Episode 60 - DNA Testing: A Different Animal for Revealing Family Secrets? 

podcast episode Oct 06, 2014
Fisher shares his Family Histoire News, which notes that GenealogyBank.com and FamilySearch.org are teaming up to index a BILLION obituaries as soon as possible.  Fisher explains how you can be part of the project.
Blaine Bettinger of Syracuse, New York recently responded to the article in Vox posted last week that essentially blames 23andme for the breakup of the family of one of their customers.  Blaine's article, in the GeneticGenealogist, refutes many of the points made in the Vox commentary.  It's a fascinating debate.  Listen to what Blaine has to say, and find the links to both pieces at ExtremeGenes.com
Michael LeClerc from Mocavo.com joins us to tell us about the benefits of their site.  It's free, and does something no one else does!  You'll want to hear this conversation.  It can change your course of your research journey.
Then, Tom Perry has an amazing example of the "hummingbird effect."  And he'll also share with you the proper way to use your thumb drives.  Some people have an entirely wrong idea about these awesome little tools.  That's all this week on Extreme Genes!

Transcript of Episode 60

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Lynette Nicole

Segment 1 Episode 60

Fisher: Hello Genies! And welcome to another edition of Extreme Genes, family history radio, America’s Family History Show where we shake your family tree and watch the nuts fall out. I am Fisher the Radio Roots Sleuth, and last week on ExtremeGenes.com I shared with you the link to an article about a man who went about doing his DNA testing to see who he might tie in with. And what he was that his father had had a son before he married his mother and dad himself didn’t know about it. The revelation resulted in a divorce for mom and dad, the siblings not speaking to dad. In short, it destroyed their family. And the article found in Vox essentially blamed 23andMe the DNA Company for the situation, for not adequately warning their customers of the potential of DNA testing for revealing not only family secrets of generations ago, but family secrets of those in the here and now. Well, a response was written shortly after the Vox article in the Genetic Genealogist by Blaine Bettinger of Syracuse, New York. And I’ll be talking to Blaine all about it coming up in about ten minutes. Then I’ll tell you about a website, a free one that everyone needs to know about who’s interested in researching their family. It’s called Mocavo.com. Now Mocavo isn’t anything like the ancestries, the FindMyPast, the MyHeritages of the world. If you’re not familiar with it, you’re going to want to be. I’ll talk to Michael LeClerc from Mocavo’s headquarters in Boston later in the show and I think you’ll like it. And of course Tom Perry our Preservation Authority returns to talk about thumb drives! How you use them, what you want to use them for and what you definitely don’t want to use them for. Okay, our ExtremeGenes.com poll for last week asked the question, “Do you own a family heirloom that has the initials of one of your ancestors embossed, carved, or in some other way permanently marked on it?” 83% of you responded “Yes” and on our Facebook page we heard about an item or two including a World War I military trunk and a set of silverware that was a wedding gift in 1883. So thanks for voting and sharing all that. This week’s Extreme Genes poll has to do with your ancestors after they were dead. I mean it is October after all. Are there any antique photos in your family of a family member after they died? It’s not something you see much these days, but in the 19th century it wasn’t uncommon for people to photograph their departed spouses, children and babies, especially if they passed suddenly, as it was the only way to preserve their image. And while I have a lot of 19th century family photos, none of the people in them appear to be deceased. Do you have such a photo? Cast your vote now at ExtremeGenes.com. And if you happen to know the story behind your picture, please be sure to share it with us on our Extreme Genes Facebook page, and while you’re there be sure to give us a Like so you can be a regular part of our growing Extreme Genes Facebook community. Hey I can’t forget to mention I have a free podcast app waiting for you to download to your iPhone or Android. It’s a great way for you to catch up on any shows you may have missed or want to hear again. Just look up Extreme Genes in your phone’s app store. In family histoire news this week, FamilySearch.org and GenealogyBank.com have announced an agreement to begin the process of making searchable on the Internet some 1 billion records from historical obituaries. FamilySearch.org has a training video available for anyone interested in being part of the army of volunteers that’s needed to get this job done. Genealogy Bank has digitized over 6500 American newspapers dating back to as early as 1730 covering all 50 States! And of course, obituaries are a rich source of family history information including stories and often unknown relatives. You know we’re always suggesting if you have a comment or question to get in touch with the show either by Facebook, e-mailing me at [email protected] or calling our toll-free Find Line at 1-234-56-GENES. And Lynette Nicole of Arizona has done that, reaching out concerning an ancestor of hers. Hi Lynette, welcome to the show!

