Posters, Food, Delaware, More: Thursday Morning Buzz, July 2nd, 2015

NEW RESOURCES

A collection of radical/activist posters are now available online. “We are excited to share with everyone these Labadie Collection posters. Acquired over the past 100 years, they range in topics from anarchism (our strongest collecting area) to civil liberties, anti-colonialism, anti-war/pacifism, feminism, labor, youth and student protest, ecology, Occupy, and more. Due to their format, until now, we have only been able to provide very limited access. Our hope is that they will get more use now that everyone can view them.” There are over 2200 posters in the collection, looks like. A glance finds some that are interesting, some that are artistically wonderful, and some that could be found offensive.

Magazine African Business now has a digital archive available. “The best selling pan-African business magazine, African Business, published by IC Publications in London, has today launched its extensive digital archive. 33 years, 375 issues, and over 40,000 pages of the monthly magazine are now fully accessible and searchable, on Exact Editions, as well as the iOS and Android apps.”

The Inuvialuit Cultural Resource Centre is getting a digital archive. “The Inuvialuit Cultural Resource Centre is having its collections digitized and uploaded online thanks to a University of Alberta research project. When the project is complete, Inuvialuit audio recordings, documentaries and texts will be available on the internet.” The Inuvialuit are an Inuit people who live in arctic Canada, and any people who have a specific game to try to make each other laugh (mak) sound great to me.

Low-income families who rely on schools to help feed their children now have some help in the summer months. A new Web site lets families find summer meal resources. You can enter a zip code and get a map along with a table of results; click on the table and you’ll get a variety of information on the resource, including hours of operation, phone number, and meal types served.

The state of Delaware has launched a new online database of commercial and industrial properties available. “ZoomProspector provides real estate, demographic and industry data to help businesses and site selection professionals select locations in Delaware. In addition to having access to an interactive map that provides easy access to a comprehensive database of available properties around Delaware, selectors and potential investors will also have the ability to view information on Delaware’s labor market, infrastructure and more.”

The UCLA Film and Television Archive have launched a digital archive featuring resources from the LGBT show “In the Life”. “Created by John Scagliotti in 1992, ‘In the Life’ began as a variety-type show, but quickly evolved into a newsmagazine format, becoming an award-winning and respected source for LGBT journalism at a time when lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people were often invisible in media. Produced by In The Life Media, the series was the first — and remains the only — LGBT newsmagazine broadcast on public TV. “In the Life” ran in more than 200 markets around the country; its final episode aired in December 2012. The archive has 15 seasons of the show available online now. All 21 seasons — along with outtakes, interviews and other significant video content —will be available this fall.”

TWEAKS AND UPDATES

WordPress 4.3 beta 1 is now available. Lots of changes to this one. I like the password updates.

USEFUL STUFF

Ancestry is giving free access to records relevant to the original 13 US colonies. Free access ends Sunday.

Oh, this sounds like a great idea! Microsoft is going to launch a Minecraft education portal for teachers. “When it goes live, education.minecraft.net will provide teachers around the world with a forum to share ideas on how the video game can be used as part of lessons….The company says primary schools in Seattle are already teaching basic maths skills by calculating perimeter, area and volume in Minecraft, while middle schools students are learning about various religions by recreating sites in the game.”

AROUND THE SEARCH AND SOCIAL MEDIA WORLD

Oh, ugh. Google’s photo app made a really, really horrible mistake. “Google says it is ‘appalled’ that its new Photos app mistakenly labelled a black couple as being ‘gorillas’. Its product automatically tags uploaded pictures using its own artificial intelligence software.” This didn’t come up in testing so it could be fixed before release? Really?

RESEARCH AND OPINION

Interesting paper from Wei Wei and three other researchers (Wei Wei is getting the credit because I found it on his site at CMU) – The Fragility of Twitter Social Networks Against Suspended Users. “Social media is rapidly becoming one of the mediums of choice for understanding the cultural pulse of a region; i.e., for identifying what the population is concerned with and what kind of help is needed in a crisis. To assess this cultural pulse it is critical to have an accurate assessment of who is saying what in social media. However, social media is also the home of malicious users engaged in disruptive, disingenuous, and potentially illegal activity. A range of users, both human and non-human, carry out such social cyber-attacks. We ask, to what extent does the presence or absence of such users influence our ability to assess the cultural pulse of a region?”

