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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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!

Yahoo, AOL, Snapchat, More: Thursday Morning Buzz, May 21st, 2015


Peg Fitzpatrick on good ideas for Instagram posts. Still working on this; not good at Instagram yet.

From Hongkiat: 25 Chrome Extensions for Awesome New Tabs. “In this post, I’ve pull together 25 Chrome tab extensions that can help you be more organized, be more relaxed, learn more things and even a few that will give you a laugh or two. Say goodbye to empty newly opened tabs and say hello to better days with more useful and effective replacements.”

Filing this for later: A four-part system for naming digital photo files.

This one too: an app for quickly generating lots of color palettes.


Google Webmaster Tools has become Google Search Console. “It turns out that the traditional idea of the ‘webmaster’ reflects only some of you. We have all kinds of Webmaster Tools fans: hobbyists, small business owners, SEO experts, marketers, programmers, designers, app developers, and, of course, webmasters as well. What you all share is a desire to make your work available online, and to make it findable through Google Search. So, to make sure that our product includes everyone who cares about Search, we’ve decided to rebrand Google Webmaster Tools as Google Search Console.”


A man is collecting AOL CDs and other detritus from early days of the Internet for digital archiving. “Scott has been ripping and scanning and archiving various CD-ROMs for years. But now it’s time to get serious. In addition to AOL discs, he’s calling for all Walnut Creek CD-ROMs. ‘I want every shovelware disc that came out in the entire breadth of the CD-ROM era,’ he writes. ‘I want every shareware floppy, while we’re talking. I want it all.’ We’re reaching the end of this era, he says, and we must preserve its history while we still can.”

More rumors: is Google getting ready to launch a new photo sharing service?

Ukrainian users are not happy with Facebook. “Earlier this week, numerous users in Ukraine complained of their posts and accounts being taken down or blocked without any discernible violations of Facebook’s community guidelines. They claimed these takedowns were politically motivated and the posts were being reported for violations by masses of ‘Kremlin supporters.’ A mass appeal to Zuckerberg even garnered the support of Ukraine’s President, Petro Poroshenko, who publicly joined the calls for a Ukrainian Facebook office.”

Taking a look at Snapchat and the 2016 election. “What is new, however, is the potential conundrum that an app like Snapchat uniquely presents. One of the key features that has made it popular with young people is the fact that its messages disappear within seconds — unless the user receiving the Snapchat takes a screenshot. For its part, the Federal Election Commission sounds quite unsure how and if it would attempt to regulate not just Snapchat, but any app.”

Interesting! What Google Earth is doing for archaeology. “Increasingly, amateur archaeologists are using imaging technology like Google Earth to help them find indications of ancient sites – such as eroded agricultural furrows, defensive berms and burial mounds – that might go unnoticed at ground level.”


Research from Yahoo: How photo filters affect online engagement. “Looking at 7.6 million public Flickr app photos modeled in a negative binomial regression, we found that filters boost engagement on the site. Filtered photos are 21% more likely to be viewed and 45% more likely to be commented on. However, not all filters affect engagement equally. Filters that increase contrast and correct exposure can help a photo’s engagement, and filters that create a warmer color temperature are more engaging than those with cooler color effects.” 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!

Illustrations, Frank Miller, Medium, More: Wednesday Morning Buzz, May 20th, 2015


Thomson Reuters has launched a new tool to track Russian sanctions. “The new tool will provide financial institutions, trading companies and investors with information on Russian companies that have come under the sanctions, their subsidiaries and associates. The service will track any corporate actions related to sanctioned entities and the issuance of new debt and equity that are restricted as a result of the sanctions via the Thomson Reuters DataScope Select platform.”

The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra is getting an online archive. “The digital archive portal project will provide broad, online access to media heritage and archival resources that are in line with the technological expectations of a 21st century audience, including a fully searchable performance history directory with recordings, oral history interviews and ephemeral records from the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra’s 119-year history.”

This actually launched over a month ago, but I just now found it in my traps: The Illustration Archive has launched. “The archive contains over a million book illustrations from the British Library’s collections, taken from around 68,000 works of literature, history, geography and philosophy​. The images span the late eighteenth to the early twentieth century, covering a variety of reproductive techniques (including etching, wood engraving, lithography and photography).”

Five years after being an exhibit at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Libraries, this Frank Miller exhibit is now an online archive.


From Wordtracker: Experts give tips on how to tweet live events.

Some fun hacking using the Amazon Echo and IFTTT.


Oh nice: you can now follow tags on Medium. “On every tag page, you can follow that tag directly from the top right of the page. Here’s a few suggestions to get started: you might be interested in stories about travel, climate change, entrepreneurship, or cats.”

A horrible racist attack has hit Google Maps. Since Google Maps shut down its map editor, how did this happen?


