Author Archives: jmswtlk24

About jmswtlk24

President/Researcher Thomas Gardner Society, Inc.

To code or not to code

Last year, about this time, I was looking to reconfigure the Thomas Gardner Society, Inc. site, a little. The theme of that work was a continuation of discussions related to “Content versus configuration.” I started the site in 2010 using a packaged deal from a major play who took away our playground a few years later.

At that point, I reverted the site back to HTML only, mainly due to the research and publication focus. So, after much review to get up to date, after being involved with the real world for awhile, I decided that HTML/CSS would do the trick, for now. Think of the approach as being parametrics in action.

But, at some point, one has to get to code (several different types and layers to talk about). And, that will be my next step.

Code has been mentioned a few times. Here are a couple of examples: Does code matter?, Made w/ Code. Today, I ran across this look at code, by Paul Ford, that is sponsored by Bloomberg Business: What is Code? The presentation is like a Coding 101 and includes looks at related subjects, such as Circuitry, Input/Output, Hardware/Software, Algorithm, Languages, etc. Later, there are some examples of coding, testing, and such. Actually, there are little stories throughout. Too, a bot bounces around with some relevant (it thinks?) messages.

Finally, there is the question of whether one ought to learn coding. Evidently, jobs and benefits can accrue to those who bite the bullet and become technically astute, thus.

Note, 06/22/2015: This whole bit of discussion deals with more than genealogy, or any other of the myriads of disciplines that might use computational resources. We can take it all the way back (and, Thomas Gardner will play, as tabla raza, in the discourse) to our philosophical underpinnings.

Note, 09/06/2015: Quora will be a great asset for knowledge depositing.

World wide mind

The title comes from the “World Wide Mind” project (see How this project comes up and how it relates to the work of TGS, Inc. deserves some attention (see below). As an aside, I have already mentioned truth engineering in the context of our intent. Too, referring to the w2mind project can help bring out for discussion some of the nuances suggested by writing of the metaphor(s) (as I see them) of Facebook.

Aside: Genealogy, and related historical views, will continue to have a growing technical flavor. As such, there are (will be) issues that need to be attended to. The first step is recognizing the need; this blog will have such a requirement (which will be, hopefully, more clear as we proceed). Putting the head in the sand is not the way to go (as some seem to have done).

Okay, now to the rest of the story. I first ran across Mark Humphrys’ work some time ago. To date, I mostly just looked at relationships that he documented as these popped up when I was doing queries. Then, I found his famous people work to be interesting (see Kinnexions, too) and have looked at the lines that he provides from time to time. Notice that he incorporates the work of others.

Today, I noticed the support request and followed down the links to the contact page. I noticed that he provided his professional page. That is where I found the w2mind work mentioned. Too, his original proposal was in 2001. My start of the truth engineering work was 2000. The common theme is AI (which is a broad in scope but ought to be on everyone’s radar in some way or another – these systems that are being provided free are laden with features based upon techniques that have evolved from the work of a whole lot people or a long period of time). Mark has been on the Internet since 1987 (I remember doing protocols/logic back in the earlier part of the 80s).

But, Mark also mentions his history and genealogy work on his professional page which indicates that he has been at this for awhile (versus my six years – computing? for that, several decades). It is interesting that Mark has morphed a brick-wall into a competition (citizen science?).

Now, his mention of several important subjects requires some attention. Say, on his page, his Turing Test and AI in general comments. Then, he goes into Computers and the Internet from which we see his thoughts on pre-IP usage (BITNET – all sorts of access methods were available before IP was let go so as to allow the wild west to emerge, again – which let DOD get bit a few times and by a few ways – sheesh).

Finally, I like that he comes (came) to the defense of Wikipedia (my claim is being the oldest Wiki’an).

All in all, there are lots of things to discuss; Thomas’ life (Backbone series) will be a central feature to a lot of discussion. But, too, technical experience will be grounded on ourselves (even when we have near-singularity – arguable point that needs attention), our historical natures, and phenomenal aspects yet to be defined such as to meet “objective” needs. Besides discussion, we at the TGS, Inc. consider research as central to our purpose, including, among a lot of other things, helping to scope how information/knowledge (of things related to our selves – many senses) can map to wise technocratic existence and better science as it pertains to human affairs.

