Kenya, Apple, Mapping, More: Thursday Afternoon Buzz, July 2nd, 2015

NEW RESOURCES

Now available: an annotated database about the papers of Andrew Jackson. “Since 1971, The Papers of Andrew Jackson project has been dedicated to transcribing and publishing Old Hickory’s entire written record. A worldwide search has gathered copies of every known surviving Jackson document, including letters he wrote and received, official and military papers, presidential addresses, drafts, memoranda, legal papers and financial records. Now a fully searchable and annotated database of these documents is available online. The Papers of Andrew Jackson Digital Edition joins a short list of prestigious editorial projects available within The American Founding Era Collection, a digital publication of the University of Virginia Press.” Looks like this is a subscription site.

The country of Kenya has a new database to help farmers with seed selection. “Mbegu means seed in Kiswahili language. According to the developers, MbeguChoice, which is the first of its kind in Sub-Saharan Africa, allows Kenyan farmers, agro-dealers and extension workers to analyse information on counties, crops, seasons and crop attributes such as drought-tolerance, disease- and pest-resistance, resulting in a list of suitable seed varieties and where they can be obtained.”

TWEAKS AND UPDATES

Google Street View has added a lot of California imagery. “California boasts more than three thousand wineries across the state, and is known for its varietals ranging from buttery chardonnays to big-time zins. Aspiring sommeliers, wine enthusiasts or just those who love a good view can now take a virtual tour of wineries across the state. Enjoy the sunny elegance and wonderful scenery at wineries like William Hill and Wolff Vineyards (we recommend you grab a glass while you browse). Explore the drums where wine is aged at Quintessa Winery before enjoying the open air patios that overlook the green hillsides of northern California.”

You can now share, manage, and create custom maps from Google Drive. “Whether you’re planning your next event, mapping out the best route to visit clients, or sharing the location of your food truck with fans, Google My Maps makes it easy to put your world on a custom map. Starting today, you can access My Maps right from Google Drive on your Google Apps account, so it’s even easier to create, find and share your custom maps.”

Twitter tool ThinkUp now lets you search your Twitter followers. You can search by a variety of ways, including hashtag, company, and emoji.

USEFUL STUFF

Fold3 is giving free access to its Revolutionary War collection until July 15th.

AROUND THE SEARCH AND SOCIAL MEDIA WORLD

Crap. USA.gov is no longer going to update its blog. To get updates, you either have to follow them on Facebook (getting updates from a liked Facebook page? Fat chance), Twitter (possible if you’ve got Nuzzel, otherwise you’re relying on timing and luck), or e-mail (here’s hoping USA.gov’s newsletter either dodges a spam filter or doesn’t end up in GMail’s “promotional” tab). With RSS feeds I knew I was going to get USA.gov’s updates. Now? Plllbbbt.

Apple is expanding its mapping fleet to new states. “Apple’s new cities are located in Colorado, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, and Wyoming. Apple will also continue surveying areas in Florida, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New York, Texas, Utah and Washington.”

Former Twitter CEO says Twitter’s new CEO will face “complex challenges”. Gee, you think? “Speaking to the Guardian before his last day at the company on Tuesday, Dick Costolo said that while Twitter had grown revenue by 97% year on year to $1.7bn (£1.1bn), the pressure placed on the company obscured its other achievements in bringing 302 million monthly active users on to the service.”

RESEARCH AND OPINION

I have an Academia.edu account just to ask people to upload papers. And Jonathas Magalhães did! His paper, Social query: a query routing system for twitter, is now available. “Social Query is a new and efficient way to get answers on the social networks. However, the popular method of sharing public questions could be optimized by directing the question to an expert, a process called query routing. In this work, we propose a Social Query System for query routing on Twitter, currently, one of the most popular social networks. The Social Query Systems analyzes the information about the questioner’s followers and recommends the most suitable users to answer the questions.” While Quora is an amazing resource, easily finding experts to answer questions is still a search area that could stand a lot of exploration. Good afternoon, Internet…

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Posters, Food, Delaware, More: Thursday Morning Buzz, July 2nd, 2015

NEW RESOURCES

A collection of radical/activist posters are now available online. “We are excited to share with everyone these Labadie Collection posters. Acquired over the past 100 years, they range in topics from anarchism (our strongest collecting area) to civil liberties, anti-colonialism, anti-war/pacifism, feminism, labor, youth and student protest, ecology, Occupy, and more. Due to their format, until now, we have only been able to provide very limited access. Our hope is that they will get more use now that everyone can view them.” There are over 2200 posters in the collection, looks like. A glance finds some that are interesting, some that are artistically wonderful, and some that could be found offensive.

