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  • 28 Nov 2023 9:01 AM | Anonymous

    Traditional measurements of genetic ancestry rarely offer information on specific ancestors in a family tree. A new approach to genetic ancestry developed by Stanford researchers yields insight into African American history by providing estimates of the number of African and European genealogical ancestors in typical family trees.

    Family trees, photo albums, and grandparents are often the go-to sources of information for people curious to know who their relatives were. Genetic ancestry is also a useful tool, but these measurements typically provide data on percentages of different populations in a person’s ancestry, not on specific people. Now, a new study led by researchers from Stanford and the University of Southern California introduces a new way to think about genetic ancestry, revealing information that approximates the number of people from a source population.

    The researchers apply this new approach to the genetic and genealogical history of African Americans from the 1600s to the present to estimate the number of African and European ancestors who appear in a randomly chosen African American person’s genealogy. The authors provide context for their results by using a historical book written about several generations of the family of Michelle Obama, the former first lady of the United States, as an example.

    Jazlyn Mooney, a former postdoctoral scholar in the Stanford School of Humanities and Sciences, now a Gabilan Assistant Professor of Quantitative and Computational Biology at USC, is the lead author. Noah Rosenberg, the Stanford Professor of Population Genetics and Society and professor of biology in the School of Humanities and Sciences, is the senior author. The study summarizing their results published July 6 in Genetics and is the cover story.

    Here, Mooney and Rosenberg discuss their new approach and how it helps fill a gap in the ancestry of African American people descended from Africans forcibly transported to the United States as enslaved captives during the Transatlantic Slave Trade.

    You can read more in an article by Holly Alyssa MacCormick published in the web site at:

  • 28 Nov 2023 8:40 AM | Anonymous

    Here is another article that is not about any of the "normal" topics of this newsletter: genealogy, history, current affairs, DNA, and related topics. However, I suspect it will interest anyone who has a need or at least an interest in low-cost, but powerful, Windows computers.

    At first glance, it may look like a Fire TV Cube, but the new Amazon WorkSpaces Thin Client is not for spending time watching Thursday Night Football or bingeing Invincible. As the name suggests, it’s intended for enterprise workers to reduce an employer's technology costs and provide enhanced security.

    For a significant portion of the workforce, some form of remote and hybrid work is here to stay, particularly in industries such as customer service, technical support, and health care. Enabling people to work in this way, securely and at the scale large enterprises require, poses real challenges. Employees need quick, reliable access to a variety of business applications and data—regardless of where they are working. Enter the Amazon WorkSpaces Thin Client.

    For the first time, AWS adapted a consumer device into an external hardware product for AWS customers. Melissa Stein, director of product for End User Computing at AWS, oversaw the Amazon WorkSpaces Thin Client project.

    "Customers told us they needed a lower-cost device, especially in high-turnover environments, like call centers or payment processing," said Stein. "We looked for options and found that the hardware we used for the Amazon Fire TV Cube provided all the resources customers needed to access their cloud-based virtual desktops. So, we built an entirely new software stack for that device, and since we didn't have to design and build new hardware, we’re passing those savings along to customers.”

    In computing, a “thin client” often refers to a simple hardware device optimized for the cloud—in this case, the AWS Cloud. By offloading processing power to the cloud, thin clients can be designed as simple, low-cost devices without advanced hardware capabilities.

    Take a spin around the Amazon WorkSpaces Thin Client, and you’ll notice no visible differences from the Fire TV Cube. However, instead of connecting to your entertainment system, the USB and HDMI ports connect peripherals needed for productivity, such as dual monitors, mice, keyboards, cameras, headsets, and the like. Inside the device is where the similarities end. The Amazon WorkSpaces Thin Client has purpose-built firmware and software; an operating system engineered for employees who need fast, simple, and secure access to applications in the cloud; and software that allows IT to remotely manage it.

    This “windows computer in the cloud” will be more powerful than the typical Windows computer installed in a home and will sell for $195 (U.S.)

    You can read more at: Another, more detailed, article about the same subject may be found at:

  • 28 Nov 2023 8:25 AM | Anonymous

    This article is not about any of the "normal" topics of this newsletter: genealogy, history, current affairs, DNA, and related topics. However, it is a “sign of the times,” which I believe will be of interest to genealogists and historians. It appears that printed publications are disappearing and, in some cases, are switching to digital publishing.

