UFOs, Apple, Economists, More – Saturday Evening Buzz, April 11, 2015


Every UFO sighting since 1933 has been put on a map. “The intergalactic graphic was created by MBA candidate Christian Pearson using web-based software and data from the National UFO reporting center. It’s a part of QuantBait, a visualization initiative through which Pearson wants to tell stories about economic, political, and social issues.”

Facebook Messenger is now available as a desktop app.

Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin will have gotten a grant to make a digital archive of the records from the Central Lunatic Asylum for Colored Insane in Petersburg, Virginia. The project will start this month and end in 2018. “The asylum was established in 1868 and was the first of its kind in the United States. It has maintained over 800,000 public records that detail the origins of the hospital and the racially segregated services provided for almost 100 years.”


Finding the most influential people on Twitter — in this case economists.

Larry Ferlazzo has made all the student handouts in his new student motivation book available for free. But wait, there’s more! “And Routledge has been kind of enough to do the same for the zillion student hand-outs in my previous two student motivation books, too, though for those books they’re called ‘Supplemental Downloads.'” Thanks, Larry!


I missed a recent records add by FamilySearch. “Notable collection updates include 771,097 images from the New Zealand, Archives New Zealand, Probate Records, 1843–1998 collection; 417,808 indexed records and 417,808 images from the US, BillionGraves Index collection; and 411,325 indexed records from the Mexico, San Luis Potosí, Civil Registration, 1859–2000 collection.”

Apple has iOS 8.3. “The update, which has been in beta for several months, brings over 300 new emojis (including diversity options) as well as a new keyboard for inputting the symbols. The new keyboard features a scrolling UI, rather than the old page metaphor, to better accommodate the wider range of emojis available in the update.”


ScrapeSentry has an article about a Google Chrome extension which had malware in it. The extension is called Webpage Screenshot, and guess who had it installed on her Chromebook. Dammit.

Continuing to show the deep love and respect for third party developers that is one of its hallmarks, Twitter has announced that it is cutting access to Twitter’s “firehose data”. “Instead, it will use its own in-house big data analytics team, which it developed around its acquisition of Gnip in 2014, to seek to build direct relationships with the data companies, brands and others that use Twitter data to measure consumer sentiment, market trends and other moving targets that can be better understood by tracking online conversations — a transition it says it hopes to have completed by mid-August.” This makes perfect sense because Twitter has an excellent track record for developing its own applications, which is why there are absolutely no third party Twitter apps. (I think I just broke the sarcasm meter.)


Research: Google Image search results can shift gender biases. “In a paper to be presented in April at the Association for Computing Machinery’s CHI 2015 conference in South Korea, researchers from the UW and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County found that manipulated image search results could determine, on average, 7 percent of a study participant’s subsequent opinion about how many men and women work in a particular field, compared with earlier estimates.”

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Saturday Afternoon Buzz, April 11, 2015


The Hoover Institution has released a new iPad app (PRESS RELEASE). “The launch of the app concludes a comprehensive process, which helped identify what Hoover followers most care about in terms of content, research and access to ideas. The app contains tens of thousands of pieces of content organized so that information can be found and discovered in a logical and intuitive fashion, no matter the topic or media format. The simplified menu and filtering tools improve ease of use by incorporating restructured and streamlined research topics. For visitors looking for a specific item, a robust search engine quickly finds content to match the keywords.”


TechCrunch has a writeup on Clearbit, which tells you about the person behind an e-mail address.

A HUGE list from Hongkiat: 80 Twitter tools for almost everything.


The FTC is investigating a complaint against Google’s YouTube app for kids. “A number of consumer advocacy groups sent a letter to the FTC Tuesday, asking for an investigation into Google’s YouTube Kids app. The groups allege the app includes ads that deceive its young users in ways that violate the FTC’s policies on how products can be marketed to children.”

More Google: Google Moderator is shutting down at the end of July.

Is Google going to launch its own program for finding home service providers? “One would suspect this would be deeply integrated into Google My Business, where small businesses can advertise through AdWords based on the type of business they are in and the query the searcher enters into the search box. So plumbers in Google My Business may be able to set a budget to show up for plumbing related keywords and then be connected to the searcher, potentially without even having a web site.”

Apparently rumors are flying that someone’s going to buy Twitter – possibly Google. Blah – don’t like that combination at all. Facebook would be the perfect buyer for Twitter. Yahoo would be interesting but wouldn’t make the most of it. It’d be a perfect way for Bing to get front-and-center in the social media world, but Microsoft might not want to spend the money. It would never happen, but Reddit would be a fascinating buyer.