In short, a type of juxtaposition is necessary (convolution, to boot) in several domains. One issue, or the core thing, will involve a more proper (yes) perspective of humans and what they bring to the table (say, perhaps, motivated by reading Canfield – the soul soup guy – but by no means with his ideas as coach’d material – autodidact implies, in this case, mentor-free).


Friendly to the mobile crowd

Today, I saw that Google had a test for web masters to see if their site is mobile friendly (see Mobile-Friendly Test). So, I decided to give it a try. Here is the result (after a minor adjustment to the HTML).


So, the bot sees the site as mobile friendly (at least, the first page; that is, until I propagate the minor change). Well, I was happy to see that since I spent a little time last summer redoing the site using CSS. There are reasons for this, interim, choice. See the Content Management discussions.

Even though I know about the growing mobile usage, I have not dropped into that realm (of people with their noses tied to a device as a bull is to a rope to its nose ring). What, pray tell, requires 24/7 attention that is more important than the reality in which we are embedded (thanks, managers, you, with your addiction to the Blackberry devices – which became a red badge of belonging’ness, importance and what not – we are talking almost two decade’s descent into idiocy).

Well, let’s back up here.  So, the TGS, Inc. site met this test. Yet, for several sites that I use, regularly, their conversion to mobile-friendly made the site unfriendly. Why? We can talk this as needed.

Yes, I will get mobile here soon. God help me to refrain from the nose to the device stance that would be flattering if the content being seen were substantially deep (all sorts of interpretations here).

Ever heard of mindfulness? One youngster said, that is not of this culture. But, esteemed schools are starting to add this into their study mix. To me, the device is more of an attention drain than not.

But, then, who can stand in the way of progress? Our bit? Talk the truth engineering aspects and use Thomas/Margaret’s lives as a model from which to learn.

Post note: So that the tone might be understood, here is a little background. If you go back, about two decades (and definitely before), those who were managers would not touch a computer. No, that was for their secretaries (until the middle layer of manager lost their clerical help – or, worse, had to share). About then, some of the forward-looking managers were getting into their systems (with keyboard and monitor hidden away; cloaked in oak). After the 2000 mania (yes, all sorts of projects and worryings went on, dealing with the expected outcome of date processing running awry), we got to where managers (all ilk) ran around with their little devices, keeping in touch with chat, email, etc. Too, the head honcho kept the lower managers under his/her thumb with these little devices. What turned out was that people could never get away from their jobs (and a number of other bad things). Well, come forward, and we found these devices everywhere and in the hands of everyone. In the early use, the device meant some type of status (earlier, we had the pager – hey, look at me, I’m tethered and important). At least, that use was for business purposes (how much of it was monkey business?, again, how much necessary beyond the feudal impulses of the top-level people? – oh yes, we own you body and soul).  Now, the use of the attention detractors are probably for the most idiotic of reasons. Ah. Then, you have people driving with their noses clamped to these things. …

Again, 04/25/2015 — Could not resist. This blog, itself, where I reported the mobile-friendliness of the main site is itself a mobile’s friend.

mobile-friendly too

Gardner questions

In the Society blog, we touched upon one fact of life (depending upon one’s view). That is, questions outweigh answers (say, in cardinality of the associated sets – ah, you might say – they are both countable). Some humans seem to live with more answers than not ( is this not the privileged class? as in, those who leave it up to others to handle the details and detritus [which I like to call residue] as well to slough through the rough?).

The science that is of STEM? Well, mature minds would say that it is a mode of operation, mostly, which is provisionally aligned with itself at each point in time. But, looking at the modern view (some of them), things seemed to be more tied up than not (as in, questions answered).

Need an example? 2007/8/0 mindsets that touted our (meaning the gifted and well-off) prowess was such that there would NEVER be another downturn that was as severe as some seen in the 20th century. You never heard this? We can go back and get verbatim quotes from that time.