Magazine African Business now has a digital archive available. “The best selling pan-African business magazine, African Business, published by IC Publications in London, has today launched its extensive digital archive. 33 years, 375 issues, and over 40,000 pages of the monthly magazine are now fully accessible and searchable, on Exact Editions, as well as the iOS and Android apps.”

The Inuvialuit Cultural Resource Centre is getting a digital archive. “The Inuvialuit Cultural Resource Centre is having its collections digitized and uploaded online thanks to a University of Alberta research project. When the project is complete, Inuvialuit audio recordings, documentaries and texts will be available on the internet.” The Inuvialuit are an Inuit people who live in arctic Canada, and any people who have a specific game to try to make each other laugh (mak) sound great to me.

Low-income families who rely on schools to help feed their children now have some help in the summer months. A new Web site lets families find summer meal resources. You can enter a zip code and get a map along with a table of results; click on the table and you’ll get a variety of information on the resource, including hours of operation, phone number, and meal types served.

The state of Delaware has launched a new online database of commercial and industrial properties available. “ZoomProspector provides real estate, demographic and industry data to help businesses and site selection professionals select locations in Delaware. In addition to having access to an interactive map that provides easy access to a comprehensive database of available properties around Delaware, selectors and potential investors will also have the ability to view information on Delaware’s labor market, infrastructure and more.”

The UCLA Film and Television Archive have launched a digital archive featuring resources from the LGBT show “In the Life”. “Created by John Scagliotti in 1992, ‘In the Life’ began as a variety-type show, but quickly evolved into a newsmagazine format, becoming an award-winning and respected source for LGBT journalism at a time when lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people were often invisible in media. Produced by In The Life Media, the series was the first — and remains the only — LGBT newsmagazine broadcast on public TV. “In the Life” ran in more than 200 markets around the country; its final episode aired in December 2012. The archive has 15 seasons of the show available online now. All 21 seasons — along with outtakes, interviews and other significant video content —will be available this fall.”

TWEAKS AND UPDATES

WordPress 4.3 beta 1 is now available. Lots of changes to this one. I like the password updates.

USEFUL STUFF

Ancestry is giving free access to records relevant to the original 13 US colonies. Free access ends Sunday.

Oh, this sounds like a great idea! Microsoft is going to launch a Minecraft education portal for teachers. “When it goes live, education.minecraft.net will provide teachers around the world with a forum to share ideas on how the video game can be used as part of lessons….The company says primary schools in Seattle are already teaching basic maths skills by calculating perimeter, area and volume in Minecraft, while middle schools students are learning about various religions by recreating sites in the game.”

AROUND THE SEARCH AND SOCIAL MEDIA WORLD

Oh, ugh. Google’s photo app made a really, really horrible mistake. “Google says it is ‘appalled’ that its new Photos app mistakenly labelled a black couple as being ‘gorillas’. Its product automatically tags uploaded pictures using its own artificial intelligence software.” This didn’t come up in testing so it could be fixed before release? Really?

RESEARCH AND OPINION

Interesting paper from Wei Wei and three other researchers (Wei Wei is getting the credit because I found it on his site at CMU) – The Fragility of Twitter Social Networks Against Suspended Users. “Social media is rapidly becoming one of the mediums of choice for understanding the cultural pulse of a region; i.e., for identifying what the population is concerned with and what kind of help is needed in a crisis. To assess this cultural pulse it is critical to have an accurate assessment of who is saying what in social media. However, social media is also the home of malicious users engaged in disruptive, disingenuous, and potentially illegal activity. A range of users, both human and non-human, carry out such social cyber-attacks. We ask, to what extent does the presence or absence of such users influence our ability to assess the cultural pulse of a region?”

