My Kindle Books



MyHeritage: Norway Church Records (1815–1938)

NOTE from DearMYRTLE: The following was received from our friends at MyHeritage.

New historical record collection: Norway Church Records (1815–1938)

The records in this collection were digitized in collaboration with the National Archives of Norway (Arkivverket), and consist of 42.2 million indexed records and high quality scans of the original documents. The records include births & baptisms, marriages, and deaths & burials. This release is the first time the collection’s images are fully indexed and searchable — making it easier than ever to research your Norwegian ancestors. The addition doubles the number of Norwegian historical records on MyHeritage and brings the total number of historical records on MyHeritage to 12.6 billion.


The records in this collection cover a critical period in Norway’s history, beginning just one year after its secession from Denmark. This important collection helps overcome the significant gaps in Norwegian censuses taken from 1801 to 1865. Five censuses were collected in Norway during those years, but they did not record names of individuals, making the church records the definitive source for genealogical data during that period. 

Due to Norwegian privacy laws, the birth & baptism records released in this collection extend until 1919 (inclusive), the marriage records extend until 1937 (inclusive), and the death & burial records extend until 1938 (inclusive). 

In the Norway Church birth and baptism records, a child was often recorded with only his or her given name(s) without an expressly recorded surname, as it was assumed the child would take either a patronymic surname from their father or take a hereditary surname. To overcome the challenge of the missing surname, MyHeritage inferred two possible surname variations for each individual, so users can search for either the patronymic or hereditary surname to find the correct record. MyHeritage indexed the surname variations to make them discoverable, but the actual records were not modified, and the surnames were not inserted into them, to preserve their authenticity.

The Norway Church Records (1815–1938) collection is an indispensable resource for anyone who is looking to learn more about their Norwegian roots during this time period. With the release of this collection, MyHeritage now offers 80 million historical records from Norway, 57 million historical records from neighboring Sweden, and 107 million records from Denmark, positioning MyHeritage as the leader in Scandinavian family history research.


Twitter, WordPress, File Extractors, More: Thursday Evening ResearchBuzz, August 6, 2020


Twitter Blog: New labels for government and state-affiliated media accounts. “Twitter provides an unmatched way to connect with, and directly speak to public officials and representatives. This direct line of communication with leaders and officials has helped to democratize political discourse and increase transparency and accountability. We also took steps to protect that discourse because we believe political reach should be earned not bought. In 2019, we banned all state-backed media advertising and political advertising from Twitter. Today we’re expanding the types of political accounts we label.”

WordPress 5.5 Release Candidate 2 is now available. “WordPress 5.5 is slated for release on August 11, 2020, but we need your help to get there—if you haven’t tried 5.5 yet, now is the time!”


MakeUseOf: Best Tools to Extract Zip and Rar Files Online. “Extracting data from a Zip or Rar file is pretty easy – there are desktop tools that do the job just fine. However, there are times you may find yourself on a computer which does not allow installations of tools, such as a public library PC. Fortunately, you can still extract files using online tools that require no installations. Let’s take a look at the best tools to extract Zip and Rar files online.”


NPR: Twitter, Facebook Remove Trump Post Over False Claim About Children And COVID-19 . “Twitter temporarily blocked the Trump election campaign account from tweeting until it removed a post with a video clip from a Fox News interview from Wednesday morning, in which the president urged schools to reopen, falsely claiming that children are ‘almost immune from this disease.’ Facebook also removed a post containing the same video from Trump’s personal page. Both Facebook and Twitter said the post violated their rules on COVID-19 misinformation.”

