciting news. I was on the phone with Brooke Ganz from Reclaim the Records. This is a group that’s been legally working to try to get records released from different states. And one of the black holes for genealogists has been getting records from the State of New York. Now, New York unlike a lot of states started recording vital records in the 1880s and the problem is the death indexes aren’t online, so you think of Ancestry or FamilySearch or places like that. They’ve tried for years to get it. Well this group succeeded. And now on Archive.org, by simply putting in New York State death index and put in a year between 1880 and 1956 our listeners will be able to pull up the actual index. It includes the town, the name of the full date of death and a certificate number. This is amazing!

Fisher: Oh this is huge. And you know they actually went and sued through the Freedom of Information Act to get these public records made public and available.

David: My hats off to them because they’re able to do things a lot of us genealogists have been trying to get for years.

Fisher: And by the way, you’ve got to go online and check this out on ExtremeGenes.com. You’ll find the link to it there. And you can become part of a group and help their legal efforts to make public records public and available.

David: Well, Fish, you know the other day I was thinking to myself, “Wouldn’t it be nice to buy a summer place?” Well, I wish I had known this beforehand. In Aladdin, Wyoming they just had an auction on June 2nd where they sold off 30 acres of land. Now, you wouldn’t think so much about it, but the 30 acres is the whole town.

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: It includes a post office, a general store, a variety of other buildings, a family home, and it was expected to get $1.5 million.

Fisher: Wow! What a bargain!

David: Sold for a third of that, for $500 000.

Fisher: $500 000? [Laughs]

David: So now someone actually owns a town, legally, and has a post office. I just think it’s a wonderful thing.

Fisher: That’s crazy.

David: I would’ve turned it into such a tourist stop. You know it’s funny if I go to yard sales occasionally and I see the old family photos, but a strange thing happened about a year and a half ago. Someone at my public library dropped off a bag with about a hundred photographs from the early 1900s right to instamatic photos that apparently were found in a trash bin. But someone put a post it note to give them to me. Still don’t know who they were, but there was enough identification on it that I decided I should look into it eventually. Well just like anything in genealogy I put it aside. Well the other day while cleaning I found the bag, decided that these aren’t my family. They’re not even connected to my town. I wanted to find who they were. And about an hour after being on the internet I found the granddaughter of the woman who these photos belonged to.

Fisher: How cool is that!

David: She was over the moon happy. She had no family photos. This included all the wedding pictures from the 1930s of her grandmother and grandfather, pictures of her great grandmother she’d never even seen before and they had names on them. I want someone to find a bag of my family photos and send them to me. It’s a “karma” thing. So I’m hoping that that happens eventually.

Fisher: Exactly. Now listen before you get into your blogger spotlight, could I take it this week?

David: Yeah, sure! Why not?

Fisher: All right so I want to put our blogger spotlight on a place called The Past Finder. And every week of course we focus on somebody who’s writing about genealogy. The Past Finder is authored by someone named David Allen Lambert and it’s a brand new blog site.

David: [Laughs]

Fisher: And David, I love it. And I love the name. It’s ThePastFinder.wordpress.com. And you’ve been writing about how you got started in genealogy and all kinds of fun stuff. So we’re looking forward to success with that.

David: Yeah, I’ve had a number of people over the years say, “Why don’t you blog?” And I said, Well, I’ll get around to it eventually. So I decided to do it and if you want to find why it’s called The Past Finder, look at my first post. Well, heading off to Bellevue, Washington to do a little lecturing over the weekend. I’ll check in next week, Fish. And just remember, if you’re not a member of NEHGS, you can join by using the check out code “Extreme” on AmericanAncestors.org.

Fisher: All right, thanks so much David and have a great trip! And we’ll talk to you again next week. And coming up next, we’re going to talk to Paul Woodbury the DNA Specialist from LegacyTree.com about the most common questions he gets on DNA. That’s in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.

Segment 2 Episode 195

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Paul Woodbury

Fisher: Hey, we love talking DNA at Extreme Genes. It’s America’s Family History Show. I am Fisher, your Radio Roots Sleuth and this segment is brought to you by 23andMe.comDNA and we’ve got my friend Paul Woodbury back on the line from LegacyTree.com.  He is their DNA Specialist. How are you Paul? Good to have you back.

