Thursday, November 5, 2009

Disappointment and Frustration

This evening has been an experience in disappointment and frustration, albeit mild ones, in the Great Cosmic Scheme of Things.

Waiting for my daughter to get off work after I finished my Spanish Literature class this afternoon, I sat in her office (the waiting room of the Mathematics and Statistics Department at the university), got my computer out, and did my e-mail and Twitter. I saw tweets about World Vital Records offering a free 6 months. So I thought, this sounds good, I'll sign up. I called and got signed up. Nowhere in any of the information, and at no time when I was talking to the very nice young lady on the telephone, was I told that this free 6 months consisted in anything less than full usage.

Well, it does consist in something less than full usage. I signed on tonight and searched on my great-grandfather Oscar Packard. Some links were returned. When I clicked on the links, I either got an external link (to for a census image citation, for example) telling me that I could sign up for a Footnote subscription or buy a single image for about 2 and a half bucks; or I was redirected to a screen within World Vital Records urging me to sign up for a paid subscription. I did not get access to images on World Vital Records with this free trial. So I know that there was an article about an Oscar Packard in the Logansport, Indiana, Pharos-Reporter, but I can not yet determine whether this was "my" Oscar Packard or not. Could I at least get some sort of abstract of the article in my search, so that I could make at least a good guess whether this was my guy or not?

That's a disappointment. And since I have not been able to fully test drive the complete functionality of World Vital Records, so that I really do not know whether what they have would be in any way useful to me, I'm not sure I'd sign up for a paid version. For one thing, if I got the paid version, would I be able to access the census image from Footnote as part of the World Vital Records subscription, or would I still have to buy a subscription to Footnote, or at least pay the two and a half bucks for the single image? I like full disclosure when someone wants to induce me to sign up for something, and I do not feel like I have been given full disclosure here.

I'll poke around it some more -- maybe there is a workaround. A citation would be helpful, so I'll look for citations. There is not a full citation to the newspaper article, but there was a citation to the census information. If the World Vital Records result comes from a free database, such as one I uncovered for an Oscar Packard (not mine) from Find A Grave, you are given access to the complete information and the images, through a redirect to that website. The convenience of having the links to a variety of free databases concentrated in one place might be worth money to some, but not to me. I am familiar with many of the free databases, have most of them bookmarked, and can do that sort of search for myself. I really don't feel a need to pay a third party to be a gateway.

And if anyone can demonstrate to me that I have a misimpression, do say so. I'd be happy to learn what I may not know about how to benefit from this free trial.

The frustration came from, for which I do have a paid subscription. I went to access an image, and since I use Mozilla Firefox, I got an error message saying that I would have to use Internet Explorer to view the image. That has not happened previously. The last time I searched on Ancestry and found images, just a couple weeks ago, Mozilla Firefox worked just fine. Is this somehow related to having gone public (that is an IPO I would like to have got in on . . . if I could have afforded it . . .)? At any rate, it is just a bit irritating. When they have something that works just fine for the greatest number of people (who use a variety of browsers), why all of a sudden should that change to a more restrictive stance, requiring the use of one specific browser? I like choice as much as I like full disclosure, and I don't like my choices limited, especially when they were previously unlimited.

I will grouse loudly and mightily, but I will grudgingly use IE on Ancestry from now on.

But can anyone please tell me how to turn off that d----d annoying popup that comes up on every page, sometimes multiple times, asking me if I want ActiveX to operate?


Thomas MacEntee said...


I've not found WVR helpful at all - this was when there was a free trial back in August I believe so I've decided not to pursue it.

As for Ancestry and images with Firefox, before reverting to IE (which I loathe with a passion) consider downloading and installing Google Chrome. I use it with Ancestry and there are no issues. You can also run Chrome and Firefox at the same time with no issues.

Karen Packard Rhodes said...

Thanks for the tip! I'll give Chrome a try.
(Anything to avoid having to rely too much on IE!)

Mavis said...

Like Thomas, I tried WVR during one of their free trials earlier this year. I'm another that didn't find it very helpful and won't purchase.

Travis LeMaster said...

Thanks for this article & comments regarding WVR. Have not had the problem with Firefox and Ancestry.

Carol Dew said...

When I couldn't get any returns on a search of the surname "Smith," I decided WVR wasn't something I was going to spend money on.

As soon as Footnote gets the US census images up and running, I'll be through with I only ever use it for census images, and I can get the UK censuses (and full BMD indices) through anyway.

(Apologies if this comment comes through more than once; couldn't get it to submit with FireFox, so I switched to Safari.)