Episode 38 - In Search of Dad's Missing War Stories and Genealogical Cruises

podcast episode May 05, 2014

Fisher has some incredible stories in this episode.  Imagine a stranger knocking at your door to tell you the grandfather who died before you were born had left a message… 101 years ago!  It happened in Germany.  Fisher shares the amazing details.  Plus, a Red Cross worker sketched soldiers in Holland in 1945.  Photos of roughly 100 of those sketches were recently found by family, and an effort is now on to locate descendants of these World War II heroes.  We’ll tell you where to find out more.  Could one be of your ancestor?  The Vatican Library has begun digitizing.  What’s in the collection that you could soon be viewing on line?  We’ll fill you in.  And free Civil War records are available on line through the end of April 2014.  Who?  Where?  Remain calm!  It’s right in the podcast.

Guest John Mitzel from New Hampshire joins the show and explains how he never was able to get his late father to adequately share his stories from World War II.  Hear how John would not be defeated, and went about making friends with his dad’s old friends, and hear some of the stories they told about the 781st Tank Battalion!

Then, Chicago’s Thomas MacEntee introduces us to genealogical cruises.  There are such things!  What do you do on one?  Where do you go?  Who does them?  Find out as Fisher visits with Thomas.

And lastly, Tom Perry, the Preservation Authority from TMCPlace.com returns to tell you about why you want to use external hard drives to store your most important data, and how to take care of them.

Transcript of Episode 38

Host: Scott Fisher

Segment 1 Episode 38

Fisher: And hello genies, and welcome to Extreme Genes Family History Radio and ExtremeGenes.com where we shake your family tree and watch the nuts fall out. I am Fisher your Radio Roots Sleuth and before I tell you what we’ve got lined up for you this week, I want to welcome another fine radio station to our growing list of affiliates, KRCN Bloomberg Radio 10.60 in Denver, Colorado. We’re very pleased to be a part of Ron Crider’s weekend line-up. We’ve got some great news and outstanding guest today. The first coming in about ten minutes is a man who had his father for quite some time, but never got much out of him concerning his experiences in WWII. It wasn’t until his father was gone that he got on the trail and flushed out some amazing information from his father’s surviving colleagues from all around the country, serious stuff and seriously funny stuff. You’ll want to hear how he did it and hear about the only book he’s ever written in his life as a result. It’s something any of us could do if we really wanted to.  And you’re going to want to hear some of his father’s tales as well. Then later in the show, have you ever heard of “Genealogical Cruises?” No? Well, don’t feel bad. I hadn’t either. Thomas MacEntee will be here to tell us all about them, where they go, what you do, and how to find one that might suit you. As I plot my next vacation I know I’ll be taking a close look at this.

Our poll for this past week was on ancestors whose stories are too hard to believe. We asked, “Do you have an ancestor whose story is so amazing you wonder if it could really be true.” And 63% said yes. Darlene in Decatur, Alabama listening on WEKI dropped me an email describing her ancestor’s story. “Fisher, my great grandfather was courting my great grandmother. Coming to her house for a date in the early 1900s were the horse buggy. The horse would not stop. Great grandfather went right past her home yelling, “Whoa!” The route through town was very familiar to the horse and it circled three times before great grandfather was finally able to get the horse under control. I think it was tired. As you can imagine he and my future great grandmother decided it probably wasn’t best to go on their date at the mercy of this particular horse.” Well thanks for that story Darlene. And if you have a tale you’d like to share you can do as Darlene did and drop me an email at [email protected] or call our toll free “Find Line” at 1-234-56-GENES. That’s G-E-N-E-S. Record your story, your comment or question and you might end up on the show. And of course you can always Facebook us as well at Facebook.com/ExtremeGenes.