Lynette: How are you?

Fisher: Awesome! And you’re right. You almost apologize. You say, “I’m a novice at this stuff.” And you know what? Novices are more than welcome. We’re glad to get you involved and excited about what’s going on in family history and you asked a question about your great, great grandfather, Peter Johannes Forcher. You had this picture of him you spotted in a suit with a double medal on his left breast. Tell us about that.

Lynette: Well, I noticed that he always wore it any time he took a formal picture with the family. And I was grateful to find that was several years in a row and he always wore those medals and I was hoping that I’d be able to use that as a tracer to find out where he came from. I talked to women that said he was in West Germany and that may have led to Prussia, but I had no more information beyond that. I had the name of his father and the name of his mother, and that’s all.

Fisher: Okay. Well I actually found those pictures, went and looked them up as you had described them, because I think they were on Ancestry, right?

Lynette: Yes.

Fisher: And took a close up pictures of those medals and sent them off to a friend of mine over in Germany who does this, Timo Kracke. And Timo actually sent back a link to a place that describes certain war medals of course it’s all in German. I don’t speak German anymore than you do, but you can run a Google translate. This is a great thing to do when you work with foreign sites, you get the information and then you copy and paste it into Google Translate and then you can start to get the feel of what it’s trying to say if not specifically what it’s trying to say. So this is kind of interesting. It says this was a medal from King George the fifth who was in power from 1851 to 1866. And it said it’s predated 27th June 1866. It was awarded to soldiers that were fighting against Prussian troops and fought bravely and it says in memory of his troops in their last battle at Langensalza “For all who in this battle bravely, though unsuccessfully.” The medals were manufactured Austria. The engraver was the medallist Joyner from Vienna. And it says the Hanoverian soldiers in the Prussian service continue to wear the medal. And they say they awarded about sixteen thousand of these medals because that’s how many troops were involved in this particular event. So that’s kind of interesting and I will send you the link to that. But it tells you Hanover first of all is a general area, okay?

Lynette: Wow that’s amazing! I was hoping it would be something like that because I could tell it was important.

Fisher: It was indeed. Then, if you go over to FindAGrave, did you that Peter Johannes’s grave was marked there?

Lynette: Yes, yes I did.

Fisher: And it mentions there they said he was born in Leezdorf, Germany.

Lynette: Leezdorf. Okay I guess I didn’t pick that up.

Fisher: Yes it said Leezdorf and we looked to find records there but there don’t appear to be any online that you can find there. But if you actually look at the marriage record of his father Peter and Gretcha Jansen Tapen, from 1834, that actually took place in Norden, German, that is very close to Leezdorf.

Lynette: Okay.

Fisher: One other thought for you too Lynette, is that I went onto Ancestry and saw that there were about a dozen people who had listed your ancestor Peter Johannes there, and nobody had any place other than Germany except one person, and that person listed Osteel Oldenburg, Germany. And what you can do then is you go in and look at who posted this on a public listing and you click on the name of the submitter and you might be able to communicate with them and ask where that information came from that Peter came from Osteel Oldenburg, Germany. Now I went and looked this up to see exactly where it was and Osteel is very close to Leezdorf which was mentioned in the FindAGrave.

Lynette: Okay.

Fisher: Note. And it’s very close to Norden, Germany, and this is all in the area of Hanover. So it all kind of ties together, it’s just a question of whether or not the church records are available online or might be available through, say the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, on Microfilm. But there’s a lot of good clues here to help you get back to where you need to go. 

Lynette: I appreciate this so much! Thank you!

Fisher: You are so welcome. Hey, is your genetic testing leading your family to disaster? Blaine Bettinger responds to an article about that very thing, next in 3 minutes on Extreme Genes, Family History Radio.

