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Published 10-Oct-2002

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  Family history  

Those who are becoming more familiar with the Internet are beginning to realise that all the information you ever wanted is there - it's just a matter of finding it. Tracing your family history is one such area.

In the first place, there are numerous sites at which to start your research. Some of the larger ones are and Then there's Genealogy Sleuth which has links to all aspects of tracing a family history: family tree databases, cemetry sites, place names and maps, census sites, and vital records, to name a few.

As with any research, it's best to find a site, for example, which gives some leads to other sites which have information more specific to what you want to know. In all cases, keep an eye out for sites which provide detailed records at no cost. Follow webDotWiz's rule of thumb: for each site which wants to charge a fee for a service, there are ten which give the same service free of charge.

Finding information from web sites is only part of the story. A more fruitful source of information is access to the many discussion forums and message boards which serious sites provide. Here you can ask others for information, read through posts from others, and, even better, help others by posting information you have. A consequence of you helping others is by no means trivial - you make friends with others, either in your own country or in other countries.

The final part is for you to have your own web site on which you write up various pieces of information you've gleaned from your research. The greatest advantage of this is that when asked questions by others and your answer requires a considerable amount of detail, you've written it up once on your site and its readily accessible to all. It's far easier to write an email which says "See such-and-such a page at my site" than continually spending time giving a detailed answer to the same question via email.

  Treasure hunts  

With new technology comes new ways of carrying out traditional games. A treasure hunt is often played at parties, both for young and old.

Many people now have GPS-enabled mobile phones or a GPS device. Combine the availability of these devices at a reasonable price to the public with the world-wide nature of the Internet and we now see treasure hunts conducted around the world. is a site where you can set up a page to tell others the area in which you've hidden an object. Then it's up to them to find it. Geocaching gives information about how to hide and find objects as well as encouraging everybody to help clean up the environment while you're hunting.

  Games online  

It's been a long time since games were mentioned in this column. That doesn't mean to say games are losing their appeal nor providing more entertainment.

Now that some of those who come along to the webDotWizards sessions at the Community House have found a range of online games, action is called for so as to keep their minds on the main task!

Not really, because games are a useful means of coming to terms with finding your way around the keyboard and improving keyboard skills. There seems to be no greater motivation to learn more about using a computer than beating the computer in a challenging, fun game.