Note: The information in this archived copy was accurate on the date of publication. Since then, Web sites have appeared and disappeared, companies have been merged and many other facts have changed. You may find references in this archived copy that are no longer accurate.
EOGN: Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter
A Weekly Summary of Events and
Vol. 6 No. 51 – December 17, 2001
This newsletter was sponsored by Ancestry.com,
To learn about Ancestry.com’s
Past issues of this Newsletter
Copyright© 2001 by Richard W. Eastman. All rights reserved.
If you do contact any of the companies or societies mentioned in this newsletter, please tell them that you read about their services in this newsletter.
IN THIS ISSUE:
- I Am Taking A Week Off!
- I Am Taking A Week Off!
The holiday season is one of the best times to be with family and friends. I intend to do exactly that this year. I have decided to spend as much time as possible with loved ones this Christmas season. As a result, I will not be writing a newsletter next week. You can look for the next edition of this newsletter two weeks from now.
I would like to take this opportunity to wish you and your family a very happy and safe holiday season. May it be the best ever!
Last week I wrote an article that republished an announcement about a new program called GeneWeaver and also included a few personal comments. Near the end of the article, I wrote, "I hope to get my hands on a copy of GeneWeaver soon and write a review of its operation." Santa Claus arrived a bit early this year and delivered a copy of GeneWeaver this week. The copy I received had been made by hand; apparently it was a "late beta" copy. A 121-page printed user’s manual was also included.
First of all, GeneWeaver for Windows is not a genealogy program like many of the other programs reviewed in past newsletters. However, this program should appeal to many genealogists and is a natural addition to one’s family tree searches. GeneWeaver is a program for recording and plotting one’s family health history. Such a tool is useful for plotting inherited medical conditions. I am told that almost every family has inherited medical conditions although most people don’t know that they do! GeneWeaver can help. The program can help predict medical problems before they arise. In the most extreme case, it could even save lives.
Quoting from GeneWeaver’s Web site:
It is with some misgivings that I write about GeneWeaver. I am a genealogist and a computer techie, not a medical or genetics expert. Please keep this in mind as you read the following review of this new program: this review is written by a genetics newcomer. However, if you, too, qualify as a "genetics newcomer," this may be more helpful to you than a review written by a geneticist.
Installation of GeneWeaver was rather simple. I was asked for a serial number as well as registration information, including name, mailing address and e-mail address. The program then asked if it was OK to post this to the Web site. I first wondered if my personal information was being posted publicly, but a bit of investigation soon calmed my fears. In fact, the registration works just like may other online registrations; the data is sent to a private database at Genes & Things, Inc., the producers of GeneWeaver. My personal information was not posted in public. (Hint to Genes & Things: You might want to change that wording a bit on your next release.)
Since this program will appeal to anyone researching their family tree, GeneWeaver also includes a complete copy of the Legacy 3.0 genealogy program on the same CD-ROM disk. During installation of GeneWeaver, the user is asked if he or she would also like to install Legacy. I already had Legacy installed on my system, so I elected to not add it again. However, I see this as an excellent addition for the person who is not a genealogist and buys GeneWeaver for medical tracking purposes. The user gets both a genetics program and a genealogy program at the same time. I later discovered that GeneWeaver keeps its data in an FDB file that is compatible with Legacy 3.0.
Upon starting GeneWeaver for the first time, the program asked if I wanted to open an existing file, start a new family file or import a GEDCOM file. While this may not be a genealogy program, it does have the capability to read GEDCOM (Genealogy Data COMmunications) files in the same manner as most genealogy programs. Since I already had a GEDCOM file available of my ancestors and most of my relatives, I elected to import that instead of entering all the data about these people from the keyboard. Admittedly, I don’t have medical information on all the people in my GEDCOM file, but it did seem like a good method of entering basic data. The GEDCOM import added names, dates and places and a bit of other information. However, the file obviously did not contain the medical information required, so I started entering that data manually within GeneWeaver.
