Episode 32 - Cyndi Ingle, Owner and Operator of Cyndi's List

podcast episode Mar 10, 2014

Fisher starts the show with a nod to last week’s visit from New England Historical Society researcher Rhonda McClure, who explained how to see if you tie into movie stars and celebrities.  Fisher reels off quite a list he has learned he is related to.  Plus, how much Neanderthal DNA do you have?  It might be more than you think!  Fisher explains from a great story on recent DNA discoveries.  Plus, another big announcement concerning gravestones… this time from Find-A-Grave.com.  Fisher also has a great story about a map that shows the increase and decrease in popularity of specific names over the past 90 years.  Just put in the name, and watch how it has come and gone, and maybe come again!

Cyndi Ingle, founder of Cyndi’s List, America’s largest on-line family history catalog, talks about the early days of the site, how things worked then, and what it takes to keep it up-to-date today.  Cyndi then talks about the future of Cyndi’s List and shares some stories from her followers about how it has helped them break down walls in their research.

Tom Perry, Extreme Genes Preservation Authority, answers a question from a listener about mold… in an old video!  Can Tom save the day?  Listen and find out!

Transcript of Episode 32

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Jason Butterfield

Segment 1 Episode 32

Fisher: You have found us, Extreme Genes Family History Radio ExtremeGenes.com, America’s one and only radio show on family history. It’s where we shake the trees and watch the nuts fall, well sometimes. How are you? I am Fisher your Radio Roots Sleuth. Hope you’ve had a productive week. Hey, we’ve got a great show for you this week and whether you’re a beginner or a sleuthing veteran, you’ll enjoy hearing from our guest today. With any time in researching your family at all you know the website called Cyndi’s List. Now if you’re not familiar with it, you need to be. It is the ultimate worldwide online free catalogue of everything genealogy, links literally by the hundreds of thousands and it’s run by a monstrous staff of one person, Cyndi Ingle in Washington State, and she’s been doing it since before the turn of the century. Sounds funny, doesn’t it? We’ll be talking to Cyndi about how all this started, what it takes to run Cyndi’s List, how much time it takes to keep up with and why anyone would take something like this on. She is as extreme a genie as we’ve ever come across and we’ll be talking to her in about eight minutes. After last week’s program with Rhonda McClure of the New England Historical and Genealogical Society I decided to go back and see what celebrities I might be related to. Not that this could get me into next year’s Oscars and the reality is we’re all related to these people if we go back far enough. First, I’m happy to report I am not related to Justin Bieber, at least in the last four centuries that I know of. It was a great relief. But I did find Christopher Reeve, General George S. Patton, Teddy Roosevelt, a bunch of other presidents, some of whom I’m not too pleased about, [Laughs] Marilyn Monroe, Joan Crawford, Bing Crosby, Matt Damon and Raquel Welch, Humphrey Bogart, Marlon Brando and Johnny Carsten. That’s wild and crazy stuff, isn’t it? So, what Rhonda was talking about last week really does work.  You can find these things out. Of course, you can listen again to the podcast of ExtremeGenes.com

Got an e-mail from Sadie in Huntsville, Alabama listening on WTKI. She says, “There was a time I had a teenage crush on Brad Pitt. When I started learning how to do research I discovered that Brad and I shared some ancestors in the early 1800s in Buren County, Kentucky. Well after that, it wasn’t quite the same for some reason. [Laughs] I can see that Sadie, how you can see how being related might affect how you view things. I dug up some ancestry for a couple of friends who were getting married back in to ‘90s and found that they were cousins to each other like ninth cousins or something. I mean way back. Well after learning that I was ordered by the bride never to mention it again. [Laughs] And she meant it, which made me laugh because tons of us are ninth cousins or closer. I was wondering actually if she was going to call off the wedding over this at one point. They are in fact, by the way, still going strong. Want to talk to the show? Want to get on the show? We love hearing your stories and comments. You can email me at [email protected] or call our toll free Extreme Genes “Find Line” at 1-234-56-GENES. That’s 1-234-56-GENES, G-E-N-E-S. Do not be shy. It is time once again for your Family Histoire News from the pages of ExtremeGenes.com. Think of it as a drudge report for your family history news. First up, Ancestry.com has announced the arrival of the first FindAGrave mobile app. Jason Butterfield, one of the developers of the app is on the line. How are you doing Jase? 

Jason: Oh, very good Scott. Thank you for having me on the show.

Fisher: No problem. Tell us what this is all about. 

