Tanzania, Blue Cross, SEC, More: Monday Buzz, October 5th, 2015


The country of Tanzania has a new oil and gas database. “The Tanzania Oil and Gas Almanac, a database prepared by the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) Tanzania, will act as a single gateway for oil and gas information and data. The chief editor of the almanac, Mr Abdallah Katunzi, said having the database is crucial for policymakers, researchers, media and the public to obtain data on the extractive industry.” The database will be available in both English and Kiswahili.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield are aggregating health care cost and quality data in one big database. “Consumers eager to review cost and healthcare quality data before making a care decision are in luck. If they are covered under the Blue Cross and Blue Shield (BCBS) umbrella, that is. All 36 BCBS companies pledged to pool their cost and healthcare quality data to the BCBS Axis, the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association announced. The BCBS Axis is a database of healthcare information containing data from 96% of U.S. hospitals, covering 2.3 billion yearly procedures. BCBS companies can distribute this data, which is derived from every U.S. zip code, to its affiliated physicians and patients.”

The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has launched a rulemaking database. “Our rules provide important standards against which we assess compliance in our examinations and hold wrongdoers accountable in our enforcement actions. I am therefore pleased to announce the launch of a new database on our website that will provide enhanced transparency into this vital activity, available at http://www.sec.gov/rules/rulemaking-index.shtml. This online resource, which will be updated regularly, will bring together information about our rules in a single site where the public can more easily follow specific rules or rulemaking programs. The objective is to give the public ‘one-stop shopping’ for better understanding the development of new rules.”

Valparaiso University has created a digital archive of its student newspaper, The Torch. The archive covers 1914-1992.


Yahoo has launched two new digital magazines. “On Yahoo Real Estate, you will have access to exclusive real estate listings coupled with the original editorial content Yahoo is known for. Led by Editor Jennifer Karmon, Yahoo Real Estate is a highly visual resource that helps you to personalize your home search….We’re also adding to our collection of entertainment magazines with the launch of Yahoo Celebrity led by Josh Wolk, Executive Editor of Yahoo Entertainment and Rebecca Detken, managing editor of Yahoo Celebrity.”

Facebook’s Graph search now lets users view all the photos you have ever liked. I tried this and it does work, though it can take a while to load if you’re looking at a lot of photos. I tried it with my husband (who is rarely on Facebook) and because he has only liked a couple of photos it popped right up. I tried it with my friend Kathy, and it’s still loading at this writing.

Google is bringing broadband to Ghana. “Since we first announced Project Link in Uganda, our work with partners like RENU has shown us what’s possible, and we want to see more. That’s why today, we are expanding Project Link to Ghana, our first country in West Africa, so that we can work with local Internet service providers (ISPs) and mobile network operators (MNOs) to bring fast, reliable broadband to more people across the continent.”


Facebook is experimenting with video profile pictures. I’ll have to animate my South Park avatar. “Profile videos will only loop when someone visit’s the user’s profile page — they won’t appear when that person’s status update shows up in your news feed. Instead, you’ll see a frame for the video the user selects. Meanwhile, audio only plays in full-view mode when someone taps into the video; it won’t play when someone is viewing your profile.”

One of my favorite tools, Nuzzel, has gotten more funding. “[Jonathan] Abrams didn’t say how much additional cash he’s raised, but he described the new funding as ‘relatively small in size compared to some of our tech-industry investors’ — this was less about the size of the investment and more about getting backers from the news and media industry. Nuzzel previously raised $3.4 million in funding.”

Is Snapchat going to let brands sponsor your selfie? “Ephemeral messaging app Snapchat is reportedly working on a new advertising unit that will let brands insert marketing messages into your selfies. Sources tell The Financial Times that the company is working with advertisers on its ‘sponsored lenses,’ which could be out this Halloween.”

Evernote is refocusing on its core and trimming some staff. “Evernote’s strength is in its core: notes, sync, and search. That’s where we’re going to focus. Achieving that focus means making some difficult decisions. Today we let go of 47 people from the Evernote team and announced the closure of three of our global offices. We are grateful for the immense contributions of each and every affected person.”


