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Louis Kessler's Behold Blog

Done and Onward - Sun, 26 Mar 2017

What a few months! Finished up RootsTech and left with 3rd place in the Innovator Showdown. Took a much needed one-week vacation with my wife. Finally got out of my boot and started driving again. And I finished DMT’s new website at www.doublematchtriangulator.com and last week released version 1.5 of DMT. With that version, DMT is no longer free – a lifetime license now costs $40 US. There’s just too much work and subsidiary costs involved in supporting a product for others to be able keep it as freeware.

Version 1.5 of DMT included a couple of fixes if you use the By Chromosome option. In that run’s People file, the numbers in column AH and after were not correct as they included the a-b match which they shouldn’t have. Also, not  matching to anyone will no longer crash the program.

In the meantime, I’ve arranged to do a number of talks.

  1. I’ll be giving a demo of Double Match Triangulator to the Association of Professional Genealogists (APG) Virtual Chapter on April 1, only open to APG members.
  2. I’ll be attending IAJGS 2017 in Orlando in July and giving a Workshop on using DMT
  3. I’ll be attending the Great Canadian Genealogy Summit in Halifax in October and giving 3 talks on DNA testing and using the results.image


Onward with Behold

Now that DMT’s good for a bit, it’s time to shift back to Behold, whose Version 1.3 has been patiently sitting waiting for me to get back to it and finish it off. I’m excited about getting this version done and releasing it. It will have the last set of changes to the Everything Report that I feel are needed prior to starting to work on changing Behold from being just a GEDCOM reader into the fully capable genealogy editor that I want and need it to be.

The thrust of this last set of changes is adding some important DNA information that I know I’ll be using. I’m sure any of you who have already got into DNA testing or are planning to, will want these features as well. Relationships, chance of matching, expected amount of match, as well as DNA candidates will be available. I’ll write up a full blog post on them as I approach completion.


Then more for DMT

Flipping back to DMT, I know I want to remove the dependency that DMT has with the Excel libraries that are available only if you have Microsoft Office on your computer. I found a package called TMS FlexCel which I’ll purchase which will allow the creation of Excel files without having Excel.

The other thing this package will allow me to try, is to see if I can convert DMT to be compilable not only for Windows, but also for Mac. I currently use the VCL (Visual Component Library) which is the framework for developing Windows applications. With TMS FlexCel, I can try to convert from VCL to the FMX (FireMonkey) framework which would allow me to produce versions of DMT that would run on Windows, MacOS, and Linux.  I may also want to see if I can make DMT a Universal Windows Platform (UWP) app and add it to the Windows Store. And then, if I could figure a way to display a huge spreadsheet nicely on a phone, and figure out why I might want to do it, FMX would allow me to make a version of DMT for your Android or iOS phone.

Then there’s a few important improvements needed to DMT. It needs to be able to read in 23andMe match files directly, as well as read in GEDmatch matches directly. Then you’ll no longer have to convert those formats to FamilyTreeDNA format by hand, which will make sure the conversion is done correctly and save you time.


And Back to Behold

I’ll have to design the Behold database, build in GEDCOM export, and add editing.

I was at one time considering SQLite as the database that I’d use, but since then I’ve been convincing myself that the proper solution is a NoSQL database. SQL databases are relational, and have a fixed predefined structure. This is limiting in genealogical software and requires a rebuild whenever a field is added or changed. NoSQL databases are unstructured and extendable. The allow flexibility and can handle very large data sets (Google, Twitter, Ancestry and FamilySearch all use NoSQL) and if you need more web processing power, you just add another server. Using a NoSQL structure will allow me to keep data from other sources in their near-native form rather than force-converting them into something else.

I will have time to decide on the final database structure, SQL or not, before I start this work.


And Back to DMT Again and Behold some more

Double Match Triangulator doesn’t do everything I want it to do yet. It’s got to take that final leap and be able to do that mapping of your ancestral segments to your DNA for you. Currently DMT only lays out your matches for you to analyze. But if I can attain that next step, then DMT will become something amazing.

And Behold, once editing is added, needs to interface with the online systems, FamilySearch, MyHeritage, Ancestry (if they’ll let me) and whoever else is an important system that I’ll want to obtain genealogy information from or sync with.

