Slack, Mormons, African-Americans, More: Friday Afternoon Buzz, February 5, 2016

NEW RESOURCES

I’ve been interested in Slack but I haven’t done anything with it because I’m just one person, and it didn’t seem like it would be useful. An article on TechCrunch pointed me toward Hamster Pad, which is an online directory of Slack chats/communities. Now I have a Slack account, though I’m still not sure why it’s asking me to register and provide a password for every chat/community – and I can’t find a help page. Yes, I am a total SlackNoob.

Now available: a database of early Mormon missionaries. “The database…features the names of 41,000 men and women who served full-time proselytizing missions for the church in 36 countries worldwide from 1830 through 1930, with links to thousands of sources in the Church History Library.”

The New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) has launched a new resource portal for African-Americans. “To commemorate Black History Month in February, New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) has assembled a wealth of information in a single portal on its data rich website, offering important resources to the researcher of African American ancestry. The portal … features a NEHGS webinar and study guide about African American genealogy, and hints concerning researching African American and other minorities in online databases, as well as beautifully illustrated articles on several important African American historical figures, culled from the vast manuscript collection at NEHGS.”

TWEAKS & UPDATES

It looks like Google is making an effort to improve Google Hangouts with peer-to-peer connections. “However as pointed out by 9to5Google, by using a peer-to-peer connection, it will reveal the IP addresses of both parties, although there isn’t a way to reveal said IP via the Hangouts UI. If you are using voice calls to make calls to friends or family, we suppose this might not necessarily be a big deal, but if you are making calls to strangers then you might want to be wary.”

You remember that Facebook chat encryption extension I mentioned a few days, ago? Crypter? Facebook has crippled it. “Chat encryption app, Crypter, that seemed to offer a secure way to communicate with your Facebook friends has effectively depreciated in functionality after Facebook made changes to its platform to prevent the app from working.”

USEFUL STUFF

Huh. Did you know you can play chess via Facebook Messenger?. (Obviously it won’t be encrypted chess….) “Unfortunately, the board is not drag-and-drop; instead, you need to send text commands to move your pieces across the board, with the board refreshing as a new static image after each move. ”

If you’ve been on the Web for 20+ years you’ll enjoy this: Alan Levine falls down a Gopher hole.

AROUND THE SEARCH AND SOCIAL MEDIA WORLD

Google has announced its Doodle 4 Google state winners. “This time around, we added a little twist: for the first time in eight years of Doodle 4 Google, there were no restrictions on the medium or materials kids could use to create a doodle. Kids took us up on the challenge. A quarter of all finalists used some non-traditional media—from clay and wood to origami, photographs and sheets of music—in their submission.”

Google’s Go-playing AI is set to take on another champion. “Google’s French Go-champion-beating AlphaGo artificial intelligence will take on the Go world No 1 in a live broadcast from Seoul, South Korea. The contest will begin on 9 March and offers a $1m prize.”

SECURITY/LEGAL ISSUES

RESEARCH AND OPINION

How much traffic is going to pass through the Internet this year? We’ll be catching a z. “f you thought the 2GB monthly data cap on your phone was low, well, you’re right. And, in comparison to the world’s overall Internet traffic figures, it appears to be even more microscopic as we’re slated to approach the one zettabyte mark later this year. This news comes from Cisco’s Visual Networking Index, a survey predicting Internet traffic trends all the way up to 2019.” A zettabyte is a trillion gigabytes. This Wikipedia article on zettabytes notes that after the zettabyte is the yottabyte. Good afternoon, 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!

Irish Politics, Visa, Twitter, More: Friday Buzz, February 5, 2016

NEW RESOURCES

Enough about US politics. There’s a new Web site for comparing 500 candidates in the Ireland elections. “Every political party and candidate was asked to complete a questionnaire which indicated where they stood on the key issues, including taxation, water, housing, employment and abortion. Voters can answer a set of questions to see which candidates they agree with in their constituency.”

A little outside the ResearchBuzz remit but I think this is going to end up impacting a lot of people: Visa has launched a developer platform. “With regards to today’s Visa Developer announcement, for the first time in the company’s nearly 60 year history software developers will have open access to payments technology, products and services by Visa. The new Visa Developer platform is designed to help financial institutions, merchants, and technology companies meet the demands of consumers and merchants, who increasingly rely on connected devices to shop, pay and get paid.”