Paul: I am doing great. Thanks so much for having me, Fish.

Fisher: You know, we had a segment a month or so ago where we started getting into some of the common questions that you hear all the time about DNA. I mean it went so fast it’s like okay… we’ve got to visit this one more time. And the list of questions seems to have grown just a little bit.

Paul: Yes. And really, it’s interesting because when we get questions about DNA, predominantly it’s about ethnicity. People are really interested in ethnicity. They’re interested in finding out about those percentages, about the add mixture. And ethnicity is great. Ethnicity does bring lots of people into the DNA testing pools.

Fisher: Right.

Paul: It’s a great motivator for bringing people into really helping us grow these databases, to individuals who are interested in family history and finding out ethnicity. However, we can lose the main focus on genealogy is we focus so much on ethnicity. And so really, the majority of the questions we get are ethnicity, ethnicity, ethnicity, and there is so much more you can do with your DNA test results beyond just ethnicity.

Fisher: All right. Well, let’s get to the most obvious one. First of all, people get results they don’t expect. For instance, my buddy whose grandfather was a full Italian and when he got his results he had 3% Italian and some large percent of Greek ancestry. What do we tell people like this?

Paul: So, with the ethnicities that you get, I look at ethnicities as informative regarding the first three or four generations of your ancestry. If you have predominantly New England ancestry, you’re probably going to get lots of ethnicity from the British Isles, from Western Europe, and because it’s been so long ago that your ancestors immigrated to the US, it’s really hard to differentiate between all of those North Western European countries. Each of the companies are very good at distinguishing between broad geographic categories. Like Native American versus European versus African. It’s when you get into some of those populations within broader categories that it gets a little bit interesting.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Paul: And it’s a bit difficult to distinguish between what is Western European, versus British, versus Scandinavian.

Fisher: And I think we talk a little about Eastern France gets a lot of Germanic DNA, and Southern France gets more Spanish and Portuguese DNA mixed in. So the question is, what is French, right? 

Paul: Exactly. And so, with the different companies you’re going to get the different ethnicity estimates because they’re using different reference populations, they’re using different algorithms to look at those, and so really, when you’re looking at ethnicity results you don’t want to get caught up on the details. Is the information that you’re seeing representative broadly of your general ancestry? If you have a Danish father and you have 5% Scandinavian DNA, that might be an anomaly that you want to pay attention to. 

Fisher: Yeah. [Laughs]

Paul: If you have an Italian grandmother and you only have 4% Italian DNA that would be an anomaly you would want to focus on. Or the other way, if you have 50% Italian DNA and you only have one Italian grandmother, then you would be wanting to focus in on those major anomalies. I would not consider a variation of a few percentage points, say 10 to 15 percent an anomaly. And that’s because the amount of DNA that you inherit from your great grandparents is going to be variable. You can expect to see a little bit of variation within those populations that you are inheriting DNA from.

Fisher: All right. Now Paul, I recently shared some DNA test results with a different company and I wound up with like 75% Scandinavian while the other company gets me close to 50. I know myself to be 50% Scandinavian. What can account for that difference from one big company to another?

Paul: So, with Scandinavian we always have a little bit of a challenge. And that’s because a lot of these ethnicity results are looking at mutations along your DNA and they’re looking at the incidents of those mutations in different populations. While many of those mutations are representative of populations from thousands of years ago, and so the combination of those mutations will sometimes result in higher levels of expected DNA in a certain population. In a case of Scandinavia, we’ve got the Vikings coming down into the British Isles all throughout Western Europe, and they had a very strong genetic footprint on the genetic history of Europe. We also see with the Vikings, I mean Normans are Vikings.

Fisher: Right.

Paul: They’re Norsemen or “northmen” and they were settled in that part of France. And then they came over and took over Britain. So you have a huge influence, genetically from Scandinavia throughout Western Europe and the British Isles and Ireland. So, with Scandinavian in particular, a lot of the times we will get higher than normal estimates particularly if the other part of your family tree comes from Britain or from Western Europe.

