Landsat, Colorado, WordPress, More: Fat Friday Morning Buzz, April 17, 2015

I devoted some time to ResearchBuzz last night because it’s either that or go round the twist. Prepare for a deluge.


Phil Bradley has a quick writeup about a search engine called Instya. It’s a metasearch engine.

Citizens of Colorado have a new tool to see how their tax dollars are spent. “The online tool, called the Taxpayer Receipt tool, generates a breakdown of where individuals’ tax dollars go based on their age, annual income and how much they drive. It’s part of an interactive website called Balancing Act, launched last week in Colorado to give citizens an interactive way to find out where their tax money goes.”

The University of Chicago Visual Resources Center has launched the Robert Sengstacke Photography Archive. “Having grown up in the newspaper business (he is the grand-nephew of Robert Sengstacke Abbott, founder of the Chicago Defender), [Robert] Sengstacke was able to learn from established African American photographers at a young age and had unique access to important events and people. With the help of Art History Professor Rebecca Zorach, the VRC has scanned over 3,000 negatives featuring the artistic community and street life of Chicago’s South Side in the late 1960’s.”

BitTorrent has launched a beta of a distributed Web browser.

Now available: a database of catastrophic, fatal, and near-fatal athletic injuries (and not just at college level).

USEFUL STUFF is offering free access to its Immigration Collection through Sunday.

I try to keep ResearchBuzz apolitical, because in my case the leading “a” stands for “appalled.” That being the case I really liked this article from ZDNet on how to filter out political posts from your Facebook stream.


US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has released a new tool to make it easier for green card applicants to find exam-performing doctors. “The improved Find a Doctor locator lets you enter your address or ZIP code to search for a doctor based on distance. You can also look up directions and find local transportation. And we have added a helpful checklist of what to bring with you to your doctor visit. … Only doctors authorized by USCIS, known as civil surgeons, may perform the exams that are usually required as part of the process for obtaining permanent resident status.”

A WordPress 4.2 release candidate is now available.

Do you like satellite imagery? Sure, we all do. Check out this tool to check out very recent Landsat images.


Erm, okay: Google has launched a new certification program for Cardboard. “The new Works with Google Cardboard program seeks to make Cardboard viewers more compatible with third-party Cardboard apps on the Google Play Store for more widespread sharing and enjoyment of VR, according to Google’s developer blog.”

YouTube did a retrospective on its ads. I still like the Old Spice one best.

A German privacy regulator has ordered Google to limit the use of customer data. “Google lost another battle on the European regulatory front today when a German privacy commissioner ordered the Silicon Valley search giant to implement strict new controls on how it uses customers’ data…. In the original decision last fall, the Hamburg commissioner said Google must seek the explicit permission of users before merging all of their data into a single profile.”

Google has removed the ability to filter by already-visited pages. Google’s advanced search is getting lamer and lamer.


Research appears to indicate that Google Docs use doesn’t impact students’ writing scores. “The researchers’ paper, ‘Middle School Students’ Writing and Feedback in a Cloud-Based Classroom Environment,’ is currently in press with the academic journal Technology, Knowledge, and Learning. Zheng and her co-authors will be presenting the work this week at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, being held in Chicago. (Follow Education Week’s reporting from the conference using the AERA2015 tag at the bottom of this story.)” 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!

Guam, Lincoln, HathiTrust, More: Morning Buzz, April 11, 2015


A massive Abraham Lincoln Web site is not quite ready for prime time, but it’s gotten a temporary site. “Stacy Pratt McDermott, assistant director of the Papers of Abraham Lincoln, said the university is now allowing public access to the digitalized documents through a temporary website that offers few features. When the project is completed in two to four years, a more sophisticated site will offer acedemic researchers and history buffs in-depth search features.”

The Montana State University student newspaper is going to get an online archive.

The 1940s Guam census is now available online. “To use the search tool on the paper’s website, enter the first or last name of the person for whom you are searching, or both. The pulldown menu allows you to narrow your search by village, but you can leave it at “none” for an islandwide search. If your search yields any results, information about that person will appear, including their full name, their age in 1940, and the page number on which their name appears in the original census documents.”

Yale has launched a new online collection of about 850 hermeneutic texts (commentaries from Assyria and Babylonia). “It provides background information on the genre and a searchable catalog, as well as photos, drawings, and translations of individual commentary tablets. There is also an index of where each commentary originated. Some of the ancient commentaries are fragments, but others have several hundred lines, including one that has about 500 entries. Eventually, the website will provide fully annotated electronic editions of all known commentary tablets.”

