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faq icon   PAGE 9: FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Link to help Help Page.

On this page are presented the answers to some of the commonest questions we have been asked about the web site during our years of operation. Some of these questions and other topics are covered in more detail on the Help page. The answers have been grouped together by subject for ease of reference and more will be added in the light of user demand. Click on the appropriate link to move to the required section or to a specific query.

Section 1. General Settings

Is the web site affected by the browser I use?
Does the size of my screen matter?
How can I fit some of the three column magazine pages onto my old computer monitor?
Is it possible to make the text bigger for easier reading?
Do you have foreign language support?

Section 2. Using the database - People

How do I find who I am looking for?
I was delighted to see my grandma's birthday on the Events This Day list but why is she in the wrong branch of the family?
How do I find an individual's ancestors?
What if I want to see an individual's descendants?
Can descendants be shown in a graphical format?
Is there a way to tell if two individuals are related?
How do I use the Google Map displayed on the Individual Page?
What is the Timeline function?

Section 3. Using the database - Places

I think my ancestors lived in a certain village. Can I look for them that way?
I can't find the town in the county where it is supposed to be.
Why are some house numbers shown in brackets?

Section 4. Some site functionality

Tell me about the row of seven symbols at the top of the page
What are four drop-down boxes for on the upper right of the page?
What do I need to know about printing a page
Is there a way to print the display without all the headers and icons?
I keep seeing references to "pdf format". What is that?

Section 5. Interacting with us

Why can't I see all the information on a certain person?
What are the benefits of Registering as a User?
What if I forget my username and/or password?
If I see a mistake in the information presented can I correct it?
Can I comment on the web site?
I have a photograph of Aunt Maud. Can I add that?
Uncle Fred had a colourful life. Would he be of interest?

Section 1. General Settings

Q: Is the web site affected by the browser I use?
A: During its construction and subsequent updates the developers have repeatedly tested the web site against a number of leading browsers and operating systems. We are aware that there are differences in the way in which individual browsers interpret the programming language and instructions in the code and this can lead to subtle differences in the appearence of certain pages or features within a page. Our current environment uses Internet Explorer (IE)9; Firefox 14; Google Chrome; Safari and AOL10 but in general we are confident that the site will be displayed satisfactorily on most earlier versions of these browsers. The site is also viewable on the newer smart phones.

Q: Does the size of my screen matter?
A: In principle the web site and its database should run on your computer regardless of its make, type, settings and operating system. There are however some factors which are of practical importance. Any genealogical programme which has collected a mass of data and a large amount of media (written articles, photographs, videos etc) will require sufficient processing power in the computer itself. Bear in mind that the information is being delivered to you from an internet source and broadband will be a positive advantage over a dial up connection.
Six years ago, the average screen resolution was rated at 800x600. A recent survey of visitors to the site showed that more than half are now using wide screen monitors with screen resolutions of 1280x1040 or better. While most readers are happy with the content, a fairly common query has been why the pages must be so narrow leaving large amounts of background exposed to the right and left. This has been made increasingly obvious with our implementation of colour coordinated background schemes. We have therefore taken the decision to cater for this newer audience. In future, the composition of the "index pages" of all the sections will be adjusted to a wide screen format and the content will be formatted into three columns instead of two. All the remaining pages are being similarly renovated. The information display pages (surnames, places etc) were already set to a wider page width.

Q: How can I fit some of the three column magazine pages onto my old computer monitor?
A: The screen size is not critical (the site will run on most modern portables and laptops) but the display is best set to a resolution of 1024x768 or better. Resolutions less than this may lead to horizontal scrolling of some pages. All pages will collapse down without horizontal scrolling when viewed at 800x600 in Internet Explorer. However, although generally perfectly readable, the presence or absence of horizontal scroll bars at 800x600 in Firefox is unpredictable.
We have now introduced a new "landing page" (our web site history book) which has just a single entry link. This link will assess the screen resolution of your computer monitor. If your monitor is set to 1024x768 or better you will be presented with the three column version of our home page. If you are using 800x600 (or a Smart phone at say 480x800) you will be directed to the older single column home page.
When you progress through one of the banners, the colour supplement index pages are in wide screen three column format. We are progressively removing copies of the older two column format of these pages.