Washington Post: Facebook’s fact-checkers have ruled claims in Trump ads are false — but no one is telling Facebook’s users. “Fact-checkers were unanimous in their assessments when President Trump began claiming in June that Democrat Joe Biden wanted to ‘defund’ police forces. PolitiFact called the allegations ‘false,’ as did CheckYourFact. The Associated Press detailed ‘distortions’ in Trump’s claims. called an ad airing them ‘deceptive.’ Another site, the Dispatch, said there is ‘nothing currently to support’ Trump’s claims. But these judgments, made by five fact-checking organizations that are part of Facebook’s independent network for policing falsehoods on the platform, were not shared with Facebook’s users. That is because the company specifically exempts politicians from its rules against deception. Ads containing the falsehoods continue to run freely on the platform, without any kind of warning or label.”


Sydney Morning Herald: Google and Facebook face fines and algorithm transparency under new code. “Google and Facebook will have three months to agree to revenue-sharing deals with Australian media companies before independent arbitrators intervene under a new landmark code designed to tackle the market power amassed by the US tech giants. Draft laws unveiled by the Morrison government and competition watchdog on Friday will impose a raft of conditions on the digital platforms, forcing them to compensate news media businesses for using their content and be more transparent about their data and algorithms.”

CNBC: Twitter says security flaw may have exposed Android users’ direct messages. “Twitter on Wednesday disclosed a new security vulnerability that may have exposed the direct messages of users who access the service using Android devices. Specifically, the vulnerability could have exposed the private data of Twitter users running devices with Android OS versions 8 and 9, the company said.”


FedScoop: DOD needs some help digitizing a massive collection of respiratory disease samples. “The Department of Defense has the world’s largest collection of pathology specimens, including ‘invaluable’ data from the 1918 influenza pandemic. Now it wants help to digitize it. Digitizing the collection of more than a hundred years of data —in the form of 55 million glass slides, 31 million paraffin-embedded tissue blocks and 500,000 wet tissue samples — would create a potentially exquisite machine learning database for computers to gain broader understanding of global health issues.”

VentureBeat: New ‘unselfie’ AI technique makes your selfies look like posed portraits. “Folks snap self-portraits with their smartphones all the time, whether for the benefit of followers on Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn. But these ‘selfies’ tend to look unnatural because they require that the subject stretch out their arms in order to capture the best angle. Fortunately, researchers at Adobe Research, the University of California, Berkeley, and KU Leuven in Flanders have developed an AI technique that automatically translates selfies into neutral-pose portraits. By identifying a target pose and generating a body texture, it’s able to refine and composite a person on a given self-portrait’s background.” Good evening, Internet…

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Converting My Personal Library to Digital

NOTE: This is an update to an article I published several years ago. I have changed hardware since then and have updated my procedures significantly. This updated article reflects those changes.

I keep my computers and genealogy material in a small room in our house. I am sure the folks who built the house intended this room to be a child’s bedroom, but there are no children in the house, so I have converted it into something I call “our office.” I bet many people reading this article have done the same with a spare room in their homes.

bookscanningI have several computers and a 32-inch wide monitor in this room, a high-speed fiber optic Internet connection, a wi-fi mesh router, two printers (inkjet and laser), two scanners, several external hard drives used for making backups, oversized hi-fi speakers connected to the computers, and various other pieces of computer hardware. Luckily, these are all rather small, and advancing technology results in smaller and smaller devices appearing every year as I replace older devices.  The newer devices are almost always smaller than the old ones. However, I have a huge space problem: books and magazines. They don’t seem to be getting any smaller. My older books still take up as much room today as they did years ago.

“My office” has two bookcases that are each six feet tall and four feet wide, along with two smaller bookcases and a four-drawer filing cabinet. Pam and I share this “office,” so we have two desks, each laden with computers and printers. We squeeze a lot into a ten-foot-by-twelve-foot room.

I don’t want to count how many books I have purchased over the years, but I am sure it must be several hundred volumes. I don’t want to even think about the bottom-line price. I only have space in my four bookcases to store a tiny fraction of them; the rest are stored in boxes in the basement. Out-of-sight books are books that I rarely use. “Out of sight, out of mind.” I probably wasted my money by purchasing all those books as I rarely use most of them. I may have looked at them once, but I rarely go back to them again and again.

