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  • 30 May 2024 5:56 PM | Anonymous

    The following is a press release from the Texas State Library and Archives Commission:

    The Library Digital Opportunity office (LDO) at the Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC) has a new Texas Public Libraries Speed Test Dashboard, available now. Texas public libraries and their patrons can see how their internet upload and download speeds stack up against the rest!

    The dashboard allows users to filter results by region, population and income levels. Data is also visualized with a zoomable, interactive map. This new tool was recently completed by LDO Data and Project Coordinator Promise Madu.

    “In today’s digital era, libraries need to be prepared to fulfill their patrons’ needs, Madu said. “A speed test dashboard empowers libraries to track their performance and strive towards meeting the standards required to offer dependable, high-speed internet access to everyone who depends on them, thereby bridging the digital divide.”

    Recently, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) increased the standards for what constitutes “broadband” to 100 Mbps download. Through the State Library’s annual speed test tracking, LDO has determined that a significant number of Texas’ public libraries fail to reach the previously set minimum threshold of 25 Mbps download.  As federal legislation prioritizes fiber technology, LDO has set 1,000 Mbps, or 1 Gbps, as an aspirational goal for all libraries seeking to support their communities and support their own digital opportunity services and programming.

    With LDO’s speed test results, individual libraries can determine if they are below the FCC’s minimum standards for households and for libraries their size, as well as raise awareness of the new benchmarks. This could assist them in requesting funding assistance to improve their connectivity and help them work towards providing a more consistent quality of service. 

    Leading the charge on these new initiatives is LDO’s Digital Opportunity Program Coordinator, Henry Stokes. “Public libraries are often a community’s only source of free internet. They are also the best potential option for learning the necessary skills to make use of the technology required to access the internet,” he said. “Libraries have a long history of providing frontline support for their patrons’ digital opportunity needs—whether it’s publicly available computers, fast Internet access or digital literacy training.”

    LDO intends to use the speed test data to inform our upcoming collaboration with the Texas State Broadband Development Office (BDO), supporting their statewide efforts to track outcomes in the categories of availability and affordability of fixed broadband technology to advance state policy priorities such as economic and workforce development, education access and advancement, health improvement, and civic engagement.

    Texas public libraries are encouraged to contribute to this project by completing TSLAC’s annual Public Library Speed Test, running through May 31. Data will then be updated to reflect 2024 speeds. The test only takes a few minutes. More information is available at www.tsl.texas.gov/speedtest

    View the Texas Public Libraries Speed Test Dashboard at https://public.tableau.com/app/profile/ldodashboards/viz/TestDataLib/Dashboard1. Learn more about TSLAC’s support of technology and digital opportunity in Texas public libraries by visiting the LDO website at www.tsl.texas.gov/ldn/tech.

    screenshot of dashboard showing map with colored dots representing libraries, compliance stats bar chart patron numbers bar chart, and internet speed by county list



  • 30 May 2024 9:28 AM | Anonymous

    The following announcement was written by MyHeritage.com:

    We’re excited to announce the addition of 11.6 million new Nordic newspaper pages to OldNews.com, the innovative website for historical newspapers, by MyHeritage. OldNews.com enables genealogists, researchers, and history enthusiasts to search, save, and share articles about people and events throughout history. 

    The new content includes historical local, regional and national newspapers, periodicals and gazettes from SwedenFinlandDenmarkIcelandNorwayGreenland, and the Faroe Islands, with articles dating back to 1666, but mostly from the 19th century.

    The new Nordic content has been indexed and is searchable on OldNews.com. It has also been added to MyHeritage, with the full images for the newspaper pages available on OldNews.com via direct links from MyHeritage.

    Exploring Nordic Newspapers

    Newspapers are essential for genealogical research as they can contain rich information about people and the events in their lives through stories, obituaries, and other vital record substitutes such as birth, marriage, and death notices. Additionally, society pages and stories of local interest can contain detailed records of activities and events in the community and often provide more information about the people involved that bring your family history to life, as well as provide insight into the historical context. 

    If you have Nordic roots and are exploring your family history, you’ll find these Nordic newspapers incredibly useful. We’ve gathered them from various sources into one place, making it easier than ever to search through them.

    The Power of OCR Technology 

    At OldNews.com, all of our new content is scanned using the latest optical character recognition (OCR) technology and enhanced with sophisticated algorithms developed in-house by MyHeritage.  