You remember that mention I made last week of Google’s research that let a neural network make trippy art? Google’s open sourced the tool. “A small group of Google software engineers have open sourced a new tool that can take an image and create an artistic spin on it using deep neural networks…. To use the tool, people will also need to set up NumPy, SciPy, PIL, IPython, or a scientific python distribution such as Anaconda or Canopy.” 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!

Railroads, Chattanooga, Google Earth, More: Tuesday Morning Buzz, June 30th, 2015

NEW RESOURCES

The state of Pennsylvania is developing a new database of chemicals used by fracking companies. “Pennsylvania will require shale gas companies to disclose electronically the chemicals they use in hydraulic fracturing in a new state-run database by next summer.”

Chattanooga, Tennesee now has an online archive of historical film footage. “More than 400 reels of film depicting snippets of life in Chattanooga during the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s were donated to the Chattanooga History Center in 2009. Many of those films are finally available for viewing as a part of the center’s online digital archive. The collection originated from the Continental Film Co. of Chattanooga and primarily features industrial film, advertisements, tourism ads and documentary films from a variety of companies.”

The government of India has launched an new digital library for school books. “Now, under Digital India initiative, the Government has launched a platform that extends may help Indian school students tremendously. Aptly called eBasta (Basta means school bag in Hindi), this new platform was unveiled today by the Government that will provide digital and eBook versions of school books and other study material to school students through-out India…. The school or teachers can log on to the portal and search for eBooks and other digital content. They can then logically organize it by creating eBasta for their own students. It’s exactly like you create a bag full of schools books that are related to each standard or course.”

The Harry Ransom Center at UT-Austin has initiated an open access policy and started a new project. “In conjunction with the release of the policy, the Ransom Center launches Project REVEAL (Read and View English and American Literature), a year-long initiative to digitize and make available 25 of its manuscript collections of some of the best-known names from American and British literature of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Among the authors represented in Project REVEAL are Joseph Conrad, Hart Crane, Thomas Hardy, Vachel Lindsay, Jack London, Katherine Mansfield, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Sara Teasdale.”

TWEAKS AND UPDATES

Google will integrate the GIS data of the Federal Railroad Administration into Google Maps. “Google has agreed to integrate FRA’s GIS data, which pinpoints the location of the nation’s approximately 250,000 public and private railroad crossings, into its mapping services.”

The Digital Library of Georgia is teaming up with the Columbia Theological Seminary and launched three new digital collections. “The three new digital collections that have just been made available from Columbia Theological Seminary include: Charles Colcock Jones papers, 1831-1856 This collection includes manuscript sermons, 1831-1856, preached by Charles Colcock Jones, Presbyterian minister and educator at First Presbyterian Church (Savannah, Ga.) and other Georgia locations…James Woodrow papers, 1808, 1836-1916 [bulk 1850-1867] This collection contains correspondence by and to Presbyterian minister, educator, and editor James Woodrow and his family and associates… John Newton papers, 1783-1797 This collection consists primarily of sermon notes and sermons (1783-1797) delivered by John Newton, Presbyterian minister and founder of the Beth-Salem Presbyterian Church in Lexington, Georgia.”

Google Earth is ten years old and has some new features. My favorite is Voyager. “The world is a big place, and it can be hard to know where to begin your virtual journey. Now you can jump straight to the newest and most interesting imagery around the globe with a new layer, Voyager, available in desktop versions of Google Earth.”

USEFUL STUFF

The Next Web has a roundup of 10 interesting Twitter chats. They seem to be mostly social media oriented. Which reminds me, as long as I’m complaining about things it’s hard to search for, let’s talk live Google Hangouts. Does anyone know of a good directory/calendar of live Google Hangouts? I know Google has a list of what’s live now, but I’m thinking about something where I can say, “Oh, I have a little time Friday, let’s see what’s going on.” I know I spend most of my time under this desk, but occasionally interacting with other humans has its appeal.

From the always-awesome Mary Ellen Bates, a couple of super searcher tricks. One of the tricks she mentions is restricting search to .gov sites only. If you want to search just government sites but want to search a slightly larger data pool than just .gov, check out this Google custom search engine I put together that restricts results to government Web sites (but it uses .gov and .us, so it’s got more resources to search. You can also narrow your results by city or county if the mood takes you.)

