Arizona, Hogwarts, Bob Dole, More: Sunday Afternoon Buzz, April 19, 2015


The Dole Institute has launched an online exhibit of Bob Dole’s WWII letters. “The Dole family donated the letters, which document the military experiences of Bob Dole and his brother, Kenneth Dole. The exhibition currently showcases a selection of letters written between Bob Dole and members of his family beginning from the day before his first day of school at KU in September 1941 through his time in recovery at the Percy Jones General Hospital in April 1947. Additional letters will be released on an ongoing basis.”

Geologic maps for Arizona counties are going online.

Search Engine Land has started a new award – the “Landy”. “Search Engine Land is proud to launch a new industry awards program, “The Landy Awards” (#TheLandys) to recognize individuals, agencies and internal marketing teams within the digital marketing community who have demonstrated excellence in executing organic and paid search marketing initiatives.”


From Ubergizmo: How to edit PDF files for free.

No, you don’t have to use Photoshop or Paint: there are many many great free photo editing services and apps. Have I mentioned lately how much I love PicMonkey? They don’t pay me a dime. In fact, I paid them several dimes. But I really like them.

It’s not really useful, but it’s Sunday, so cut me some slack. Are you still waiting to be sorted into your Hogwarts house? This Twitter bot will do it for you randomly along with supplying a weird rhyme. Also, when I saw the URL for the story I linked to I snorted tea out my nose. Ow. Thankfully it was cold tea.


Tumblr’s iOS app has been updated.

Twitter has launched a new home page. “It’s notable the company showcases broad categories rather than the trending topics it popularized, for instance. Although trends are Twitter’s bread and butter, showcasing the range of topics the platform can cover on a general basis, rather than whatever is trending at any given moment, could help ease new users in by positing the page as a general hub for news.” It’s so interesting to me; Twitter is easy to use, but if you want research or information out of it, it’s difficult to use well/efficiently.


Have you tried Wolfram|Alpha’s tool to analyze your Facebook account? If you haven’t you better hurry up. “By now, millions of people have used Wolfram|Alpha to analyze their own activity and generate detailed analyses of their Facebook friend networks. A few years ago, we took data generously contributed by thousands of “data donors” and used the Wolfram Language’s powerful tools for social network analysis, machine learning, and data visualization to uncover fascinating insights into the demographics and interests of Facebook users. At the end of this month, however, Facebook will be deprecating the API we relied on to extract much of this information.”

Ask Slashdot asks: What features would you like in a search engine? Good afternoon, Internet…

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NJ, NC, XP, More: Sunday Morning Buzz, April 19, 2015


Now available: an online archive of political speeches and ads from female candidates. “The archives include speeches Clinton made as secretary of state, New York’s first female U.S. senator and as first lady of Arkansas and the United States. Kelly Winfrey, a lecturer for the Catt Center, says to date there are nearly 2,000 speeches and political ads for more than 300 women candidates that are easily accessible through the online archives. All include a transcript of the text and many also feature video.”

Businesses in New Jersey have a new anti-fraud tool (PRESS RELEASE). “The new service automatically checks for legal business filings on a daily basis. Customers who sign up for the service indicate which businesses they wish to monitor, and designate the representatives who should receive filing alerts. For each business monitored, a text or email alert will be sent whenever the Division files a change or amendment.” If I’m reading the Web page correctly it costs $24 a year.

The state of North Carolina has an open data dashboard for reporters. Oh, this is ridiculous. I’m in love. “Open N.C. has collected information from nearly 9 million public records across the state and organized them into a single database that reporters can search from a simple Web interface. It’s a growing dataset, much of it updated daily. It also uses the records to look for patterns that might tip off reporters to potential story ideas.”


Google has released Chrome 42. “In addition to the usual list of security fixes (45 in total) and under-the-hood changes for stability and performance, Google’s latest release includes its new Push API and Notifications API.”

Another day, another pile of Flash and Java patches.


Google is dumping the old version of Google Maps. Sigh.

