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.