SECURITY/LEGAL ISSUES

Make sure you have your Flash patched up, there are some exploit kits floating around. “French researcher Kafeine said on Sunday that a sample he encountered was dropping two instances of Cryptowall ransomware against a Windows 7 computer running Internet Explorer 11. Cryptowall is a strain of ransomware that encrypts files on a victim’s computer and demands a ransom, generally paid in Bitcoin.”

AROUND THE SEARCH AND SOCIAL MEDIA WORLD

Okay, this just got extra-real: Uber has acquired part of Bing’s mapping assets. “Uber will acquire assets from Microsoft Bing, including roughly 100 employees focused on the product’s image collection activities. In short, Uber is absorbing data-collection engineers from Microsoft to bolster its own mapping work.”

More Bing: it will start powering the search at AOL. “The 10-year deal with AOL is the latest to validate the exceptional quality of our search results and marketplace. No longer just a destination search engine, Bing is becoming an integral part of many popular third party devices and services, and Microsoft experiences including Windows, Cortana and Office.”

A campaign is underway to preserve the reel-to-reel recordings of Owsley “Bear” Stanley. This is going to be a huge endeavor as there are over 1300 reels and they’re kind of racing against time at this point before the reels degrade. “Although our campaign opens with a goal of $10,000, that’s just the start. The cost of digitally preserving these recordings is estimated to be US $300,000 to US $400,000 to fund two to four years of professional sound engineers’ studio time. Much of the work is a labor of love, but there is simply too much to do and not enough time for just unpaid volunteers.”

RESEARCH AND OPINION

Research: Could Facebook be useful for online learning? “In a first-of-its-kind study, Michigan State University’s Christine Greenhow found that high school and college students engaged in vigorous, intelligent debate about scientific issues in a voluntary Facebook forum….[Christine] Greenhow, recognized as one of the most social media savvy professors in America, analyzed the students’ activity on the Facebook app and found their discussion on various science issues to be largely on-topic, civil and sophisticated.”

Oooh. A study claims that Google is delivering “degraded” search results by ranking its own content higher than other, competing content. “In a study sponsored by Yelp – one of the companies listed as a complainant in the EU antitrust case against Google, former FTC advisor Tim Wu from Columbia Law School and Harvard Business School’s Michael Luca found, when given the option, users were more likely to click on results ranked by relevancy versus results that gave preference to Google’s self promoted content.” 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!

Companies, Complaints, Brass Bands, More: Saturday Buzz, June 27th, 2015

NEW RESOURCES

Companies House, which is a UK government agency dealing with the licensing of companies, has launched a new Web site in beta along with an API. “It said the service has made 170 million company records available free of charge, including information on financial accounts, directors and secretaries, and that users will be able to find real time updates. Although all of the information was previously in the public domain, Companies House levied a charge for access.”

Under development: a digital archive for brass bands in Ireland. “A Queen’s academic is appealing for Ulster families to search their attics and family photo collections to share prized photos of their ancestors performing in brass bands. Professor Michael Alcorn, head of the School of Creative Arts at Queen’s, is hoping to retrieve artefacts, instruments, uniforms or anything connected with brass bands in Ireland between 1850 and 1970.”

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has released an online database of consumer complaints against banks and financial institutions. “The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on Thursday went live with an updated online database that includes more than 7,700 narratives from homeowners, loan recipients and others who provided first-hand narratives detailing their frustrations.” I took a quick look at the narratives and most of the ones I looked at were against really aggressive debt collection companies. You can get an RSS feed of the narratives database as it’s updated. Also available is a spreadsheet view of the consumer complaint data – company, zip code, issue and sub-issue, date complaint received, etc.

TWEAKS AND UPDATES

You no longer need a Facebook account to use Facebook Messenger. “Previously, Facebook required that users log-in with their Facebook credentials in order to use Messenger. Now, though, you can sign up for Messenger with a name, phone number, and photo.”

Yahoo has updated its mobile search. “At Yahoo, we believe deeply in search – an area of growth and continued investment for us. We also believe that the shift to mobile can and will fundamentally change the overall search experience, allowing us to use rich inputs like context and location in order to deliver the most relevant results. Today I’m excited to share that we have a new mobile search experience in the U.S. that connects you immediately to the people, places and things you care about. We know when you’re on the go, you’re often searching for a specific piece of information. So rather than delivering endless links for you to sift through on a small screen, we beautifully assemble the most relevant information in a way that allows you to take action right away.”