The program has a Web browser look and feel. Data entry was easy and intuitive although I received a few surprises. The first surprise was when entering "Race/Ethnicity." Most of the expected racial groups were there along with several ethnic groups that seemed to overlap. For instance, there was a selection for Caucasian as well as another for "British/Welsh/Irish" and still another for "French-Canadian" as well as one more for "Northern European." Then I noticed that, while there is an entry for "British/Welsh/Irish," there is no entry for "Scottish." Of course, in my case it is a bit difficult to pick only one group, as my father was "British/Welsh/Irish" while my mother was "French-Canadian." I am sure that many millions of Americans will have two or more possible entries for that field. Later reading in the manual cleared up some of the confusion. It seems that Northern Europeans have a higher level of cystic fibrosis than other ethnic groups, so it is worthwhile to denote that heritage separately. Similarly, French-Canadians have a higher level of hemochromatosis than other ethnic groups.Therefore it makes sense that you would want to trace these factors in your medical family tree.
Many of the data entry fields in GeneWeaver were ones I would have expected to see. These fields included cause of death, circumstances of death, travel to foreign countries, military service, hair color, eye color, blood type, smoking history (including whether the person lived with a smoker), surgeries, accidents, disabilities, allergies and a very long list of medical conditions. However, I was surprised to see a data entry field for political affiliation. I wonder if Republicans have different medical conditions than Democrats? Or is membership in either political party symptomatic of a medical abnormality? Data entry in most fields is optional; you can always leave the information blank.
I entered all sorts of data for myself, then moved on to my parents and siblings. Data entry was very easy although somewhat tedious as I went through many screens of data fields for each person. Finding that it was easier to pick a particular medical condition, I quickly entered cancer information into the records of every relative that I know was ever diagnosed with the disease. Then I went back and did the same for diabetes and then again for strokes. I found it easier to recall medical problems this way, and the data entry seemed to go a lot faster.
Genes & Things, Inc. recommends entering all known data for four generations of the family. If you can find most of the pertinent information about yourself, your parents, grandparents and great-grandparents, along with as many of their siblings as possible, you have an excellent chance of determining inherited medical conditions. Do not be discouraged, however, if you do not have all that information available. Very few people can fill out all the medical information about their grandparents and great-great-aunts and great-great-uncles! Fill in whatever you can. You will be able to obtain meaningful reports from the data of a few individuals. Then, as you discover more information about family members, you can always add more details. Over a period of time, you can improve the quality of your database and the data derived.
Of course, the true test of a program like this rests in the reports. What can it tell you about the likelihood of you inheriting a medical condition? Or perhaps someone else in your family is encountering such problems? GeneWeaver creates two reports that shed light on these questions: Medical Pedigrees and Genograms.
A medical pedigree is a four-generation pedigree chart showing death dates, ages, and primary and secondary causes of death. In fact, it looks almost the same as a pedigree chart produced by most genealogy programs. The one major difference is that GeneWeaver’s medical pedigree charts list causes of death. You can see an example of GeneWeaver’s Medical Pedigree report at: http://www.geneweaveronline.com/pedigree.htm
GeneWeaver’s other report type, the genogram, is quite different from a genealogy report and will require some explanation. It is a symbolic map showing patterns of family relationships, ages, diseases, and traits. Quoting from GeneWeaver’s Help file:
Most medical professionals are quite familiar with genograms. The next time you have a physical, take along a genogram report of your ancestors and all their siblings! It will help the doctor quickly focus on your medical history. An example of GeneWeaver’s Genogram Report can be found at: http://www.geneweaveronline.com/genogram.htm. One warning: If you are as unfamiliar with genograms as I am, such a chart will not be meaningful to you. However, I am assured that medical professionals know how to read these. You, too, can learn to read them within a few minutes by first reading some tutorials.
GeneWeaver will also print a blank four-page health questionnaire suitable for recording information about relatives, living or deceased. Once filled in, the information on this questionnaire can be entered into GeneWeaver. The program will also print a bibliography of family health history and genetics publications and a checklist of health information resources.