This week’s poll asks, “Have you ever discovered that a close friend was also a relative, yes or no?” Cast your vote at ExtremeGenes.com. Here is this week’s Family Histoire News from the pages of ExtremeGenes.com. In Germany a bottle containing a message in envelope and stamps were thrown into the Baltic Sea in 1913 and it has found its way back to the family of the man who cast his thoughts on and into the water. Now picture this, Angela Erdmann of Hamburg gets a knock on her door from a genealogist who tracked her down to inform her he was delivering a message sent flying into the sea by her late grandfather in 1913. How crazy would that be? Her grandfather Richard Platz died six years before she was born back in the 1940s. At the time of the bottle throwing incident Richard was 20 years old and believed to have been on a hike with a nature appreciation group. A lot of the note written on a postcard was no longer legible though it’s hoped it can be deciphered at some point with a little help from science. The parts that could be read indicated that Platz wanted the finder of the note to send it on to his home address. He even included a couple of stamps to cover the costs. I doubt he could have imagined it would have come home 101years later to a granddaughter he never knew. The bottle was pulled in with a haul of fish by a fisherman and will be displayed in Hamburg at the Maritime Museum. You can’t make things up like this. A search has begun as a result of the discovery of photographs of some one hundred sketches taken of American soldiers in Holland in February of 1945. Elizabeth Black was a Red Cross worker and sketched over one thousand images. She then had her subjects write something to her in a special book. Near the end of the time that she was doing this work, she began taking photos of her sketches before giving the originals to the soldiers. Miss Black died years ago but those photos were found in a military footlocker that recently was sent on to one of her sons in Memphis, Tennessee. The roughly one hundred photos became a cause for Elizabeth’s son and he has since gone about trying to track down the men or their descendents. So far, thirty one of the one hundred images have found their way back to the families. The phone calls have produced a lot of tears of joy and Pittsburgh Television Station KQED has produced a 50 minute documentary to try to help find the families that go with the remaining pictures. The documentary will be on PBS stations throughout the country sometime in May. It’s a great story with many happy endings and hopefully many, many more. Find the link and read all the details at ExtremeGenes.com

Next, a project has begun to digitize thousands of historic documents housed at the Vatican Library. The documents date from the origins of the Catholic Church all the way to the twentieth century and will eventually be online. The digital project will cover about 1.5 million pages from the library’s manuscript collection. It’s estimated that this initial phase will take four years to complete. The library itself dates back to the 1300s and houses some 41 million pages and 82 thousand items. So this is just a starting point. When the project is completed it is anticipated that a new phase will begin to digitize everything in the Vatican Library’s collection. To remember the commencement of the Civil War in April 1861, Ancestry.com Fold3 is inviting genies everywhere to sift through all records in their Civil War collection. Go to go.fold3.com/civilwar for free from now to the end of the month. This includes military records, personal accounts and historic writings, soldier service records, pension index cards, widows’ pension files, navy survivor certificates, army registers and a whole lot more. There are also photographs, original war maps, court investigations, slave records, all kinds of great stuff. That’s free now through the end of April at go.fold3.com/civilwar.  Hey just a reminder, you can catch up on all our previous Extreme Genes Shows by downloading our podcast. Just search Extreme Genes iHeart or Extreme Genes iTunes and subscribe to the show. And coming up in five minutes, you’ll meet a man who wanted to find out what his father didn’t or wouldn’t tell him when he was alive, his experiences as a member of a Tank Battalion in World War II. He went to great lengths but came out with great success. You’ll enjoy what John Mitzel has to tell you about the 781st Tank Battalion next on Extreme Genes family History Radio and ExtremeGenes.com.

Segment 2 Episode 38

Host: Scott Fisher with guest John Mitzel

Fisher: And welcome back to Extreme Genes, Family History Radio ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here with my special guest from New Hampshire John Mitzel. How are you John?

John: I’m very fine Scott. Thank you for having me.

Fisher: John has done what many of us have done, and that is had a passion to know more about his family and went about discovering his dad’s services in World War II, and the result has been a fabulous book that has done so much for so many other families who are tied to the same unit your dad was in. John let’s just start at the beginning. How’d you get this interest?

John: Well, what happened was, when I was 12 years old I liked the biblical quote, “When I was a child I talked as a child and I spoke and I thought as a child” And I asked my dad, “What did you do in the war, dad?” Like a child. It was like, “How many guys did you shoot? Did you kill anybody? Did you see any blood?”

Fisher: Right.

John: And naturally not much came out of that conversation and it kind of laid dormant for forty years. Until one day for Father’s Day I got my dad’s, I guess we’d call it his special box, and you know most us have a special box where we keep all of our special stuff in it. And my dad had passed away and the box finally got its way into my possession. I opened it up and there was dog tags and ribbons and medals, and you know, it kind of hit me, it was like “What did you do dad?”