TWEAKS & UPDATES

Twitter might be testing a new GIF tool for its users to easily add pre-selected images to their tweets. Looks like Twitter’s version of Facebook’s stickers. “Various Twitter users have tweeted, naturally, that a dedicated GIF tool has popped up in between the photos and polls options on their mobile app.”

Huh. Google might have launched a “Trusted Verifier” program that certifies people to verify local businesses for Google. But maybe it’s not ready for prime time? “It comes with a mobile app where the Trusted Verifier can use the app to mark the business as verified….It seems like the app was pulled…”

USEFUL STUFF

MakeUseOf has a quick tip for using symbolic links in Google Drive. oooh, this is going to come in handy…

AROUND THE SEARCH AND SOCIAL MEDIA WORLD

Amit Singhal, head of Google Search, is leaving the company. Instead of linking to a news story, I’m linking to the incredibly classy post he put on Google+. “Now, with pride, gratitude, and joy in my heart, I need to define my next fifteen years. I am eager to see what kind of impact I can make philanthropically, and of course, to spend more time with my family–especially with my wife who I miss spending time with given our incredibly busy lives, and our son who will go to college soon, leaving an empty nest behind.” Best of luck in your future endeavors, sir.

Google’s new head of search is John Giannandrea. “Giannandrea joined the company in 2010, after Google bought his startup Metaweb Technologies. His company was the basis for Google’s ‘Knowledge Graph,’ which stores information to help users answer their questions as quickly as possible. ”

PricewaterhouseCoopersIndia (PwC India) and Google are teaming up to launch a security product for India. “The product will be able to detect, analyse and stop possible cyber attacks or any other forms of threats from cyber criminals, competitors or governments. PwC already plays a role in the cyber security space and helps its clients prevent, and in some cases, take corrective actions after cyber breaches.”

Interesting: Joe Biden is apparently the first US Vice-President with a Facebook page.

SECURITY/LEGAL ISSUES

The University of Central Florida has been hacked. “Hackers gained access to the personal information of current and former student-athletes and support staff as well as current and former university employees. The stolen info includes Social Security numbers but not credit card information, financial records, medical records or grades, [John C.] Hitt said.” The information of about 63,000 people was compromised.

RESEARCH AND OPINION

Erin Brown at Duke University did her honor’s thesis on Twitter. Specifically #Activism: Tracking Twitter’s Impact on Campaigns for Political Change. ” Various interest groups have thus increasingly begun to adopt social media – and Twitter in particular – as a means to achieve institutional goals. However, as social communication has moved to online networks, the scope and variety of information that citizens receive has begun to shrink. Understanding how different groups have utilized social media has become imperative to examining what messages people see, and as a result, how social media may change activism in the future. This study thus seeks to answer the following questions: How have interest groups utilized social media, and Twitter in particular, to facilitate political change? How does partisan affiliation affect and shape social media strategy?” Not a super-long thesis (35 pages) and if you’re at all interested in social media activism or the communication strategies of different political parties, worth a read.

Move over, Kevin Bacon, the people on Facebook have a lot less than six degrees of separation. “New research from the social suggests that for the 1.59 billion active users of Facebook, there are only 3.57 degrees of separation, on average, between everyone on the social network.” If you visit the Facebook Research Blog you can find out what your degree of separation is on Facebook. Mine is 3.13; so close to pi and yet so far away. The story of my life (or my desserts, anyway.) 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!

Facebook, NewsBlur, Ancestry, More: Thursday Afternoon Buzz, February 4, 2016

NEW RESOURCES

A new browser plugin lets you encrypt your Facebook chat. “Created by a Max Mitchell, a student at Sussex University, the app enables encrypted chat over Facebook messenger. It is a plugin for Chrome and Firefox and works by encrypting the communications with an agreed-upon password and decrypting it on the fly in the browser.” Slightly off the subject, but TechCrunch, what’s up with the horrible comment spam?

When Google Reader went down, I tried several other RSS readers. I really liked NewsBlur, but the number of RSS feeds I read is on the ridiculous side and NewsBlur couldn’t handle it. If you have a reasonable number of RSS feeds and are using Windows 10, you might want to try Hypersonic, a 3rd party NewsBlur app.