GeneWeaver ships with a printed 121-page user’s manual. Printed manuals are becoming rare these days; most companies now ship manuals in electronic format on the same CD-ROM disk as the program. I was pleased to see a printed manual for GeneWeaver. The first 44 pages are a "must read" for genetics newcomers like myself. These pages describe the reasons why you want to track your family’s health history. It describes the differences between recessive genes and dominant genes. It also talks about ethnic genetic disorders and about how to record information in a standardized manner that is quickly understood by the medical community. The remainder of the manual describes the use of the software: how to install it, enter data, and run reports.
Is this a program for you? The GeneWeaver Web site lists the following reasons why Geneweaver can be a great tool for you:
All in all, I was quite pleased with GeneWeaver. Even this genetics novice was able to see patterns in the family tree. I expect to be visiting relatives over the upcoming holidays and will be carrying along some of the blank health questionnaires that GeneWeaver produces. I will be asking questions about the health problems of those deceased family members that I never knew very well.
GeneWeaver does not have the "pizzazz" that you see in many other computer programs. It doesn’t have multimedia reports, a Web interface, or fancy graphics. In fact, the subject it addresses seems to be a bit dry for many people. Nonetheless, people today are becoming aware of inherited medical conditions. Many of them are seeking information about their family’s medical heritage. GeneWeaver will be a very useful tool for each of those seekers. I suspect that Genes & Things, Inc. will sell a lot of copies of this program.
GeneWeaver 1.0 requires a PC running Windows 95, 98, NT 4.0, 2000 or XP. It also requires 25 megabytes of hard drive space, a double-speed or faster CD-ROM drive and at least 16 megabytes of RAM memory.
GeneWeaver sells for $49.95 (U.S. funds). As I write these words, the program is not yet available. However, Genes & Things, Inc. expects to start shipment within the next few days. For more information about GeneWeaver 1.0, look at:http://www.geneweaveronline.com
The best-selling genealogy program in France is called Heredis. First introduced in 1994, this French-language program for Microsoft Windows has grown in popularity. Today, more than 60,000 people, most of them in French-speaking countries, use Heredis. The program has been improved constantly; today it features the latest multimedia capabilities, and it has an excellent database that stores all sorts of genealogy information. Heredis is also noted for having a very easy to navigate user interface as well as some of the best printed reports of any genealogy program.
This month the producers of Heredis released an English-language version of the genealogy powerhouse. I had a chance to use the new English-language version this week and can report that it is a very good genealogy program.
Installation of Heredis was as easy as any other modern Windows program: click on the icon, sit back, and watch. I was prompted for my name and serial number but nothing else. Once installed, I simply clicked on the Heredis icon to launch the program. The first time I launched the program, I was asked if I wanted to manually start a new database or to import a GEDCOM file. I elected to import an existing GEDCOM file of about 3,000 people. The import process only required a minute or two, and I was then looking at Heredis’ main screen.
Because of this newsletter, I have the opportunity to use a lot of genealogy programs. After a while, many of them begin to look the same: an on-screen pedigree chart and/or a data entry screen with the normal fields of name, birth, marriage, and death, along with fields for the names of parents, spouses and children. Different genealogy programs present this information in different formats, yet many of them are similar to each other. However, Heredis has a very different "look and feel" from other genealogy programs I have used. It took a few minutes to get used to the Heredis method, but once I became familiar with this method of navigation and data entry, I liked it. Heredis’ default is neither a pedigree chart nor a data entry form. Instead, the program calls the main screen a "modular workspace."
Describing a "modular workspace" can be a bit confusing. If possible, you should look at a screenshot athttp://www.myheredis.com/zoom.asp?url=pictures/ImgPC/GeneralRucastle.jpg. You will note that the program runs inside a normal Microsoft Window. This Window displays a workspace that is divided into different sections, which I will refer to as "frames." One window can contain one or more frames, with each frame displaying a different view of the data.
The first time I ran the program, the workspace contained one large frame showing the name and vital information of the first individual in the database, along with the names and vital information for his parents, spouses and children. Even the parents’ occupations were displayed. The display used a liberal amount of color and bold fonts to display various data items.