Segment 2 Episode 60

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Blaine Bettinger

Fisher: And welcome back to Extreme Genes, Family History Radio ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth with Blaine Bettinger from Syracuse, New York on the line with us. Hi Blaine! Good to have you on the show.

Blaine: Well thank you for having me.

Fisher: I stumbled upon your article which was in a response to the one from Vox, I guess a couple of weeks ago now, and this was the one the reporter Julia Belluz wrote about genetic genealogy testing and she kind of went after 23andMe and talked about all the negative ramifications of DNA testing. And it was an interesting article because I think it probably brought up some things that many people don’t much consider when it comes to going and doing genetic testing. Maybe they’re just expecting to get their ethnic background, maybe they’re expecting to connect to some distant cousins, and some people are not expecting to find out, Oh, I have a half brother, I have a half sister, my father had children, or my mother had a child, or somebody was adopted. There are surprises that come from that, and really the article kind of focused on those things. But your response I thought was quite good and I’m not going to take away any of your thunder but let’s about it a little Blaine.

Blaine: Well, I think the important thing for people to know is that DNA testing can absolutely reveal family secrets, and it’s important that people know before they undergo testing that that’s a possibility that they may learn things about themselves and their families that they didn’t know. I don’t want to suggest by my response that I’m in any way suggesting that people shouldn’t be fully informed before they undergo DNA testing. On the other hand I think it’s also possible to overstate the dangers and it’s possible to suggest that DNA is the only way that these family secrets are revealed. And that’s certainly not the reality of the situation. So as I noted in my article that there’s a theory or a belief called genetic exceptionalism. And that’s a belief that genetic information is somehow special and should be treated differently from other types of information.

Fisher: Um hmm.

Blaine: I’m not a big proponent of genetic exceptionalism because I think that everything DNA can do you can find other types of information or record that can do the same thing.

Fisher: Right. Let me just set this up for a minute Blaine.

Blaine: Certainly.

Fisher: What the writer talked about was an individual who had gone and done the DNA test as a gift for his family and I guess had dad go do it too, and as it turned out, he found a half brother he didn’t know he had and dad himself didn’t know he had had a child sometime back in the day, and the result was a breakup of his parent’s marriage and all the other children aren’t speaking to dad anymore, and the half brother at least happily found out who his birth family was, and he was basically blaming 23andMe for this dilemma because they hadn’t warned him early enough that things like this could take place.

Blaine: Well, yes. Although actually he said in his article that although there had been a warning, he hadn’t either understood the import of the warning or he had largely ignored it. And so he was advocating for more active notice or some flashing box that point to this.

Fisher: Opting in, that type of thing. Sure.

Blaine: Exactly, exactly. And there were a couple of other examples in the same article pointing towards revelations by 23andMe testing that families may have not enjoyed or wished they hadn’t found out. I think on the other hand it is important to know that there are many, many, many situations where families are happily reunited thanks to DNA testing at companies like 23andMe.

Fisher: That’s right. And really I guess it comes to of course we never know what may be back there, and they made an accurate point that you’re not only testing your own DNA you may be testing also your brothers, your sisters, because we all share that information. So for instance, perhaps you don’t have anybody out there but maybe somebody is going to be surprised to find they’re closely related to you, and it’s a brother or an uncle or a grandfather that had somebody else out there. This type of thing can happen so we need to be aware of it but at the end of the day it’s like you say there are many other records out there that can reveal these things just as easily.

Blaine: That’s absolutely right. I make the argument in my article that for example, census records are just full of family secrets either revealed or waiting to be revealed. Birth certificates can list parents that people didn’t think or know were the actual parents. Probate records, land records, all of these types of records are capable of revealing family secrets that have been lost to time.

Fisher: Part of it though I guess is that to their point is that most of the folks that we’re dealing with and the secrets I guess that we’re most concerned about are those dealing with those still living. Wouldn’t you say?

Blaine: Well, I think that when you’re talking about scenarios of adoption, I think that’s true. I think there’s many other family secrets throughout time that have been lost through other records. So I think you’re right. The DNA is largely looking at more recent families secrets and I think that is part of the concern that many of the people that are involved with these types of scenarios are still living.   

