Patents, Mosaics, BP, More: Skinny Friday Buzz, April 24th, 2015


An art group is archiving Soviet-era wall mosaics around Ukraine into an online archive. “Photos from Kyiv, Donetsk, Kharkiv, Mariupol, Poltava and several smaller cities are already on the website. The group running the project is working to create a complete and definitive digital archive of the mosaic works.”

Center for Civic Media at MIT has launched a new publishing platform. “Stories on FOLD have a trunk and leaves. The trunk is text, with a novel form of hyperlinks – instead of linking out, they link to cards that appear to the right of the trunk and show images, videos, maps, data visualizations. They can also contain other text or links to the web. This has the effect of encouraging massive linking within stories – rather than a link potentially leading someone away from your webpage, it builds a stronger and richer story on the site.”

Google’s ad-blocking service has launched in beta. “Contributor, first announced in November, is not an ad-free service. The subscriber chooses a monthly contribution and sets up a payment through Google Wallet. The service only works when Web browser in their Google account. The $2 fee reduces the number of ads on average a subscriber sees between 5% and 15%; $5, between 15% and 25%; and $10, between $25% and 50%.”

A new database is tracking all the BP oil spill restoration projects in the Gulf of Mexico. “The Deepwater Horizon Project Tracker provides viewers with a map showing the location of 300 active and planned projects, with most in the five Gulf Coast states and a few in several other states.”

A database of Texas A&M yearbooks has been put online. “The digital collection contains all Texas A&M yearbooks produced, with the exception of the four most recent years, starting with the first yearbook published in 1895, the Olio. No yearbooks would be published again until 1903, which donned a new name: The Long Horn. In 1949 the student body elected to rename the yearbook to the Aggieland.”

A new tool provides application publication alerts on US patents.
“This system provides customized, email alerts to the public for free when patent applications of interest are published. Additionally, the system offers direct access to the published applications that meet your search criteria.”


Woo-hoo! Emoji are now showing up in Google desktop search results. I did a quick search for poop emoji because I’m immature, but instead of the emoji I saw those little squaremoji that you see when you can’t see the regular emoji. This may be a Linux thing.

Looks like Apple will be adding public transit routing to Maps.


Yahoo’s earnings were up, but so were operating costs. “The company recorded revenue of $1.2 billion, up 8% from the same period last year, with big gains in mobile revenue, a key metric indicating future growth. But traffic acquisition costs were nearly four times larger, at $183.1 million. An increase in total expenses forced net earnings down, from $313.9 million to $22.1 million.” 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!

Louisiana, Mozilla, Emoji, More: Wednesday Evening Buzz, April 22nd, 2015


There’s an effort underway to create an emoji translation project. “The Emoji Translation Project is a proposed emoji translation engine and phrasebook that would translate common English phrases into universally understood emoji strings that is being developed by Fred Benenson and Chris Mulligan.”


A free and useful article from The Wall Street Journal: the best ways to organize a lifetime of photos. Read the comments; there are several useful suggestions/thoughts in with the trolling.

Goofy Chrome extension will save pages for you based on whether or not you’re smiling. I need one that saves when I swear.

Mozilla has launched Mozilla Science Study Groups. “Taken all together, the scientific community has a huge amount of programming knowledge; but it’s split up across individuals that rarely have the opportunity to share that knowledge. Crippling self doubt often arises not from genuine inadequacy, but a loss of perspective that comes from working in isolation where it becomes possible to imagine that we are the worst of all our peers. And as we saw at the NCEAS event, the so-called discoverability problem evaporates very quickly with even a small group of people pooling their experience. The skills & knowledge we need are there in pieces – we have to find a way to assemble them in a way that elevates us all. The Mozilla Science Lab thinks we can do this via a loose federation of Study Groups.”

Louisiana State University has launched a new digital achive containing information on people of color who lived in Louisiana during the colonial period through the Civil War. “Among the earliest documents in the digital archive are the papers that granted freedom to Jean-Baptiste Meullion’s mother, written in Spanish and signed the year the Revolutionary War began.”


Dropbox Notes, a collaborative note-taking service, has moved into what looks like closed beta. “Early testers of the Notes service previously described it as offering a clean note-taking experience, with a user interface that used a lot of white in its design, similar to Evernote on the web, and that continues to be the case as Dropbox Notes heads into beta.”


Search Engine Land takes a look at the Twitter / Google search deal and Twitter’s “search signals”.

Measuring the popularity of different emoji in different countries. I confess to laughing.

