North Carolina, Kenya, Illinois, More: Wednesday Buzz, August 19th, 2015

NEW RESOURCES

The State Library of North Carolina has added several digital collections. Highlights include the papers of various governors, and the Uniform Crime Reports from 1973-2006.

The state of Illinois has a new database of teaching resources. “The Vision 20/20 21st Century Learning Center is a free online database of digital lesson plans and resources aligned to the state’s new set of learning standards. The material will be available for free on the iTunes U app — home to the world’s largest online catalog of free educational content, according to Apple.” Too bad about the iTunes part.

TWEAKS AND UPDATES

The Kenya Open Data Portal has been updated. “Today, the website has grown to provide more than 680 datasets from an initial of 200, in 2011 and hosts a variety of government data that include expenditure and resource allocations, education, health, energy, tourism, demographics studies and County Government specific data.”

WordPress 4.3 is now available. Looking forward to those formatting shortcuts.

USEFUL STUFF

From Free Technology for Teachers: 5 Tools Students Can Use to Keep Track of Assignments This Year. Dayboard looks rather interesting.

Google has build a standalone hangouts site. “Google has built Hangouts its own website, but it’s not spinning it out of Gmail completely like the company did with several properties to form its new parent corporation. It’s just one of the (many, many) ways to access the messaging service, in case you’d rather not keep Gmail open or your default browser is Firefox/MS Edge and, hence, can’t install the Chrome extension. The website’s photo background changes every few minutes like Chromecast’s, and it has quick links to video calling, voice calling and messaging.”

AROUND THE SEARCH AND SOCIAL MEDIA WORLD

The Smithsonian has announced a public access plan for its research. “The Smithsonian has released its Plan for Increased Public Access to Results of Federally Funded Research, based on the principles outlined by the Office of Science and Technology Policy. Through the new plan, all applicable publications and supporting data resulting from federally funded research will be available through the Smithsonian Research Online (SRO) website or CHORUS, a nonprofit membership organization that helps federal entities increase public access to research. The plan will take effect Oct. 1 and apply to articles submitted to publishers on or after that date.”

Google is launching a wireless router. “…the company is launching a new device called the OnHub, in partnership with router-maker TP-Link. There’s another, Asus-made device in the works. For $199, it promises to make your Wi-Fi faster and more reliable, and to give you the ability to update and fix your connection. (You know, for the rare times unplugging it and plugging it back in just won’t do.) Presales start today, and devices will ship in the coming weeks.” It looks like a shorter, beefier Echo.

Music videos on UK YouTube are about to get ratings. “Several record labels, including Sony Music, Universal Music and Warner Music, have said they’ll send any videos they think might only be acceptable for viewers aged 12 or over to the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC), the organisation responsible for rating films.”

SECURITY/LEGAL ISSUES

Are you using Internet Explorer? You need to patch ASAP. “Microsoft today released an emergency software update to plug a critical security flaw in all supported versions of its Internet Explorer browser, from IE7 to IE 11 (this flaw does not appear to be present in Microsoft Edge, the new browser from Redmond and intended to replace IE). According to the advisory that accompanies the patch, this a browse-and-get-owned vulnerability, meaning IE users can infect their systems merely by browsing to a hacked or malicious Web site. ”

Hackers have apparently released the data from the Ashley Madison hack. “The data dump reportedly includes the login details of about 32 million users — all seeking extramarital or illicit affairs — and also provides a staggering amount of information such as their names, email and street addresses, how much they have spent on the site and even what they are looking for in a potential cheating partner.” Good morning, Internet…

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Short Tuesday Buzz, August 16th, 2015

TWEAKS AND UPDATES

Google News is getting new languages. “Google News already supports 28 languages spanning 45 countries. Over the next few days we will add seven new language editions. Romanian is the first followed by Bahasa Indonesia, Bengali, Bulgarian, Latvian, Lithuanian and Thai.”

