Episode 238 - Woodbury Has Concerns About GEDMatch And Cold Cases / The Virtual Genealogical Society Is Here!

podcast episode May 27, 2018

Host Scott Fisher opens the show with David Allen Lambert, Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. David first shares a fascinating find… he and a distant cousin share DNA from one of his more historic ancestors. Hear how he plans to take advantage of the find. Then, in Family Histoire News, the guys talk about how baseball Hall of Fame pitcher, Jim Palmer, recently discovered a lot about himself through a DNA test. Find out what he now knows.  Next, it’s an odd claim for anyone who knows anything about George Washington. A “descendant” is suing President Trump, and several past presidents for “past due” rent for their time in the White House. David and Fisher then salivate over an exciting cultural event coming to the east coast this summer. Find out what it is.  David then directs us to another spotlighted blogger, Cynthia Shenette at heritagezen.blogspot.com

Fisher then visits with Paul Woodbury, DNA specialist from Legacy Tree Genealogists. Paul has some very strong opinions about what recently happened in the Golden State Killer case and what we should be concerned about using GEDMatch moving forward. It may be one of the most important Extreme Genes segments we air this year.

Then, it’s an explosion perhaps more powerful than a Hawaiian volcano… the recent creation of the Virtual Genealogical Society!  It has attracted over 1,000 members in just the first couple of weeks.  Katherine Willson of Ann Arbor, Michigan is the founder and has a lot to say about why this is an important step in drawing younger genealogists into the mix.

Then, it’s Tom Perry, the Preservation Authority, talking about the much talked about “demise” of the CD. (He has a totally different view.)  In the final segment, Tom takes on what’s possible in restoring old videos.

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

Transcript of Episode 238

Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Segment 1 Episode 238

Fisher: And it is time to talk family history here on 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, Nice to have you along and I’m excited about our guest today. First of all the “big talk” going on right now in family history is about this idea of using DNA testing sites to solve cold cases. We’ve been talking about it on the show in recent weeks, the Golden State Killer Case has brought up a lot of issues. And we’re going to talk to Paul Woodbury, our DNA specialist friend from over at one of our sponsors Legacy Tree Genealogists. He’s got some insight on that he’s going to share in about ten minutes. And then coming up a little bit later on in the show we’re going to talk to Katherine Willson in Michigan about her latest invention you’re going to want to hear about, a Virtual Genealogical Society. But right now let’s head off to Boston and talk to David Allen Lambert the Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. That is such a big title David. I don’t know how you got it.

David: Just call me “Dave.” [Laughs]

Fisher: I will call you “Dave,” exactly. All right, and before we get to our Family Histoire News today David, you have made another fascinating connection and this one kind of goes way back.

David: Well, it really does as it is with autosomal DNA. You can pretty much go back to your fourth great grandparent. And for me, I have Jonathan Poore a Revolutionary War captain from Massachusetts who I’m in the SAR with. And I joined only to find out there was also another member of the SAR who joined under him just recently. And my cousin George has been DNA tested. Well, we actually share DNA. It goes back to one set of fourth great grandparents, so I’m very anxious because George has given me the raw DNA download which you can do. And I’ll be able to see on what chromosomes I still have DNA in my body from my Revolutionary War ancestor.

Fisher: Isn’t that cool? And you can take that of course and put it on DNA Painter which is that free site that helps you keep track of where DNA is coming from so you might find some other matches at some point  and you can pinpoint exactly which ancestor that match came from.

David: It’s really true. If you can find matches on your fourth great grandparents and third great grandparents it gives you a more detailed look on DNA Painter so I’m looking to find more distant cousins.

Fisher: Absolutely!

David: Well, I’ll tell you DNA has been something that hit a home run for one member of the Baseball Hall of Fame, Jim Palmer who was adopted, now has found DNA from Ancestry.com determined his mom and dad.

Fisher: Yeah, isn’t this amazing? It was his wife who became the big geni. She was having him spit and they went to work and he said, “Yeah, just let me know when you got some results.” He wasn’t that interested in being part of the process. But, it seems he was born in New York City to a wealthy dad and a woman who was from the lower classes. And he wound up being adopted and then of course the rest is history.