Wow. Apparently Facebook Messenger accounts for 10% of global mobile VOIP. “Considering Facebook only fully rolled out free mobile VOIP calling to Messenger last April, it’s impressive that it’s already becoming a legitimate competitor to apps like Skype. And just yesterday it began rolling out free VOIP calls to WhatsApp on iOS after bringing the feature to Android last month.”

Google has spent more money on lobbying so far this year than any other corporation (but not more than any other entity.) “During the first quarter of 2015, Google spent $5.4 million lobbying the federal government, an increase of 43 percent from the same period last year, according to the data analyzed by the government transparency group MapLight.” 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!

Nebraska, PACER, Twitter, More: Thursday Afternoon Buzz, April 23rd, 2015


GeekWire has a story on a new service for journalists called Sqoop. Sounds tasty. “Bill Hankes and David Kellum are the co-founders of Sqoop, a new online tool that alerts journalists when public documents become available online, based on the companies and topics they choose to follow. After starting with patent filings and SEC documents, Sqoop is expanding its beta this week to include alerts on federal court records.” It’s in what looks like closed beta.

The state of Nebraska now has an online database of farmers markets. (This is a government press release and it’s in PDF, ugh, why do they do that?) “… the database is easily navigated and will allow consumers to quickly locate farmers’ markets in their area, as well as individual farmers. The database includes details such as vendor names, location, contact information, hours of operation and produce options. Consumers can also find vendors who participate in one of NDA’s fresh produce coupon programs for low income individuals.”


Twitter has new anti-abuse tools. One of the things has done is made clearer when it will act against users. Also, “In addition, Twitter will begin freezing some abusers’ accounts for set amounts of time, allowing those affected to see the remaining duration via its app. Abusers may also be required to verify their phone number and delete all their previous offending tweets in order to get their account unlocked.”

WordPress has released WordPress 4.1.2, which is a security release so please update. “WordPress versions 4.1.1 and earlier are affected by a critical cross-site scripting vulnerability, which could enable anonymous users to compromise a site.”

Google and Yahoo ad products are going to all-encryption.


May 1 has been named the national day of PACER protest. “The PACER protest arises out of increasing frustration with the availability of information from the federal courts. Both the U.S. Constitution and federal law require that courts operate publicly, making trials and records of court cases open to the public. While limitations occasionally may be imposed to close court sessions and seal records related to particularly sensitive matters—such as those involving children, abuse victims, domestic situations, and mental health issues—most of the documents filed in court proceedings, as well as other court information, have been considered public records.”

I always wondered how government accounts got verified on Facebook and Twitter. has a walkthrough.

the National Library of Ireland has begun archiving Web sites related to the upcoming marriage equality referendum. “And now, the process of identifying and selecting websites to be included in the NLI’s Marriage Equality Referendum 2015 collection has gotten underway with the help of a team of researchers. According to the NLI, the collection will include sites documenting both sides of the debate; official sites like that of the Referendum Commission, commentary sites and political party websites.”

Wanna read an extensive, detailed, and depressing story about social media fraud? Here ya go.


Research: Snapchat elicits more jealousy than Facebook. “This article offers a preliminary comparison of Snapchat and Facebook use and psychological effects on romantic jealousy. General motives for using Snapchat and Facebook are examined, as well as the nature of the content that Snapchat users most frequently share. Further, because of the differences in privacy and persistence of information, potential psychological effects in the domain of romantic jealousy are also examined, which has been widely studied on Facebook in the last few years.”

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!

Please Don’t Like Us On Facebook (Because There’s No Damned Point)

I’m sure you have heard by now that once again Facebook is tweaking its timeline algorithm. Generally speaking, Facebook friends will get more exposure, Facebook Pages will get less. And it’s to the point that I feel I need to ask you to not “like” ResearchBuzz News on Facebook.

I started writing about search engines in 1996 and I started ResearchBuzz in 1998. When I first started I was creating the site with Microsoft FrontPage (remember that?) then I moved to Movable Type, then self-hosted WordPress and finally, about five years ago, In an effort to get the content to people who might want it on the platform they prefer, I have RSS, an e-mail newsletter, and I distribute content on Twitter, G+, and Facebook.

ResearchBuzz does not make money. In fact I pay not to put ads on the site. I could put up my own ads but I haven’t for many years, for two reasons: first, because I don’t think that the money I would make would be worth the possible annoyance and danger to you (yes, danger: advertising networks are increasingly being used for malware) and because I really loathe a lot of the advertising out there, especially those ads concerning the “amazing technique that makes an 85-year-old woman look like a fetus” or some such (as if there’s anything to be ashamed of in being or looking 85. But that’s another rant.) I hope I never get in the position where I feel like I have to do ads on RB.

