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.

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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 13 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
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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!

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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.

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