Day Two: Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2016

As the sun sets on Day Two of Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2016, I take a look at some of my favourite bits.

Having walked more than 10,000 steps around Day Two of Who Do You Think You Are? Live, I’m now sat in my hotel with my feet up as we head towards the finale of this, the show’s 10th Anniversary year.

As with Day One, I threw myself into the DNA themed talks again, and enjoyed some great sessions from Maurice Gleeson who gave a fascinating guide at how to identify which bits of your family are giving you which bits of DNA, and in turn help you work out where your DNA matches match up with you.

Maurice Gleeson explains how to identify which bits of your tree give you your X and Y matches.
Maurice Gleeson explains how to identify which bits of your tree give you your X and Y matches.

Later on, I returned to listen to John Reid talk about the case of Richard III and how research led to a 99.9994% certainty that the skeleton was the former king.

John Reid examines the evidence in the Richard III case.
John Reid examines the evidence in the Richard III case.

Each step in his talk presented the varying pieces of evidence, at which point he’d ask if we believed it was the dead king without doubt. Unsurprisingly, it wasn’t until mt-DNA that the audience felt reassured that the body wasn’t just someone random. John made the great point that ‘DNA is not a trump card’, and emphasised that it’s just another source to examine and consider.

As a tech nerd, who builds websites and loves using tech to tell stories, a talk titled Technologies For Timelines led me to stand for a few minutes in the morning for my £3 workshop ticket.

Ron Arons talked impartially about a wide range of online tools and desktop software that can be used to turn family history data into interesting interactive content – maps, timelines, and map timelines hybrids.  He also covered a few of the pros and cons too.

Speaking of timelines, I bumped into Steve Bardouille  from the team at Famberry, who showed me their latest demo.

Famberry logo

The site’s interface has changed somewhat since I last saw it, with a load of customisation features for users, and a really slick timeline and tree building feature.

I was also really excited to see what looks like a new idea to reach the geneasphere – pulling in the data from unclaimed estates, and looking for matches.

FamilySearch giving talks on search at their stand.
FamilySearch giving talks on search at their stand.

I returned to the Society of Genealogists section, to find the Lincolnshire Family History Society, and with my iPad to hand carrying my synced Reunion11 tree, the team on the stand were exceptionally helpful and kindly spent time with me to see if I could extend my Watson family tree knowledge. I came away with an index CD for records covering the parish of Fleet and its neighbours, and a handful of leaflets.

Once again, the show allowed me to meet and catch up with geneafriends old and new (or perhaps longstanding and recent is better), and I look forward to tomorrow’s final part of the WDYTYA? Live 2016 trilogy.

Tips for tomorrow:

  1. There were plenty of train delays for arrivals coming in from Birmingham New Street, and a few from Coventry. If you’re coming by train, give yourself plenty of time if you’ve paid for your workshop tickets already. In theory, delays tomorrow could be horrific given the potential visitor levels for a weekend day.
  2. The Breakfast Sandwich (bacon and fried egg – yum!) from the café is a great set-up for a busy morning, but have a wander around the NEC complex as there’s plenty of less busy and competitive food outlets…including a quiet Starbucks down some stairs.
  3. The wifi is unreliable, but I was able to find the battery-eating 4G. If you’re hungry for wifi, simply step out of Hall 2 (re-entry is permitted with a hand-stamp).. there’s loads of stable, powerful, free wifi there.
  4. Look out for deals – Pen & Sword Books had some great deals on today.
  5. If you’re a Twitter user (follow me on @familytreeuk) then look out for tweets with #wdytyalive and #tweetup – giving you opportunities to meet fellow genea-nerds just like you, over a coffee in real life.

Until tomorrow, happy tree surgery!

Andrew

Famberry offering a larger ‘pot’ for your family tree

Famberry logo

I’ve just had news from Steve Bardouille, the co-founder over at Famberry – they’ve just upgraded their package for users.