Jason: Well, we are very excited to announce, available this week, a brand new mobile app for FindAGrave. And this mobile app provides our users with the ability to access this information while on the go. They can actually use the app to find directions to local cemeteries where they can find the graves of their loved ones. Take photos, create memorials. They can even mark the GPS location of those graves so that other family members can come back and find it later. And I think what’s probably most exciting is it allows these users to both make and fulfil photo requests.

Fisher: Wow!

Jason: What’s fantastic about FindAGrave is the community of volunteers that helped to make that site possible. And through the app they can request another volunteer go take a photo of a grave that’s maybe in a neighboring state or even another country. Those volunteers are just phenomenal about responding to those requests and in helping to build this fantastic resource.

Fisher: So this new app covers which platforms?

Jason: Right now, it’s available on IOS only, although we are hoping to bring to Android soon.

Fisher: Okay, that’s important stuff. Great news! Thanks Jason for filling us in.

Jason: You’re welcome, any time.

Fisher: The competition is heating up with Findagrave.com and BillionGraves.com as you recall just last week on the show. BillionGraves President Hudson Gunn announced their new alliance with MyHeritage to create a new app to obtain gravestone information generally in Europe in twenty five languages. Io9 that is the name of the site has a great story about another interesting interactive map. Now you‘ll recall a few months ago we linked you to a map that showed the most popular names for babies state by state through the years. Well this one works in a somewhat opposite way. You put in the name of the baby, male or female and it shows you the increase and decrease of that name state by state over more than ninety years. The states even change colors as the years advance to show the name you’re growing or declining in popularity. I can see my name Scott really was peaking when I got it and has greatly declined in the last twenty years. The map was created by Brian Lee Yung Rowe using census data. It is fun to play with. Check it out. The link is at ExtremeGenes.com but of course the Merced Sun Star has a great article about one of the newer trends in DNA testing. The part of the test that reveals what percent of blood you are that is Neanderthal. Yeah, we heard a little about this from Dr Spencer Wells, a keynote speaker at Roots Tech. Typically anyone who have ancestry in Europe and into parts of Asia have up to 4% Neanderthal DNA. That’s up to 4% of genetic sequences that match those found in the Neanderthal fossils. 

It’s interesting to read the reaction of some scientists to this who feel there isn’t much here to see, just move along. They say that this is no big deal because they’ve known this for a long time. The article quotes Dr Jonathan Eisen a Microbiologist at UC Davis Genome Center. He considers it a cheap way to hype DNA testing and points out that every species mixes with its close relatives. He calls it routine and nothing surprising about it at all. Well, maybe this was all old hat for him but I think this is new and interesting information to many of us folks without all the fancy extra letters after our names. Hey, it may be hype but Dr Eisen doesn’t deny that it is in fact true. There’s a lot more about DNA testing and how it is evolving in this article, so if you’re even thinking about taking a DNA test you should find this another good source of information. Find the link to the story now at ExtremeGenes.com. And coming up next, she is the “Queen of Cataloguing.” Since the late ‘90s most everyone digging up their dead has come to know an important site, not only for finding important links, but also learning what categories are out there to consider. That site is Cyndi’s List and we’re going to talk to the founder, owner, manager, secretary, not sure I’m missing something. Cyndi Ingle will be back in three minutes on Extreme Genes Family History Radio ExtremeGenes.com.

Segment 2 Episode 32

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Cyndi Ingle

Fisher: And welcome back to Extreme Genes, Family History Radio ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here with our special guest Cyndi Ingle, who you may or may not know. You may know the name Cyndi’s List but this is the person behind it. Cyndi welcome to the show.

Cyndi: Thank you for having me.

Fisher: Let’s talk about this because I think there are people who may not be familiar with Cyndi’s List and others who of course are very familiar with it. Let’s talk about how and when you started this thing because this goes way back now.

Cyndi: Yes, this is quite old actually. It’s an unruly teenager at this point.

Fisher: [Laughs] 

Cyndi: The site is 17 years old this next month is will be... gosh it will be 18 I think, started in the summer of 1995.

Fisher: Oh my goodness! It’s going to be 19 this year.

Cyndi: Yeah. Well, it officially went online March 4th of 96. 

Fisher: Okay.

Cyndi: That’s usually when I count its birthday. But, I went online with a computer it came with an Aol software loaded and it had a 9600 baud modem.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Cyndi: So it was screaming and fast. 

Fisher: Yes. It was screaming for three months.

Cyndi: Exactly. So, I went online that summer and found all sorts of wonderful things and I belonged to the Tacoma Pierce County Genealogical Society in Washington State. 

Fisher: Right.