The first alpha of Ubuntu 15.10 (Wily Werewolf!) has been released.

The Oxford English Dictionary has gotten a vocabulary update. “Today the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) announces its latest update, ushering in nearly 500 new words and over 900 newly revised and updated words. There are also over 2400 new senses of existing words added. This confirms the OED’s place as one of the largest and longest-running language research projects in the world.” Notable new words include meh, SCOTUS, hot mess, and cisgender.

Twitter is offering emoji for Wimbledon. “Helped by Serena Williams, Twitter has unveiled four new Wimbledon-related ‘hashflags,’ giving users the opportunity to adorn their tweets with a racket emoji or images relating to #TheQueue, #TheHill (also known as Henman Hill) and #TheWorld.”

You can now watch Periscope replays on the Web. “Just click a link to a Periscope stream, and once the page opens in your browser, you can hit the play button to re-live the stream.”

USEFUL STUFF

Nice roundup from The Edublogger: how to embed just about anything. “Embedding videos, photos, or other types of content in your blog posts is a relatively simple way to enhance your posts with informative, attention-grabbing content. In this round up post, we’ll share posts from the Edublogs community (and beyond) explaining how to embed just about anything into your blog!”

SECURITY/LEGAL ISSUES

IFTTT now offers two-factor authentication. Unlike Amazon.

The BBC has published a list of stories removed from Google’s search results because of the “right to be forgotten”. It’ll be updated regularly. “The stories in the list stretch from news items about a woman who was found guilty of spiking drinks with rohypnol and a dispute about a lost dog, to a page where BBC readers discussed their male anatomy under their real names. [Neil] McIntosh was careful to note in his blog that the BBC does not know, or publish details about who requested the story be removed on Google.”

AROUND THE SEARCH AND SOCIAL MEDIA WORLD

Those Facebook Instant articles we heard so much about a month or so ago will shortly be hogpiling on our feeds. “Publications like The New York Times and The Atlantic are about to start publishing dozens of stories a day, sources told Lukas Alpert and Jack Marshall at The Wall Street Journal.”

Google’s self-driving cars are now tooling around Mountain View. “These prototype vehicles are designed from the ground up to be fully self-driving. They’re ultimately designed to work without a steering wheel or pedals, but during this phase of our project we’ll have safety drivers aboard with a removable steering wheel, accelerator pedal, and brake pedal that allow them to take over driving if needed. The prototypes’ speed is capped at a neighborhood-friendly 25mph, and they’ll drive using the same software that our existing Lexus vehicles use—the same fleet that has self-driven over 1 million miles since we started the project. ”

The Digital Public Library of America has gotten a money boost and wants to expand its collections. “The Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) is on the way to connecting online collections from coast to coast by 2017 – an effort boosted by a new $3.4 million investment, comprising $1.9 million from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and $1.5 million from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. These two new awards, coupled with significant earlier support from the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the National Endowment for the Humanities, will allow DPLA to open new Service Hubs that provide a way for all cultural heritage organizations across the country to connect through one national collection.”

RESEARCH AND OPINION

Interesting research from Johns Hopkins on patient contact with physicians via e-mail and Facebook. “For the study, the researchers used an online survey delivered to a random sample of 2,252 CVS retail pharmacy customers between May and June 2013. Patients were asked about their interest in using these online communication tools – as well as their physician’s website – to fill their prescriptions, track their health progress and access their own health information. Researchers found that 37 percent of patients had used personal email to contact their doctors or hospital within the past six months and 18 percent reported using Facebook for the same purpose. The findings related to Facebook are particularly interesting, Lee and her co-authors note, because ‘most institutions actively discourage social media contact with individual patients.'” 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!

Comics, Connecticut, Sheep, More: Thursday Morning Buzz, June 25th, 2015

NEW RESOURCES

Under development: a digital archive of British Comic Fanzines. “For several months now, British comics fan David Hathaway-Price had been gathering and scanning every British comics fanzine that he’s been able to buy or had loaned to him. His aim is to create a Fanzine archive / repository, celebrating all of the brilliant work that was produced in the 1960’s, 70’s and 80’s in British comic zines such as BEM, Comic Media News and many other fondly-remembered titles.”

