Bricks, Bugs, Britain, More: Friday Morning Buzz, March 20th, 2015


This is a new one on me. The Cleveland Indians have launched a commemorative brick database. “Fans can visit their website and search for their brick by entering the name or inscription that appears on the stone. The site will then list your brick and show a series of three numbers that represent a quadrant, row and column.”

Now available: an online library of federal IT policies. “The database includes 83 specific documents, with bulleted agency requirements enumerated for each. The documents range from OMB and presidential policy memos to laws like Clinger-Cohen and the DATA Act.”


Facebook has launched friend-to-friend payments via messages.

Wow! The 40 millionth WorldCat Digital Collection Gateway record has been added to WorldCat.

WordPress 4.2 beta 2 is now available.

The state of New York is adding an API to “ is an effort by the Attorney General’s office to promote the public’s right to know and monitor governmental decision-making; it is the only statewide resource that aggregates a range of sources for state government information – including data on campaign finance, lobbying, charities, state contracts, member items, corporate registrations, elected officials, and legislation – which is otherwise scattered or difficult to retrieve. The NY Open Government API will allow developers easier access to this data, which they can use in the creation of applications.”


Fair warning: if you decide you want to test Facebook’s new suicide prevention/intervention tool, it may not go that well.

Whoopsie. A security bug may mean Facebook is leaking private photos. (Was, rather, looks like Facebook has addressed the problem.) “Vaultimages resides within the Facebook Graph API and handles synchronisation of photos from devices to the social media site Muthiyah found the Facebook app makes GET requests to /vaultimages using a top level access token to read photos which is verified using an access token. Facebook however did not check what application issued the request.”

Premera Blue Cross has been hacked. 11 million customers have been impacted, and the information exposed includes medical records. “On Tuesday, Premera Blue Cross confirmed that it had been the victim of a cyberattack which may have exposed the private information belonging to its 11 million customers, including their bank account numbers, Social Security numbers, birth dates, emails, addresses, phone numbers, and even their claims and clinical information.”

Eek. Do you use the Google Analytics plugin for WordPress by Yoast? It’s got a security problem. “Revealed on Thursday by Finnish security researcher Jouko Pynnonen on Full Disclosure, the plugin’s security issue allows an unauthenticated attacker to store arbitrary HTML, including JavaScript, in the WordPress administrator’s Dashboard on the target system — and which is triggered when an admin views the plugin’s settings panel.”

The British government’s “Google Tax” is going into effect next month. “The tax was flagged during the Autumn Statement in December 2014, and levies a 25% charge on companies who divert their profits overseas through complex business structures to avoid paying UK tax.” It’ll be really interesting to see how tech companies react to this…


Interesting article in Fast Company about Twitter’s influence… on other social media networks. “BuzzFeed found that Twitter has a big cascade effect on other social media platforms. Put simply, it appears that huge stories often start as tweets, then get shared by influencers to Facebook and other networks, where the original piece of content subsequently gets far more distribution.”

Xinye Lin, Mingyuan Xia, and Xue Liu wrote an interesting paper I just stumbled across: Does “Like” Really Mean Like? A Study of the Facebook Fake Like Phenomenon and an Efficient Countermeasure. From the abstract: “Social networks help to bond people who share similar interests all over the world. As a complement, the Facebook “Like” button is an efficient tool that bonds people with the online information. People click on the ‘Like’ button to express their fondness of a particular piece of information and in turn tend to visit webpages with high ‘Like’ count. The important fact of the Like count is that it reflects the number of actual users who ‘liked’ this information. However, according to our study, one can easily exploit the defects of the ‘Like’ button to counterfeit a high ‘Like’ count. We provide a proof-of-concept implementation of these exploits, and manage to generate 100 fake Likes in 5 minutes with a single account.” Good morning, Internet…

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West Virginia, NYPL, NYU, More: Thursday Buzz, December 25th, 2014

The Interview is now available on Google Play and YouTube movies. Wasn’t planning to see it before the controversy, still not interested. Sorry Sony.

More silliness: comparing all the different Santa Trackers.

The NYU Game Center is offering a free online archive of all its recorded Game Center lectures. “Speakers span the gamut (from Tim Schafer to Heather Kelley and Jonathan Blow) and all of the archived talks are of potential interest to game developers.”

Lifehacker rounds up its most popular Chrome posts of 2014.

The Calvert Journal is reporting that Russia plans to launch a digital library in 2015. I can’t find the quote used in the story anywhere else, but it might be because it’s not anywhere else in English. The Calvert Journal looks legit and is indexed by Google News; I just want to make it clear that I can’t corroborate this one.

Do you want to make your own “Year in Review” on Facebook? Here’s how. Mine was lame.

The state of West Virginia has launched a new education database. “The website collects education data and provides a thorough look at where the state and each county and school stands in terms of enrollment, assessment results and graduation and attendance rates. Each subject also can be analyzed by different subgroups such as race, socioeconomic status and free or reduced price meal participation.”