This is an interesting angle of research: Selling blood and gametes during tough economic times: insights from Google search. “To use Google Insights search volume and publicly available economic indicators to test the hypothesis that sperm, egg, and blood donations increase during economic downturns and to demonstrate the feasibility of using Google search volume data to predict national trends in actual sperm, egg, and blood donations rates….Cross-correlation statistical analysis comparing Google search data for terms relating to blood, egg, and sperm donations with various economic indicators including the S&P 500 closing values, gross domestic product (GDP), the U.S. Index of Leading Indicators (U.S. Leading Index), gross savings rate, mortgage interest rates, unemployment rate, and consumer price index (CPI) from 2004-2011.” Good morning, Internet…

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NASA, NHA, Disasters, More: Sunday Buzz, October 4th, 2015


The Project Apollo Archive has added over 8,000 high-resolution images to Flickr. “The collection includes original scans from the Hasselblad cameras the astronauts used to document their missions, including some of the most iconic space photos in history. What’s perhaps more exciting are the thousands of other photos that document minutia from the missions, including hundreds of photos of different aspects of the moon.” Even if you don’t want to dive into the collection, visit this blog post. Great photos.

12,000 National Endowment for the Humanities grant records spanning 1966-1979 are now available online. “Over these two years and some odd months, we keyed grant data from thousands of edge-notched McBee cards into a development database, scanned the cards and ran optical character recognition (OCR) software, reconciled funding amounts, and wrote scripts to ingest and integrate data into the NEH’s electronic Grants Management System. And, as of September 2015, all the award records are open to search via the Funded Project Query Form and as datasets on Data.gov. We’re so excited to share this institutional history, especially as the NEH celebrates its 50th anniversary September 29, 2015.”

Now available: an online archive devoted to disasters and humanitarian crises across all history. “Currently focused on disasters in China’s past, as we expand our scope we invite contributions from experts on the subject of disasters, broadly defined, in all regions and periods of history. As we develop, we also aim to serve as a forum of collaborative work and data-sharing for researchers from around the world.”


Handy! Sideplayer for Chrome lets you watch YouTube videos in a popup.

More extensions: TechCrunch has a briefwriteup on GoogleGIFs. This extension animates GIFs in Google image search results.

Teachers! The National Science Foundation has a great roundup of “citizen science” projects where participants can help count birds, identify plankton, measure precipitation, and more.

Banjo Discovery is being offered to journalists for free. “Since launching, Banjo has mapped the earth, recording what each location looks like on social media on a usual day, and built a technology that can alert users to any changes in this activity, such as a flurry of posts about a breaking news event.”


Google/Alphabet has dropped “Do no evil,” in favor of “Do the right thing,”, and equally-meaningless slogan as it’s completely subjective. “Do the right thing” according to what? US law enforcement’s desire to gather cell phone data with little oversight? The UN-stated position of encryption as a human right? The people who think Twitter harrassment and spam is free speech? The EU court rulings which state their court rulings should apply to search results all over the world? Drop the slogans, Googlebet. There’s no point.

Edward Snowden joined Twitter and immediately got bodyslammed by notifications. “Snowden, who pulled in around one million followers in not much time at all, soon found that he was overwhelmed by the attention and returned to Twitter to complain. His complaint was that all this attention had loaded him with some 45GB of notifications, which might show on his communications bills, particularly the part that concerns data.”

Google has officially become Alphabet. Google still exists as a subsidary, so I’ll keep calling Google Google. “The company announced its plans for a new corporate structure back in August. Google itself will continue to exist under the leadership of CEO Sundar Pichai, while Alphabet serves as “a collection of companies” led by CEO Larry Page.”

Fun with goofing around: someone managed to own the Google.com domain name… for one whole minute. 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!

Hip-Hop, Kmart, AdBlock, More: Short Saturday Buzz, October 3rd, 2015


Regina Flores Mir has mashed up hip-hop and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and it’s so wonderful. “A new project from Regina Flores Mir, an MFA candidate in the Parsons design and technology program, couples hip hop lyrics with the Met’s collection for a curated art tour. She came up with the idea while interning at the museum, inspired by a group of students she knew at a housing project in Jamaica, Queens who had never been, despite living just a few miles away.” You get the song, lyrics, and matching items from the Met’s collection. Now the downers: there’s only one song per artist, and only 13 artists. Missy Elliot and Queen Latifah are here, but I want to see Monie Love, MC Lyte, and Kool Moe Dee. (Remember back in the 80s when there was a big LL Cool J vs Kool Moe Dee thing? I was a total Kool Moe Dee fan.)

His user name is Davismv. He worked at Kmart for ten years. That’s all I know. But he saved the tapes that were played on the Kmart PA and now he’s uploaded them to the Internet Archive. Most of them are about 90 minutes each and there are about 50, spanning the early 1990s. Obviously I have not listened to them all, but it’s a lot of easy listening, PA announcements, etc. They are weirdly glorious. (Hat tip to John S for bringing them to my attention and making me spit tea on the screen.)


