Transgender Issues, Railroad Laborers, National Park Service, More: Friday Buzz, February 12, 2016

NEW RESOURCES

Now available: a digital archive on transgender issues. “The DTA is designed to increase the accessibility of transgender history by providing an online hub for digitized historical materials, born-digital materials, and information on archival holdings throughout the world….The collection is built by more than 20 different archives and organizations from around the world. Eight are universities including, Harvard University’s Schlesinger Library, Cornell University, Duke University, the University of Victoria, and the University of Michigan.”

The Pullman Porter Museum has created an online registry of African-American railroad laborers. “Once the registry launches, visitors to the museum’s website will be able to type a person’s last name into a search query to view entries from thousands of submissions spanning from California to Georgia.” The registry will launch this week. Please note the story I’m linking to is behind the Chicago Tribune paywall. If you have a subscription, there you go. If you don’t, you can get to the Pullman Porter Museum at http://www.pullmanportermuseum.com/.

The National Park Service is joining the Google Cultural Institute. “Visitors to the National Park Service ‘channel’ will be able to view more than 3,800 works of art, artifacts and records, as well as a Centennial Virtual Exhibit, which features a significant museum object from over 350 national park sites. Users can also build their own collections to share or take virtual, panoramic tours of eminent Americans’ homes.”

EBSCO has created an online archive of Architectural Digest Magazine (PRESS RELEASE). “The Architectural Digest Magazine Archive™ includes cover-to-cover access to issues of the iconic and influential design magazine from the 1920s to 2011. Each issue in the Architectural Digest Magazine Archive is presented in its entirety, including the front and back covers and its high-quality photo spreads. All articles and advertisements have been indexed with subject terms to allow users to find relevant results quickly, as well as research and analyze trends in topics and advertising materials.”

TWEAKS & UPDATES

Google is now warning users about unencrypted email. “Gmail on the web will alert users when they are sending email to a recipient whose account is not encrypted with a little open lock in the top-right corner. That same lock will appear if you receive an email from an account that is not encrypted.”

The Lost Communities of Kansas archive, which I mentioned almost a year ago, looks like it’s gotten some updates. Lost Communities is a Web site chronicling towns in Kansas that used to exist but now do not.

Google is ditching Flash as an ad format. yay! “On June 30, 2016, Google will no longer accept new Flash ads. Older Flash ads can continue to run until January 2, 2017. After that date, Google Display Network and DoubleClick Digital Marketing will be fully HTML5.”

USEFUL STUFF

Want to save your iPhone’s battery life? Uninstall the Facebook app! “Using an iPhone 6S Plus for a week without the main Facebook app installed, I recorded the battery life at 10.30pm each day for a week comparing it to a daily average taken from a week with the app…. On average I had 15% more battery left by 10.30pm each day.” The article appears to indicate that the same is true for Android. It doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of the Facebook app, but to access Facebook I use an app called Friendly I like it a lot. This is not a paid endorsement; they don’t know me from Adam’s off-ox.

AROUND THE SEARCH AND SOCIAL MEDIA WORLD

Looks like Google’s auto auto project is getting even bigger. “Thirty-six jobs related to the Google X car project were listed including engineers working on motion control, displays, robotics and sensors as well as managers charged with operations, materials and marketing. Google, which declined to comment, has denied in the past that it had any interest in making cars.”

Speaking of vehicles, Google recently got a patent related to delivery from self-driving trucks. “Google’s patent outlines what it calls an ‘autonomous delivery platform’ for delivery trucks. The trucks would be fitted with a series of lockers that could potentially be unlocked with a PIN code sent to the person waiting for the delivery before the truck arrives at their location.”

SECURITY/LEGAL ISSUES

Microsoft has officially stopped supporting older versions of Internet Explorer. “All Windows users still running IE7 or IE8, and those running IE9 on any other edition of Windows but Vista, as well as those using IE10 on anything but Windows Server 2012, did not receive the patches Microsoft distributed Tuesday to systems equipped with the newer IE11 or Edge browsers.”