To the left a second frame focused on the same person (#1 in the database) but listed more information as plain text. This text frame has room for more information, such as military service and places of evidence. A third frame contained links to grandparents, aunts and uncles, parents, brothers and sisters, nephews and nieces, as well as cousins. Clicking on any of those links produced a list of the people selected. Then clicking on any name in a list moved the newly-selected individual to the primary person of focus in all the frames.
Of all the genealogy programs I have seen, I do not recall any other that packs as much information onto the screen as Heredis does. Even better, the information displayed is never confusing. The program’s designers have succeeded in displaying a lot of information in a simple and logical manner.
I have described the workspace as it appears the first time the program is launched. However, Heredis allows for a lot of flexibility in the display of these frames. I have described only the first three frames as they are the only ones displayed the first time the program is launched. However, the third frame can also be used to display pedigree charts, ahnentafels (lists of ancestors), descendant lists, calendars (including Gregorian, Julian, Hebrew and French Republican calendars), and multimedia files. Even better, the frames can be moved, resized, or even hidden. You can maximize a frame until it fills the entire screen or shrink it to occupy only a tiny space. However you resize and move the screens, the last positions are saved when you exit the program. The next time you launch Heredis, you pick up right where you left off the last time.
Looking at the first frame I described, the one that focuses on the individual along with his or her parents, spouses and children, Heredis also displays a Navigation square: this square functions like a compass, leading you to the person you are interested in. Symbols are displayed for father, mother, spouses, children, brothers, and sisters. A simple click on the corresponding symbol moves the individual concerned to the primary person position.
I am very impressed with Heredis’ display of information and ease of navigation. As I mentioned before, it is unlike any other genealogy program I have seen. In this case, that difference is a good thing.
There is more to this program than data display and navigation, however. The program features excellent management of source citations. The user can record almost any fact that concerns the life of the person displayed on the screen. There is room for free-text source notes as well as dedicated fields for such things as whether or not the person could sign his or her own name. The program actually has three choices for that: can sign, cannot sign, and sign perhaps. The program also allows the user to assign yellow "sticky notes," to individuals. This is where you keep your notes that are not yet ready to be entered as "facts" into the database, such as, "possibly the child of…" or perhaps, "I need to check this in the 1820 census records." Sticky notes remain in your database and can be viewed on screen. However, they do not print on the normal reports.
The French always demonstrate savoir-faire when it comes to family relationships, and that style shows in Heredis. The program does not refer to marriages or to unmarried couples. Instead, it simply uses the term "union." A union may signify a marriage, but this is not automatically assumed. A date and place of marriage and of divorce may be recorded as an event, but the Heredis database treats these events as separate information, not as supporting data for a "union." The same approach applies to children in Heredis: a child may be listed as a legitimate child, a natural child, a recognized child, a child found, an adopted child, an adulterous child, or a still-born child. If that isn’t enough, a final entry simply says, "relationship unknown." Whatever the relationship assigned to the child, all children are considered to be full-fledged members of the family and are displayed that way on the screen and (optionally) in printed reports.
Heredis also has almost all the features found in the more advanced genealogy programs. Information may be marked as "sensitive" so that it does not normally print on the various reports. The program has data fields to record the mailing address of living individuals as well as their telephone number, FAX number, e-mail address and personal Web page. It can also generate mailing lists and has the option of including or not including street address, postal code, town, e-mail address, FAX number, telephone number or Web page. Of course, one would expect a genealogy program from Europe to be "internationalized," and Heredis is no exception. It never says "city and state" but rather town and county/region. It never says ZIP code, instead using the term "postal code." Finally, there is room for long telephone numbers, including country code, rather than the 10-digit maximum found in some U.S.-produced genealogy programs. Dates may be printed in European or American formats. For instance, Americans would refer to this year’s Christmas date as 12/25/01 whereas Europeans would write it 25/12/2001. Heredis will display dates in the format you specify.