While four bookcases sounds like a lot of storage space, I filled them all years ago with books, magazines, software boxes, and stacks of CD-ROM disks. I don’t have room for any new purchases unless I first remove some of the items I already have and move them to boxes in the basement. Nowadays, I have more books and magazines in the basement than I do in the office.

My newly-purchased books and all the genealogy magazines I receive used to end up being stacked on the floor, on my desk, and in most any other nook or cranny I can find. The place was out of control, and I realized that I needed to find a solution. “I used to have a desk, and I am certain that it is still here… someplace. I think I saw it last year.”


In the past few years, I have learned a few lessons. Since there is no space left for storage, I now prefer to obtain all new magazines in electronic format. Not only are they easier to store, but they are also easier to search.

I might want to look something up in the future. Of course, my computer can find words inside electronic files much faster than my fingers and eyeballs can find anything in the printed pages of hundreds of magazines. Many times I have said to myself, “I read an article about that a few years ago. Now, where was that article?” A search on a hard drive will find the information within seconds, but a manual search of books stored in boxes in the basement is rarely successful. Depending on the file format used, I can often find specific words or phrases inside a few thousand files within seconds. Try doing that with printed books!

However, those magazines are the smaller problem. My biggest problem is books, hundreds of them. I cannot afford to go back and repurchase all of the books again in electronic format. What should I do?

I mulled that question over for quite a while before I realized that there were only two possible solutions:

1. Get a larger house


2. Digitize the existing books and all future acquisitions, then get rid of the printed material

I cannot afford the first solution, so I went with the only option left: digitize the existing books and all future acquisitions. The decision became easier when I purchased a high-speed sheet feed scanner.

I am now in the slow and tedious process of cutting apart every book and magazine that I own and scanning every one of them. I am performing this task on a “time available” basis. I try to scan 50 or more pages a day, but I must admit that I haven’t been able to do that every day. In the past year, I have only managed to digitize about twenty books and maybe 100 old magazines. At the rate I am going, the project will take many years to accomplish. However, I feel that I have no choice.

I expect to retire in a few years, and I don’t want to think about “downsizing” by moving into smaller living quarters. If I don’t start solving this problem now, I will face a far larger problem within a very few years.

A few years ago, I moved into a Winnebago motor home full time and lived there for two years. During that time, I learned a lot about downsizing!

I later sold the motor home and purchased a second home in the sunbelt where I can spend my winters without shoveling snow or worrying about falling on ice and breaking a hip, such as a friend of mine did last winter. Life is great in the sunshine!

However, this move creates two new problems. The first is a repeat of the problem I mentioned earlier: my winter home is small, and I don’t have room for hundreds of books and magazines. The second problem is unique to the sunshine states: there is no basement! Where am I going to save all those printed books?

The biggest problem of all, however, still remains the same:  there is no way I can duplicate everything on paper and keep duplicate copies in each home!

The primary reasons that I have not yet been able to scan many books and magazines are: (1.) time required and (2.) the speed of the scanner. The first scanner I purchased is a great device, but it was never designed for speed. It can only scan one side of one page at a time. I need something faster and something that has an input tray that will accept a stack of pages and will scan both sides of each page automatically.

Fujitsu sheet feed scanner

To address this problem, I went out and purchased a sheet-feed scanner. I can insert up to 50 pages at a time, push a button, and relax for about a minute while the scanner digitizes both sides of every page and then deposits all the pages in an output tray. I check the electronic scan to make sure it worked properly, and then I throw away the paper.


Yes, I throw away the paper. As a long-time genealogist, I am used to saving every scrap of paper. However, I soon realized that this was no longer necessary when I had a duplicate copy of everything, a copy that is easier to search than paper. Once digitized, almost all the pages go into the trash bin or into the shredder.


I believe there are no copyright issues involved, even with the newly-published material. I am making copies solely for my personal use and have no plans to ever share any of the newer books and magazines in digital format with anyone else. Current U.S. copyright laws allow for making copies for one’s personal use, and I think most other countries have similar provisions. I can legally share electronic copies of out-of-copyright printed books, but anything that still falls under copyright laws will always be used solely for my own personal use.

