Archives

MyHeritage is Live Streaming from Amsterdam right now!

An exciting weekend in Amsterdam has just started! MyHeritage will live stream the genealogy and DNA lecture tracks online throughout the conference! The following announcement is almost verbatim from the press release email I received. I will be watching and you?

AmsterdamHeader2_1560414753_large_1560414753

The live stream will be available on the MyHeritage LIVE website and on the MyHeritage Facebook page, so please tune in from 9:00 a.m. Amsterdam time on September 7th. If you need help calculating the time difference to your local time zone, you can use https://www.thetimezoneconverter.com/.

Make sure to visit the conference website to see the full schedule.

Don’t forget to post and share all your MyHeritage LIVE experiences using the conference hashtag: #MyHeritageLIVE, and follow MyHeritage on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

UPDATE: 7 SEP 2019: Even though we sleep while this is streamed, if you go to the streaming page at https://live2019.myheritage.com/ you can rewind the video, I am now watching Ram Snir explain many basics of DNA matching which is the first talk on the DNA track.

 

How to find a killer using DNA and genealogy

It was only a matter of time before the methodologies and technologies that have been developed to break genealogical brick walls and find unknown birth parents were used to identify victims and criminals. The use of DNA and genealogy to solve the horrific Golden State killer case has been sensationalized in the media for several days now. I even got a few calls from reporters as a DNA and GEDmatch expert. Also, just two weeks ago an unknown murder victim from 30 years ago, found in Florida, was finally identified from a DNA cousin match on a genealogy site.

Some of my friends and cousins are worried about the possible invasion of their DNA test privacy. Most just want to understand how this can be done, so I will try to explain that in this post. At the end of this post I will include links to other genetic genealogy blog posts that have wrestled with the issues raised.

You share about 98.5% of your DNA with this fellow

Although I have sympathy with the concerns of people who fear false identification using DNA techniques, this is not my fear. The methodology used gets to a pool of possibles whose actual DNA is then collected and compared. I have confidence in that technology. My fear is that my cousins will stop testing their DNA to help my family projects or stop uploading their tests to my favorite tools site, GEDmatch, where the DNA test results from different companies can be compared.

Click here for an article at the LA Times which went into more of the technical details of the Golden State killer case for us genetic genealogists and here for a lengthy video interview with investigator Paul Holes on how it was done.

Let me start my article by reminding all of you that every human’s DNA is about 99% the same as every other human and about 98.5% the same as a chimpanzee. The companies who test your personal genome only test a small sample of that differing 1%. To put it in numbers, our genomes have about 3 billion base pairs and the tests cover about 700,000 of those, which comes out to about .02% of your genome. Not enough to clone you or worry about, in my opinion.

Next let me remind you that uploading your DNA results from Ancestry or 23andme or wherever you tested to GEDmatch does not expose even that little bit of your DNA to the public. What happens is that your “DNA cousins” will match long sections of your data, called segments, and they can see which locations on which chromosome(s) are the same between the two of you. Therefore they know what your actual DNA code is only on those pieces they share with you. When they match you in the GEDmatch database, they can see your email address, name or pseudonym, and your kit number. With that kit number they can see what color your eyes are, what ethnicities various calculators give, and who else you match. If you have connected a family tree to your DNA they can also see the non-living people in your tree. But they have to match your DNA significantly to see any of that! Click here for an article I wrote addressing privacy worries at GEDmatch

So how do you get from there to a killer?
Continue reading

More Sales, a Conference, and a Card Game

The sales are crazy! Black Friday and now Cyber Monday. Maybe you should buy a few kits on sale for relatives at the same company you already tested with. If you still have not done a DNA test, what are you waiting for? I have my thoughts on testing at this page – http://blog.kittycooper.com/dna-basics/dna-testing/ – with links to other pages discussing this. One point though for those of you who have already tested, if you have British ancestry, you might really benefit from the detailed regional breakdown offered by LivingDNA briefly on sale for $89.

If you have not yet registered for the i4gg genetic genealogy conference in San Diego the weekend after next, do so soon. Last year it sold out. The full schedule and speakers are now listed on the web site. [UPDATE: 4 Dec 2017 – the conference is now sold out]

Last but not least, I told all my clients I would be on vacation this week. It is not exactly a vacation, the National Bridge Championships are in San Diego this week. Yes the card game, my favorite game, and I will be competing, so do not expect timely replies to your comments this week nor will you see me on facebook much at all.

If you are a social bridge player you might consider a visit to the tournament to see what it is like. You would qualify to play the beginner events if you do not yet have an ACBL ranking or at least not a high one. See the second page of this pre-bulletin for some details – http://cdn.acbl.org/nabc/2017/03/bulletins/Pre.pdf

More Sales And More News

Both Ancestry.com DNA and Family Tree DNA have now started their Holiday sales, joining the group that started last week (MyHeritage, LivingDNA, and 23andMe). So buy your family members tests for Christmas at whichever company you used for your own test so you can compare with them easily. Of course there is always the GEDmatch site to compare tests from different companies.

If you haven’t tested yet then click here to read my lengthy discussion of which company might be best for you. It includes links to several other such discussions.

Jessica Taylor of Legacy Tree Genealogists (yes I am an affiliate) celebrated her birthday by listing one thing she had learned for each year. What a clever idea! I took number 14 to heart “Podcasts are great for drive time” and listened to one of my favorites, Scott Fisher of Extreme Genes, interviewing me the other day about chromosome mapping (podcast number 214, I start at 9:10) as well as a few other people. Now to figure out the bluetooth connection in my new car so my phone can play it through the speakers.

If, like me, you are a genealogist in addition to doing genetic genealogy, you might enjoy this interview discussing how I organize my work on the Janine Adams blog in her “how they do it” series: https://organizeyourfamilyhistory.com/how-they-do-it-kitty-cooper/ which includes my CLUB acronym for genealogy work: Cite, Log, Understand, and Backup. There are many other interviews in the group, all of which I have learned from.

I am way more organized electronically than with my paper files. As soon as my office space is under control I will post a newer picture than this one from 2015.