Scotland, Canada, William Blake, More: Saturday Morning Buzz, March 7th, 2015


The FDA has launched a mobile app to provide information about drug shortages. “The app identifies current drug shortages, resolved shortages and discontinuations of drug products….App users can search or browse by a drug’s generic name or active ingredient, and browse by therapeutic category. The app can also be used to report a suspected drug shortage or supply issue to the FDA.”

WordPress is now offering a security white paper. “The white paper is an analysis and explanation of the WordPress core software development and its related security processes, as well as an examination of the inherent security built directly into the software. Decision makers evaluating WordPress as a content management system or web application framework should use the white paper in their analysis and decision-making, and for developers to refer to it to familiarize themselves with the security components and best practices of the software.”

Princeton University has digitized its Godefroy Engelmann proofs and samples albums. “The publisher and printer Godefroy Engelmann I (1788-1839) had offices in a number of locations, including Rue Cassette No.18, Paris (1817); Rue Louis-le-grand No 27 à Paris (1827); Rue du Faub No.6, Montmatre, Paris (after 1829); Paris & Mulhausen (1826); 66 St Martin’s Lane, Strand, London (1826-7); 92 Dean Street, Soho, London (1827-9); and 14 Newman Street, London (1829-30).” Stunning examples of early chromolithography.

A new Web site lets people search for pets available at animal shelters, rescue groups, and breeders (PRESS RELEASE). “’s database of available pets – the most comprehensive anywhere – allows pet lovers to find a pet their way. For example, when searching for a pet, they can choose to search just for breeders, shelters or rescues, or a combination thereof for maximum results. Petcha’s unique functionality also allows pet lovers to filter results by gender, breed, size, coat color, eye color, tail type, coat length, age, sex, or energy level. Additionally, they can search by pet or organization.”

Library and Archives Canada have put up a small-but-lovely album of travel photography from the 19th and early 20th century.

Now available: a memorial for projects abandoned by Google. It’s in French but the gist, it is easy to get.

Historic Scotland has launched an online database of 400 artefacts.

The Blake Archive has added a new section for back issues of the Blake Quarterly journal. Currently issues from 2000-2009 are available. As far as I can tell the issues are free.


This weekend, access to FindMyPast records is free!

From Edudemic: 5 Ways Google Tools Can Make Education More Exciting. Nice ideas here.


If you’re an old-school user of TweetDeck, like me, be told: it is switching to Twitter logins on 31 March.


Small Business Trends takes an in-depth look at Big Picture, a data visualization tool for Excel 2007 and up (unfortunately it’s Windows-only.) It looks delicious. I would love to find something like that for Gnumeric.

OpenDNS is prepping a new tool to find malicious domains before they’re put to extensive use.

From the Washington Post: Google’s quest to make art available to everyone was foiled by copyright concerns. 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!

Yahoo, Space War!, Font Town, More: Tuesday Morning Buzz, April 29, 2014

Sunday it was a zero-day Internet Explorer vulnerability, today it’s a zero-day Flash vulnerability. It has already been patched, so be sure to run your updates.

Alicia Peaker has a brief blog post on building digital exhibits in the classroom wih open source tool Omeka and a few various plugins. She also links to several examples.

Noupe takes a look at font site Font Town. “In the game since 2009, Font Town has recently created ripples . This is mainly due to the service enhancements implemented as well as the rapid growth to over 30,000 fonts and the redesign of their UI. All the fonts hosted are free downloads and the user experience can well be called intuitive, while the actual use of the fonts is not always that straightforward. We have taken a closer look at Font Town and checked whether this is the new world capitol of free fonts.”

Fortune has a quick roundup of 8 of Google’s biggest flops. I’d forgotten about Google Lively!

Yahoo has launched Yahoo Travel. “… an immersive digital magazine that makes those daydreams to getaways near and far a reality, with all the inspiration and information you need right at your fingertips.”

Meh. I’m much more interested in Yahoo’s announcement of Yahoo Live. “Beginning this summer, Yahoo and Live Nation will begin producing the largest collection of U.S. concert live streams on the web: one live concert, every day, 365 days a year.” There will also be additional music content and sports content as well. An intelligent and oblique way to attack Google’s YouTube dominance.

Parks Canada is considering a giant database for its cultural resources. “If the plan proceeds, members of the public would likely have online access for the first time to Parks Canada information about its 700,000 historical objects and reproductions, and 30 million archeological artifacts.”

From Forbes, an article on three Web sites which can show you if you’ve been hacked.

Did you know Wolfram|Alpha has cost of living information? A blog post shows how to use it.

Wow! For the true game geeks: Internet Archive now has Space War! Space War! is… “a 1962 collaboration of multiple students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Playing off the cathode-ray tube of a Digital Equipment PDP-1 (of which less than 60 were sold), this two-player space-battle game has been lauded as a major advancement in computer gaming for over 50 years.”

MyHeritage now has over 5 billion historical records.

