Saturday, March 19, 2016

GEDMATCH-AGEDDON Averted?

As I mentioned on Wednesday, the genetic genealogy community has been in a tizzy over the exchange of notices from Family Tree DNA (FTDNA) and GEDmatch.com,

GEDmatch.com is a site that has tools to allow users to compare DNA results, and uploaded GEDCOM files, from users of the three major DNA testing companies, Ancestry.com, 23andMe.com, and FTDNA.

The commotion rose to a fervant pitch, with some threatening boycotts of FTDNA and others urging calm over what was coined "GEDMATCHAGEDDON."

This was heightened when GEDmatch.com announced that they might have to discontinue sharing matches with data submitted by FTDNA users.

This afternoon, the two organizations issued the following joint announcement:


Family Tree DNA and GEDmatch jointly announce that we are in serious conversations regarding issues that have resulted in GEDmatch discontinuing uploads of FTDNA data. Both companies recognize the importance of these talks to their customers and are committed to quickly resolve differences. We regret any inconvenience that may have been caused and assure our users that our primary focus and efforts are geared toward your benefit. 


Hopefully, this will put the whole matter to rest for a while.

Throughout this entire exchange, data uploaded from kits from the other two companies were only to be affected by the ability to compare to FTDNA users.

It is still important for all of us to remember that data privacy is an important issue to many people, and that we should respect the wishes of our family and friends who share this information with us.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

FamilyTreeDNA Asks GEDmatch.com to Freeze Uploads of User Data From Their Tests

One of the best, largely free, resources available to genetic genealogists are the tools on GEDmatch.com. This site allows users to upload raw data from all three major testing companies - Ancestry.com, 23andMe and Family Tree DNA. This is the only way to compare tests from the three companies.

Today, users noticed a strange notice on GEDMatch:

NOTICE: We are no longer accepting FTDNA DNA kit uploads. We have been asked not to say why. Please Contact FTDNA if you have any questions.

Well, users noticed, and they did contact FTDNA. In droves. And droves.

This isn't surprising, as the statement was mysterious and yet direct in its instruction.

Genetic genealogy online groups, message lists, etc. blew up with speculation, some of it quite fanciful.

FTDNA responded on their Facebook Page with the following message:

We have reached out to GEDMatch expressing our concern that their website could potentially lead to a breach in privacy of our customers. Given this, we proposed to discuss the subject with them, but in parallel we suggested that until further clarification and assurances that the privacy of our customers' records are protected, Family Tree DNA uploads should be suspended. We hope that with the cooperation of GEDMatch we can reestablish the uploads in the near future.

Well, that didn't sit well with many users. Dozens of folk have used one of Facebook's emoji-like statuses to express anger.  Many users feel that they have the right to upload their DNA data files wherever they darned well please, and they are frustrated that FTDNA disagrees.

Other users have noted that from GEDmatch, one can determine the test ID number for the sample, which FTDNA surprisingly uses as a username. This gives basically the easiest half of the two pieces of information needed to log into an account.  Of course, most other websites use an e-mail address as a user name, which is not exactly rocket science to locate.

It appears likely that FTDNA is concerned about litigation. I cannot comment on that, since as a judge, I cannot publicly opine about potential cases or controversies.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Roots Magic Claims Direct Family Tree Maker File Import

I haven't had a chance to test this, but Roots Magic has announced that the new version can directly import Family Tree Maker files

Here is what they say on the Roots Magic blog:



Family Tree Maker users have a new home


Direct Family Tree Maker Import is Here!

Since Ancestry’s announcement that they were parting ways with their Family Tree Maker software, thousands of FTM users have found a new home in RootsMagic. One of the first questions they have is, “How do I get my data from FTM into RootsMagic?”
Until today, the answer has always been through a GEDCOM file. But GEDCOM files from Family Tree Maker, while mostly effective, were often lacking data and details only found in the original file. Plus it added an extra step in the conversion process.
That’s why we’re excited to announce today’s release of RootsMagic 7.1. In addition to various tweaks and fixes, this update adds the ability to directly import any Family Tree Maker file.
And by “any” Family Tree Maker file, we really mean it. RootsMagic can directly import:
  • Family Tree Maker 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2014 for Windows (*.ftm, *.ftmb)
  • Family Tree Maker 3 for Mac (*.ftm, *.ftmb)
  • Family Tree Maker 2010 and 2012 for Mac (*.ftmm, *.ftmd)
  • Classic Family Tree Maker Files (*.ftw)
In fact, RootsMagic can import a bigger variety of Family Tree Maker files than any single version of Family Tree Maker itself.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Wrapping Up a Genealogy Road Trip

I have had the pleasure to take a vacation week mostly for genealogy.

I am in Boston, Massachusetts along with a group from the California Genealogical Society visiting the grand dame of American genealogy, the library of the New England Historic Genealogical Society.





(It really didn't look like that today - we had snow!)

The trip is an opportunity to focus on the family of my wife, Cynthia Laird, and particularly that of her mother, whose American roots go deep and long - lots of them were here before this was a country.

My own family has only minimal ties to New England. Thomas and Margaret Brady moved with their son James to Tiverton, Rhode Island and Fall River, Massachusetts around 1880 and were in New York by 1900.

I looked high and low for new records about the family here, but they remain remarkably evasive (they are part of the inspiration for this blog's title).

I expect nothing less from those crafty Bradys!

I've been very careful with Cynthia's family. It is fairly easy to trace her mother's roots back to the beginning of the 1800s, but I am skeptical of many things on the Interwebs about older New England families.

So I sat down for several hours this afternoon with the great genealogy expert, Gary Boyd Roberts, to discuss what I know of her family. Gary is the author of a number of genealogy books, including Ancestors of American Presidents, a copy of which he used in going over her pedigree (due to some linkages that I am going to investigate before spreading them around online).

My head is still spinning, and I am trying to decipher his frenzied notes before I lose all memory of what he told me.

I have one more day at the library, and then a one-day conference on Irish genealogy, before zipping back to California late on Sunday.

I hope to get back into the whole blogging thing. My new assignment at work has been keeping me working harder, and my prep work for coming out here took up most of my free time.

Excuses, excuses.