A collection of 19th century artifacts is going online. “Museum Village, a living history museum in Monroe, has started posting a digital collection of its 19th-century artifacts on Hudson River Valley Heritage’s website. Hudson River Valley Heritage is a free digital library of historical resources contributed by libraries, museums and historical societies in the Hudson Valley. It is coordinated by the Southeastern NY Library Resources Council.”


From the always terrific Amit: a lighter-load-time way to embed YouTube videos.

From Four new tools for scholarly research.


HathiTrust is up to 5 million public domain ebooks.


Interesting article from Chris Abraham: France’s Google Isn’t Ours. “…I just know that it’s important to remember that not all countries are the same, not all technologies are rolling out everywhere outside of your trendy San Francisco coffeehouse or farmers market. That we live in a continuum of decades and technologies spanning the late 19th century all the way into a future where everyone is wearing an Apple iWatch, flying a drone, and shovelling every bit of our physiological, physical, geographical, and purchase data into the hungry maw of the capitalist data monster.”

Twitter’s new quote function has given rise to “Twitter tunnels”.

King George III private papers will be digitized and put in an online archive.

Hmmm! Is Yahoo testing non-Bing search results?


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!

Google, Fonts, Broadcasting, More: Morning Buzz, April 8, 2015


There is a new American Archive of Public Broadcasting. “The American Archive of Public Broadcasting (AAPB), a collaboration between the Library of Congress, WGBH Boston and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, launched a new website at today, providing the public with access to a collection of American public radio and television content dating back to the 1950s. These audio and video materials, created by more than 120 public broadcasting organizations across the country, have now been digitized and preserved, and will be a resource for scholars, researchers, educators, filmmakers and the general public to delve into the rich history of public broadcasting across America. The website will initially provide access to 2.5 million inventory records created during the American Archive Content Inventory Project.”


Want to make your own fonts? Noupe suggests 10 free tools.

Noupe again, with a review of a free image editor called Fotor. It’s not really for “any device,” because there’s apparently not a Linux version, but there are versions for Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS, and it sounds like a very useful editor.

His Amitness, Mr. Agarwal, has an article providing useful resources for learning regular expressions.

Sometimes I save stuff because I’m going to need it later: How to set up iPhone location-based reminders.

Last week Google announced the Chromebit, which is a computer on a stick, basically. These are not new and Google doesn’t have a lock on the market. ReadWrite has a roundup of stick computers.


What happens when a cow walks in front of a self-driving car? Google’s working on it.

More Google patents: Google now has an anti-spoiler patent. “The patent suggests that the system would track your TV or movie viewing progress—what episode of Orange Is the New Black you’re on, for example—and filter out information on what you haven’t yet watched.”

From The Guardian: What’s the future of the academic journal? “Researchers are estimated to waste 15 million person-hours a year on unpublished submissions to scientific journals. How can we make scientific communication more efficient? This was one of the questions raised at a recent debate at a conference celebrating the 350th anniversary of the Philosophical Transactions, the world’s oldest scientific journal, published by the Royal Society. I am in the team of historians from the University of St Andrews who ran the conference, and writing a history of the journal and its editorial practices. We want to bring this history right up to the present day, and so invited four experts in scientific publishing to discuss the present and future of the learned journal.”

Apparently over 3000 people responded to Matt Cutts’ AutoSEO April Fool prank.

Are Google’s wireless plans going to include free roaming?


Wow: a huge analysis of pro-Kremlin Twitter bots. “With the aid of open-source tools, Internet researcher Lawrence Alexander gathered and visualised data on nearly 20,500 pro-Kremlin Twitter accounts, revealing the massive scale of information manipulation attempts on the RuNet. In what is the first part of a two-part analysis, he explains how he did it and what he found.” 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!

Hawaii, Facebook, Rat Brains, More: Tuesday Morning Buzz, April 7, 2015

(I was a doofus on Sunday and didn’t get the link to the 80s/90s dance mixes right, and boy howdy did y’all let me know about it. Who knew you were such dance enthusiasts? GROOVE OUT! Anyway the post is fixed and here’s the link: . Read the FAQ.)


The state of Hawaii has launched a sustainability dashboard. “The Aloha+ Challenge Dashboard is a new online tool designed for the public and decision makers to track state and county progress towards achieving sustainability targets. The dashboard initially features indicators for two of the six targets—clean energy and solid waste reduction. Indicators for all six shared targets will be available by 2017.”