Q: Is it possible to make the text bigger for easier reading?
A: If you do find it difficult to read text on a computer screen or just like bigger lettering, try this tip. In both Internet Explorer and Firefox, holding down the Ctrl key and using the + and - keys will allow you to zoom in or out in order to change the size of the text.

Q: Do you have foreign language support?
A: Yes. At the moment, the site supports French, German and (Brazilian) Portuguese as well as English, with several more languages in prospect.
We have adopted a two stage approach to translation and ideally a full translation should be carried out in this order.
Step 1 is designed to change the language of the TNG software (the background text, the menu system and the navigation control) which powers the site and affects all pages. It does not change the language of the displayed data or the text of the article pages. These modules were written by TNG users in their own language for use in their own countries. The change is made by using the rightmost dropdown menu at the top of the page just underneath the banner. To change back, choose another option from the same menu.
Step 2 is designed to convert the text of the articles. This is done "on the fly" by utilising the Google translation facility and is activated by choosing the language option from the other dropdown menu at the foot of the article page. This option only appears on the pages of the magazine sections. To revert to English, close the banner at the head of the page.
User feedback tells us that the TNG translations are "very good" to "excellent" while the Google facility is rated "not 100% but acceptable".

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Section 2. Using the database - People

Q: How do I find who I am looking for?
A:
There are a number of ways, but the 'Search' function provides the most straight forward method. The Search Box at the top of the left hand navigation panel of the article pages in the magazine section provides a simple search based on surname and given name (note the required order of name entry). Advanced search, found just below the Search Box, allows you to enter various information about the individual you are looking for. 'Other Search Criteria', for instance, allows you to look for a person who may have changed their name or have been known by an alternative. You might also want to try looking at 'Surnames' or 'First Names' if you don't have a clear picture of who you're looking for.
An alternative method is to click on the 'Surname' link. This function groups all surnames together alphabetically or by commonality. It is then possible to drill down to the required individual by clicking the appropriate links.
These links can also be found by clicking the search icon or from the entry on the 'Find' drop-down menu at the top of any page. Both methods present you with a list of possible matches from the database. If you think the person is likely to be there but you can't find them, then please contact us for help.

Q: I was delighted to see my grandma's birthday on the Events This Day list but why is she in the wrong branch of the family?
A:
The 'Events This Day' list (Birthdays, Baptisms, Anniversaries, Deaths and Burials) appears at the head of the first page of each colour supplement. For an event to appear here, two criteria need to be met. Firstly, the complete date of the event needs to have been entered in our database. Then, the individual concerned must have been assigned to the branch of the family that are connected with a particular supplement. As an example, the Cook, Naylor and Haywood (and several other) family members are all assigned to the TEAL pages. Branch assignments are updated and renewed every time the database is updated. However, at times, an individual might be missed.
As a "catch-all" solution we have programmed the Events list in the main RED pages to display all the Craxford and associated family members and all other individuals who have event dates included but who are not yet assigned to a branch. So, if your grandma is a not yet branch-assigned Eldridge (BROWN pages) her events will appear on the main RED page list for the moment. When this is spotted, the correction will be made. This is a rolling program.

Q: How do I find an individual's ancestors?
A:
Once you locate an individual and have displayed the person's details, the easiest method is to press the Ancestors tab (second left, next to the 'Individual' tab). This will show you a graphical display of both the paternal and maternal ancestors. Once you have the ancestor chart displayed, you can click on the arrows located at the far right ancestor if you need to see additional ancestors. The number of ancestors displayed is controlled from the 'Generations' dropdown list. The maximum number of generations possible is restricted to 8 but do remember that the larger the number requested the bigger the resulting tree and the more scrolling around the screen will be necessary. There are a number of formats for you to choose from ('Standard', 'Compact', 'Box', 'Text', 'Ahnentafel', and 'Media') to display ancestors. Try clicking on the various options and see which one works best for you. These steps are illustrated on the Help help icon page.

