Friday, August 29, 2008

FTM 2009 Released

The Ancestry blog announced the FTM 2009 release yesterday along with a list of features:

The Family Tree Maker team is pleased to announce the release of Family Tree Maker 2009. We are excited about the new features and user requested tools included in this version.

Over the past year, we have been making patches available that include additional functionality and features that our customers have asked for. In addition, the features included in the 2009 version come primarily from our Family Tree Maker 2008 users, showing us what features should be released next and testing the product to make sure it is working at top efficiency. We had more than 300 beta testers for Family Tree Maker 2009. We appreciate this active and ongoing participation.

Take a look at what’s new since the original release of Family Tree Maker 2008. Features available for the first time in Version 2009 are marked with an asterisk (*).

Genealogy Reports

  • Register and Ahnentafel full reports

  • Register and Ahnentafel simplified reports*

  • Data Errors report*


  • Vertical Pedigree Chart

  • Hourglass Chart*

  • Horizontal Hourglass Chart*

  • Bow Tie Chart*

  • 180-Degree Fan Chart*

  • Family Tree Chart*

Publishing Functionality

  • Book layouts for main charts

  • Saved settings in charts/reports

  • Saved templates in charts

  • Preparer information included in chart footers

  • Enhancements to the RTF export

  • Ability to show siblings within charts*

  • Single-page PDF export from charts*

  • Ability to add boxes in charts to a “Marked Box” category and modify box settings for these boxes*

Improved Data Manipulation Tools

  • Change Place Name tool

  • Find and Replace tool

  • Streamlined data entry from any workspace using a full-featured edit person

  • Ability to set spouse order (Person menu)*

  • Ability to order media items for an individual*

  • Find Individual tool (Edit menu)*

  • Find Duplicate Individuals tool (Edit menu)*

  • Ability to update multiple facts at one time (From Manage Facts or Fact options): change fact types, move description to place or place to description,
    mark as private*

  • Insert foreign language characters into text fields*

Improvements within Research Tools

  • Automatic simple backup at shutdown

  • Ability to ignore hints*

  • Option to delete existing facts in individual and Web merge*

  • Inclusion of married names, AKAs, and titles in index*

Improvements to Import

  • Improved name parsing

  • OLE objects (PDF, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, RTF) from previous FTM versions*

  • Import previously ignored hints lists*

Improvements to Places

  • Track and print your ancestors’ migration paths on interactive maps*

  • Places toolbar that allows for researching place names not currently in the
    file and pinpointing places such as libraries, churches, and courthouses*

Improvements to Sources

  • Copy and paste source citations

* New in Family Tree Maker 2009

Here’s what’s coming:

In addition, we are currently working on new features that will be available as part of Family Tree Maker 2009—as soon as they become available:

  • Book Building

  • Better Ancestry Member Tree Integration

  • Improved Relationship Calculator

  • Source templates based on Evidence Explained by source expert, Elizabeth Shown Mills

  • And many others…

Thank you to all of the Family Tree Maker community for their loyalty through the years. We are committed to making Family Tree Maker the best desktop software for doing your family history.

Thank you,
The Family Tree Maker Team

Family Tree Maker 2009

It appears that FTM 2009 will continue to be improved based on FTM 2008 user feedback and that additional features will be added for no cost during the year. The upcoming bookbuilding feature will be available from within FTM2009 - no need to use AncestryPress.

Those who registered FTM 2008 will received FTM 2009 for Free.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Google Now Does Synonym Searches Automatically

Google has started including the automatic use of synonym searching in its search results as it continues to improve and change its understanding of search queries. Searching for synonyms means Google is now also finding words that are conceptually related to the keywords in the search query.

Previously, we had to search for the exact words that would be found on a web page. Now we can search for the concept. When we do a Google search, Google will find matches of the keyword, will find stem variations of the word, and now will also find synonyms of the keyword (words that are related to the keyword).

This was recently posted in The Official Google Blog: "We have made several notable advances including ... an advanced synonyms system. Synonyms are the foundation of our query understanding work. This is one of the hardest problems we are solving at Google. Though sometimes obvious to humans, it is an unsolved problem in automatic language processing.

As a user, I don't want to think too much about what words I should use in my queries. Often I don't even know what the right words are. This is where our synonyms system comes into action.