Cyndi: And we take the summer off for our research and that kind of thing, come back together in September and do sort of a Show and Tell. And the Show and Tell for me, what I had accomplished was going online. I took to the meeting a printed page, one whole page of everything I could find online for genealogy, basically the list of bookmarks. 

Fisher: Wow!

Cyndi: And so that is what I shared.

Fisher: [Laughs] For you younger people, this is how we all did it back then. [Laughs]

Cyndi: [Laughs] Exactly. Well at the time I mean internet was brand spanking new for genealogy.

Fisher: Right. Yes it was and in fact we were talking to the founder of FindAGrave about this very thing and he kind of started the same way. It was just if you had a site anywhere at all people would go to it because there were so few. 

Cyndi: Yeah. Well, I remember when his started out as all famous people and it went from there.

Fisher: Right.

Cyndi: Yeah, I was there at the beginning of all that too. But, got up and shared that and the people, the members went crazy. They were jumping on me like a pack of ravenous wolves, “Oh what is that? Can you do more?” And the quarterly editor came up and asked me if I could turn it into an article. If I could turn this one page into an article maybe five or six pages long.  And I said, well sure. And I thought gosh, I’m going to have to start categorising these. 

Fisher: [Laughs]

Cyndi: And that’s how it started. The following January I thought myself how to write HTML and I put up a very rudimentary website. It was at that time my then husband site, it was Mark and Cyndi’s Family Tree, and then I had this list of links and I thought well maybe somebody would find that useful, I’ll put that up as an extra little thing on the side. You know, originally it was just going to be my genealogy.

Fisher: Could you have imagined how this has changed your life? [Laughs]

Cyndi: Oh gosh no. And the thing is that Cyndi’s List of genealogy sites on the internet is the complete title. And it’s such a stupid title but at the time I didn’t know anything better I just you know, here’s my list of things I got on the internet.

Fisher: Well who did? Sure.

Cyndi: Yeah. So it took on a life of its own because I remember posting on Roots L, which is the oldest and first genealogy mailing list out there and I remember posting on there and telling people about my site, come look at it. And I said I have a list of links and people say, “Oh, will you add my site?”  I was working on it a couple of hours a day and three or four hours a day and then five, six, seven, eight, etc. I can work on it usually ten to twelve hours every day now.

Fisher: Ugh! Every day now?

Cyndi: Yeah, for the last seventeen years. [Laughs]

Fisher: [Laughs] Well, now at the end of the first year, how many sites, because you said you started with one page.

Cyndi: When I put it up it was 1025 links. It was all on one webpage. And I remember in the fall a gentleman wrote me and he said, “Your site’s way too big, it takes forever to load.” Because most everybody then was on dialup.

Fisher: Right. 

Cyndi: And so you would wait for everything to load and big cumbersome web pages were hard to deal with. And I thought oh, I suppose I could split those categories off on to their own pages. And it just sort of from that point on it was like a snowball heading downhill getting larger and larger out of control. You know. 

Fisher: Wow! Okay. And then from there... now at some point you got to make a living. What do you do Cyndi by the way for a living other than this?

Cyndi: Nothing. 

Fisher: Nothing now. But back then you had to be doing other things?

Cyndi: No, I was a stay at home mom waiting to have a baby.

Fisher: Okay.

Cyndi: And so my son was actually born in 1997. 

Fisher: Okay.

Cyndi: He’s a year younger than Cyndi’s List so I have two children.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Cyndi: [Laughs] One is the list and then my son. 

Fisher: Right. 

Cyndi: But as far as it making a living, that wasn’t the intention and I still don’t even think of it that way.

Fisher: It’s a service.

Cyndi: Yeah. And it was kind of my contribution. When you live out west as I do in Washington State, you know my family didn’t come from here they came from Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Dakota, you know the Mid West and so on and so forth. And at the time I didn’t have money to go travel and go do my own research back in the Mid West so of course I joined genealogy societies and benefited from all of that, but in order to contribute in a way that was meaningful for me, if you belong to a society usually you can get involved in indexing or going to cemeteries and doing work and that kind of thing. There wasn’t really much to do for me to do out here that contributed to my research.

Fisher: Sure.

Cyndi: So when I got online, this list ended up – the way I looked at it was my contribution to genealogy, what I could do to kind of keep things going and help others. And I do remember earlier on thinking, if I just kind of work a little bit more at it I would eventually catch up. [Laughs]

Fisher: [Laughs]

Cyndi: Which I realize now is just idiotic.  

Fisher: Oh my gosh!