But, enough of that, though Thomas Gardner, as tabula raza, can be used as an example in about any type of discourse related to humans and their lot (all types, whether adopted [albeit, many times without proper foresight] or imposed [ah, the Magna Charta was a little step toward freedom, many claim] by others or life).

So, we have those who (can, if they wanted to) know their genealogy fairly well. Have not all associated with genealogical efforts seen the filled-in [for the most part] tree of William and Harry [mostly full except for a few holes here and there far back in time])? On the other side, we have those who cannot know (let’s say, their whole background is one big set of brick walls [this state can emerge from many situations]). In the former case, a lot of those become swashbuckling about their heritage [you all know who you are]). For those of the latter case, God knows (small consolation [but, in fact, more solid of an argument/counsel than many/most realize]).

Then, we have the in-between which is where Thomas Gardner of Salem comes in. Too, that whole middle area is a continuum. Perhaps, we could compare via the brick wall count (given human nature’s mode of competition), however there was an interesting counting method covered in a prior post (Numbers, again [if you look at the ahnentafels at Gardner Research, you will note that there is a lot known back to a certain generation]). So, Thomas’ descendants can know many things coming forward from his time, but there are lots of things that are not known, say “Whence Thomas.”  We were gathering a running list which will be kept updated as we go along: What we know.

So, our focus will be Questions. We will report all findings, no matter how trivial they may appear. In fact, we will be collecting findings (and opinions) from over the years, too. Example: A Thomas here and a Thomas there.  Also, see the first issue of The Gardner Annals.

And, we will not let the middle case status inhibit the search. In the post on questions, Topology was mentioned specifically because conjectures (hypothetical or not) can be a strong method for information interchange, even to the extent of allowing collaborative efforts at extending frontiers.

The thoughts related to “A new science?” were not idly given. Reference earlier to STEM has several purposes which we will get to. There is a more full view (albeit, whose is better? [again, questions]).

Technical issues

Today’s focus was getting the “Not found” to work on the site. I found during a browsing session that some stale links are still out and about. So, if someone hits these, the proper thing to do is let them know and to suggest where to go next.

Now, that was technical from a web/cloud sense. We have, of late, been reviewing the mathematical basis for computational systems, again. Why? To begin to weigh in on matters. So, that would be a different type of technical (under truth engineering as the umbrella focus).

Then, the total picture comes into play. We have already used a backbone series as a means to discuss issues from this level. We have barely scratched the surface; one goal will be to lay out the frame work in which future research will be supported in an on-going manner.

At the core will be artifacts, both mechanical and computational.


2014 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 400 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 7 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

barque Bostonian

A little time was spent, recently, tracking down the owner of the ship that wrecked in 1850 along the Oregon coast and tracing the history of the ship. First, the owner was H.D. Gardiner; the ship was the barque Bostonian.

This post deals with details (see H.D. Gardiner post) that have been collected. There is a list in chronological order below (it’ll be updated as we find more information) both of facts about the Bostonian and later reports.

Summary: The barque left from Boston (July 1849, but we need to scrutinize the departure date) and arrived in San Francisco in January 1850 with a load of liquor. Then, the barque is next seen in New Zealand where it got the load that it had at the time of the shipwreck. Prior to 1849, the barque had been involved with commercial interests along the Atlantic cost.

Note (11/08/2018): Changed the leave and arrival dates (typos corrected). There is an ongoing bit of research and, hopefully, discussion: The Gardiner that was.

barque, Bostonian 
  • ….  snip, snip,
  • ….. article being written using this material for The Essex Genealogist, May 2015 issue
  • 04/08/2017 — See TGA, Vol. II, No. 1 – pg 11, for the Timeline.

Gardner’s Beacon, Vol. IV, No. 4

Today, we published Gardner’s Beacon, Vol. IV, No. 4.

Per usual, we have the page at the TGS, Inc. site with a PDF file; too, there is a blog post summarizes the contents.

One thing that we are researching deals with the namesake of Gardiner, OR. The boat was owned by Henry Dearborn Gardiner. The information was pieced together, via Internet search, in November, 2014 which is 160 years post the shipwreck at what became the Oregon town.