Fisher: Wow.

John: And I couldn’t ask, you know, dad was gone. So I started just digging into what he did and got a bunch of facts, but still I was very unsatisfied. I hadn’t found the answer to what did you do dad, and how did you feel. And so at that point by was getting more information, more facts, I went to the National Achieves to get facts about him, to what he did with the 781st Tank Battalion, and at first, you know Scott it’s like the 781st Tank Battalion doesn’t sound too impressive you know, it’s mostly like one of 780 other ones.

Fisher: [Laughs] It sounds impressive to me. I mean, I think all the World War II people they leave me a little speechless with what they accomplished. 

John: You’re absolutely right. And the really interesting part of it is, almost to a person, they won’t volunteer it. They won’t brag. They won’t talk about it. So you have to get it out of them. But once you show a really genuine interest, I found probably about at least a dozen people who were with my father’s outfit. I started to interview them and talk to them and became friends with a couple of them and asked them not what did you do, but how did you feel.

Fisher: Right. It’s a great question.

John: Right, because to be human is to feel. And I wanted to gain understanding of my dad through these other men. And it’s like, did you feel fear? Were you cold? What did you think about the food? How did you feel when you actually had to kill somebody? How did you deal with it? What happened when your friends were killed? 

Fisher: All great questions.

John: Thank you. And the other is like, how did you feel when you had to get up in the morning and get into a tank that you knew was decisioned and could not and could not stand up against the equal number in the Germans, that you could barely scratch their paint but they could kill you with one shot. I got some extraordinary answers and some wonderful stories and some horrifying stories.

Fisher: Tell us one that sticks out in your mind.

John: Yeah. Some of these stories that come to mind are one of the funny ones is you know, if you give a bunch of 19 year olds a tank and leave them with little supervision.

Fisher: [Laughs]

John: One of the companies in the 781st was formed by basically it was all the refuse of the other three and they basically, they were F trooped and they knew it and they were proud of it, and when all of the companies went to the firing range to qualify on shooting their rifles, the men in G-company missed the targets on purpose. They knew how to shoot, they were very accurate but they just chose to put zeros on their scores just to thumb their nose at the government, you know. [Laughs]

Fisher: That’s funny. 

John: They went off when they were in Germany as part of the occupation forces, these 19 year olds with their tank were one day sitting across the street from a bank and kind of decided that I wonder if our cannon will shoot a hole in the vault. And it did. 

Fisher: Oh! [Laughs] Yeah, kids with tanks! What a great idea.

John: Yeah right, kids with tanks. And so these guys decided that you know, we’ve defeated Germany so the reichsmark was going to be a defund currency, so wouldn’t it be fun to have some bags of money? And they robbed the bank and they loaded up a truck that they had stolen from the 101st airborne and they had literally just bags and bags and bags of money and they were playing with it.

Fisher: [Laughs] Sure. 

John: Much to their surprise, little later on they found out that the occupation forces decided that the reichsmark was going to be kept.

Fisher: Uh oh.

John: And these guys, they were sitting on bags of money as cushions. They had a truck full of money and they didn’t know how to get rid of it. They were scared that someone was going to actually come and find them and so they decided the best way out was to spend it. So they would have kegs of beer brought for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Fisher: [Laughs]

John: The D-company, they were just an incredibly colorful group of guys. 

Fisher: Now tell me John, do you think your father ever would have revealed any of this stuff had he lived to tell it?

John: You know, I think he would have had I had the...I guess the foresight or if he was still around to ask the questions and the way I posed them later on. You know, to talk to somebody as an adult, to give you an example Scott, one of the folks that I spoke with he passed away before the book came out and I sent the book as promised to his wife, and she wrote me a letter and said, “John, you must have contacted him on a level that even I never could have. Because he told you stories that I didn’t even know.” 

Fisher: Don’t you think that was because you were the son of a colleague?

John: Yeah, I think so. One of the most proud days of my life, it was amazing; one of the last surviving officers of the 781st one day made me an honorary member of the 781st, and I’ll tell you, I walk on air when I talk about that. 