Huh. Reddit now has a music player. “It works by offering you an extensive list of subreddits on the left-hand side. Clicking on a link adds it to your playlist and gives you the most recently recommended songs as YouTube clips that run in the player.”

Quartz has launched a new home for the charts which appear on its site. “Atlas gives each of our charts its own home, along with a set of tools for interacting with them: You can now download the data behind our charts, embed our charts elsewhere on the web, grab an image of our charts, and of course share our charts on social media. They will look great regardless of whether you’re using a big screen or mobile device.”

TWEAKS AND UPDATES

The state of Connecticut has relaunched its Web site (PRESS RELEASE). “The all-new mobile-first, responsive design site allows CT.gov to be accessed across multiple devices providing an optimal user experience for phone, tablet, and desktop users. Along with the new layout and new features, CT.gov aims to make government services more accessible for online visitors to conduct business with the state through increased usability, customer service, transparency, and accessibility….Along with the updated CT.gov Portal, Connecticut launched new websites for the Office of the Governor and Office of the Lieutenant Governor, providing the latest news and information from both offices at your fingertips.”

The ipl2 is shutting down at the end of the month. No reason why, just a shutdown notice. “We regret to inform you that the ipl2 is ceasing operations on June 30, 2015. The Ask an ipl2 Librarian service will close on June 24, 2015 to allow us time to answer every last question. The ipl2 site (http://ipl2.org/) will remain up but unmaintained for an unspecified period of time after June 30. We sincerely thank all our loyal patrons for 20 years of support and enthusiasm.”

Instagram has announced a couple of really interesting updates. “Today we’re excited to announce two major updates to Instagram that will help connect our community to the world as it happens: the all-new Explore page, with trending Tags and Places, and more powerful search that makes it easier to find the people, places, and tags you’re looking for.” You know the search part is what I’m interested in. Instagram’s new search allows you to search by place (is it intentional that Yosemite is the example search here right before Google announced the “Street View” of El Capitan? Or just a weird coincidence?) and also offers a “top search” that searches people, places, and tags at the same time.

GMail now has an official “Unsend” button. Not in Labs, not in an extension – official. It’s under the General tab of your GMail settings and you can set it for up to 30 seconds. This is going to come in handy has long as Google is as wonky autocompleting e-mail addresses as it has been for the last few months.

AROUND THE SEARCH AND SOCIAL MEDIA WORLD

That’s weird: Google is sending searchers to nonexistent videos. “Google offers a dedicated Google Video search designed to bring back videos from across the web, in addition to its own YouTube service. However, something seems seriously wrong with Google Video. Some searches promising to lead people to video content fail to actually do so.”

RESEARCH AND OPINION

From The New York Times: Can Wikipedia Survive? “These are existential challenges, but they can still be addressed. There is no other significant alternative to Wikipedia, and good will toward the project — a remarkable feat of altruism — could hardly be higher. If the foundation needed more donations, it could surely raise them. The real challenges for Wikipedia are to resolve the governance disputes — the tensions among foundation employees, longtime editors trying to protect their prerogatives, and new volunteers trying to break in — and to design a mobile-oriented editing environment. One board member, María Sefidari, warned that ‘some communities have become so change-resistant and innovation-averse’ that they risk staying ‘stuck in 2006 while the rest of the Internet is thinking about 2020 and the next three billion users.'”

Google is training its neural networks to augment images, and in the process is making downright trippy art. “What Google is doing here is essentially reversing image recognition, and telling its computers to use the images they already know to augment new images. As Singularity Hub (via Engadget) explains: ‘Where the software was allowed to “free associate” and then forced into feedback loops to reinforce these associations — it found images and patterns (often mash-ups of things it had already seen) where none existed previously.'”

Well that’s not creepy at all: Facebook can recognize you in photographs even if it can’t see your face. “An experimental algorithm out of Facebook’s artificial intelligence lab can recognise people in photographs even when it can’t see their faces. Instead it looks for other unique characteristics like your hairdo, clothing, body shape and pose. Modern face-recognition algorithms are so good they’ve already found their way into social networks, shops and even churches. Yann LeCun, head of artificial intelligence at Facebook, wanted to see they could be adapted to recognise people in situations where someone’s face isn’t clear, something humans can already do quite well.”