So it’s a money-losing labor of love. I don’t care. I love the topic, I love you, and there’s too many wonderful archives and tools and databases being created out there that don’t get enough attention, and I want you to know about them, dammit.

But Facebook does not to my knowledge distinguish between the fan page of ResearchBuzz News, which is free and publishes all its content under the license CC-BY-NC, and the fan page of McDonald’s, which is a giant corporation. They’re both Pages, so they’re both subject to Facebook’s organic reach throttling.

Facebook’s “organic reach” is how many people a Page post reaches when the Page doesn’t pay to promote that particular post. It isn’t 100%, but you might be surprised how low it is. For example, ResearchBuzz News at this moment has 3,566 “likes”. However, the average organic page reach of the last ten posts is, at this writing, 51 Facebook fans. In other words the last ten posts to the page reached an average of 1.43% of the people who “liked” the page.


When I initially encouraged people to “like” ResearchBuzz News, it was with the idea that if you did you would actually receive updates from the fan page in your timeline. That’s looking less and less likely, and I can’t afford to “boost” posts. Nor do I have time to slavishly follow every Facebook suggestion for the “right” content to increase page reach, and change my direction every time it changes its mind. No.

Facebook of course is an independent company and can do what it likes subject to the bounds of Federal law and any dictates issued by Mark Zuckerberg’s hoodie. But from my perspective, they are a complete washout for distributing information to ResearchBuzz readers, so I’m asking you respectfully to not “like” ResearchBuzz News on Facebook, or at least if you do “like” it, understand that you have roughly the same chance of actually seeing a ResearchBuzz News item in your timeline as you do in sustaining a direct hit from an asteroid. (I may be exaggerating. Slightly.) I will keep sending items to the page, but on the assumption that very, very few people are seeing them.

Here are the many other ways you can get ResearchBuzz:

1) At .

2) Via the full-text RSS feed.

3) By e-mail. There’s a signup form on the right side of the page at . It’s free.

4) Via Twitter. I’m at

5) A few items go on Google+.

I have thought occasionally about doing a weekly podcast covering the best of the new resources so I’d have something audio based and you could make fun of my accent. And if there’s any other way I can distribute these bits so you can do some good with them, I always welcome suggestions.

Here’s my dream job: going through my daily information traps and being able to connect every link I find with someone who needs it. Of course, I will never have my dream job. But the more useful I can be in getting resources and news to people who can use it, the happier I will be. Unfortunately Facebook is not a viable outlet for that. Not anymore.

Lenovo, NOAA, Medium, More: Wednesday Morning Buzz, April 22nd, 2015


A guy who lost his job because of offensive tweets has created a new app so the same thing doesn’t happen to other people. “The app, releasing publicly Monday, scours a user’s Twitter, Facebook and Instagram histories for potentially inflammatory or damaging posts, and makes their removal a breeze. It’s designed for the next generation in the workforce, who grew up sharing vast amounts of information online, some of which may become a liability in their future careers.”

Another historic newspaper, this time from New York, is available online. “Nate Austin, director of the library, said The Allegany Citizen was printed between March 21, 1896, and Dec. 16, 1976, and carried news and articles from the town and village of Allegany. The newspaper was printed in a building across from the library on West Main Street. ”


Own a Lenovo laptop? The laptop battery recall of a little more than a year ago has Been expanded to over 160,000 units from the original 37,000 units. Check your machine.

Want to watch YouTube videos without related content? You’ve got a few options.


Twitter is expanding who can send and receive DMs.

Google has brought information about Robben Island, a South Africa historical site, online.

Google has introduced a rule that Web sites must be mobile-friendly or suffer in Google’s rankings. Wired has an overview. For the record, ResearchBuzz is, according to Google’s assessment tool, mobile friendly.

The NOAA has expanded its coastal flooding information tool. “A NOAA flood exposure risk mapping tool that was developed in New York, New Jersey, Delaware and Pennsylvania has now been expanded to cover coastal areas along the entire U.S. East Coast and Gulf of Mexico.”

Google Takeout is letting you export more stuff. Is this an early attempt to defuse accusations of a monopoly or am I just being cynical?


Congratulations to TidBITS for 25 wonderful years!


Dutch organizations are warning that the Internet is not a reliable archive. Yeah. And?

Chris Abraham wants you to try Medium. 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!