RESEARCH AND OPINION

Bloomberg: How Google Searches Pretty Much Nailed the New Hampshire Primary. “Searches of presidential candidates conducted by Google users in New Hampshire on Feb. 9 corresponded closely with the voting results of the state’s primary. The top-searched Democratic candidate was Bernie Sanders, who won with 60 percent of the vote in New Hampshire, according to the Associated Press. He got 72 percent of the searches, according to Google, while Hillary Clinton got 28 percent of the queries and 38 percent of the vote.” 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!

National Park Service, Google, LibreOffice, More: Thursday Buzz, February 11, 2016

NEW RESOURCES

The National Park Service and Google are … teaming up for something, according to this announcement advisory, but not too many details yet. (The announcement is today.) “On Thursday, February 11, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell will host an event at Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site in Alabama to announce a public-private partnership between the National Park Service and Google to share the diverse history and culture of America with a global audience. Google’s Senior Counsel on Civil and Human Rights Malika Saada Sar will join Secretary Jewell for the announcement.” So some kind of expansion of the Google Cultural Institute?

TWEAKS & UPDATES

Google is phasing out its Google Search Appliance product. If you’re not interested in enterprise search you probably never heard of this. “The tech giant told its reseller and consulting partners the news via email on Thursday [last Thursday], noting that they can continue to sell one-year license renewals for existing hardware customers through 2017, but that they will be unable to sell new hardware. Renewals will end in 2018, according to a copy of the email viewed by Fortune.”

Open source office suite LibreOffice has just had its 5.1 release. “On tap are reorganized menus, integrated support for remote servers like Microsoft SharePoint and Google Drive, improved compatibility with Microsoft Office documents, and too many smaller improvements to count.” I love LibreOffice. I have to use Gnumeric for my spreadsheet stuff because I make goony-huge spreadsheets, but it’s great for everything else.

AROUND THE SEARCH AND SOCIAL MEDIA WORLD

The University of Virginia has put out an update about its APTrust digital preservation initiative. “APTrust – more formally, the Academic Preservation Trust – is a massive, UVA-led initiative meant to remove that threat [of technological obsolescence.]…To date, APTrust has already preserved more than 16 terabytes of data from all its partner institutions. Due to its rapidly growing storage-space demands, the group currently uses Amazon Web Services to store and safeguard all of its contents. Every piece of data is protected through multiple levels of redundancy. Once a new file is properly packaged and labeled at depositing institutions such as UVA, it’s saved at two separate Amazon data centers, one in Virginia and one in Oregon. Inside each center, a copy of the data is stored inside three separate ‘availability zones.’ These zones have independent power supplies, environmental controls and network connections, so if one is disrupted, the others will remain unharmed.”

Wired did a roundup on how much Twitter’s executives actually use the service. Some great, some — um, not.

Rumors are flying: is Verizon going to buy Yahoo? “Verizon Communications Inc. has given Tim Armstrong, chief executive officer of its AOL unit, a leading role in exploring a possible bid for Yahoo! Inc. assets, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.”

The US government has decided that, in the case of some of Google’s auto autos, computers equal drivers. “In a significant precedent for Google and other companies developing autonomous car technology, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) has ruled that the software behind some automated cars should be considered the driver.”

More US government: it teamed up with Facebook to do a voter registration drive. Now it has published a blog post with preliminary results. The one comment on the post asks a good question: is the government paying for this partnership or is this a goodwill thing?

Interesting. Viacom is going to sell ads for Snapchat. “Under the deal, Viacom will have exclusive third-party rights to directly sell advertising surrounding Snapchat’s owned and operated content. That includes pop-up ‘Live Stories’ that cull together posts from users in specific geographic locations or during a holiday.”

SECURITY/LEGAL ISSUES

The IRS has been hacked again. This time e-filing PINs were stolen. “Based on our review, we identified unauthorized attempts involving approximately 464,000 unique SSNs, of which 101,000 SSNs were used to successfully access an E-file PIN.”