I’m not going to lie to you: I use an ad blocker. I felt like I had to do that after the auto-playing audio at 2am, the browser crashes, and the malvertising scares. I want to support publishers, but do I have to do it at the cost of my own productivity? I hope this gets resolved one day. Anyway, I used AdBlock. And yesterday I discovered that AdBlock has been bought. I don’t know who bought it though, because the buyer wants to remain anonymous. I also learned that AdBlock will be participating in what’s called “The Acceptable Ads program,” where some group of individuals decides what’s a non-annoying ad and lets it through AdBlock. I don’t even care about that, though. You know why? Because according to the Chrome store, AdBlock can both read and change all the data on all the sites you visit, as well as read your browsing history. And if I’m going to get some anonymous company run an extension that can do that on my computer, I’m even dumber than I look. If anyone’s got a suggestion for another ad blocker, leave a comment.


From Aljazeera.com: the top Google searches in Syria. “AJ+ spoke to Google to find out what Syrians are searching for and found that according to search volumes over the past fortnight, people have been searching for their closest hospitals, how to treat burns at home and how to perform mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. But the most popular search terms were about finding a way to Europe, and more specifically, how to reach Germany.”

Politico: Can anyone save the Library of Congress? Yes. But it won’t be James Billington and I’m glad he’s gone. Brewster Kahle, please.

Congratulations to Project Gutenberg for the release of its 50,000th ebook. Michael Hart would be proud. “Project Gutenberg is thrilled to achieve the milestone of eBook #50,000. In honor of Project Gutenberg’s founder, Michael S. Hart, a special title was selected. “John Gutenberg, First Master Printer, His Acts, and most remarkable Discourses, and his Death” is now available at http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/50000.”;


Apparently Scottrade has been hit with a hack. (Based on the number of things I’ve got in my Pocket queue, you’re going to see several such stories in ResearchBuzz shortly. “Welcome to Day 2 of Cybersecurity (Breach) Awareness Month! Today’s awareness lesson is brought to you by retail brokerage firm Scottrade Inc., which just disclosed a breach involving contact information and possibly Social Security numbers on 4.6 million customers.” And guess what? It looks like the actual hack was over 18 months ago.

You may remember last year, the developers of TrueCrypt abandoned it, saying it wasn’t secure and suggesting no one use it. There wasn’t a lot of explanation at the time. Well now we have more details: TrueCrypt has critical security flaws. “Google Project Zero researcher James Forshaw found two ‘privilege elevation’ holes in the popular software that would give attackers full access to your data. Worse yet, TrueCrypt was audited earlier this by a crowdfunded team of iSec security researchers and found to be error-free.” 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!

Indonesia, Genomic Variations, Rhode Island, More: Friday Buzz, October 2nd, 2015


The magazine Inside Indonesia now has a digital archive of its editions from 1983 to 2007. “In collaboration with the National Library of Australia, Inside Indonesia is pleased to announce that an archive of editions of the magazine currently only available in hardcopy form – editions 1 (1983) to 89 (2007) – are now available in digital form.” This archive is apparently free; I browsed a couple of issues with no trouble.

Now available: the world’s largest catalog of human genomic variation. “An international team of scientists from the 1000 Genomes Project Consortium has created the world’s largest catalog of genomic differences among humans, providing researchers with powerful clues to help them establish why some people are susceptible to various diseases. While most differences in peoples’ genomes — called variants — are harmless, some are beneficial, while others contribute to diseases and conditions, ranging from cognitive disabilities to susceptibilities to cancer, obesity, diabetes, heart disease and other disorders. Understanding how genomic variants contribute to disease may help clinicians develop improved diagnostics and treatments, in addition to new methods of prevention.”

The Providence Public Library has a new digitized image collection. “Created by the Providence Public Library from eight collections, it’s got nearly 5,000 items of easily searchable pieces of Rhode Island history – post cards, manuscripts, photographs – and the library is adding to it every day. It’s free, open to all, and the library encourages you to download and comment on the images.”


Skype’s nifty translator feature is being rolled out to Windows users. “With live translation available for six voice languages (English, French, German, Italian, Mandarin and Spanish) and 50 messaging languages, it’s a big step in breaking down barriers in communication.”

Google has announced the Google Music Family Plan. “At its big Nexus event Tuesday, Google introduced some updates to Google Music, including a new family plan. For $14.99 a month, up to six people in a household can have unlimited access to streaming music and accessing their own Google Music libraries.”

More Google: Google Photos has gotten several updates. I still miss Picasa but this looks worth exploring.