You remember that mention I made last week of Google’s research that let a neural network make trippy art? Google’s open sourced the tool. “A small group of Google software engineers have open sourced a new tool that can take an image and create an artistic spin on it using deep neural networks…. To use the tool, people will also need to set up NumPy, SciPy, PIL, IPython, or a scientific python distribution such as Anaconda or Canopy.” Good morning, Internet…

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Fashion, Coding, Savannah, More: Wednesday Buzz, July 1st, 2015

NEW RESOURCES

Do you like Twitch? There’s something like that for coding. “The way Livecoding works is pretty simple. Developers stream live video of themselves coding, and users watching can ask questions or give feedback. Since launching a beta in February, Livecoding has seen 40,000 people sign up across 162 countries. Users have streamed in a variety of spoken languages, including Portuguese, Russian, and German, as well as coding languages, including C#, Python, and PHP.”

BusinessWire now has language-based Twitter feeds. “The new Twitter handles feature tweets based on news releases distributed in the following languages: Chinese (CN), Chinese (HK), Czech, Danish, Dutch, Estonian, Finnish, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Latvian, Lithuanian, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish, and Swedish.”

i-D Magazine, which as I understand it is a British magazine of fashion and youth culture, has created a digital archive of all its issue covers. Considering that the magazine goes all the way back to 1980, this is a lot of covers. Is that Sade on the cover of #14?

TWEAKS AND UPDATES

All right, Americans: IFTTT now has a 4th of July channel.

The Digital Library of Georgia, which has been a busy little bee lately, has expanded the Savannah Historic Newspapers collection. “The Savannah Historic Newspapers Archive provides online access to seventeen newspaper titles published in Savannah from 1809 to 1880. Consisting of over 103,000 newspaper pages, the archive provides historical images that are both full-text searchable and can be browsed by date. Additionally, the site is compatible with all current browsers without the use of plug-ins or software downloads.”

GMail has added literally hundreds of new themes and also emoji. This is apparently going to be rolling out but I checked and it’s on my GMail account now (and also on my Google Apps account.) But it’s annoying to have several tabs of emoji and no way to search them – at least no way I can find. Even Facebook lets you search stickers.

SECURITY/LEGAL ISSUES

The Supreme Court has refused to hear Oracle vs. Google.

AROUND THE SEARCH AND SOCIAL MEDIA WORLD

BuzzFeed speculates about Twitter going an algorithmic route. If it does I will be very, very unhappy. Nuzzel will become much less useful. “In a worst-case scenario, an algorithmic feed could turn Twitter into an inferior version of Facebook, which might, in turn, alienate its core users. But Twitter is a company motivated by profit. And if that worst-case scenario juices revenue, it could prove to be one its investors accept, even as core users decry it.” Great, let’s shit Twitter up all we want to. As long as the investors are happy, right?

RESEARCH AND OPINION

Interesting stuff from Nature: exploring ways to automatically pull fossil data from research papers. “For a field whose raison d’être is to chronicle the deep past, palaeontology is remarkably forward-looking when it comes to organizing its data. Victorian natural history museums meticulously organized their collections with handwritten cards that survive to this day. And over the past 15 years, researchers have collectively entered records of more than a million fossils into an online database, allowing them to track broad trends in the history of life. Now, palaeontologists are exploring the use of machine algorithms to pull fossil data from their research papers automatically.” Good afternoon, Internet…

I love your comments, I love your site suggestions, and I love you. Feel free to comment on the blog, or @ResearchBuzz on Twitter. Thanks!

Railroads, Chattanooga, Google Earth, More: Tuesday Morning Buzz, June 30th, 2015

NEW RESOURCES

The state of Pennsylvania is developing a new database of chemicals used by fracking companies. “Pennsylvania will require shale gas companies to disclose electronically the chemicals they use in hydraulic fracturing in a new state-run database by next summer.”

Chattanooga, Tennesee now has an online archive of historical film footage. “More than 400 reels of film depicting snippets of life in Chattanooga during the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s were donated to the Chattanooga History Center in 2009. Many of those films are finally available for viewing as a part of the center’s online digital archive. The collection originated from the Continental Film Co. of Chattanooga and primarily features industrial film, advertisements, tourism ads and documentary films from a variety of companies.”