    While most of the publications on OldNews.com use the standard Roman typeface, the Nordic newspaper collection includes several publications that feature the more complex Fraktur font. Thanks to our OCR technology, even these more intricate fonts have been indexed with high accuracy. This enhancement greatly improves your chances of uncovering new and exciting finds that might have eluded you in your previous searches.

    You can read a lot more in an article in the MyHeritage Blog at: https://bit.ly/3R7hue2

  • 29 May 2024 6:50 PM | Anonymous

    Here is an article that is not about any of the "normal" topics of this newsletter: genealogy, history, current affairs, DNA, and related topics. However, I have written often about Chromebooks, the low-cost and very useful computers. Here is the latest news about Chromebooks:

    Google announced on Tuesday that it will incorporate Gemini and AI capabilities from its other devices into Chromebook Plus laptops. This includes a limited number of models from Asus and HP that are currently available, as well as new models from Acer. New features, such as Google's "Help me write" tool and the capacity to create custom imagery with generative AI, will be supported by these and future Chromebook Plus laptops. The Magic Editor on Google Photos is also being ported to Chromebook Plus, and it has already begun to appear on older Android devices.

    Gemini was previously announced by the company as a feature that would be integrated with the Chrome desktop browser. Consequently, it is unsurprising that it has been incorporated into the Chromebook Plus, which is a more powerful (and costly) version of the Chromebook. The Gemini icon has been incorporated into the app shelf by Google to facilitate quicker and more convenient access. In addition, it is providing a complimentary 12-month subscription to Google One AI Premium to individuals who purchase a new Plus laptop. This subscription includes access to Gemini Advanced, 2TB of cloud storage, and Gemini incorporated with Gmail, Docs, Sheets, and Slides.

    Google is also introducing new features that are compatible with both Chromebook Plus and standard Chromebooks. These features include a QR code setup process that enables your Android phone to directly share your Wi-Fi and login credentials with your new Chromebook, the capability to create GIFs from screen recordings, and a built-in view of Google Tasks.

  • 29 May 2024 6:34 PM | Anonymous

    The Heinz History Center has recently introduced a novel digital archive that provides comprehensive information about the endeavors of a Pittsburgh resident in aiding Jews to evade the Holocaust. The Rauh Jewish History Program & Archives at the History Center established the archive, which contains over 500 letters from the records of U.S. Congressman Henry Ellenbogen.

    Ellenbogen was born in Austria and later came to Pittsburgh. He successfully completed his education at the Duquesne University Law School. He occupied a position in the U.S. House of Representatives and fulfilled duties on the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas from 1938 to 1977.

    Ellenbogen received correspondence from Jewish individuals seeking refuge during the initial stages of Nazi governance. Immigrating into the U.S. necessitated obtaining an affidavit from an American citizen as mandated by the American government.

    The newly established digital collection, made feasible by a generous contribution from Ellenbogen's daughter, chronicles this procedure.

    "The digitization of these significant letters, made possible by the Ellenbogen family's generosity, will enable Holocaust researchers in Western Pennsylvania and beyond to gain a deeper understanding of how a Pittsburgh resident's actions aided Jewish individuals in escaping Nazi-controlled Europe," stated Eric Lidji, the director of the Rauh Jewish History Program & Archives.

    The primary objective of the Rauh Jewish History Program & Archives is to gather, safeguard, and offer accessibility to the recorded history of Jews and Jewish communities in Western Pennsylvania.

    You can read a lot more about this new digital archive at: https://www.heinzhistorycenter.org/research/rauh-jewish-history-program-archives/.

  • 29 May 2024 9:13 AM | Anonymous

    Would you like to always carry your genealogical records with you? All crammed inside a small gadget weighing a few ounces, how about your e-mail communications, checkbook data, family pictures, and much more? Would you like to quickly and simply copy data from a genealogy web site or visit to a local Family History Center near you onto a little data storage device you may carry in pocket or purse? Best of all, it is low cost and simple to accomplish.

    One crucial habit you should conduct frequently is creating copies of your genealogy records. You have to guard the data kept after hours of typing information into your computer. Simply said, you have to create backups. This same tool can be used for backup storage. 

