Tuesday, February 24, 2015

RootsTech 2015 - Friday Recap and Photos

I spent the day on Friday, Feb 13, 2015 at RootsTech attending several FamilySearch classes. I have finally written up my notes on two of the classes I attended. Following them is a video of Ron Tanner's class "FamilySearch Family Tree 2014 and beyond. Since it was recorded I decided to not write up my notes for it. At the end of this post you will find a slide show of the photos I took throughout the day.

Class: Q&A with Dennis Brimhall, CEO of FamilySearch Notes:

IOUS - Individuals of Unusual Size - FamilySearch engineers love to use things from Princess Bride, it comes from Rodents of Unusual Size.
When New.FamilySearch.org was created they had the computer combine records, and it did more than they had anticipated.
Some records were so large they couldn't be loaded, (it caused the lights to dim in Salt Lake when they did so), so they were broken up into large groups. You could not recombine then. They found out they built the wrong system. That is where FamilySearch Family Tree came from.
They still need to change the jet engines to FSFT in order to allow merging of IOUS. They have to change those engines while it continues to fly at 600 mph. It will be a 1 to 1.5 years before IOUS can be merged. Just leave them alone for now.

Integration with Ancestry and FamilySearch.
Have a list of the most desired functionality to begin with, and a road map that gets to the rest of them.
One goal is to submit a name to the temple from Ancestry and not have to go back into FamilySearch.
Sources are really important. They are working on being able to move the sources back and forth. It will be coming in the next 2-3 months.
The system is changed 3-4 times a day. They solve problems every day. You need to just get used to changes. You will see incremental changes with Ancestry and our other partners all the time.

Question on adding married names to women on Quick Searches. They said it is on the to-do list a little ways but it is coming.

Some of the systems were designed on older architecture that served us for a long time. They are in the process of converting to some new internal systems which by multiples will increase how things happen. There is a lot of energy going into that. Its like say they don't have good water pressure. Getting a new faucet doesn't work if you need to get bigger pipes. They are in the process of replacing a lot of pipes right now so things will move faster.

Question on free subscription to Ancestry for members of the LDS Church and what about people who are not members. Brimhall went over how the arrangement was made. Basically, FamilySearch went to Ancestry and offered to open the records in the vault to them if they shared their records with us. The records in the vault were paid by the members of the LDS Church through their tithing and devotion. In return the expectation was that their members get free on Ancestry, because they have already paid for it. That is the reason why it was put together. Brimhall said he couldn't speak for Ancestry but he could never imply they would give up their revenue as they did for the LDS members to others. There are many records that Ancestry will give to LDS members and have available to their subscribers. After a number of years there will be an embargo period where anyone can get them.

Right now you can only import records from Ancestry into FamilySearch if you have an LDS Account. It is a big discussion on Ancestry to let others also do an import. You would need to talk to Ancestry about that.

Digitizing records - there is currently 2.4 millions rolls of microfilm in the vault. They have digitized and published over 900,000. There is 1.6 million rolls to go. The projection is it will take another 4 years to complete the digitizing of all the microfilm. That does not include the indexing. They are prioritized based on the perceived needs of patrons on the FamilySearch site. They started with those that get the most use. There are microfilm that no one has ever looked at, and they will be last. They are not setup to ingest microfilm that people have personally digitized into the system. Once they are digitized the process goes very quickly to have them way-pointed and added to the website.

The original estimate for getting all the microfilms digitized was 50 years. Then it was down to 15 then 10 and now it is under 4 years. They are improving the technology and ability to get this done.

Question asked if there was a way to have remote volunteers assist with the digitization efforts. The vault records digitization has to be done at the granite mountain vault where they have the equipment. For the creation of the meta-data they are using some 200 remote volunteers now for way-pointing. They are limited by their tools on how many volunteers they can have.

There are 286 camera crews and there are hundred of thousands of opportunities out there for records. They will be experimenting with a concept of adopting an archive. An LDS Stake will adopt an archive and do the imaging locally. They may have some governmental records in Samoa, where the church will give the Stake camera equipment to get the images locally. This is something that otherwise we may never be able to do. Amazingly in a couple of weeks Elder Packer and Dennis Brimhall will be meeting with the Governor of Samoa to strike a deal to get some records in Samoa.

If FamilySearch is already doing filming in an area they use a lot of volunteers to run the cameras. They provide training. You can be a regular volunteer, church service missionary, or full time missionary. Question on temple reservation lists and time limits Currently there are 14 million ordinances reserved About 3 weeks ago they turned on a feature where you can share your reservations with a family member or others. You take your reservation and click on the box to share, put their name in, it sends it to them, and they have 2 weeks to accept the reservation. If they accept it moves it to their reservation list. You transfer the quilt from us to them [chuckle]. They just turned this feature on but they are seeing wonder responses.

In the next period of time (weeks to months) they will be doing the following. -Everyone in North America that has a name thats been on the reservation list for more than 2 years will get an email. They will have the following options You can re-reserve the name You can share it with someone If you do neither it will be unreserved and made available to other descendants that can do it

When anyone reserves a name a little window will come up making them aware that if they haven't taken action on this within 2 years the options that will then happen. Testing has shown it will have a dramatic impact on this reservation issue. They will not do this outside of North America because some of them just don't get to the temple every two years.