Fisher: I bet you do. I bet it brings tears to your eyes. 

John: It’s a wonderful thing. And when all is said and done, I took all of these stories and all of these facts and all the humanity and wrote it all together and I was pretty evangelical that this was a story that had to be told. The 781st made a tremendous contribution to winning World War II and nobody knew about them and so, got the book out and having a book is neat when you saw I’m an author, that’s kind of cool. I have a bunch of new friends that unfortunately I’m losing them all too quickly but after all said and done, I have an understanding of the war in France and the 781st but most of all I have an understanding of my dad. 

Fisher: That’s right. And that’s the whole point of all this, isn’t it? It’s where it began and still where it ends. The book is called “Duty Before Self” The story of the 781st Tank Battalion in World War II. It’s from Schiffer Publishing. You can get it on Amazon.com it’s by John Mitzel and that’s who we’re talking to right now. John this is a fabulous story. What did you come away with from this though that you felt still haunts the men?

John: Ohh, the haunting is individual. Some of them remember awful, horrifying stories, and others remember friends who have passed. Nobody talks about it, volunteers, and I think that’s the haunting part about it is I think they all wanted World War II to get over so they could just go back and be themselves, and that’s what all of them did. The people that I talked to were a furniture salesman, an insurance broker, you know, a meter reader, an usher, a bunch of students ad they couldn’t get out of there fast enough and when they got out of the war they just went back to being the meter reader and the furniture salesman and the gas station attendant and got on with their lives. It was an amazing, amazing thing. You know, the biggest thing I can take away and perhaps give to your audience is, I would urge them all to ask their parents and grandparents, uncles, friends, anybody who was a veteran and discover their stories and document them before they can take them to a place where we can’t get them. And be sure to ask you know, “How did you feel?” to these people because you might discover a hero there. I did.

Fisher: Well, that certainly seems like the key to getting them to open up a little bit. Whereas if you just ask “What did you do?” You might not get that kind of response at that level. 

John: Yeah. It’s important to get to the humanity of it you know, these were just ordinary people that came from you know an ordinary walk of life that became heroes. And the stories in the book, some of the stories, are just heroic episodes. There’s some funny stuff in there, just heroism that is beyond anything for you, pulling a friend out of a burning tank.

Fisher: Did they stay in touch with each other? Or did they just as much feel like I’d just as soon forget the whole thing?

John: I think, you know what’s interesting? I think it’s like the 80/20 rule. I think 80% of them just went back to oblivion. Maybe 20% of them went to the reunions and stayed in touch as friends and would talk about it. That’s how I was fortunate enough to get in touch with a fair amount of them is I was able to get the last reunion roster and go from there. 

Fisher: Well what a great lesson though in how to trace down your family history and expand it because we are not islands as individuals, and your dad fought in World War II but he didn’t fight alone, and the stories involving him involved many other people not only his colleagues but others in the larger military scheme of things, the enemy, the circumstance, the weather, all of these things. And what a fascinating thing you’ve done. So congratulations John.

John: Well thank you very much. 

Fisher: The book is “Duty Before Self” The story of the 781st Tank Battalion at World War II. It’s available on Amazon.com, your first book John?

John: First book.

Fisher: Is there going to be another? 

John: Well, no I don’t want to jinx it, but one of the stories that came out of this book we’re researching it now to expand a bit on it so hopefully within a year of so. We’ll see it. 

Fisher: John Mitzel, thanks so much for your time. It’s been great talking to you.

John: Thank you Scott! Thanks for having me on.

Fisher: I love that, “Kids with tanks.” And coming up next, something I’d never heard if before, maybe you have its genealogical cruises. Thomas MacEntee joins us to tell us all about how you can go cruising and enjoy some research information at the same time. It’s coming up next on Extreme Genes, Family History Radio and ExtremeGenes.com.

Segment 3 Episode 38

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Thomas MacEntee

Fisher: Welcome back to Extreme Genes, Family History Radio and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here. I’m talking to Thomas MacEntee. Thomas is the founder of High Definition Genealogy. He has been in the industry for many moons, shall we say Tom. 

Thomas: That’s correct, yeah. I’ve actually been as a professional in the genealogy field for about five years now. 