Our synonyms system can do sophisticated query modifications, e.g., it knows that the word 'Dr' in the query [Dr Zhivago] stands for Doctor whereas in [Rodeo Dr] it means Drive. A user looking for [back bumper repair] gets results about rear bumper repair. For [Ramstein ab], we automatically look for Ramstein Air Base; for the query [b&b ab] we search for Bed and Breakfasts in Alberta, Canada. We have developed this level of query understanding for almost one hundred different languages."

So, with almost no fanfare, Google has started the automatic use of synonyms in its searching. This is a step beyond stemming which Google has been doing for the last 5 years. With stemming, if you search for obit, you also get results for obits and obituary - variations of the same word. Now that Google is also searching for synonyms, obit might also return web pages that use the words death notice.

Previously, search for NJ and you only got pages that contained NJ. Google didn't consider New Jersey a match. Now, with synonym searching, it does.

Up until now, Google did not do synonym searching unless you specifically used the Google tilde synonym operator ~ .

This is a big algorithm change. Yet the change is so subtle that most people probably won't even notice it except to note that their Google results seem a bit better. Now people don't have to guess the exact words a webmaster uses on his web page to find the web page via Google.

However, we may not always want synonym searches such as when we are searching for surnames that are also common words. With this algorithmic change, we need to adjust the way we do some genealogy searches.

When I search for one of my surnames Powers, I not only receive the stemming words for Powers such as Power and Powered, now I also might receive synonyms such as Strengths. If I only want exact name Powers results with no stems and no synonyms, now I need to put a plus before the surname for an exact search. +Powers

If the surname you are searching for is Street, and find you are getting unwanted synonyms such as St. and Road, search for +Street to search for the exact word with no stemming and no synonyms. A plus sign before the surname with no space in between tells Google to search for that exact word.

Now that Google has added synonym matching for its search results, Google Personalized Search becomes even more important as it helps Google understand our queries better based on our past searching. And understanding how the Google Search Algorithm works is important because it can help us form better search queries.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Customizing Google Preferences for Better Genealogy Searches

You can get better Google search results if you first configure the options in your Google Preferences. To customize your Google Preferences, click on the Preferences link which is to the right of Google’s search box.

To me, the most important Google Preference is:

  • Number of Results.
    This preference determines how many search results are displayed on one page. Google will normally return just 10 search results per page. I always increase my default to 100. (Note: If on dial up, you will probably have to test to see if increase the number works for you) What are the advantages?

    • More Thorough Searching. When I have the preferences set to 10 results per page, I usually give up looking after 2 pages or so, which means I have only examined the first 20 results. But when genealogy searching, you may not be looking for the biggest or most popular genealogy sites which is what Google tends to put at the top of the search results. You may be trying to find a little unknown genealogy site where a cousin has put all of her 25 years of research. The site may only be of interest to a limited number of people and would probably not be at the top of the results in any search engine. If you only check 10 results or so, you may miss this website. When genealogy searching, be sure to dig past the first 10 results by setting preferences to 100. You never know what genealogy gem is waiting past the first 10 search results.

    • Saves Time. Getting 100 results per page saves time when searching because it is much faster to scroll through one long result page than to manually click through 10 pages of results.

Here are the other Google Preferences and how they can help in your genealogy search:

  • Interface Language - The language in which Google will display tips and messages. Your native language.

  • Search Language - The language of the pages Google will search. A Google Search includes all pages in all languages on the Web unless you choose to restrict your searches to one language. Restricting language is especially useful when genealogy searching for webpages in the countries of your ancestors. For example, if I am looking for webpages about my German grandfather's home town, I would set the preference to search only German webpages. Don't forget to search in this language.

  • SafeSearch - Blocks web pages with explicit sexual content. Just makes for a more targeted and more pleasant genealogy search to have SafeSearch turned on when genealogy searching.

  • Results window - When enabled, clicking on the result link will open the page in a new browser window. This allows you to keep the original search page open while exploring the results links in another browser window.

  • Subscribed Links - Google will search additional subscribed search providers if your query relates to them. An online dictionary subscribed link may be helpful if searching for unusual or old-fashioned words related to genealogy.

After selecting your preferences, remember to save them.

Other Google Genealogy Search Techniques:

Try the Easy Google Genealogy Searcher which puts advanced Google features on one page with suggested keywords and advice about how each feature is useful for genealogy searches.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Genea-Blogger Game Statistics

This is my final post for the Gene-Blogger Games. All participants chose their own categories in which to participate. It wasn't really a competition but rather a fun way to accomplish some genealogy tasks. I didn't expect TS Fay to zig-zag across Florida for the last week, so I didn't get everything done I had planned. Here are the categories and what I have completed:

2. Back Up Your Data!

Backup data to choice of formats (flash drives, CDs, DVDs, online) or storing hard copies properly (safety deposit box, safe, etc.).