DNA interfaces would be nice as well. Why not load your DNA matches into your genealogy program? It’s just a matter of figuring out what ties between your genealogy research and your DNA test results are important and useful. Debbie Parker Wayne recently wrote: Wanted: Genetic Genealogy Analysis Tools Incorporating Family Tree Charts. Debbie gives some good ideas. I commented on her post and there’s some other good comments there as well.

Lot’s to do. Back to work.

My MyHeritage DNA Results Have Come In - Sun, 12 Mar 2017

First off, that didn’t take very long! At RootsTech, just over one month ago, I took a DNA test at the MyHeritage booth. I didn’t have to mail it back. Instead the MyHeritage people delivered all the samples they collected at RootsTech directly to the lab in Texas.

A couple of weeks before RootsTech, I was selected to receive a free MyHeritage DNA test kit at RootsTech. I wasn’t going to turn down that opportunity. Previously, I had tested my uncle and myself at FamilyTreeDNA. I was interested in comparing the results and seeing what MyHeritage, the new DNA kid on the block, was going to provide.

The first email I got was yesterday morning. image

Clicking on the View DNA results link led me to their site


So this was going to give me my ethnicity make-up.

I know the ethnicity results from the various DNA companies vary. Each is based on a base of several thousand people they use, and the assumption is that the people know accurately their ancestral origins. This is tricky for them to do, because if one of the people is 50% Swedish and 50% Mexican, then anyone who matches this person will get a little of both when they really are only related on one side. Obviously, the companies will not include this extreme case in their base, but the illustration is accurate, because the same thing can happen 2 or 3 or 4 generations back, and therefore allocate a significant percentage of inaccurate ethnicity to a person’s whole.

The second inaccuracy in ethnicity percentage is because a person does not get the same amount of DNA at each ancestral level from each ancestor. For example, the normal case is having 32 great-great-great-grandparents. Therefore, each should average just over 3% of your ethnicity makeup. So if two of your g3-grandparents were from Sweden, you’d expect that 6% of your ethnicity report would be from Sweden. But DNA does not pass down evenly. The amount of DNA passed down from each g3-grandparent can vary greatly. You might not get any from some and could get as much as 6% or even 8% from others.

In my case, none of that should be a problem. I am a good test case for how good the base is, since as far as I know, anything less than 100% Ashkenazi for me is likely incorrect. All my lines as far back as I can go don’t indicate anything otherwise. Even my Ancestral Birthplace Chart is boring, with my father’s side all Romania, and my mother’s side the country right next door: Ukraine.

So let’s see the results at MyHeritage:


Hmm. They got 83.8% right. The East Europe 3.8% could be argued that they got the locale right but the group wrong. I really have to laugh at the 1.0% Eskimo/Inuit though. Maybe that’s a result of my living through the frigid winters in Winnipeg all my life, that my genes have evolved into Eskimo.

Let’s compare to my FamilyTreeDNA ethnicity estimates.


They only got 79% right with an 11% locale correct for Eastern Europe. Wonder where they got the 2% British Isles from. And my total is just 99%.

My uncle was only tested at FamilyTree DNA and he is 100% from Romania. He came out to 89% Ashkenazi Diaspora, 2% Eastern Europe and 8% Eastern Middle East. Well, like my total, that also totals only 99%. And how does my uncle get Eastern Middle East but I get Asia Minor?

To me, the ethnicity results provide me with no information (although maybe I’ll flaunt my being part-Eskimo). What’s really important to me are the matches.

At FamilyTreeDNA, I currently match to 9,637 people. The high number is likely because I match to most of the people of Ashkenazi heritage who have tested there due to the great amount of endogamy in this population. If the Ashkenazi could map everyone just like the Icelandic people did, we’d be able to use an app like they’ve got to determine how we’re related. Unfortunately, our records don’t go back to 1000 A.D. and to make things more difficult, our people were one of the last to adopt surnames and that happened in the early 1800’s, only about 5 generations ago. So of those 9,637 people, I only have confirmed relationships of two: my uncle and a 3rd cousin.

