9th Annual International Conference on Genetic Genealogy – Day 1

Max Blankfeld opened the conference with a welcome.  Max talked about competition making for healthy growth.  This has been the best year ever and there are great things in the pipeline. In June of this year, what started as an acquisition became something that could be a guarantee of continuity for Family Tree DNA.  Three new people have been added to staff.  Nir Leibovich is the Chief Business Officer, David Mittelman is the Chief Scientific Officer, and Jason Wang is the Chief Technology Officer leading the Engineering Department. Max got a little bit emotional as he talked about people who have been great supporters of Family Tree DNA who are no longer with us.  He stressed that he really appreciates what they brought to the company and most importantly, their friendship.  He also sent best wishes to Bill Hurst for a speedy recovery. Bennett stepped up to join Max to talk about group administrators who have been with them for 10 years or more.  Each of these group administrators will receive a plaque to honor their years of commitment. Bennett talked a bit about the lab tours.  Approximately 60 people in total have or will attend lab tours during this conference period.  Bennett shared the news about the CAP certification.  This allows the company to justify the acquisition of some expensive instruments that will be beneficial to the genealogical community. The first speaker of the day was Amy McGuire, PhD, JD, of the Center for Medical Ethics and Health Policy at Baylor College of Medicine, presenting Am I My Brother’s Keeper?  DNA Identifiability and Obligations to Biological Relatives in Genetic Genealogy. ...

Get your DNA test here! A tour of the Family Tree DNA Lab

It’s that time of year again!  Genetic Genealogy enthusiasts have gathered at the Sheraton North Houston for the 9th Annual International Conference on Genetic Genealogy.  This year lab tours were offered on Friday as well as Monday, which is great for those who plan to fly out on Sunday.  Bennett Greenspan, President of Family Tree DNA, welcomed our group to the lab. The lab at Family Tree DNA is a fully functional five or six day a week lab.  Our first stop was the Pre-PCR area where DNA has not been amplified.  Once DNA is amplified, it never returns to this area.  Our group put on lab coats and anyone with open-toed shoes put on booties. Bennett explained that all of the tubes have a red cap instead of the old tethered cap style.  The machine shown below automatically fills each tube with the buffer that allows the sample to sit for long periods.  The buffer arrests any potential for bacterial growth while the DNA is in the tube.  About 400 per hour can be produced by this machine. The next robot extracts approximately 600 samples per day during one normal shift.  Around Christmas time the process is doubled in order to extract 1,200 samples per day. The liquid handling robot takes DNA, puts it into a daughter plate, and puts a primer mix and a master mix in the well.  Master mix is a neutral solution and the primer mix might be for any of the Y-DNA SNPs that have to be used for a confirmation purpose. DNA samples that arrived yesterday or the day before that have not...

NERGC 2013 – Thursday

This morning I arrived at 7:00 A.M. to volunteer at the Registration area and found out that I won a prize in the Volunteer Raffle!  I won a copy of Historical Timeline: The New England States, which was provided by Mass Researchers of Upton, MA.  Thank you for the wonderful prize.  I’m always happy to win something but this will be especially useful for me.  I love timelines! After helping out for a while, I was to meet a friend for breakfast.  She had to run off to get materials for a last minute presenter change, but the rest of us who had been planning to meet with her had breakfast together anyway.  It turns out that one of her friends grew up in Digby, Nova Scotia, a place that is on my “must visit” list.  My second lucky happening of the day! Opening session, “Millhand Migrations to 19th Century Lawrence and Lowell, Massachusetts,” was presented by my ProGen 13 mentor, Sandra McLean Clunies.  Sandy is an amazing speaker.  She is organized, pulled together, relaxed, natural, and FUNNY!  I just love her.  I was so happy to be able to help her as much as I could with getting her things put together after the presentation.  The talk gave some background on the role of mills in the Industrial Revolution and then provided case studies of three individuals.  What amazing, and sometimes tragic, stories came out of the mill towns.  We learned of the Pemberton Mill collapse, which was one of the worst industrial accidents in American history.  The five-story building had been filled with heavy equipment, which caused the collapse.  Many were...

NERGC 2013 New England Regional Genealogical Conference – Tech Day

NERGC 2013 kicked off today at the Radisson Hotel and Conference Center in Manchester, New Hampshire.  If my count at lunch was correct, about 150 people turned out for this new offering at NERGC.  It seems that it was a success! First to talk today was Stephen P. Morse, best known for his invention of the 8086 processor. Morse gave a talk called “Deep Linking and Deeper Linking: How to get the most out of existing Search Applications.”  The purpose of this talk, according to the handout, was “to expose you to the techniques that were used on the One-Step website and give you a better appreciation for what there is and how to use it.”  Morse talked about URL editing, using search forms, man in the middle, and complete takeover.  He shared how to block deep linking and defeating the deep-linking block.  Notes that contain the information from this presentation can be found online at www.stevemorse.org under publications. The next speaker was Laura Prescott, who presented “Publish Your Genealogy Online.”  As always, Prescott was an informative and engaging speaker.  She reviewed available genealogy software and gave an introduction to options for building a genealogy website.  Genealogy software can be used to make webpages to be uploaded to the internet.  Alternately, the webpages can be made online.  Ancestry.com offers a solution to put your information online to share if you choose.  TNG, The Next Generation of Genealogy sitebuilding builds pages for online sharing by using GEDCOMs that can be created using any genealogy software.  Some items to consider when building a website include cost, domain name, publishing options, layout, sharing and control options, and alternatives to viewing online....

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