How Will You Be Remembered? has the Answer

Genealogy educator and author Thomas MacEntee discovers that is the best place to store family stories, memories and special moments.

The author, Thomas MacEntee, age 3 months being held by his mother, Jacqueline Austin MacEntee.

Going to RootsTech next week? Visit at booth 415 in the Expo Hall and find out how you can preserve your family’s memories forever.

Do you have a favorite aunt or uncle that you remember from your childhood? Is it the sound of their voice, the way they laughed or told a joke, or perhaps how they dressed that recall most? Can you put your finger on what makes their influence in your life memorable?

What about your own chance to be remembered? Besides the “what” that will be remembered about you by friends and family, have you considered the challenge of “how” you will be remembered?

Documenting Our Own Legacies

As a genealogist and family historian, I often observe this situation: we have mad skills when it comes to documenting the lives of our parents, grandparents and other ancestors. However, we often get so wrapped up in “the hunt” that we do not dedicate time to preserving our own memories and important aspects of our lives.

So do we just leave that for our descendants to do? With the current concern about privacy and information, what will be available to those researching our lives? So if you aren’t going to take the reins and control what is remembered about you, be prepared to have your life story written by someone else.

Social Media, Smart Phones and The Baby Boomer

And can we talk about the abundance of tools available for preserving our own memories? As a Baby Boomer, I grew up with what I thought was great technology, but I’m blown away by everything that is now available at my fingertips. Here is my typical week in terms of social media and smart phone usage when it comes to documenting my life:

  • Lots of time spent on Facebook discussing growing up in New York during the 1960s and 1970s. I love nostalgia (like most Baby Boomers) and just the other day my friends and I discussed television shows like Batman, Laugh-In and The Sonny and Cher show!
  • I take tons of photos and not just at family events! If I’m attending a genealogy conference, I document my work life. I even take photos of torture devices (aka the elliptical trainer) at my gym as I struggle to stay in shape. My iPhone is always filled with photos that I’m offloading to a cloud site or my computer.
  • Pinterest is an obsession as well (my family says I need a “Pintervention”) since it is fun to gather similar items and post them to my boards. I’ve created ancestor timelines on Pinterest and also boards filled with old family photos. Plus, I often get inspiration from other pins on Pinterest!

All this content producing and gathering and guess what? It is all over the place! Sort of like “virtual clutter.” If anyone asked me to find a specific photo or a message I’ve posted, I wouldn’t know where to start . . .

Beware the Digital Dark Ages

Besides locating your “memory markers” as I call them, is the issue of “data loss” on your radar as the Chief Memory Officer for your family? What happens if a website you are using to store items such as photos, videos and more just shuts down? It happens more often than you think!

As a tech expert in the genealogy field, I always urge users to embrace these important practices when it comes to uploading and using personal content:

  • Always read the Terms of Service: Ideally you would do this before you create a login, but definitely before you upload any data. The “TOS” will govern not just what the site can do with your data, but also what you can do with your own uploaded data.
  • Have a Data Exit Strategy: Remember when MyCanvas or MyFamily by shut down? Many users scrambled to offload their data before the announced shut down date . . . only to find out that the export function didn’t include one data type or another. ALWAYS do a dry run by exporting all your data and look at the end result. Can you use it? What format is used for the export?
  • Futureproof Your Technology: Don’t fall behind on updates and migrating to new data types. All it takes is for a few sites to stop supporting a file format and then POOF! . . . you are at the mercy of third-party vendors who will charge a pretty penny to convert your data.

Why Works for Me offers one home for all my memories, my stories and special moments. The process is easy and I can make sure that everything that’s important to me gets stored safely and securely.

One crucial part of my current formula for memory preservation is missing: I’m not ensuring that all these items are safe and secure in one convenient place and forever. Not just for me to access, but to share with my family and to make certain that these memory items “live on” after me. That’s where comes to the rescue!