Describing the reports available in Heredis would fill an entire newsletter article by itself. I will only briefly mention the major ones. Of course, this program produces all the normal pedigree charts and lists. Heredis also produces many lists, including ascendants list (ancestors list), descendants list, union list, alphabetical list of individuals, list of events, list of anniversaries, list of addresses, list of sources, and more. The program also keeps extremely detailed statistics about the data you enter. All statistics in your genealogy files may be illustrated using pie charts, bar charts or columns. Want to know the average lifespan of your ancestors? Heredis will display that for you, both as raw numbers and in chart form. Heredis also produces fan charts and wheel charts. I was not able to find a register report, however. (A register report generates genealogy books in a rigid format, including all text notes as well as dates and places.)
Heredis also produces a phratry tree (no, that is not a typo error). The male phratry tree will display the male direct ancestors of the primary person (his father, then his father's father, then his paternal grand-father...) as well as their spouses, and the brothers and sisters of each ancestor in order of birth. The female phratry tree will display the female direct ancestors of the primary person (his mother, then his mother's mother, then his maternal grand-mother...) as well as their spouses, and the brothers and sisters of each ancestor in order of birth.
Simpler reports may be printed or saved as ASCII text files. The more complex reports are generated as RTF files that are automatically loaded into your favorite word processor. You can then use your word processor to further modify the reports and to print on any Windows-compatible printer. If you do not have a separate word processor, Heredis will use Windows’ included WordPad word processor. Heredis also can create HTML files, which you then upload to your personal Web site. You can publish your genealogy on the Internet, thus allowing anyone in the entire world to see the results of your research. Heredis will also automatically launch your favorite Web browser and access genealogy Web sites listed in its database.
Finally, Heredis has a lot of multimedia capability. You can create your own personalized presentation, modify the appearance and contents of every box, and even add illustrations. Several templates, or "models," are included with the program, and the producers promise that new models will be available for download from their Web site.
The above words only list a few of the features of this genealogy powerhouse. If you would like to experiment further, you can download a free demo version of Heredis and use it on your own computer. The demo version actually is the full version except for one significant difference: the demo version is limited to 50 individuals who may be entered into the database. Actually, you may import and open larger files with more than 50 individuals. You could even import thousands of individuals into the demo version of Heredis and then examine the data on the screen. However, files containing more than 50 individuals cannot be printed or modified.
Any file which you may have created using the demo version will be fully compatible with the complete version of the program once this has been installed. Also, there is no time limit to the demo version.
As I mentioned earlier, the English version of Heredis is brand new, being introduced this month. The producers are offering an introductory price of $39.00 (U.S. funds). At some time in the future, the price will probably revert back to its normal list price of $69.00. You can order the program safely, using a secure order form on Heredis’ Web site. You may also order by mail, telephone, or FAX.
I expect we all will hear more about Heredis in the coming months. This program is a serious competitor to several well-established genealogy programs. For more information about the English-language version of Heredis, to download the demo version, or to safely order the program online, go to:http://www.myheredis.com
Genealogists owe a debt of gratitude to the thousands of genealogists before us who recorded their research results in genealogy books. We use these books to find the information that others have already discovered. Valuable family history information is then handed down from generation to generation via these limited-production publications. If you visit any major genealogy library, you will notice that the books are well worn from use by later genealogists who built their research on the efforts of earlier generations.
Publishing a genealogy book is no small feat, however. Publishers rarely pay an advance to the author of a family history book. In fact, the author usually has to pay the publisher! Most family history books are published as "vanity press" publications in which the author pays a publisher to print the books. Sales of the book are then left to the author although several of the publishers dealing in genealogy titles have additional sales outlets.
It is not unusual for an author to pay $10,000 or more in advance to have a few hundred copies of a book printed. The author then stores hundreds or even thousands of books in his or her basement or garage while trying to sell them. In fact, it may be years before they are all sold. Several authors have told me that they never recovered the production costs of their books. This seems sad when so many people benefit from the authors’ hard work.
