Bricks, Bugs, Britain, More: Friday Morning Buzz, March 20th, 2015


This is a new one on me. The Cleveland Indians have launched a commemorative brick database. “Fans can visit their website and search for their brick by entering the name or inscription that appears on the stone. The site will then list your brick and show a series of three numbers that represent a quadrant, row and column.”

Now available: an online library of federal IT policies. “The database includes 83 specific documents, with bulleted agency requirements enumerated for each. The documents range from OMB and presidential policy memos to laws like Clinger-Cohen and the DATA Act.”


Facebook has launched friend-to-friend payments via messages.

Wow! The 40 millionth WorldCat Digital Collection Gateway record has been added to WorldCat.

WordPress 4.2 beta 2 is now available.

The state of New York is adding an API to “ is an effort by the Attorney General’s office to promote the public’s right to know and monitor governmental decision-making; it is the only statewide resource that aggregates a range of sources for state government information – including data on campaign finance, lobbying, charities, state contracts, member items, corporate registrations, elected officials, and legislation – which is otherwise scattered or difficult to retrieve. The NY Open Government API will allow developers easier access to this data, which they can use in the creation of applications.”


Fair warning: if you decide you want to test Facebook’s new suicide prevention/intervention tool, it may not go that well.

Whoopsie. A security bug may mean Facebook is leaking private photos. (Was, rather, looks like Facebook has addressed the problem.) “Vaultimages resides within the Facebook Graph API and handles synchronisation of photos from devices to the social media site Muthiyah found the Facebook app makes GET requests to /vaultimages using a top level access token to read photos which is verified using an access token. Facebook however did not check what application issued the request.”

Premera Blue Cross has been hacked. 11 million customers have been impacted, and the information exposed includes medical records. “On Tuesday, Premera Blue Cross confirmed that it had been the victim of a cyberattack which may have exposed the private information belonging to its 11 million customers, including their bank account numbers, Social Security numbers, birth dates, emails, addresses, phone numbers, and even their claims and clinical information.”

Eek. Do you use the Google Analytics plugin for WordPress by Yoast? It’s got a security problem. “Revealed on Thursday by Finnish security researcher Jouko Pynnonen on Full Disclosure, the plugin’s security issue allows an unauthenticated attacker to store arbitrary HTML, including JavaScript, in the WordPress administrator’s Dashboard on the target system — and which is triggered when an admin views the plugin’s settings panel.”

The British government’s “Google Tax” is going into effect next month. “The tax was flagged during the Autumn Statement in December 2014, and levies a 25% charge on companies who divert their profits overseas through complex business structures to avoid paying UK tax.” It’ll be really interesting to see how tech companies react to this…


Interesting article in Fast Company about Twitter’s influence… on other social media networks. “BuzzFeed found that Twitter has a big cascade effect on other social media platforms. Put simply, it appears that huge stories often start as tweets, then get shared by influencers to Facebook and other networks, where the original piece of content subsequently gets far more distribution.”

Xinye Lin, Mingyuan Xia, and Xue Liu wrote an interesting paper I just stumbled across: Does “Like” Really Mean Like? A Study of the Facebook Fake Like Phenomenon and an Efficient Countermeasure. From the abstract: “Social networks help to bond people who share similar interests all over the world. As a complement, the Facebook “Like” button is an efficient tool that bonds people with the online information. People click on the ‘Like’ button to express their fondness of a particular piece of information and in turn tend to visit webpages with high ‘Like’ count. The important fact of the Like count is that it reflects the number of actual users who ‘liked’ this information. However, according to our study, one can easily exploit the defects of the ‘Like’ button to counterfeit a high ‘Like’ count. We provide a proof-of-concept implementation of these exploits, and manage to generate 100 fake Likes in 5 minutes with a single account.” 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!