After a push by EU governments, Google will start more scrubbing of search results in EU countries. “That means that if a German resident asks Google to de-list a link popping up under searches for his or her name, the link will not be visible on any version of Google’s website, including Google.com, when the search engine is accessed from Germany.”

Facebook is paying out less in bug bounties – and it’s receiving fewer bug submissions as well. “One figure that did remain fairly constant over the past year was the average payout, which was $1,780 in 2015 and $1,788 in 2014 — though that’s also down from the $2,204 average per reward in 2013. Researchers in India were again the top recipients of payouts this year, while participants from Egypt, Trinidad, and Tobago pipped last year’s runners-up, the UK and US.” 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!

Brass Bands, Yahoo, Wikipedia, More: Wednesday Buzz, February 10, 2016

NEW RESOURCES

Pennine Music has launched a new search engine for finding brass band music. “This new ‘Google’ of Brass Band Music visits every publisher across the globe and catalogues their titles of brass band music with the aim of helping bands quickly and easily find out if a piece of music has been published and is available to buy.” Pennine did not have any brass arrangements for Eurythmics in its own inventory, for example, but their search engine linked to an another music publisher which had a brass arrangement of Sweet Dreams Are Made of This. And now I’m giggling myself silly imagining that song arranged for tuba and French horn.

TWEAKS & UPDATES

Yahoo is shutting down Yahoo BOSS. “BOSS allowed both non-developers and developers to build a simple search service through their search tools. There were APIs and developer tools, as well as simple-to-use web interfaces to construct your own search service.” Will the last person to leave Yahoo please trigger the IFTTT recipe to turn off the lights.

USEFUL STUFF

From MakeUseOf: 4 Easy Ways to Export Wikipedia for Offline Use. I admit this one is for me; I occasionally need to grab something from Wikipedia but can’t remember my options.

AROUND THE SEARCH AND SOCIAL MEDIA WORLD

Google wants its cars to be driverless. And… wireless? “What’s the point of having a self-driving car if you still have to get out to plug it in? That’s a good question, says Alphabet, Google’s parent company. With that in mind, it is testing wireless charging systems for its electric self-driving cars. Documents filed at the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) suggest that Google is working toward cutting its robocars’ charger cables and beaming power to them instead.”

Kohl’s will use Periscope to stream the Oscars. “Employing the Periscope app, Kohl’s will livestream during the Academy Awards’ red-carpet ceremony and the show’s commercial breaks. Thanks to the app’s new Twitter integration, people will be able to watch Kohl’s livestream on the microblogging platform and have the option of viewing it on Perisope. They’ll also be able to peek in on Bayer’s Oscars house party during the Feb. 28 Hollywood gala.”

Apparently this year’s Super Bowl wasn’t all that on social media. “On Facebook, the level of activity worldwide for Super Bowl 50 dropped 25 percent compared with last year, according to the social giant. Twitter posts among U.S. viewers was down 49 percent, according to Nielsen figures, after record-breaking Super Bowl action on social networks last year.”

Wow, Kickstarter has funded 100,000 projects! “Lucky number 100,000 was from Argentinian photographer Adriana Groisman, who raised over $50,000 to document the stories of veterans of the Falklands/Malvinas conflict of 1982.”

The Air Force is warning airmen to watch what they say on social media when it comes to politics. “Things like campaigning for a candidate, soliciting donations to a particular campaign and even wearing a military uniform to a partisan political event have long been outlawed by the military, [Holly] Roberts-Davis says in the video. But 21st century ways of communicating have extended those same concepts to the online world. Roberts-Davis says active-duty military members are generally allowed to express political views on social media platforms, but there are several important caveats.”

SECURITY/LEGAL ISSUES

The Center for Auto Safety is suing the Department of Transportation (DOT) for failing to create a database of automobile safety defects. “While the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration lists recalls, it requires consumers to use their vehicle identification number to find details about their car, and it does not provide information on service bulletins — issues that do not require a recall.”

The Register has a roundup of Windows’ latest patches. And I really hope you’re not using the Windows browser. “Microsoft has patched 41 CVE-listed security vulnerabilities in its software this month. The second … monthly update of the year brings with it fixes for security flaws in both Internet Explorer and Edge that could allow remote-code-execution attacks simply by visiting a webpage.”