Fisher: And that’s the case for myself so I’m glad you clarified that. Because I hear this question all the time coming to me and I love to defer to people like you. All right, so let’s move past ethnicity. I think we may have even repeated a little material that we’ve talked about in the past but I think it’s certainly worth repeating. What are some of the questions you hear particularly often Paul?

Paul: So, another question that we often will get and that people will come to us with is, “I look in my genetic match list and I don’t recognize any of these people.” [Laughs]

Fisher: [Laugh] Yeah.

Paul: And I think that that’s really key. And with the questions that we get, they are predominantly dealing with ethnicity but occasionally we will get these gems that can really reveal a little bit more about how you actually use autosomal DNA for genealogical research. Some of the questions that we should be asking rather than, “Why do I have 25% Scandinavian versus my 50% that I should?” Really, the questions we should be asking are, “Who are your closes genetic cousins? And how are they related to you?”

Fisher: Yep

Paul: And that’s really a starting point of how you get to use your DNA test results for your family history. And so, it’s a really good idea to go into your DNA match list and just to start working from the beginning. Who is this closest genetic cousin that I have? Once you identify that person, that information can be really helpful and once you identify their exact genealogical relationship to you, you can use that information to then filter and organize the rest of your results. Because you can use that information to say, “Oh, well I know how they’re related to me.”

Fisher: Right.

Paul: And I’m not really interested in researching my paternal grandfather’s family right now. So knowing that I am related to them through my paternal grandfather I can then identify all the people that also match that person.

Fisher: Sure, that makes sense.

Paul: And then kind of exclude them from my analysis. Then I can really focus on those people that are most important for helping me to make genealogical discoveries.

Fisher: Now, a couple of years ago I was helping a dear friend of mine who was adopted and because we were able to determine what are birth mother’s line looked like, then we were able to exclude those lines as we went to work trying to identify the birth father, and it worked brilliantly. And we were able eventually to come up with both the birth father and the birth mother who were both deceased and find a living half sibling on both sides that she now has a great relationship with.

Paul: Yeah. And so really, working with those close matches to identify how they possibly could be related to you, is a great first step to using autosomal DNA test results in the exploration of your family history.

Fisher: Well, that’s great advice and it’s something people need to think about as they get into it. The one thing that bothers me though about a lot of my matches is they haven’t put in any trees, or they lock it up and you can’t access that information. And then they don’t want to respond you know? [Laughs]

Paul: That’s another excellent question that we should be asking ourselves. [Laughs] Who is this person that is a close genetic cousin to me and who has no tree, has no information and who won’t respond? And there are some great approaches that you can take to exploring genetic matches. For example, there are currently four major autosomal DNA databases.

Fisher: Yep.

Paul: If you look at the username of the person that you’re trying to figure out who they are, a lot of the time people use usernames from their email address. They may use the same username in multiple social media accounts. So, if you perform a search on Spokeo for that username, then it will pull up social media accounts associated with that username.

Fisher: That’s right.

Paul: You can find out the name of that person. If they have a unique name you can perform public records searches for that individual. You can also use that username and perform a search to find out if they have published any information on genealogy forums. They may not have published a tree but they may have posted on a genealogy forum and said, “I’m searching for information about my third great grandmother so and so.”

Fisher: Sure. [Laughs]

Paul: And using that information you can then trace the descendants of that person and identify the likely identity of that genetic cousin who just will not respond to your quests for collaboration.

Fisher: Or you could simply find an obituary from a grandparent and now you’re back a couple of generations and suddenly you know, you just do the normal stuff and you can figure out who they are.

Paul: Exactly. And another tip that I have found is, a lot of the times they will not have a tree attached to their test results, but if you search for their username at any other genealogy companies you may be able to find a tree that they have made but they just haven’t attached to their results.

Fisher: Yeah, that’s great advice. All right, we’re going to take a break here coming up in just a few moments here Paul, what kind of questions you want to cover here in the next segment?