Fisher: And you’re a New Yorker who lives in Chicago, which is hard for any New Yorker ever to understand. [Laughs]

Thomas: I love Chicago. Chicago is a selection of 73 neighborhoods. It’s more manageable than New York, let’s put it that way.

Fisher: Yeah I think you might be right about that. What I’m excited about though is you’ve got these genealogy cruises that are going on. You’ve got to tell us what that’s about. 

Thomas: Yeah I just came back from one. I just came back from a cruise in Australia. They left out of Sydney, and it was a 9 night cruise on Royal Caribbean, and it went down to Tasmania, it went across Southern Australia. We had about 250 other genealogists mainly from Australia, and it’s a neat concept that really pictures getting more and more popular in the genealogy field.

Fisher: Gee, I wonder why. [Laughs]

Thomas: Yeah. If you look at it, it’s like attending a genealogy conference or getting a week’s long worth of vegetation while you’re also on vacation. You can bring other family members they don’t have to be into genealogy. And also, you don’t miss out on the visits to the port cities because all of your lectures, all of your networking takes place while the boat is at sea. 

Fisher: Wow! So you get the vacation benefit, the education benefit, and the socializing side of it too. 

Thomas: Exactly. You know a lot of times with the cruise, sometimes you don’t want to sit there and play bingo all day or trivia. You might not be into sports. The trend I think in the industry is there are more and more scene types of cruises. If you look at Disney, I mean they have their own cruise line. So there is a trend in the travel industry towards that. The cruises sometimes go to heritage locations. I did one three years ago with Legacy Family Tree that went from New York, up to New England and Eastern Canada, and we had a lot of people that had ancestry there. So they could get off in Halifax and do research at the cemetery or at the archives. 

Fisher: We’re talking about the Tories, the Loyalists?

Thomas: Exactly, right. Yeah, and so I actually took a group of about fifty people into Boston at the New England Historic Genealogical Society for a day of research, but even if it isn’t centred around where your ancestors lived, you get top notch educators and lecturers that you would see at any genealogy conference, but the thing you get to spend one on one time with them very often.

Fisher: Because they’re trapped on the boat with you. [Laughs]

Thomas: Well yes, [Laughs] yeah, but there are some great ones that are coming up over the next two years. I know the company that I travelled with in Australia, it’s called “Unlock the Past” They’re actually doing a Baltic cruise, I believe in 2016 and they’re doing a Transatlantic crossing in November of 2015 out of South Hampton to New York and then to Miami. 

Fisher: Wow! So you can actually take the route that your ancestors took while learning about it. 

Thomas: Exactly, that one is going to be a migration theme. I mean that’s going to be the whole theme, is migration. So, some of these cruises they’re mapped out, they’re planned. You may not be able to sign up yet. The speakers may not be all signed up. But there are some that are being planned. Legacy Family Tree also does one every year and they’re doing one in Japan, out of Hong Kong, they’re doing two different cruises this fall. 

Fisher: So how long has this been going on?

Thomas: It’s been going on actually for several years. I think one genealogy vendor, the master genealogists they’re on their tenth cruise now. I did a cruise with them of Alaska. You talk about a great cruise.

Fisher: Wow! 

Thomas: I mean this is out of Seattle. I mean it was unbelievable. It was seven nights, it was out of Seattle. It was just unbelievable! The group was great. I hosted breakfast where we talked about technology in genealogy, but then I could go do other things on the boat. I could go to Skagway and get off the boat and take the tour of Juneau or whatever. So as the speaker it was also good for me as well.

Fisher: Now, when you go on there, you would have to have your own laptop I assume? 

Thomas: Well, keep in mind on a cruise ship internet is still very expensive. I mean it comes down to $35 an hour. 

Fisher: Wow! 

Thomas: Yeah it’s unbelievable. So what I was doing, here I am hanging off the side of the boat when we came into port with my iPhone trying to catch up on my email and very often if you have access that is what a lot of us did. We waited until we got into port and as someone that speaks on technology and internet, as a speaker it was hard for me to do some of my talks because I’m so used to going live out to the internet. But you just plan for that. I have to say it’s also nice to disconnect, Fisher, every once in a while from the internet and from Facebook and all that drama and social media. And a cruise is a nice way to do that. 