MyHeritage DNA is a new DNA testing company. They only started up last year but with the enormous reach and large worldwide membership of their MyHeritage site, they are growing quickly. I was interested to see how many matches I had. That number initially turned out to be 260. They are shown for me on 26 pages, 10 per page, in order of decreasing shared DNA. My first three entries look like this:


They provide the name of the person, sometimes a picture of the person, their approximate age (I like that), where they are from, the possible relationship range, a percentage of shared DNA (I find that useless if the cM is given), the shared cM, the number of shared segments, the largest segment in cM, and the size of their tree at MyHeritage along with a link to their tree.

That is all very nice. MyHeritage is of course trying to use the DNA testing to get more people to use their services. This is a great initial step and they seem to be doing all the right things so far.

One odd thing in their relationships. I wonder why they state: “1st cousin twice removed”. I would sooner them state “2nd cousin” which is the same genetic distance. It is more likely your match is at the same generational level to you than for them to be 2 generations before or after you.

The big question is whether the MyHeritageDNA match information is compatible with the match data from other services. MyHeritage and FamilyTreeDNA use the same company in Texas to analyze their DNA tests. You would think the test results should be similar.

I did find a few of my matches who tested at both companies. Here’s the comparison:


MyHeritage is too optimistic about the Possible Relation. With endogamy, the relationships should be lessened at least to what FamilyTreeDNA has.

My Heritage Total cM is less than FamilyTreeDNA’s. That is okay. All that means is that FamilyTreeDNA is including smaller segments than MyHeritage. FamilyTreeDNA includes segments as small as 1 cM in their total. MyHeritage likely only goes down to, say, 3 cM or 5 cM.

But it’s the largest cM that bothers me. For this the two companies should have the same values, but don’t. And they’re not out by a small amount either. MyHeritage’s largest segment in all cases are larger than FamilyTreeDNA’s. I have no explanation for this, but it is indicative that the two sets of analysis have something significant that is different between them.

What MyHeritageDNA haven’t done yet, and it remains to be seen if they do, or if they hold out like AncestryDNA, is whether they provide you the ability to download your match data. Currently, if you want a list of the people you match with, you’ll have to go through your pages and record the info yourself, one by one. Nor is the segment match data supplied. As a result, I cannot check the individual matches to see why they differ from FamilyTreeDNA.

MyHeritage does allow you to download your raw data, and you can import that into GEDmatch. So currently, the only way you can use your MyHeritage data with Double Match Triangulator is through GEDmatch.

None-the-less, it’s a good start for MyHeritage. They’ll grow quickly and likely join the big-3: AncestryDNA, 23andMe and FamilyTreeDNA as the 4th major player in the DNA-testing circuit. I hope they make the decision to implement some DNA analysis tools and allow you to download your own data. And lets also hope that they don’t become one of those companies that sells your data to others, and hide that in their terms of agreement.

Now, what can I do to find my Eskimo relatives?


Followup: March 13, 2017: Ann Turner and Annemieke van der Vegt pointed out on the ISOGG Facebook group that the raw data can be downloaded from MyHeritage. There are 3 little dots that you can click on and the download option will appear. The raw data then can be uploaded to GEDmatch. I’ve updated my post to reflect this info.

Update: April 4, 2017:  FamilyTreeDNA did a major update to their Ethnic Makeup algorithm. Many people have said it is much improved. It is as well for me, with more Ashkenazi accounted for.

Here’s my new results:


Ashkenazi up from 79% to 92%. British Isles and Asia Minor are gone. I don’t believe the 7% West and Central Europe. It should be East Europe. The trace of West Africa is new and perplexing.

My uncle improved as well. He went from 89% Ashkenazi to 96%, with trace amounts from Southeast Europe (okay), West Middle East (maybe), South Central Africa (huh?) and Central Asia (nope). You think maybe my uncle’s Central Asia is where my 1% Eskimo at MyHeritage came from?

Update: May 31, 2017:  I transferred my FamilyTreeDNA raw data over to MyHeritageDNA a couple of months ago to see how it would compare. Both my tests were done on the same person, i.e. me, and analyzed at the same lab, since MyHeritageDNA and FamilyTreeDNA both use the same lab in Texas.

