Short Monday Buzz, March 2nd, 2015

USEFUL STUFF

From How-To Geek: how to access region-restricted Web sites from anywhere on Earth.

Mashable rounds up a bucket of Tumblr shortcuts.

More useful from Mashable: Getting started with IFTTT’s Do camera app.

AROUND THE SEARCH AND SOCIAL MEDIA WORLD

Did you know Facebook employees can access your account without your password? I kind of assumed it, to be honest…

If you thought that Snapchat was mostly for naughty pictures, check out this article at Business Insider, which looks at Snapchat Stories. It sounds interesting enough that I might try Snapchat. (Also, do the comments on this article seem a little over-the-top negative to anyone else?)

Bradley Horowitz is now running Google+. “Meanwhile, there seem to be some wider personnel changes as well. We’ve also heard — but have not been able to confirm with Google — that there’s been a lot of attrition at Google+ amid some low morale. At the time of Gundotra’s departure, there were between 1,000 and 1,200 people working on Google+. A source estimates that around half the team is gone, although there has also been some staffing up in Photos and Hangouts.”

Larry Ferlazzo wants to make a great list of downloadable student handouts, but he needs your help.

The New York Times has a backgrounder on Superfish. 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!

Seattle, St. Patrick’s, Social Media, More: Sunday Buzz, March 1st, 2015

NEW RESOURCES

Kingtson Penitentiary Inmate Ledgers, 1913-1916, are now available on Flickr. “The ledger includes frontal and profile mug shots, the inmate’s name, alias, age, place of birth, height, weight, complexion, eye colour, hair colour, distinctive physical marks, occupation, sentence, date of sentence, place of sentence, crime committed, and remarks of authorities.”

The Seattle Police Department has a YouTube channel for its (redacted) body camera footage.

USEFUL STUFF

They can be very irritating: How to disable annotations in YouTube videos.

Larry Ferlazzo has a big list of resources for St. Patrick’s Day.

TorrentFreak does an extensive breakdown on VPN services. “VPN services have become an important tool to counter the growing threat of Internet surveillance, but unfortunately not all VPNs are as anonymous as one might hope. In fact, some VPN services log users’ IP-addresses and other private info for months. To find out how anonymous VPNs really are, TF asked the leading providers about their logging practices and other privacy sensitive policies.” (VPN stands for Virtual Private Network. Lifehacker has a good overview of what they are and why you’d want to use one here.

Social Media Examiner: How to find and remove fake followers on Twitter and Instagram.

AROUND THE SEARCH AND SOCIAL MEDIA WORLD

Fast Company Design thinks YouTube Kids is actually better than YouTube.

Apparently there’s a net culture out there which likes the way the Web looked in the mid-90s. Fine, just go easy on the blinky text.

Video NBA Pros wearing Google Glass.

RESEARCH AND OPINION

“Active” users on Facebook may be changing. “According to our data, over a quarter of Facebook members are now ‘logging in to see what’s happening without posting/commenting on anything.’ Tellingly, these Facebook ‘browsers’ are more likely to be using chat apps, more likely to be on smaller networks such as Instagram, Pinterest, and Tumblr, and more likely to be 16-24. All of these individuals will be counted as active by Facebook but, in reality, an active user in 2015 is quite different from an active user earlier in the decade.” 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!

Ohio, Woodrow, Lenovo, More: Saturday Buzz, February 28th, 2015

NEW RESOURCES

The state of Ohio has published an online archive of annual treasurer’s reports. “As part of Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel’s mission to create a more open and transparent government, the Ohio Treasurer’s office is pleased to announce a partnership with the State Library of Ohio to present an online compilation of Annual Reports published by the Treasurer’s office since the early 1800s.”

FamilySearch has added over 19 million records. “Notable collection updates include the 7,120,120 indexed records and 6,113,876 images from the United States, GenealogyBank Obituaries, 1980–2014 collection; the 4,835,296 indexed records from the Puerto Rico, Civil Registration, 1805–2001 collection; and the 314,770 indexed records and 314,770 images from the US, BillionGraves Index collection.”

The Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library has announced a digitizing project. “The Papers of Woodrow Wilson Digital Edition will be accomplished in two phases. Phase One will focus on digitizing Arthur S. Link’s The Papers of Woodrow Wilson. The Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library plans to collaborate with the University of Virginia Press in outsourcing the digitization and transcription of the 69 volumes, having an employee of the University of Virginia Press supervise quality control of the finished product in consultation with the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library as needed. This phase is expected to take 18 months to complete. Phase Two would be directed by the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and include compiling the additional Woodrow Wilson papers that were not included in Link’s The Papers of Woodrow Wilson, digitizing them, and then publishing them in additional volumes through Rotunda and Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library’s digital library. This phase is expected to take between five and six years, and could be conducted concurrently with Phase One as funding permits. ”

USEFUL STUFF

Hmm. How to create GIFs of live events in seconds. This is mostly about an OS X tool called GIFGrabber, though there is a mention of a free Windows tool called Licecap.

From PC World (Warning! PC World!): How to automatically save GMail attachments to DropBox.

TWEAKS AND UPDATES

Lenovo has promised that upcoming computers will be free of extra software (which is often known as “bloatware” or “crapware”.) “We are starting immediately, and by the time we launch our Windows 10 products, our standard image will only include the operating system and related software, software required to make hardware work well (for example, when we include unique hardware in our devices, like a 3D camera), security software and Lenovo applications.” This is nice, but I don’t trust Lenovo any more and will not be buying any more Lenovo computers. (I’m actually typing this on a Lenovo computer right now. Fortunately the first thing I did after I purchased it was install Linux.)

Google has reversed its Blogger pornography ban. “After coming under fire over the introduction of a retroactive change that would ban sexually explicit images and video and also required owners to delete older content, the search giant has told users that it will crack down harder on the publishing of commercial porn instead.”

AROUND THE SEARCH AND SOCIAL MEDIA WORLD

Yahoo is celebrating its 20th anniversary by ringing the Nasdaq opening bell on Monday.

Google has paid $25 million for the entire top-level .app domain. Apparently that’s the most paid in an ICANN auction so far.

Canada is getting a new open access policy. “The Honourable Ed Holder, Minister of State (Science and Technology), today unveiled the new policy as part of a wide-ranging speech on the government’s updated Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy in a speech to the Economic Club in Toronto. The harmonized Tri-Agency Open Access Policy on Publications requires all peer-reviewed journal publications funded by one of the three federal granting agencies to be freely available online within 12 months. Canada’s three federal granting agencies are: the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC). The policy will require NSERC and SSHRC funded researchers to comply with the policy for all grants awarded May 1, 2015 and onward. The policy will not change current compliance requirements for CIHR funded researchers since a similar policy with the same requirements has been in effect since 2008. ”

RESEARCH AND OPINION

How much is a tweet worth to a movie’s box office revenue? “At Networked Insights, we analyzed over 400 movies since 2012 to measure the dollar impact these tweets have on weekend box office revenue. In our models, we controlled for movie genre, competitors that weekend and number of theaters. We found that, on average, one tweet adds $560 to weekend box office revenue between one and five weeks prior to the release. The timing of a tweet is especially important to its value. The farther in advance of the movie release date a tweet is posted, the more revenue the post drives.”

MarketingProfs breaks down a recent study about what Twitter content Google is indexing. “The vast majority of tweets are still not making it into search results, with only 7.4% of the sample tweets getting indexed by Google, the analysis found. However, tweets from accounts with 1M+ followers have a much higher likelihood of getting indexed, with 21% of such messages appearing in search results. … As for tweet type, tweets with images are the most likely to be indexed (12% of the sample appeared in search results). Tweets that include hashtags are also more likely to be indexed.” 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!

What Color Is This Google Query?

This is a perfect opportunity for a dramatic example of how quickly Google is indexing pages nowadays. Do a Google search for

“blue and black” “white and gold” “blue and gold”

Or here’s a direct link to the search results if you prefer.

At this writing (Friday February 27th at 3:29 AM EST) I got 327,000 results. Scrolling through all of them brings me to a count of 155 (with some of them irrelevant, but not many) before Google warns me about “duplicate results.” Remove the duplicate results warning and you can go through pages and pages and pages of results.