David: But if you take some of those baseballs from Cooperstown, they probably have a lot of DNA on them, especially those spitballers. [Laughs]

Fisher: Yeah, the spitballers, that’s true when you go way back. And by the way, his birth family, big time Yankee fans. Who knew? And of course, if you’re not familiar with Jim Palmer, he was a Yankee killer and of course he killed a lot of other teams too as a Baltimore Oriole back in their glory days in the ‘60s and ‘70s.

David: For some people glory days may be over 200 years ago, and that will be for George Washington, but we know the father of our country doesn’t even have one descendant. Well, there is a gentleman who claims to be his descendant and William Feegba is now suing President Trump for back rent [at the White House] of over nearly a quarter of a million dollars.

Fisher: [Laughs] And actually he’s gone and sued back presidents too. He’s gone back to Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George Bush. George Bush Jr. He’s gotten the Clintons. He’s gotten Obama. He wants that back money and he’s saying it’s because of his direct descent from George Washington who: (a) Never lived in the White House and (b) as you mentioned, has no known descendants because supposedly he was not able to have any kids.

David: That’s what I understood. Well, maybe this person might want to try from Mount Vernon first.

Fisher: [Laughs] Yeah, good point. That might be a better shot.

David: My next story is kind of interesting because our ancestors were in fear every time they saw a Viking vessel coming in near your village in a coastal part of Europe hundreds and hundreds of years ago.

Fisher: Right.

David: However, you might be excited this fall to actually see a Viking ship 115 foot long with 25 pairs of oars arriving in the coast from Maine all the way down to Washington DC and the Draken Harald Harfagre will be there with 35 men in crew aboard the ship. In fact, if you wanted to volunteer to be on it, they’re even looking for oarsmen.

Fisher: How cool is that. And you know I do have a Norwegian great, great grandfather and I’m very proud of that heritage, and it would be really fun to see that, let alone be a crewman, but I really don’t think I have it in me anymore to row across the Atlantic Ocean.

David: Well, maybe we can get the captain to be a guest on Extreme Genes and see what it’s like to be a pillager across the East Coast in the 21st century.

Fisher: Yeah! There we go. Maybe you could go see it. It’s going to be in your neighborhood and it starts this summer.

David: I’m looking forward to maybe going into Boston and seeing it if that’s where it shows up. Well, every week I like to give a blogger spotlight and this week I want to give a shout out to Cynthia Shenette. Cynthia has a blog with an interesting name called Heritage Zen: the pursuit of genealogical enlightenment and it’s available at heritagezen.blogspot.com. And she puts in things about her ancestors trip back to Poland in the 1930s with the pictures of the vessel and the menu that they actually had on board the ship and she’s taken a lot of different diaries. But, what I like is her column on the left that actually gives a good breakdown to all of the different subject matters so you can quickly make reference and I’m sure by Google find things that would be useful in your own family tree. And it goes to show you Fish that even the insignificant stuff in your draw can be an important blog for somebody somewhere down the road.

Fisher: Yeah, well said.

David: Well, that’s all I have from Beantown. I’m heading off really shortly to Albany, New York where NEHGS is having a research tour to the State Capital. And remember, if you’re not an NEHGS member you can become one by going to AmericanAncestors.org and save $20 with the code “Extreme.”

Fisher: All right, thank you my friend. We’ll talk to you again next week.

David: All right, looking forward to it.

Fisher: All right, and coming up next from Legacy Tree Genealogists, it’s Paul Woodbury their DNA specialist. We’re going to talk about this whole problem with using your DNA to maybe help find criminals in cold cases in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.

Segment 2 Episode 238

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Paul Woodbury

Fisher: Welcome back. It is America’s Family History Show, Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth, and the Golden State Killer case is attracting a lot of attention these days because of the way by which they caught the alleged person, Joseph James DeAngelo. He was a California cop, worked for a couple of different police departments there. He is accused of twelve murders, forty five sexual assaults over thirty years. He ransacked allegedly over a hundred homes and actually took souvenirs. Kind of the classic serial killer, and the way he was found is said to be largely through GEDMatch. Yeah, the DNA website that so many of us including myself use to find matches for our genealogical efforts, and its causing some concern in certain circles. That’s why I decided to get my friend Paul Woodbury on the line. He’s the DNA Specialist over at Legacy Tree Genealogists. How are you Paul?

