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Learned This Week - 13 June 2009


Our weekly compilation of interesting new tools, resources and stories for genealogists:

UK Government Gets Serious About Putting Data Online - After a couple of spectacular online genealogy failures (see UK Government Digitization Program Suffers Indefinite Delay), it appears the UK government is finally getting serious about the internet. As reported in the Guardian newspaper, Downing Street has hired Tim Berners-Lee to help make government information more accessible online. Tim Berniers-Lee is the inventor of the world wide web and has a well-deserved reputation for getting things done. [Link]

Endangered Archives - The world is full of endangered archives and many of these archives contain important genealogical information. The British Museum has started a blog that looks specifically at endangered archives and what is being done to try to preserve them. [Link]

Determine Your Age with Crayons - Here is a wonderful photo collection of crayon packaging going all the way back to the early 1900s. Take a nostalgic trip back to your school days. Also some great images for anyone who does digital scrapbooking. [Link]

Bing Bounces Higher - Microsoft's new search engine Bing is moving higher in the search engine results. It is hard to tell whether this is a temporary phenomena or whether Bing will actually surpass Yahoo to become the number two search engine behind Google. We would love to hear from genealogists who use Bing to collect feedback for a future article that we are preparing on Bing. [Link]

WolframAlpha Does a Major Update - Also in the search engine space, it appears that WolframAlpha has already done an update to its search capabilities. This search engine, which specializes in people asking questions, has a rather unusual Terms and Conditions that allows it to aggregate people's queries to (presumably) find shortcomings in the search engine's query capabilities. It appears that they have attempted to fix some of these shortcomings. [Link]

Fewer Divorces During Recessions - A trend that genealogists have noted before is that there are fewer divorces during recessions. People simply cannot afford to maintain two households when times are tough. According to this Reuters news story, the trend of fewer divorces applies to the current recession as well. [Link]

Register Your Name at Facebook - Facebook users can now register their own name as part of their Facebook web address. Get your own 'vanity URL'. [Link]

English Language Reaches One Million Words - According to The Global Language Monitor, the English Language has now reached one million words. One of the strengths of English as a language is that it has more words than any other language by at least a factor of ten. By the way, the one millionth word (according to the website) is Web 2.0 [Link]

Google Wave Videos - We talked about Google's new email service called Google Wave (launching in the Fall of 2009) in our May 30th Learned This Week column. Now you can watch some videos as to how it is expected to work and why it is expected to be so revolutionary. [Link]

Prisoners Resurrect Medieval Slang - A group of prisoners in the UK (who appear to know their genealogy) have resurrected a dialogue known as 16th century English rogues' cant according to this story from United Press International. The objective appears to be to talk about crime without the authorities understanding the discussion. [Link]

Rare 400 Year-old Slate Tablet Discovered at Jamestown - This National Geographic news article describes how a rare slate writing tablet was just discovered at Jamestown, America's first permanent English settlement. [Link]

18,000 Year-old Pottery Discovered in China - This news article from the Los Angeles Times describes how archaeologists have discovered the world' oldest known pottery in China. [Link]

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