Monday, May 18, 2015

Genealogy's Often-Misspelled Words

You might want to save this article someplace. I have no idea why, but many of the words used in researching your family tree are difficult to spell. I constantly see spelling errors in messages posted on various genealogy web sites. When someone misspells a word, it feels like they are shouting, “I don’t know what I’m doing!”
Here are a few words to memorize:
Genealogy – No, it is not spelled “geneology” nor is it spelled in the manner I often see: “geneaology.” That last word looks to me as if someone thought, “Just throw all the letters in there and hope that something sticks.” For some reason, many newspaper reporters and their editors do not know how to spell this word. Don’t they have spell checkers?
Cemetery – The letter “a” does not appear anywhere in the word “cemetery.” You can remember the spelling by an old saying, “We go to the cemetery with E’s.” (ease)
Ancestor – This simple word is often spelled “ancester,” “ansester,” or “ansestor.”
Ancestry – This word is often misspelled “ancestory.” I often see errors when someone is referring to the online web site.
History – More than once I have seen someone refer to their “family histroy” or “family histry.”
Descent – Perhaps not as common, but I have seen this spelled as “decent,” which sounds almost the same.
Descendant – it often appears as descendent, descentent and many others.
Progenitor – I can never remember how to spell this word. I simply try to avoid it when I am writing!
Two other words often are confused: immigrant and emigrant. Another variation is immigration versus emigration. According to Merriman-Webster Dictionary at, an emigrant is “a person who leaves a country or region to live in another one” while an immigrant is “a person who comes to a country to live there.” To repeat, an emigrant leaves while an immigrant arrives.
The late Dick Pence was quite a storyteller, and once he told of an online genealogy article he wrote in which he poked fun at common spelling errors by genealogists. He deliberately misspelled ten different words in the article, including most of the words I listed above. In the text of the article, he never mentioned that the article was a tongue-in-cheek attempt at humor.
Dick soon received an email message from an irate lady who apparently didn’t realize it was a deliberate attempt at humor. She scolded him for his spelling errors, writing, “Mr. Pence, you should be ashamed of yourself. I am an English teacher and I want to tell you that I found seven spelling errors in your article!”
(Dick Eastman)

Friday, May 15, 2015

How to Use Two Monitors-and Why You Might Want To

Two Monitor System (photo by Dick Eastman)
I have been using two 27-inch monitors on my desktop computers for years. Using two monitors at once is surprisingly easy to do. I love the convenience of my email program, a web browser, iTunes, and RSS newsreader displayed on the monitor to the left side of my desk while my word processor and my favorite genealogy programs are running in separate windows on the monitor to the right. Doing so is a time saver, and I believe it improves productivity significantly. I wrote about the use of two monitors in a Plus Edition article earlier this year at

A picture taken in my hotel room a few minutes ago.
When traveling, I always have felt constrained by being limited to one small screen on the laptop computer. It certainly would be nice to also use two monitors at once on the laptop, especially as I already do so on the desktop at home. A few months ago, I found an easy, lightweight, and not very expensive solution: purchase a second monitor designed only for laptop use. Best of all, it is very is easily packed; it easily fits into any laptop bag or backpack designed for carrying a 16-inch computer, along with the laptop computer itself. My backpack has a pocket for carrying a laptop, and I find I can easily slide both the laptop computer and the external monitor into the one pocket.

In fact, I am using two monitors on the computer I am using to write this article, as you can see by the image above and to the right. Click on the image to view a much larger version. You will note that I am viewing an email program on the laptop on the left while looking at the web site on the 16-inch monitor to the right. (I am preparing to post this article.) While I am using a MacBook Air laptop, you can do the same with Windows laptops as well.

In fact, it is possible to add a third or even a fourth monitor onto the laptop and use them all simultaneously. Admittedly, I haven’t tried that yet. I am quite happy with two screens: the one built into the laptop plus the one external monitor.

Anyone not familiar with my installation who happened to walk by and see me working might think at first that I had two separate computers running with two separate screens. However, a closer inspection shows that I have only one computer, one keyboard, and one mouse or trackpad in the laptop.

Both screens are “live” as if they were connected to two different computers, but both are really attached to the same two-and-a-half-pound MacBook Air laptop. The monitor to the right weighs about two-and-a-third pounds and requires no external power supply. I can even create a really large Excel spreadsheet that spans both screens, showing hundreds of “cells” simultaneously. That is usually an eye-popping demonstration as many people don’t realize that this is possible.

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(Dick Eastman)