Another day, another WordPress plugin bug. This time it’s for WP-Super-Cache. “The persistent cross-site scripting bug allows attackers to insert malicious code into WordPress-published pages that use the extension, according to a blog post published Tuesday by security firm Sucuri. Anyone who relies on the plug in should immediately upgrade to version 1.4.4, which has fixes for that bug and several others.”

An interesting article from MIT Technology Review on making artificial intelligence less dangerous. “Many people working on AI remain skeptical of or even hostile to Bostrom’s ideas. But since his book on the subject, Superintelligence, appeared last summer, some prominent technologists and scientists—including Elon Musk, Stephen Hawking, and Bill Gates—have echoed some of his concerns. Google is even assembling an ethics committee to oversee its artificial intelligence work.” Good afternoon, Internet…

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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 Opensource.com 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!

Friday Buzz, April 10, 2015


Ooooh, this looks like fun. Kifi helps you build a search engine based on links you’ve tweeted, and also makes content recommendations. “Called ‘Kifi for Twitter,’ the company describes the new feature as something of a deep search engine for Twitter because it’s not only indexing the tweet itself, but also the actual content contained in those links you’ve shared, allowing you to more easily retrieve this information in the future.” Can you imagine being able to use something like this to tweet links with topic hashtags and automatically build a searchable subject index of links? Good heavens, I think I have the nerd-vapors…

Hulu has launched its own GIF search engine. Well, sort of: ” The new site, dubbed ‘The Perfect GIF,’ isn’t just a standard Tumblr blog, however, but more of customized Tumblr experience where you can search for and discover TV-related GIFs by tag, show, reaction or action involved. The idea behind the new project, it seems, is to help seed social media with high-quality GIFs based on Hulu’s own licensed and original content, then capitalize on those GIFs’ spread to market the Hulu brand to Tumblr’s younger demographic.”

In development: a database of incidents of fire attack hose burn-through. “As part of a larger research effort focused on the design and development of a next-generation fire attack hose, a team of faculty members and students at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has launched a fire department survey and associated online database to gather and document information on actual hose burn-through incidents nationwide. The creation of this database is a key element of the first phase of a long-term project that aims to understand the flammability and limits of current fire attack hoses; define the scope and impact of burn-throughs; and, ultimately, use that data to create a more fire-resistant attack hose. The survey was rolled out in March. In less than three weeks, more than 150 fire departments have reported burn-through incidents and have detailed issues experienced as a result of those hose failures. Although it seems counterintuitive: attack hoses, the key firefighting tool used by firefighters across the country, are not designed to resist the very element they are combatting. In reality, existing hoses—usually made from woven cotton and rubber—can burn through while in use.”


On the one hand, this is good information to have. On the other hand, you have to give a site permission to scan your e-mail which makes me – ergh. Dashlane has created a tool that scans your e-mail for passwords stored in plain text. You do not have to be a Dashlane user to use the tool, and it’s free.

Do you know how many blogs the Library of Congress has? Over a dozen.


The Skype Translator now speaks Italian and Mandarin. Wow!

Interesting: Google bolding answers in search results? They really don’t want you to leave the results page, do they.


NIST (The National Institute of Standards and Technology) has released its public access plan. PubMed again. “All NIST-funded researchers will be required to deposit their final peer-reviewed manuscripts into [PubMed Central] upon acceptance in a peer-reviewed journal and make them available to the public with no longer than a 12-month embargo period [emphasis theirs]. NIST will also accept final published articles where allowed and will follow the NIH’s current format requirements. As with the other agencies, NIST will provide stakeholders with a mechanism for petitioning the agency to ‘shorten or extend the allowable embargo period.’ NIST envisions that this process would take place through a public petition process run through the Federal Register.”

Google is offering more field trips – this time to science museums.

Facebook is being used to serve divorce papers.

Sounds like Yahoo may finally be ready to move on Tumblr. “The Information reports that CEO Marissa Mayer spoke about the major changes inside the company at an offsite meeting with executives. She also reportedly asked Tumblr CEO David Karp which Yahoo executive he’d like to report to from now on.” Ouch.

You can now move your YouTube channels.

Microsoft and Getty Images are teaming up. “In September 2014, Getty Images sued Microsoft over alleged massive copyright infringement through the Bing Image Widget. Shortly after, Microsoft pulled the Bing Image Widget offline. Today we learn via The Seattle Times that Getty Images dropped the lawsuit against Microsoft on Monday and yesterday announced a new partnership deal with Microsoft to ‘develop next-generation image rich experiences.'” Good evening, 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!

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 americanarchive.org 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!