Cyndi: I was just inundated, the number of people coming at me with, “Link to mine, link to mine!” And then at the same time the internet from 97, 98 was just booming.

Fisher: Right.

Cyndi: And the growth was exponentially out of control too. So, trying to keep up with all of the stuff online that was coming for genealogy and for doing historical research was like just crazy. 

Fisher: Now, I’ve read somewhere where you had like ten thousand links after the first year that you were up.

Cyndi: Oh yeah. 

Fisher: And now you’re closing in on what, three hundred thousand?

Cyndi: Three hundred and thirty thousand. 

Fisher: Three hundred...ugh, you’re going to have to update your wiki page. [Laughs]

Cyndi: Oh, yes I guess I haven’t done that in a long time. Thank you for reminding me.

Fisher: Oh I’m there for you.

Cyndi: And that’s the thing about it is that what most people don’t ever believe is that I do this alone. I don’t have a staff. I don’t have people that work for me. Through the years my sister in law did work for me for a while part time. And it’s going back to asking how I make money, a living. In 1998 I got sponsorship from Sierra online.

Fisher: Okay.

Cyndi: There was a couple of genealogy companies that came around too because everybody was throwing money at everything on the web at that time.

Fisher: Sure. Yeah, if you had a website you’re rich. [Laughs]

Cyndi: Yeah, yeah. And so they came, they sponsored me. They gave me a program for a couple of little projects to try to automate some of the things like submitting a link automatically and fixing broken links, reporting those to me so that I can go fix them. Sort of scripts and things and I got the CyndisList.com domain at that time in 1998 and then hired my sister in law part time. All she did for...I can’t remember, six to eight years was fix broken links. 

Fisher: [Laughs] 

Cyndi: Because broken links happen. 

Fisher: Yeah.

Cyndi: I mean like listen, ten more just broke just now as you and I were talking, so. [Laughs]  

Fisher: Oh boy.

Cyndi: As people move their website, as they rearrange pages on their website, the urls the addresses for each webpage change.

Fisher: Sure.

Cyndi: And so it’s a constant effort to try to keep links current. It’s like trying to keep the phone book current. If people remember what a phone book is. 

Fisher: [Laughs] We’re talking to Cyndi Ingle. She is the founder, the owner, the operator of Cyndi’s List which as we just found out has three hundred and thirty thousand links, and I guess my question is, when do you take a vacation and what happens if you do?

Cyndi: I don’t take it often. 

Fisher: [Laughs]

Cyndi: Usually if I have to go do something for my son, but no, I work on the site seven days a week. I work on it every living minute of every hour. It’s a tonne of work. And as the internet has grown the site has grown. And as I have grown even in my genealogical understanding of various topics , I know a lot of really weird obscure things now because of some of the categories that I’ve had to come up with. 

Fisher: Such as?

Cyndi: What wends and sorbs are. 

Fisher: [Laughs]

Cyndi: Duke of war. I’ve got links on there for gypsy research.

Fisher: [Laughs] Okay.

Cyndi: You know, it started out with all the mainstream things. There’s a page for each state in the United States. There’s a page for all the various ethnic groups or countries, international countries, you know, Germany, France, Spain, etc. But then there’s a lot of unique areas too and a lot of unique and very interesting things. And then as I interact as often as I can with other genealogists online through Facebook groups now, social networking of course being a big area for it.

Fisher: Sure.

Cyndi: Prior to what we call social networking, we had message boards and mailing lists and other ways that we interacted socially. And so, topics will come up and I think, oh wow, I need to create a new category for that.

Fisher: Don’t some of them go into multiple categories?

Cyndi: Oh yeah. I cross reference as much as possible. There’s a library website from Ohio you know that obviously goes under libraries but it also goes under Ohio libraries. And then if it happens to have a collection that’s about canals and rivers and water ways, then it goes there too.

Fisher: [Laughs] You could spend like an hour on a link couldn’t you?

Cyndi: Not quite, but yeah it depends if I have to dig really deep into a website to try to figure out what it’s about and what it holds which is one of the reasons why Cyndi’s List is very useful as opposed to say just using Google. Like, I don’t use your site because I use Google. Well, Google doesn’t always deep link. They don’t get into the nitty gritty in a website. And because I’m a genealogist first before was a computer geek and doing all this, I kind of know what it is we’re looking for. So I get into an archive’s website or a library website, I will dig down looking for this special collection, looking for the local history collection and dig into what they have. Sometimes there’s numerous levels deep into a website so I do what they call deep linking. That’s what is helpful and useful to the researchers out there.

