MyHeritage.com has created a unique new database that allows you to find others who have searched for the same relatives you’re trying to find.
Genealogy companies are getting smarter about figuring out how to use the data that’s created when people use their sites. One example is the newest smart-searching feature from MyHeritage Search Connect ™.
For several years, MyHeritage has kept track of who is searching for what ancestors. Now MyHeritage has turned their enormous archive of this information into a searchable database, with 30 million entries focused specifically on rare surnames. The database will continue to be updated weekly.
Now when you search in MyHeritage, results from Search Connect ™ will appear in your search results. Subscribers will be able to click on those results and connect with other MyHeritage users interested in that surname. According to a company press release, “As well as connect with other MyHeritage members, you can also view the full data of their search (such as dates, places, relatives and more), as well as similar searches they’ve made.” This can help you determine whether you are indeed searching the same branch of a family.
An initial search in MyHeritage Search Connect on a rare surname in my husband’s family–O’Hotnicky–brings up results that could keep me busy for a while! We’ve never connected with overseas relatives, and many of the results shown are for MyHeritage trees created by members outside the U.S. I was pleased to see that MyHeritage’s Global Name Translation tool (released earlier this year) translated the O’Hotnicky name correctly into Eastern European spellings.
PRIVACY TIP: If you’re a MyHeritage user, you can opt out of having your searches (past, present and future) included in the database. According to MyHeritage, “To do that, log into your family site and click on your name in the upper right-hand side of the screen. Select ‘My Privacy’. Click on ‘My member preferences’ on the left and uncheck ‘Enable Search Connect™’.”
Do you use Skype or another video chat service to keep in touch with loved ones? Have you considered using it for long-distance oral history interviews or collaborating on your genealogy with a faraway cousin? Language barriers can sometimes become a problem. Skype Translator offers a solution!
Last December, online communications giant Skype announced the debut of Skype Translator. The service launched with two spoken languages, English and Spanish, and more than 40 instant messaging languages. Customers could access it who signed-up via the Skype Translator sign-up page and were using Windows 8.1 on a desktop or device.
The Skype blog has proudly announced that they’ve added Italian and Mandarin to the list of spoken languages in Skype Translator. “As you can imagine, Mandarin is a very challenging language to learn, even for Skype Translator. With approximately 10,000 characters and multiple tones, this is one of the most difficult languages for a native English speaker to master.” The list of instant messaging languages has also expanded.
The post acknowledges years of hard work and testing required for the Mandarin application by Microsoft researchers and scientists in the U.S. and China. “Skype Translator relies on machine learning, which means that the more the technology is used, the smarter it gets,” stated the initial release. “As more people use the Skype Translator preview with these languages, the quality will continually improve.” Here’s a video demonstrating Mandarin translation:
“The focus of our updates in this preview release is to streamline interactions between participants, so you can have a more natural conversation using Skype Translator,” states the recent Skype release. They describe these key updates:
Text to speech translation:
You now have the option to hear the instant messages people send to you – in the language of your choice
Continuous recognition – Recognized text translation as your partner is speaking
Automatic volume control:
Your partner can speak while the translation is still happening. You will hear the translation at full volume, and your partner at a lower volume, so that you can follow the translation, which will help make conversations more fluid.
Mute option for translated voice:
There is now an option to easily turn the translated audio on or off if you would prefer to only read the transcript.
Want to learn more about using video chat services like Skype for family history? Click here to read tips about collaborating with other family history researchers via Skype. We’ve blogged about how to use third-party apps to record Skype conversations (click here to learn how). Our free Family History Made Easy podcast features an episode on interviewing skills (episode 2) and a 2-part series on how to contact long-lost relatives (“genealogy cold-calls,” episodes 14 and 15).