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GenSmarts - Automated Genealogy Research from Underwood Innovations, LLC
May 11, 2007 Contents
GenSmarts Usage Tip
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GenSmarts Version 2 was released this week - the biggest change since we launched the product in 2003! For a limited time, any existing GenSmarts user can get a discount on purchasing Version 2. For more information and more detail than we can provide here, see:
The improvements are all around - it's easier to use, it's faster, it's more powerful... here are a few specific highlights:
1) Data Cleanup reports
2) Save reports to Word, PDF, Excel, MSAccess
3) Simpler and more powerful filters to find the best suggestions
4) Partial file analysis
5) User selectable fonts and text sizes
6) Add a comment to a suggestion
7) Now remembers your last settings
8) User definable marks (not limited anymore to Found, Not Found, etc.)
9) Source auditing, analysis, and importing of more events than just BMD
The current versions are:
Version 1 - 126.96.36.199 (GenSmarts For MyFamily.com Edition)
Version 1 - 1.1.1.03 (Full Edition)
Version 2 - 2.1.1.03 (Full Edition)
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If you use GenSmarts across a couple of different files, you may be in the habit of simply canceling the open process that automatically runs, and then picking the file you want to work with from the "recently used" list in the FILE menu. That works, but there's an easier way - use the top line menu option TOOLS...SETTINGS... and go to the FILES tab. Turn off the "Automatically open last file..." option, click save, close and restart GenSmarts. Instead of trying to open the last file you used, GenSmarts will simply present you with a pick list of recent files straight way.
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You've probably heard of using freely available internet satellite photos to scout out rural locations before visiting them - if not that's tip#1. Most folks probably use Google's images, but were you aware that there are other, different, and often more current images available elsewhere? That's tip#2. Recently I've found MapQuest's aerial photography to be more current. To get to Google's satellite photos go to:
and click on the Satellite button, then enter an address or a place in the input box. To get to the MapQuest images go to:
and type in and address or a place name as instructed. When the map comes up, click on the "aerial image" button in the upper right hand corner of the map. I'm not sure how wide MapQuest's coverage is, so that button may not be present for all locations.
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Everyone knows they should take back ups. The reality, though, is you have to balance convenience against the odds of having a problem. Here's a run down on what I do and something I recently came across that I think will end up a formal part of my routine.
I've gotten in the habit of just getting an extra hard drive on PCs when I get them (wife, kids, work, etc.) and put in a daily automatic backup of the main hard drive to the "extra" drive. Obviously that's not an airtight solution, because if my PC catches fire, so does my backup, but it does handle the situation that we know occurs with scary certainty - the day will come when the main hard drive will fail.
But the odds of a situation where both drives fail are comparatively low, so that's a choice I make to balance the odds with convenience.
To guard against fires and friends of my kids friends that I don't know very well, I have a portable USB hard drive. I go around every month or two and collect copies of the latest backup on each machine, and I keep that in the basement where there's a good chance it would survive a house fire. Odds are I will never have to use that, but it's worth a little effort now and then just to have something to fall back on.
Something I always felt I was missing in my strategy was an easy way of getting a daily "offsite" backup made of the stuff I care about the most - you know that project you worked all day and night on for a week and it would just kill you if someone broke in and stole your PC... could you ever bring yourself to recreate that?
http://www.mozy.com is what I've started tinkering with to fill that missing piece. They offer an absolutely free (personal use) 2GB of secure internet storage and a utility that will let you schedule what and when you want to backup. It looks like a winner. I don't think I'd want to do my whole PC with it, and I'm undecided if I really trust their security - I may encrypt anything sensitive files myself prior to backing them up... but you can't beat the price and the setup and flexibility look good.
I don't have any relationship or business interest with Mozy.com - just a quality product I came across that seemed like it might be of general interest to fellow researchers.
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Don't shut that modem off when you leave for vacation...
Well, at least don't do it just to keep spammers out of your life. Sound counter-intuitive? Based on my experience, shutting it off increases your chances of being a victim of spam. Huh? How could that be? Let me explain...
Many service providers (the folks you get your internet connection from) use what are known as dynamic ip addresses - that's the unique physical address that the internet uses for your modem/connection (it might look something like 188.8.131.52). They're called "dynamic" because your provider doesn't promise that you'll always have the same address. Typically, though you do tend to keep the same address, as your provider won't re-assign it to someone else unless it's been dormant for something like 5 days or so. As long as you're using that address at least once every 5 days, it'll likely continue to be your address. Unplug your modem for a couple of weeks and you are likely to find you've been assigned a new address when you plug it back in. Most people wouldn't even notice, as your modem and your computer manage all this for you anyway.
So what's this have to do with spam? A very common and popular technique amongst the spam filters, whose job it is to identify and block spam, is to "blacklist" ip addresses that are observed to be sending spam. Any email coming from a "blacklisted" ip address will be considered spam and blocked. As you might expect, that means spammers constantly change their IP addresses - once an ip address is "blacklisted" they move on to another.
What do you think happens to those IP addresses they abandon? Yep, they simply go back into the pool to be assigned to your modem when you plug it in after returning from that nice vacation. And you're now blacklisted and will have all your email blocked.
How do you know if you're being blocked? That's increasingly hard these days, though obviously if you are sending email and nobody is getting it that would be a clue. It used to be that email systems would send an automatic reply saying a message was blocked and why. That usually doesn't do any good, as spammers almost always use forged reply addresses. Actually, it does harm, because it doubles the amount of spam traffic - each spam results in another email reply going to the person whose address was forged. As a result of this "spam cascade", many email systems won't even bother to reply to an email they classify as spam.
What you can do is check some of the popular spam blacklists and see if you're on them. First you'll need to find out your ip address by visiting a site like:
Then go to some of the popular blacklisting sites, where you can input your ip address and they'll let you know if you are listed, and, if so, what you have to do to get unlisted. Here are two popular ones to check:
Note that Spamhaus has what they call a policy blocking list that many people will find themselves on. What that means is that your ip address is known to be a "user" ip and not a business or spammer running a mail server. It just means that you can only send email using a mail "client" (e.g. something like Outlook Express). You'd be blocked if you tried to run your own mail "server". That's actually a good list to be on, because it means that your provider won't be as attractive to a spammer. In turn, that means you're less likely to find yourself with a former spammers ip address when you get back from vacation.
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That's all for now-