Paul: I’m doing well. Thanks so much for having me, Fish.

Fisher: Hey, always happy to have you. And this is an interesting case because obviously law enforcement officials have used DNA for a long, long time but usually it’s within the confines of their own DNA databases that they’ve put together over the years, right?

Paul: Absolutely. And those databases are quite distinct from what we typically use as genealogists. The CODIS database or the combined DNA index system is composed of more than ten million samples completely composed of convicted felons or suspects in criminal investigations. And it has some really strong privacy protections around that. It only looks at thirteen to twenty markers that are unique to most individuals, so it’s not as affective for the type of familial searching that we do as genealogists when we’re looking for what DNA we share in common rather than the DNA that we have that’s different from everyone else.

Fisher: Um hmm. Well with GEDmatch, I mean it’s a different site I would say, say than Ancestry’s DNA database, or 23andMe, or MyHeritage, or FamilyTree DNA in that it’s really kind of open. And I don’t know that most of us really realize that.

Paul: And in fact, if you look at GEDmatch in terms of service and their terms of use, they do indicate that while main purpose of GEDmatch is for genealogical research, they can’t guard against the possibility that tests results would be used for other purposes outside of genealogy.

Fisher: Now, I think most of us would feel like hey you know what, if my DNA leads to the capture of somebody who has committed these horrendous crimes, I’m all for it. But I guess it does amount to a question of illegal search and seizure, right? Because my DNA isn’t just my DNA, it belongs to my brother, my sister, my first cousin, second cousin, obviously in smaller amounts as you go along, but at some point it amounts to sharing somebody else’s DNA, right?

Paul: Yeah. And I think that that is one of the major concerns about these types of cases. We’re at the very beginning of the genetic genealogy as a field. And so for now, it’s easy for us to say well, you know, I feel really good about having my DNA out there to help catch a violent criminal. However, how would we feel about this use for say, shoplifting? Or for other lesser crimes that it may be used for in the future? How would we feel about the use of this DNA dataset to convict our yet unborn second great grandchildren? So, there’s lots of things that we need to be thinking about now and be anticipating the future, discussing actively in the genealogical community to make sure that we maintain appropriate boundaries for when it’s appropriate to use familial searching in this way for law enforcement investigation.         

Fisher: That’s right. Because I don’t think most of us had any idea that that was a possibility through GEDMatch. I’m wondering as you said that, could this be a possible way by which a conviction could be overturned, or this guy set free? Because of the fact it would amount to illegal search and seizure of “his” DNA?

Paul: In this case what they did was, they used crime scene evidence, they performed whole genome sequencing on that DNA, and from that they created pseudo kits that they uploaded to GEDmatch. And they essentially pulled all of the markers that aligned with the markers that the DNA testing companies also query.

Fisher: Um hmm.

Paul: And then they used that and compared it to GEDmatch. Once they had identified and narrowed it down to a potential suspect, then they went and obtained a discarded piece of trash from him. They did the DNA sampling on that in their own database and used that as the firm evidence that this was the man. So, there’s some ambiguity there but I think that it’s certainly something that will be brought up and explored as part of this trial, as part of this case, and as part of other investigations utilizing similar approaches.

Fisher: Yeah. Now, you mentioned earlier the CODIS system, right?

Paul: Yeah.

Fisher: And they have pretty stringent protections in affect there. Why then do they think they can use GEDMatch and not follow those same protections?

Paul: It’s an excellent question. I think that part of that is because it is wide open. There is no precedent and so there is a lack of regulations, of protections, of procedures that need to be followed in order to protect those innocent individuals who have participated in these databases under the understanding that their DNA is being used for genealogy research as opposed to criminals and convicted felons who are in the CODIS database. Even for the CODIS database, you can only use it through authorized government officials, you can only use it under certain circumstances, and you can only use it for familial searching, the type of searching that we do in genealogical research under very limited circumstance, and then only in some jurisdictions. So, there’s certainly a lack of balance in how well protected, well organized and structured the procedures are for the use of the CODIS database versus GEDMatch which is wide open and available to anyone.