I would have expected my ethnicity as analyzed by MyHeritageDNA, whether from the MyHeritageDNA kit or from the FamilyTreeDNA Kit to be very similar. Here’s how they look:


I would only consider the Ashkenazi, East European and Balkan to be correct. The discrepancies in each line between the two tests are surprising. In one test, MyHeritageDNA says I have Iberian, North African and Eskimo. In the other it says I have NorthWest Europe and Irish/Scottish/Welsh.

Identical siblings should not give different ethnicity results, and neither should raw data from the same person analyzed for ethnicity by one company.

Some people comment that “ethnicity estimates are not an exact science”.

Well I would say it’s more like “an approximate art”.

Heavy Lifting: Building a New Website - Sat, 11 Mar 2017

I knew it wouldn’t be easy. But I scheduled yesterday, March 10, to be the launch date for a website for my Double Match Triangulator program.

The new website is here:  doublematchtriangulator.com

There’s a lot involved in preparing a new website, even if you’ve done a few before. To be honest, I wasn’t looking forward to it. There were just so many tiny details to take care of to set it up. It’s just a lot of work.

Fortunately, I already have a web host (Netfirms) and I know the procedure. So that’s 3 months out of the way. A couple of months ago, I registering the domain name:  doublematchtriangulator.com. Not surprisingly, that domain name was still available. Fortunately, the domain farmers haven’t snatched up all the 23 letter dot com domain names yet. I cheaped-out and didn’t pay the extra for domain privacy, so I put up with about 100 spam emails and a dozen phone calls to my house from people in far off countries that wanted to develop my website or optimize my site for search engines. I (and my family) weathered that storm and set up a redirection temporarily from my new domain to my Double Match Triangulator page on my Behold website.

Back from vacation with my wife on Monday, I started working on my new site. I didn’t want to do anything too different and wanted it to have the same look and feel as my Behold site, so people would realize the two are connected, but different enough to be able to distinguish them. With several possible options, I thought I’d change the color scheme from blue to either mauve or green and create a new header for DMT to go with it.

So first step was to take the Cascading Style Sheet for the Behold site, copy the behold.css file to a dmt.css file, and modify it so that the colors were all adjusted. I picked green and spent a full day fiddling with the colors and adjusting some other elements to get them the way I wanted.


I am no graphic artist, and it took me 4 full hours the next day to finally settle on a header that I at least thought was satisfactory. I bounced the ideas off a friend who is a website designer and he gave me a couple of alternative ideas that included an image of a DNA helix as a logo. I don’t know if anyone has the copyright for that particular graphic and don’t really feel I want to use anything but my sun logo to represent my programs, so I thought I’d start off with what I came up with for now.

I had to then decide what to include. My Behold site was incrementally developed over the years and there’s a lot of mechanics to it. For the DMT site, I wanted it simplified. I would not have a separate blog or forum there. The blog would refer back to my Behold blog. I organized my new pages, and retooled the information that would be on each. I came up with this which I’m quite happy with:


The style sheets ended up causing me a big problem. I spent almost all day yesterday trying to figure out why they weren’t working. The pages weren’t  respecting the page width and continued to expand in width even after they reached the 800 pixel width that I was limiting them to. These were adjustments I made several years ago to allow the site to be “responsive” and would automatically resize for smaller screen sizes of smartphones. This is done with the CSS statement:  “@media screen and (min-width: 800px)”.


For hours, I couldn’t figure out what was going on because this was working on the Behold site but not on the DMT site. The final answer (realized at 1 a.m. this morning) was that I had not included a second css file that I had on the Behold site for older browser versions. I had inadvertently put “media print” instead of “media screen” in a few places in the first file (a mistake on my part) and the second css file on the Behold site ended up handling them. That is something I should fix so that I don’t get caught by it again, but at least now, by also including that 2nd file for the DMT site, it all works. I had the website up by 2 a.m. this morning, 2 hours after my goal date of March 10.

I had got most of the way through setting up the selling page for DMT and building in the registration tools into the program. There’s still a bit to do on that part and then testing to ensure it works reliably. Once that’s ready to go, I’ll update the site to allow the purchasing of a lifetime license for DMT.

So, for a short time, you can still get the current version of Double Match Triangulator for free.

I’ve got lots planned for DMT. I want and need it to map my DNA segments to my ancestors and do the analysis for me so that I don’t have to do it manually. If I can get DMT to do that for me, then it will do it for you as well. Stay tuned.