In the past few years, a new twist has been added to the vanity press industry, called "print on demand." These companies will receive a manuscript from an author and then wait for the orders to arrive. When an order is received for one book, they will then print exactly one book. If they receive orders for ten copies, they print ten copies and no more. Today’s technology allows for "print on demand" (or PoD) at lower costs than were available before the invention of the high-speed computer printer. The advantage is that the author doesn’t have to spend much money up front or store a large amount of inventory.
Another option that has appeared in the past 2 or 3 years is called e-books. An e-book is not published on paper; instead, it is stored on a disk drive and read on a computer screen. E-book costs are generally still lower than PoD books.
BookLocker.com is now actively seeking authors for print on demand books as well as for e-books.All you have to do is write your book and promote it yourself. You supply camera-ready output to BookLocker.com. The company handles all the printing and shipping of the books for you, in a print on demand format. There's no inventory, so you don't need thousands of dollars or connections in the publishing industry to get started. A modest set-up fee of $199 is required to get everything formatted for printing. If you like, BookLocker.com will also handle e-book sales and requires no set-up fee at all for a pure e-book deal.
BookLocker.com also claims to pay higher royalties than their competitors (I will admit that I haven’t verified that claim). They pay 70% royalty for e-books that cost $8.95 or more, 50% royalty for cheaper works. For Print-on-Demand books, they pay 35% royalties and even higher if the author is willing to purchase 50 or more printed books at a time.
BookLocker.com does not specialize in genealogy books; they publish all sorts of topics. In fact, they will publish almost any book, provided it meets their standards for quality. They also sell the books in their online bookstore. This looks like an easy way to handle the publishing and sale of a book that you write. Create a Web page that publicizes the book, and then place an "Order Now" button that links to BookLocker.com’s order form. You get a 35% royalty on the sale, and BookLocker.com provides the secure order form, the book, the packaging, and the packing, as well as the mailing.
For more information about BookLocker.com’s print on demand publishing as well as e-book publishing, look at:http://www.booklocker.com
- The Master Genealogist on the Shelves
The other day I was browsing the selves at the local MicroCenter Store. MicroCenter is a chain of computer stores that looks a bit like a department store, with wide aisles and merchandise shelves loaded with all the latest hardware and software. It is also well known for cheap prices. This is a toy store for computer junkies like myself.
Any time I visit a computer store, I always look for genealogy software that is stocked on the shelves. This week I was surprised to find The Master Genealogist Silver Edition in stock at the local MicroCenter. This specialty genealogy program previously has been available only from its producer and from a handful of specialty genealogy supply and book stores. I was surprised to see it in stock at a mass merchandiser. I was even more surprised to see the price: $19.95. Not bad for a program with a retail price of $59.00! I have seen specialty shops selling The Master Genealogist Silver Edition for $49.00, but the $19.95 price at MicroCenter really surprised me. That is a 66% discount from retail.
It seems that Wholly Genes Software, producer of The Master Genealogist, has recently signed a marketing arrangement with Fogware Publishing. This partnership should work out well for Wholly Genes Software. Fogware is a software wholesaler that sells to large computer store chains, including MicroCenter, CompUSA and Fry’s. Fogware does all the production, printing, packaging, shipping and stocking of stores, allowing the producing company to focus on what they do best: creating and supporting software. Since their expenses are reduced dramatically, Wholly Genes apparently can now offer their software at a much lower price than they used to.
If you are in the market for a top-notch genealogy program to give as a Christmas gift, you might check out your local computer superstore. For information about The Master Genealogist, look at:http://www.whollygenes.com
- Rosenblatt Becomes Chief Technology Officer at Ask Jeeves
Ask Jeeves, Inc., the Web search company, announced this week that Jeremy Rosenblatt, 47, has joined the company as Chief Technology Officer. As CTO, Jeremy will be responsible for guiding the technology direction of Jeeves Solutions, Ask Jeeves' enterprise software division, and also its Web Properties division. He will steer the integration of acquired technologies and promote excellence in Ask Jeeves' core technology areas: natural language, search, and analytics.