TWEAKS & UPDATES

Ancestry is handing over Family Tree Maker and hooking up with RootsMagic. “Software MacKiev, with whom we have a long-standing relationship, is acquiring the Family Tree Maker software line as publisher for both Mac and Windows versions….We have made an agreement with RootsMagic, a leading genealogy desktop software program publisher, to connect Ancestry with the RootsMagic software by the end of 2016.”

From Engadget: Google experiments with e-books designed for your phone. “It just launched Editions At Play, an experiment in making e-books that rely on the dynamic qualities of the mobile web to do what you can’t in print. One book (Reif Larsen’s Entrances & Exits, above) sets stories inside Google Street View locations that you can explore. Others create portals full of animation and sound, degrade the text alongside a character’s mind or let you flip between two sides of the same tale.”

Facebook is celebrating its 12th birthday with a new video feature. “Today is Facebook’s 12th birthday, or as CEO Mark Zuckerberg likes to call it, Friends Day. To celebrate the occasion, the social network is introducing a new personalized video experience that essentially automatically collates together your friendships and memorable moments in a video that you can share with your Facebook brethren.”

Yahoo is shutting down Yahoo Games. “YAHOO GAMES, THE once-hopping online game hub best known for its simulacrum of classic board and card games, is shutting down.” I suspect Facebook killed this one.

Instagram has launched 60-second video ads.

USEFUL STUFF

Digital Trends: How to send free text messages online. “Sending texts from your computer is extremely useful in dozens of different situations. Perhaps you lost your phone and need to send a message to someone; maybe you’re over your monthly text limit and still need to get in touch with your friends; or what if you just hate typing on a tiny keyboard or lack cellular service? I know my living room might as well be a black hole when it comes to coverage. Whatever the case may be, we’ve put together this super simple guide on how to send free text messages online.

AROUND THE SEARCH AND SOCIAL MEDIA WORLD

Google is going to give free gigabit Internet to some public housing developments. “Looking forward, we plan to bring gigabit Internet to select affordable housing in all of our Fiber cities. We’re working with local providers to identify which properties we’ll connect across these markets, and we’ll have more to share as we bring Google Fiber to these cities. Finally, inspired by the early success of our work with the Housing Authority for the City of Austin, we’ll be complementing this $0/month Internet service by working with local partners to make new investments in computer labs and digital literacy classes so residents learn the skills they need to get online.”

An article on Pando breaks down Yahoo’s broken-down earnings: “In 2016, growth in digital ad spending is expected to slow to a more modest 15 percent, according to eMarketer. And Yahoo? It says its total revenue will decline another 9 percent (before traffic acquisition costs) to $4.5 billion. In a way [Marissa] Mayer was right three years ago: Yahoo is growing disproportionately, if by disproportion you mean not growing at all, but shrinking.” Good afternoon, 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!

Substance Abuse, Medieval Manuscripts, GPO, More: Thursday Buzz, February 4, 2016

NEW RESOURCES

The state of New York has launched the Bed Availability Dashboard, a new site for residents to find openings for addition treatment. At this writing there are 235 organizations with beds available. Information is returned in a table that includes name and contact information for the organization, number of adult and adolescent beds available (for male, female, and transgender patients), the next available admission appointment, and the date the entry was last updated. The state’s announcement about the new site provides a few more resources for addressing substance abuse.

Three Pennsylvania institutions are leading a project to digitize a large collection of medieval works. “Lehigh [University], the Free Library of Philadelphia, and the University of Pennsylvania are leading a project, called Bibliotheca Philadelphienis, that will digitalize the largest regional collection of medieval and early modern manuscripts in the country.” The collection is expected to be almost 160,000 pages.

The Government Publishing Office (GPO) has launched GovInfo.gov, a new portal for official government documents. It’s in beta. “As of the Feb. 3 launch, there are more than 1.5 million documents archived on the site, including the Congressional Record, Federal Register, Code of Federal Regulations and the federal budget.” More features are on the way; hit the link for details.