Paul: I’d like to talk about looking at how people are related to each other, I think that’s really key and it’s often overlooked. So, identifying groups of related individuals and then estimating how you might be related to those groups. And then the other thing that I would recommend would be, if you take a DNA test and you show up as a genetic cousin to a known relative and it says that you’re second cousins once removed and you say, “Oh look, DNA proved that we share these common ancestors.” I think it’s important that people evaluate the amount of shared DNA that they have with their close relatives to determine if there’s any possibility that their relationship is a half relationship versus a full relationship.

Fisher: Interesting. And there are reasons for that and we’ll get into it coming up next in five minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.           

Segment 3 Episode 195

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Paul Woodbury

Fisher: And we are back, talking DNA on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth and this segment is brought to you by MyHeritage.com. We’re talking to Paul Woodbury the DNA specialist with LegacyTree.com. And we’re talking about the most common questions Paul gets, and maybe I’ll this one at you myself Paul. Recently I was looking at a new DNA result that showed up as a match for me on one of the major companies. And it came in as a third cousin, which is exactly where it should have been. I’ve been in touch with his sister for probably 15-20 years now. She’s also a third cousin, but she came in with her DNA results as a fourth cousin to me. How do you explain that?

Paul: All right, so with siblings, each sibling inherits fifty percent of their autosomal DNA from each parent, but they’re going to inherit slightly different portions of their parent’s DNA. Siblings will share about fifty percent of their DNA in common with each other, meaning that they twenty five percent of the same DNA from each of their parents.

Fisher: Right.

Paul: So with these differences of DNA that siblings will inherit, sometimes a sibling will get more segments or a larger portion of DNA from a specific ancestor than the other one that is common. Now, when they are estimating the relationship between two individuals, they have certain thresholds that they use to say, “Okay, if a person matches another individual with more than this amount of DNA then we consider them to be a third or fourth cousin. If they share less than that amount of DNA then they get bumped into the next category where they’re saying, “Okay maybe they’re a fourth to sixth.” Depending on if they are right on that threshold then they can get bumped from one category to the other. And that’s not necessary indicative that one has a half relative and the other isn’t, it’s just that one individual inherited slightly more DNA than the other.

Fisher: Yeah. [Laughs]

Paul: But that brings up an important point of DNA analysis, in that just because you share DNA with a proposed relative doesn’t necessarily prove a relationship. For example, if I take a DNA test, my second cousin takes a DNA test and we come back as genetic cousins. What it doesn’t prove is if we are full second cousins. What you want to do in particular for close relationships is that you want to go in and look at the exact amount of DNA that you share. Each of those levels of shared DNA are typical of ranges of relationship. So, if I’m sharing two hundred centimorgans of DNA then that is much indicative of a second cousin relationship versus if I’m only a hundred centimorgans, that’s indicative of a second cousin once removed or a half second cousin relationship.

Fisher: Sure.

Paul: So you want to check and see how much DNA you’re sharing. You can find tables on what the expected levels of shared DNA for different proposed relationships are. At the International Society of Genetic Genealogy, that’s ISOGG.org. And they have a table that describes what you would expect for different levels of relationships. Another great resource for interpreting and evaluating your shared DNA is the Shared Centimorgan Project headed by Blaine Bettinger. And they have some studies into looking at exactly how much DNA different known levels of relationships are expected to share.

Fisher: Interesting. Now, I have a half second cousin, somebody who came through my great grandfather but not my great grandmother. We had different great grandmothers. But he came in as a fourth cousin which I thought was interesting at the time the results came through. If we get into these shared levels, might that give us a little more insight why there’s such a difference?

Paul: Yes. When we have relationships, you need to recognize that if there’s a half second cousin for example, then with half relationships what I like to do is just add one more generation and that’s what you’re expecting to share DNA with.

Fisher: Yeah.

Paul: So if it’s a half second cousin you’d expect a second cousin once removed. And once you get to about that level there’s a little bit of overlap of what we expect to see between a third cousin versus a fourth cousin, or a fourth cousin versus a third cousin once removed. There are some levels of relationships that have very specific and discreet probabilities of relationships that have very clear ranges of what we would expect. Once you get further out, the amount of DNA that you share with a fourth cousin could be exactly the same as the amount of DNA you share with a fifth cousin or a sixth cousin. So it gets a little more messy the further you get out.

