One Million Album Covers and More: Thursday Morning Buzz, May 28th, 2015


Want a data set to play around with? The Internet Archive has one million album covers for you. If that’s a bit much (148 GB!), it also has a 1200-album cover set (200 MB).

Bozeman High School of Bozeman, Montana, has put about 80 years’ worth of high school newspapers online.

The Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) has launched a new tool. “A new data tool–International Trade and Investment Country Facts Application–on the Bureau of Economic Analysis website gives users a snapshot of statistics on trade and investment between the United States and another country by simply clicking on a world map.”


You may have heard about the huge car recall related to Takata airbags. Has a VIN lookup tool so you can check and see if your car was impacted.

Ridiculously extensive article from Buffer: the best fonts and colors for social media sharing.

Mocavo has made US Federal census images free to everyone. I don’t know how well it’s working, though – every search I tried came up with 0 results. Even when I searched the whole database for the name “Smith”. Nada.


More records from FamilySearch. “Notable collection updates include 327,195 images from the Peru, Lima, Civil Registration, 1874–1996 collection; 275,449 images from the Peru, Puno, Civil Registration, 1890–2005 collection; and 249,700 images from the Peru, San Martín, Civil Registration, 1850–1999 collection.”

Facebook is testing a new “security checkup” for accounts.

Spotify has added several new features. “Alongside the introduction of new media types, such as podcasts and videos, the service will also serve up playlists that are more personalized and relevant to what you’re doing at the time.”


Congressional Research Service documents continue to be withheld from the general public. “Constituents can request this information from their representatives, but they are under no obligation to produce the documents. The same public that paid for the research once now spends its own money maintaining archives of any CRS reports they manage to acquire. FAS hosts hundreds of liberated reports. Wikileaks has posted nearly 7,000 CRS reports to its archives as well. ”


From MIT: handle “big data” by shrinking it. “At the ACM Symposium on Theory of Computing in June, MIT researchers will present a new algorithm that finds the smallest possible approximation of the original matrix that guarantees reliable computations. For a class of problems important in engineering and machine learning, this is a significant improvement over previous techniques. And for all classes of problems, the algorithm finds the approximation as quickly as possible.”

This Medium post is CREEEEE-PY. Stalking your friends with Facebook Messenger. “When I came to college Facebook Messenger became an integral part of my digital life. I quickly found that it was the easiest way to keep in touch with old high school friends, contact people I had just met, organize impromptu poker games with people I hardly knew, and everything in between. However, I didn’t realize how much data about me Messenger was revealing to the people I chatted with until last week when I began tinkering with my message history.”


A little off-topic, but fascinating! Using 3D printing technology to copy – and use! – 18th century tools. Good morning, Internet…

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Vinyl, Fonts, Lycos, More: Wednesday Afternoon Buzz, May 27th, 2015


The Vancouver Foundation will make its research available for free. “The Vancouver Foundation’s only caveat is that those who use its intellectual property must properly attribute the source material to its creator or the 72-year-old non-profit, which dispersed about $57-million through more than 4,900 grants last year….By 2017, anybody who receives funding from the foundation must agree to release their work under a Creative Commons licence, which is a free, simple and standardized way of granting anyone the copyright permissions to use their creative work.”

Now available: an online archive of colored vinyl and picture discs.

Alert service Wikilerts has gone live at . “‘Wikilerts’ is a combination of the words ‘Wiki’ (community-driven content) and ‘Alerts’. On Wikilerts users set up ‘alert communities’ where members inform each other so that nobody misses out on important stuff.”


Google’s “signature” font, Roboto, is now open source. “The Roboto family of fonts, and the toolchain used in creating it, are now an open source project. Roboto is Google’s signature font, created by Google designer Christian Robertson. It is the default font used in Android and Chrome OS, and is the recommended font for Google’s visual language, Material Design.”


You know that “how old” Web site Bing made? It has integrated that technology into its image search.

Meetup has launched Meetup Pro. “With the new service, organizations can launch and manage their Meetups in cities around the world using a single, centralized account, and visualize their Meetup activity on a responsive webpage that shows the community as well as who’s hosting their next Meetup.”


Genealogists! There will be free live streaming from the Southern California Genealogy Jamboree.

Is Facebook’s publishing going to get into local journalism?

I don’t have time get deeply into earnings reports anymore, but doesn’t this press release mean that LYCOS – freaking Lycos – is making more profit than Twitter?

