Originally created 04/11/98

Software tool helps trace roots



In the Garden of Eden, Adam didn't have to concern himself with the family tree. The rest of us aren't so lucky.

The interest in one's roots is probably as certain a sign of middle age as the vast conspiracy to print all important messages in type too small to read. Maybe bumping more than a few miles on life's road sparks interest in others who made the trip.

Now, for those determined to research their past and their relatives, Sierra has a product called Generations Deluxe that's worth a look.

Generations Deluxe makes organizing and researching your family tree very easy. Included are three CD-ROMs of historical data, two of them Social Security System death records.

A few mouse clicks hauled up birth and death dates for my father and grandfather, their Social Security numbers and the ZIP code of their last known residence, all useful information as the basis for more research.

A search of a historical CD-ROM also turned up a couple of possible relatives I didn't know about.

For that sort of thing, the software has a link to the Web, and pointers to genealogy resources online.

A simple, elegant drag-and-drop interface makes it easy to organize a family-tree chart and to accompany it with photos and scanned documents (birth certificates, marriage licenses, etc.). Various bloodlines can be handled with different colors.

For those of you wondering whether or not you'll outlive a cousin you hate, the software helps you calculate life expectancy.

The program will also print out various reports. If you have trouble keeping track of who's related to whom, there's a relationship indicator to help, and direct relatives are automatically boldfaced.

The most striking feature of Generations Deluxe is the simplicity and ease of use. If you can use a mouse, you can use the software -- an advantage if your target market has a lot of folks who predate a lot of things, including computers, personal or otherwise.

Installation was smooth, and Sierra wins points for providing an uninstall utility, handy for software reviewers or those who decide they've learned more about their family than they wanted to know.

The minimum system requirements are modest: at least a 486-based 66-megahertz PC, Windows 3.1 or 95, eight megabytes of RAM, 256-color monitor, doublespeed or better CD-ROM drive.

Sierra products are widely available in software outlets.

Questions and comments are welcome. Send them to CompuBug, PO Box 626, Summit, NJ 07901. Or e-mail via the Internet, Larry_Blasko@ap.org. To make a reply easier, please include your own e-mail address in the body of the message.