Fisher: That’s right. And most of the records dealing with people who are more recent are still sealed at this point. They’re not available.

Blaine: Yes that’s true. Although I do make a point in the article that for example in 2010 Illinois passed a law that gave adoptees over the age of twenty one the right to request a copy of their original birth certificate.

Fisher: Yeah.

Blaine: And that opened up many, many birth certificates for individuals. In face I think more than ten thousand have been requested since the law was enacted. So just think of all the secrets that have been revealed in those types of records.   

Fisher: Exactly. So really we kind of have to separate the recent living from a little bit further back. Maybe grandparents, great grandparents, or what may be found concerning that. For instance, I had a situation of my own line where I found that my great grandfather had another woman on the side and she accused him of having a child with her, and that came out after he passed and she was going after his estate in New York City. Well I eventually tracked own a grandson of that baby and we hit it off and had some great visits and exchanges and I said, “Hey, let’s do a DNA test to see if great grandfather was really the father of your grandmother.” And we went about doing that and the test came back positive. I wouldn’t say it was a big surprise but there was such an age difference between them. There was certainly a question of whether or not that was really true. And so that proved the family secret and we put that to bed as a result of it. But I guess if it were something more recent where it’s somebody who is still living, that could be a problem for them

Blaine: Yes, I think that’s really where the issue arises. The scenario you described is really no different than the scenarios that are occurring today. It’s just that those individuals are deceased and so there isn’t as much of a concern. But I think that as long as people understand the possibilities that can result from testing, I think that goes a long way towards preventing those types of shocks. And so I think it’s part of our responsibility as bloggers, as geneticists, as testing companies to educate people about the possibility of surprises. About all the possible outcomes that could arise from a DNA test.

Fisher: You know Blaine, I thought it was interesting that the article actually blamed the DNA company, 23andMe in this case, for the breakup of this man’s family.

Blaine: I personally believe that a test taker has a responsibility to understand what they’re purchasing when they purchase that, just as much as I believe that the company as a responsibility to inform the test taker of the possible outcomes. I think everybody has some responsibility here to first educate and then it’s our responsibility to try to understand what we’re buying when we buy it.

Fisher: Exactly. And there are ways to actually work it out so that other people are not exposed to this information if you want to still do the test but maybe for instance keep your tree private. That would be one way I could think of.

Blaine: That’s right. There’s different options and different privacy options. You can use a fake name for example, if you want to do the DNA testing. You can provide the false information about your age, your place of birth, all types of things to keep that type of information secret. Now that can be challenging if the goal is for you to find relatives in the database. It’s going to be hard for them to find you and connect with you. But if you’re worried about these types of outcomes, then you can always sign up with these very restrictive privacy settings and then relax them as you become more comfortable with the results.

Fisher: Exactly. Because maybe you have a sibling or a parent or something that might have been involved in something, or you just don’t know, and you know you think about it, your DNA is similar enough to theirs where you might expose one of their secrets as opposed to even one of your own.

Blaine: That’s right. And that’s part of the thing that many people don’t understand that when you test yourself, you are by proxy in some ways testing your relatives because you share DNA with your close relatives.

Fisher: All right. He’s Blaine Bettinger. He’s the Genetic Genealogist. Thanks so much for your input Blaine.

Blaine: Thank you very much!

Fisher: And coming up next, we talk to Boston and Michael LeClerc, the headquarters of Mocavo.com. What is their site? What do they do? Why is it so different from everybody else? You’re going to want to find out. It’s coming up in 5 minutes on Extreme Genes, Family History Radio and ExtremeGenes.com America’s Family History Show.

Segment 3 Episode 60

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Michael LeClerc

Fisher: And welcome back to Extreme Genes, Family History Radio, ExtremeGenes.com, it is America's Family History Show. I am Fisher, your Radio Roots Sleuth, with a guy I have been trying to track down for the longest time, because he is a very, very busy man. He's in Boston, Massachusetts, Monsieur Michael LeClerc from Mocavo. Bonjour, Monsieur LeClerc.

Michael: Bonjour. Ça va?

Fisher: Oui, Ça va. Oi monterivo! How far back is your French stuff?

Michael: Oh, my French stuff.

Fisher: You're immigrant.

