News: Nebula Genomics Whole Genome, MyHeritage Photos Go Viral & Upcoming Publication Schedule

“It never rains but it pours.”

Let’s just say I’m a tad bit overwhelmed right now for numerous reasons. Never, ever even whisper to yourself, “what else could go wrong?” Because you know what happens next, right!

Right now, I need to focus on what needs to be done for RootsTech and on some unexpected matters.

Translated, this means that my blog article publication schedule is slipping, and here’s what to expect.

There won’t be any 52 Ancestors articles for at least two weeks, and perhaps a tad longer. There’s a lot of research and prep that goes into each one, and I just don’t have the cycles right now.

I will *try* to get my regular technical article out this week. I did have a couple queued before RootsTech, but they aren’t finalized. Fingers crossed.

I will try to get at least a short RootsTech article out next week while I’m there. If I manage to do that, the photos will be uncropped and it will be “rough” and brief compared to my normal articles. Think of it as embedded reporting – I’m your correspondent on the ground:)

I do have a couple very interesting newsy items to share with you today.

Nebula Genomics Introduces 30X Whole Genome Sequence, Partners with Family Tree DNA


I just received an e-mail from Nebula Genomics announcing that they are offering a whole genome 30X (30 scan coverage) sequence (WGS) for $299, plus a subscription to maintain access to updates in their research library. The idea is to sequence once and update your data forever, meaning that medical and other information will be at your fingertips as it becomes available. You can read their FAQ, here and the announcement here.

For this price, the DNA is sequenced in Hong Kong, not mainland China (a situation you can read about here,) but by BGI, renamed from Bejing Genomics Institute, a Chinese government-owned firm. This gives me significant pause due to the Chinese political regime and oppression of the Uighur population using genetic data. Nebula states that they are looking to move their processing onshore in the near future. I will be much more comfortable as soon as that happens.

However, there’s more news. Nebula has partnered with Family Tree DNA.

Hey, Family Tree DNA has a world-class lab, GenebyGene. Perhaps Nebula can move their processing there. I would even pay more to *NOT* send my DNA to a Chinese firm.

Nebula FTDNA.png

Beginning in Q2, you’ll be able to transfer at least some of your information from Nebula Genomics to Family Tree DNA’s Y and mitochondrial databases. This appears to be a direct company to company transfer, much easier than a download/upload, assures accuracy and provides enhanced security.

I don’t see details, and it’s not Q2 yet of course, but I would expect this transfer to function similar to others where the transfer and perhaps some basic tools are free, but for advanced tools, an unlock fee at Family Tree DNA would probably be required. I also don’t know if all data would be transferred, or what happens if you’ve already taken a lower level test, or if coverage isn’t sufficient. Lots to work out moving forward.

Unlike the other WGS products that I’ve considered, Nebula provides a genomic browser and available files for download. In other words, you don’t just receive your sequenced file on a disc and wonder what to do next, and how.

I do have questions about this new offering, but for the $299 price, anyone thinking about whole genome sequencing and is OK with BGI should consider Nebula, especially with the possibility of transferring Y and mitochondrial DNA directly.

As far as I’m concerned, whole genome sequencing become a viable option when:

  • It’s reasonably priced
  • The coverage is adequate, at least 30X
  • My data is secure (meaning not BGI or China)
  • I can easily transfer portions elsewhere (without having to use third party tools to extract the data) and utilize the Y, mitochondrial and autosomal files as uploads in other locations
  • The vendor provides tools or a subscription so I can reap continuing value

When Nebula processing moves onshore, or at least to a western-world lab, I’ll be all in!

My Heritage Colorized Photos Go Viral

I’m pleased to tell you that MyHeritage reports that people have colorized more than a million photos in the first 5 days since they first announced their new photo colorization tool. That means sharing with family and other people getting excited about genealogy.

I’m observing family members on social media realizing they have “long lost” pictures and sharing them when they see the new colorized photos posted. As genealogists, this is EXACTLY what we want to see.

Look at some of these amazing photos in the MyHeritage blog article, here.

Remember, if you’re not a MyHeritage subscriber, you can colorize 10 photos for free and then you can set up a free trial subscription account. When you colorize the photos, MyHeritage saves them beside the original in your MyHeritage account for you. I love this service.

If you’re having problems with older photos, try rescanning the original at the highest scan resolution possible.

I’ve also discovered that this tool doesn’t just colorize photos of people – but of buildings, landscapes and pets too. I’ve found the best results are with something that has a natural green, like leaves, because the software seems to calibrate itself by finding something it can identify.


Fluffy color.png

You’ll forgive me if I go and have a good cry now.