Fisher: So, it’s almost like they’re using this for a test case?

Paul: I think so. And that is one of the other concerns is that this is still an experimental approach. When you take whole genome sequence data from crime scene data and create it out of that, it raises all sorts of questions about the quality of the leads, how those samples were processed, who did the processing, the chain of custody, so it introduces a whole new set of considerations that needs to be explored and really well understood in order to use that as evidence in an investigation.

Fisher: Boy, I mean there are really a lot of points of attack here for a defense attorney, right?

Paul: I think so. [Laughs]

Fisher: Do you think that people who have their material, who have their DNA results up there on GEDmatch right now, are having second thoughts now about whether they should be there or not?

Paul: The response that I’ve seen is mixed. I think some people who have said, “I’m glad that I was able to be a part of helping to get a dangerous killer off the streets and to bring justice to those victims.” I’ve also seen some other sides of the argument where people have expressed concerns that they never consented for their DNA to be used in this way, or the kits that they administered they recognized that they never obtained permission from the relatives they tested in order for their samples to be used in this way. And that they’re sure if their relatives are fully aware of the way that their DNA may have been used in these cases.

Fisher: Yeah.

Paul: Another consideration is that GEDMatch is an international database. It’s composed of samples from all over the world. And so individuals from Britain, from around the world have sometimes expressed concern that why should my DNA, a citizen of another country outside of the jurisdiction of the United States, be used in one of their law enforcement cases. And alternatively, how would I feel about my DNA being utilized in another country for approaches or convictions that I am particularly not in accordance with or in agreement with, that I don’t consider to be fair uses of genetic evidence.

Fisher: Oh yeah.

Paul: How would I feel about my DNA being utilized for investigations of adultery in Saudi Arabia?

Fisher: Right. I was going to say something like that.

Paul: So, there’s lots and lots of things that we have to keep in mind that this is not just a one-way street. Just as US law enforcement could use GEDMatch for their purposes and the things we commonly consider to be good approaches to law enforcements here in the US, it could also be used for ethnic genocide in another country.

Fisher: Wow! Wow Paul. I mean, I think this is much deeper than anybody ever imagined it could be. What is GEDMatch saying about all this?

Paul: So to date, GEDMatch has not come out and restricted the use of their database for these purposes. They have reaffirmed that according to the terms of service although the main purpose of the GEDMatch database is for genealogical investigation, it can be used for other purposes as well. And that if we’re uncomfortable with those purposes we should remove our samples from GEDMatch, make them research kits, make them private, and do the same for those kits that we administer. Particularly for those relatives whose kits I administer, I have gone in and made all of those kits research kits so that they’re unsearchable, they’re not accessible by other individuals in the database because those individuals did not give me permission to use their DNA test results in law enforcement investigations.

Fisher: Sure. Now what about this same type of approach dealing with any of the other sites out there? Is this really exclusive to GEDMatch or anybody else?

Paul: As far as we know, GEDMatch was utilized for the Golden State Killer case. None of the other companies were approached by law enforcement and no formal requests were made for information from those databases. Ancestry and 23andMe and MyHeritage in their terms of service prohibit the use of their databases for law enforcement investigations and criminal investigations.

Fisher: But sometime in the future FamilyTreeDNA could be used in a similar way then you’re saying?

Paul: According to their terms of service currently as I have reviewed them and understand them, yes.

Fisher: Wow. You know, this is I think a lot deeper and heavier than a lot of people considered an important conversation. Paul thanks so much for your insight on this. It gives us all a lot of something to think about.

Paul: Thanks.

Fisher: We’ll be back in five minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.       

Segment 3 Episode 238

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Katherine Willson

Fisher: Welcome back, it is America’s Family History Show Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth and I’ve been thinking back over the last five years since we started this show and all the different things that have come along. All the changes in how you go about doing your research, the technology, and there are some moments that have come along that are just jaw dropping. And I think we’ve got another one of those happening right now and my friend Katherine Willson is on the line. She’s in Michigan. She’s part of the Michigan Genealogical Societies. Hi Katherine, how are you? Welcome!