Fisher: Sure.

Paul: But particularly for those close relationships, you should definitely be evaluating, “Is this what I expect given our proposed relationship?”

Fisher: So would you find a fourth cousin level to be reasonable for a half second cousin?

Paul: For that level I would have to look at it, and you have to look at the exact amount of shared DNA, because the fourth cousin designation of some of the companies can range anything less than seventy centimorgans. But seventy centimorgans could be a second cousin once removed or could be a third cousin, so it’s a little hard. It may be that you inherited less DNA in common.

Fisher: Right.

Paul: But, if they’re sharing only twenty centimorgans then there might be something that we want to take a look at in that lines, to see if there’s a possibility of misattributed paternity somewhere along those lines.

Fisher: Sure, absolutely. All right, what are some of the other common questions you get, Paul? We’ve still got a little time.

Paul: All right, so another common question that we get is, “How can I use my DNA test results for genealogy? And how can I make genealogical discoveries a little bit further back with that? And really I think that the key to making genealogical discoveries a little further back is what I call genetic networking. It’s just identifying how all of my genetic cousins are related to each other. Each of the DNA testing companies provides that information to researchers. They will indicate what matches also match your matches.

Fisher: Right.

Paul: So if I’m looking at my second cousin, my genetic cousin and I look and see all of this list of other matches that share DNA with him then I know that those other matches are probably related through the same ancestral couple that we share in common.

Fisher: Sure. Is that the DNA Circles type of concept that Ancestry is doing right now?

Paul: Exactly! DNA Circles and New Ancestral Discoveries are excellent examples of DNA networking of identifying networks of related individuals that you can group together and say, “These individuals are likely related through this through this common ancestral couple.” Now Ancestry does that with their entire database, but you can do that with your own test results as well and just by looking at those in common with matches and identifying who matches who, you can begin to identify groups of individuals, and then you can assign those groups to portions of your family tree. Once you do that, then you can identify a group of matches who have no known relationship to your family and who maybe all have ancestry from an area where one of your ancestors came from. As you explore that group of matches and identify how they’re related to each other you can identify likely relatives of your ancestors and sometimes even get ancestral candidates to then trace forward in time and identify descendents who were your ancestors.

Fisher: Right. I just wish I had paid more attentions to science in high school! [Laughs]

Paul: [Laughs]

Fisher: I’m listening to this going, “Wow!” I’m sure we’re blowing a lot of people’s minds about what it might take to really get in deep in the weeds with DNA, but nonetheless a lot of people are doing exactly that and it’s a whole other element to family history and genealogical research. Paul thanks so much for coming on, and I know there are more questions we will have to get to on a future show. We hope you have a great summer. We’ll talk to you again soon.

Paul: All right, thank you.

Fisher: All right, Paul Woodbury from LegacyTree.com. And coming for you next, Tom Perry, talking preservation on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.

Segment 4 Episode 195

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry

Fisher: All right, I can already see smoke coming out of the ears of Tom Perry, our Preservation Authority. Hey, its Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth. And this segment of the show is brought to you by LegacyTree.com. Yeah, we're talking preservation. Tom, what is on your mind? What has got you so beet red?

Tom: Oh, it’s just crazy! I was just talking to somebody off the street the other day and I started talking about family history. He pulls out his Samsung Android and says, "Oh, yeah, I've got thousands of pictures on this over the last so many years and I'm just worried what happens if I lose this." I stop and said, "As long as everything's up in the cloud, you're fine. When you get your new device, you just download it." And he goes, "I don't do the cloud."

Fisher: [Laughs] Now why wouldn't he do the cloud?

Tom: [Laughs] I don't know. It’s like saying, "I don't drink water," you know?

Fisher: Is this somebody afraid of the security side of things or something? One of those people who say, "They'll break into the cloud!"

Tom: No. Not really. I mean, I ran into people that just haven't done it. And it’s one of those things you need to do now, whether its preserving your old photos or whatever. But something as easy as a phone, all you need to do is, go set up a cloud account, and one I like is Dropbox, and they give you so much for free.

