Ancestry.com Pulls the Plug on Several Sites

myfamily This morning, Ancestry.com, the world’s largest online family history resource, announced that it will be “retiring” five of its properties/services as of 5 September 2014:

I’m sure there are many questions and there will be an ongoing conversation for weeks to come. Let’s remember and use our best skills as genealogists: RESEARCH! This means don’t rely on someone else’s posting at Facebook with misinformation about other Ancestry properties or that Ancestry is next going to do [insert fantastically wild guess based on no concrete information at all].

Yesterday afternoon I participated in a group conference call with several other bloggers to learn the news directly from Ancestry.com upper management and to have our questions answered. See my analysis below of each of these properties including how and why they are shutting down.

For the latest information please visit the Ancestry blog at http://blogs.ancestry.com/ancestry. And to engage in a conversation with other Ancestry.com users and the staff at Ancestry, visit their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/Ancestry.com.

MyFamily

  • From Ancestry: Current MyFamily users can export their data to a zip file which will contain photos as .jpg files, messages as .txt files etc. Both subscribers (paying members) and users (family members) will be able to access and download data through 5 September 2014. Refunds will be issued on a pro-rata basis and effective as of 5 June 2014.
  • My feedback/insights: The handwriting was on the wall when several years ago Ancestry eliminated the free account feature at MyFamily. I estimate that 90% of those free users never converted to paying members of MyFamily. Also, given the target audience and demographic, MyFamily was a customer support nightmare for certain and probably detracted from the bottom line at Ancestry. In addition, in a world where more Baby Boomers are using Facebook to do the exact same thing they could do at MyFamily and for free, the product had been on life support for some time.

MyCanvas

  • From Ancestry: Between now and 5 September 2014, customers can continue working on current projects and even start new projects but they must finish by 5 September. No new project will be accepted after 4 September 2014. You can order copies of current/saved projects and even print them at home, but there is no data export feature available.
  • My feedback/insights: I always suspected that the actual work to produce MyCanvas products was outsourced and this was confirmed on yesterday’s call. The name was not given, but it could be the very same providers used by Shutterfly, Snapfish, MyPublisher and other publication sites. I have used MyCanvas and thought it was a great product that just wasn’t marketed properly. As time went by, I’ve seen this market expand with other providers and it just didn’t make sense for Ancestry to keep MyCanvas alive. What I suspect we will see is other providers partnering with Ancestry to make it easy to export your Family Tree Maker and Ancestry.com Tree content to a self-published book or a keepsake.

Genealogy.com

  • From Ancestry: All subscriptions will be retired, including member accounts and the ability to contribute to message boards and user home pages. Users can log in and export/print/save information between now and 5 September 2014. Some content on Genealogy.com will be preserved in read-only format including the GenForum message board, Family Tree Maker homepages and the most popular articles.
  • My feedback/insights: A legacy property that Ancestry acquired years ago, the true value of Genealogy.com is in its domain name. I’ve always believed that this domain name should serve as a general “welcome mat” to all the Ancestry services and properties OR be an educational platform for newcomers to family history. We’ll see what Ancestry does with this site once the current content is archived and moved.

Mundia

  • From Ancestry: Mundia trees have always been a part of Ancestry.com. Members can download trees that they’ve created between now and 5 September 2014. Mundia trees can be accessed for free on Ancestry.
  • My feedback/insights: I never understood Mundia. Ancestry did a stealth launch one Saturday night several years ago and it just never took off. I think it was intended as a way to connect with social media users but eventually Ancestry added social media share features into its current offerings including actual records.

Y-DNA and mtDNA tests

  • From Ancestry: Only the Y-DNA and mtDNA tests are being eliminated; Ancestry is devoting more resources to the autosomal test which survey’s a person’s genome at over 700,000 locations and is not limited to just the paternal or maternal line. Effective immediately, Ancestry is no longer selling Y-DNA and mtDNA tests. Customers who have taken the Y-DNA and mtDNA tests can download their raw data at http://www.DNA.ancestry.com
  • My feedback/insights: The elimination of the Y-DNA and mtDNA tests make total sense and Ancestry is keeping up with the evolving technology in the DNA field. One concern I have is what will be done with the actual DNA samples submitted (on the call Ancestry said they would be destroyed as specified in the Terms and Conditions agreed to by those test consumers). Several others on the call also asked if the samples couldn’t be retested using the autosomal test, especially if the sample were from someone who is now deceased. Ancestry has suggested that those who took the Y-DNA and/or mt-DNA tests call customer support with their questions.

What’s Next?

I’m sure there will be plenty of speculation as to what Ancestry may do with some of its other low-performing properties and services in the future as well as legacy acquisitions. It is natural for a company to prune assets that don’t have a high return or a high usage and put resources towards both new technologies and more productive services. That’s all we are seeing here with this news from Ancestry. It has been my belief for sometime that Ancestry.com would eventually take some of these actions and I wouldn’t be surprised if there are more properties to be retired over the next few years; this just makes good business sense.