Seafloors, Boolean Logic, AA, More: Thursday Morning Buzz, March 19th, 2015


A new search tool allows users to find AA meetings near them (PRESS RELEASE). “Finding Sobriety says that it has managed to integrate a number of new search technologies in the new tool. People will now be able to do a specific search and get even more specific results and this will simply make it far much easier for anyone to find the best AA meetings. In addition to this, the AA meeting finder is on offer for free and as such anyone in need of an AA meeting can easily log on to its website, search using the tool and find the perfect meeting.”

NASA has launched a free desktop application to help you help it to find asteroids. “During a panel Sunday at the South by Southwest Festival in Austin, Texas, NASA representatives discussed how citizen scientists have made a difference in asteroid hunting. They also announced the release of a desktop software application developed by NASA in partnership with Planetary Resources, Inc., of Redmond, Washington. The application is based on an Asteroid Data Hunter-derived algorithm that analyzes images for potential asteroids. It’s a tool that can be used by amateur astronomers and citizen scientists….The desktop software application is free and can be used on any basic desktop or laptop computer. Amateur astronomers may take images from their telescopes and analyze them with the application. The application will tell the user whether a matching asteroid record exists and offer a way to report new findings to the Minor Planet Center, which then confirms and archives new discoveries.”

The US Geological Survey has released a new collection of coastal and seafloor images. “This portal contains coverage of the seafloor off California and Massachusetts, and aerial imagery of the coastline along the Gulf of Mexico and mid-Atlantic coasts. Additional video and photographs will be added as they are collected, and archived imagery will also be incorporated soon. Areas of future focus include data sets for Washington State’s Puget Sound, Hawaii and the Arctic. … In total, approximately 100,000 photographs and have been collected as well as 1,000 hours of trackline video covering almost 2,000 miles of coastline. Imagery was taken by video and still cameras towed by boat or from aerial flights.” has launched a Web site for searching Irish newspapers. “ works much like (another site, with mostly US content): You can enter a name or other search terms, then narrow your results to the most relevant dates, places and newspaper titles. You can run a search without subscribing, and the snippet views of your search results often provide enough context to tell whether a particular result might be relevant to your family history (and whether it’s worth subscribing).”


I’m not sure about useful, but this is fun. Send this Twitter ‘bot a tweet, and it will send you an animated GIF based on the words in your tweet.

This is a little far afield but I would definitely call it useful: how to use Boolean logic to analyze Excel data.


App submissions on Google Play will now be reviewed by human beings and isn’t it about time? “Additionally, Google announced the rollout of a new age-based ratings system for games and apps on Google Play, which will utilize the scales provided by a given region’s official ratings authority, like the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) here in the U.S.”


Do you have a four-digit PIN on your iPhone? It may not be that secure. “The team at MDSec has highlighted the availability for purchase of a hardware tool, called IP Box, that can brute force crack the four digit password that most users have protecting their iPhones.”

The US Department of Defense has released a “draft plan” for public access. “While the Department is careful to note that ‘the proposed plan is a draft,’ and is subject to further revision, it lays out a strong framework for the implementation of a DoD-maintained article repository, as well as a comprehensive approach to ensure access and productive reuse of DoD-funded research data. Of note: unlike the other U.S. agencies that have released plans to date, the DoD will initiate a further formal ‘rulemaking’ process – which will include an open public comment period – before finalizing its policies. ”

Yahoo is exiting China and laying off staff.

From MIT Technology Review: building 3D scans from drone photos. 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!

Kansas, Pinterest, Google, More: Tuesday Morning Buzz, March 17th, 2015


Now available: an online archive of New Zealand nursing archive oral histories.

The National Museum of African Art has launched its first online exhibition. “The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art is launching the online exhibition ‘Sailors and Daughters: Early Photography and the Indian Ocean World.’ The event is part of the museum’s multiyear series of programming, Connecting the Gems of the Indian Ocean: From Oman to East Africa, made possible by a $1.8 million gift by the Sultan Qaboos Cultural Center in Washington, D.C. The online exhibition brings together early photographs, albums and related media from the region to a digital audience; photography was part of the flow of people, ideas and technologies crossing the western Indian Ocean at the turn of the last century.”