Fisher: Sure.

Tom: So, set up your device to automatically, anytime you're near WiFi, it just automatically starts uploading. So the first thing you want to do, you want to make sure, you know, it’s at a WiFi at home, so you can start uploading it quickly.

Fisher: Sure.

Tom: But anytime you're taking pictures out in a cemetery away from phone service or whatever, as soon as you get close to WiFi, it will automatically start uploading them so they're all there. So, like, when I bought phones, it’s usually not because one crashed, it just started getting old and slow. And so, when I get a new phone, I just download everything down to my new phone, and it’s just like nothing ever went away, it’s all right there.

Fisher: Sure, of course.

Tom: But of the neater things about it is, not only is it in the cloud, it gives us the convenience when we get to work, if we need to access a photo or any kind of documents, they're there on our work computer. If we're home, they're there on our home computer. Any time you're hooked up to the internet, you can access your stuff that's in the cloud. And it’s free!

Fisher: [Laughs]

Tom: And if you have a ton of stuff, it’s still pretty cheap.

Fisher: Yeah, it’s the greatest deal of the 21st century. There's no question. Free storage or cheap storage. I mean, really, if you want to expand for instance on Google Drive, it’s just two bucks a months to get to the next level or something like that. It’s crazy!

Tom: We have terabytes worth of information on ours, because we have all of our own stuff, we have a lot of clients that want us to upload stuff to their Dropbox, so it’s pretty big. And I don't think we pay $100 a year, and we have way more than anybody's ever going to need.

Fisher: You know, and this is one of those simple things to step up to if you're not particularly savvy when it comes to technology. The cloud is an easy thing that pretty much anybody can show you how to do, show you how to work, and again, its free!

Tom: Oh yeah! And you know, everybody says, "Oh, there's a hook. Its free for 30." No! Dropbox has X amount of storage, which is fine for probably 75% of the population, and it is totally free. And like I say, you know, as much as we do, I think we pay $100 a year, which is hardly anything. And like you say, anybody can teach you how to do it. You know whether you're AT&T or T Mobile or whoever you're with, go into that service and say, "Hey, can you show me how to do that?" And nine out of ten times, if they're good people, they're just going to take it, set it up for you, hand it back to you and say, "You're rocking and rolling!"

Fisher: There you go. It’s that easy. And then you could save it. Because you know, you really think about how easy it would be to lose it. The guy you were talking about with the cell phone, you lean over a toilet and it goes into the water, it done! Years and years worth of photographs and memories and whatever else.

Tom: You know, and we've talked about ways that if it falls in the toilet, there might be a way to recover it by putting it in a Ziploc bag with uncooked rice…

Fisher: Well who wants to go through that!?

Tom: Exactly.

Fisher: I mean, really!?

Tom: Exactly. I mean, who want to go though that? You're exactly right. I've got another friend that told me last week that they dropped their phone in a pond and they didn't have the cloud either, so I mean, there's no way to recover that, you know, unless they want to go scuba diving for it.

Fisher: [Laughs] And even then, is it going to work after you do the whole rice treatment? Forget about it. The guy you're dealing with is not thinking this thing through very well obviously.

Tom: Right. And it’s not a money problem either, because I mean, this person is doing very well. If he went the $100 a year type thing, it'd be nothing for him. But he doesn't even need to do that. You just need to get off your tail and get it done.

Fisher: All right, what do you want to talk about in the next segment here, Tom, now that you're got that off your chest?

Tom: Let's talk about a way to preserve some of your PDFs and some fun things to do with PDFs.

Fisher: All right, coming up in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show.

Segment 5 Episode 195

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry

Fisher: And we are back, its America's Family History Show, Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. Fisher here your Radio Roots Sleuth along with Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com, the Preservation Authority. And now that Tom has let it all out in the previous segment, it is time to get down to some other business, and that is talking about PDFs. And this is such a great, simple thing for your use in family history.

