WDYTYA Episode 205: Lionel Richey

Morgan W. Brown, Possibly Lionel Richey's Great Great Grandfather
Mor­gan W. Brown: Lionel Richey’s Great Great Grandfather?

Fri­day night, NBC aired the fifth episode of the sec­ond sea­son of Who Do You Think You Are?, its flag­ship geneal­ogy real­ity TV show.

The show is more com­pelling, with a quicker pro­gres­sion of facts and dis­cov­er­ies, and a focus on the emo­tional and very human reac­tion the celebri­ties expe­ri­ence as they dis­cover, or are pre­sented with genealog­i­cal facts. Lionel Richey is pre­sented with a real­ity about his great grand­fa­ther, John Louis Brown. Brown appeared both to have aban­doned his fam­ily and been sued for divorce by his wife. In addi­tion to being appar­ently about 35 years the senior of his wife, he was also a man who was born a slave, edu­cated and freed, and who was the leader of a national black fra­ter­nal orga­ni­za­tion, the Knights of Wise Men.

It’s quite an inter­est­ing and pow­er­ful show. Richey is con­fronted with the legacy of slav­ery, but also with incred­i­ble strength of pur­pose to raise for­mer slaves to equal­ity of sta­tion. He may also have dis­cov­ered an ances­tral con­nec­tion with a white slave­hold­ing family.

Pro­fes­sional geneal­o­gists will con­tinue to quib­ble about the way doc­u­ments are han­dled (usu­ally with­out gloves, and with much more con­tact than is war­ranted), as well as how, every time we turn around a researcher says, “I have another doc­u­ment.” How­ever, real­is­ti­cally, none of these doc­u­ments is being seri­ously dam­aged, and as for the sud­de­ness of the dis­cov­er­ies, this is tele­vi­sion. In order to keep audi­ences inter­ested, there must be quick results. There are fewer than 45 min­utes avail­able to com­plete the show. But I still think that a sim­ple title card at the end could give a sense of the amount of research required to pro­duce the show.

I was glad to see J. Mark Lowe fea­tured as one of the researchers. He is a well-known pro­fes­sional geneal­o­gist and lec­turer, who lives in what we call “West­ern North Car­olina,” but which a lot of other folks now call Ten­nessee.… He’s a friend of mine, a top-notch researcher, and an amaz­ing racon­teur. Hope­fully, Mr. Richey got some time to chat with Mark with the cam­eras and time pres­sure off.

Until the 18th of Sep­tem­ber 2011, the show is avail­able in its entirety on the NBC web­site. I have also embed­ded it below.

iPad 2 Run Down

Geneal­ogy Apps for the iPad

Apple intro­duced the iPad 2 yesterday.

This is about 9 months since the first iPad was released. The device has sold 15 mil­lion units. Accord­ing to some ana­lysts, this makes it the fastest sell­ing con­sumer tech­nol­ogy prod­uct ever.

I have to admit that I did not think the iPad would catch on. It seemed a lit­tle heavy in the hand, and was rumored to run hot. I fig­ured that this prod­uct was over priced, at $499 for an 8GB WiFi model and $829 for a 64GB WiFi / 3G model. While the usabil­ity fea­tures, such as “instant on,” would make it easy to use it was really just, as one com­men­ta­tor said, “An iPhone for Hagar the Hor­ri­ble.” It seems a device for con­tent con­sump­tion, not con­tent cre­ation. I’m also sim­ply a con­trar­ian, and never both­ered to get an iPhone. I have an Android, and prior to that had smart­phones from Palm and Hand­spring since, oh, about 2001.…

In the last nine months, tens of thou­sands of apps were deliv­ered. $2 bil­lion dol­lars has been paid out to the soft­ware devel­op­ers of those apps. While many of the apps are con­tent cre­ation apps, most are con­tent con­sump­tion apps. But of course, we do an awful lot of that on the web anyway.

The new iPad sports both front– and rear-facing cam­eras, with the rear cam­era cap­tur­ing 720p video. It’s 1/3 lighter, 2x as fast, and with 9x the video pro­cess­ing power. I look at those specs, and, see­ing a lighter unit, with this many apps, and this kind of per­for­mance, and I myself am tempted. Not only could this be a light­weight way to travel, it looks like a lot of fun, and the apps keep coming.…

The iPad 2 is offi­cially avail­able next Fri­day, 11 March 2011, at Apple Stores and on the web at Apple.com. The new iPad sup­ports Ver­i­zon as well as AT&T 3G networks.

Here’s a com­par­i­son of the specs, with specs that are either iPad 1 spe­cific or iPad 1-only (as found on the Way­back Machine) with iPad 2 specs highlighted.