Fisher: All right. We’re going to take a break. We’re talking to Cyndi Ingle, the founder, owner, operator of Cyndi’s List who has provided so much good stuff for so many of us whose been researching for so many years. We’ll continue on Extreme Genes, Family History Radio and ExtremeGenes.com.    

Segment3 Episode 32

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Cyndi Ingle

Fisher: Hey, welcome back genies, Extreme Genes Family History Radio, ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here your Radio Roots Sleuth with Cyndi Ingle, the founder, owner, operator of Cyndi’s List who has done so much to make life so much easier for us researchers through the years. I’ve got to tell you first off Cyndi, it was like my second show I think, back in July. You had us on the List and I couldn’t believe it. Somebody said, “Hey, you’re on Cyndi’s List.” 

Cyndi: Yeah.

Fisher: [Laughs] Like really? How did she know?

Cyndi: Well, because I pay attention to that stuff. Because I read the blogs and keep track and when something new comes up I think, “I wonder if I’ve got that” and I go check and I don’t so I add it, yeah.

Fisher: It was unbelievable to me. So tell me now, we’ve talked about how you founded this thing. It started with just a little over a thousand links on one page back in the mid ‘90s. It became ten thousand in a year. Now you’re at 330 thousand. And I think it’s important for people who aren’t familiar with Cyndi’s List to know that you are a free service.

Cyndi: Yes, hundred percent free for other people to come and use it. It’s meant to be. This is a quote that I’d heard way back in the beginning was that the “Internet was like a library with all its books strewn on the floor.” That’s very true.

Fisher: Very true.

Cyndi: How do you find what you want in that big pile of messy books? And so I kind of meant for it to be sort of like a card catalogue or like in a library, something that indexes, everything I can find online for genealogy and that includes things that are free and it includes things that I’d linked to that aren’t free because it’s everything online it’s to be all inclusive. The only thing I don’t include if I know of anything that’s involved in illegal or you know fraudulent behavior of course, I don’t link to those things. 

Fisher: Right.

Cyndi: Which I found you know, through the years there’s been a few professional genealogists, so to speak, who’s charged for those services and then doesn’t come through.

Fisher: Oh!

Cyndi: Then I will get people who will write to me and so I’ll remove links because I of course never want to point anybody to something that is going to cause a problem. 

Fisher: Sure.

Cyndi: I link to everything I can find. So being in a card catalogue and cross referencing and indexing you know under as many categories as possible the whole point is to make it easy for people to find things online to help with their research.

Fisher: Right. You mentioned earlier that Google doesn’t do this deep cataloguing that you do.  Talk about that a little bit more. What is it that you do that makes it easier for people than say a Google search would do?

Cyndi: For example, I’ve got a genealogical mind. I think in the terms of genealogy and so I know that if you go into a certain type of collection that they are apt to have lists of manuscripts and diaries and letters and things and so I’ll know once I get digging into something it’s like, “Oh, okay I need to pull out this bit where they talk about this collection, how to access a certain collection at a library in Missouri, or how to do this or how to do that. Sometimes it’s not always the actual records that I point people to because they may not be online. But I point them to information on how to access them offline. So, that makes me know distinction whether something is there or whether it’s a how-to sort of thing and then being able to index them, but not just once but numerous times if they fall under a variety of different categories.

Fisher: Wow! So tell us some of the feedback you’ve gotten from this over the years. What’s been the satisfaction in this thing for you?

Cyndi: Well, I’ve received you know emails, inundated with it for a while there where I couldn’t keep up with those either, but people saying they found that new cousins, they found new family members. I helped them break through brick wall. One of the things I learned kind of earlier on. I guess I’m OCD and I was really kind of trying to make sense of the Internet. But what I ended up doing with the List was help people learn about how to research too. By just coming in to Cyndi’s List and then going to the categories, seeing the categories listed out alphabetically and how people just kind of scroll through them, go into one of the categories and see the sub-categories under that. People are learning what types of things they have available to them.

Fisher: Right. Yeah. And that’s a big thing for beginners.

Cyndi: Yes. You know I have a beginner’s category with links that point to all sorts of things online to help them learn how to do research. But, if they’re scrolling through...I had one lady I can remember. She said, “Wow, I went through your List and I saw that you have a railroad category. It never even occurred to me to look up but I know that great grandpa worked on the railroad and from that I found that he had a pension file.

Fisher: Wow!

Cyndi: So that’s an example somebody you know, saying because of the way that I created the site and because of the way it was categorized I helped  somebody specifically learn more about how to do research and of course make a little breakthrough for her.

Fisher: So you’ve just educated me. My wife’s got a grandpa who worked on the railroad. I’m going to have to look at that.