Q: What if I want to see an individual's descendants?
A:
The tab marked 'Descendants' can be used to display the descendants of an individual. There are four different formats in which descendants can be displayed. You can switch between these to display the information the way that works best for you. For more details look for the illustrated guide on the Help help button page.

Q: Can descendants be shown in a graphical format?
A:
Yes, Once in the Descendants are displayed, you can show a specific branch of descendants from the selected ancestor by pressing the descendant icon next to the descendant you wish to display.

Q: Is there a way to tell if two individuals are related?
A: Yes. The 'Relationship' tab will show a graphic display of all the people between two chosen relatives. To use this function, locate the first individual and then press the 'Relationship' tab. Then use the find button to locate the second person to be displayed. (Remember to add the names in Last Name, First Name order). Once you have the two people selected click the calculate button to display their relationship.

Q: How do I use the Google Map displayed on the Individual Page?
A: The Google map feature will become active if at least one event in the Individual's life as been "geocoded" (had a place, longitude and latitude associated with it). The localization of the "geocoding" depends upon the level of detail in address provided and the colour of the pin allocated to the event will show depth of accuracy and its proximity to the site.
Some Google Map functions are:

  • Use the + (plus) to zoom in on the map and the - (minus) to zoom out in steps, or use the slider to control the depth of zoom. If the Google Map server returns a message that no map is available at that zoom level (or parts of the map are missing) you will have to zoom out one or two steps in order to get the map to display properly. Simple maps tend to display better are higher zoom levels than satellite views.
  • Maps are displayed "Hybrid" by default (a satellite view with superimposed labels) but this can be switched to a simple map view or a satellite view without labels.
  • Click on the Event Number pin to open the map in a new window. On this new map you can display driving directions to or from this location. Note: If you are using FireFox, you can right click and open in a new tab rather than a new window.
  • If you have downloaded and installed the Google Earth program on your desktop, you can view the event with this application by clicking the Google Earth icon email.

Q: What is the Timeline function?
A:
This function is activated when the 'Timeline' tab is clicked. The time line shows important events in history that occurred during the life of an individual or a group of individuals. It gives a unique perspective to see what was going on in the world during the lives of our ancestors.

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Section 3. Using the database - Places

Q: I think my ancestors lived in a certain village. Can I look for them that way?
A:
Yes. You can start your search from the 'Places' tab. You will be presented with a gazeteer arranged by starting letter and by commonality of occurence. Clicking through these links will bring you to progressively smaller areas - county, village or city, street and ultimately, address. As you progress you may notice that some entries have a small spyglass icon (spy glass) at the end of the line. Clicking on the icon will show you all people who have had events associated with that place. So you could look at everyone who has lived over the years in a particular house, or move up the gazeteer one level to see all the residents of the street.

Q: I can't find the town in the county where it is supposed to be.
A:
This is a problem the world over but is particularly acute in Great Britain. County boundaries have changed and county names have come and gone over the years. This is does cause confusion when you are searching for materials from the nineteenth century and are trying to apply it to the present day. A prime example is South Shields. One hundred years ago it was a coastal town in County Durham. It is now in the district of South Tyneside in the county of Tyne and Wear. Westoe Cemetery has changed its address in keeping with these changes but remains in the same geographical location (as do the headstones and the occupants).
This dilemma became critical when the Google Maps feature was introduced to the web site and we started geocoding locations. We could not enter places in the gazeteer more than once. We took the decision to use a standardised address based on the Counties as defined in 1972. Also note that for addresses in England the country is assumed. Places from the rest of the world have the country stated as a part of the address.