9.56 inches (242.8 mm)
9.50 inches (241.2 mm)
7.47 inches (189.7 mm)
7.31 inches (185.7 mm)
0.5 inch (13.4 mm)
0.34 inch (8.8 mm)
1.5 pounds (0.68 kg) Wi-Fi model
1.33 pounds (601 g)
1.6 pounds (0.73 kg) Wi-Fi + 3G model
1.35 pounds (607 g)
9.7-inch (diag­o­nal) LED-backlit glossy widescreen Multi-Touch dis­play with IPS technology
1024-by-768-pixel res­o­lu­tion at 132 pix­els per inch (ppi)
Fingerprint-resistant oleo­pho­bic coating
Sup­port for dis­play of mul­ti­ple lan­guages and char­ac­ters simultaneously
16GB, 32GB, or 64GB flash drive
1GHz Apple A4 custom-designed, high-performance, low-power system-on-a-chip
1GHz dual-core Apple A5 custom-designed, high-performance, low-power system-on-a-chip
Three-axis gyro
Ambi­ent light sensor
Audio play­back
Fre­quency response: 20Hz to 20,000Hz
Audio for­mats sup­ported: HE-AAC (V1), AAC (16 [iPad 2: 8] to 320 Kbps), Pro­tected AAC (from iTunes Store), MP3 (16 to 320 Kbps), MP3 VBR, Audi­ble (for­mats 2, 3, and 4, [iPad 2: Audi­ble Enhanced Audio, AAX, and AAX+] Apple Loss­less, AIFF, and WAV
User-configurable max­i­mum vol­ume limit
Dolby Dig­i­tal 5.1 sur­round sound pass-through with Apple Dig­i­tal AV Adapter (sold sep­a­rately)
Cam­eras, Pho­tos, and Video Recording
Back cam­era: Video record­ing, HD (720p) up to 30 frames per sec­ond with audio; still cam­era with 5x dig­i­tal zoom
Front cam­era: Video record­ing, VGA up to 30 frames per sec­ond with audio; VGA-quality still camera
Tap to con­trol expo­sure for video or stills
Photo and video geo­t­ag­ging over Wi-Fi
TV and video
Sup­port for 1024 by 768 pix­els with Dock Con­nec­tor to VGA Adapter; 576p and 480p with Apple Com­po­nent AV Cable; 576i and 480i with Apple Com­pos­ite AV Cable
H.264 video up to 720p, 30 frames per sec­ond, Main Pro­file level 3.1 with AAC-LC audio up to 160 Kbps, 48kHz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file for­mats; MPEG-4 video, up to 2.5 Mbps, 640 by 480 pix­els, 30 frames per sec­ond, Sim­ple Pro­file with AAC-LC audio up to 160 Kbps, 48kHz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file for­mats; Motion JPEG (M-JPEG) up to 35 Mbps, 1280 by 720 pix­els, 30 frames per sec­ond, audio in ulaw, PCM stereo audio in .avi file format
Video mir­ror­ing and video out sup­port: Up to 1080p with Apple Dig­i­tal AV Adapter or Apple VGA Adapter (cables sold sep­a­rately)
Video out sup­port at 576p and 480p with Apple Com­po­nent AV Cable; 576i and 480i with Apple Com­pos­ite AV Cable
Video for­mats sup­ported: H.264 video up to 720p, 30 frames per sec­ond, Main Pro­file level 3.1 with AAC-LC audio up to 160 Kbps, 48kHz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file for­mats; MPEG-4 video, up to 2.5 Mbps, 640 by 480 pix­els, 30 frames per sec­ond, Sim­ple Pro­file with AAC-LC audio up to 160 Kbps per chan­nel, 48kHz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file for­mats; Motion JPEG (M-JPEG) up to 35 Mbps, 1280 by 720 pix­els, 30 frames per sec­ond, audio in ulaw, PCM stereo audio in .avi file format
Bat­tery and power
Built-in 25-watt-hour recharge­able lithium-polymer battery
Up to 10 hours of surf­ing the web on Wi-Fi, watch­ing video, or lis­ten­ing to music
Up to 9 hours of surf­ing the web using 3G data network
Charg­ing via power adapter or USB to com­puter system

RootsTech 2011: The Changing Face of Genealogy

The fol­low­ing is a video of Curt Witcher’s keynote address from Root­sTech 2011: “The Chang­ing Face of Geneal­ogy: Curt Witcher, Allen County Pub­lic Library.” Thanks to Geni­aus and Randy Seaver of Genea-Musings for point­ing this out.

On a per­sonal note, it’s been a dif­fi­cult day, what with fail­ures at Net­work Solu­tions tak­ing down this blog, as well as my wife’s cro­chet blog (CrochetBug.com, and 6 other web­sites I man­age. At first, the issue was a data­base sync-ing issue. When I called them to work on that, at about 1:00 a.m. last night, they obliged by remov­ing all the files under /htdocs. The files, as well as the data­bases were up by about 4 p.m., mean­ing that it was only (!) about 15 hours of down­time, but I noticed that some of the more recent uploads to a cou­ple of the sites were not in evi­dence; I had to upload files again. So, they restored the site from backups.…

Ama­zon EC2, here I come!

WDYTYA Episode 204: Kim Cattrall

I have been trav­el­ing, and only today got a chance to see the Kim Cat­trall episode of Who Do You Think You Are?, or at least the last 45 min­utes of it.

In this episode, Ms. Cat­trall, with the help of geneal­o­gists in the United King­dom, runs down her miss­ing grand­fa­ther. He had aban­doned her grand­mother, mother, and two aunts some 70 years ago.

If any­thing the shows are get­ting more and more engag­ing. This episode was less about the doc­u­ments and more about what must have been going on in the star’s bigamist grandfather’s head.

You can see why the show has been renewed for another sea­son. This is engag­ing tele­vi­sion. While, as a geneal­o­gist, I could quib­ble that most sto­ries are not this heart-wrenching, nor do they involve this much decep­tion, I sim­ply can­not deny that this is popcorn-munching enter­tain­ment, designed to keep peo­ple com­ing back for more.