OTHER THINGS I THINK ARE COOL

OH THE SILLY: Google Sheep View. “Google Sheep View is an amusing project by Ding Ren and Michael Karabinos that collects photos of sheep from Google Street View. The project also accepts submissions.” 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!

Art, Water, Science, More: HUGE Wednesday Buzz, June 24th, 2015

NEW RESOURCES

Missouri Southern State University has created a database of its African art holdings which should be available to the public “soon.” “The result of that work, which was completed a few weeks ago, is an online database that is set to be made public at artcollection.mssu.edu. Viewers will be able to see photographs of all the items along with information about each piece, such as its dimensions, its materials and any history related to it, said Eric Rasheed, collections care manager.” (That URL 404s at this writing.)

The American Membrane Technology Association (AMTA) has launched a new digital library. “The American Membrane Technology Association (AMTA) is committed to preserving the technical contributions and personal narratives of professionals in our industry and making that information available to the water treatment community now and in the future. The landmark Chats with the Pioneers interviews began that legacy and now AMTA is proud to announce the launch of the comprehensive new Digital Library. Accessed exclusively through the AMTA website at http://www.amtaorg.com, the Digital Library contains almost 1,000 papers and presentations authored by the industry’s most respected and experienced professionals.” You do have to be member to view the digital library, but individual memberships are available and memberships for students are free. (You must submit a student ID and you must be a full-time student.)

FamilySearch has started a huge project to index four million
Freedmen’s Bureau historical records.
“The Freedmen’s Bureau was organized near the end of the American Civil War to assist newly freed slaves in 15 states and the District of Columbia. From 1865 to 1872, the Bureau opened schools, managed hospitals, rationed food and clothing and even solemnized marriages. In the process it gathered priceless handwritten, personal information including marriage and family information, military service, banking, school, hospital and property records on potentially 4 million African Americans.” FamilySearch is looking for crowdsourced help with this project.

The National Trust in the UK is asking the British public to send them the sounds of the seaside. “The National Trust is asking the public to record the sounds of the seaside for a digital archive. Bosses at the organisation want thousands of recordings to be uploaded onto a digital map, which will be curated by the British Library.” I actually heard about this on BBC World News yesterday and Dan Damon made me laugh; he was very indignant about the repeated mentions of seagulls. “They steal your chips!”

The US Department of Health and Human Services has launched a new tool that maps out community residents who are dependent on electricity for assistance or lifesaving devices – ventilators, wheelchairs, etc. The maps can be overlaid with radar/alert information to quickly identify citizens at risk from severe weather. “The HHS emPOWER Map shows the monthly total number of Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries’ claims for electricity-dependent equipment at the national, state, territory, county, and zip code levels. The tool incorporates these data with real-time severe weather tracking services from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in a Geographic Information System (GIS).” When I first read about this I was worried that it might be a privacy issue, but the information does not descend to residence-level (that information is extant, of course, but not available to the general public.)

The Smithsonian Science Education Center has launched a new animated Web series for science teachers. “‘Good Thinking!’ features short, animated videos that explore subjects like energy, cells and gravity, as well as cognitive research findings on topics such as student motivation or the myth of left- and right-brained people. Led by teacher Isabella Reyes, each episode centers on interactions with her students in class. But Reyes also encounters a cast of recurring characters who spring to life from classroom objects and guide her through fine points of teaching. These characters include a talking orchid (who is an expert on life sciences), a talking Bunsen burner (a physical sciences guide) and Gummerson, a gruff but wise wad of gum who’s ‘stuck around’ the school for a long time.” The first three episodes of the series are available on YouTube.

Google Play Music now has a free, ad-supported version. “At any moment in your day, Google Play Music has whatever you need music for—from working, to working out, to working it on the dance floor—and gives you curated radio stations to make whatever you’re doing better. Our team of music experts, including the folks who created Songza, crafts each station song by song so you don’t have to. If you’re looking for something specific, you can browse our curated stations by genre, mood, decade or activity, or you can search for your favorite artist, album or song to instantly create a station of similar music.”

Now available: a database of LGBTQ movies from Canada. I don’t have a complete count of database entries but it looks like several hundred.