Cyndi: Oh yeah, yeah! Some of the pensions are terrific from what I hear. Of course I’ve not had that in my own research.

Fisher: Sure.

Cyndi: Which I never get to do. [Laughs]

Fisher: Well, I was going to ask you about that. I mean, because you were enthusiastic about your own when you started as you mentioned in a previous segment. When do you have time for your own stuff now?

Cyndi: I barely have time. And I always say I’m going to set aside maybe a day a week or half a day a week to do that and I never get around to it. 

Fisher: [Laughs]

Cyndi: There’s a group of us that go every January to Salt Lake City and we get together for a professional conference. And there’s also the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy and things like that. And so we’ll get together in January. Usually I do a bunch then. Sometimes when I’m preparing a category and I’d start digging around, I’d do a little research if I find something that’s very rare.

Fisher: Is that frustrating to you?

Cyndi: It is! It is. I was saying even though I attended the Salt Lake Institute last January I took a land course. And as I was taking notes, I was taking the class for my own personal edification, and yet I have one set of notes for research and for learning for myself. And then I had another set of notes I was taking for Cyndi’s List at the same time because I was coming up with ideas as I was sitting there and learning new topics thinking, “Oh, I should add this or I should do this or what have you.” And I find that I do that in most cases, so I’m busy doing something for research purposes and then I’m working on this site at the same time I can’t seem to separate from in my head.

Fisher: Hmm. So tell us about some more of these categories because you were just learning some in January and you talked about the lady who learned about the railroad records. What are other categories out there that we might not be aware of?

Cyndi: Oh, there are some people that are moving beyond the beginner’s stages and things. There’s categories for genealogy standards and guidelines for evidence, analysis and evaluation when you’re getting deep into records evaluating the information you’re taking out of a record for your research. After Roots Tech last year there had been a theme there about storytelling and folklore and sharing of stories, so I started a brand new category then for that topic.

Fisher: Really? Are there a lot of links for that?

Cyndi: Yeah, well right now there’s fifteen for that one.

Fisher: Huh?

Cyndi: When you go into the category stage and you’re looking at my categories listed out, right next to each name of the category is a little number in parentheses and that number tells you how many links I’ve got in that particular category. Trying to break things down into topics that make sense for genealogists is really what I do, and I’m constantly getting new ideas based on info from people, either they ask me a question and I realize, “Oh, I don’t make that clear enough by sub-categorizing this, this way so I need to add more things.

Fisher: Unbelievable.

Cyndi: It’s constantly evolving and changing, depending on what I learn and what I hear, and the feedback that I get. 

Fisher: So what hours do you work in this thing? You said, you work 12 hours a day on it. When do you start? What’s your day like with this thing? 

Cyndi: Gosh, I have such a messed up schedule.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Cyndi: It started, and I had a baby not long after that, an actual baby. [Laughs] So I would spend my day with Evan and then when he took naps I would work on it. And then when he went to bed finally 6, 7 o clock at night or whatever, as he was younger. I would work on it at night. And I started staying up very, very late. I’m a night owl by nature, like my father was.

Fisher: Yeah, me too.

Cyndi: So I would stay up extremely late working on it and I got into a really bad habit of doing that, where I’m having a hard time breaking that habit now. 

Fisher: [Laughs]

Cyndi: Although, my son is now 16 and it’s a lot like it was when he was a toddler. [Laughs] And so he comes home from school and we’re on track for him doing homework and getting dinner, and doing all the normal mom stuff. And then usually 7, 8 o clock I sit down again and I start working. Sometimes I’m working on stuff and getting a little carried away and all of a sudden it’s 2AM and I think, “Okay, you need to go to bed like normal people.”

Fisher: You do need to bed. You need to take a day off a week somehow, Cyndi. [Laughs] 

Cyndi: Well, every once in a while I do. But it’s hard because I do also kind of get into it and I have all these ideas. And so I now use Evernote for keeping track of things. But I’ve got all sorts of ideas in there that I want to tackle. I’ve got my notes from my January class and I still want to tackle from my land records category.

Fisher: All right, real quick, what’s still to come? What’s ahead for Cyndi’s List? 

Cyndi: Continuing to grow, continuing to try to catch up with what’s going on online, and then I’d like to get into doing some more webinars and things for it, sort of plans for it as soon as I get some spare time. 

Fisher: So to do some video on how to work Cyndi’s List? 

Cyndi: Yes, and just in general how to do research in various topics too.

Fisher: Well, you’ve done a great service Cyndi. You are a pioneer in this online game. Thanks so much for your time and good luck with what you’re doing! 