Katherine: Hi! Thank you so much.

Fisher: I’m looking at what you’ve got going right now and this is kind of insane. The first word I got of this was David Allen Lambert telling me about being at the NGS conference and visiting with you and hearing about how you had started a new thing that really makes sense for the 21st century and it’s just exploding. Tell us about the Virtual Genealogical Society.

Katherine: Yeah it is. It’s really, really exciting and explosion certainly is a great word. There are a few of us who were thinking about the fact that there’s this whole younger population who are interested in genealogy but they have no interest in hanging out with all of us old people at the society meetings. So they’re not coming to their local societies and they’re also doing everything on their phones or their tablets. I’ve been teaching classes in Ann Arbor for about fifteen years and I’ve started getting one or two students every semester and they don’t even have a computer, they’re doing everything on their phone. They have the Ancestry app, the FamilySearch app.

Fisher: Yep.

Katherine: And I thought, wait a minute, these are the people that all these societies are talking about. These are the ones we’re trying to bring in and why do we keep saying how do we get them to come to us? What if we flip it around and say, let’s go to them. And that was the start of an explosion. [Laughs]

Fisher: Yeah, absolutely. Now, you’ve been a genealogist professional for many, many years and obviously this has been stirring around in your head and you got it done in time for the National Genealogical Society Conference which wasn’t far from you, was it?

Katherine: Yeah, I’m in Ann Arbor and it was in Grand Rapids, so just a couple of hours away. First time our state has ever hosted a National Genealogy Conference. It was amazing!

Fisher: And so as a result you were signing up people there over just a few days. You got like what, 500?

Katherine: [Laughs] We did! It was really incredible. The board of directors didn’t think that we were going to announce the opening until the Federation of Genealogical Societies, the FGS Conference.

Fisher: Right.

Katherine: And as it got closer to NGS we thought, you know, we’re ready. We have everything lined up why don’t we just announce it now and we were astonished how quickly people were signing up. Which really, it was a clear indicator that this was something whose time had really come.

Fisher: Yeah, it really sounds like it and obviously it knows no borders. In fact, it knows no nationalities, right?

Katherine: Absolutely.

Fisher: I bet you’ve got people already from across the pond or something. How many countries so far involved in the signup?

Katherine: We are representing 16 countries. We have about 1050 members right now from 16 different countries.

Fisher: Wow! [Laughs]

Katherine: I know, right!

Fisher: And you started when? When were the “doors” opened on this thing?

Katherine: So, that would have been two days before NGS started. So NGS started on May 2nd, so that would have been the last day of April.

Fisher: [Laughs] The last day of April. So in this short period of time you’re over a thousand members already and you’re charging what, 20 bucks?

Katherine: $20 for a year and we’re offering you know 3 webinars a month, lots of socializing and networking and prizes. It’s pretty exciting.

Fisher: That’s insane. So, let’s talk about who the people are, what are you teaching, how does this work?

Katherine: So what we’re doing is, we have started reaching out to speakers that we know. All of us here and the board of directors we’ve all served our local societies as vice presidents or people in charge of programming and we’re familiar with who our speakers are in our global community.

Fisher: Sure.

Katherine: Who are really engaging and dynamic and who draw you in, and who also are really, really good genealogists because you have to have both of those. You can’t just be a dry genealogist and you can’t be engaging and dynamic but don’t really know what you’re talking about.

Fisher: Yeah. [Laughs]

Katherine: So we’ve really gone out and sort those people.

Fisher: Good point. I think you’ve hit it right on the head there. So what are you classes now? You must have a handful I would assume.

Katherine: Oh more than a handful absolutely. Our first one is coming up in June that will be a, “DNA Introduction” with Randy Whitehead. We have Lisa Alzo who is going to be doing a, “Writing your family history.” Laura Hedgecock is going to be doing “Blogging your family history.”

Fisher: Yes.

Katherine: Thomas MacEntee will come in and talk about “Future trends in genealogy.”

Fisher: That’s incredible and the names are big names in the field that’s fantastic.