The Process

I must admit that I had emotional difficulties when I first cut the pages out of some of my “valuable” books. That is, those that I felt were valuable, regardless of their actual replacement cost. Cutting pages out of the New England Historic and Genealogical Register or out of that family surname book that I paid $150 to purchase years ago is a gut-wrenching experience. Even tougher is the prospect of throwing the pages out in the trash after they have been scanned. However, I really feel I have no choice: I cannot afford the storage space. The emotions subside after cutting apart the first three or four books.

One trick that I learned recently concerns the many out-of-copyright, reprinted books that I own. Before cutting them apart, I first look on Google Books and at the Internet Archive and then search on Google to see if someone else has already scanned a copy of the same book and made it available online. If so, I simply go to the appropriate web site, find the electronic version of the book, click on DOWNLOAD PDF, and save the entire book to my hard drive. Then I simply throw away the printed book that I have. If someone else has already scanned the book, there is no need for me to duplicate the other person’s effort!

Local libraries don’t seem to want these cut-apart books; they already have space problems of their own and are already throwing away lesser-used books by the hundreds. The last thing they want is more old books, especially if the book is already available in electronic format. Major genealogy libraries typically don’t want the books either as they usually already have copies of the books that I am digitizing.

So far, about half of the out-of-copyright books that I have checked have been found in The Internet Archive, in Google Books, or in at least one of the other online web sites specializing in out-of-copyright books.


There are a handful of books that I will never cut apart: the family Bible printed in 1828, the signed autobiography of Lorenzo Dow published in 1838, my high school yearbook, and a very few others. However, the remainder of them are being sliced. I don’t hesitate to slice reprinted books or any magazines. I have an Exacto knife for the purpose. I plan to purchase a paper cutter some day but my present method with an Exacto knife seems sufficient for now.

I refer to this process as “meeting the guillotine.”


I have converted most of my magazine subscriptions to e-subscriptions. Don’t send me paper! For the few subscriptions that are not available in electronic format, I now read the printed magazine for the first time WHILE I am cutting the pages apart and feeding them into the scanner.

Which scanner should I use?

For a while I thought about purchasing a bunch of scanners and evaluating them in a side-by-side comparison article in this newsletter. I soon gave up on that idea because (1.) there are a lot of scanners available, and comparing would be both expensive and time consuming. Also, (2.) it’s already been done!

If you are thinking about purchasing a new scanner, I would suggest you first look at The Best Scanners of 2020 in the PCMag web site at It is a great comparison of most of the leading scanners of today and is updated annually.


Obviously, I also have to make sure these documents are well preserved in their digital format. Can you imagine the emotions if I spent hundreds of hours scanning several hundred old books and then threw the originals away, only to have a hard drive crash?

In fact, I keep a MINIMUM of four copies: the original copy is kept in the Macintosh’s hard drive; a backup copy is kept on a 12-terabyte external hard drive that plugs into the Mac’s USB connector; a second backup copy is kept on various USB “jump drives” and a third backup copy is kept on an off-site backup service “in the cloud” on the Internet that automatically backs up any new files or newly-changed files from the Mac’s hard drive once every fifteen minutes.

Right now I am also keeping a fourth copy on my laptop computer and a fifth copy on another computer in my office by using a middle-of-the-night process that automatically copies files across my in-home network.

Every spring and every fall, before moving to my other seasonal home, I also make backups of everything to another USB hard drive and take the new backups to the computers at the other location. I guess that is a sixth copy. I can even carry my entire digital library in a rather small briefcase, backpack, or gym bag. I no longer need the multiple bookshelves or the cardboard boxes of books in the basement.

no_uhaulIf I was to carry my entire library when it was all in print, I would be renting a large U-Haul van twice a year!