    A modest device no more than a little pack of gum may hold vast amounts of data. Though you will find it under other names, such jump drive, flash drive, memory stick, or USB disk drive, it is a USB memory drive. For simplicity, let me refer to them as "flash drives." These gadgets have memory chips, not disk drives as you may think. Your computer views a flash drive as a disk drive, though, when you plug one into its USB port. One major benefit is that these devices do not lose the data upon power loss. See one example by visiting https://m.media-amazon.com/images/I/710dWgbaGuL._AC_SY879_.jpg. Every other brand seems to be comparable. 

    I recently bought a 2 terabyte flashdrive. Indeed, that is about 2 trillion bytes, more than 2,860 times the capacity of a CD-ROM disk and 426 times the capacity of a DVD-ROM disk. On a little gadget smaller than a Bic lighter, I could fit 426 full-length movies. Although 2 terabyte flashdrives cost more than what I want to spend, smaller flash drives are also available today. One fact I discovered earlier is that high-capacity flash drives are actually cheaper than the lower capacity devices when calculating the cost-per-gigabyte of storage.

    Ten or fifteen years ago, four gigabytes—or eight gigabytes—of storage on a device the size of a lipstick tube was unheard of. Still, these devices are somewhat common nowadays. Online searches turn up 4 gigabyte flash drives for $2 to $4. Prices become higher as you climb in storage capacity, up to my recent 2-terabyte flashdrive purchase for $135 (that is actually cheaper than the $4 gigabyte flashdrive when you calculate the price per gigabyte).

    These little gadgets hook into the USB port present on all modern Windows, Linux, Chromebook, and Macintosh computers. You simply plug it into the computer, and it seems logically as another disk drive; no software is installed or questions to address. Copying files to and from the flash drive is as simple as copying files from or from a floppy disk or a hard drive. Actually, copying files to and from a flash drive usually is faster and far easier than using a CD-ROM disk. 

    I use Linux, Macintosh, and Chromebook computers. I value the ability to copy a file to the flash drive into any one of my computers, remove it, then plug it into any other machine. I might then copy the file to the second machine. This is far, far simpler than trying to migrate files on CD-ROM or floppy disks. 

    Although flash drives have been in use for some time, storage capacity of early flashdrives was limited and costs were not particularly appealing. With sixteen megabytes of data, my first flashdrives had about the storage of eleven floppy disks. (Floppy disks were still popular in those days.) Assuming the multimedia files are excluded, that most likely is adequate to hold copies of most genealogy databases. The 16-megabytes devices have been replaced by comparable devices with more storage. In fact, 16 megabyte flashdrives are difficult to find nowadays. Every new greater capacity USB drive release seems to cause a significant price drop in the devices of smaller capacity. 

    With my new 2-terabyte flash drive, not only can I back up my genealogy database, but I also can store copies of my checkbook, income tax records, and all newsletters written in the past twenty-eight-plus years. Still, I am only using roughly one tenth of the storage space of this little gadget right now. It is fast, tiny, straightforward, and less expensive than most other backup systems I have used over the previous twenty years. For backup tape drives some years ago, I paid far more than this. Those tape drives were never terribly dependable and had limited capacity. USB flash drives I have used have been absolutely reliable. Not one of them has caused me any trouble. 

    Flash drives are relatively robust as there are no moving components. You can freeze or drop these tools. They work better than the old Timex watches that claimed, "Takes a lickin' but keeps on tickin." In this situation, nothing clicks. 

    Most of these devices come with a key ring or some sort of adapter so that you can attach them to a key chain and keep them handy at all times. The easy access is also useful you want to copy a file from another computer when visiting a friend, a library, or a Family History Center. Not only is the USB flash drive much easier than copying to a floppy disk or to a CD-ROM disk, but flash drives are much easier to carry, too.

    Flash drives work without any extra software on all the later versions of Macintosh, Windows, Chromebook, and most versions of Linux, laptop and desktop systems alike. 

    The major downside of flashdrives is that they are not guaranteed to preserve data for ten or more years. In fact, the life expectancy of data stored on these devices is not published. However, I would never plan on using USB drives for long-term storage. They are intended for use for "work in progress" data. They will certainly store data for a few years. I would look elsewhere if I needed to store data for a longer period of time. 