When a user is deceased FamilySearch does not always know they have passed away. So those reservations being held will be automatically released, since they can't reply to the email being sent. Regardless if you get the email or not if its on the list longer than 2 years its time is up and it will be released. The policy for a 2 year limit has already been approved by the twelve.

Question on being able to contact people that change your data and have no contact information. Due to some church policy on email they have not been in a position to require people to submit an email address to be on FamilySearch. That has created some problems. Then they have people that have submitted fake emails because they don't want their emails out there. Then they have people that never respond to an email even though they get them. They have a solution to all that.

They are working on an internal messaging system. Hopefully within the next 3-4 months we will have the ability to send a message to anyone in the system, inside and not using email. Regardless if they have email or not they will get a message. They can still chose to ignore it. You can't force people to respond to email. There will be an internal messaging system to send messages to them.

The second thing is just go into the History and undo any changes people make to the people you are Watching. Write in the Reason Statement the sources that you have. If they have better sources have them enter them in and then you can have a discussion. Development has found that exactly zero times has anyone without a better source changed it back. The secret is to do really good research and put the source information in. It cuts out almost 99% of the changes. They ask Family History Consultants to help people put in great sources with good reason statements so we can collaborate on our research and get the job done.

People that abuse the system get their privileges to use the system turned off. They need a letter from their Bishop to get it turned back on. It is rather a disciplined thing to get your privileges back. Sometimes you have to hold people accountable that make changes. (Not to the extent of turning off their privileges though.) Just mention in the reason statement that someone changed things and isn't getting back to you and you have documentation on why things are wrong. We don't need to be rude or offensive but firm about changes made and why they are not correct. They are finding if people will do that they have generally solved the problem they are having with other people.

About a year ago it took about 7 years to get the first 100,000 sources attached to the tree. We add 1.4 million sources week today. They have a lot of ways to check data quality. They check duplicate ordinances - which down from 30% to under 10%. In every area the data quality is improving, much is due to sourcing. Today if you get a hint any that you bring into the tree comes with a source. We are starting to get a handle on this.

Question on who is related and authorized to do ordinances.
The First Presidency has given no authorization for members to do work for non-family members, regardless if they were told by the person before they died to do their work. We need to turn our hearts to our fathers. The definition is:
Do work for your ancestors - going up the tree
Do work for your ancestors descendants - going down the tree
Do work for the spouses of your ancestors descendants
You cannot do the ancestors of the descendants spouse
The biggest violation is during the 110 year rule
Need the permission of the closest relative: spouse, child or parent
This will get firmer in the next few weeks
You will need to be a direct relative to submit a name within the 110 year rule. People that break this rule are an embarrassment to the church.

My notes got a little cryptic at this point. These may have come from another FamilySearch class
Some of the most important issues
Reservations - 2 year limit in North America
Hinting - going from 24 hrs for hints to appear to 1 hr, then to 30 seconds
Performance of the website is changing
From 2013-2014 members submitting names increased 30% higher
Top 10 Stakes submitting ordinances 4 are from the Ivory Coast
Need a way to identify your own line

Class: Town Hall with the FamilySearch Executive Team Notes:

What they are working on
Store and preserve separate trees - coming soon
Removing hints that are for the wrong person
New Indexing platform with more flexibility in projects
More partnering
New companies and app are showing the most growth in the FamilySearch app gallery. Family.me is one of them.
Syncing with MyHeritage trees in 6 months
Goal is for FamilySearch Family Tree to be a global tree for the world
More Hinting
Ability to show how you are related to someone
Ability to Unmerge coming in 1.5 yrs. Need to fix plumbing issues first.
Non-members need email address to sign up for a FamilySearch Account
Will have an internal messaging system
Question on Legacy Family Tree sources - everyone is in the FT API but Memories. Legacy should support sources so you need to ask they why they don't.
Records that are locked: IOUS, Famous Individuals, LDS Church Leaders, Medieval Person

Speed of getting records has increased
450 million records a year
345 contracts signed last year
Jun 17, 2015 hinting launched and the world changed
500 million records added last week
Hinting has a 98% accuracy rate.
Couple of weeks ago a half billion hints were added
10% of the individuals never had a hint before
1 out of 10 hints extend the lines

Performance on the website is worst from 9:00 am Saturday morning to 10:00 pm Sunday night. By 6:00 am Monday the system works.

Contract with Ancestry, MyHeritage and FindMyPast are multi-year contracts. New partnership with NEHGS - AmericanAncestor.org was announced.
There is a dire need for camera crews.

Ron Tanner's presentation "FamilySearch Family Tree 2014 and beyond"
He provided just the right combination of entertainment, education and comedy to end a long day of classes. My best friend Laura had never attended a Ron Tanner class so we had a great time chuckling together.

The slide show goes through the keynote address with D. Joshua Taylor, Laura Bush and Jenna Bush Hager. Next is the Innovator Challenge Showdown. The FamilySearch Classes I attended with a sprinkling of random prizes I gave away to attendees wearing the RootsMagic ribbon "I Trust My Tree to RootsMagic". I ended the day in the Exhibit Hall for "Celebrate Your Heritage (Cultural Night)". It was a great day.

See ya tomorrow, for tomorrow is always another genealogy day!

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