Cyndi: Thanks, I appreciate it. 

Fisher: And coming up next, she’s got a problem with mold in her family’s old video tapes. What is Tom Perry going to have to say about that? We’ll find out next on Extreme Genes Family History Radio, ExtremeGenes.com. 

Segment 4 Episode 32

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry

Fisher: Hey, welcome back to Extreme Genes Family History Radio, ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here with our Preservation Authority. He's Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com. Welcome back, Tom.

Tom: Good to be back.

Fisher: Good to see you. We've got more questions that have been emailed to [email protected]. Lian Long, writing from Michigan asks, "On last week's show, I heard about storing VHS tapes. I have several that I can see that looks like white mold on the edges of the tape. Can they be cleaned or transferred to a DVD?" Yipes, Tom!

Tom: Yes and yes.

Fisher: Okay.

Tom: Absolutely. We can do both. We actually have industrial tape cleaner that made for VHS tapes that we can run in through, and if for some reason the mold is too bad, we have another option. In fact, we had somebody, we'll I guess about six months ago that had about fifty tapes that had kind of been in a flood. The box that they were in was all wet, they got mold spores inside the video tapes and you could see the white mold. They were really too bad to actually go through our cleaner. So what we did is, we found a VHS tape at Goodwill and purchased that, brought it in, tied it into our system.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Tom: And then just ran all the tapes through, because the problem is, the spores in the mold will get in your heads eventually and then they will transfer to all the other tapes.

Fisher: You've got to be kidding me. Wow!

Tom: Oh, yeah. It’s just like a disease, you put it in there, it will get on the next tape, it will grow, and it’s just like an infection.

Fisher: So what do you do to keep this from happening in the future?

Tom: Well, the best thing to do so you don't get that on your tapes anymore is, we suggest you get some uncooked rice. Please make sure it’s uncooked!

Fisher: [Laughs] Uncooked!

Tom: I've heard of people just thinking, "Oh, rice." and they cooked up some rice and did this.

Fisher: No! [Laughs]

Tom: It must be uncooked rice. You get a cheesecloth and wrap the rice in that. It doesn't matter how much you put in, the more the merrier.

Fisher: Okay.

Tom: And then just tie it with a string or something. You don't want to use a rubber band, because rubber band eventually will dry out and crack. So just, you know, get some string and tie around it or one of those little clips that come with.

Fisher: Ziploc? Would that work?

Tom: No, this needs to go inside a Ziploc bag.

Fisher: Okay.

Tom: So a zip tie would work, just something to hold the cheesecloth with uncooked rice. And then put that inside a Ziploc bag with the tapes and that will help to absorb any moisture. And just check from time to time, whenever they start geting gooey at all, you know, any moisture you know that's in there, throw them away and put some more in there.

Fisher: And this really depends on what part of the country you live and how humid it is, I would assume.

Tom: Generally, but like even places like out west where it’s drier. If you have like, a lot of people out there have these things they call fruit rooms, and they get so cold, its causes condensation even though it’s kind of the desert area. So I suggest, you know, anyplace. Just put it in. It’s not that big of a deal. This way, you won't get the mold spores. If you do, like I say, pick up a VCR at Goodwill, we'll transfer all the tapes and then throw the VCR away when we're done.

Fisher: Okay, we've got another one here from Fred Mires? All right, it’s spelt different than the grocery store, it’s from Memphis, Tennessee, he writes, "Why should we keep optical things like slides and film like you suggested? They are what they are. And how could new technology later make them better?"

Tom: Okay, the way it is, is the resolution. The actual scanning process which we use has a higher, let's call it dpi or megapixels, so it actually can pull out and extrapolate things that the old ones couldn't see. For instance, my father had a whole bunch of old 8mm tapes. Thank heavens he didn't throw them away! Some of the pictures were so dark all you could see was silhouettes. When we shot it in high definition, we were able to pull out enough information that you can actually make out faces and stuff. So don't ever just throw it away just because it’s too dark.

Fisher: Wow!

Tom: We might be able to pull it out. And you know, five years from now or maybe even a year from now, we can do better. We've actually done free upgrades in '13.

Fisher: All right, great question Fred, thanks for that. And of course, if you have a question for Tom, you can email him at [email protected]. And if we answer your question on the air, you get?

Tom: You get a $25 credit on anything that you purchase online at Shop.TMCPlace.com.

Fisher: All right. And coming up next, we're going to talk more about home videos, because every week we find out they're dying, they're going away, coming up next on Extreme Genes, Family History Radio and ExtremeGenes.com.