Michael: I'm French Canadian on both sides of my family book. Both my mother and my father are French Canadian, and two of my grandparents were the immigrants.

Fisher: Ah ha! So you speak a little bit of French for real.

Michael: A little bit, yeah.

Fisher: That's good.

Michael: Not as much as I would like. I was the first one. My older cousins were raised by Le wild, but my parents didn't think I'd ever have a need to read or write French. [Laughs] So they didn't teach me French.

Fisher: [Laughs] And then you got into family history. Go figure!

Michael: Exactly. I'm the only one in the family who could use it.

Fisher: Oh, yeah, sounds like it. Well, Mocavo, this is a site that has either just starting out in family history or is well along, should know about. And you've been a part of this for some time, Michael. Tell us about the website, what it does and why it’s important.

Michael: Yeah, we've been around for several years now. And it’s the latest effort by Cliff Shaw who has been around for, well, his first company he created with Gen Forum which is a messaging system.

Fisher: Yes.

Michael: Which is very popular, and people still use it, I still use it today to look for clues and things.

Fisher: Yes.

Michael: So, it’s a great site and provides access to a huge amount of information. As you said, it doesn't matter whether you're an experienced person or a newbie; you'll find something there to help you. We have, like other commercial sites, we do have databases on our site, about 420,000 I think currently, give or take. [Laughs] But we also search the internet as well, and return those results to you, but unlike a Google search, when we return results to you, they are only from websites that are of interest to genealogists. So, when you do a Google search, you know, you look for a person's name, and you end up with Facebook pages and this, that and the other thing.

Fisher: Yes.

Michael: Of somebody who died in 1780, probably doesn't have their own Facebook page, so it’s probably not your guy. We do not crawl those sites in the first place, so you never get that stuff from us. You get good quality stuff that are of interest to genealogists, historical sites, government websites with data, that kind of information.

Fisher: So you narrow it down. I mean, you clean everything out, so that it just basically harvests the best.

Michael: Right. Exactly right.

Fisher: How does that work out from a technical point of view? Did you look for things that you can identify sites that you say, "Okay, we're going to include this."

Michael: There's certain criteria that we use before our spiders crawl across something. So, we don't let them go in to just any site. We look for certain kinds of information. We tend to look for dead people.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Michael: So you won't find much on the living people on our site.

Fisher: Right, that's good.

Michael: I mean, somewhat just like Ancestry. You can find a lot of information on living people and you can find some on us, but we focus more on the older folks, the generations that have gone before.

Fisher: So it’s a technical thing basically, where you're looking for keywords to indicate that the site that you're dealing with has to do with family history or government historical sites.

Michael: Right, right, information that would be of interest to genealogists, local history, that kind of stuff.

Fisher: What's the cost of the site, by the way?

Michael: It’s funny you should ask that. The thing is, we are completely free for everybody to use. Our basic users can search any database for free. You don't have to pay. You do not have to give us a credit card. We do ask that you register, only so that when we're giving you results and things like that, if you come back, we can remember what you searched for and give you that information again. So we ask for your email address, but you don't have to give us a credit card before you register, which is unlike a lot of other sites.

Fisher: So, how do you monetize it?

Michael: Well, we offer a subscription service that is for the access to advanced search functionality. It’s not access to the data.

Fisher: Okay.

Michael: If that makes sense. You can get there through our basic search, not a problem. If you want to search for example, all the databases, that's our gold feature, that's our subscription feature. But we also have things like data rangers, localities. We have an exclusion field which many people find very helpful.

Fisher: Yes.

Michael: When you're searching our site.

Fisher: I wish more people had them.

Michael: As in Wingador, you will appreciate that we have so many people who, especially at the Mayflower passengers, for example.

Fisher: Right.

Michael: I love to use the example that, if you're looking for William Bradford, everybody thinks of governor William Bradford of the Plymouth County and Mayflower, but there's another Bradford family up in Boston, and if that's the one you're looking for, you have a hard time getting to those results, because the governor.

Fisher: [Laughs] He keeps getting in the way.

Michael: Right. So you can use the exclusion field to say, "Don't give me anything on the governor of Plymouth or Mayflower." And then, all of a sudden, a Boston guy starts floating to the top because you’ve eliminated all that other stuff.