Berkeley National Laboratory has launched a database containing the elastic properties of over 1100 inorganic compounds. “Scientists at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have published the world’s largest set of data on the complete elastic properties of inorganic compounds, increasing by an order of magnitude the number of compounds for which such data exists…. While there is previously published experimental data for approximately a few hundred inorganic compounds, Berkeley Lab scientists, using the infrastructure of the Materials Project, have calculated the complete elastic properties for 1,181 inorganic compounds, with dozens more being added every week.”

The Shaker Museum of Mount Lebanon has launched a new database of historic photography. “The museum’s catalog records and presents the richest historical information, including scenes of Shaker villages from the mid-late 19th Century, as well as a collection of stereograph images from this early period by James Irving, a Troy, NY-based photographer.” I found over 2200 images at .

Microsoft has launched Microsoft Lens, a document scanning app for iOS and Android. “Like most scanner apps, Office Lens identifies the text on the images it captures using optical character recognition (OCR), which allows you to later locate the file in question using keyword search in OneNote or in Microsoft’s cloud storage site, OneDrive. You can also convert the images you scan of paper files and whiteboards into Microsoft Office formats and more, including Word documents, PowerPoint presentations and even PDFs and JPGs. These can be inserted into OneNote as images, the company says.”

Yes, it’s a database of rat brain connections. Don’t hate. “Lead author Mihail Bota of USC Dornsife created the database from more than 16,000 reports of connections, which he weighted both on the strength of the connection and the reliability of the methodology used to discover it. The process took more than 4,000 hours to complete, yielding a database that is free and available. Olaf Sporns of Indiana University subsequently performed a network analysis of the connections. In addition to finding the local networks, the team also discovered hubs — highly interconnected and crucial centers of neural traffic linking local networks together. Previous research has shown that the regions the team identified as hubs can be, when damaged, the source of neurodegenerative diseases and epilepsy.”

Singapore theater is getting a new digital archive. “The portal will offer basic information on the productions. It also has a search function to allow user to sift through what’s expected to eventually be a sizeable database, However, those interested in viewing the entire digital version of the programme booklets will have to physically visit the centre’s library at its Waterloo Street premises.”


Not sure I should be filing this under useful, but there’s a Web site that provides news based on the expression on your face. (At least there was; going to the site now gives me a 502 error.) Since my habitual expression is bewildered, I’m not sure how well this would work for me.


Google has updated its Course Builder product. “This new version enables instructors and students to understand prerequisites and skills explicitly, introduces several improvements to the instructor experience, and even allows you to export data to Google BigQuery for in depth analysis.”

Facebook has launched a new way for parents to tag photos of their children. “…Facebook is launching a new service that can be described as a digital, customizable scrapbook. Parents can create special tags for their children and then add those tags to their photographs. Photos tagged with the special tags can be shared with both parents’ friends on Facebook.”


Social network Ello has raised $5 million.


The Blanton Museum did a comparison between Meerkat and Periscope. by test-broadcasting a gallery tour.

Apparently some Yale researchers have done research and discovered that the more you do online searching, the more you overestimate your own abilities. I know it’s hard to objectively observe your own behavior, but I feel in my case it’s the opposite; the more searching I do online, the more I realize I don’t know. There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy. 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!

Short Friday Morning Buzz, April 3rd, 2015


The USDA has launched a new mobile app for food storage. “The FoodKeeper application offers users valuable storage advice about more than 400 and beverage items, including various types of baby food, dairy products and eggs, meat, poultry, produce, seafood, and more.”

Twitter has launched a new tool for media companies. “Curator was built to allow media publishers to search, filter and curate Twitter content that can then be displayed on web, mobile and TV. Those who have been testing Curator have seen strong increases in audience engagement, participation and attention. With these encouraging results, we’re opening up the product to all media publishers around the world, for free. This includes news organizations, production companies, broadcasters, local governments, and even concert venues.”

USEFUL STUFF is offering free access for Easter Weekend. Details at .

Really great hints here: 15 Tips for Newsgathering Via Twitter.


WordPress 4.2 beta 4 is now available.


Is Microsoft gearing up a sub-$200 notebook to compete with Google? “Although the launches of inexpensive Chromebooks using Rockchip’s solutions were postponed recently, Google is not giving up plans to release such products in 2015, forcing Microsoft, which has been closely monitoring Chromebook development, to release two new inexpensive projects targeting the education and consumer markets. The projects are 11.6-inch clamshell-type notebooks priced at US$149-179 and set for release in mid-2015, at the earliest.”

Interesting: a look at professional sports teams using Tumblr. (HINT: There aren’t many.)

Police departments are opening up “safe lots” for Craigslist transactions. 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!