Tom: Absolutely. I can almost guarantee anybody that has a computer out there has at least one PDF. And people don't understand how powerful those are. PDF stands for Portable Document Format. So it’s something that’s very portable. And the quality nine out of ten times is good. You're not going to want to make giant banners and posters from them generally, but I know people that do. It’s mostly a way to store things. And the neat thing that people don't know about PDFs, say somebody sends you a file that's a PDF that, you know, Aunt Martha's family history and you're going through it and maybe see and remember some things right and some things are a little bit wrong or inaccurate, you can go and do if you have PDF Pro, which is an editor, which isn't very expensive, if you have the cloud service, you get it for free, its included with it. And all you have to do is, go over there and there's a little tab on the right side that says "tools", bring it down and it allow you several different things. You can actually go click on the text and it will say "do you want to make this so you can edit it?" and if you want to do that, just click it, and it will go through the entire document or just one page if you want to do just one page, and make it recognizable, so that you can go and click and then in red next to whatever's in black and say, you know, "This is really Aunt Ethyl. This wasn't Grandma Glynn that did this."

Fisher: Okay.

Tom: So you can make notes on it. Another thing you can do is, if for some reason it’s a locked document and you can't actually change the lettering for some reason, somebody locked it, it will let you go in and add outside text, put a text box that you can put on it. You can go in and highlight areas. If you want this to be highlighted in yellow for somebody that's reading through it, this is something that's very important. You know, there's all kinds of different things you can do. And once it can be recognized that way, you can go and make it searchable. So if you have thirty pages of a journal or a hundred pages of a journal and you want to find out, "Oh, what were Dad's thoughts when I was born?" you can go and type in your name or birth or your birth date and it will go and find that, then you can read what Dad wrote in his journal the day you were born.

Fisher: That's amazing. And you know, PDFs are largely used to preserve Word files. For instance, if you were to type up a history in Word as most of us do and you want to send it to somebody else, typically if you sent it in Word format, it gets changed somehow, mixed up a little bit.

Tom: Exactly.

Fisher: So we  save it as PDFs, and then it goes and it holds its place, although I will say this, I went to publish my mother's history that way, having created a PDF and I found out the apostrophes turned into double apostrophes for some reason through PDF and we had to go in and correct it.

Tom: Oh yeah, stuff like that happens. When I'm working on my webpage, sometimes I type things in Word and then I transfer my webpage, and it makes an @ symbol instead of a bullet of something.

Fisher: Right.

Tom: So you need to make sure you go back and proof it. But once you save it as a PDF, it should stay in that format when you send it to somebody else. And one really neat thing about PDFs that a lot of people don't know about, if you have a huge photo album and you want to send it to somebody, but you didn't do TIFFs, because you knew they were too big, so you did jpegs and they're really good quality, but they're big also, they don't need the quality. They're not going to be making big prints out of it.

Fisher: Sure.

Tom: Then you can take all those photos that are separate photos, go into the edit mode where it say "create a PDF from other files or folders" go and select all those files, it will go take all the photos, make them into one big file, and then if it’s still too big, which it's probably not, you can go in and ask for a reduced size PDF, which is even smaller.

Fisher: Wow!

Tom: And PNGs are so much bigger than PDFs, which most people think is the opposite way around.

Fisher: Um hmm.

Tom: But PDFs are great. I know a sign company that we work with that that's what they require is to send them. It has to be full size, but we send them PDFs and they look beautiful.

Fisher: Wow! Well, that's great a tip, Tom, because I don't think we've ever talked about that before. But I think that could save people a lot of trouble. Thanks for coming on. We'll see you again next week.

Tom: My pleasure.

Fisher: And that is a wrap for this week's show. Thanks so much for joining us. Thanks once again to Paul Woodbury from LegacyTree.com for coming on and answering some of those common questions that we get about DNA. Maybe you want to listen to it again on the podcast, catch it on iTunes, iHeart Radio, ExtremeGenes.com and TuneIn Radio. Don't forget also to sign up for our Weekly Genie newsletter at ExtremeGenes.com. All through the month of June, people who sign up are entered to win a free DNA kit. Talk to you again next week. Thanks for joining us. And remember, as far as everyone knows, we're a nice, normal family!


Subscribe now to find out why hundreds of thousands of family researchers listen to Extreme Genes every week!

Email me new episodes