I have shown a number of fellow genealogists the We’re Related app from Ancestry on my smartphone because it is so much fun. Let’s face it, we all like being related to famous people. My latest “famous” match is my 7th cousin thrice removed, Hans Christian Andersen, which delights the writer in my soul.
This app has also figured out how I am related to a number of my Facebook friends. Of course, they are usually cousins I that found myself with genealogy or DNA and then friended. I must have connected this app to my FaceBook account when I first installed it and of course I connected it to my Ancestry account as well.
An exciting recent surprise was that We’re Related found my relationship to fellow genetic genealogist Kelly Wheaton, famed for her free online beginning genetic genealogy course. We had long wondered about a smallish DNA segment that we share on chromosome 16, which is also shared with other relatives, so expected to be real. We had assigned it to a location – Seljord, Telemark, Norway but had not figured out the ancestor.
In the app, each cousin match has several icons below it (two on my phone, three on my tablet). The one with two boxes then another below them represents a family tree. Click on that icon or the person’s photo to learn more about the relationship. Although you most often share an ancestral couple, it only shows you one of them, usually the man for most of mine.
When my Dad rode up the elevator in our NYC apartment building, he was often asked if he was my father.
I always thought I looked just like him and just like pictures of his mom, except for my nose which came from my mother’s side.
The other day my brother showed me a cool new tool that compares a picture of yourself to pictures of any ancestors whose photos are in the FamilySearch tree. Needless to say I promptly uploaded every ancestor image I could find!
This tool is called Compare-a-Face and is part of the FamilySearch Discovery suite of tools. It is currently featured on the FamilySearch home page when you log in.
I soon discovered that the original photo of me did not get compared to the new ancestor photos that I had just put there, so I uploaded another one. I had to try several different pictures of me to get the result I wanted from the comparison to my Dad’s mom.
Notice that the images are shown in order of how like you they are: the best on the left to least on the right. You click on any little image at the top to get it front and center with a percentage of simularity.
One of the difficulties of having your family tree in many places is keeping them all up to date.
When I give my presentation on why you should contribute your research to one of the one world collaborative trees, I usually suggest that you pick only one for just that reason. Personally I use all three, FamilySearch.org, GENI.com and WIKItree.com. So I need a few clever tools to keep them in synch.
Both FamilySearch and WIKItree accept GEDcom uploads so I often add a new family line on GENI, then download the gedcom and merge it to my private family tree, before uploading it to the other two. However sometimes the new branch is discovered on Ancestry or MyHeritage so …
How to Add a GEDCOM to GENI.com
No you cannot add a GEDCOM to GENI but you can add family groups one at a time from several other genealogy sites via a tool called SmartCopy, if you are a pro GENI user. So if you have a tree elsewhere this is a way to copy your tree over. If you do not have a tree online elsewhere then I suggest you import your GEDCOM to WIKItree and then use SmartCopy to bring over each family group that is not already on GENI. Still not as fast as importing a GEDCOM but way better than retyping or using cut and paste.
SmartCopy Chrome Addon
SmartCopy is an add-on for the Chrome browser which will copy information from record matches at MyHeritage (you need a paid subscription), Ancestry, or WIKItree. Although it will not copy from FamilySearch, it will copy from a MyHeritage record match page of a familysearch person.
Wikitree X Chrome Addon
WIKItree also has a Chrome add-on tool for copying a person over from other sites. It is called Wikitree X and it can copy from FamilySearch. So when you discover a new branch at that site you can copy to WIKItree with this tool and then use SmartCopy to copy it to GENI.
Charles Knutson, a professor at BYU, had a very enticing title for his talk, “Genealogy Meets Angry Birds: Making Interfaces More Addictive.” You can see how I picked the presentations to attend … by catchy title.
Play is part of being human and a mammal. All mammals play. Playing develops our skills in a safe environment. It’s great fun to run from a dragon in a game but in real life getting burned while you scramble over the gold would not be fun at all.
So why is genealogy like doing taxes for most people and not more like playing? In a game like angry birds, you know what you have accomplished so far and what your goals are. Genealogy programs do not save your place nor do they set your goals. They are just tools to manage your data and do not engage you the way a game does.
In a quick display of numerical scale he mentioned that there are 2.7 million paying ancestry.com members which sounded impressive until he pointed out that there are 2 billion Angry Birds players …
It is exciting when you find a new DNA cousin who actually has a family tree. However it can take days to wade through it looking for the common ancestor and more often than not, you do not find it. Sometimes that is because the ancestor is too far back in time. Other times it is on a line that is not documented or is just wrong. Also there can be spelling discrepancies or if you have Norwegians, naming differences (father’s name or farm name used for surname).
You would think that there would be good automated tools to do this and you would be right. These are the ones I know of.
Partial results of a GEDmatch compare one GEDcom to all run