This search is related to a dress that appeared on Tumblr and is causing controversy because different people are seeing it different ways. You can read more about it here – that link is to a Wikipedia article. That article, by the way, was created at 06:22 UTC, which would be 1:22 EST, I think – 2 hours before I wrote this article – and I found it on Google.

Considering that this dress issue blew up something like 8 hours ago, Google’s ability to grab so many pages about it is still amazing to me, especially as it was not that long ago that you had to wait 4-6 weeks for a search engine to index your pages, and even more recently you had to wait 24-48 hours.

Unfortunately this is also a perfect opportunity to show how Google will sometimes throw curve balls into the most obvious search-by-date results. This dress issue came up the late on Thursday, February 26, 2015. So theoretically if you limit your Google search query to only those results indexed between January 1, 2000, and February 25, 2015, you should get no results relevant to The Dress, or #TheDress, or Dressgate, or whatever you want to call it.

But you do get search results as you can see in the screen shot below. Two Tumblr blogs and what I believe to be a Tumblr blog are being shown as indexing dress-related content (as you can see from the site snippets) long before the issue existed. Check out Google’s date stamp for each page.

Google Date Search Issues

The takeaway is this: Google can be used to investigate even very very recent cultural memes or social media explosions. But when trying to do more date-based, specific searches, take its time stamps with a grain of salt.

And for what it’s worth, the dress looks blue and gold to me.

New York, Open Licensing, Pinterest, More: Friday Buzz, February 27th, 2015

NEW RESOURCES

The city of New York now has a database of building problems and complaints. “The site, officially released Thursday by rental listings site Apartable, aggregates data from city agencies detailing years of complaints, violations and building permits, as well as tax histories going back to 2009, for all of New York’s roughly 900,000 buildings. It combines this information with tenant reviews of buildings, landlords and management companies.”

The Department of State has announced the digitization of 20 volumes from the Foreign Relations of the United States series. “These volumes cover events that took place between 1948 and 1951 and were originally published in print between 1973 and 1998…”

EVENTS

The American Alliance of Museums is having a Google Hangout about open licensing on March 5th. “Interested in how you can open up your collections for the public good? In this one-hour roundtable discussion via Google+ Hangout, a panel of experts will explore the variety of ways that cultural institutions such as galleries, libraries, archives, and museums (GLAMs) can apply open licensing to their collections, as well as how this type of licensing benefits both institutions and their audiences.” It’s free for both members and non-members, but you are asked to pre-register.

TWEAKS AND UPDATES

Facebook is going to let you customize your gender.

Twitter is going to start tracking phone numbers to prevent abuse. “Under the changes, users who receive temporary bans may have to verify an email address or a phone number to resume using Twitter. (Other users can be banned permanently.) Email addresses are relatively easy to obtain, but phone numbers are harder — and by checking phone numbers against a list of banned users, Twitter could be able to keep more abusers and harassers from creating accounts.”

Google is working on a “reading mode” for Chrome. “Reader Mode is designed to make on-screen text easier to absorb, by removing unnecessary pictures, boxes, buttons and ads.”

AROUND THE SEARCH AND SOCIAL MEDIA WORLD

Is Google going to invest in Jawbone?

Google will start ranking mobile-friendly sites higher in search results.

Rumor has it that Google will launch Android Pay in May. “Android Pay would allow single-tap pay transactions both inside of apps, as well as at physical stores, per the report. It would rely on Google’s Host Card Emulation, which should make it easier for third-party apps to utilize near-field communication (NFC), the technology that powers many mobile payments.”

It’s not just for images! From Mashable: How to share music on Pinterest.

RESEARCH AND OPINION

At Ars Technia, Bruce Schneier looks at how Facebook or Google could maniuplate elections. “A truly sinister social networking platform could manipulate public opinion even more effectively. By amplifying the voices of people it agrees with, and dampening those of people it disagrees with, it could profoundly distort public discourse. China does this with its 50 Cent Party: people hired by the government to post comments on social networking sites supporting, and challenge comments opposing, party positions. Samsung has done much the same thing.” I believe when corporations do this it’s called astroturfing; I wonder what it’s called when governments do it?

Some data: When’s the best time to post to Instagram? 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!