Fisher: So what do you do if you’re interested in going on a cruise?

Thomas: Well search for genealogy cruise out on the internet, look at some of the itineraries that are being planned. Someone asked me, well wasn’t it more expensive than just going through one of the cruise discounters? And I said it’s a little bit more. But you have to understand they’re paying the genealogy speakers, they’re putting together you should get a free cocktail party. You get all these events that are included. So the way that I’ve calculated it, it’s usually only about $200- $300 more than the normal cruise price.

Fisher: Wow, and it can go for over a week.

Thomas: Yeah for over a week, even more than that. They did one last year through the Panama Canal, from San Diego over to Port Lauderdale and that was almost two weeks. And that was with Megan Smolenyak who is a very well known speaker. She was the lead speaker and the other thing is, think about the networking opportunities. You always have people finding cousins on these boats and going, “Oh I didn’t realize you were related, that we’re working on the same surname.”

Fisher: Really?

Thomas: I mean that always happens. I believe there are no more than six degrees of separation between two genealogists once you get them in a room together. 

Fisher: Yeah. [Laughs]

Thomas:  But the opportunity is great. It’s just that genealogy has become addictive. I think these cruises have become a bit addictive to some people. 

Fisher: Yeah, I would think.

Thomas: You know, you pick the one that is right for you. Now I had never been on a cruise before Fisher, until three years ago, and now I’m hooked. Genealogy cruising is really becoming more and more popular. 

Fisher: I think the hardest thing for me would be, if I’m there and I’m listening to great experts on all kinds of different topics, maybe things I’d never considered before and I would be wanting to do it but I don’t have internet access, I’d probably be about to explode.

Thomas: Yeah, well actually what a lot of the companies do, at least on Unlock the Past it was nice because they made sure there was sort of like what I call after care, after the cruise. They made sure that you had access to all the handouts and the syllabus materials that you could download them. Surveys and feedback are very important. You know, how was the boat, how was the staff? How were the lectures? Because they’re always looking to improve, so it’s not one of those things where you get off the boat and say, “Okay yeah, thanks a lot.” And then you never hear from that group again. In fact, I have photos of my dinner mates from Australia and I stay in touch with them now via email. Even though we don’t have any connection research, they’re all into convict ancestors which is really popular in Australia.

Fisher: [Laughs] Is that right?

Thomas: Oh yeah. It’s a badge of honor now. It used to be, you would be ashamed to have a convict, but now everyone wants to find their black sheep ancestors which are convicts, which came over in first fleet I believe in 1798. But I still stay in touch with a lot of my Aussie friends that I met on the cruise. So it’s a great opportunity.

Fisher: I think there’s an opportunity out there for somebody who wants to find their niche in the genealogy world, to do nothing but black sheep research. [Laughs]

Thomas: Exactly. Actually Ron Aarons does that. Ron Aarons is my go-to guy for black sheep ancestry, he maintains lists of prison inmates, and he’s also done research at the Sing Sing Prison in upstate New York. But no black sheep ancestor is aware of that. 

Fisher: Well and especially because somebody pointed out to me they’ve left so many more records [Laughs] because of what they’ve done. 

Thomas: Exactly, yes.

Fisher: Well it sounds like a great thing to do Thomas, and if people want to find out more about genealogy cruises, what’s the best way to go?  

Thomas: One of the ways to go is just to go search for the term “Genealogy Cruise” on Google. There are several companies one is called Unlockthepast.com they’re out of Australia but they do international cruises. Legacyfamilytree.com, they have a cruise every year. The Master Genealogists is another group that does a cruise, and so that’s a good way to start.

Fisher: He’s Thomas MacEntee, the founder of High Definition Genealogy. Thanks for the Info Tom! 

Thomas: You’re welcome. 

Fisher: And coming up next, he’s our Preservation Authority Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com. Delving into the mysteries of storing your data on BluRays, it’s on the way on Extreme Genes, Family History Radio and ExtremeGenes.com. 

Segment 4 Episode 38

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry

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

Tom: Good to be back.

Fisher: You know, I've got to tell you, when we started this show, I never imagined that all these recommendations you're making could be so controversial.