USEFUL STUFF

From Social Media Examiner: 14 Social Media Marketing Tools Recommended by the Pros. Nice collection here.

A Prezi I think you’ll like: 23 Things: Libraries for Research Data. Described as “An overview of practical, free, online resources and tools that you can begin using today to incorporate research data into your practice of librarianship”. The transcript is kind of messy but there’s a nicely-formatted handout PDF at
https://rd-alliance.org/system/files/documents/23Things_Libraries_For_Data_Management.pdf.

AROUND THE SEARCH AND SOCIAL MEDIA WORLD

Facebook is working on treating public and private events differently. “Public events will now have larger header images, and will present more information about the location and event, such as an artist’s profile or photos of the venue. Meanwhile, wall posts will be less prominent given they will almost certainly be strangers.” It’s also considering having more options than the simple “Yes/no/maybe” of going or not going. Which I think would be great; often I’m interested in the event but can’t attend because everything happens on the west coast; it’d be nice to have a “Keep me posted” button that hips me to tagged multimedia or followup posts.

WIRED takes a look at YouTube and what it might do for livestreaming. Another good search/data aggregation idea, folks – it’s a royal PAIN to get a calendar of hangouts and other planned live events taking place on YouTube. You can filter for things that are live right now, but a) that doesn’t let you plan, and b) search results like that give minimal amounts of information about the live event. Every time I hear someone say that all search problems online have been resolved, I want to throw things. “YouTube built some of the infrastructure for live video almost by accident, in the course of creating the YouTube we know now. It has a terrific, usable player that is embeddable basically anywhere and accessible all over the world. It supports almost any technical setup you can think of. It has subscriptions, channels and a notification system that can easily shift from ‘Casey posted a new video’ to ‘Casey is live!’ But Bronstein and his team also discovered livestreaming comes with its quirks.”

University endowments are getting rid of Twitter stock. “Yale University, which has a $23.9bn endowment fund, sold all of its 34,345 shares in Twitter – worth just under $1m at Monday’s stock price – over the last quarter. Harvard University, the world’s wealthiest university with a $36.4bn fund, sold 29,856 Twitter shares between April and June. Stanford, which has an endowment fund worth $21.4bn, sold 18,000 shares.”

The latest iteration of Android is named Marshmallow. Do you wanna build a snowman?

The Vatican Museums have launched a new app to crowdfund restoration projects. “The Vatican Museums have released a crowdfunding app called Patrum, with the intention of raising money for a series of upcoming restoration projects that include the restitching of an 18th-century French tapestry and the conservation of 13th- and 14th-century Chinese calligraphy scrolls.” 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!

Iowa, Minneapolis, IRS, More: Monday Buzz, August 17th, 2015

NEW RESOURCES

Iowa is getting an app for its culture destinations. “On Monday , the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs will launch the Iowa Culture mobile app … With an initial inventory of more than 3,500 cultural destinations to explore, this new tool puts 56,272 square miles of arts, history and culture at your fingertips.”

Google is test-launching a tool that will let home owners determine if their roofs are suitable for solar energy. “If you’re in one of our test regions, simply enter your address and Project Sunroof will crunch the numbers. It first figures out how much sunlight hits your rooftop throughout the year, taking into account factors like roof orientation, shade from trees and nearby buildings, and local weather patterns. You can also enter your typical electric bill amount to customize the results. The tool then combines all this information to estimate the amount you could potentially save with solar panels, and it can help connect you with local solar providers.” Test regions are Boston, Fresno, and the San Francisco Bay area.

Ancestry has published a new collection of photos of British towns and cities (over 220,000 of them) and though they would normally be fee-based like Ancestry usually is, the collection is free until the end of August. “Nearly a quarter of a million historic images of UK towns, cities and villages dating back to 1857 have been published online, allowing people to see how their local area has changed over the past 150 years….The photos are searchable by location, year and subject, and the collection can be searched for free until the end of August.”

