25 November 2014

Family Tree DNA Holiday Sale!

Need a holiday gift?  Don’t know what to get those who have everything?

Give them what they already have…their DNA! 

Each year, Family Tree DNA has a sale for the entire month of December, and all the major tests and upgrades are included!  It begins today and ends Dec. 31, 2014 at 11:59 PM Central. 

Testing a family member or friend can reveal matches with others who relate to you that you have never met. These new relatives may have some additional information on your family and some photos you do not have.  It can help you find new genealogical research partners. DNA is the gift that keeps on giving...matches continue appearing over time.  That’s a lot of gifts for the holiday!

This year’s December sale prices:

BUT WAIT…There’s more…..

Family Tree DNA has another gift for you…

Introducing…  Drum roll, please…Ta Da!

..........Mystery Rewards

This year, FTDNA has a new twist on their annual December sales.  Not only are there discounted prices, but there is a randomized discount up to $100 off that can be applied ON TOP of the Holiday sale prices!  WOW, two gifts in one!

The Mystery Reward icon will appear on the testers’ myFTDNA dashboard each week and the code will expire the night before the next Mystery Reward appears. (See above icon.)

When you click the icon, you'll to go to the reward page (see below) to open the Mystery Reward which can be a savings up to $100.

BUT WAIT…There’s more…..

FTDNA will send an email notification to the kit’s primary email address when a new code is available for use or sharing for the next Mystery Reward.

WHAT?  There’s more than one Mystery Reward?  YES!

Best of all, there will be a new Mystery Reward every week. Customers can use this Mystery Reward discount, or they can share it with a friend or relative by using the graphic below.  


In addition, all customers who have purchased the Big Y test will receive a coupon for $50 off another Big Y test.

This coupon, like that below, that can be used ON TOP of a sale price during the holiday sale, and it can also be "re-gifted," to a friend, relative or fellow project member.

I’ve lost track!  How many gifts is that?

It is definitely time to order or upgrade your FTDNA test with this amazing sale!  Share this information with friends, family and strangers!  You never know who else may match you!  Hopefully ME!

Have a great holiday whichever it may be!

21 November 2014

AncestryDNA Announces Updates

Last October 6, seven genetic genealogy bloggers were invited to AncestryDNA’s headquarters in San Francisco for a “Bloggers Day” to learn about the coming changes at AncestryDNA. Two of the items discussed are now implemented.

Matching Improved

One of the major features is the improvement in AncestryDNA’s algorithm to determine your matches.  As Ancestry has about 500,000 sutosomal DNA (atDNA) testers at this time and their threshold (until now) was 5.0 cMs (centimorgans) with Family Tree DNA’s test called Family Finder has a threshold of 7.7 cMs and 23andMe’s threshold is 7.0.  This made Ancestry quite liberal in matching people and as a result there were many false positives (IBS).  Consequently, any tester received many matches that may not be real matches.  Most people will lose about 66% of their matches after the change which is very good!  The matches we retain will be meaningful. 

Before November 19th, I had 17,917 matches, and now I have 4,250 which is a 76% reduction. Not only is this more manageable, I am now more certain that these people actually match me through inherited DNA (IBD).

See the following blogs for more details of this meeting from some of those who were present.  Although not everything discussed is highlighted here as some changes will be made in the future.

Robert J. Estes, DNAeXplained - Genetic Genealogy

Judy Russell, The Legal Genealogist

Many genetic genealogists have tried since Ancestry began doing autosomal DNA (atDNA) tests in 2012 to have them provide a chromosome feature.  Attendees of this meeting reported the same comment by Ancestry that we heard from the beginning which is basically that Ancestry does not believe the common genealogist can understand how to use the chromosome browser.

I, along with many other genetic genealogists I know, have been teaching any atDNA tester to use the chromosome features at Family Tree DNA and at 23andMe for nearly five years to help people map their chromosomes and discover which ancestor gave them a particular DNA segment.  We have also encouraged any AncestryDNA tester to upload their data to GEDmatch (a third-party tool) in order to have a feature to see where on the chromosomes they match other testers.  I have more faith in people…this isn’t rocket science.  It can be learned.  I am not a science major (didn’t care much for biology in school) and I can understand it.  I believe Ancestry’s comment about most genealogists cannot understand chromosome mapping not to be the total story.  I have my suspicions as to why they will not do this…and I’m not alone in those beliefs.

At the meeting, the attendees were told that this action will take place before the end of the year.  However, the improved algorithm actually took place November 19th.

"DNA Circles" in Beta Testing

            A feature new to AncestryDNA started November 19th as well. Ancestry uses phased data and their new matching algorithm along with public Ancestry.com trees to determine your “DNA Circles.”
DNA Circles creates clusters of test-takers who all match the same common ancestor based on their public trees the matches have.  Each person in a circle matches at least one other in the circle. In order to be in the DNA Circles you must subscribe to Ancestry.com, have a public tree and be a DNA customer.  Customers are to receive an email about it on Nov 19, 2014, but no one I know did.

Blogs about this feature:
·         Ancestry's better mousetrap - DNA circles by Roberta Estes
·         Changes at AncestryDNA by Judy Russell
·         AncestryDNA Review and Breaking News! Updates Launched by Diahan Southard

For a view of the DNA Circle pages, see Ancestry’s blog at:
New AncestryDNA Technology Powers New Kinds of Discoveries

There is a white paper associated with DNA Circles. In the Ancestry help forum, the following was posted by Laura Davenport for anyone with an Ancestry subscription to view it.  A paraphrase of her post follows:

To view the DNA Circles’ white paper without a circle:
1. Go to your DNA matches page you’re your home page)
2. Click on the question mark upper right. This brings you to a graphic menu.
3. Click on "what can I do with my DNA matches".
4. Scroll down to the paragraph headed "Find DNA evidence for your genealogical research".
5. Click on "Learn more about DNA Circles" at the end of the paragraph.
6. Go to the end of a summary page, click on "check out our white paper on DNA circles".

Downloading Matches and Raw Data from AncestryDNA

Your matches are downloaded in a CSV (Comma Separated Values), so be sure to save it in some spreadsheet like Excel.

To download the file:
·         Go to your DNA Home Page
·         Under your name, click on the “gear icon” next to the word Settings
·         On the right hand side under “Actions”, click on the bar that says:  “Download v1 DNA Matches”.

For your matches file, your spreadsheet columns are:

Name – the person you match
Administraor – the person who manages the test. (NOTE:  You get the cryptic name they use at       AncestryDNA and no email)
Range – the of cousinship
Starred – whether you have starred this person or not
Viewed – whether you have viewed this match or not
Hint – whether there is a hint (shaky leaf) or not
Archived – (Sorry, I have no idea what this is, but maybe it has to do with attaching this info to your tree?)
Note – If you have written a note on the page, this appears.

  • Download your old match list before AncestryDNA removes those matches.
  • Download your raw data (it comes in a zip file).  Then upload it to GEDmatch
  • Also consider transferring that data to Family Tree DNA to be placed in another database (you get more matches).  You will remain in the AncestryDNA base, however.  The cost to transfer is $39 unless you have four others from Ancestry view the transfer process at FTDNA. They do not have to actually transfer for your transfer to be free.

         If you have no idea how to map your chromosomes, put the term in your browser and/or consult the following sources:

         Genetic Genealogy: The Basics and Beyond by Emily D. Aulicino, available at AuthorHouse.com, Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble online in paperback or ebook.  You can also order it from any brick and mortar store.

Email me personally at:  aulicino@hevanet.com with questions.

21 Nov 2014