    You can also install a number of applications directly onto the flash drive instead of your hard drive. That way, you can have your applications with you when you visit and use someone else's computer. Applications that work well on a flash drive include the Firefox web browser, Thunderbird e-mail client, and the OpenOffice.org office suite of programs (word processor, spreadsheet, etc.) All of them are available free of charge. You can learn more about Windows programs that run directly from a flashdrive at http://portableapps.com.

    Macintosh programs also can run directly from a flashdrive. Go to https://portableapps.com/download/macos for more information. 

    Here is a thought: computer users have been taught to always store a database on a computer's hard drive and then to make long-term backup copies to removable media. Of course, these flash drives are the latest removable media. Keeping duplicate databases on two or more computers in sync is always a problem. If you own both a laptop and a desktop computer, you know what I mean. You update the information in one and then have to figure out how to copy the database to the other computer. There are several methods of copying files, but none of them seem very convenient.

    I propose a different solution: keep your primary database on a USB flash drive! That is easy to do with these new, high-capacity flash drives. Install your favorite genealogy program on both computers and, in each case, specify that the database is stored on the logical drive assigned to your flash drive. 

    To use either computer, simply plug the flash drive into the computer's USB connector. Load the genealogy program and go. Update the data, run reports, or do whatever else you normally do. When finished, exit the program, remove the USB flash drive, and put it into your pocket or purse. You can then use it later on the other computer. 

    Of course, you will want to make backups, as always. In the past, you kept the database on the hard drive and made backups to removable devices. In this case, I propose the opposite: keep the primary database on the removable flash drive, and make backups to each computer's hard drive. The backups guarantee the safety of your data in the case of hardware problems, software problems, human error, or even a lost flash drive.

    As prices drop on removable media, we need to re-think our procedures.

    Now, go back up your genealogy data!

  • 29 May 2024 8:04 AM | Anonymous

    From the Internet Archive Blog:

    The Internet Archive is "currently in its third day of warding off an intermittent DDoS cyber-attack," writes Chris Freeland, Director of Library Services at Internet Archive. While library staff stress that the archives are safe, access to its services are affected, including the Wayback Machine. From the post: 

    Since the attacks began on Sunday, the DDoS intrusion has been launching tens of thousands of fake information requests per second. The source of the attack is unknown. "Thankfully the collections are safe, but we are sorry that the denial-of-service attack has knocked us offline intermittently during these last three days," explained Brewster Kahle, founder and digital librarian of the Internet Archive. "With the support from others and the hard work of staff we are hardening our defenses to provide more reliable access to our library. What is new is this attack has been sustained, impactful, targeted, adaptive, and importantly, mean." Cyber-attacks are increasingly frequent against libraries and other knowledge institutions, with the British Library, the Solano County Public Library (California), the Berlin Natural History Museum, and Ontario's London Public Library all being recent victims.


  • 28 May 2024 4:40 PM | Anonymous

    Google has announced a $1 million grant to support the development of the "Auschwitz in Front of Your Eyes" project through its philanthropic arm, Google.org. The initiative aims to deepen awareness and knowledge about Auschwitz and the Holocaust, reaching additional audiences worldwide through a live-streamed virtual tour. 

    The project enables people unable to physically visit the camp, including those in remote locations, to engage with the history of Auschwitz. The virtual tour, conducted by a guide, includes survivor testimonies, multimedia materials, and interactive opportunities for participants to ask questions.

    "The funding will help develop the technological platform and its accessibility, including real-time subtitles, AI-based translation into multiple languages, and the digitization of survivor testimonies," said Rowan Barnett, director of Google.org for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.

    "This support will also provide comprehensive training for guides and enhance the capacity to bring such visits to large communities worldwide, including partnerships with schools to educate more students about the Holocaust."

    The online guided tour program, "Auschwitz in Front of Your Eyes," was recently launched by the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum. This innovative initiative provides a virtual visit to the former German Nazi concentration and extermination camp.

     Auschwitz concentration camp, operated by Nazi Germany in occupied Poland during the Holocaust. (credit: WALLPAPER FLARE)Enlrage image

    Auschwitz concentration camp, operated by Nazi Germany in occupied Poland during the Holocaust. (credit: WALLPAPER FLARE)

    The two-hour tour is divided into two parts: Auschwitz I and Birkenau. Educators conduct the tours live, utilizing multimedia materials, archival photographs, artistic works, documents, and testimonies of survivors.