Katherine: Yes they are. We are really excited that the people that we were approaching really believed in us right from the start and signed on even without knowing, what was this really all about. They trusted that this was going to go as big as we’d hoped. We just didn’t realize it would be so big so quickly.

Fisher: So quickly. Is that causing some problems for you?

Katherine: No, not really. It’s more excitement and I wouldn’t say problem as much as we just didn’t anticipate that we would be devoting this much time to it.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Katherine:  I haven’t done any client work for about two weeks now. Not getting any of my regular stuff around the house done because it’s all for the society.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Katherine: But it’s so exciting that we don’t mind.

Fisher: No, that’s right.

Katherine: We are really loving what we do.

Fisher: Absolutely. I mean you’ve got something real here there is no question about that.

Katherine: Absolutely.

Fisher: So, you know I was thinking as we were having a conversation about having you on the show to talk about this. You and I were both talking about back in the day when we were first starting out, how we did it.

Katherine: Yes.

Fisher: And then what a huge transition it was from dialing 411 which for those who don’t know that was directory assistance.

Katherine: [Laughs]

Fisher: You’d call and ask for phone numbers of somebody and then for an extra dime they’d put you through directly to that individual.

Katherine: That’s right.

Fisher: And then you wrote letters with self addressed envelopes. But nonetheless, when it went over to online material so much of the old stuff was forgotten. There are so many people right now who would have no idea how to do any of that stuff and I think to a certain degree we’re going to see more and more of those early computerized versions of how to do this disappear. People will have no recollection of it at all.

Katherine: Oh I’m sure, yeah. I mean, think back to the AOL message board for genealogy and that stuff. It moved quickly into the Roots Web message board, to the Ancestry message boards and now it’s quickly moving into Facebook and that’s now becoming old. So what’s the next thing? Well, I think it’s this. I think it’s the virtual stuff.

Fisher: Boy, I think you’re absolutely right. So, are you marketing right now in other continents, letting people know or is it just spreading by word of mouth?

Katherine: Totally by word of mouth. We did not have to do any other advertising outside of sending the press releases to the people that we thought would have a big social media following and could help us get the word out. And it worked! These people had amazing audiences who were listening and I think also having our table at society night for National Genealogical Society Conference was a huge help also.

Fisher: Boy, you’re going to be travelling a lot. I hope your family understands that you’re going to be a little tied up this year.

Katherine: [Laughs] And to think that this was going to be the year that I stayed home a little bit more. What was I thinking?

Fisher: [Laughs] I don’t know what you were thinking. So, let me ask you then, with all that’s going on right now, you said you haven’t done any client work in two weeks. Are you going to drop the client work at some point?

Katherine: I hope not. I really, really love the client work but I’m also so excited about this virtual stuff. So what I’m really looking forward to is that balance. When we reach a point where we have found the people who could take over some of the things that we’re not so excited about doing, you know going through email and responding to the emails. That’s not necessarily the most exciting part of it.

Fisher: Right.

Katherine: So, once we can get those things taken care of and hire that out to people who will do it much better than we can, we’ll be able to have balance back in our lives again. So I look forward to getting back to researching for my clients.

Fisher: Yeah, absolutely. I’m hearing people screaming in my ear. I mean my virtual ear here that, wait a minute, you haven’t told us where to go to sign up for this thing. Where do you go?

Katherine: [Laughs] Yeah, VirtualGenSoc.com. So that’s Virtual-Gen-Soc-com.  

Fisher: That is absolutely unbelievable. I would imagine you have courses for different levels, right?

Katherine: Oh absolutely. Yes, we’re definitely targeting all levels. We’ve had a lot of professional genealogists, those colleagues of mine that I will send my clients to because they specialize in something else that I don’t specialize. We’ve got a lot of that population and we’ve also got a lot of beginners. So we have to make sure that we’re offering programs that are hitting everybody.

Fisher: Yeah absolutely. It’s just spreading like wild fire.

Katherine: Yeah it is.

Fisher: Well, congratulations! It’s the Virtual Genealogical Society. She is the founder of it. She is Katherine Willson. It’s taking off like a mammoth explosion, it’s absolutely unbelievable. We look forward to hearing lots of good things about that in the year to come Katherine, congratulation.

