A New Coat of Paint

I had some inspiration yesterday on a new look for my family site. Previously, the family site design just copied this blog design (with some tweaks) to make it easier. I had an idea to show off some of the great photos I have in my collection to visitors of the site. Last night and today I put it all together and it is live now.

The main photo at the top puts the spotlight on a few pictures. Currently, there are only 3 photos rotating through that area. I will add more as I find good photos to use. The photo also includes a line of information about the photo and usually a link to get more info on the individual or family.

Then I broke the main areas of the site into three categories: People, Memories, and Explore. “People” points you to the areas that deal more with the people, such as the “Surnames” area. “Memories” points you to areas like “Photos” and “Headstones.” “Explore” takes you to areas like “Places” and “Notes” so you can just browse around.

The inside pages don’t look as nice. I need to sit down and try to figure out what exactly to do. They take most of the design, but it doesn’t work as well by itself. Plus, a lot of the areas I’d like to tweak are hard to access due to the family tree web software I use. Don’t get me wrong, he developed it very nice. It’s very easy to customize, but some small areas are hard to pinpoint.

I also tried to keep it visible to people with monitor resolutions at 1024×768 and above (the common standard) but it may go a bit over at 1024 exactly. It won’t cut off any content, but it may have a horizontal scroll bar. Anyone above 1024×768 will see it fine.

Take a look at the main page and let me know how you like it. If something looks strange, let me know.

I developed it using no HTML tables, which people should try to do. Using no tables can sometimes cause issues in older browsers. I tested it in 3 of the most recent browsers: Mozilla Firefox 3.5, Google Chrome, Internet Explorer 8. I’m pretty sure it breaks horribly in Internet Explorer 6, but I really don’t care. I know for a fact a lot of the images will look bad in IE6 since I’m using transparent PNG files, which IE6 doesn’t support, but they look wonderful in everything else. IE6 is extremely old and out-dated (2001!) and I don’t plan on spending hours trying to fix it’s problems. People using IE6 should get an alert message asking them to update their browser. I’m not sure on IE7, but I hope it works overall. I didn’t do anything drastic in the design. IE7 is pretty good, overall.

It makes me feel good. One of the few times I had inspiration and finished (most of) it that quickly.


We Own You

I’ve been reading about this change to Facebook’s Terms of Use since I first read it on Mashable. I agree that their change was a bit “extreme” and I hope they fix the wording. But, I’ve seen people freak out due to the another part of their Terms of Use that says Facebook has the right to publish, re-use and distribute your content once you upload it. Truthfully, that isn’t really any different than most websites you probably use on a daily basis. For example, Google’s Blogger (home to says this in their terms of use:

“By submitting, posting or displaying Content on or through Google services which are intended to be available to the members of the public, you grant Google a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free license to reproduce, publish and distribute such Content on Google services for the purpose of displaying and distributing Google services.”

You see the same sort of stuff on Yahoo, too. It’s a basic “cover all bases” clause that allows them to publicly print your information on their services. I agree that it’s not “we’ll keep your data forever and use it however we like” but it’s still your standard terms of use. Google does own a lot of other sites which fall under “Google services.” Maybe it’s the fact that I’ve been using computers since I was a wee lad and have been using the Internet since I was 14 or 15 and we had to use Lynx to browse the “World Wide Web.” Plus, we had to dial-up to the Internet on our 2400-baud modems, both ways, in the snow…oh wait, I got off-track there. To me, the standard Terms of Use are pretty..well..standard. I only upload/share information that I expect to be shared around. I also can’t stop someone else from uploading a photo of me, which then completely stops me from removing it.

I’m definitely not backing Facebook and their new (now defunct) Terms of Use, since it was a bit out of the ordinary, but I’m also not going to delete my account there. I do think these sites should take a more open approach to their terms, but I think some people need to look around at all of the sites they use before coming to a final conclusion.

CategoriesSiteTechnologyTips & Tricks

Installing Your Own Family Tree

My Tree

You’ve been doing all of this work on your family tree in your software of choice like Rootsmagic or Family Tree Maker. You’re in contact with some people via the Internet about different people and generations in your tree. You find it annoying that you need to type the information into emails and message posts all the time. Plus, when you update the info, the posting is still old. What do you do?

Setting up your family tree onto your own hosted website isn’t very difficult today. There are tons of hosts out there now that are extremely cheap compared to few years ago. For example, my host, Dreamhost, gives you more space and bandwidth than you’d ever need for like $9.95 a month (depending on how much you pay at a time.)

There are a few options out there to host your own family tree website. I’m currently using The Next Generation of Genealogy Sitebuilding for my family tree hosting. I had used a free, open-source program before, but it had some issues with my current host so I looked for something else. TNGGS has worked wonderfully for me and it’s very powerful and customizable.

Most Linux-based hosts have all of the items you need to run TNGGS. MySQL and PHP are almost standards in web hosting. A Windows-based host may have these capabilities, also, but your mileage may vary.

The only caveat to using TNGGS is that it’s not free, but I wouldn’t hold that against it. The developer, Darrin Lythgoe, has put a lot of work into it and has answered any questions that I’ve sent to him. I’ve also received free updates since I purchased my original copy.

There are other options such as Ancestry’s online tree and, etc but you don’t have a ton of control over these. The pro for them is that you can search and connect to other people’s trees, which I do also. For example, at Ancestry I wanted to update my online tree with some new information I had. Unfortunately, if I would do this than I would lose all of the items (census, records, etc) I have connected to my family tree.

Now when you need to put some information into an email or a message posting, you can just paste in a URL. The person on the other end can just visit your online tree and see the latest info. Or, if you enable the option, they can log in to your site and add their own info or edits.

Feel free to email me about my experience with TNGGS or stop over at the official site and take a look. I definitely recommend it. I can also help you set it up or answer any questions about hosting, etc. I have a bit of experience.

*This is just a personal opinion. TNGGS has in no way, shape, or form paid for my review.