Yeesh. You can apparently crash iPhones with one specific text. “Technology blogs are reporting that a specific text message, when sent to an iPhone from any device, causes the phone to crash, shut down, and turn back on—and in some cases, some users are still unable to access messages again until the offending sender sends another text message.” Good afternoon, Internet…

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Idaho, Twitter, Instagram, More: Wednesday Morning Buzz, May 27th, 2015


A Brooklyn cemetery has launched a database of Civil War veterans. “The online biographies are part of a Memorial Day exhibit that opened Saturday at Green-Wood Cemetery. More than half a million people are interred at the landmark cemetery that dates to 1838. Almost 5,000 were in some way involved in the Civil War.”

Georgia State University has launched a new online archive of Works Progress Administration maps of Atlanta, Georgia. “The collection contains over 950 maps from several map series documenting Atlanta in the late 1930s. These include the 1940 Report of the Real Property, Land Use, and Low Income Housing Area Survey of metropolitan Atlanta, a 1936-1938 Atlanta Cadastral Survey, and a partially incomplete series of Fulton County land use maps from 1937-1940.”

The state of Idaho has launched a new tool for employers to keep track of employees’ driving records. “The Driver Record Dashboard allows companies to build and manage an unlimited list of drivers by entering vital information such as the driver’s name, license number or birthdate, in one online location. ITD partnered with Access Idaho to build and maintain the subscription-based service, in which no tax dollars or state funds were used.”


Handy: How to use Google Hangout for screencasting.

Search Engine Journal offers tips to build your Instagram following. Very extensive, with several resources pointed to.


Apparently the Secret Service has already visited someone over a tweet directed at Barack Obama.

The top CEOs in the world are tweeting more and Facebooking less. “The study, which looked at social media use by CEOs running the top 50 companies on Fortune’s 2014 Global 500 rankings list, found that 10 percent of those CEOs are on Twitter, up from just two percent in 2012. LinkedIn was the most popular network, with 22 percent of CEOs on the platform, up from just 6 percent in 2012.”

Twitter’s Periscope app is now available on Android. If you haven’t tried it yet, I highly recommend it.

Google is trying an experiment to let you share URLs by sound. “Tone, which is now available in the Chrome Web Store, uses sound to transmit the information and uses the speakers and microphones now typically available on any laptop. Because it’s audio-based, it has some interesting limitations: the information doesn’t carry very far, for example, and any wall will block it.”

A Twitter ‘bot monitors for mentions of Lyft and Uber driver experiences. Oddly hilarious.

Uh-oh: looks like the YouTube Kids app might have some problems. “Two consumer groups, the Center for Digital Democracy and the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, are alleging that the app includes a number of videos that are inappropriate for children, including ones that reference sex, alcohol and drug use, child abuse, pedophilia and more.”

Pinterest has started offering “cinematic pins”. “…the new mobile ad product enables brands to create moving Pinterest advertisements. And because the motion is controlled by Pinterest users, the company says, the experience won’t be annoying … like, for instance, autoplay video ads.”


How many people are on the Internet? Check this out. “The number of Internet users has increased from 738 million in 2000 to 3.2 billion in 2015, according to a new report from the International Telecommunication Union. That’s a seven-fold increase that brought Internet penetration up from 7% to 43% of the global population.” Good morning, Internet… all 3.2 billion of you….

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!

It’s So Random Today: Saturday Buzz, May 23rd, 2015


I have mixed feelings about this: There’s a tool available that lets you search the salaries of foreign-born tech workers (H1-B workers, specifically). “The tool searches government records for Labor Condition Applications (LCA), a piece of paperwork that prospective employers must file on behalf of workers hoping to get H1-B visas. These applications are publicly available, and include the names of workers’ labor lawyers, as well as their salaries and the companies hoping to hire them.”

USEFUL STUFF is offering free access to military records through Monday.

Free Technology for Teachers had a writeup about Sketch Toy, which I didn’t know about. “What makes Sketch Toy different from other tools is the ability to not only draw, but also automatically convert your drawings into step-by-step animations that can be shared with a link.” That could be useful.

Video: Using Facebook as a Tool for Student Engagement.”In this online Faculty Showcase video, Dr. Lauren B. Allsopp, from the School of Historical, Philosophical, and Religious Studies, explains how she was able to engage students by using Facebook in her course on Historical Preservation, specifically on the topic of architectural nomenclature.” It’s about 18 minutes; use the full screen so you can see her screen shots.


Twitter’s new search interface has rolled out to everybody. “The updated interface is one of the larger updates Twitter’s search engine has seen in recent months, and it’s meant to make the search interface itself easier to use in terms of switching between tweets, accounts, photos and videos.”


A science fiction author’s view: What happens when Google’s in your brain? I don’t want Google in my brain. I’ll keep trying to fix already-correct spelling and I’ll randomly blurt out ads.