The Medical Heritage Library now has 100,000 digitized books. Zow! ” The Medical Heritage Library (MHL) brings together a huge curated collection of digitised works related to health and medicine in the 19th and 20th centuries, drawn from some of the most important medical history libraries in North America and the United Kingdom.” The 100,000th book is an 1893 missive on massage, which includes methods for eye massage that have completely squicked me out. I didn’t want dinner anyway.

The Raspberry Pi has a new operating system: Jessie. I guess if you want to download it you’ll wish that you had Jessie’s URL. (Sorry) “Many of the changes between Wheezy and Jessie are invisible to the end-user. There are modifications to the underlying system to improve performance and flexibility, particularly as regards the control of system processes, and as with any update, there are numerous bug fixes and tweaks. And at the same time as the upgrade to Jessie, we’ve added a bunch of changes and improvements to the desktop user interface.”

Twitter is spreading its Buy Button around. “Today we’re excited to announce a number of partnerships that will make it easier for retailers of any size to sell products, digital goods, or services directly within a Tweet via Buy Now. Through these new partnerships we are integrating Buy Now with platforms that power e-commerce sites for merchants of all sizes, including Bigcommerce, Demandware, and Shopify, and enabling new retailers and brands such as Best Buy, Adidas, and PacSun. ”


Google Play has reached 1 billion users. “Google Play officially has 1 billion active monthly users. Google CEO Sundar Pichai announced the platform’s milestone at Google’s Nexus event in San Francisco on Tuesday. Google Play is the company’s version of Apple’s App Store with content for Android devices.”

Google has received a patent for displaying holograms in a head-mounted display. Like Google Glass. “Today Google was granted a patent for using holograms in a head mounted display like Google Glass. It would effectively let Google create augmented reality experiences that superimpose computer-generated imagery (CGI) atop the real world. Filed in March 2014, the patent shows Google’s research into how it could merge its head mounted display technology with AR.” 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!

Vassar, YouTube, Ohio, More: Short Thursday Buzz, October 1st, 2015


Vassar College has a new digitized collection of glass plates. “Although class trees and the events around them don’t have much presence on campus now, it was a big deal 85 years ago, involv­ing dove-releasing, secret rites and digging the hole using Matthew Vas­sar’s silver spade. The tree ceremo­nies were documented by a series of images dating from 1904 to 1935. This series of visual materials can be found in the ‘Glass Plates Neg­atives’ collection at Vassar’s digital library. With 870 images in total, the collection was recently conserved and digitized at an off-campus con­servation center.”


Google has updated the YouTube Kids app. “It’s been a busy few months for YouTube Kids. In February, we released our app, designed especially for kids, to bring to life the best family-friendly content on YouTube. Since then, families have downloaded YouTube Kids more than 8 million times, consistently ranked YouTube Kids in the top 5 kids apps in the App Store, given an overall 4+ rating on Google Play and watched Stampy Cat explore the world of Minecraft more than 54 million times.”

Twitter might want to go beyond 140 characters. I like the 140 character limit. “It’s unclear what the product will look like, but sources say it would enable Twitter users to publish long-form content to the service. Users can already tweet out blocks of text with products like OneShot, but those are simply images, not actual text published on Twitter. A Twitter spokesperson declined to comment.”

The state of Ohio is expanding its online expenditures database. “In December 2014, Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel unveiled OhioCheckbook.com, an online database of expenditures from state officials and agencies dating back to fiscal 2008. Last week, the first wave of local government expenditures from 114 entities were added to the online checkbook.”


Got Scots ancestors? You can search this collection of valuation rolls free until October 13th. “Over one million indexed names and addresses from 1855 are now available to search for FREE* as an introductory offer. Fully searchable by name and address, the new records provide a detailed snapshot of Scotland in a time of industrial expansion and economic growth, and offer a fascinating window into the lives of Victorian Scots.” (The * just notes that after October 13 it won’t be free.)


Edward Snowden has joined Twitter, and he’s following just one account: the NSA.


Google is beginning HTTPS support for Blogspot. (Does anybody use Blogspot anymore?) “…today we’re expanding on the HTTPS Everywhere mission and beginning an initial rollout of HTTPS support for Blogspot. HTTPS is a cornerstone of internet security as it provides several important benefits: it makes it harder for bad actors to steal information or track the activities of blog authors and visitors, it helps check that visitors open the correct website and aren’t being redirected to a malicious location, and it helps detect if a bad actor tries to change any data sent from Blogger to a blog visitor.”

A new malvertising campaign was apparently spreading via Google AdWords. The Malwarebytes article has all the details. The ads have been pulled. 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!