Over at Search Engine Land, Will Scott asks: Does Google’s Review Count Inflation Give Them An Unfair Advantage In Local Search? “Next time you’re on a Google+ Local page, check for yourself: does the quantity of reviews boasted match the actual number of reviews? Anecdotally speaking, this seems rare.”

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!

Searching 60 Million Pages of Canadian History

Saw an interesting (if really brief) story in the Telegram about a new Web site called The Canadiana Discovery Portal, which searches through 60 million pages of Canada history from 14 different institutions. You can visit it at It’s in beta, as you can tell by the page, and this of course is the English version; there’s a link to the French version on this page.

It looks like a Google Custom search (I don’t think it is; that’s just what it looks like.) Simple keyword search. I did a search for Ottawa, and got over 62,000 results, so I abandoned that and did a search for locomotive.

There are still almost 3,000 results for locomotive and that’s a bit daunting. But take a look at the navigation across the top of the search results page. You can change the order of results (relevance, newest, oldest), and restrict your results to particular languages (in this case English, French, German, or Ojibwa, though in one search I saw Hindu, Swedish, Italian, and Latin, along with several Native American languages and even Chinese.) You can restrict your results to a media type (712 locomotive images!) and look for a specific contributing institution or narrow to a certain date range. In short, these navigation results make it super easy to narrow down your search results in several comprehensive ways.

And what of the results themselves? I found a lot of photographs, of course, but also individual pages from texts (A page of language from The Esquimaux their life, customs and manners had me baffled until I saw a reference to “locomotion”), press releases, typed statements, and entire books (“Cyclopedia of engineering;: a manual of steam boilers, steam pumps, steam engines, gas and oil engines, marine and locomotive work”) Clicking on an item in the search results list takes you directly to the that item at the holding institution’s Web site.

I would love an RSS feed. I would love a quick way to do a search within a search. But this is nice. The options for zeroing in on results are terrific. If you’re interested in Canadian history this is a must-visit.

New Easy Tool for Bird Photos and Songs

Dang it! I missed the 2010 International Day for Migratory Birds. I had plans to put up my birdhouse with tinsel and little lights too. HALLMARK YOU BETRAYED ME!

Oh well, I can wait until next year, and in the meantime use a recently-announced tool to identify the birds that hang around in the backyard. Dendroica is available at This site does not have the most extensive number of details on each bird, but it’s easy to search and incredibly easy to browse a large number of birds at a time.

When you first visit the site you can choose being a visitor from Canada, the US, or Mexico. once you’ve chosen you’ll get a list of species available (in the US there are 642) and a search box for narrowing them down. Click on a bird in the search box and you’ll see a picture and hear an example of the bird’s song. (Very occasionally there is not a picture available for a bird.) Underneath the picture is a description of the birds’ song and in almost all cases links to hear more versions of the bird’s song and see more pictures. If you can’t think of what bird you want to hear/see there’s also a link to get a random bird from the list.

There’s no data about habitat, or range, or anything like that, but this is an incredibly easy site to browse. If you’re interested in sparrows, search for the word sparrow and you’ll get a list of 33 species through which you can easily browse, comparing pictures and songs. Most other bird sites I’ve used would require a lot of page reloads to go through a list of birds like this. Very nice.

Registration is not required, but if you DO register you’ll have the ability to contribute pictures and songs of your own, as well as take quizzes based on the birds you’re looking at, or create customized lists.

If you need a lot of scientific and habitat data about a particular bird, this site is not for you. But if you want to quickly get a bird song or photograph, or easily browse through lists of birds looking for whatever’s been ransacking your apple tree, this site is terrific! Recommended.

Large Site for Canadian Documentaries and Other Content, Viewable Free

CBC News has noted a new site from Hot Docs, which it describes as “the largest documentary festival in North America.” The new Hot Docs site has well over 150 documentaries from Canadian filmmakers (along with some other content) and it’s all available online for free. The site is available at (that’s the English, non-Flash version.)

The front page has several sets of films you can go through — films by young filmmakers, films for educators, the most popular films — but I went straight to the browse tab and started poking around. The browse page is at The documentaries are listed by title though they’re also sortable by year and by director. (The oldest dated documentary in the database was from 1951.)

The first doc in alphabetical order is $4 Haircut, a 6-minute short (with a groovy oompa tuba soundtrack) about a guy who, well, gets $4 haircuts. It shows his methodology and experience and while you might not expect a short featuring mostly a guy sitting around waiting to get a haircut to be interesting, it was. The documentary is embedded in the page with the usual volume control, pop-out to full screen, etc. The page also contains a summary of information about the documentary (director, producer, editor, etc.) In this case, the documentary also had extras, specifically transcripts in English and French.

I browsed through the shorts and found a number of topics — one film was about ginsing. Another featured Geddy Lee. A third was about Thomas Edison and sound reproduction in technology. They ranged from under ten minutes to around fifteen to 32 minutes in the case of the Edison documentary.

The videos loaded really quickly, there was a wide range of content, and it was all free. If you’re at all interested in documentaries check out this site.