I am not sure if I will continue with the fourth, fifth, and sixth copies, however. If those disk drives fill up, I might reconsider the process. A “belt and suspenders” approach is a good idea, but I am not sure that I need three belts and three sets of suspenders! I make fourth, fifth, and sixth copies right now simply because I happen to have the disk space available.

flashdriveThere is an unexpected side benefit: the jump drives (also called flash drives) slip into a pocket and are barely noticeable there. When I go to genealogy conferences, to a library, to a courthouse, or to a cousin’s home, I am carrying my digitized library with me. My present 265-gigabyte jump drive has sufficient space to store thousands of books and magazines. Someday I will have my entire library with me in my pocket, although that might require two or three jump drives at today’s technology. On the other hand, jump drive capacity is likely to continue growing faster than I can scan old books. If I want to check a book or magazine that is in my home library, I can pull a jump drive out of my pocket, insert it into my laptop or a friend’s computer or even at a computer at a public library, and check on it quickly. In contrast, can you imagine carrying around an entire library of printed books and magazines?

If copyright laws allow, I can even provide legal copies of an entire book to a friend by simply clicking and dragging a file onto my friend’s computer or by sending it to him or her in e-mail. I can legally do so with the out-of-copyright books that I own.

Full disclosure: This is still a “work in progress.” While I have already digitized a lot of books and magazines, I am probably only about 50% complete. Each summer, when I am living in the “house up north,” I digitize more books that are still in boxes or in the bookshelves. I plan to never take boxes of books or multiple bookcases to the home in the sun belt. It is so much easier to read the books on a laptop or a tablet computer!


Converting one’s library to all digital files can be a gut-wrenching task. Admittedly, slicing “valuable” books is an emotional challenge. However, once the available physical storage space is used up, one is left with few choices.

How do you store your collection of books and magazines? Do you have them all neatly stored and organized? Can you find what you want quickly? How about future purchases? Where will you put those? Can you carry all of them with you on a trip? And what if you move? There’s a saying that “you can’t take it with you,” but you might be able to keep your printed resources for as long as you need them – and make them much more useful – if you convert them to digital files.

9-1-1 Legislation, Robocalls, GameSnacks, More: Friday Afternoon ResearchBuzz, February 14, 2020


RadioResource International: Database Tracks States’ 2019 9-1-1-Related Legislation. “The National 911 Program and the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) made a database that summarizes 2019 key enacted legislation available. Since 2012, the database has served as a resource for states looking to gather insight into neighboring legislative efforts or improve their emergency communications operations. The information allows states to easily compare recently enacted laws or modifications to existing laws involving 9-1-1.”


Motherboard: This App Automatically Cancels and Sues Robocallers. “DoNotPay, the family of consumer advocacy services meant to protect people from corporate exploitation, is launching a new app aimed at helping end our long national nightmare surrounding robocalls by giving you a burner credit card to get their contact details then giving you a chatbot lawyer to automatically sue them.” Oh, if they only had one that worked for land lines…

CNET: Google’s GameSnacks brings bite-size web games to slow phones. “On Thursday, Google released its new casual mobile-gaming collection. GameSnacks, from Google’s Area 120 development lab, is aiming to improve game loading for people using low-memory devices, and devices on 2G or 3G networks. GameSnacks joins the ranks of quickly loading game platforms like Facebook’s Instant Games.”

The Verge: Snapchat is testing a big new redesign. “Snap is working on two significant tests that could reshape its flagship app in a critical year. Tipsters have provided me with screenshots of two ongoing tests that have rolled out to a small percentage of Snapchat’s user base.”


Search Engine Journal: Citations & Local SEO: The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide. “When set up correctly, citations can be really easy to manage and can lead to improved local rankings. However, if done incorrectly, citations can be a nightmare to clean up. In this guide, I’ll walk you through every facet of citations to help you improve your local SEO strategy.”