Fisher: Wow! That is a great tool, especially in light of the fact that you're eliminating everything except genealogical and historical and government sites.

Michael: Yeah, exactly. I find it very, very helpful. Again, if you were to use Google or something, that's not set up for genealogist, that's set up to find living people.

Fisher: That's right.

Michael: That's set up to find the people who are here today, and those are the results it’s going to give you. The other thing about Google is, it’s so personalized now that you can do a search and I can do a search and we're going to get different results.

Fisher: Yeah, that's right, and any search engine for that matter.

Michael: Exactly, but Mocavo doesn't do that. You know, if I do a search or you do a search, you're going to get the same results no matter what, as a gold member, because you get all these other features. You can filter your results by locations and data ranges and things like that to view them, but you should see the same results no matter who you are or how you're logged in. And so, for these advanced tools, there's a yearly cost of $100, but I believe there's a special on right now for $80. And you could also, if you just want to try it out for a couple of months, you can do a month to month for $9 a month.

Fisher: Oh that’s a great deal. And by the way, we haven’t plugged what the site is, where you get to it, too much here. So let’s mention it again right now, it’s Mocavo.com.

Michael: Correct. And it’s to Michael. And to answer one of the most popular questions that I always get, it’s a totally made up word. It doesn’t mean anything whatsoever. [Laughs]

Fisher: [Laughs] You mean if I spell it backwards it’s not going to be... let’s see, Ovacom. What does that mean?  

Michael: [Laughs] Probably some word in Czech.

Fisher: Yes, it could very well be. What else do we need to know about Mocavo?

Michael: Well, as you referred to, I do a bit of travelling and speaking around the country, and no matter where I go, I always bump into people who are grateful because they found stuff that they haven’t found before. Many people have been able to break through brick walls of many, many years because of something they found on our site. We do have a lot of content that just isn’t readily available elsewhere. I’m not going to say everything our site is unique, that would not be true. But much of it is material that is not readily available on other websites, such as other genealogy websites. Yes there’s overlap. There are things you can find on Mocavo that you can find elsewhere. There’s also a lot of stuff that’s unique that we’ve managed to find and get out there. And also because of the way our search functionality works, even if it is on another site, sometimes it’s a little bit more challenging to find. With us you can use those tools to bring it right to the top. As your listeners may have heard recently through the grapevine, Mocavo was just acquired by FindMyPast which is a British company, DC Thomson family history.

Fisher: Yes.

Michael: Which owns many brands and Mocavo is now one of their brands now lots of people ask me, “Is Mocavo going away?” No, we’re not going away. We are continuing to work and operate just as we always have. Just now we are a division of FindMyPast. We have a lot more resources to throw at things to bring everybody even more and better resources for their research.

Fisher: It’s really kind of like panning for gold, isn’t it Michael? I mean if you’ve got a lot of silt over the top of it it’s easy to miss stuff because you’ve got to go through too many things.

Michael: Exactly right. I mean, people get hundreds and hundreds of hits but how many times are they going to click that button to dig down to find what they’re looking for? So we have ways of helping you rearrange that and even filter the results through. If you’re a gold member, the site will also do what we call “search reruns” it will search again for you on the same thing and say hey we found something new that you didn’t see last time. You might want to check this out. You can also mark your results as to whether or not it was the person you were looking for, there’s a Yes, No, Maybe, and once you mark that result it doesn’t show up over and over again but you can go to your history and say show me all the results that were positive for this person, or that were negative, or that were maybes, and you can check through those again. You can always see them again. But it gets rid of that initial blast where you getting the same people over and over again.

Fisher: Well it’s a unique tool that nobody’s going to find anywhere else and I appreciate all the effort you guys are making to get the word out about it, and making it free for the basic.

Michael: Yeah, absolutely and there’s other free things too. We have our blog which I write. Almost every day there’s a new post with tips and things of interest to genealogists and every other week we do a little interview to video cast with professional genealogists. We talk about genealogy and we answer questions from Mocavo members who submit them and give them some advice. So there’s a lot of free stuff out there.