The Archivo Histórico General del Estado de Sinaloa has joined the Flickr Commons. “Founded in 1999, the Archivo Histórico de Sinaloa hosts one of the largest digital libraries in Mexico. Its staff is working to digitize the entire collection of images with the goal of making it available to anyone interested. They want to help spread the history of the state of Sinaloa and put its documents to good use, whether for academic or personal purposes.”

The Digital Library of Georgia has released a new collection of Savannah photographs. “The City of Savannah, Research Library and Municipal Archives has recently made a new collection available through its online Digital Image Catalog: Public Information Office–Photographs, 1948-2000. This collection contains digitized photographs, slides, negatives, and manuscript material maintained by the city of Savannah’s Public Information Office, and document city-sponsored services, programs, and significant city events. There are also photographs of politicians and employees of city bureaus.” It’s a small collection – just over 150 photographs – but I’m including it here just because of how much in encompasses. The 1996 Olympics Torch Run, a movie set (Glory, 1989), stained glass, a funeral, dancing police officers – this collection is all over the place.

TWEAKS AND UPDATES

Hey! Picasa Web Albums is back. I’m glad to see this; I really liked Picasa.

Alrighty then: Google Street View is getting vertical with rock wall climbs. “Today we’re launching our first-ever vertical Street View collection, giving you the opportunity to climb 3,000 feet up the world’s most famous rock wall: Yosemite’s El Capitan. To bring you this new imagery, we partnered with legendary climbers Lynn Hill, Alex Honnold and Tommy Caldwell. Read more about the project from Tommy Caldwell, who completed the world’s hardest climb in Yosemite in January of 2015.” When you read this blog post make sure you are firmly planted in your chair or at your standing desk – the images can do strange things to your stomach.

USEFUL STUFF

From SmallBizTrends: 4 Greatest Online Collaboration and Project Management Tools. I had heard of two of these.

SECURITY/LEGAL ISSUES

Four senators have introduced the Just Google It Act in a bid to get rid of the NTIS. “The NTIS, which was established in 1950, compiles federal reports and sells copies of these documents to other agencies and the public upon request. The original purpose of the NTIS – to increase government transparency and make documents available to federal agencies and the public – has been largely displaced by the Internet. A 2014 GAO study found that three-quarters of the documents added to the NTIS collection over the last two decades were available elsewhere, of which 95 percent could be found for free online through a search on Google or another search engine.”

AROUND THE SEARCH AND SOCIAL MEDIA WORLD

Happy 20th birthday to genealogy site Cyndi’s List! Cyndi has a blog post about how it all began. “It’s all Nancy Peterson’s fault. She was the editor of the TPCGS quarterly. She came right up to me at the meeting and asked if I could turn my one-page list into an article for the quarterly. Maybe five or six pages long. I said I could, but I would have to categorize the bookmarks. That’s when that started. I scoured the Internet for all-things genealogy. I found topics and ethnic groups and locations that I knew nothing about, but I figured others would find them useful. The article was published in the late fall of 1995. I need to find a copy of that article for my archives. I didn’t keep a copy that I can find. And I had no way of knowing what it would become.”

Wow: DuckDuckGo is now getting 10 million queries per day. A drop in the bucket compared to Google, but it shows that users do think privacy is important.

From Harvard Business Review: How Bots Took Over Twitter. “Buffer offers ‘suggestions'; HootSuite, ‘suggested content.’ Commun.it suggests the tweets that can thank and engage your most loyal followers. All these apps — and many more — are saving us from the problem of keeping up with social media by stripping away what was once the entire point of social media: actually using your own voice. The result is a Twitter that is authored by predictions and algorithms, rather than by humans. For many users, that means Twitter offers a far less satisfying experience than it did just two or three years ago, when sharing a link often provoked follow-up comments and questions from people who’d actually read whatever you’d shared, or when tweeting a question could instantly elicit offers of help or insight. In on- and offline conversations with friends and colleagues, I frequently hear from folks like Michele Perras, a San Francisco-based design and product entrepreneur. ‘Twitter has become too much noise and not enough signal,’ she says. ‘It used to be more like a hallway conversation, and now that’s harder to find that amongst the robotweeting and marketing.'” I am happy to say that I never used that suggested content stuff, because it does feel too “noisy”. Good morning, Internet…

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