Katherine: [Laughs] Thank you so much! I’m so happy that I got to talk to you about it.

Fisher: And coming up next we’re going to talk preservation with our Preservation Authority Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show in three minutes.

Segment 4 Episode 238

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry

Fisher: Welcome back! It is time to talk preservation on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth with Tom Perry, he is our Preservation Authority from TMCPlace.com. How're you doing, Tom?

Tom: I'm doing so fabulous, I can't stand myself.

Fisher: I can't stand you either. That's perfect.

Tom: [Laughs]

Fisher: [Laughs] So I have heard from Ryan Swerdloff, he is in Alhambra, California and he asks a very simple question. And we hear this a lot. We certainly heard it at RootsTech back in February, March, "Is the CD going extinct like the cassette tape or will it have a resurgence like vinyl albums?" Good question, Ryan. Tom, what do you say?

Tom: You know, that's an awesome question, because the answer to that is all over the board. It depends who you ask. You know, I get this question all the time, and you always have to remember, no matter what you hear, whether it’s from me or from somebody else, take everything with a grain of salt, because people have their own ideas, their own agendas and sometimes people just hear something and they think that's the law. But as you mentioned, at RootsTech, we had a lot of people come up to and say, "Oh yeah, I went to this class and they said, "Don't put anything on disk, because they're going away." And I've said it the last five years at RootsTech, I've been hearing the same thing, that is so not true. CDs, DVDs, BluRays, they're going to stay around. We did a show probably about a year, maybe a year and a half ago where we talked about people like Facebook which can store anything, anyway they want to. They backup all their stuff on BluRay disks. And if BluRay were going away, they wouldn't be doing that. So disks, I really believe are here to stay. If you want to look at a resurgence type thing, we can look at vinyl records. Look how vinyl was ten years ago, like back in 2007, I was doing some research and I went to Vinpower's website and they actually had the numbers that in 2007 they sold $1 million worth of vinyl, but yet in 2017, just last year, they sold $14.3 million.

Fisher: Wow! [Laughs]

Tom: So you could see this great resurgence that people want to go back to that vinyl.

Fisher: Sure. And well, that's because there is a sound to the vinyl that is unique. The question is, I guess, people still record now in digital. Is the sound from vinyl still the same as it would have been, say back in the '60s other than the fact that the recording equipment is a little different?

Tom: No. In fact, one thing that a lot of people don't know, even some of the bands don't know about this. Back in the day when I was cutting my teeth and we actually had the 24 track, 36 track, 48 track machines, what we would do is, we would record the band, get it exactly how we wanted it, work with the producer, get the exact sound, then we would go to another person who was the actually vinyl cutter and what he would do is, he would listen to our recordings and he would say, "Okay, this is what the producer wants the final thing to sound like. I know the nuances of vinyl, so I need to tweak this and tweak that and tweak this. "So when they play the vinyl, it sounds like the magnetic, so everything was perfect. So that's where a lot of people today get really confused. They remember the pure sound of vinyl that they just love even with the imperfections.

Fisher: Right.

Tom: And they go and buy a vinyl today that isn't from 30, 40 years ago that somebody just found the old master tracks and cut vinyl and they go, "Wow, this sounds different."

Fisher: Yeah. Boy that makes a lot of sense. You know, it’s kind of a confusing question and answer, isn't it, Tom? I mean, at the end of the day, I mean, we're really don't know where things are going. The good news is, a lot of these disks like the Taiyo Yudens that you talk about all the time, they're going to be around, because we do need to be able to store audio and video in a convenient way and make them transportable, that type of thing, but the final answer to the question, who really knows, right?

Tom: Yeah, that's true, but you've got to realize also which you alluded to, that the CD is the most versatile format for content storage, whether you're talking about music or videos or photos or xrays or documents or anything. It’s still the most universal accepted and it’s still the most affordable way to store anything. So with CDs and DVDs and maybe in the next segment we can get a little bit more into it. You need to look at all these things, like we have talked about boxes, but really quick, CDs, Blurays DVDs all these different things perform different functions and you've got to realize that they're not for just one specific thing that they go all over the place.