The New York Times will be publishing previously-unpublished images of African-Americans during Black History Month. The story about Jackie Robinson reminded me of that wonderful kid’s book by Betty Bao Lord, In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson, which takes place around the same time as Mr. Robinson spoke to the Sociology Society at City College in New York.

Wired has a story about a new search engine for television show The Simpsons. “Frinkiac, named after Springfield’s favorite eccentric scientist, Professor Frink, landed on the Internet yesterday with all the subtlety of a Lard Lad Donuts mascot. It collects every quote from the first 15 seasons of The Simpsons, the most quotable show of the last two decades, and pairs them with screenshots from the exact moment they happened.” It sounds amazing. Unfortunately I am not very Simpsons-savvy, but even I know Mr. Burns and his trademark “Excellent” and, using that, found a ton of screenshots.

TWEAKS & UPDATES

Facebook is launching a public awareness campaign for the Zika virus. “The first video, released today in Portuguese with English subtitles, lists the steps pregnant women should take in order to avoid mosquitos. Developed in partnership with Ambrasco Divulga — Brazil’s public health wing — [Mark] Zuckerberg said that Facebook is committed to help raise awareness in the country and across the continent.”

Is Google Play going to get podcasts? “It was way back in October that we’d heard about podcast support coming to Google Play Music. Fast forward to now, and it feels like it’s been a much longer wait than it was for family plans to finally arrive.” Are we ever going to get a decent podcast search engine?

USEFUL STUFF

MakeUseOf has an Evernote vs. OneNote smackdown. I keep trying to get into Evernote and I can’t do it. Wonder if I need to try OneNote…

AROUND THE SEARCH AND SOCIAL MEDIA WORLD

Business Insider takes a look at the state of Yahoo Labs. “The in-house research labs are a badge of honor, showcasing a company’s advances in everything from artificial intelligence to speech recognition, and signaling to the world that the company is in the big leagues. But Yahoo’s efforts to maintain an advanced research operation have been bumpy and its in-house research lab is now showing signs of a breakdown inside its ailing parent company.”

Tumblr has really dropped some value. “Yahoo, which bought Tumblr in 2013, said it had reduced its valuation of the blogging service by $230 million, or about 23%. The move was basically an acknowledgment that Yahoo overpaid in the $1.1 billion deal.”

SECURITY/LEGAL ISSUES

Do you use Malwarebytes? You should be aware it’s still fixing some security issues. “Malwarebytes said it could take three of four weeks to fix flaws in its consumer product that were found by a Google security researcher. The company has fixed several server-side vulnerabilities but is still testing a new version of its Anti-Malware product to fix client-side problems, CEO Marcin Kleczynski said in a blog post.” At least the company is being up front and communicative.

RESEARCH AND OPINION

Researchers did some crawling around the Dark Web and discovered what they could find was mostly illegal. “…researchers Daniel Moore and Thomas Rid have carried out an in-depth scan of hidden-services websites within the Tor network….The researchers’ conclusion: dark web sites are, in fact, most commonly used for crime.” 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!

Why I Love Pocket

I have mentioned in ResearchBuzz from time to time the tools that make doing this blog easier. They change and evolve as different things become available, but right now the big three are Nuzzel, Digg Reader, and Pocket.

The third, Pocket, is the one that ties the first two together. I spend a certain amount of time using Nuzzel (I have to limit myself so I can get other things done!) and anything I see that’s interesting goes into Pocket for later review. If I only have a spare 10-15 minutes in Digg Reader, I save links I want to follow up on to Pocket. Pocket makes it possible for me to review a lot of information sources, and organize/store the results in a useful way.

Pocket has just sent me my reading stats – the number of words I read using Pocket – in 2015.

Pocket Reading Stats, 2015

I read 4,100,383 words in Pocket in 2015, or just a skosh less than 11234 words per day. Of course, I couldn’t use everything I saved, but a lot of what I found and reviewed this way made it into ResearchBuzz.

I happily pay the $44.99 annual subscription for Pocket. The amount of time it saves me is worth much, much more than that.

Of course, gathering and blogging what I find is pretty pointless unless someone is reading it and making use of it, so a big thank you to YOU, for reading and commenting and liking and sharing. I hope the information you find in ResearchBuzz makes your life at least a little bit easier/more interesting/more productive.