Thursday, April 27, 2017

Ancestry Sync - what gives?

Ancestry Sync  - what gives?
I belong to several Facebook genealogy groups. I am here to talk about the Family Tree Maker user group and the Roots Magic user group. Even though both software vendors have promised to offer a “New” Ancestry sync, neither have been able to deliver on the promise, YET.
For those of you who don’t breathe, eat and live genealogy. Back in Dec of 2015, Ancestry announced that it was going to Retire FTM and thus syncing, hints and web merging was going to end on January 1, 2017.

Lucky for all the loyal FTM users, in Feb of 2016 MacKiev stepped forward and acquired the software line since it was already the publisher for the Mac versions.  Ancestry also announced that they have an agreement with Roots Magic to allow them to connect to Ancestry Trees in a similar fashion as FTM. Both promised to have the “NEW” Ancestry sync logic working by the end of 2016.

So as we got near to the end of 2016, I heard many more rumblings and complaints on the FTM user group page than the RM user group page. I wondered why.
My theory (and only a theory), FTM users are going to lose a feature while RM users are going to gain a feature. Let’s look at this for a moment. People, who are going to lose something, already know how valuable the feature is, how much easier it makes their life and research and they have every right to be upset, while people who haven’t experienced the feature where things aren’t going to change for them come the end of 2016.
What some (maybe a lot) of users of FTM seem to forget is that we now have three separate companies trying to bring you a feature. As a former programmer, I am sure FTM and RM set up a “Mirror” site to test their program. My question, who was testing the program? Was it programmers who don’t understand how the user’s use the program or was it actual users. This makes a big difference. Also, unless Ancestry was in on the “Mirror” testing site, MacKiev could not setup the testing features under normal conditions. It wasn’t until Ancestry finally turns off the old sync logic and then turns on the new sync logic that MacKiev could actually test all the features of the sync. Data in each user’s tree is very unique, some have extremely large tress, I have heard about 100,000 plus people in their trees. Some also have very large media trees but perhaps not as many people while others have some sort of combination. Plus where was the problem, in FTM/RM code or on Ancestry side? Being able to duplicate a user’s error is the key in finding out the situation. Was it a one-time fluke or a recurring error? Having user’s test the system and being able to explain the steps they took that resulted in the error is the key. As a person on both sides of the fence this is difficult to do.
Therefore, I am not going to tell users of FTM or RM for that manner, to relax and breathe. I understand being impatient, frustrated, angry, all the emotions associated with this update/change that is occurring. What I want to say is venting on the FTM user group site doesn’t solve anything. I always say, if you are not part of the solution, you are only part of the problem. Instead of venting, sign up to be a beta tester. When you test, take your time and record the steps you are doing during your testing. If you are not selected as a tester, please don’t take it personally, they have limits on the number of testers they can handle and address the issues. It helps the programmers to find the most reliable, experience users they can find to become beta testers. Is their process on picking the testers infallible? NO, let’s be honest the questions they ask are quite broad, and those who never been a beta tester might not even realize all the work that is involved to become a beta tester.

So I want to thank all the people who agreed to become a beta tester and went through with their promise. It is not easy being a tester. You might end up screwing up your on-line tree, break links that already exist just to name a few problems. You might have to resort to going back to your backup files to continue your research on your previous versions.

I also want to thank all people behind the scenes at FTM, RM and Ancestry. I am sure you worked many long hours, some probably without overtime pay, because you want to make us the users happy in the end by delivering as solid of a package as you can.

This situation is very unique, since FTM and RM are moving from a stand-alone software program to an integrated program that works with a third party, Ancestry. When a company relies on the help and cooperation with another company, things take a while. Each company has a liaison who works with the other liaison who works with the behind the scenes people.  Each company has to bring together their staff and brainstorm on the next course of action. This unfortunately will add to the time table.
I am done with my venting of venters and hope that FTM and RM software is up and running soon. I compare this to our last presidential election, I can’t wait until this is all over with and we can get back to helping people use their software to the fullest on the Facebook user group pages.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Which DNA testing company is best?

As a volunteer at my local Genealogical Research Library I get asked all kinds of questions. Such as which DNA testing company is the best?

First of all, let me say that just because I prefer one company doesn’t make them the best company. It only makes it the best company for me. Therefore my follow-up question to them is, “What do you hope to discover by taking a DNA test?”