They’re now offering a massive one terabyte of space to users who sign up (it’s for a limited time – sorry folks, I don’t know how long that means!), but that is a LOT of space to store photographs and memories. Steve estimates that’s about 300,000 photos!

The difference with Famberry, is that it’s a safe and secure environment in which you can build a tree and keep those family memories.

Okay, so the wisdom of crowds is quite a powerful thing, and often opens up avenues of new research, or reaches out to ‘new’ distant relatives, or, if you get as frustrated as me – opens up the possibilities to introduce ridiculous errors courtesy of other less-careful researchers. But, if you’re wanting to collaborate with your relatives in private, then it’s got that box ticked perfectly.

I took a look at online data security in my Privacy and the Genealogist post a few months ago.

Privacy and the Genealogist

How are you handling data privacy in your family tree research?

There’s some pretty big data privacy issues hitting the news lately – with some of the largest organisations seemingly taking a lacklustre approach towards the importance of security of individual’s private information.

Private door beside tree
Privacy and the family tree. Photo: mendhak via CreativeCommons.

How does data privacy affect genealogy?

We’ve all got our data backed up, right? (right?) and that’s sitting somewhere, perhaps online so that we can easily access it from an account like Evernote, Dropbox, or Google Drive?

At worst, you’ve not yet backed it up, but you’re just about to (PS: here’s a great article from Caroline Pointer on ‘Cloud’ storage for genealogy).

What’s in that data?

I’m guessing that you’ve got names, dates, and locations for a wide range of people through the centuries, but probably a few photographs, maybe some contact details for modern relatives/researchers, and maybe some copies of emails or letters in there too.

There’s some personal data there. How are you handling that? How do those big online storage sites handle that data?

I like a papery office

One of my favourite things about researching a family tree, is having documents, objects, papers, letters, photos etc in a real tangible form. Even if they are just photocopies, or photo reprints. I really enjoy having these items around me, and find them useful. I spend too much of my day staring at a screen already – ‘real’ objects are a welcome break.

Filing is of course important, but no-one is really going to hack my paper files. The worst fate they can meet is fire, flood, robbery, or a stray firework.

Thinking about privacy

I’m fortunate with my Reunion 10 software on my Mac, in that I can flag anyone as ‘private’, and when I do, they are then excluded from any data exports that I do, until i un-flag them.

The 'Private' option in Reunion10 for Mac.
The ‘Private’ option in Reunion10 for Mac.

So I can happily share my data with anyone, knowing that I won’t be about to give personal details away.

Building a tree in privacy

If you’re wanting to build a tree online, but want to retain privacy, then there are a few sites that allow for this.

Famberry logoOne site that takes data privacy as its main point, is Famberry, whose online tool specialises in allowing you to build a tree in collaboration with those you specifically invite, and no-one else, from the out-set. Whilst they’ve seen success in the US, where data privacy has been a big issue/challenge/problem and therefore a key topic for web users, they’re busy building their UK presence.

Sites like FindMyPast, GenesReunited, and of course Ancestry, also include options to set your tree as private, and also to make living relatives anonymous to those outside of your invited tree viewers.

FindMyPast's privacy settings
FindMyPast’s new tree tool includes two sets of privacy settings – one for the tree, one for living twigs.

However, that note above from FindMyPast has got a point… sharing IS a great way to learn from those who have the same interests.

So what IS privacy? What is the bare minimum that you can share, and what you should share? What happens if someone asks you to hide/remove their data? A lot of our basic information is easily available via Facebook, Google+, electoral records, LinkedIn, telephone directory services (print and online), newspaper clippings, and even headstones give away information.

I’d love to know your thoughts in the comments below:

  • How do you handle privacy in genealogy?
  • Have you ever asked to be hidden/excluded?
  • Have you ever been asked to hide someone’s details?

Day Three: Who Do You Think You Are? 2014

Day Three – the final day of the 2014 Who Do You Think You Are? Live show at London’s Olympia.