A. Prepare a comprehensive backup plan for your digital research files and a security plan for your hard copies and photos.
Completed 8/9/2008.
See Backup and Security

B. Secure your hard copies and photos in waterproof containers
Completed 8/18/2008.
With TS Fay headed our way, this has taken on an added urgency. Got some large plastic tubs and placed the acid free boxes of photos and papers inside. I tested one of the tubs in the shower first to make sure it is waterproof! It passed the shower test, but not sure it would pass the hurricane test. I'm not really sure what would hold up in 120 mph winds.

C. Backup all your data using a flash drive, an external drive, CDs, DVDs, or an online resource
Completed 8/17/2008. All of my files are already backed up on an external drive and Mozy. But what the heck, I backed up my genealogy file to a flash drive also to be stored separately from the computer. Backing up to multiple equipment does NOT seem like overkill when you are in the direct path of a tropical storm or hurricane.

D. Have all your hard copies and photos scanned and secure them either in a fire-proof safe or offsite in a safety-deposit box/secure environment
This is a work - in - progress.
All that I have scanned is secured. I'm not sure I agree that a safe deposit box is a secure environment. After all the hurricanes we've been through in the last few years, we have learned that bank vaults can flood and that safe deposit boxes are not water proof. I'm researching to see if fire-proof safes are also flood-proof.

E. All your data is backed up digitally and secured physically and you can recover from any disaster while losing only one month or less worth of research.
Completed 8/19/2008.
All my data is backed up digitally to multiple devices. It is secured as physically as I know possible.

By my tally, a Platinum Medal.

5. Reach Out & Perform Genealogical Acts of Kindness!

A. Comment on a new (to you) genea-blog.
Completed 8/11. I enjoyed reading Sheri Fenley's new blog and left a comment telling her.

B. Join another genea-blogger’s blog network on Facebook Blog Networks (
Completed 8/11. I joined a number of networks tonight. What's Past is Prologue, Little Bytes of Life , TransylvaniaGenealogy, and Steve's Genealogy Blog

C. Invite other genealogists to join Facebook.
Completed 8/10. See Facebook for Genealogists

D. Assist another researcher with a research request or lookup. See AnceStories "Random Acts of Kindness Week" posts for ideas for this item and Item E (
Completed 8/14. Signed up to do lookups in books I own at Schuylkill County Genealogy Ties

E. Participate in an indexing project.
Completed 8/12. See Family Search Indexing.

F. Join a genealogical, historical, heritage or lineage society.
Preparing for TS Fay didn't give me time to investigate which society to join.

By my tally, a diamond medal.

I've had a good time participating. The games gave me goals and a time frame which is always a help to complete a task.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Family Search Indexing

Family Search Indexing is a volunteer-based indexing project to index the digital images of the 2 million rolls of microfilm stored in the Granite Mountain Records Vault near Salt Lake City, Utah. These indexed digital records are then available for free to everyone at the Family Search Pilot Site.

To index, volunteers extract details from the digital images of historical documents.

Family Search's digital image library is organized into a different worldwide projects. Here is what is being indexed now, and here is what is coming in the future.

Since everyone can volunteer to help bring these records online for free, I decided it was time for me to join the volunteers who are creating indexes to family history records. Once I saw that FamilySearch had indexed Philadelphia death indexes and was working on Philadelphia marriage records, records that will help my genealogy research, I knew it was time to help and give back to others.

Personally, I am a little disappointed that they are indexing the US census as that is already indexed by (every name) and Heritage Quest (head of household) since there are many other microfilms to be done. But small quibble.

So here goes. I downloaded the tool from the Family Search Indexing site where volunteers can download a batch to index, work on the batch, and then submit the batch when completed. I then viewed the tutorials. It took about a half an hour to go over all the lessons. After going through the tutorial lessons, not only did I feel ready to start indexing my first batch, I had a very deep appreciation for all that has gone into this project to make it work.

After the tutorial, I felt ready to start my first batch. I selected "download batch" and got Indian Territory--1900 U.S. Federal Census. There are 20 records per image and specific instructions for these records. OK, so I'm not particularly interested in Indian Territory, but maybe I'll learn something.

The images I got are very clear and I can read the handwriting. I did the first record. I'm usually a pretty fast typist but since I'm double checking everything I type, it is a little slow going at first. I'm sure as I get used to it, I will get faster.