Tinder is hooking up with Instagram. Get it? Get it? This is what’s funny when you’ve had very little sleep for a week. “Tinder now also supports common connections, letting users see the degree to which they’re separated from a person based on the social graph, as well as presenting all Facebook interests instead of just common interests.”

Rumors are flying that Yahoo is going to buy FourSquare.

I learned a new word – Instaspam – from this article on how to protect yourself.

Google’s getting ready to launch Project Loon.

Still using XP? (Shudder.) Google has extended XP support for Chrome to the end of the year.

FamilySearch’s online book collection has reached its 200,000th volume milestone! Good morning, Internet…

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Poetry, Iowa, Trolls, More: Saturday Afternoon Buzz, April 18, 2015


Abbey Road is now on Google Street View.

The Internet Archive and CADAL are teaming up to digitize 500,000 academic texts. “The Chinese Academic Digital Associative Library (CADAL) is a consortium of over 70 Chinese University Libraries. CADAL will provide access to a leading set of libraries, the technical resources to display, and share the books inside China, as well as the staff needed for digitization. The Internet Archive will select the books, and provide equipment and processing resources. Both organizations will offer access and discovery tools for both scholars and citizen-scholars. Together, CADAL and the Internet Archive are contributing to a growing, global digital library.”

The State Historical Society of Iowa has made all the back issues of its quarterly publication available online for free. Nice.

The Library of Congress has started a new site with recordings of poetry and literature. “Available as streamed audio, the archive will launch online with 50 recordings. Additional material from the collection will be added on a monthly basis.”


Are you having trouble keeping up with all the different plans for providing public access to federally-funded research? there’s a great summary table here.

It ain’t just Facebook. Here’s a roundup of 91 social networks around the world.


Apparently Twitter has filed a bucketload of trademark applications. Did it coin the phrase “tweetstorm”?

Google’s starting a new program that will highlight kid-safe apps.

The EU has finally filed a formal antitrust complaint against Google. “The more confrontational route could mean years of legal wrangling — as well as fines worth billions. The EU can impose fines of 10 percent on annual revenue, or some $6 billion, and force the Mountain View, California, company to overhaul its system for recommending websites in Europe.”


I’ll take two, please: Scientists develop algorithm that can auto-ban trolls. “The broad profile of the [Future Banned User] as presented by the paper is that of a semi-literate, provocative and fairly persistent poster, whose descent into totally anti-social behaviour is summoned at inverse speed to that with which the host community rejects them, and whose final posts before a permanent ban are characterised by persistent and heated battle on a small number of topics.” Good afternoon, Internet..

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Pills, Ransomware, Names, More: Saturday Morning Buzz, April 18, 2015


Now available: an online database of World War II soldiers from Russia and the honors/recognitions they received. “During the nearly four years in which the Soviet Union participated in World War II, soldiers of the Red Army were awarded over 38 million various orders and medals. Unfortunately, in many cases the award never reached the person who earned the honor. Now the families of veterans – and in some cases the veterans themselves – can check online see if there are any awards that belong to them….There are more than 8,200 names listed in the database….”

The NYC Media Lab has announced a new tool for instant data visualizations: Lenses. “Unlike existing easy-to-use data visualization platforms, Lenses is open-source and extensible, meaning that additional features can be added by its users, and the potential of the tool grows as more people use it. Each data visualization created in Lenses preserves the steps taken to create it, enabling new users to learn how to make sophisticated graphs by seeing how more advanced users have produced visualizations. Lenses encourages transparency and visual literacy, helping people investigate civic data.” The tool is not scheduled to be available until 2016, but testers are being sought now.

I’m not sure I would describe this new resource for genetic data as a “WordPress for genetic data,” but it’s interesting. It seems more like a workbench: “Arvados is a content management system for large bulky genomic data sets. Just as blogging platforms like WordPress let journalists and writers upload their data — text, videos, images — and work with them, so Arvados lets researchers and clinicians import genetic data files. Within the system, they can run a variety of analyses or share the data itself.”