The city of Minneapolis, Minnesota, has a new vintage picture archive. This story about it has some very silly pictures. “The city plans to continue to add images and reports to its Minneapolis Archives Flikr page, and will accept comments from residents who might be able to add information or details about the people and events in the photos.”

TWEAKS AND UPDATES

Apparently Facebook is bringing Notes back. ‘Cause status updates don’t know how to act. Or something. Sorry, Justin Timberlake. “Remember Facebook Notes? I didn’t. And based on the sparse number of friend-written Notes I found when I finally traversed my way to that long-forgotten corner of Facebook, not many of you do either. That makes reports of its recent overhaul a bit of a surprise. As it turns out, though, there’s ample reason for Facebook to gut renovate this particular ghost town.”

AROUND THE SEARCH AND SOCIAL MEDIA WORLD

From the LA Times: What’s next for YouTube as Google reorganizes? “With more than 1 billion users and a reported value of $70 billion, YouTube, which will remain part of Google, has evolved into a major asset for Sergey Brin and Page’s empire, a seemingly farfetched notion when the tech giant first acquired the once-small company in 2006. But even as the video platform is at a point in its history where it can cement its dominance and become ever more lucrative, some are asking: Is YouTube too big to innovate?” Seeing what it’s been doing in its race against Twitch, my answer to that question would be no.

SECURITY/LEGAL ISSUES

The IRS hack appears to have been more extensive than originally thought. “The IRS said in May that cyber thieves used stolen Social Security numbers and other data to try to gain access to prior-year tax return data for about 225,000 U.S. households, which included 114,000 successful attempts. But on Monday, the agency said that an additional 390,000 households were targeted, including about 220,000 “where there were instances of possible or potential access” to prior-year return data, the Wall Street Journal reports. ” 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!

Aspen, War Graves, Open Access, More: Sunday Buzz, August 16th, 2015

NEW RESOURCES

The city of Aspen, Colorado is getting a new online archive of photographs. “When Mary Eshbaugh Hayes died earlier this year, the beloved Aspen journalist, author, photographer, and figure around town left behind a legacy that includes more than 65,000 photographs documenting Aspen’s history over six decades. The entire collection was donated to the Aspen Historical Society, and the first 1,000 pictures will be available to view online starting Monday.”

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission has has launched a new database. “The digitised records cover British, Irish and Commonwealth casualties from the Second World War, together with records for most other nationals commemorated at CWGC sites: this includes the records for German soldiers. The release of the CWGC’s Second World War records follows the successful release of the First World War archive in August 2014.”

In development: a digital archive of LGBTQ oral histories. “[Elspeth] Brown, an associate professor at UTM, is director of The LGBTQ Oral History Digital Collaboratory, a multi-year research project that will create the largest collection of LGBTQ+ oral histories in North America. Known as the Collaboratory, the project explores ‘the histories of trans people, queer women, gay men and lesbians in the U.S. and Canada through the creation of a virtual research meeting place.’ Based at U of T, the project is partnered with Toronto’s Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives, University of Toronto Libraries and a several community-based archives across North America. Over five years, the Collaboratory will digitize and transcribe existing oral history collections, and create new collections of trans-related materials. It will also develop a digital ‘oral history hub’ of resources, along with a library guide to aid research in the CLGA’s large collection of trans history materials.”

USEFUL STUFF

From SteamFeed: The best social media management tools in 2015. I had only heard of one of these!

AROUND THE SEARCH AND SOCIAL MEDIA WORLD

Google has apparently completely removed 8chan from its search results. “Google appears to have taken an unprecedented step in filtering its search results by banning an entire domain—and adding a warning about ‘suspected child abuse content’ to a search for the domain itself. Ars Technica has been unable to determine exactly when the change went into effect, but Imgur posts as early as this Wednesday pointed to a Google-wide ban of the imageboard site 8chan.”