Today, I found out that H.D.’s brother, C.F., was involved in more than the lumber business (as reported in the Boston directory). We need to fill in more information about these relatives of Dr. Silvester Gardiner.


Web site

Today, the web site is not available. The service provider put out a message on their status page, but there is not time stamp (what is with that webhostinghub?). Too, I noticed the outage about noon CST. It is not 5:51 pm CST, and the site is down. There were supposed to be regular updates of information, but we are talking almost six hours.

What makes the vendor think that he can just pull a cloak over our eyes? Now, someone asked, did I call them? No, they admitted publicly that there has been some problem. Also, consider this story.

They had an outage in June, 2014. That lapse was lengthy, too.

I called to find out what happened. At that time, I was told that it was a server error (disk). Of course, having been in computing since the 70s, I wanted to know more. Do you think that the would be forthcoming? No, the explanation of the young guy was that it was proprietary. Okay.

Now, this blog deals with technical things, related to genealogy and a lot more. So, expect that we will be weighing in with questions, comments, etc.

I gave them a break last time, as in that same month and more went down. It was said that hackers were trying to get even with’s parent organization for pulling the plug on the family site (and another). Be that as it may, if could have a lapse that we all had to live with, why not the little ISP?



Verbosity or sparsity or …

The subject alludes to outcomes of Gutenberg’s contribution. Of course, we have seen that the influence of blogsphere has, for the most part, increased the noise/signal ratio. Yet, that which is denoted by write-once-compute-everywhere (or, even, Occam’s little ditty) has some appeal, as long as we recognize when minimization activities border on the unhealthy.

Last time, we looked at supporting material for an application to a heritage society and its increasing nature as generations stack up. In essence, the applicant starts with information about her/his self and then adds information about parents & grandparents (recurrently) until some goal is met. In terms of many societies, this would be someone on the list of qualified ancestors. For each of the generations from two on, both parties are to be identified with documented information about birth, marriage(s), and death. Naturally, the emphasis is more upon the ones in the linage than the other person. It is an unfortunate fact, that, in many cases, we know little, or nothing, about a spouse.

The example shown in the prior post goes back to Generation 11, as does that discussed below. With everything covered, the packet could have 50+ pages. A good part of these pages (one third) deals with those who are close to the applicant. And, supporting material is such that a store once and retrieve techniques becomes feasible.

To boot, those first few generations have material that is way too descriptive for the need (with this information being reproduced and duplicated, time and again, ending up who knows where (anyone ever do analysis of this? – a few organization who could take on such tasks come to mind but are not considered in this post) under whatever is the case state of affairs).

All of this is leading to a proposal, however let’s look at another example. Before some of the details come out (name of the organization left out intentionally), we can see how sparse it is. We are talking seven pages to cover generations five through eleven. What? Application_2 annotated

Too, mind you, three of the pages carry information about the sources (as in, five frontispieces). Yes.

Now, was this accepted? Well, it was the first application that I did beyond D.A.R., as in, by myself. That comment is meant to commend D.A.R. for helping new applicants through the process.

And, it was accepted. Actually, the reviewer liked the format.

What did I know? The next organization bounced this type of thing back. Thereafter, all of the applications were of the verbose nature. In fact, the last was so verbose, it passed within minutes as everything was covered (one of the best seen by the reviewer).

But, folks, is that necessary? Before you answer, I would really like to hear why genealogists do not trust one another (my take) and do not like something like D.A.R’s Record Copy.

Now, this seven-paged effort did use the D.A.R. Record Copy (thank you, unnamed organization). However, consider that the four remaining page contains snips from sources with links between generations.

What is wrong with that?

Next, the proposal will be offered and discussed. It will have a few more pages, yet those pages will be not much more than this example. Too, once we settle on the format, this will be the suggested way for documenting applications to membership of the Thomas Gardner Society, Inc.

The approach assumes that access to on-line material will persist which is not a big problem. And, it is expected that we can, through time, maintain reasonable connections to information (open issues abound that are actively being addressed by those who are responsible for technology and its usage).