    From Slashdot:

    After 151 years, Popular Science will no longer be available to purchase as a magazine. "Cathy Hebert, the communications director for PopSci owner Recurrent Ventures, says the outlet needs to 'evolve' beyond its magazine product, which published its first all-digital issue in 2021," reports The Verge. From the report: 

    PopSci, which covers a whole range of stories related to the fields of science, technology, and nature, published its first issue in 1872. Things have changed a lot over the years, with the magazine switching to a quarterly publication schedule in 2018 and doing away with the physical copies altogether after 2020. In a post on LinkedIn, former PopSci editor Purbita Saha commented on the magazine's discontinuation, stating she's "frustrated, incensed, and appalled that the owners shut down a pioneering publication that's adapted to 151 years worth of changes in the space of a five-minute Zoom call."
    "PopSci is a phenomenal brand, and as consumer trends shift it's important we prioritize investment in new formats," Herbert tells The Verge. "We believe that the content strategy has to evolve beyond the digital magazine product. A combination of its news team, along with commerce, video, and other initiatives, will produce content that naturally aligns with PopSci's mission." PopSci will continue to offer articles on its website, along with its PopSci Plus subscription, which offers access to exclusive content and the magazine's archive.
  • 28 Nov 2023 8:17 AM | Anonymous

    If you use Google Drive, you better check to see if all your files are still there.

    It looks like Google Drive is experiencing some issues with disappearing files. Multiple users have taken to the Google Support forum to report that they lost access to some of the files that they’ve uploaded to Google Drive, with them seemingly fully gone from the cloud service. Google recommends you don’t make any changes to your Google Drive if you’re affected while the company investigates the issue.

  • 27 Nov 2023 8:59 PM | Anonymous

    When did yopu last change your passwords? If you are like the majority of people, it has been a while. The time to change your passwords is NOW. 

    The following is from an article in the Georgia Tech web site:

    Three out of four of the world’s most popular websites are failing to meet minimum requirement standards and allowing tens of millions of users to create weak passwords. The findings are part of a new Georgia Tech cybersecurity study that examines the current state of password policies across the internet.

    Using a first-of-its-kind automated tool that can assess a website’s password creation policies, researchers also discovered that 12% of websites completely lacked password length requirements.

    Assistant Professor Frank Li and Ph.D. student Suood Al Roomi in Georgia Tech’s School of Cybersecurity and Privacy created the automated assessment tool to explore all sites in the Google Chrome User Experience Report (CrUX), a database of one million websites and pages.  

    Li and Al Roomi's method of inferring password policies succeeded on over 20,000 sites in the database and showed that many sites:

    • Permit very short passwords
    • Do not block common passwords
    • Use outdated requirements like complex characters

    The researchers also discovered that only a few sites fully follow standard guidelines, while most stick to outdated guidelines from 2004. The project was 135 times larger than previous works that relied on manual methods and smaller sample sizes.

    More than half of the websites in the study accepted passwords with six characters or less, with 75% failing to require the recommended eight-character minimum. Around 12% of had no length requirements, and 30% did not support spaces or special characters.

    Only 28% of the websites studied enforced a password block list, which means thousands of sites are vulnerable to cyber criminals who might try to use common passwords to break into a user’s account, also known as a password spraying attack.

    You can read more at:

  • 27 Nov 2023 1:48 PM | Anonymous

    Here is a list of all of this week's articles, all of them available here at        

    (+) Is Your CD-ROM Data Disappearing?

    Why Was the Information Removed from Online?

    NARA To Eliminate Veterans Records Backlog by January

    Sixty years of The Georgia Bulletin Are Now Online

    Lexington Historical Records Online

    Search Over Half a Million Prison Register Entries on

    130 Years of Student News: From ‘The Student Record’ to ‘The Nevada Sagebrush’

    Geneanet DNA Features Will Be Discontinued

    ‘The Peoples of Utah Revisited’ to Celebrate Growing Diversity

    Broad River Genealogical Society (Shelby North Carolina) Plans New Building With Grant

    Call for Presentations for an International Academic Genetic Genealogy Conference

    Find Your Ancestor’s Place of Rest on Findmypast

    New Tool Tracks Disinformation Laws Globally

    Loch Ness Monster DNA Test Claims to Reveal Historical Genealogy

    PennDOT’s New Historic Bridges of Pennsylvania GIS Map

    Amazon Is Offering AI Classes for Free

    The Price of an Evernote Subscription Is Increasing
  • 27 Nov 2023 8:04 AM | Anonymous

    I have been a loyal and enthusiastic user of Evernote for years. However, that is about to change.

    About a year ago, Evernote was purchased by Bending Spoons. I haven’t seen much difference in Evernote’s operation since the new owners took over. However, the price of an Evernote subscription is now increasing to a level where I am now questioning if the service is worth the new price.

