2020 has been a horrible year so far, in more ways than I can count. However, one good thing is that more of us are staying at home working on our family history and using DNA tools to help with that. Here is my summary of the latest genetic genealogy news for you, both the good and the bad. First the good…
MyHeritage did a new run of their Theory of Family Relativity so go look if you have any new connections with theories. Unlike Ancestry which seems to run theirs almost every night, MyHeritage only runs it every few months but it is more detailed. Click here for my blog post about this feature.
Family Tree DNA updated their ancestry composition estimates to version 3 which includes 66 new reference populations. Click here for the blog post Roberta Estes wrote about it. I will write a post soon that compares results at all the companies for my brother like I did six years ago (click here). For my extended family, version 3 is not an improvement, although I like the new Magyar population predicted for us which fits into my 25% Bavarian ancestry.
My new ethnicities at family Tree DNA. My father was Norwegian and my mother German (half Jewish). No British.
According to a FaceBook post in the GEDmatch user group, Verogen announced a number of GEDmatch improvements coming in Q4 at the ISHI (International Symposium on Human Identification) conference including enhanced security for GEDmatch and a modernized User interface.
Ancestry also moved that wonderful new Longest segment feature (click for my blog post about it) and at first I could not find it. An appeal to the hive mind at FaceBook resolved my problem. As shown in the image below, you have to click the amount of shared DNA in blue to see that and another new feature, the “Unweighted shared DNA.“ That is the amount of matching DNA before their algorithm removes the DNA assumed to just be from your particular population group. That algorithm has vastly improved my Jewish side matches, as it would for anyone with endogamy in their tree.
My known third cousin who shares Jewish great great grandparents with me
This Saturday I am one of the speakers at the Geneaquest Conference just outside of Chicago, but of course it is now virtual. I was really looking forward to meeting genetic genealogist Maurice Gleeson of Ireland. He is the mainstay of the annual Genetic Genealogy Ireland conference which posts their talks online. He also does much work with adoptees and even occasionally writes a post (click here for his blog).
Personally I had given up traveling to conferences before COVID, but my husband and I decided to see the New England foliage one last time so we had planned a September RV trip and Chicago was on the way. Oh well, maybe next year.
I am giving three talks, two on DNA – cousin matching and 3rd party tools – and another on a favorite genealogy topic of mine: Why you should use a one world collaborative tree. Since the conference is sponsored by the The Computer Assisted Genealogy Group of Northern Illinois (CAGGNI), it seems appropriate to discuss online collaborative trees. This is a topic I have blogged about in the past and I keep updating my comparisons of the three main collaborative trees: FamilySearch, GENI, and WikiTree. That chart is at the end of my blog post at http://blog.kittycooper.com/2014/06/the-advantages-of-working-with-a-one-world-tree/
“See” you there?
There are so many security breaches and problems for us genetic genealogists to worry about these days! Why would anyone want your DNA data? I can understand wanting your credit card information, although these days those companies are quick to spot fraud. But why hack a DNA site? My DNA can tell you my eye color, blood type, and that I have no genetic diseases; but mainly it is useful for seeing who I match and finding out some information about my ethnicity. These sites do not have my social security number or birth date, plus most do not have my credit card numbers on file. Maybe it is a clever criminal wanting to know if there are any close matches to his DNA? Or a foreign country wanting to know if someone whose DNA they have is an American spy?
We have been suffering through several days of GEDmatch being down, due to being hacked, with no end it sight [UPDATE 25-Jul-2020: it’s back, yeah!]. I hate not being able to run some of their great tools. At least you can ask matches from Ancestry to upload to Family Tree DNA or MyHeritage in order to get the one to one comparisons.
The DNA Geek, Leah Larkin, reported that there have also been fishing emails sent pretending to be from MyHeritage where the G is replaced by a Q! So please don’t fall for any of those see https://thednageek.com/phishing-attempt-at-myheritage/
My Google News Alert had an article that claimed that Ancestry.com user information had been exposed via a cloud hack through the Family Tree Maker Software: https://siliconangle.com/2020/07/21/family-tree-maker-exposes-records-online-via-unsecured-elasticsearch-database/ However MacKeiv Software claims this is not so, and that they spotted the vulnerability before anyone was hacked: https://support.mackiev.com/349796-FAMILY-TREE-MAKER—Data-Security-Article
So I decided that having the same password at all my genealogy sites was not a good idea any more, even though I only use that password for genealogy and DNA. So I went around changing my passwords on those sites yesterday. It’s probably a good practice to change them every six months or so anyway.
Here is the email received yesterday from GEDmatch:
I am loving watching the Genetic Detective on ABC every Tuesday night and I really hope you are too. It is a new true crime series starring CeCe Moore which demonstrates the use of genetic genealogy to catch rapists and murderers. As someone who uses similar techniques to solve unknown parentage cases, it gives me great joy to see this show and share it with family. I even announced its debut to my blog’s mailing list.
If you do not get ABC in your television package, you can view it on HULU or wait a week and click here to see it on the ABC website.
It was a lecture by CeCe back in 2012 that got me started on this DNA pathway. After I solved a few of my own family mysteries, I started writing this blog and helping others with their quests. Now I even teach at the i4GG conferences she organizes every year (videos available).
What I hope my friends and family get from this show is a better understanding of how DNA sleuthing works and why they should upload their DNA results and a family tree to GEDmatch and Family Tree DNA to help solve crimes like these. What is most enjoyable for me, is that each week so far there has been a slightly different genealogy challenge for solving the case.
Photo of my TV showing my Compact Segment Mapper at Gedmatch from episode 5
As someone who has worked part-time from her house for some 20 years now, there is not much difference in my routines just because we are self-quarantined. Important for me is structure. Regular times I am in my home office and a time window where I will answer the phone (but I way prefer emails).
The new adventure is ordering grocery deliveries online. Planning many days in advance is best, since store deliveries are backed up. We just got our Costco order made about 5 days ago. So happy! Also you can get weekly deliveries of vegetables from various services. I just got my first vegetable order from Imperfect Foods and they all look fine to me. Slightly different sizes of onions and one broken stalk on a celery bunch but perfecty edible. [UPDATE 25-Mar-2020: my farmfreshtoyou box just came, what gorgeous produce! If you try them, please use my refer a friend code KITT4641 ]
The other thing to get used to is playing bridge online at BridgeBase.com rather than in person at the weekly game at our club.
If you are a Beta tester at Ancestry DNA there is a wonderful new feature to play with where you can link your DNA relatives to your own tree. As soon as more people have that I will blog about it.
By the way I have been posting one flower picture a day from my garden on Instagram and from there to FaceBook.