From Buffer: should you be on the “fringe” social networks?. I want to do more with Tumblr.

Happy birthday TechCrunch, you young whippersnappers.

Mmmkay. Facebook and FOX News are teaming up to host the first Republican presidential primary debate in August (PRESS RELEASE). “Moderated by Special Report anchor Bret Baier, The Kelly File anchor Megyn Kelly and FOX News Sunday host Chris Wallace, the debate will feature Facebook data illustrating how the issues of the day are resonating with people on today’s largest platform for political conversation. FOX News viewers and Facebook users will also be able to share images and video questions via Facebook, some of which will be used to help formulate questions for the candidates and broadcast during the debate.”

Google has obtained a weirdass patent for anthropomorphic devices. “The patent describes how the toys would include microphones, speakers, cameras and motors as well as a wireless connection to the internet It states that a trigger word would cause them to wake up and turn their gaze towards the person addressing them, and would be able to check if the person talking was making eye contact.”

More Google: it apparently likes big phones because they’re good for ad sales. At least they’re honest.

More More Google: What if it offered an “all you can eat” news subscription service? “With a similar Google News All Access service, perhaps subscribers might pay $8-$10 per month. In return, they have access to news content from participating publishers that they discover either in their searches on Google or when browsing headlines through Google News. It might be an unlimited model or perhaps there’s a generous amount of articles that can be read before a cap kicks in.” The only problem with this is that Google News has been degrading steadily for a while. I’m starting to get more and more use out of Bing News.

Ew ew ew ew: Google’s Fiber service is forwarding pirating notices/pay demands. “These include regular takedown notices but also the more controversial settlement demands sent by companies such as Rightscorp and CEG TEK. Instead of merely alerting subscribers that their connections have been used to share copyright infringing material, these notices serve as automated fines, offering subscribers settlements ranging from $20 to $300.” I’m not in favor of piracy, but there are so many stories of false accusations and takedown requests that are just incorrect. 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!

Hong Kong, Australia, Celtic Music, More: Short Friday Buzz, May 22nd, 2015


Google has put Hong Kong museums and heritage sites online. “The West Kowloon Cultural District, Hong Kong Maritime Museum, Hong Kong Medical Science Museum and St James’ Settlement were added to the online exhibition platform on Wednesday, joining the King of Kowloon street art exhibit launched in March.”

Western Australia has a new music archive. “The Western Australian New Music Archive (WANMA) is an evolving, permanent and fully online archive: the project seeks to collect, digitise and disseminate music recordings, video documentation and scores – in digital format and by pointing to other collections, not as hard copies. It draws material from the State Library of Western Australia catalogue, the National Library’s Trove and ABC Classic FM’s collection, as well as attracting contributions from the West Australian new music community.”

The US National Archives has a new collection of “unofficial” World War I photographs. “This series contains photographs obtained from the U.S. Army Signal Corps, Federal and State government agencies, as well as private sources, such as the American Red Cross and the Central News and Photo Service.”

Under development: a digital archive of Celtic music. “Through this project, the Beaton’s archival resources relating to the Celtic music traditions in Cape Breton Island will be identified and described, and readily available through”;

Now available: a database of early Missouri prison inmates. “The site offers access to 62,758 inmate records, spanning the time from the prison’s opening in 1836 to 1931. The register identifies the names and ages of the prisoners, their crimes and sentences and the years they entered and were released from the prison.”


The US Library of Congress has a roundup article about new Web archive content available. “This is our first big release since we launched the first iteration of collections into this new interface, back in June 2013. The earlier approach to presenting archived web sites turned out to be a challenge to allow us to increase the amount of content available, so in a ‘one step back, two steps forward’ move, the interface has been simplified, and should be more familiar to those working with Web Archives at other institutions – item records point to archived web sites displaying in an open-source version of the Wayback Machine.”

Do you keep fifty zillion browser tabs open at one time? Do you find all your computer’s memory being eaten? Check out this Chrome extension to put browser tabs to sleep. “The Great Suspender lets you manage when tabs should be put ‘to sleep’ — anywhere from 20 seconds to three days. This means you can keep your email and 30 other tabs open in the background without slowing down your system, and then access those tabs again at any point.”



What happens when an alt-news weekly goes dark? Do its back issues get a digital archive? Maybe. Maybe not.

Is Google going to create its own OS for the Internet of Things?


Researchers claim that 500 million phones do not fully wipe data on factory reset. ” Researchers Ross Anderson and Laurent Simon also discovered they could find Google credentials on all devices with a flawed factory reset to access data from certain apps. And even when full disk encryption was turned on, there was enough data left that it was possible to recover the encryption key and unlock the phone.” 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!