    In a post to the Evernote Blog, the company announced, "The price of an Evernote subscription is increasing.” In fact, it is increasing to a level where I am no longer interested in paying the new price.

    The new prices are a bit complicated. You can read the details at: However, the price for private individuals is clear: $129.99 per year. I enjoy Evernote but I don’t enjoy it THAT much.

    JoplinI am now looking at alternative replacements for Evernote. One that looks appealing is Joplin, a freeware open source product that seems to have a lot of enthusiastic users.

    Joplin may be found at:

  • 27 Nov 2023 7:56 AM | Anonymous

    As one of the most heavily traveled states in the country, Pennsylvania’s vast transportation network demonstrates technological changes from the 18th century to the present.

    These changes, and the growth of Pennsylvania and the United States, would not be possible without bridges. Pennsylvania’s key location placed the Commonwealth at the forefront of development and application of innovative bridge technology and engineering.

    From stone arches and covered bridges to metal trusses and cable suspension bridges, Pennsylvania has a diverse collection of bridge types across its landscape. This includes over 400 historic bridges, bridges that are eligible for listing, or are listed, in the National Register of Historic Places.

    To showcase this collection, PennDOT created the Historic Bridges of Pennsylvania web map, an interactive GIS layer with locational and basic historical information about each bridge. It is important to note that this web map only includes extant historic bridges that are publicly owned by a federal, state, or local government agency or a toll commission organization.

    The map does not include bridges owned by private entities such as railroads, businesses, or private individuals. For more information on other historic bridges that may not be featured on this map, visit the PA SHPO’s PA-SHARE website.

    You can read more in an article in the web site at:

  • 27 Nov 2023 7:49 AM | Anonymous

    The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is scheduled to completely eliminate its veterans records backlog by January 2024, the agency said in its Fiscal Year 2023 Agency Financial Report.

    The records backlog at NARA swelled during the COVID-19 pandemic, and has caused delays for veterans seeking benefits.

    “Eliminating the backlog of requests that accumulated at the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) during the COVID-19 pandemic has been my top priority, said Colleen Shogan, archivist of the U.S.

    “My first official trip as Archivist of the United States was to the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC), where I reinforced my commitment to eliminating the backlog, and to witness first hand the extraordinary work of NPRC staff in support of our nation’s veterans,” she said.

    The report also talks about NARA’s success in expanding access to the Electronic Records Archives (ERA) 2.0 system to include other Federal agencies.

    “Customer agencies now have a modern, cloud­hosted platform for records scheduling and transfer services,” added Shogan.

    “ERA 2.0 improves the customer experience by providing a modern interface and dashboard to help agencies track the status of record scheduling and transfer requests through the approval process,” she said.

    NARA has also successfully launched its modernized National Archives Catalog, which provides free and public access to digitized archival government documents.

    “The new platform is geared towards the future as the Catalog is expected to grow from 217 million pages at the end of FY 2023 to over 500 million digitized pages in the next few years,” stated Shogan.

    “New enhancements make accessing the agency’s holdings more intuitive for the user and improves the search experience by generating faster results,” stated Shogan.

  • 27 Nov 2023 7:39 AM | Anonymous

    The following announcement was written by the folks at:

    Discover the hidden lives of your ancestors

    Scottish Indexes have reached a major milestone in their Scottish prison register indexing project. With the release of a further 180,000 prison register entries at the Scottish Indexes Conference on Saturday you can now search over half a million records from 38 Scottish prisons. Search Scotland's Criminal Database:

    These records are vital to exploring the stories behind our family history as well as overcoming brick walls to our research. Emma Maxwell, genealogist at Scottish Indexes, says “The census is a snapshot in time, but what happened to our ancestors on all the other days? Prison records can be a key to discovering more. For example, we may find a description of our ancestor’s tattoos or scars.”

    Genealogist Graham Maxwell says “The key information given in a prison register to identify the inmate is now very useful for our research projects. While the census may give a place of birthplace of ‘Ireland’ or ‘ England’ a prison register may give us the specific county or parish. If our ancestor died before 1851 the birthplace and age could be the vital clues we need.”

    Aliases and alternative surnames are given in the prison register. It could be that someone used a name to try to avoid the law but we also see multiple surnames recorded for other people. Married women usually have their maiden and married surnames included. Inmates who were illegitimate may be recorded under their biological father's name as well as their mother’s surname.

    About Scottish Indexes: The indexes on are free to search and the website is managed by husband and wife team, Graham and Emma Maxwell. As well as criminal records you can search the Scottish Paternity Index, Mental Health Records, Court of Session Index and more.

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