This is something I can do, enjoy doing, and feel good doing. What took me so long to get started?

More about Mormon Genealogy and the wonderful results of all the volunteers who have helped with the indexing for the new FamilySearch site.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Genealogy at Facebook

Facebook? Facebook is for college kids, right? My friends had to nudge and nudge me to join since it has more than a few years since my college days.

But here are the facts: Facebook is growing 3% month with 100,000 new members every day. The fastest growing segment is OVER the age of 25.

And those interested in genealogy and family history are joining Facebook and making it a place to network, learn, and hopefully, find their ancestors.

What is available at Facebook? Besides a network of genealogy friends, here are some of the things I have joined - all free:


We're Related by Family Link and World Vital Records. With We're related you can find your relatives on Facebook, keep up with your family, build your family tree and share news and photos with your family.

My Heritage by MyHeritage. A just-for-fun utility that allows you to add the flags of your ancestry to your Facebook page. You can also add your family and have access to a family chat board.

FamilyTree by Family Builder. Finding your relatives, Building your family tree, Preserving your family history, Scrapbooking the lives of you and your family, Remembering loved ones, Staying in touch with your family.


Genea-Bloggers - For those who blog about genealogy or family history and those who are their devoted readers! Here is a place to find genealogy blogs that interest you.

Unclaimed Persons by Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak. Join others to solve Unclaimed Person cases.

Rootsweb Genealogists - for those who love Rootsweb.

Let me nudge you to join. You can search for your friends and family. You can join the genealogy groups. You can join my blog network on Facebook See you there.

Zillow as a Genealogy Tool is a pretty cool free real estate website. Type in any U.S. address and you will receive information about the house - even if the house is not up for sale. This info includes public information such as:

  • the year the house was built,
  • how many bedrooms and bathrooms,
  • square footage,
  • taxes,
  • lot size,
  • the approximate house value as of today,
  • the name of the neighborhood,
  • a Microsoft Virtual Earth aerial photo and, if available, a Google street view photo.
Once you find a house you are interested in, click on the address link or "more home info" to get more details. I find the information available at Zillow really helps me understand a little bit more what life have been like for my ancestors and makes the family story more interesting.

Here is how I have been using Zillow in my genealogy search:

Beginning with the 1880 U.S. census, the address for each enumerated family is listed. I've been entering each ancestral address into Zillow to see if these family homes still exist. Most of my searching was in the city of Philadelphia, but other city locations should have similar results.

Keep in mind that addresses (both street names and house numbers) did change over time. Be sure to check to see if the address has remained the same today before you search Zillow. Steve Morse's Street Name Changes lists some information on street changes for many cities. .

In many cases, my ancestor's houses still exist and I am able to get a real glimpse into their lives. There is a lot of information of the Zillow Overview page.

  • The square footage and number of bedrooms. This has been the most interesting thing for me. It gave me perspective about things I had really never thought much about before and adds a new dimension to my family history story. Most of my families had a large number of children and a small amount of bedrooms. Where did they all sleep? How did they all fit around the dinner table?

    It's hard to imagine a family that consists of a mother, father, and 11 children living in a small house only 16 feet wide with just 2 bedrooms. Yet one of my families did so, and doing so was probably pretty common. I learned there were 11 children from the census. I learned the row house in Philadelphia where they lived was 16 feet wide with 2 bedrooms from Zillow.

    Another of my ancestral families lived with another family in one house (two adult sisters with their spouses, children and their mother). Each family consisting of mother, father, and 6 children, plus the mother. Seventeen people lived in a small Philadelphia row home that had 3 bedrooms. Again, I learned the number of people in the house from the census, and the number of bedrooms and square footage of the house from Zillow. It is hard for me to imagine how so many people could live in such a small space.

  • The year the house was built. The oldest ancestral still-standing house I have found so far in Philly was built in 1850, but I found many other old family homes as well. Sadly for me, I found many times there was a new house built at an address decades after my ancestors lived there. The old family home was no longer there.

  • The current estimated value of the house today. I don't think that this has any relationship to the value of the house years ago, even inflation adjusted. Some of the old houses I looked at were now in revitalized areas of the city, and some were in areas that had become rundown. Some are now listed as condos. Each change would considerably change the value of the house. Still, it is interesting to compare the value of the house listed on the old census to the value of the house today.

  • The neighborhood. I don't know about other cities, but in Philadelphia, the name of the neighborhood is very important, yet for the most part, not listed on the census. Even if the family house no longer exists, I can learn the neighborhood name from Zillow.