The government of India has launched an new digital library for school books. “Now, under Digital India initiative, the Government has launched a platform that extends may help Indian school students tremendously. Aptly called eBasta (Basta means school bag in Hindi), this new platform was unveiled today by the Government that will provide digital and eBook versions of school books and other study material to school students through-out India…. The school or teachers can log on to the portal and search for eBooks and other digital content. They can then logically organize it by creating eBasta for their own students. It’s exactly like you create a bag full of schools books that are related to each standard or course.”

The Harry Ransom Center at UT-Austin has initiated an open access policy and started a new project. “In conjunction with the release of the policy, the Ransom Center launches Project REVEAL (Read and View English and American Literature), a year-long initiative to digitize and make available 25 of its manuscript collections of some of the best-known names from American and British literature of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Among the authors represented in Project REVEAL are Joseph Conrad, Hart Crane, Thomas Hardy, Vachel Lindsay, Jack London, Katherine Mansfield, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Sara Teasdale.”

TWEAKS AND UPDATES

Google will integrate the GIS data of the Federal Railroad Administration into Google Maps. “Google has agreed to integrate FRA’s GIS data, which pinpoints the location of the nation’s approximately 250,000 public and private railroad crossings, into its mapping services.”

The Digital Library of Georgia is teaming up with the Columbia Theological Seminary and launched three new digital collections. “The three new digital collections that have just been made available from Columbia Theological Seminary include: Charles Colcock Jones papers, 1831-1856 This collection includes manuscript sermons, 1831-1856, preached by Charles Colcock Jones, Presbyterian minister and educator at First Presbyterian Church (Savannah, Ga.) and other Georgia locations…James Woodrow papers, 1808, 1836-1916 [bulk 1850-1867] This collection contains correspondence by and to Presbyterian minister, educator, and editor James Woodrow and his family and associates… John Newton papers, 1783-1797 This collection consists primarily of sermon notes and sermons (1783-1797) delivered by John Newton, Presbyterian minister and founder of the Beth-Salem Presbyterian Church in Lexington, Georgia.”

Google Earth is ten years old and has some new features. My favorite is Voyager. “The world is a big place, and it can be hard to know where to begin your virtual journey. Now you can jump straight to the newest and most interesting imagery around the globe with a new layer, Voyager, available in desktop versions of Google Earth.”

USEFUL STUFF

The Next Web has a roundup of 10 interesting Twitter chats. They seem to be mostly social media oriented. Which reminds me, as long as I’m complaining about things it’s hard to search for, let’s talk live Google Hangouts. Does anyone know of a good directory/calendar of live Google Hangouts? I know Google has a list of what’s live now, but I’m thinking about something where I can say, “Oh, I have a little time Friday, let’s see what’s going on.” I know I spend most of my time under this desk, but occasionally interacting with other humans has its appeal.

From the always-awesome Mary Ellen Bates, a couple of super searcher tricks. One of the tricks she mentions is restricting search to .gov sites only. If you want to search just government sites but want to search a slightly larger data pool than just .gov, check out this Google custom search engine I put together that restricts results to government Web sites (but it uses .gov and .us, so it’s got more resources to search. You can also narrow your results by city or county if the mood takes you.)

SECURITY/LEGAL ISSUES

Make sure you have your Flash patched up, there are some exploit kits floating around. “French researcher Kafeine said on Sunday that a sample he encountered was dropping two instances of Cryptowall ransomware against a Windows 7 computer running Internet Explorer 11. Cryptowall is a strain of ransomware that encrypts files on a victim’s computer and demands a ransom, generally paid in Bitcoin.”

AROUND THE SEARCH AND SOCIAL MEDIA WORLD

Okay, this just got extra-real: Uber has acquired part of Bing’s mapping assets. “Uber will acquire assets from Microsoft Bing, including roughly 100 employees focused on the product’s image collection activities. In short, Uber is absorbing data-collection engineers from Microsoft to bolster its own mapping work.”

More Bing: it will start powering the search at AOL. “The 10-year deal with AOL is the latest to validate the exceptional quality of our search results and marketplace. No longer just a destination search engine, Bing is becoming an integral part of many popular third party devices and services, and Microsoft experiences including Windows, Cortana and Office.”