Yes, there will be consumers and users who aren’t happy and some will ask why they should bother using other services from Ancestry (or even other vendors) and risk losing their data or uploaded information. I always tell other genealogists to make sure they 1) read the Terms and Conditions for any site where you upload data and 2) have an exit strategy for your data in terms of exporting it and importing it to a new platform.

Finally, although I don’t use all of the services targeted for termination by Ancestry, I agree with their move to focus on core services that help expand the ability to research and share one’s roots.

©2014, copyright Thomas MacEntee

Which is the Best Data Backup Method for Genealogy?

data backup day

I can’t believe it is June already and another Data Backup Day has arrived (and passed). I’m hoping you’ve taken some time to backup your precious genealogy research and if not, there’s still hope . . . here is the latest information along with some recommendations:

The Latest in Data Backup Methods

There really is no excuse for not backing up your data these days; a variety of hardware devices, apps and other programs make the process easily and some even run in the background while you work!

Purchase data backup items at Amazon!

 

Click here to find some of the best data backup solutions at Amazon at the best prices! Check out the WD My Passport Ultra 1TB Portable External USB 3.0 Hard Drive with Auto Backup which is only $69 for a huge amount of storage space!

You can also get a one-year subscription to BackBlaze at Amazon for only $50! Click here for more information!

Data Backup Resources

GeneaBloggers has developed a resource list of data backup methodologies and solutions. Click here to learn how you can backup almost every aspect of your blog, your browser, your computer – even Macs!

©2014, copyright Thomas MacEntee

Review: Une Bobine for iPhone 5S

une bobine with laptop
Are you like me when it comes to my iPhone? If it isn’t in my pocket, then I’m always wondering where it is! And, there are certain things I only use my iPhone for and I wish there was a better way to integrate it into my home or traveling office. Well I’ve found what I needed: Une Bobine.

Overview

According to the Fuse Chicken website, “Une Bobine is a cable, dock, tripod and stand rolled together into the world’s most flexible iPhone charger. It’s small enough to fit in your travel bag, but strong enough to hold your iPhone in nearly unlimited places in your office, nightstand, kitchen, and car.”

une bobine

Une Bobine for iPhone 5|C|S is a great tool for someone like me who is constantly on the go. Une Bobine charges your iPhone, it syncs and it helps keep your iPhone accessible.

But Une Bobine is more than just a slick looking cable – it is a flexible stand that helps integrate your iPhone into your office desktop. Here’s how I’ve been using Une Bobine over the past week:

  • A client and I used Facetime on my iPhone to discuss a project – I was able to continue working with the iPhone connected to Une Bobine . . . I didn’t have to juggle my iPhone!
  • I was using the CamScanner app to scan some documents and rather than hold the phone in my hand, it was much more stable to have it sit in the Une Bobine. I’ve also used Shoebox from Ancestry.com with the Une Bobine connected with the same excellent results.
  • Sometimes it is just easier to look things up on my iPhone . . . now I know where it is all the time when I am working and I don’t need to search the house or, worse yet, call myself to figure out where it is!

And since I travel so much, I like the fact that Une Bobine is flexible, light-weight and goes into my Swiss Gear backpack with my other connectors. Now when I’m working in a hotel room or blogging from a genealogy conference, I know where my iPhone is at all times!

Conclusion

While I like “tech gadgets” I try to avoid buying “toys” that look good yet have limited performance. Une Bobine is a multi-function office tool and definitely not a toy or something that just looks good. Une Bobine is proof that something elegant can also be utilitarian and help improve your office functionality and productivity.

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Une Bobine for iPhone 5|C|S is currently on sale for $34.95. Fuse Chicken also has Une Bobine available in other models and formats including For iPhone 4/4S ($19.95), Micro | USB ($19.95) and the Petite Bobine for Micro | USB (on sale for $7.95).

Technical Specifications

From the Fuse Chicken website:

  • 24 inches / 600 mm
  • iPhone 5/5S/5C Lightning Connector
  • USB connector

Cases

  • Une Bobine will fit most cases with the bottom of the iPhone open. The size of Une Bobine where it attaches to iPhone is 40mm x 6mm

Optional Accessories

  • Car Kit includes Car Charger and Dash Stability Clip
  • Protect Kit includes Crystal-Clear Slim Case

What Can Une Bobine Do?

  • Look very cool on your desk or table
  • Charge your phone by connecting to USB or a wall charger
  • Sync with a computer by connecting to USB
  • Adjust based on your mood
  • Place iPhone at eye level for FaceTime or Skype
  • Hold your phone steady for photography and videography
  • Hold your phone in position for GPS while driving (with optional Car Kit)
  • Position your iPhone as the perfect alarm clock
  • Did we mention that it looks very cool?

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Disclosure statement: I have material connections with various vendors and organizations. To review the material connections I have in the genealogy industry, please see Disclosure Statements.

©2014, copyright Thomas MacEntee