I recently discovered which offers one home for all my memories, my stories and special moments. The process is easy and I can make sure that everything that’s important to me gets stored safely and securely.

And remember what I said about “forever” and how some cloud storage sites just disappear? is the only site I’ve found that is committed to “permanence” which means forever. Period. Here is what I mean, with a quote taken from the website:

Forever has the patent pending Forever Guarantee, a contractual commitment to each and every permanent Forever Storage customer that we will preserve their content for their lifetime plus 100 years, with a goal of many generations beyond.

What a great idea! It is right there in the Terms of Service for

“4.1 FOREVER Guarantee. Forever guarantees that Content will be preserved and accessible (using then current formats and supported devices based on FOREVER’s best judgment and assessment of future technology) in your FOREVER Guaranteed Permanent Account for the lifetime of the Guaranteed Member and 100 years thereafter (‘Guaranteed Period’).” has set up an “investment plan” whereby a portion of your purchase price is set aside to ensure that your content on is protected for generations. This “FOREVER Guarantee Fund” is separate from the day-to-day operating activities of

In my popular lecture and book After You’re Gone: Future Proofing Your Genealogy Research, I discuss working with an estate planning advisor to make sure that your genealogy research, photos, documents and more are adequately protected and distributed according to your wishes. Guess what? has that covered in its Terms of Service:

“4.3 Preservation and Control of Guaranteed Permanent Accounts

FOREVER enables you to determine how your Guaranteed Permanent Account and Content is preserved and managed after your death.

You may designate a sequence of people to act as Account Managers for your Guaranteed Permanent Account.  You grant an Account Manager full or partial control over your Guaranteed Permanent Account and Content.

FOREVER will preserve your Guaranteed Permanent Account and Content after your death in accordance with your Account settings.”

You won’t find these features with any of the cloud storage sites you are currently using. Not Dropbox. Not Amazon. Not Google.

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Take a close look at the photo at the top of this article. It is me in March 1963, aged 3 months being held by my mother who recently passed away. It is probably the most precious item I have in my possession right now. I have the original photo, I’ve preserved it in archival safe materials, and I’ve created a high-resolution scan. And now, I need to make sure it lives on forever with

If I don’t do this, who will?

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Disclosure statement: I have material connections with various vendors and organizations. To review the material connections I have in the genealogy industry, please see Disclosure Statement.

©2016, copyright Thomas MacEntee. All rights reserved.

Blame the Millennials: The End of Family Tree Maker Genealogy Software

Genealogy expert Thomas MacEntee weighs in on the end of Family Tree Maker - can we blame the millenials and the subscription economy?

Genealogy Is All About Change . . . .

By now, many genealogists and family historians have learned of the bombshell announcement from yesterday in their blog post Ancestry to Retire Family Tree Maker Software. There will be no more sales of the most popular genealogy software after the end of 2015 and will only support existing versions of Family Tree Maker through the end of 2016.

And while the mob with its torches, pitchforks and rakes gather at the castle out for revenge and making demands or starting online petitions to keep a dying (and some would say already dead) program alive, let’s look at one of the main reasons for Ancestry’s decision.

It’s the Subscription Economy, Stupid.

Over the past few years, if you’ve taken a close look at products and services, you’ve noticed a shift from “ownership” to “rental.” Examples:

  • The rise of Netflix and other streaming, monthly subscription services at the demise of brick-and-mortar stores like Blockbuster.
  • An increase in “share” services, especially for large price items such as cars: services such as Zipcar are very popular in many cities.
  • In addition, cities like Chicago where I live, have seen the increasing use of “bike sharing systems” such as Divvy with its $75 yearly fee or $9.95 a day pass.

So what is driving this new subscription economy? The Millennials and their purchasing power. In The Subscription Economy: A Business Transformation, we see a move towards monthly or yearly subscription based products such as software which have traditionally been a “one time purchase so I own it” product.