For me, I first wanted to find out who my biological grandfather was and his ancestors. I have already blogged about the fact my mother was adopted by her stepfather. Secondly, I want to verify my genealogical research. Confirm that who I am researching are really my lines. Not necessarily saying there are non-paternal events to uncover, but that where I might have done an analysis and concluded these were my ancestors will be verified by DNA matches to their descendants through their other children. Thirdly, expand my tree. Find family, both living and deceased. Hoping to expand my “End of Line” ancestor back more generations, perhaps figure out who the Women are in my tree since I have so many with unknown surnames. Just generally continue my research perhaps with the help of distant cousins who have proven various lines.

For me, this led me to test with AncestryDNA. I already had my tree on Ancestry, I liked that they offer the shared ancestor hints. At the time, they were the least expensive since I purchased the test during one of their sales. I have since tested with 23andMe and find that I have many more closer matches on AncestryDNA. I still go to 23andMe, but I always start at AncestryDNA. I have also transferred my AncestryDNA test results to FTDNA. Since my father tested on FTDNA, I can now quickly see our shared matches and it helps me a little with my matches on AncestryDNA. I have transferred my results to GedMatch and to MyHeritage. I think they are tied to Geni and WikiTree.

I have also tested one of my full-sisters, one half-sister, one half-brother and my husband. My half-siblings and my full-siblings share our mother and this is helping me with my first goal of finding out who my biological grandfather was and his ancestors.  I have also transferred these test to FTDNA and My Heritage.

So if you are like me, and want to work with your AncestryDNA to discover ancestors, cousins and such, then AncestryDNA is a good place to start. Many people have trees, though many do not. Actually, too many don’t have trees. Also those that do have trees don’t always have them attached to their DNA results and thus, Shared Ancestor Hints won’t show even if they exist. However, for my results, I find more trees on AncestryDNA than with other testing companies. Ancestry has shared matches, which means if you figured out how you are related to your match and then look at the shared matches you and your match have in common, most likely they share the same ancestor or one of the ancestor’s lines. It helps you place each match in perspective. The Share Matches tool works for your 4th cousin and closer matches. Ancestry has some other tools that come in handy.

If you just want to know your Ethnic background based on your DNA. Then really any testing company will do. And if money is part of the equation, then pick the company that is offering the test at the cheapest price. However, each company might come back with slightly different percentages. You can look at my example.  Basically they show the same thing, but some breakdown a region a little more.

Therefore, if you ask me, you will get my answer which is based on my goals and needs. Your best bet, ask more than one person who has had their DNA tested and find out where they tested and why they tested and if they are happy with the company. Then you can make your best judgement based on multiple people’s opinions and compare it to your own goals. Or do like I did, just test at them all!

Monday, April 17, 2017

Transfer AncestryDNA Ownership

I had a friend ask “Do you know how to allow someone to be an Administrator of your DNA results? I searched the Help and found an article from March 29, 2017 that only shows Guest and Editor. Surely, they didn’t take Administrator away?”

My answer, Yes and No and don’t call me Shirley!

Joking aside, Ancestry has tightened it rules when it comes to activating a new DNA Test. They are just making sure that each person who test has agreed to it or is legally authorized to give permission for the tester.

I found the following blog post on The DNA Geek as follows: It explains why AncestryDNA is doing this and what it means for you. The DNA Geek even explains that it might be an inconvenience to have to log into each account separately, but it is not the end of the world.

I agree that it is not the end of the world, I currently have to login into separate accounts for the test that I administer through FTDNA. However, I am glad that I can easily change between the tests that I administer via AncestryDNA by using the “View Another Test” drop down located in the upper right hand of the screen when go to view “Your DNA Results Summary” from the top Menu bar in Ancestry, under the DNA option. 23andMe has a similar option for viewing multiple tests that you administer.

After my friend asks me this question, I decided to take a look around and see if there was a way to change the administrator.  

Lo and behold, I found on Ancestry Support “Transferring DNA Results between Accounts”. YES! You can view the help article that was created on Mar 29, 2017 here

The article states you can move DNA results from one account to another by transferring the administrator rights of the DNA test.  Basically the soon to be old administrator grants the future administrator editor rights to their test. Once the future administrator accepts the invitation, the soon to be old administrator goes into their DNA settings and scrolls down to Sharing DNA results section and clicks the transfer your administrator rights. A few more clicks and the test administrator ownership is transferred.  Ancestry Support has easy to follow instructions with screen shots.

My friend was able to do this and now she administers her newly found half-brother’s test results. He isn’t that much into genealogy and his DNA results were matching many more of their shared Father’s relatives.