I’m writing this at the end of the third and final day of Who Do You Think You Are? Live. I’m home, and can honestly say that I throughly enjoyed myself.

The Family History Society stands on Day 3 of WDYTYA? Live 2014
Some of the Family History Society stands at lunchtime on Day 3 of WDYTYA? Live 2014

I arrived at about 9:45 this morning, after yet another wonderful walk through Hyde Park in the sunshine (still definitely Winter mode). Whilst there was no queue outside Olympia, I managed to get in just before the mass of visitors who were walking over from Olympia station arrived at the doors.

After disposing of coat and case, I then went up to the workshop ticketing team, where there were also no queues, and picked up my two free tickets – one on ‘Finding Your London Ancestors‘ with Michael Gandy, and the other for ‘Wills: not just a source for our better-off ancestors‘ with Celia Heritage.

I must confess that I didn’t make it to Michael Gandy’s talk – I chose it as I briefly have a family that lived in London for about 10 years, and occasionally through history a marriage turns up in its parishes. The queue was long, and so I decided to bail, and regret missing it based on the comments I’ve since heard and seen on twitter.

However, I am very glad that I finally caught a Celia Heritage talk though, as her talks and work has always come with such positive praise. Plus, I’ve really been enjoying reading Wills and even the Probate Calendars that I’ve found on Ancestry.co.uk.

I’ve got copies of Wills that hint at family feuds, and ones that detail every spoon and bowl. Those latter ones don’t seem like much now, but as Celia’s talk suggested, it wasn’t just the better-off people that wrote them.

Through case studies from her own tree, Celia was able to show how it is important to view the full Will, as they carry so much information about relationships (not just siblings, spouses, and children, but cousins can turn up too), and locations. She also highlighted the importance of looking around at the same surname in roughly the right area, and seeing whether you can find some potential connections in Wills – in a hope that their Wills will mention your branch and help link it all together.

The Babbage Breakthrough

It was my first venture to Who Do You Think You Are? Live (2011), when I dragged along a selection of my handwritten notes, expecting to find a whole new swathe of ancestors in some monumental research breakthrough.

I soon found it wasn’t really that kind of event, and that I should use the show to learn about new techniques, new technology, and discover about new resources that can help my  breakthroughs, and for the years since, I’ve stuck to this notion.

Devon Family History Society stand at WDYTYA? Live 2014
Devon Family History Society stand at WDYTYA? Live 2014

So it was a surprise to find myself sitting alongside the very helpful Terry Leaman – Vice-Chairman of the Devon Family History Society looking at a baptism list of my Babbage relatives.

Thankfully, my iPad has Reunion 10 (Mac only genealogy software) on it, so I was able to jump straight into the right tree and check my current research against the results – it matched – and with a few extra children in their records, and a completely new set of baptism dates for all of them to add to my research. A quick print-out and donation later, and I was off to sit down and add the data to my files.

#WDYTYAlive #tweetup

There were a few tweet-ups this year, and I managed to get in on one of them, and serendipitously right in the foreground of the commemorative photo. As ever, it was great to meet new people, finally meet some not-so-new Twitter/blogging chums, and to once again see friends made at previous shows.

Here’s one tweet-up photo from genealogist Luke Mouland..

and here’s another, from Geoff and Di Swinfield, starring yours truly (yes Sue, I’m REAL!):

If you’re intrigued as to quite what a ‘tweet-up’ is, or concerned about what people do at a ‘tweet-up’, then essentially it’s an impromptu small-scale flashmob, organised via Twitter, where people turn up to meet those sometimes anonymous/faceless Twitter users, or to meet up with Twitter users that you’ve got to know well. Tea, coffee, or alcohol is usually consumed.