Medium: How to Start “Marie Kondo’ing” Your Facebook Account. “Perhaps there are some groups that only meet on Facebook that you otherwise couldn’t participate in. Or maybe you currently use it for your business which makes it hard to leave altogether. If you don’t want to delete it just yet, how about giving it a ‘Marie Kondo’ makeover instead?” I have not deleted my Facebook account yet — please note that glares of icy contempt will be donated to charity if not claimed within 24 hours — but I did remove it from my phone. An excellent decision.


Poynter: Why people still fall for fake screenshots. “What is it about fake screenshots that makes people vulnerable to thinking they’re real? For one thing, people often use real screenshots to ‘preserve’ something, like a provocative or erroneous tweet, that might be later deleted. A screenshot can be a signal that something “real” has been exposed. Hoaxers exploit that signal with a fake. And if an original can’t be found, people might just assume it was deleted.”


The Register: A dirty dozen of Bluetooth bugs threaten to reboot, freeze, or hack your trendy gizmos from close range. “The flaws, collectively dubbed SWEYNTOOTH (because every bug has to have its own name these days), allow a suitably skilled attacker to crash or deadlock BLE devices, or to bypass pairing security to gain arbitrary read and write access to device functions.”


Egyptian Streets: Why Egyptian Minister Rania Al-Mashat’s Social Media Activity Matters. “My lack of attention to the other political figures in Egypt and their work could be explained by their little to very much absent activity online. Each time I searched a name, it was mainly the ministry’s main page that would come up, or a poorly activated social media account….Yet Rania Al-Mashat’s social media activity, on the other hand, is active, managed, and distinctive from the official ministry’s account. Though I did not track her increase of followers or engagement over time, one can simply look at the comments and reactions to her posts and recognize how her social media activity is building a profile for her and her work.”

The Next Web: Reuters built a prototype for automated news videos using Deepfakes tech. “The Reuters news company and an AI startup named Synthesia today unveiled a new project they’ve partnered on that uses Deepfakes-style technology to generate automated news reports in real time.” Good afternoon, Internet…

Do you like ResearchBuzz? Does it help you out? Please consider supporting it on Patreon. Not interested in commitment? Perhaps you’d buy me an iced tea. I love your comments, I love your site suggestions, and I love you. Feel free to comment on the blog, or @ResearchBuzz on Twitter. Thanks!

Stealing from your Family: Copyright laws

Since all kinds of genealogical information is available on the Internet, in libraries and through countless other databases, you have endless sources of research for your own work. However, if you intend to publish your research when it is complete, you need to protect yourself from legal issues of copyright infringement. It’s hard to imagine that information about your own family might not belong to you, but by learning copyright laws, you’ll be able to understand why you need to be careful to not steal from other sources. Remember to protect your work with copyright registration as well to prevent people from stealing from you!

There are many things that cannot be copyrighted no matter how much time you spend researching it. For example, a simple pedigree chart or list of basic facts, no matter where you get them, cannot be copyrighted. What can be copyrighted, on the other hand, is your personal narrative. Information in this narrative that can be found in many sources is not copyright-able, and neither are titles, charts, etc, but your exact words cannot be taken and used by someone else, so remember that it is illegal to copy and paste information directly from an Internet source and then publish it as your own. If there is any question in your mind, it is best to contact the original author and ask permission to use them as a source in your research. This person is most likely a very distant member of your own family, so he or she should be more than willing to grant you access, with certain limitations.

Whenever you write something that is original, it is automatically yours-you don’t need to protect your work with copyright registration to make it illegal to steal it. However, when court battles arise, it is impossible to prove that a piece of work belongs to you if you do not register it. Your opponent can simply turn the tables and say that it was you who was doing the stealing. To obtain protection, you must pay a flat fee to register with the Library of Congress. The form for registration can be mailed to you or downloaded and printed from the Internet, but in either case make sure to follow the directions completely. They will require two copies of your finished piece for their archives, and you will receive documentation of your copyright protection in case any legal problems should arise. Remember to be responsible-you don’t want other people stealing your hard work, so don’t steal from the people who’ve published before you.