Segment 5 Episode 32

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry

Fisher: You have found us, Extreme Genes Family History Radio, ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, your congenial Radio Roots Sleuth with Tom Perry. He is our Preservation Authority from TMCPlace.com. And for the last little bit, we've been kicking around, Tom, these videos that we all took back in 1990s, the 1980s even and the early part of this century, and we're seeing that there's a lot of problems happening here that I don't think anybody ever anticipated when these things first came out.

Tom: One of the biggest problems is just particles just kind of falling off the polyester binding that's on them. And it’s caused from heat, humidity, and as we mentioned a little bit last week, it’s just from playing the tape.

Fisher: And so, we're seeing that with these old tapes, there are various things though that are kind of unique to each type of tape you may have, right?

Tom: Correct.

Fisher: So let's start with the earliest stuff, which would be the VHS, I assume.

Tom: Right, VHS and Betamax were the first consumer ones. They had 3/4 inch before that, but that was mostly professional. Betamax was so much superior to VHS, but unfortunately Sony kind of shot themselves in the foot. They wouldn't license the technology to anybody unless they jump through Sony's hoops. With JVC, they had VHS, would license anybody that would send them a check.

Fisher: Right. [Laughs]

Tom: And so, because there were so many machines out there, the prices came down more and more and more, so people thought, "Wow, this one deck is $200, this other one's only $125! I'll go with VHS." Not knowing that Betamax is so much better. And the tapes fall apart. Now one of the things with VHS, too, that people really get confused with, there's also a smaller VHS format called VHSC, which is totally compatible with VHS. You can get a little adapter, put your VHSC in it and play it on your VHS machines. And the reason that JVC came out with that is to kind of combat the High8 tapes that came out that were smaller and more compact to make smaller cameras, because if you remember the old ones, the camera and the deck were two separate pieces. And they were heavy, they were bulky, they were just a pain. So Sony released the Regular8, the High8 and the Digital8s which we'll get back to in just a minute. And so, JVC came out with the VHSC to kind of, you know, fight them. We have people coming in all the time that say, "Hey, I've got this Video8, I need an adaptor so I can watch it on my VHS machine, because I know they make them." No, they don't make them. If you look at VHS, High8, Mini DV, Betamax, all these, look at it, it’s different countries and different languages. They don't talk to each other. Whereas with VHS, it’s still like, say, like America, but its different parts of America, so they're still totally compatible with each other. When you get into SVHS, which was a better format of VHS, which is a little bit more professional, VHS tape will play in it and a VHSC will play in it, but you cannot play a SVHS tape in a VHS machine. So if somebody made a professional thing of your kids playing football or soccer or dance club ad it says "SVHS" and it won't play on your machine, don't worry about it. Bring it in to us or send it in to us and we can transfer it to a DVD for you, because we have the equipment.

Fisher: So, all of this stuff though, ultimately you've got to get digitized, right?

Tom: Oh, exactly! Its dying, you know. And in fact, I tell people, "Get your stuff in, get it transferred or call a coroner, because they're going to have to pick up your tapes and dispose of them."

Fisher: So at the end of the day, Tom, if somebody goes to their local version of you, whatever that may be, what kind of cost can they expect to incur dealing with these different types of tapes?

Tom: It depends. It’s really inexpensive. You can get it for as little as $18, all the way up, depending on what you're going for. If your tape's in good condition, you don't need anything special. Most of the outlets that we work with that we do their transfers for them, usually are about $20 to $24, but sometimes they run specials for as little as $17.95. But you can go onto our website, and if we have a location closer to you, you can take it in to them or just order a box from us, we'll send you everything you need, the GPS tracker, send it in to us and we'll get it transferred for you.

Fisher: What are your memories worth, right?

Tom: Oh, exactly. And I tell people, I say, "You come in and you buy your kids for Christmas a wide screen TV you paid $500 for. Five years from now, they won't remember that TV, but them will remember your tapes." And a lot of people that come in, they say they're the best babysitters in the world. Grandkids love watching mommy and daddy when they were little kids. And it’s better than SpongeBob.

Fisher: [Laughs] Great stuff! Tom Perry thanks for joining us.

Tom: Good to be here.

Fisher: And that's it for this week. We want to thank Cyndi Ingle from Cyndi’s List for joining us today, our special guest on the show. And next week, we're going to talk to a descendant of John Brown. Yes, a man who many say was responsible for triggering the Civil War. Talk to you next week on Extreme Genes, Family History Radio. And remember, as far as everyone knows, we're a nice, normal family!


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