Rosenblatt has more than 20 years of experience working with enterprise software companies as well as large media properties. Most recently, Rosenblatt served as CTO of ePhones, a multi-faceted e-commerce provider. Previously, Rosenblatt spent eight years delivering enterprise-class systems at Mosaix (now part of Avaya) for Fortune 500 companies.
However, many in the genealogy world will recognize Jeremy Rosenblatt’s name from the position he held before Mosaix. He served as the vice president of engineering and operations at Rootsweb, now a division of My Family, Inc., the largest free genealogy site in the world. At Rootsweb he was responsible for all technical operations, including the company's production data center that serves more than 100 million web pages and 160 million subscriber emails per month.
- Yugoslavian Descendants Create Business from Family Recipe
When Eli Francovich left Petrovac, Yugoslavia, in the 1800s to search for gold riches in the American West, little did he know his descendants would seek their gold in richness of another sort – eggnog.
For five generations, the Francoviches have gathered in their kitchens around the holidays to make homemade spiked eggnog from the recipe Eli brought with him when he emigrated from Yugoslavia. They'd make the blend of milk, cream, eggs, spices, rum and bourbon in seven-gallon batches, carefully following the time-cherished formula. Now, they're hoping to create a niche in the nog season by taking "Francovich Holiday Nog" to larger production.
"We're hoping to have a little success and take baby steps," said Deborah Francovich Stoker, who with her brothers, Sam and Jeff Francovich, their mother Lillian, and their spouses and children, are taking their holiday nog tradition to new levels.
It all started with Eli. As one of Reno, Nevada's earliest settlers, he came to the frontier town in 1859 and built "The Wine House," a bar and restaurant on Commercial Row that became a favorite gathering place. During the Christmas season, he would share his creamy concoction with friends and guests. Each generation hence has bottled the homemade brew to a limited extent, giving it away as yuletide gifts.
Three years ago, the three Francovich siblings and their families decided to test the public market and arranged to sell their beverage in three Reno area grocery stores. They sold about 100 cases. "That was enough incentive to move to larger production last year," said Vickie Francovich, Jeff's wife and general manager of the family owned business.
In 2000, they rented space in a commercial kitchen and made the holiday nog in a 100-gallon vat, using a rudimentary machine to fill five one-quart bottles at a time. Sales jumped tenfold, to 1,000 cases. This year, with an investment of about $250,000, they hired a distributor, rented a plant and purchased bigger, more efficient equipment.
The recipe remains a family secret, and Jeff Francovich has the responsibility of ensuring that the dairy products, spices and liquors used are of the highest quality, ensuring the unique blend is consistent with what has been made in past generations. He insists that the eggnog remain free of any artificial colorings or preservatives.
Holiday Nog is available in about 100 stores across Nevada, retailing for about $12 a bottle. The family hopes to expand into northern California next year, and possibly the Pacific Northwest after that. The Francovich family even has a Web page about their product athttp://www.holidaynog.com. A small picture of Eli Francovich is also on the Web site.
- Last Chance For StarOffice 6.0 Beta
The best-known personal productivity suite in the world is Microsoft Office. This "suite" is a collection of programs for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations and handling one’s personal calendar and telephone book. The programs in Microsoft Office include Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook. These are all fine programs, very powerful, and also quite user-friendly. However, Microsoft Office carries a very high price tag. The standard edition has a "street price" of about $479. Some other versions have additional programs bundled in, such as Access, but carry even higher price tags. Don’t forget that those prices are per PC!
To be sure, there are lower-cost alternatives. WordPerfect Office is probably the best-known competitor, but even this product has a "street price" of about $330. That’s a lot of money for a private individual who wants to write a few letters, calculate taxes, and maybe keep a telephone list. Luckily, there are still other competitors available. Some of them have the capability of Microsoft’s and WordPerfect’s office suites and have a much lower price tag. Much, much lower. In fact, my favorite one is free. That’s right, zero. Nada. Zip. However, it won’t be available much longer.