Speaking of patching, guess who just issued an emergency, out-of-cycle patch? Why, it’s Oracle! And it’s a Java patch! Of course. “An Oracler called Eric Maurice is the giver of the bad news, depending on how you approach security updates, saying that application of the patch will prevent vulnerabilities with Java 6, 7 and 8 on the Windows platform.”

RESEARCH AND OPINION

On Academia.edu from Brandon C. Bouchillon and Melissa R. Gotlieb: Making Them Count: Facebook Sociability for Optimizing the Accumulation of Social Capital. “In light of waning interpersonal contact in America, scholars have turned their attention to social network sites and the opportunities these provide for building and maintaining social relationships.The present study adds to this research, using national survey data from U.S. adults to examine how motivated use of Facebook for expanding and diversifying personal networks might revitalize real-world efforts of sociability for users, and returns to social capital that come by way of them. Results support our overall model relating weak-tie interactions to generalized trust.” I do not have the sociology chops to appreciate the fine details of the experiments, but the before and after discussion is well worth reading, and frankly it’s refreshing to see some optimism about social networks and social capital. 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!

Alaska, Netherlands, Instagram, More: Tuesday Buzz, February 9, 2016

NEW RESOURCES

Alaska residents have a new tool to see if they’re eligible for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits – instead of filling out a 28-page application, they answer questions via text message. “At the end, the free service tells you if you are likely eligible or not and connects you to local resources, like the Department of Public Assistance or local food pantries. You can even request help applying if you qualify.”

The Dutch royal family has started an online archive of historical items. “The site displays more than 300 unusual or remarkable items – including oil paintings, illuminated manuscripts, valuable artworks, old photos and precious objects.”

TWEAKS & UPDATES

Instagram’s app now supports account switching. “Up to five accounts can be added and switching between them will not require logout, however you will need to be using version 7.15 of the app (iOS and Android).”

USEFUL STUFF

Last year I tried to get into Snapchat and I failed. Couldn’t wrap my head around it. Terry White has done a 30-minute video on YouTube that walks you through it, so I’m going to try again.

From Geektime: 10 languages Google Translate lacks and where to find them. Languages listed here include Cantonese, Pashto, and Mayan. “Traditional Chinese script is still used in Mandarin-speaking Taiwan, so don’t trust the traditional Chinese translation on Google to get you through a conversation in Hong Kong.”

AROUND THE SEARCH AND SOCIAL MEDIA WORLD

The Prime Minister of Cambodia, Hun Sen, seems to be embracing Facebook in a big way as a tool for government/citizen communication. “Prime Minister Hun Sen has fast developed a penchant for conducting political business via Facebook since he formally joined the social networking site in September. Now he is making that official, issuing a new directive on Monday in­structing every government minister to form a working group for tracking citizens’ grievances and re­quests that they post to his Facebook page.”

Meanwhile, the government of India has blocked Facebook’s Free Basics program over net neutrality concerns. “To be clear, the announcement and the wider report that lay out the conclusion in greater detail do not single out Facebook or FreeBasics by name, but it was the emergence of this program that caused outcry and prompted the investigation by the regulator.” Not a surprise at all, and in my opinion a good decision by the government of India.

Marketing Land has a roundup of Super Bowl 50 Twitter brand — um, kerfuffles? Arguments? Slams? Playground fights?. If Snickers and Doritos can’t get along, what hope is there for the rest of us in this cruel world?

Twitter is now, according to the stock market, worth a little over $10 billion. Meanwhile Pinterest and Snapchat both have higher private market values.

SECURITY/LEGAL ISSUES

Google will give you 2GB of free Google Drive space if you complete your account security checkup. Google did this last year for “Internet Safety Day,” but it’s not clear how long the offer will last this time.