Tom: [Laughs] Exactly.

Fisher: From the idea that disks are going to be outdated, to the best kind of disk to use for preservation, but you really, you stir up hornet's nests.

Tom: I have.

Fisher: You've heard from more people than me. What do you have this time?

Tom: Now one thing that's really confusing to people is most machines before they started disappearing, didn't have BluRay, because BluRay was so new, they were so expensive, they didn't put them in machines.

Fisher: Right.

Tom: But now, there are so many different options out there, it’s best to have an external one versus an internal one, because them you can also use it on another piece of equipment. You can be on your laptop, take your BluRay burner with it. You're working on anything else, you can take it home or you can take it to work. So why have all these expensive BluRay burners? And Sony and Panasonic are two of the leaders. They're two of the biggest players in the game. And they're the ones that are going together as we mentioned last week and are going to work on the summer of 2015 coming up with a one terabyte BluRay disk! Anybody can get all their stuff on a terabyte.

Fisher: I would think you could get everything from a lifetime on a terabyte, but nonetheless, BluRay in my mind when I hear that, I'm thinking, movies on Saturday night.

Tom: Exactly. And that's what most people were thinking, the exact same thing. A BluRay is an exceptional way to store your data. It’s made out of a stronger polycarbonate, the dyes in it are so much better, it is truly a digital archive medium.

Fisher: Talk about the storing the hard drives themselves, because that's a whole different game, isn't it?

Tom: Oh it is, yeah. Switching to hard drives, there's two basic kinds of hard drives, there's the HDD, which is a hard drive disk, which most people know of, and then there's the SSD, which is a solid state drive. The best kinds are SSDs, which are solid state. Because the hard drive has a spinning platter, you have to read the box and see how fast your platter spins to know how fast it’s going to be if you're going to have to sit and watch that little colored beach ball.

Fisher: You're talking moving parts here, right?

Tom: Exactly!

Fisher: And moving parts means things can break.

Tom: And they go a lot slower.

Fisher: Yes.

Tom: Absolutely. So with the solid state hard drive, I'd heard about them when I first got mine. I bought a new MacBook Pro and it had that on it. And when you push the button, you don't have your finger off the button and it’s started. It’s ready to go. It’s like crazy fast!

Fisher: And the prices have come down on them so much!

Tom: Amazing.

Fisher: You can get them for, what, 80, 90 bucks now, below end.

Tom: Oh yeah! Oh yeah! Oh under 100 bucks, easy! And my only regret to my SSD, I didn't get a bigger one. But they are amazing, because I've always used external drives for all my photos, but with the SSD, it accesses them so much faster. I can drop them on there, do all my editing, and when I'm done, clear it off, and put some more photos on or whatever and do it. Just because something's on your internal drive, it doesn't mean it has to be there forever. Back it up onto your external hard drives when you don't need the speed and then erase those off your SSD, put new stuff on there, and you will not believe how fast you can edit, even with big programs like Final Cut Pro. It’s just amazing! Also, Fish, you mentioned something about storage, you want to be really careful with your hard drives they get gunk on them.

Fisher: Hmm.

Tom: And when you erase things off your hard drive, you're not really erasing it, you're erasing the address the stuff is still there. So you want to get a good program, like Norton Utilities makes some good programs, they will optimize your hard drives, it will take all the garbage out and move it away and it will find what files are related and it will reformat them back to where they're close to each other. So on a standard hard drive, you'll find things faster. It’s not sitting there searching over your whole hard drive. So get a good program to optimize your hard drives.

Fisher: So I love this, because you're talking about now, speed, better accessibility, greater reliability before the things finally die, which could be a long, long time, especially with solid state.

Tom: Right, with all those things, and it’s cheaper.

Fisher: All right, and coming up next, Tom has more for us. We're going to get back into the acronyms, the dpis, and the ppis, what does all this mean? Why does it matter to you? Tom will tell you next, coming up on Extreme Genes, Family History Radio and ExtremeGenes.com.