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18 thoughts on “News: Nebula Genomics Whole Genome, MyHeritage Photos Go Viral & Upcoming Publication Schedule

  1. The MyHeritage photo colorization is amazing. I have so many old photos and particularly old studio photos and ones taken outdoors work so well. Several of mine are among the ones tried. And the technology will only get better. Think about what Peter Jackson achieved in colorizing WW1 documentary film in terms of bringing things and people to life

  2. We will be inundated with Roots Tech info so take a break, do what you can but put the blog farther down your To Do List for a couple of weeks. We will survive. We’ll be busy, too, watching from our chairs.

  3. Hong Kong is part of China (Peoples Republic of China). We have our stamped passport proving that. I know you are busy and this is a nitpick, but I thought I should point this out since some people might be confused.

  4. I think we’ll survive, as long as it’s not for TOO long :-)! Enjoy Roots Tech! Wish I was going.

    BTW … Britain’s lease of Hong Kong ended 1 Jul 1997 and they turned it over to the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

  5. What will the Nebula Genomics bring to FTDNA BigY-700 and/or the Full Sequence mtDNA? If any, how much and what will it tell us? What is My Heritage doing with the photos we submit for them to colorize? Does submitting the photos include their gaining access to them to use/sell as they please?

    • I don’t have more answers on the Nebula/FTDNA transfers and won’t until they announce something in Q2. As for MyHeritage, they store them on your account just like any other photo you put there. You delete them at will, or download them to your computer. I’ve never known of MyHeritage selling customer photos or doing anything with them other than providing hints to other people with common trees who can look at your ancestor on your tree and save the photo to their own tree.

  6. The Uighur thing is tricky. However, a more serious problem in the region is the Indonesian genocide in West Papua where 500000 West Papuans have been killed by the Indonesians in the last 50 years. The US has its fingerprints all over West Papua as there is a fabulously rich gold mine majority owned by Freeport McMoRan, an American company. The royalties paid partly go into paying the Indonesian army’s violence against the local populations. In the 1960s West Papua was a Dutch colony, separate from the rest of Indonesia which was decolonised from the Dutch in the late 40s. The US, under JFK, insisted the Netherlands hand it over to Indonesia as a of keeping the Indonesians onside to prevent the so called downward thrust of communism, a concern that got them in trouble in Indochina at the same time. They also ordered their other allies to follow suit, including Australia. Australia has since provided a lot of military training to the Indonesians. My brother was in the Australian army and fought in a war in Borneo in the 1960s-Konfrontasi-against Indonesian soldiers trained in the same army jungle warfare school he had been in at the same time. This was while the Vietnam war was being ramped up, a decade before it was lost by the US, and during which 3 million Viets, Cambodians and Laotians were killed, and the US dropped 7 million tons of bombs on the area. While they were busy in Laos, the US was sending agents into western China to agitate the ethnic populations, including the Uighurs. So I am not surprised they are fractious. But China has a long history of tolerance of disparate populations. There was a Jewish population in China long before the west arrived in China in the 16th C. When the Portuguese and Spanish arrived they were surprised to find Jews had been there for 1500 years, but the Chinese Emperor forebade them to import the Inquisition, which had done a few years earlier in western India against India’s equally long existing Jewish population.
    And don’t forget that on its way to its manifest destiny the US trampled on its native American population, Spanish, Mexicans, Philippines, Cuba. And that is the shortest of short lists. And we won’t start on more recent times. Just as Australia has trampled on its own indigenous peoples.
    So you and I, Roberta, share a guilt by association and can’t escape that fact. We can agitate on behalf of the Uighurs, the West Papuans, etc. and should do so. But we must recognise how implicated we are in the business. None of us are innocent.
    As for the $299 deal. I actually don’t care if the Chinese do the analysis. They are more than competent scientifically. After all the second largest super computer was designed and built in China. The problem for teh West is that China is about to resume its place in the front ranks of world powers, a place it lost the day Vasco da Gama arrived in India in 1498. We need to think about that. And not act in the way the West has always done when it feels challenged, and reach for the guns.

  7. I’m looking forward to your session at Rootstech, Roberta, which I think is exactly a week away. I’m living temporarily about four blocks from the Convention Center, so if you need anything, let me know! Janet

    • Thank you so much for that offer. That’s super convenient for you for the conference. Please make sure to say hello.

  8. Roberta,

    I’m not an expert in Photoshop, but my biggest complaint about the MyHeritage colorization process is that a lot of the pictures are oversaturated! I find that in a lot of colorizaton processes. Otherwise, the colorization process isn’t too bad. But it isn’t that good either. It has to find a way of handling reds a LOT better. Making multicolored outfits out of single color clothing.

  9. I was reading this post from February and wondering if there have been any new developments regarding Nebula and their partnership with FTDNA. I checked the FTDNA website and don’t see any information there regarding Nebula.

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