Bonding over genealogy (and a hotdog)

Just prior to the tweet-up, I sat upstairs reading emails, when a retired man asked if he could sit at my table to eat (as there were no other free tables). Of course I didn’t refuse, and so we got chatting. He said that he’d travelled from Essex and that this was the second day for him, but his first ever visit to a show like this. He said he’d been meaning to come to something like this for ’20 years or more’, but just hadn’t found the right show.

He said he’d been enjoying the talks on day one, and was going to spend his second day looking around the stands.

We talked for about 15 minutes in all, about the WDYTYA? TV show (he isn’t a fan of celebrity culture, and we both kind of nodded in agreement), and we talked about all the great innovations, and how we’d both done our stints sifting through microfiche, film, registers, and transcripts for hours looking for names that were never there.

I’ve no idea who he was, but just for those 15 minutes, the world got a little bit smaller, and that wonderful ability of genealogy to bond people together, proved once again to have worked at ease without boundaries. I left him finishing off his hotdog, and made my way over to the IWM demo I’d booked….

Seeing new online genealogy tools

I arrived for my demo session of the new Lives Of The First World War website from the Imperial War Museum and DC Thomson Family History partnership. I’d already had my interest piqued on Day Two, thanks to Melanie Donnelly and Luke Smith’s keynote session, but this was great to finally see the new site up-close and have it explained to me, and to bounce questions.

I’m really keen to get using this site, and was also keen to find out about tagging people in a photo (which could be a war memorial), and also about the educational programme that I hope is sitting behind this site, and the opportunity for it to become a key resource in classrooms and universities.

I also met up with Steve Bardouille and Ola Dada from the team at Famberry – a relatively new, but fairly well established in the US company, that is specialising in creating secure spaces and tools for people to privately build family trees in collaboration with a closed or invite-only audience.

They’d been talking to a few different people at the show, and wanted to meet with me to find out what thoughts I had about what I’d want to see from their product as a family history researcher, as they are keen to grow their UK audience.

2015 at Olympia, London?

As the show had moved forward a weekday, there was no opportunity for Sunday visitors. This had let me to wondered whether the would-be Sunday visitors would turn up today, and it certainly seemed to be the case. It was much busier than Thursday and Friday, and at a guess, it was a busier Saturday than last year.

Day 3 of Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2014
Day 3 of Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2014

Day One’s (Thursday) visitors seemed to be on par with this year’s (and previous) Friday visitors, so I’m not entirely sure that the change has done the show any favours (last year saw 13,941 visitors). Couple this with the end of the District Line rail service from Earls Court to Olympia during the week (it only ran today), and it feels like it’s getting difficult for the 3 day show to stay at Olympia.

After speaking with a couple of reliable sources on stands, I realised that there was no mention of next year’s show. Usually by now, we’ve heard that the following year’s show dates, and last year I remember seeing a stand selling tickets to this year’s show. But nothing.

Thrown into the mix, is the first Who Do You Think You Are? Live show in Glasgow in Scotland – running for a few days in August 2014.

Is there something going on? Is the show to end? Or are we to shift location? Hopefully not London Excel (I find it dreadful to get to – another show I go to, has just switched to there, so I’m no longer attending). Maybe, as rumour rumbles, Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2015 will be in Birmingham? We’ll just have to wait and see.

I thought i’d try to get the answer myself from the WDYTYALive team’s twitter account, but maybe they can’t confirm anything just yet. I’ll let you know if I get a reply.

In better news (well, for me at least), I found Olympia’s wifi was finally flawless. I can only hope that it’s the same quality/system at Earls Court 2, where I’m visiting on Tuesday.

So, in conclusion, I really enjoyed the show. I really enjoyed all three days. I enjoyed my hotel stay and beautiful Hyde Park ‘commute’. As ever the SOG workshop speakers were brilliant, and the mixture of stands really helped to fuel my time in-between the talks.

Thank you, to the team at Who Do You Think You Are? Live, to the team at the Society of Genealogists, and to the team at Olympia.

I hope 2015 brings us together again.