    You can read a lot more at: https://bit.ly/3yLs1Fs.


  • 28 May 2024 9:42 AM | Anonymous

    A party invitation. A broken flipflop. A wig. Letters of complaint about road conditions, and an urgent request for more beer. It sounds like the aftermath of a successful spring break, but these items are nearly 2,000 years old.

    They’re just some of the finds from Hadrian’s Wall – the 73-mile stone wall built as the northwestern boundary of the Roman Empire, sealing off Britannia (modern-day England and Wales) from Caledonia (essentially today’s Scotland).

    While most of us think of Pompeii and Herculaneum if we’re thinking of everyday objects preserved from ancient Rome, this outpost in the wild north of the empire is home to some of the most extraordinary finds.

    “It’s a very dramatic stamp on the countryside – there’s nothing more redolent of saying you’re entering the Roman empire than seeing that structure,” says Richard Abdy, lead curator of the British Museum’s current exhibition, Legion, which spotlights the everyday life of Roman soldiers, showcasing many finds from Hadrian’s Wall in the process. A tenth of the Roman army was based in Britain, and that makes the wall a great source of military material, he says.

    But it’s not all about the soldiers, as excavations are showing.

    You can read more in this fascinating story written by Julia Buckley and published in the CNN web site at: https://bit.ly/3X5KJ4K.

  • 28 May 2024 9:08 AM | Anonymous

    If you use Google’s search engine, you will want to know about this. The following was written by Rob Beschizza and originally published on the boingboing.net web site:

    "&udm=14" is a URL parameter you can add to Google search result URLs that removes all the new AI and ad stuff. And udm14.com is a pseudo-search engine that redirects automatically to these simplified yet more substantial results for your query. It's the work of Ernie Smith, who describes &udm=14 as the "disenshittification Konami code" for Google.

    The results are fascinating. It's essentially Google, minus the crap. No parsing of the information in the results. No surfacing metadata like address or link info. No knowledge panels, but also, no ads. It looks like the Google we learned to love in the early 2000s, buried under the "More" menu like lots of other old things Google once did more to emphasize, like Google Books.

    Some report that it doesn't work for them; it might depend on an ongoing rollout of the underlying feature to users. If the URL trick works for you, the site will. It doesn't change ranking—for"verbatim" results you can add "&tbs=li:1" to a Google results URL. The code is on github if you're thinking of implementing it in some other way.


  • 28 May 2024 8:58 AM | Anonymous
    The following is a press release written by the National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition (NABS):

    The National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition (NABS) is proud to announce the launch of the National Indian Boarding School Digital Archive (NIBSDA), the first-ever digital archives database on Indian Boarding Schools. NIBSDA is a groundbreaking project aimed at preserving and bringing to light the history of the U.S. Indian Boarding School era. Over the last four years, NABS has been dedicated to compiling and digitizing records from Indian boarding schools.  

    Indian Boarding Schools hold a complex and often painful legacy in American history. For generations, Native American children were forcibly removed from their families and communities and sent to these schools, where they were subjected to cultural assimilation and abuse. The repercussions of this traumatic chapter continue to reverberate through Native communities to this day.

    Through NIBSDA, survivors, families, researchers, educators, tribal leaders, and the general public will have the ability to access information that allows them to gain a better understanding of what happened at Indian boarding schools. This digital repository will include documents, photographs, and oral histories, offering invaluable insights into the experiences of those who attended these institutions and the impact they had and continue to have on Native communities.

    "This initiative marks a significant milestone in NABS commitment to truth, healing, and justice," said NABS CEO Deborah Parker (Tulalip Tribes). "The majority of all Indian boarding school records are currently not available to the public, by making these records accessible, we are taking a big step towards honoring the history and strength of Native peoples and building a more just and equitable future."

    In August, NABS released our latest research, identifying 523 Indian boarding schools across the U.S. This is the largest list ever compiled, and we know it is going to take years and the support from all of Indian Country to collect records for all of these institutions. 

    We invite the public to explore this resource and join us in our efforts to acknowledge the past and create a brighter future for generations to come. 

    For more information and access to the Native Indian Boarding School Digital Archives, please visit boardingschoolhealing.org/nibsda/.  

    The National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition is available for interviews and further inquiries. Contact Joannie Suina, Director of Communications at JSuina@nabshc.org to schedule.

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