My favorite free personal productivity suite is StarOffice, available from Sun Microsystems, the same people who produce the heavy-duty UNIX systems. In fact, StarOffice is available on Sun Microsystem’s Solaris operating system as well as other versions for Microsoft Windows and for Linux. Two years ago, in the December 27, 1999 edition of this newsletter, I wrote about the then-current version of StarOffice:
You can still read my full review of StarOffice at:http://www.ancestry.com/library/view/columns/eastman/36.asp
Little has changed since I wrote those words. StarOffice has been updated, and version 6.0 became available in a beta test version about two months ago. The Version 6.0 beta release is available for Microsoft Windows, Linux and Solaris. I downloaded StarOffice 6.0 beta some time ago and use it daily on my Linux system. The Windows version is almost identical to the Linux version.
Is this free software suite just as good as Microsoft Office? Well, the answer will vary from one user to another. My personal opinion is that StarOffice is "almost as good as Microsoft Office." It probably has 95% of the functionality of Microsoft’s product, and the remaining 5% is stuff that I don’t normally use. I can forego that 5% if I can keep $479 in my pocket! Also, StarOffice has some features not found in Microsoft Office, including a rather good drawing program.
However, version 6.0 beta is about to disappear from Sun’s download site. The beta version was made available to the public so that Sun could obtain feedback from users as to software design issues or possible bugs. While I haven’t encountered any bugs in my usage, Sun apparently has received all the information they seek. "We've got all the feedback we can handle here," spokesman Russ Castronovo said. "We are at saturation point. I think we've satisfied the requirements of the program."
Version 6.0 beta will probably disappear from Sun’s download site on January 1, 2002. It may re-appear later in the year as a commercial program. The current version 5.2 production release will continue to be available for some time after January 1, however. You can obtain version 5.2 at:http://www.sun.com/staroffice/;$sessionid$5202RQXIZQ5CBAMTA1LU4GQ
Version 6.0 beta adds a lot of new features and has a much better user interface than version 5.2, in my opinion. If you would like to obtain version 6.0 beta of this excellent free personal productivity suite, I suggest you do so now before it disappears. Go to:http://www.sun.com/software/star/staroffice/6.0beta/index.html;$sessionid$2GEQGNEBZ3OMDAMTA1FU5YQ
- Home Pages Highlighted (Again)
You may have noticed that I haven’t had a "Home Pages Highlighted" section for a few weeks. That is because I have moved the home pages section to a new URL and put some new software in place. This took a bit of time; however, it looks like the home pages are back in business now.
The "Home Pages Highlighted" section consists of new genealogy-related home pages that you, the readers of this newsletter, nominate for publication in this newsletter. While anyone may nominate any genealogy-related home page, the process seems to work best when the webmaster for a home page nominates his or her own work. Nominations are now done online athttp://www.rootsforum.com. I will review the nominations and then will list the better ones in this newsletter. If you have recently created a new genealogy-related Web page of some sort, I would strongly suggest that you enter it at http://www.rootsforum.com. You may later see your home page listed in this newsletter, which is read by 40,000 or so avid genealogists.
The following is a list of some of the genealogy-related World Wide Web home pages that have been added recently onhttp://www.rootsforum.com:
An Italian Genealogy Web site with a focus on Agnone, Molise; Casalduni and Pontelandolfo, Benevento; Ischia, Naples. The surnames on this site include: Surnames are: Mattera/Calise; DeBlasio/Frangiosa; DiCarlo/Zarlenga and Nave/Iavecchia: http://members.tripod.com/mattera
To submit your genealogy page to this newsletter, enter the necessary information at: http://www.rootsforum.com. Due to the volume of new Web pages submitted, I am not able to list all of them in the newsletter.
Are you interested in the articles in this newsletter? Would you like to learn more or ask questions or make comments about these articles? Join this newsletter’s online discussion group on CompuServe’s Genealogy Techniques Forum. The CompuServe forums are free and are available to anyone using Netscape, Internet Explorer or CompuServe’s own software Go to: http://www.rootsforum.com.
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About the author: Dick Eastman is the forum manager of the three Genealogy Forums on CompuServe. He also is the author of "YOUR ROOTS: Total Genealogy Planning On Your Computer" published by Ziff-Davis Press. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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