Fisher: Well it sounds like a great service for a lot of people that they’re going to want to know about this. So Michael LeClerc, thank you for your time, and good luck with Mocavo.com.

Michael: Thanks Fisher. Take care.

Fisher: And coming up in 3 minutes, the amazing Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com our Preservation Authority. He’ll tell you about how some things we commonly have today started as something else, and also how you use your thumb drives the right way and the wrong way. It’s straight ahead on Extreme Genes, Family History Radio and ExtremeGenes.com America’s Family History Show.  

Segment 4 Episode 60

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry

Fisher: And welcome back to Extreme Genes, Family History Radio, ExtremeGenes.com. And every week, our friend from TMCPlace.com, Tom Perry, joins us. And Tom, you mentioned something about "the humming bird effect".

Tom: Exactly.

Fisher: This sounds very intense. What is that about?

Tom: It is. It’s kind of about evolution. And people think, "Well, how does evolution, you know, tie into genealogy, family history and preserving things?" A lot of things that we have today were accidents. Like polycarbonate that we use that we make bulletproof police car windshield out of, it was an accident. Somebody was messing around at Du Pont and mixed some different thing together and just left it, went home, came back the next day and it has solidified, and he's going, "Well, this is interesting!"

Fisher: Wow! Huh!

Tom: He pulls it out of his beaker and he's got this stuff that's basically bulletproof. And it was an accident! And so, it talks about the humming bird effect, how the humming birds work and they evolve. So a humming bird is able to sit in front of a flower and kind of hover. Well, let's talk about some stuff that actually ties in to us. Like if you look back in the old days, there was a printer that would have problems during the summer making his magazines, ink settle on the paper and dry without rubbing it, and he found out it was too warm and there was too much humidity in the building. So he got this engineer of his, whose name was Willis Carrier, and said, "Hey, what can we do to get rid of humidity to get it so it’s not hot in here?" The guy tinkered around and came up with what we now call an air conditioner. And so, that air conditioning is what made the paper and ink hook together, so now he could print all year round, in the summer as well. And then they started noticing that when his guys went on break to take lunch, they started eating lunch by the printing press instead of the lunch room. And he's going, "Why are you guys eating here?" "Oh, it’s so much more comfortable!"

Fisher: [Laughs]

Tom: To make a long story short, that's how air conditioning came out. And everybody's probably heard of Carrier.

Fisher: Of course!

Tom: He was the first guy that invented air conditioning to make paper and ink marry together.

Fisher: I had no idea.

Tom: Yep, that's how air conditioning came out. And, take air conditioning to another point, back in the day when the war was first over, air conditioner were pretty big, but they're starting to get smaller to like window size.

Fisher: Sure.

Tom: And so then places like Florida in the south, people started mass migrating there, because now they could live comfortably there. And so, air conditioners were populated Florida in the south.

Fisher: [Laughs] Of course!

Tom: Is that crazy?

Fisher: It makes perfect sense.

Tom: And then, take it a little bit farther, it goes into politics. Before 1952, only one presidential and two vice presidential candidates held from what we would call a Sunbelt. But from 1952 until Obama, there has not been one ticket that had not had somebody from the south on it. So this thing from the printing press, all the way to how we have politics now, people living in the south, people retiring to Florida is all based on this one guy who needed his ink to dry, and all these different things have come from. It’s just amazing how stuff comes from that.

Fisher: Amazing stuff! What are we going to talk about when we return?

Tom: Yeah, we're just going to talk about some of the pluses and minuses of thumb drives and other ways to store information.

Fisher: All right, when we return in three minutes on Extreme Genes, Family History Radio and ExtremeGenes.com.

Segment 5 Episode 60

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry

Fisher: Hey, welcome back to our final segment of Extreme Genes, Family History Radio, ExtremeGenes.com, America's Family History Show. I am Fisher, your Radio Roots Sleuth, with Tom Perry, from TMCPlace.com. If you ever have a question for Tom, by the way, we would love to answer it on the air or even otherwise. You can [email protected], that's where we get a lot of our segments from your questions. All right, Tom, we were talking a few minutes ago about thumb drives. And I ran into somebody not long ago who said she stores everything she has on a thumb drive! That to me was like fingernails on a blackboard.