Q: Why are some house numbers shown in brackets?
A:
Again we must look at the shortcomings of the Victorian census returns. In many of the available census records, particulary in rural areas, inhabitants were often listed merely by village. Where street names were actually recorded, house numbers (even if they were present on the ground) rarely were. We have endeavoured to show the relationship and frequent proximity between families that intermarried and in an attempt to separate the households we have used the enumerator's schedule number. The enumerator was the person who went round the village or district collecting the census material. His book (or folio) covered one defined area and each dwelling was numbered sequentially regardless of street or boundary. Where the house number is known (and recorded) in a census we have used that in our address file. Where it is not, and there are a number of households in the same street that are of interest to us, we have used the enumerator's schedule number in lieu of the house number. For clarity this has been placed in parenthesis.
This can be seen in action in the village of Cottingham, Northamptonshire. It should be noted that the same household will have apparently different house numbers over time because the schedule number will have changed with each census. The sequential nature of the schedule numbers also explains why houses in short streets often ended up with high value numbers.

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Section 4. Some functionality

Q: Tell me about the row of seven symbols at the top of the page
A: These symbols, the "TNG core icons", are little buttons which activate the eight following functions:.

ArrowLt: "Step back": Takes you back to the page you were looking at immediately before the current one.
homeblue: "XXX pg1": Takes you to the lead page of the current colour section (identified by the colour of the icon)
home icon: "Home": The Home page of the web site
faq: "Help/FAQ": Brings you to the Help and FAQ pages from anywhere in the site
search icon: "Search": Loads the Advanced Search (Search for Names) page
print icon: "Print": Activates the Print function for the current page
log: "Login": Allows registered users to access private material. When you are logged in, legend changes to "Logout"

Two more symbols will appear on certain pages. The eighth symbol bookmark icon: "Bookmark": will appear on those pages which display the results of a search. Clicking this icon stores a reference to this page on your computer letting you find it again easily. You can check (and delete) your saved bookmarks by using the link on the "Find" drop-down menu. (See next answer). The ninth icon pdf icon: "Pdf Reader": appears on pages that offer the option to download a report in pdf format and is a link to the Adobe.com web site and allows the download of the Adobe Reader program. (see below)

Q: What are four drop-down boxes for on the upper right of the page?
A: These menus ('Find' - 'Media' - 'Info' - Magazine') provide about 36 options that let you access various information contained in the database and links to the lead page of each of the colour supplements. You can hover your mouse pointer over each menu to see the options available. Click on the option you want. Note that some options are only made available to registered users who are logged on.

Q: What do I need to know about printing a page
A: The print icon (see next question) will provide reasonable service in most circumstances. However there is variation in the way in which browsers interpret some instructions in the print code. In general web pages are formatted to be viewed on screen and often do not break down into convenient lengths for output onto the printed page. This may lead to photographs and tables being split across two pages and captions and headers being isolated from their text. As an interim measure it may be appropriate to use the print preview facility of your printer, if it has one, to assess the output.
In the past Internet Explorer has tended to be more consistent in its output in comparison to Firefox but the new version (Firefox 3.5) holds some hope of better conformity. We have embarked on a major recoding of our magazine sections (September 2009) adding page breaks to assist printing and 'Return to Top' codes where required to make reading of long pages more manageable. It will be a slow process but when complete each page will bear the 'A4P' symbol which will show that the article should print correctly on A4 size paper in IE8 or Firefox 3.5

Q: Is there a way to print the display without all the headers and icons?
A: Yes. Just click on the Print icon (printer icon)located at the top of the page. This will present a simplified page with the banners, header icons, left navigation bar and most of the footer removed. Press the 'PRINT' tab to activate.

Q: I keep seeing references to "pdf format". What is that?
A:: On the Individual, Ancestors and Descendants pages you have the option to create a report in 'pdf' format from the information you are viewing. Several of the documents posted on the histories pages have also been stored in the same way. pdf stands for Portable Document Format which was pioneered by the Adobe corporation as a method of document exchange between systems. The Adobe Reader module (originally called Acrobat Reader) allows viewing, printing and saving the file on your PC for later use. If you do not have a copy of Adobe Reader installed it can be downloaded from the Adobe site. The download is free and quite quick. Just click on the pdf reader icon: "Pdf Reader": symbol when it appears in the row of icons at the top of the page.