Reddit’s getting an e-mail newsletter. “The new email newsletter will go out to users every Sunday and will be curated by staffers to help surface stories that might otherwise get lost in one of the thousands of communities, which are called subreddits. The social news site announced the launch on Tuesday.”

Need a little help with your homework? This new smartphone app lets you just take a picture. “To use the app, students simply snap a picture of their homework or question with their iPhone’s camera and hit send, optionally typing in additional information that will help their tutor answer the question. They also assign the question to a topic, which aids in matching their request with the right tutor. In around 15 minutes, on average, a tutor will respond with the answer and explanation.” Note this is not a free service.


Kaspersky has released a decryption tool that unlocks some ransomware.

Useful if you have a name nobody can pronounce, like me: Facebook wants to help people pronounce your name correctly.

Interesting! A smartphone app that both identifies pills and tells you what they are.


Medium has launched blocking.

Bing has revamped its image search. “Now when you are searching images and have clicked a picture, you can scroll or swipe up to get useful and interesting information to help you learn more, redirect your search, or get help connecting the dots to get your task done — whether that’s buying something that caught your eye, learning more about a historical figure, or finding out where in nature you can see that stunning landscape.”


Twitter says it suspended 10,000 ISIS-linked accounts in one day.

Interesting: the FTC has created an office dedicated to algorithmic transparency.

Oh ugh, there are some serious concerns about the USPTO patent examiners. “The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has almost no way to know if patent examiners are doing their jobs well, the agency’s watchdog concludes in a report that raises concerns about the quality of thousands of patents issued each year. The sharply critical report issued Monday by the inspector general for the Commerce Department, the patent office’s parent agency, found overall deficiencies with quality assurance that put at risk the federal government’s role in protecting new ideas through the issuance of patents and trademarks.”


Using Twitter to tackle cardiovascular disease.

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IBM, Duke U., RSS, More: Friday Afternoon Buzz, April 16, 2015


IBM is putting its security threat database into the cloud. “The project, which started about a year ago, will see Big Blue’s 700 terabyte archive of security data go online in an archive dubbed the ‘IBM X-Force Exchange’. This includes malware threat intelligence from 270 million end users, threat information on 25 billion websites, and images and details of more than a million IP addresses linked to hacking. In addition, the firm is including a library of APIs and software tools to allow third parties to either use the data to harden up their own defenses, or add to it.”

Duke University Press is making an initial ste of 145 backlist titles available on HathiTrust. “These titles are available under a CC-BY-NC-ND license, and are available for reading and download worldwide. The list of newly opened titles is eclectic, covering subjects such as literature, history, critical theory, political science, sociology, and others. Noteworthy titles include Derek Bok’s 1990 volume Universities and the Future of America and a facsimile edition of early drafts of Lie Down in Darkness, by William Styron.”


Fold3 is giving free access to its Civil War collection through the end of the month .

More lovely from @Labnol: How to create RSS feeds for Twitter.


IFTTT is now offering Do for iPad and Apple Watch.

Google Maps Data Layers now have more functionality. “With the revised API, you can now use interactive Data Layers to collect user reviews on the best places to visit in an area, and display heatmaps showing the popularity of various locations.”

Google has launched handwriting input for its Android devices.


Wellcome is entering the final phase of its early European books digitization project. “We’re nearing the end of our early European printed books digitisation project with ProQuest. After four years of digitisation, nearly 3.8 million images have been captured from 8,850 volumes published outside the UK before 1701. In the final phase of the project, we’ll be digitising a substantial proportion of our incunabula, books printed before 1501. This will take place from April 2015 for nine months.”

An article in Wired looks at a couple more tools to find good stuff on Twitter.

Apparently Bing now has a search market share of 20%. Does it strike anyone else as a little odd that right when Google is trying to defend itself against antitrust complaints from the EU, Bing suddenly has a 20% search share? 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!