Facebook apparently wants to tie its games into Facebook Messenger. Because timeline-based notifications weren’t annoying enough?

So these exist: dishes designed solely to make your food look really good on Instagram.

Ever dreamed of doing to Google Doodles? There’s a job opening.


The Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) has released its annual snapshot of Internet crimes. “The report mentions two new trends that took shape during 2014: criminals increasingly taking advantage of personal data found on social media to start relationships with victims and scam them out of their money; and the emerging popularity of virtual currency, which has attracted perpetrators who capitalize on the vulnerabilities of the developing digital currency system.”

I know everyone’s talking about Barack Obama being on Twitter. But hey, let’s look at India’s tweeting Prime Minister. “With 12.3 million followers on Twitter, Modi is the world’s No. 2 most popular politician in the Twittersphere after Barack Obama. The way the Indian leader uses Twitter and his shifting social strategy was the focus of a new study by Joyojeet Pal, assistant professor at University of Michigan’s School of Information.”

Study: using Twitter to determine the health needs of transgender people. “[Sean] Young and co-author Evan Krueger collected 1,135 tweets with 13 relevant hashtags, including terms like #trans or #girlslikeus. The tweets discussed issues such as violence, discrimination, suicide and sexual risk.” 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!

Museums, Open Data, Coastal Flooding, More: Monday Morning Buzz, May 18th, 2015


A new version of The Open Data Handbook is now available. “The Open Data Handbook elaborates on the what, why & how of open data. In other words – what data should be open, what are the social and economic benefits of opening that data, and how to make effective use of it once it is opened. The handbook is targeted at a broad audience, including civil servants, journalists, activists, developers, and researchers as well as open data publishers.”

Now available: a database on Canadian-related terrorism events. “Quebec has been at the centre of 42 percent of Canada’s terrorist events over the last 50 years, according to a new Canadian research database on terrorism. The database lists 1,185 terrorist or extremist acts involving Canadians that took place between 1960 and 2014, a list that includes 410 events that took place abroad.”

Now available: a database of coastal flooding events in the UK. “To improve our understanding of coastal flooding, and to assess just how unusual 2013-14 was, we have compiled a new database and described in Scientific Data. Our work provides a systematic UK-wide record of coastal floods over the past hundred years. It currently contains data on 96 major floods, with information for each on the storm that generated it, the high-water level reached, and the severity of coastal flooding.”


Bookshelves of Doom (great blog name) has a roundup of new book recommendation sites and engines along with a link to a more extensive list that was put up a couple of years ago.

Interesting: rescuing archival manuscripts with dry ice.

Thesis Whisper has a great article on becoming a “literature searching ninja”. How to build different questions and use different language/vocabulary for your search. It seems to me this would be useful for anything, not just scientific literature searching.


Google Fit has gotten an update. “For starters, Fit can now track distances and calories. Fire up the app to see how far you’ve gone and how much you’ve burned in the process. Google has tweaked the look a bit, and you can now group your fitness history by days, weeks, and months.”


The Guggenheim is donating 100 of its artworks’ images to Wikipedia. “On May 19, the Guggenheim will host its second Wikipedia “edit-a-thon” and is donating 100 images of artworks from its collection to Wikipedia. During the event, participants at the museum and online will add information about these artworks and the artists who created them, including Edgar Degas, Paul Klee, and Vincent Van Gogh, to Wikipedia, the world’s largest free source of knowledge.”

From Shanghai Daily: a look at how museums in China are putting their archives online. “The Shaanxi History Museum in the northwestern city of Xi’an has been a pioneer in using a digital platform for exhibiting antiques. So far, 208 public and private museums and memorials in Shaanxi Province have opened online exhibition halls.”

Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, The New York Times looks at a pioneering museum, the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. “By 2020, the museum intends to digitize all one million objects in its collection — from masterpieces by Rembrandt and Vermeer to Delft pottery, silk brocade gowns and matchlock muskets. Today, 25 percent of the museum’s collection, including nearly all of its paintings, is freely available for download in high-resolution on, with new images being added every day.”


Everybody run: There are now more ‘bots than humans on the Web. “Bot traffic has surpassed humans this year, now accounting for 59 percent of all site visits, according to a report released today by Distil Networks. By comparison, last year, bots accounted for 45 percent of all traffic to Distil’s customers’ websites.”

Ismeet Kaur Makkar has a fascinating Master’s thesis up: SocioBot: Twitter for Command and Control of a Botnet. “A botnet is a collection of computers controlled by a botmaster, often used for malicious activity. Social network provides an ideal medium for botnets to spread their reach. In this research, we develop and analyze a botnet that uses Twitter for its command and control channel. We use this botnet to perform a distributed denial of service attack on a web server, and we utilize the biological epidemic models to analyze the spread of the botnet using Twitter.” 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!