  • Birds eye view and Street View Photo. The birds eye view is a satellite photo from Microsoft Virtual Earth, and the Street View is from Google. If Street View is available, you can click back and forth between the 2 views. As the name suggests, Street View is an interactive photograph taken in front of the house from the street. It's as though I had asked a friend to take a photo of the house for me.

Check out the all links on the top left column to learn more about the house - Overview - Photos - Home Info - Home Q&A - Bird's Eye View & Map.

If the family house no longer exists, it is still possible to glean info from Zillow.

  • I can still take a birds-eye look at the neighborhood via Microsoft Virtual Earth. In many cases, the old neighborhood remains (although my ancestor's house is gone), but I can get a feel from the other houses what my ancestor's house may have looked like. I can also click on a neighboring house to obtain that home's public info to see if that house was in existence when my ancestor lived there and extrapolate what my ancestor's house may have been like.

  • In some cases, all the old homes in the neighborhood were razed to make way for newer housing so, in that case, sadly there wasn't much to learn from Zillow. However, I did learn the neighborhood name, and could add to my family story that the house was razed for new housing.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Backup and Security Plan for Genealogy Research

Back Up Your Data!

Protecting genealogy research that has taken years to gather is a must because, sadly, computers are vulnerable to hard drive crashes, viruses, theft and natural disasters. It's possible to lose all your files in an instant. Scary thought. We all need to have both a comprehensive backup plan for our digital research files and a security plan for our hard copies and photos.

Here is my Comprehensive Backup Plan.

First - An ounce of prevention. I want to do all that is possible so that I don't have a need to use backup. To protect my computers from virus attacks, I use e-trust Internet Security by Computer Associates. And since I live in the lighting capital of the world, I also have a surge protector to keep the insides of my computer from being melted if lightning strikes.

Backing up My Digital Genealogy Files

Hard Drive Backup

  • Every night, I automatically back up my genealogy data files and scanned images on the Iomega External Hard Drive I recently purchased. It has 500 GB and can be set to automatically back up on a regular schedule. It's easy to do and doesn't take any extra thought on my part. I set it to back up daily at 2 A.M.

    I didn't want to do a backup every night without knowing that the backups would restore correctly if and when I ever need them. I wanted to know for sure that the Restore feature works, so after my first backup after installation, I restored a file to make sure all worked as I expected. It did.

  • Because external hard drives can also fail (as I found out the hard way recently), once a month I verify the unit is still backing up and capable of restoring. I do this on the first day of the month as an easy memory aid, but I also have added this to my calendar as a to-do task

  • My laptop and desktop computer are networked together, so each time I save my genealogy program file to my laptop, I take an extra minute and save the same file to my desktop. Not only does it keep my data files in sync on both computers, it gives an extra layer of backup. This is something I have to remember to do, but after a few times of doing it, it became automatic.

Online Backup

Because computers and external hard drives can both fail, and would probably be destroyed together in a natural disaster, I want an online backup to my backup. Sound like overkill? Not if you have ever lost irreplaceable files. I live in hurricane susceptible area, so having an off site backup makes plenty of sense to me.

  • I have started backing up my genealogy files to Mozy, a secure online backup system that is inexpensive and easy to use. It gives 2GB of storage for free, so you can try it first to see if you like it.

  • I have begun to upload my photos to Google Picasa Web Albums as a backup. Easy to load and organize, the photos can be mapped and viewed by family.

CD Backup

  • Once a month, I burn my genealogy files to a CD. I alternate where the monthly copy goes. The first copy I keep in my bank safe deposit box, but after seeing hurricanes and subsequent flooding of bank vaults on TV, I realized this isn't as safe as I originally thought it was. Keeping a backup CD in a safe deposit box is no longer a full proof plan. So, on alternate months, I send CDs to other family members. This has the added benefit of keeping family members current on genealogy.

I have three layers of backup - an external hard drive, online backup and CD backup. Each one covers me in a different type of disaster. Now that I feel comfortable with my backup plan for my genealogy computer files, it is time to think about the paper records and photos.

Security plan for hard copies and photo.

Paper and photos are the real irreplaceables. If these are destroyed in a natural disaster, it would be heartbreaking. I feel, as the family historian, that it is my responsibility to do all I can to keep them safe. Since I know that safe deposit boxes are not flood-proof (and not fire-proof either), I believe that having these papers protected in my own house would be safer option for me.