Interesting: an online database of disappeared Kansas communities. There are 143 profiled towns in the database – but the estimated count of disappeared Kansas towns is 9,000.

From Mashable: 5 IFTTT recipes to share Instagram photos like a boss.


The Library of Congress is updating its recommended format specifications. “The Library of Congress has committed to a sustained investment in the Recommended Format Specifications, which means an annual review and revision process. And to accomplish this, it is actively soliciting feedback and comments from any and all who can help us make them better and more useful, for ourselves and to all of our stakeholders and colleagues in the creative world. This feedback is requested by March 31st, after which date our teams of experts will take the input we have received from others and the results of our own investigations to spend the next three months developing a revised version of the Recommended Format Specifications for the coming year. The greater the input, the better the product, so please do not hesitate to contact us here to share your thoughts and ideas about the Recommended Format Specifications.”

Google Flights are now showing which flights have Wi-Fi. “Routehappy is a service that lets you find the “happiest” flights — meaning those with the most amenities and the roomiest seats. Its data is already integrated with Google Flights — once you’ve selected a flight, you’ll see how much legroom you’ll get and whether it offers in-seat power or Wi-Fi.”

Google is Getting rid of its original Google Webmaster Tools API. April 20 is the shutdown date.

YouTube is now accepting 360-degree video uploads. You’ve got to prep your video with a Python script, though. Wow. Feelin’ 1999!

Google Street View, now for Japanese Bullet Trains.

Pinterest is now worth $11 billion dollars, and to be honest that scares the bean dip out of me. Pinterest is a great idea and a good site, though one I don’t “get” as much as I do other sites. But it’s gone from a $2.5 billion valuation to $11 billion in just over two years. Doesn’t that bother anyone else? I was here in 1999 and after, when the bubble burst. This just doesn’t feel good.


A bug in Google Apps’ domain registrations has caused a big privacy breach. “Google leaked the complete hidden whois data attached to more than 282,000 domains registered through the company’s Google Apps for Work service, a breach that could bite good and bad guys alike.”

Twitter has updated its policies to explicitly ban revenge porn. “The changes appear in the private information section of Twitter’s rules and the abusive behavior policy page — both of which now expressly prohibit users from posting ‘intimate photos and videos that were taken or distributed without the subject’s consent.'” 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!

FTC, FCC, Twitter, More: Fat Monday Morning Buzz, March 16th, 2015


From Poynter: 5 Ways Newsrooms Can Make the Most of Instagram. A lot of these could apply to museums and other cultural institutions as well.

Google Operating System shares some tips for searching YouTube.

Genealogists! Here’s a MOOC you might want to know about. “RootsMOOC [Massive Open Online Course] is a free, open, online course and a friendly introduction to family history research in the U.S. using commonly available sources. The staff at the State Library of North Carolina’s Government and Heritage Library will help you learn about the most useful sources, tools, and techniques for getting your research off the ground. By the time you’re finished with this course, you’ll have a good start on your own genealogy research and you will know how and where to keep digging.”

Google has launched a new storage service for cold data. “Cold data is often kept for legal or regulatory reasons, so the service is clearly designed with businesses in mind. The new platform, called Google Cloud Storage Nearline, costs just $0.01 per GB at rest each month.”


Google Calendar is now available as an iPhone app.

Bing wants to help you build your NCAA tourney bracket. “Want to come out on top with your bracket? We’re here to help. We know that as much as we all love basketball, we don’t have time to follow all 68 teams. In fact, according to a YouGov survey commissioned by Bing, most of us only follow 1-2 teams in the regular season. That means we can’t all be experts and nearly 40 percent of us simply guess when filling out a bracket. Don’t worry, Bing is here to level the playing field for the average fan and make you look like that smart sports analyst.”

Yahoo has launched on-demand password authentication (PRESS RELEASE). “Today, at SXSW, Yahoo announced a new intuitive option for users to login to their account without any need for a password. Upon sign in, an on-demand password is texted directly to a user’s mobile phone.”