RESEARCH AND OPINION

From Harvard Business School: The Civic Benefits of Google Street View and Yelp. “In a new working paper, Big Data and Big Cities: The Promises and Limitations of Improved Measures of Urban Life, [Michael] Luca and three collaborators argue that cities have never been better positioned to take advantage of the vast amounts of data being generated in the world. The key is figuring out how to use it. In the paper, Luca, Edward L. Glaeser and Scott Duke Kominers (PhDBE 2011) of Harvard University, and PhD student Nikhil Naik of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab, cite three trends that make cities particularly poised to exploit big data.” Read the bit about using Yelp to identify restaurants for inspection. 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!

Dungeon Crawlers, Bangladesh Rivers, Department of Labor, More: Monday Buzz, February 8, 2016

NEW RESOURCES

Boing Boing has a quick writeup on an online database for dungeon crawlers — the graphic ones, not the ASCII ones like Nethack. I took a quick look at it and got a bad case of nostalgia. So many games, so many I recognize. Ah, Wizardry…

The country of Bangladesh is developing a database of its rivers. “A country of countless rivers, Bangladesh is set to build a database of all the rivers across the country by June-July this year in an effort to identify the rivers facing serious problems and thus save those.”

TWEAKS & UPDATES

The Department of Labor has adopted a CC BY policy. “…we are pleased to announce that the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has adopted a department-wide Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license requirement on intellectual property developed under a competitive Federal award process.”

USEFUL STUFF

Alan Levine is on some kind of retro roll. In a recent blog post he talks about bookmarklets!

Roundup from Hongkiat: 20 sites to listen to music for free. (And it doesn’t even include YouTube!)

AROUND THE SEARCH AND SOCIAL MEDIA WORLD

Edelman: 5 Reasons You Should Pay Attention to Snapchat. Agreed. I’m seeing more and more Snapchat chatter, and less and less Twitter chatter.

Wow, Hadoop is ten years old! Time flies. “When it comes to scale, Yahoo still boasts one of the largest Hadoop deployments in the world. From a footprint standpoint, we maintain over 35,000 Hadoop servers as a central hosted platform running across 16 clusters with a combined 600 petabytes in storage capacity (HDFS), allowing us to execute 34 million monthly compute jobs on the platform.”

Rumors are flying about Google developing a VR device. “In addition to a new plastic casing, it’s said that the headset will support a far wider range of smartphones than the Gear VR. Sources also tell the paper that it will feature ‘better sensors’ and ‘lenses,’ suggesting that it won’t be wholly reliant on the equipment built into your smartphone. The report mentions that “most of its processing power” would come from the smartphone. Google Cardboard, which has been around for over a year and a half, provides two plastic lenses and just holds your smartphone in the right position to function as a VR device.”

SECURITY/LEGAL ISSUES

Oh, yuck. It looks like there’s a really nasty WordPress hack going around. “In the past four days, researchers from three separate security firms have reported that a large number of legitimate WordPress sites have been hacked to silently redirect visitors to a series of malicious sites. The attack sites host code from the Nuclear exploit kit that’s available for sale in black markets across the Internet. People who visit the WordPress sites using out-of-date versions of Adobe Flash Player, Adobe Reader, Microsoft Silverlight, or Internet Explorer can then find their computers infected with the Teslacrypt ransomware package, which encrypts user files and demands a hefty ransom for the decryption key needed to restore them.”

RESEARCH AND OPINION

Not too long ago I mentioned a study that seems to indicate that social media use leads to sleep disruption. Now there’s a study which seems to indicate that lack of sleep can cause increased social media use. There’a a spiral you don’t want to be caught in. “The study, which took place in 2014, equipped student’s mobile devices with software to track usage, and incorporated sleep surveys as well as periodic ‘mood checks’ and questions regarding the perceived difficulty of tasks at hand and participant’s level of engagement with their work.”

Interesting article from the Cornell Chronicle on research being done to make search engines more responsive. “[Wenlei] Xie and colleagues have refined the algorithm (the underlying design of the computer program) to make it faster so search engines can become interactive, responding to your interests in real time. The new method is, they say, ‘breaking a decade-old performance barrier.’ The techniques could be applied in social media and private and commercial databases as well as in Web searches and recommendation systems.” 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!