  • Put all my photos in small acid-free boxes which I then line up inside large waterproof containers with a tight fighting lid. I don't think that there is such thing as a hurricane proof lid capable of withstanding 120 mile hour winds, but a tight waterproof fit is a good start. And the acid-free box will protect the papers from deterioration.

  • Keep all containers stored together, so that if a disaster requires evacuation, we can easily grab these irreplaceable photos and papers. I also plan to grab the laptop and external hard drive on the way out the door.

  • Scan the documents and photos as a backup so all is not lost should the paper be destroyed.

I've got the plan. Now I will start the implementation.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Family Tree Maker 2009 Free to Those Who Registered FTM 2008

If you have a copy of FTM 2008 and have not yet registered, now is the time to do so by going to Help>Register FTM inside the program. All those who registered their copy of FTM 2008 will receive FTM 2009 for free. Here are the new features of FTM 2009. Here is the notice I just received from the FTM team:

We’ll soon be releasing Family Tree Maker® 2009. When we do, we’ll send you an email that will tell you how to get this latest version for FREE.

We want you to have a wonderful experience with Family Tree Maker. Because you registered Family Tree Maker® 2008, we’re giving you this new version at no cost so you can enjoy all the latest additions and improvements...

Purchase Family Tree Maker 2009

For those who would like to purchase FTM 2009, it will be released on August 26, 2008 and is available for pre-order now:

and the Official Guide is also available for pre-order:
The Official Guide to Family Tree Maker 2009

Added 8/29/09: FTM 2009 is now available at the Ancestry store

If you have not been able to register FTM 2008, then phone at 1-800-ancestry for help. Help is also available at the FTM 2008 Knowledge Base. There are two articles on registration and solving registration problems on the FTM 2008 KB at
Type in "registration" in the Keyword search box or the numbers of the articles, 3072 and 3050. Note that the letter I received did not specify the registration date cutoff to receive the free copy of FTM 2009.

If you do not live in the USA, a similar message about a free copy will be sent out within the next two weeks or so.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

The Genea-Bloggers Games

I think the Genea-bloggers Games are exactly what I need. A fun reminder to do some genealogy that I always seem to put off until tomorrow - with tomorrow never arriving, of course.

Each Games participant was asked to create a flag for the Opening Ceremonies using the tool on . The tool allows a combination of 3 country flags, so I chose the United States, France and Romania. France and Romania are where my grandmothers were born so my flag is in honor of them. I choose to mesh the elements of each flag to represent how the these different cultures have come together in my family.

There are five different events to compete in, but I'll pick just the ones where I think I have the best chance to be successful.

Here are the events and my choices:

1) Go Back and Cite Your Sources! Ack! no. Alas, this is something I wish I had done a better of job of when starting my family tree, but repairing this oversight in 2 weeks doesn't seem possible.

2) Back Up Your Data! Yes, with hurricane season here, this is where I can best use my time.

3) Organize Your Research! Someday, but not this week.

4) Write! Write! Write! Someday, but not this week.

5) Reach Out and Perform Genealogical Acts of Kindness -Yes, another good place for me to compete.

Thanks to Miriam Midkiff, footnoteMaven and Thomas MacEntee for taking the time to put this together. It sounds like fun.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Searching Google's One Trillion URLs

Google recently posted in its blog:
Recently, even our search engineers stopped in awe about just how big the web is these days -- when our systems that process links on the web to find new content hit a milestone: 1 trillion (as in 1,000,000,000,000) unique URLs on the web at once!

The first Google index in 1998 had 26 million pages (not websites), and by 2000 the Google index reached one billion. Now it has 1 trillion pages - 1000 billion pages. Wow. Google hasn't indexed all 1 trillion pages; for example, they don't index duplicate content. But that is still a whole lotta URLs for Google to search through to find results for your query. Are you using the best keywords for your query so Google can find the page you want out of 1 trillion pages? As the web keeps growing, it seems more important than ever.

What are the last 5 things you searched Google for? Were you able to find what you were looking for?

Hint: If you don't remember your last 5 genealogy searches, go to and click on "My Account" . Scroll down to "Web History". This will show all the web pages you have visited and all the Google searches you have performed. Look for the last 5 "Searched For" to find the last 5 Google Searches you did.

How did you do? Were you pleased with your results? If not, you can get some ideas for better Google searching at Surname Searching and More Google Search Tips.

By the way, 1 trillion is a hard number for me to grasp. It puts things a little more in focus when I realize that a trillion seconds = 31,546 years. And yet Google can complete a search in hundredths of a second.