Fisher: All right Tom thanks so much and thanks Ryan for the question. And we've got another one for Tom to answer, coming up next when we return in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show.

Segment 5 Episode 238

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry

Fisher: Hey we're back for our final segment this week of Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth with Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com, our Preservation Authority. During the break, Tom, we were of course talking about how these various disks that we were just asked about are really used for many different things.

Tom: Oh absolutely. That's where a lot of people get, you know, narrow glasses, like are they still going to have F150s when people aren't going hunting? Well, they're used for other things. They're used for construction, they use them for hauling different things or helping people move. People just like to drive them. So you've got to realize, CDs are not just a convergence of music put together. Like we mentioned at the end of the last segment, people use them for xrays, they use them for documents, they use them for all kinds of things. And a lot of people that are really paranoid like myself like to have something physical in your hand. I mean, I love the cloud.

Fisher: Right.

Tom: I've got so many things in the cloud.

Fisher: Yeah.

Tom: I've got three iPhones, I've got iPads, I've got all this stuff, but yet I still love to have that CD in my hand that I know I'm not going to go through TSA at an airport and its going to erase or damage or something I've got on my body. And as long as I don't scratch it or crack it or something like that, I've got something physical. I'm not worried about sitting on my USB drive or sending it through the washer. These disks are physical. They come in all different sizes, just like boxes. You have the little CD all the way up to these huge, huge BluRays that come in all different sizes, too. So I would really be absolutely shocked if disks go away. I would really, really, really be surprised.

Fisher: Right and I agree with you. You know, what you just described is why I actually create books when I write a history of a family. And I've done thirteen or fourteen of them at this point, I print them, because I just figure, who knows what could happen ultimately. And I put them in libraries and different people's homes. And as we've talked about all over the country, so that copies exist in many different places. There aren't a lot of copies, but at least they're out there, and that way I'm assured that they will survive no matter what happens with a website or with the cloud or whatever may happen down the line. Maybe somebody just can't get in because of a lost keyword or something. All right, one last question here before we call it a day, it’s from Garrett Smith and he says, "On your website Tom, it states videotapes are inspected, repaired and cleaned prior to scanning. Does this procedure eliminate the lines often associated with home video playback? Most of the home videos I've seen have some kind of blemish, be it a line through the picture scrambled, staticky edges usually at the top or bottom of the picture. Does the repairing and cleaning eliminate this? Let me know. Thanks, Garrett. "

Tom: Hey Garrett, that's a really good question, too, because you did what a lot of others do, they get CDs and DVDs and film and VHS and all these different formats kind of mixed up and they kind of blend the things together, because what you're talking about obviously is video, but you threw some things in there that are part of the film service. Like we don't scan videotape, because videotape is magnetic, so there's no way that you can actually really scan it, it’s actually scanned by the head that's in the machine that's actually playing it. So what we do and we’ve told people whether you go to us, whether you go to Home Video Studio location across the country or you have a local guy that you know that does a great job, they want to do it in real time. So what we do is, we actually play the tape of course in real time and transfer it. And so, if you've got problems with your tape, tell us or whoever you're going to, "Hey, I've got these static problems. It’s in the whole tape." or "It starts at this point of the tape." because that will help us find out what the problem is. So give the person as much information as you can, "Hey, I've got these static lines. I've got these got these problems. I've got these blips. The color's going away. My kids have watched this so many times, it’s very staticky and its all the way through." or "It starts here and here." and if it starts in different places, queue it up to where the problem is, so then the tech can immediately pop it in and get rid of those problems for you.

Fisher: Great advice as always. And thank you Garrett for the question. You can always email Tom at [email protected] or you can put your question up on his Twitter page @AskTomP. Thanks Tom. See you again next week.

Tom: My pleasure.

Fisher: Hey, what a show! Thanks so much for joining us. If you missed any of this one, you've got to go back and catch it on the podcast or play it for your friends, catch it on iTunes, iHeart Radio, TuneIn Radio, ExtremeGenes.com. And don't forget to sign up for our free Weekly Genie newsletter through ExtremeGenes.com. Talk to again next week. And remember, as far as everyone knows, we're a nice, normal family!

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