Sunday, November 21, 2010

Google Instant Preview

Google is constantly improving its search to give us a more useful and faster user experience.  With this in mind,  Google has just introduced the Instant Preview to help users choose between search results.  Google Instant Preview gives users the ability to view a website without actually visiting it. It does this by showing a screenshot of the webpage after you have clicked on the magnifying glass icon that is on the right of every search result.

In addition, Google puts an orange box around the section of the preview page where the search term occurs.  In typical genealogy searches, you may trying to find specific information on a long, wordy page. Instead of having to scroll through the entire page to find the person’s name or keyword, you can look at the Instant Preview and see where the word occurs on the page.

After activating Instant Previews with that one click on the magnifying glass, you can hover over any other search result to see a preview of the web page.

Google says the benefits are:
  • Quickly Compare Results
    A visual comparison of search results helps you pick which result is right for you.
  • Pinpoint Relevant Content
    Text call outs highlight where your search term appears on the web page so you can evaluate if it’s what you're looking for.
  • Interact with the Results Page
    Page previews let you see the layout of a web page before clicking the search result.

My own personal opinion is that the previews are far too small to be useful.  Maybe it is my old eyes. Maybe it is that my monitor resolution is 1920 x 1080. But all I can see is the general page layout.  I can’t actually read anything except the largest headings which really isn’t helpful to find a surname in context.

I find it easier to find a surname or word on a long, wordy genealogy webpage by using the Google Toolbar Highlighter

If you dislike the previews, you can turn it off by clicking on the page again or clicking on the X in the bubble, but I have found no way to permanently turn it off.

Google Instant Preview is NOT the way that Google shows you search results as you type.  That is called Google Instant, another new Google feature.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Family Tree Maker 2011 Update Available

Family Tree Maker 2010

A free service pack update for Family Tree Maker 2011 is now available. It contains a number of user requested improvements and fixes of reported issues. Some examples are improved performance throughout the program and improved performance of Web Merge.

A detailed list of all the enhancements and bug fixes in the update is available. For instructions on installing the update for Family Tree Maker 2011 access the Program Updates page.  To download the update, click here.

If you are running Windows Vista or Windows 7,  follow the instructions found on the Program Updates page to right click on the FTM program shortcut to "run as administrator".  This was my first time downloading an update using Windows 7, and I was a bit apprehensive, but the detailed instructions worked exactly as stated for me.   However, it did take about 2 minutes for the permissions screen to appear after I selected "run as administrator".  I suspect a lot of people may be trying to update so reponse may be slow.

You can check for future updates in the Web Dashboard visible when you first open Family Tree Maker 2011.  Look in the right column under Ancestry Twitter Feed.

If you have a suggestion that can improve Family Tree Maker, Ancestry wants to hear from you.  You can submit your suggestion(s)  using the enhancement request form.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

FREE US Military Collection at for Veteran's Day

In honor of America’s military heroes, the entire U.S. Military Collection on can be searched free from Nov. 11, Veteran’s Day,  through Nov. 14.’s U.S. Military Collection  covers almost 400 years of American wars and conflicts. With more than 100 million names and 700 titles and databases of military records from all 50 U.S. states, the collection offers countless opportunities to learn your family’s stories of courage and sacrifice.

During this free access, you can search through historical documents from every major U.S. war from the American Revolution through Vietnam, including draft registration cards, veterans’ gravesites, soldier pension indexes, enlistment records, muster rolls and much more.  

To access these free records Nov 11 - Nov 14, go to US Military Collection

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Free British WWI Records–this week only

Free Military Content during remembrance week only, the UK division of, is making its most popular military collections available FREE during Remembrance Week  until Sunday November 14th. 
  • British Army WWI Service Records, 1914–1920 
  • British Army WWI Pension Records, 1914-1920 
  • British Army WWI Medal Rolls Index Cards, 1914-1920

Free Military Records at
Combined, there are over 8 million free records in these databases.  You will be asked to sign for a guest membership but it is free.

I believe the same databases are free at
See Ancestry Search Free to learn how to find the free databases though the card catalog.