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Section 5. Interacting with us

Q: Why can't I see all the information on a certain person?
A: All data in the database is in the public domain. All articles in the colour supplements are viewable without logging on. However, we take great pains to protect the privacy of all family members, particularly those still alive. We have taken the somewhat arbitrary decision that people born after 1909 and without a known date of death will be presumed to be living. All names, dates and other information of living individuals are hidden behind a "Living" flag to casual browsers and non-logged in users. Further, the names of these people do not show up in the results of searches. Registered users can have access to this information.

Q: What are the benefits of Registering as a User?
A: If you are a direct descendant or relative of people listed on this website you will be able to "Register for a User account" (the link is towards the top of the left hand menu bar on any of the colour pages). You will be asked to provide evidence of your relationship; usually a skeleton GEDCOM containing significant dates from a known point on a branch through the generations to yourself will suffice. When accepted, you will be able to view all records of your ancestor's descendants contained in the database.
You can see the criteria required to apply for a login account on our Terms & Conditions page. Registration also ensures the Webmaster can e-mail you with any major changes to the site.
Please note: the web site also hosts a small closed tree within the TARTAN pages. Whilst the articles are open for browsing, the contains of the tree are not. A User Account for the main site does not grant access to the TARTAN tree and vice versa.

Q: What if I forget my username and/or password?
A: If you can't remember your username go to the 'Log In' page, enter the email address you supplied when you registered in the first of the two boxes towards the bottom of the screen, press 'GO' and we will send a reminder of your username.
For security purposes your password is encrypted in the database and we do not have access to it. If you forget your password go to the 'Log In' page, enter your user name into the second of the two boxes at the bottom of the screen and press 'GO'. The system will generate a new temporary one for you.
If you wish to change your password at any time, this option can be activated at the same time that you log in.

Q: If I see a mistake in the information presented can I correct it?
A: Not directly but we are always interested to hear of errors on our pages. The suggestion tab allows you to send corrections, updates, comments or any other information to the database administrator. Information on which individual you are referencing is automatically attached to the message when you make a suggestion using the Suggestion tab. The database administrator will evaluate your suggestion and add it to the database in the next web update cycle if appropriate.

Q: Can I comment on the web site?
A: Certainly. We are delighted to hear from our readers and receive feedback. If you just want to leave a short comment, why not log into our Guestbook and leave a message there. All messages are screened before they are released live to exclude spam. It is also helpful if you indicate your relationship to the family if you have one.
If you have a longer comment to make or an observation, perhaps, on one of the articles that you have read you could send it to us by email (using the email icon symbol to be found at the bottom of most of the article pages). With your approval we would be happy to add your contribution to one of our colour supplement "Letters to the Editor" pages.

Q: I have a photograph of Aunt Maud that is not on the site. Can I add that?
A: We are always pleased to receive additional material and information about any member of our family tree. Clearly identified photographs are particularly valuable as so often boxes of pictures of previous generations lie unnoticed and uncared for in a cupboard or dusty attic until it is too late. It is also of utmost importance to fill in missing data elements (the full date of birth, marriage witnesses, an old residence address). No item is too small.
All materials and data are processed off line and added centrally. This is to maintain uniformity and consistency of shape, size and content. Please contact the editor by email to confirm what you have. Large amounts of data (say a new branch for the tree) may be sent as a GEDCOM file which will be edited as necessary and then merged into the master file. Photographs and documents are best scanned as jpg files at 200dpi (dots per inch) and sent as an email attachment. The files will be quite large (upwards of 1 megabyte) but we will manipulate these into a form suitable for the internet.

Q: Uncle Fred had a colourful life. Would he be of interest?
A:If you have a story about one of your ancestors which would fit into a colour supplement we would be delighted to help you with its publication. By this time you will mostly likely be an active registered user and we would like to extend to you the title of Associate Editor! A glance through the sections quickly shows how many similar projects have been added this way to date. There have even been a couple of occasions when the number of stories about a particular branch have become so numerous that they have been collected together and hived off into a new colour supplement. We are still waiting for the final spark to initiate the GREEN pages!!

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Added: July 9th 2009
Last updated: July 4th 2011

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