Under the Microscope
The latest issue of Family Tree Magazine was fascinating. “Adventures in Genetic Genealogy” was a real eye-opener. DNA has helped police solve cold case files; DNA also will help genealogists discover roots of various family members. African-American people will learn of their roots in Africa, which in itself is exciting. It’s essential that we keep a genetic genealogy database of people — in this way, we can discover our DNA cousins throughout the world.
I was disappointed in the tone and approach of “Adventures in Genetic Genealogy,” which I thought put DNA companies on the same level as snake-oil sellers. This industry doesn’t deserve to be characterized as “new,” “jargon-littered” or “debatable.” Some companies are now 10 years old. Many employ professional writers and marketing experts. They have hundreds of thousands of customers. In four years counseling customers on the right tests for them and preparing the industry’s only customized reports, I’ve never had a dissatisfied customer. Most are grateful for the windows on the past their test results open, to say nothing of the lessons learned about how “we are all related,” as the Native American saying goes. Genetic genealogy is a powerful scientific force for consciousness-raising and social tolerance. It doesn’t need to be treated as a funhouse.
Donald N. Yates
Principal Investigator, DNA Consulting
Soft on Spyware
In the “Hacked Off” sidebar to the article “Threat Levelers” (October 2006), you may have done your less-computer-experienced readers a disservice by not referencing free applications that protect against malware. You did refer to the PC Magazine article “Keeping Your PC Safe,” but I wonder how many readers will really comprehend what that article says.
The programs Spybot Search & Destroy <www.safer-networking.org> and Ad-Aware SE Personal <www.lavasoftusa.com> are free and rated tops in spyware and adware protection. ZoneAlarm’s free version <www.zonealarm.com> provides all the firewall support most users need; you mentioned only the paid suite. Grisoft has a free version of its AVG Anti-Virus program <free.grisoft.com>, which receives high marks, too.
I also recommend WinPatrol <www.winpatrol.com> and Spy Sweeper <www.webroot.com>, as well as Spyware Doctor <www.pctools.com>. All offer free trials. The first two programs have saved my rear more than once.
It would’ve been nice to hammer away at the need to set automatic updates or update and run these programs weekly, with the e-mail scanner running continuously. As you know, the software doesn’t do a bit of good when not updated.
Editor’s note: We agree with your suggestions. In fact, we recommended two of these programs, Spybot Search & Destroy and Ad-Aware, in an April 2005 article devoted to spyware and adware solutions.
Your August issue, as usual, was full of useful information and interesting articles, including the excellent land-records overview titled “Good Deeds.” But I believe there’s an error in the sidebar “Dissecting Deeds.” Tip 8 discusses abbreviations commonly found in deeds, including “9ber for September.” This may have been correct during the late 18th and early 19th centuries, but the deed pictured is dated 1658, well before the English-speaking world adopted the Gregorian calendar. In this instance, 9ber should be November, the ninth month of the Julian calendar.