More Google: it wants to help people manage their diabetes. “In Google’s continued expansion into the realm of healthcare, the Internet giant has now announced a new partnership with glucose monitoring company Dexcom to develop a wearable glucose monitor. Whereas current monitors tend to be clunky and costly, both companies seem confident that their newfound alignment will bring a much needed revolution to diabetes patients looking to keep tabs on their blood sugar levels.”

VR has gone to being a constant background murmur to a constant chatter on my RSS feeds. If you’re trying to get an overview, check out this headset roundup from Digital Trends. “Unfortunately, the limits of computer processing power and memory have relegated proper VR devices to military and government use. There have been attempts to make VR devices for the consumer market, but they have all been received poorly. Some true believers always remained, however, and now 2016 seems to poised be the Year of VR. The big names in the industry have all slated their devices for release in the upcoming year, and consumers will have a great selection to choose from when the virtual headsets finally hit shelves. Below are some of our favorites, along with their specs and features. Virtual worlds never looked so inviting.”

Jason Scott, on whom I am getting a bit of a nerdcrush, is trying to save tens of thousands of manuals. He could use some help – some actual physical help – if you’re in the Baltimore area.

Hey! The Taj Mahal is on Twitter.

SECURITY/LEGAL ISSUES

There’s been yet another malvertising attack. “Millions of people visiting weather.com, drudgereport.com, wunderground.com, and other popular websites were exposed to attacks that can surreptitiously hijack their computers, thanks to maliciously manipulated ads that exploit vulnerabilities in Adobe Flash and other browsing software, researchers said. The malvertising campaign worked by inserting malicious code into ads distributed by AdSpirit.de, a network that delivers ads to Drudge, Wunderground, and other third-party websites, according to a post published Thursday by researchers from security firm Malwarebytes.” Y’all, please turn Flash off or use NoScript.

RESEARCH AND OPINION

Nature has published the results of a survey on open access publishing. “A survey of 22,000 academic researchers by Nature Publishing Group (NPG) and Palgrave Macmillan has found that a decreasing number of authors are concerned about perceptions of the quality of open access publications. In 2014, 40% of scientists who had not published open access in the last three years said ‘I am concerned about perceptions of the quality of OA publications.’ But this year, only 27% said they were concerned. In the humanities, business and social sciences (HSS), the drop was more marked; from 54% in 2014 to 41% in 2015. Nonetheless, concerns about perceptions of the quality of OA publications is still the leading factor in authors choosing not to publish OA.”

It’s not as entertaining as Deep Dream, but Google is training its AI to detect pedestrians. Quickly. “We present a new real-time approach to object detection that exploits the efficiency of cascade classifiers with the accuracy of deep neural networks. Deep networks have been shown to excel at classification tasks, and their ability to operate on raw pixel input without the need to design special features is very appealing. However, deep nets are notoriously slow at inference time. In this paper, we propose an approach that cascades deep nets and fast features, that is both extremely fast and extremely accurate.” 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!

Finland, Qatar, Instagram, More: Saturday Buzz, August 15th, 2015

NEW RESOURCES

Online materials for Finnish parliamentary elections have been collected into an online archive. “For social media, the collection covered the profile pages of candidates and parties on Twitter and Facebook as well as tweets with election-related hashtags, such as #vaalit2015 and #eduskuntavaalit. Election videos were collected on YouTube and election galleries. For websites, the collection focused on the online contents published by candidates, parties, organisations, political decision-makers, support groups and news media.”

TWEAKS AND UPDATES

The White House blog has gotten an overhaul. “Whether you’re visiting WhiteHouse.gov looking for a specific piece of content, following a link from another site back to our platform, or you’re simply browsing — we want you to have a great experience that both gives you what you were looking for and introduces something you didn’t know was there. That’s how interacting with your government should be.”

USEFUL STUFF

Interesting roundup article from Amateur Photographer – How photographers back up their digital photographs. “Earlier this year, Amateur Photographer (AP) published an online article highlighting the dangers of photographers sleepwalking towards a photographic Armageddon, threatening access to today’s imagery in years to come. AP has since contacted several photographers, asking them to share their experiences and tips as they strive to ensure photos are not permanently consigned to the digital dustbin.”