The truth is that the Millennials don’t see the value in ownership of certain items. Some of it is related to limited economic resources and being judicious in how they spend their money. In addition, Millennials appreciate the freedom that comes with not being tied down to a product: if they want to move from QuickBooks to FreshBooks, they can just cancel their monthly subscription and do so.

Take a look at this infographic, Millennials Coming of Age, by Goldman Sachs, for a better understanding of how this dynamic group of consumers is turning the purchase of products and services upside-down in the 21st century.

Why Do Businesses Love the Subscription Model?

From a business perspective, there are many benefits to dropping the traditional product ownership model, such as buying Family Tree Maker and installing it on your computer and moving towards a web-only subscription model:

  • Lower costs having to support older versions of a product.
  • Lower costs in having to program new updates.
  • Lower costs in having to push out new versions.
  • All customers are now on the same version of a program.
  • Businesses can more easily build customer loyalty and leverage the “tribe” concept.

The Future: Genealogy Un-tethered

Personally, I think the move is a smart one. It allows them to focus more on their website and core customer base. In monitoring various online conversation including Facebook (where there has been much gnashing of teeth and pulling of hair), here are some predictions for the future of genealogy software:

  • The demise of Family Tree Maker is just the start of the trend in the genealogy market. However, I predict that programs such as RootsMagic and Legacy Family Tree will be on the market for at least another five years.
  • For the genealogy professional who are not fans of keeping client data online, Ancestry and other platforms will act as a “relay” system to access data stored on your computer. While the marketing staff want you to “share” as much as possible, doing so just is not feasible for those business owners who perform genealogy research for clients.
  • Eventually even the operating system for your computer will be “online;” most, if not all, of the current genealogy software programs will have to embrace the subscription model in order to be relevant and to survive.

The death of Family Tree Maker for me is like the death of an old friend: I first purchased the product from Banner Blue software in the 1990s. But it has served its purpose and I’m looking forward to what we’ll see in the future when it comes to storing and managing genealogy research data.

©2015, copyright Thomas MacEntee. All rights reserved.

Flip-Pal Announces StoryScans™ Talking Photos – Capture the Backstory of Family Photos

Couragent, Inc., makers of the Flip-Pal® mobile scanner, introduces StoryScans™ talking photos, a remarkable new feature for the Flip-Pal mobile scanner that allows recording audio and adding it in

Couragent, Inc., makers of the Flip-Pal® mobile scanner, introduces StoryScans™ talking photos, a remarkable new feature for the Flip-Pal mobile scanner that allows recording audio and adding it into a scan. According to Gordon Nuttall, CEO of Couragent, “We oftentimes say that a picture is worth a thousand words. Well, StoryScans talking photos shifts that a bit – voices transform scans into endearing stories.”


“Imagine how your family and friends will feel when you send them your grandma’s recipe, scanned with high accuracy showing her handwriting, tattered edges, smudges, the pretty illustration, and also with her voice telling you about it. Or, your grandfather proudly describing his Purple Heart medal from the Korean war. How about a photo of your grandma with your visiting cousin’s heartfelt description of her in England?  And, every grandparent would cherish getting a scan of your daughter’s drawing she created that day in art class, with her excited voice telling about it. The uses of StoryScans talking photos are far-reaching. Be among the first to use it and spread the word.”

What is StoryScans™ ?

StoryScans talking photos are easy to create.  For your Windows or OS-X computer, use the Flip-Pal Toolbox 4 software to record the audio and create the talking photo file.  For your iOS device (all models of iPhone and iPad), use the Flip-Pal ScanTools app.

StoryScans talking photos are easy to share. The small file contains both sight and sound and won’t get separated when sending via email, posting on social media, or uploading to the cloud. The Flip-Pal Toolbox 4 software includes automated uploads to your account on Facebook, Picassa, Dropbox, or Evernote. On your mobile devices, use your favorite apps to share. StoryScans files are supported universally and do not require an additional player.

©2015, copyright Thomas MacEntee. All rights reserved.