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Change is good, right? PDF Print E-mail
Written by John H. B. Latrobe, Jr.   
Wednesday, 02 December 2009 14:29

To start things off, I'm currently at 19967 people in my tree. I haven't done much (of anything) on this site in the last 6 months, but I've still been adding names to the genealogy. A thank you goes out to everyone who's been contacting me with changes and updates.

Speaking of changes, I just upgraded to Windows 7, and it's not going to have any of the problems Vista had.

I skipped the whole Vista thing. Well, I tried to anyway. The last 2 laptops I bought for my daughters had Vista installed on them. They were headaches from day 1. The print services wouldn't stay running without some hacking and the blue screen of death was a daily occurrence. Things got a little better with a service pack and patches, but the one thing that never improved was the wireless performance. Specifically, when accessing any other device on my home network, the throughput drops to about snail speed. I keep all my music, photos, videos, and documents on a Readynas Duo for the family to share. Copying a song using Vista took almost as long as actually playing the song. Accessing the Internet worked fine, but any other type of wireless networking was useless. You can Google "vista wireless problems" if you want to see how many others are having the same problem.

So I held off upgrading any of my other computers to Vista and stuck with Windows XP. My laptop and desktop are both about 5 years old and seem to run slower every day. My laptop takes about 10 minutes just to boot up. Yes, I timed it. Then I saw an ad for Best Buy's PC makeover and felt it was time to upgrade. A desktop, notebook, and netbook, all for $1199. And they all came with Windows 7. Which brings me to the whole point to my article, and why it's on my genealogy website.

Windows 7 supposedly has less problems then previous MS operating systems, but that doesn't mean it'll run all your older software. Migrating my software from XP to 7 was going smoothly until I installed Family Tree Maker. I've been using FTM since before Windows was born and have been upgrading throughout the years. I've stuck with FTM 16 because I didn't like FTM 2008. The performance was terrible and they dropped many important features. Plus they changed the interface with no way to have the 'classic' look. Until FTM 2008, FTM has looked basically the same for as long as I can remember. To me this is a good thing. The method for entering and finding data has changed very little over the years. Until FTM 2008 (and 2009, and 2010). Now it's like using a whole different software package. But none of this would matter if I could keep using version 16.

Family Tree Maker 16 installed without issues on my new Windows 7 desktop. However, when I started the program, Windows stops everything and tells me there are compatibility issues. Windows 7 even gives me a link to the publisher's website to see if there's a fix. And sure enough there is. But only for the 32-bit version of 7. My machine is 64-bit as are probably almost all new PCs, but I downloaded the patch anyway and followed the instructions. I figured the patch would complain that I had the wrong version of Windows but it installed fine. Things were looking good until I ran FTM and tried to open my family tree file. FTM tells me the file may be corrupted and I should resort to my backup version. Not good. So I recopied the file from my XP machine and tried again. Same message. The funny thing is, if I closed FTM and restarted it using the 'corrupted' file, then no error message. Okay, but it wasn't really funny since this file represents close to 20 years of research. But since I get anxiety at the drop of a hat I'm afraid to trust the integrity of the file. The patch was supposed to fix a problem with previewing reports, so I opened a book on FTM and clicked preview. Now technically the patch was only for 32-bit Windows 7, but my 64-bit version told me to go to a specific website for this patch, and the patch installed without complaint. So I was more than a little upset when FTM crashed when I clicked that preview button.

So now I have 2 choices. Keep using my 5 year old XP machine while using using the new Windows 7 PC as a doorstop, or upgrade to the latest version of Family Tree Maker, FTM 2010. According to their website, version 2010 is fully compatible with Windows 7 and they've added back some of the features they removed in 2008 (like creating books - gee, maybe people might like to print their genealogy). So I bite the bullet and upgrade to 2010. The install goes smoothly and so does the import of my FTM 16 data. But when I open up 2010 I'm faced with that awful interface. Hopefully, someday I'll be praising how useful the busy screen is. But right now there's nothing intuitive compared to the old software. Bedside the interface there are other problems as well. In FTM 16 I constantly ran a kinship report to make sure that I wasn't straying down a branch of the tree that wasn't even related to me. I had created a child under me called A A. Then I could open a kinship report for the family I was working on and if A A showed up at the top I knew we were related. When I try that in FTM 2010 nothing happens. Sure, I get a message on the lower right that says 'generating report,' but nothing else. The CPU usage goes up to 50% so I know somethings happening. After a minute I click cancel and try a kinship report between myself and A A. This should work, right? Wrong! The screen still says 'generating report.' After 5 minutes the report is finished and shows that A A is my child. Five minutes! (I timed it). I went back to my old XP machine and tried the same thing in FTM 16. Five seconds! (I timed it). Well, using the kinship report for my purposes is absolutely useless. Fortunately, 2010 shows the relationship to a 'home' person right on the main people screen. So if I make myself the home person I get what I want without even running a 5 second report.

After the kinship report took 5 minutes just to list my child I clicked on 'immediate family' and the report came right up! Feeling confident I clicked on 'all individuals: 19967' and waited. I waited for 8 minutes (yes I timed that too). I just tried a 'place usage' report. That took a little over 1 minute. As I type this the CPU usage for ftm.exe is still at 50%. It took 6 minutes for the usage to drop down. Obviously, there's something wrong here. I can't imagine how long it will take to open one of my books. I'm timing it right now... 63 minutes! This is ridiculous. I'm betting that's why they left some of these reports out of 2008. You would think they would have fixed the problem after 2 improved versions.

Last Updated on Thursday, 03 December 2009 17:42
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