AROUND THE SEARCH AND SOCIAL MEDIA WORLD

A Harvard student has lost his Facebook intership after pointing out Facebook privacy flaws. “Within three days, Facebook asked Khanna to disable the app. The company also deactivated location sharing from desktops, which meant Khanna’s app wouldn’t work even if he hadn’t taken it down. And the company that Mark Zuckerberg famously launched from his Harvard dorm room withdrew its internship offer from this Harvard student, who apparently made the mistake of…launching an app from his dorm room.” LAME.

Not too long ago I linked to an article on Instagram and art collection. Now check this article on Instagram and public art. “Gatherings like [Hank Willis] Thomas’s are called “Instameets,” and they are designed to give Instagram enthusiasts with large followings a chance to creatively capture and share photos, in an effort to drum up visibility for art exhibitions. It is a method that has spread throughout the art world. The Guggenheim Museum regularly holds #EmptyGuggenheim Instagram previews, along with traditional openings. ”

Apparently Apple is building a self-driving car. Of course, when the hardware problems pop up, Steve Jobs will appear to all of us in a dream and tell us we’re riding in it wrong. “In May, engineers from Apple’s secretive Special Project group met with officials from GoMentum Station, a 2,100-acre former naval base near San Francisco that is being turned into a high-security testing ground for autonomous vehicles.”

Comcast is about to launch its own video platform. “Comcast is partnering with major digital publishers like Comcast-backed Vox and Buzzfeed, lifestyle, and comedy sites like AwesomenessTV, Refinery29, and The Onion, news sites like Mic and Vice, as well as legacy brands like NBC Sports to come up with a widespread digital-video platform that will rival YouTube and Facebook’s online video efforts. It will also rival the rumored video platform Verizon is preparing to unveil.”

The National Museum of Qatar needs some help with its visual identity. You have to be Qatari, though. “The National Museum of Qatar is taking suggestions for its new logo and branding as part of a nationwide competition encouraging public involvement in design. All Qatari nationals over the age of 18 will be able to enter and suggest designs for the new museum’s graphic identity.”

Google has given an update on Project Ara. “For those who are unfamiliar, Project Ara is a smartphone concept that the folks at Google are trying to make a reality. The idea is that a smartphone is pieced together using different modules, and in turn it allows users to swap out the modules as they need, like adding more storage, bumping camera megapixels, and more.”

SECURITY/LEGAL ISSUES

Remember Android’s Stagefright security flaw? Apparently Google’s patch has its own issues. “On August 5, Google started releasing over-the-air (OTA) security updates for Nexus 4,5,6,7,9,10 and Nexus Player devices to address most of these flaws. However, shortly after the search giant started distributing the patches, researchers at Exodus Intel confirmed their suspicion that the fix for an integer overflow triggered in libstagefright during MPEG4 tx3g data processing (CVE-2015-3824) was flawed.”

Even with all its settings tweaked, Windows 10 seems to have some privacy issues. “Windows 10 will periodically send data to a Microsoft server named ssw.live.com. This server seems to be used for OneDrive and some other Microsoft services. Windows 10 seems to transmit information to the server even when OneDrive is disabled and logins are using a local account that isn’t connected to a Microsoft Account. The exact nature of the information being sent isn’t clear—it appears to be referencing telemetry settings—and again, it’s not clear why any data is being sent at all. We disabled telemetry on our test machine using group policies.”

Firefox is getting more private browsing options. “Mozilla is testing a new private browsing mode in Firefox that doesn’t just keep no trace of your… browsing habits on your machine but that also blocks online services that could track you while you’re surfing the web. That’s not unlike what plug-ins like Ghostery and the EFF’s Privacy Badger can do for you, but Firefox now combines that with its own incognito mode.” 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!