A campaign is underway to preserve the reel-to-reel recordings of Owsley “Bear” Stanley. This is going to be a huge endeavor as there are over 1300 reels and they’re kind of racing against time at this point before the reels degrade. “Although our campaign opens with a goal of $10,000, that’s just the start. The cost of digitally preserving these recordings is estimated to be US $300,000 to US $400,000 to fund two to four years of professional sound engineers’ studio time. Much of the work is a labor of love, but there is simply too much to do and not enough time for just unpaid volunteers.”

RESEARCH AND OPINION

Research: Could Facebook be useful for online learning? “In a first-of-its-kind study, Michigan State University’s Christine Greenhow found that high school and college students engaged in vigorous, intelligent debate about scientific issues in a voluntary Facebook forum….[Christine] Greenhow, recognized as one of the most social media savvy professors in America, analyzed the students’ activity on the Facebook app and found their discussion on various science issues to be largely on-topic, civil and sophisticated.”

Oooh. A study claims that Google is delivering “degraded” search results by ranking its own content higher than other, competing content. “In a study sponsored by Yelp – one of the companies listed as a complainant in the EU antitrust case against Google, former FTC advisor Tim Wu from Columbia Law School and Harvard Business School’s Michael Luca found, when given the option, users were more likely to click on results ranked by relevancy versus results that gave preference to Google’s self promoted content.” Good morning, Internet…

I love your comments, I love your site suggestions, and I love you. Feel free to comment on the blog, or @ResearchBuzz on Twitter. Thanks!

Short Sunday Buzz, June 28th, 2015

NEW RESOURCES

Indiana Modernist residence Miller House and Garden Now has an online archive.
“The robust digital collection contains 17,699 downloadable images, including architectural drawings, material samples, photographs and administrative documents related to the history of the property. The archive spans more than 50 years, from the initial planning and construction of the house to later renovations and interior design projects.”

USEFUL STUFF

Interesting: using Twitter to detect earthquakes. “The Tweet Earthquake Dispatch (TED) system uses an API that compiles tweets based on keywords such as “earthquake” and its equivalent in multiple languages. Specifically, the API searches for significant increases in tweets containing the keywords. In addition to searching for keywords, the API has parameters to remove tweets that are more than 7 words, contain numbers, the ‘@’ symbol and words such as ‘http,’ ‘predict,’ ‘drill,’ and ‘song’ to eliminate tweets that are not related to an actual earthquake.”

Roundup from Hongkiat: 20 Free VPN Services.

SECURITY/LEGAL ISSUES

.GOV credentials are being found in hacker dumps. “The security intelligence firm Recorded Future on Wednesday released a report that details its scouring of online email addresses and passwords revealed when hacker groups breach third party websites and dump their booty on the web. Searching through those user data dumps from November 2013 to November 2014 on public websites like Pastebin—not even on dark web sites or private forums—Recorded Future found 224 government staffers’ data from 12 federal agencies that don’t consistently use two-factor authentication to protect their basic user access.”

AROUND THE SEARCH AND SOCIAL MEDIA WORLD

Apparently Facebook’s real name policy is not doing much to protect its vulnerable populations. “Despite Facebook’s insistence that its ‘real names’ policy keeps its users safe, a new report reveals that Facebook is the least safe place for women online….The report found that nearly all (99 percent) the responding programs reported that Facebook is the most misused social media platform by abusers. Facebook is a key place for offenders to access information about victims or harass them by direct messaging or via their friends and family. The respondents included national domestic violence programs, sexual assault programs, law enforcement, prosecutor’s offices and civil legal services.”

RESEARCH AND OPINION

Google has apparently made a chatbot to discuss the meaning of life and answer questions. If it’s anything like Google search, it’ll autocorrect questions into things I didn’t actually want the answer to…

Buffer did a big study to discover the best times to Tweet. This is an enormous article so I’m not even going to try to quote it.

From Boy Genius Report: The top 30 most-edited Wikipedia articles. #1 doesn’t surprise me but some of the others are downright weird. “The Undertaker”? “List of Ben 10 aliens”? Good evening, Internet…

I love your comments, I love your site suggestions, and I love you. Feel free to comment on the blog, or @ResearchBuzz on Twitter. Thanks!