Tom: Exactly.

Fisher: It was like, "No, no, no, no, no! You've got to listen to Tom!" So, here's some of the pluses and minuses when it comes to thumb drives.

Tom: Right. She needs an exorcism, because that's the worst thing you can do!

Fisher: [Laughs]

Tom: That just makes the hair stand up on the back of my neck. That is absolutely probably the worst way to store stuff versus writing with chalk on your outside sidewalk. The good thing about thumb drives is, they're small, they’re convenient and they're really cheap. With thumb drives, only think of them as a moving device. So basically, it’s like sending a letter to somebody. It starts here, it needs to go here. Once it gets to the new place, if you want to preserve it, you want to scan it, whatever, the piece of paper's going to go away, no question about it. That's how thumb drives are. They're made out of really cheap components. So you go to family reunion, you download Aunt Martha's photos and everybody else's photos, as soon as you get home, immediately you want to put it in your computer, upload it to your hard drive, back it up on a DVD or CD, depending on the size, and put it in the cloud. So it’s preserved in several different ways. I keep a thumb drive on my keychain all the time, but as soon as I get home, I put it on something important. You could slam it in the door, it could break in your pocket. Like I say, the media on it is very volatile. It does not last very long. There's so many things that can cause problems with it. Don't ever trust a thumb drive! If you look at places like Google, they store all kinds of their media on DVDs, CDs, things like that. They don't use the thumb drives, because they're just too volatile. They are good transfer device. You want to go to something that permanent. And again, Taiyo Yuden disks are what we like, but as we've said many, many times, and for you that have been with us for the last year, you've probably heard this thirty times, but remember, you always want to store stuff on a disk, whether it’s a DVD or CD, you want to store it on a hard drive and you also want to store it in the cloud. If you live in earthquake countries, send it to a relative in tornado country or to, you know, somebody that has hurricanes, because the chances of us having an earthquake or hurricane and tornado all at the same time, is irrelevant, because we'll be wiped out, we don't exist anymore anyway.

Fisher: Right. Yes.

Tom: So you want to spread them around.

Fisher: So here's a thought for you. We've talked about quartz disk coming out at some point.

Tom: Exactly.

Fisher: Which means basically that data is etched in stone, which will last pretty much forever, yes?

Tom: Exactly! That's why I'm so excited about this. I believe it was Cambridge over in England is the one that's developed this technology. And once it hits the market, it’s going to be very, very expensive, just like everything is. When HD TVs came out, when BluRays came out, everything was expensive, but the prices will come down. And like you meant, this is like doing the Ten Commandments on stone. You'll be able to put 365 terabytes, your entire life, your entire family's life.

Fisher: You couldn’t create enough material to fit on that.

Tom: Right.

Fisher: I mean, you basically, you'd bury one of these with people to say, "This is their whole life right here!" [Laughs]

Tom: Oh absolutely!

Fisher: And it would last.

Tom: Yeah. We send a lunar rover to mars, we could put a quartz disk on there in case somebody finds it. And that's one thing that's misnomer. I go to genealogy conventions and family history conventions, and just remember, just because you hear it on the radio or from me or in a class, it doesn't mean everything's always the truth. Sometimes information gets messed up.

Fisher: Or it gets changed.

Tom: It does. It’s just like when you whisper in somebody's ear, twenty five people down, its whole different story now. Disks are not going to go away in any foreseeable time, because we have learned from our old mistakes of Beta and VHS and things such as this, and even when BluRay came out, there were two different types and one of them went away. The manufacturers are now smart enough to make things backwards compatible. The new quarts machines that are coming out will be able to read Mdisks, they'll read DVDs, they'll read CDs, they'll read BluRay, they'll read everything that came before.

Fisher: And whatever you do, do try to preserve things on a thumb drive!

Tom: NOOO!!! Step away from the thumb drive!

Fisher: All right. Thanks, Tom. And thanks to our guest, Blaine Bettinger from Syracuse, New York, Michael LeClerc from Mocavo, in Boston, Massachusetts, and to you for joining us once again. Talk to you again next week. And remember, as far as everyone knows, we're a nice, normal family!




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