Segment 5 Episode 38

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry

Fisher: All right, welcome back. You have found us, Extreme Genes Family History Radio, ExtremeGenes.com. Fisher here the Radio Roots Sleuth with Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com. And remember, of course you can always ask Tom questions at [email protected], and you just might hear your question answered on the air. What do you have for us now Tom? All these acronyms! You're going to get me confused again, I know you are.

Tom: Please take notes.

Fisher: [Laughs] All right, I'll write them down.

Tom: Okay, we have ppi, which is pixels per inch, which refers to like a television or a monitor.

Fisher: Yeah.

Tom: Because it’s the little pixels. Then we have dpi, which is dots per inch, which is usually laser printer, inkjet printer, thermal printers, and then also, you have megapixels, which is when we're talking about cameras.

Fisher: Oh boy! Okay.

Tom: So it can get confusing. And people think a dpi versus a dpi is always the same.

Fisher: Well that's, you said the same thing there.

Tom: But they're not. Are all apples the same? There's a granny smith, there's Washington State, there’s all these different kinds of apples, but it’s the same thing.

Fisher: Okay.

Tom: You have to be really, really careful. Pixels per inch is what you see on a monitor, but if you think that transfers straight into dpi and you're like, say, 72 on your monitor and then you print something that's 72, you're going to go, "Why doesn't this look as good?" In order to have dpi equivalent to ppi, you have to have a lot more dpis equal to your ppi.

Fisher: Ohh boy!

Tom: Okay, so what you need to do is actually see what the pixel count is or the dots per inch and then find out what kind of heads the machine has. A good example is, I have a Brother laser printer we use in one of our stores and it prints at 72 dpi and it looks fine, everything looks great. I can take a file and print on that and it looks okay. I can take that same 72 dpi file and put it on my great, big mutoh printer which I make banner signs, decals. No comparison. Its photographic quality on my mutoh, because of the way it lays down the dots per inch. So don't think every 200 dpi or every 72 dpi is the same.

Fisher: Huh!

Tom: The way they lay it down, the print head technology is different on all those things. And if you want to get into more information, look up stuff on Wikipedia, there's a lot of places on Google that you can search, but you have to be really, really careful. We have people come in the store all the time that says, "Hey, you know, I need this at 72 dpi." And I say, "Well, what exactly are you going to be doing? If you're doing a little 5x7 or a billboard, they're two totally different things." Your pixels per inch, your dots per inch your megapixels are different based on what you need. Like we've talked before, if you're going to move a little bit of dirt and you can move it in some buckets in your station wagon, go for it. Don't go buy a, you know, RAM 350 to move a couple of, you know, buckets of dirt.

Fisher: [Laughs] That's a good comparison.

Tom: And it comes back to, again we've had people calling me and say, "Hey, I listened to your radio show, but I still don't understand, my old film, my old 8mm film from the '30s and '40s, why do I need to do it in high definition? It is what it is." Again, let me give you an example. If you go into a machine shop you see this big roll of steel. Well, a big roll of steel is a big roll of steel. You turn that into paper clips and it’s a buck per hundred.

Fisher: Sure.

Tom: You turn that into a surgical scalpel and its one per probably thousands of dollars. So it’s how you do it. So when we shoot your old 8mm films that are fading, when we scan them at a real high definition, we can pull more information out than you can see by just projecting that on a screen. So as I mentioned before, we had some old film I found at my father's that never got transferred, because it was so dark, you couldn't even see it in the projector. When we transferred it is in high definition, it was grainy. However, you could see faces and people and you knew who they were. And there were some very choice stuff that would never had got transferred if I wouldn’t have known that.

Fisher: And you could also take that and make those into photographs, and then because of the better detail, you could Photoshop out a lot of the imperfections, could you not?

Tom: Exactly! Exactly, that's one of the greatest things about if you can afford it to upgrade your film transfer to high definition and get the jpegs. I have found so many photos on my old film that my dad shot that are priceless to me. I would give up anything for them. And this technology wasn't here two years ago. And it’s just blessing our lives.

Fisher: And it’s constant that we see this improvement going on all the time. I'm glad we keep up with you, Tom.

Tom: Absolutely.

Fisher: All right. Thanks for joining us. And once again, if you have a question for Tom, you can [email protected], and hopefully we'll answer your question on the show. Thanks for joining us this week. It’s been great talking to you. We'll see you again 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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