Google Code is going away.


Is Nest getting into audio? “Smart home gadget maker Nest is looking for someone to lead what they are calling Nest Audio, fueling speculation that they are moving into speakers and other audio products. The company declined to comment on the new division or job listing.” That could also mean it’s getting into home security, yes?

The FTC has released its 2014 complaints report. “The top five complaint categories consisted of identity theft (332,646 complaints, or about 13 percent of the total), debt collection (280,998, or about 11 percent), imposter scams (276,622, or about 11 percent), telephone and mobile services (171,809 or about 7 percent), and banks and lenders (128,107, or about 5 percent).”

Bing is teaming up with the NCAA for March Madness. “As part of this partnership, NCAA has pulled 10 years of raw historical data about teams, tournaments, win loss ratio, home vs. away stats, etc. and provided it to Microsoft’s Walter Sun, principal applied science manager, to analyze and review. After culling through the information, running through Bing’s algorithms and leveraging machine learning, Walter and his team have been able to identify key patterns over the years that contribute to a team’s success.”

Apple has launched beta testing for iOS 8.3 — but it’s invitation only.

Google has launched an online store for hardware. “The store, which debuted on Wednesday, coincides with the launch of Google’s new Chromebook Pixel laptop. Other hardware for sale include the Nexus tablet line, the Nexus Player streaming box, Chromecast, Nest thermostats, Android-powered smartwatches and a variety of accessories.”

Is Snapchat going to team up with sports leagues for live broadcasting?

The FCC has published its Net Neutrality rules. All 400 pages of them.


Interesting! What a graph of 8000 fake Twitter accounts looks like.

History Today has an interesting article on footnotes vs. permalinks. “…it turns out that a much more insidious development is coming closer to undermining the footnote: the use of web citations. Historians, like all other academics, increasingly embed URLs (web addresses) in their footnotes. This is of necessity – their source may well be available on the Internet alone. But this practice presumes that Internet sources are as permanent as evidence on paper. We all seem to believe that if something is on the web it will stay there, as it would in a library. In fact this is far from true – the web is inherently unstable. Internet citations decay, become inaccessible, disappear.” 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!

Saturday Morning Happy Pi Day Buzz, March 14th, 2015


There’s a new Twitter bot for tracking edits made to Wikipedia. This one’s watching the NYPD. “The account was created Friday morning, after a Capital New York report detailed extensive Wikipedia edits by NYPD IP addresses to Wikipedia articles. Capital found multiple instances of users on the NYPD network editing and attempting to delete entries on victims of NYPD altercations, including Eric Garner, Sean Bell, and Amadou Diallo.”


Oh nice. One of Microsoft’s updates is causing a reboot loop. It’s apparently only for Windows 7, though.

Blogging platform Medium, which is getting more and more chatter in the places I listen, is doing a limited beta testing of custom domains.

WordPress 4.2 beta 1 is now available.

Oh what a surprise, a new Flash patch. “Adobe has released an update for its Flash Player software that fixes at least 11 separate, critical security vulnerabilities in the program. If you have Flash installed, please take a moment to ensure your systems are updated.”


Old news but in case you haven’t heard: Tech news site Gigaom is shutting down.

Wikipedia is suing the NSA and DoJ. “The lawsuit, … filed on Tuesday, alleges that the NSA’s mass surveillance of internet traffic in the United States – often called ‘Upstream’ surveillance – violates the US constitution’s first amendment, which protects freedom of speech and association, and the fourth amendment, which protects against unreasonable search and seizure.”

I don’t want to bum you out. But please read this story about the state of Iowa and its inability to digitize newspapers due to lack of funding. There’s also a look at the idea of microfilm vs. digital records. I wonder if any cultural institutions regularly convert selected “born digital” resources to microfilm? I know at least the state of North Carolina can do it, but I’m not sure how often it’s done.


Somebody analyzed the top 1000 posts on LinkedIn to see what made them the top posts. 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!