I love the Internet: an online archive of corridors from science fiction movies; now turned into a game.

A startup is focusing on using Google Glass to help kids with autism. “[Ned] Sahin believes Google Glass is ideal for helping kids with autism because it has an accelerometer chip that enables head gestures, which Brain Power uses to track when kids look or don’t look at their parents, as well as stereotypy, or the repetitive movements that many people with autism make.”

Facebook is going to get playlists like YouTube?

From Gothamist: questions patrons asked the NYPL before there was Google. “Can you tell me the thickness of a US Postage stamp with the glue on it? Answer: We cannot get this answer quickly. Perhaps try the Postal Service. Response: This is the Postal Service.”

If you don’t want Facebook to auto-enhance your photos, you can turn that off. Good morning, Internet..

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Qatar, Red Cross, Yahoo, More: Evening Buzz, October 24th, 2014

Facebook has launched a new tool for the 2014 elections. “You can click on the map and find, for instance, that while Senator McConnell may be winning the horse race in ‘likes,’ he’s lost in the dust of buzz about his competitor. Roughly three times more people are talking about Ms. Grimes, based on Facebook comments and ‘shares’ of content.”

Google has announced add-ons for Forms. “To give you even more flexibility and options, we’re introducing add-ons for Forms—new tools, created by developer partners, that deliver even more features to your surveys (just like add-ons for Docs and Sheets). Add-ons bring handy extras to your survey building experience, like setting a survey end date, sending custom emails based on responses, storing lists of choices that you frequently add to questions, and more.”

A thorny problem: archiving and digitizing the art of the 2014 Hong Kong protests.

The British Red Cross has released an online database with information about people who volunteered with the organization during World War I. Information on 30,000 volunteers is available with more coming online in the coming months.

Brilliant. A guy is travelling all over Manhattan documenting cornerstones. “For the past six years, the 39-year-old real-estate lawyer has been combing both sides of every street in Manhattan in a quest to document the dated, inscribed rocks that serve as birth certificates for buildings. By foot and on bike, often accompanied by his Labradoodle named Martin, Mr. McCracken has amassed an online archive of the island’s 1,100-plus surviving cornerstones.”

A new, free plug-in checks for bugs in spreadsheet data. “CheckCell, which automatically finds data errors in spreadsheets, was developed as a plugin for Microsoft’s popular Excel program….To develop CheckCell, Berger and graduate students Barowy and Dimitar Gochev used a combination of statistical analysis and data flow analysis to flag inputs that have an unusual impact on the program’s output. They evaluated the procedure against a collection of real-world spreadsheets such as budgets and student grades. They introduced common errors into the spreadsheets, then asked the plug-in tool to find them.”

There’s a new tool under development for archiving Web sites. “Rhizome has already developed a rough prototype of a tool that records all the content you experience on a website as you click around, then uses that information to create a simulation of the website that you or someone else can explore again however you want.”

Yahoo has launched Yahoo Parenting. “Whether you’re a mom, dad, grandpa, aunt, caretaker or guardian, parents come in all shapes and sizes. They are teachers, sounding boards, moral compasses and so much more. Today, we’re launching Yahoo Parenting: a new digital magazine that shares honest stories, relatable anecdotes, trusted advice, and the latest news to help parents of all kinds raise a happy and healthy family.”

MIT has a new page that summarizes research funder open access requirements. “US federal agencies with more than $100 Million annually in R&D will be issuing their open access requirements in coming months, and those policies will be summarized on this web page as details become available.”

The British Library and the Qatar National Library have teamed up to launch the Qatar Digital Library. “The modern history and culture of the Gulf and wider region, particularly its connection with Britain, are vividly documented in personal and official archives, photographs, maps and recordings of traditional music held at the British Library. Insights into the history of science in the Arabic-speaking world and Arabic cultural heritage are also held in the depths of the Library.” Good evening, Internet..

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Facebook, NSA, Bing, More: Saturday Buzz, June 28, 2014

According to an article in A.V. Club, Facebook tinkered with users’ feeds for a giant psychology experiment.

Mashable breaks down the World Cup numbers.

Wait a minute. The NSA did a transparency report? Based on this TechCrunch article I would say it’s more of an opaquity report.

The Philippines now has an online library locator.

What did Lance Armstrong’s drug scandal have to do with Twitter? University of Louisville researchers tried to figure it out.

Microsoft will no longer be sending security notifications by e-mail. Big thanks to Mike G., who forwarded the — uh, e-mail — he got about this. “Readers of Shavlik’s list-serve are pointing to a new Canadian antispam law that takes effect on July 1 as the cause. The law, described here and here, is aimed at curbing unsolicited e-mails. It prohibits the sending of electronic mail to recipients unless they have consented to receiving it.” Microsoft is offering RSS feeds as an alternative.

Bing has updated its search to make Twitter content easier to find. “With Bing’s latest round of new Twitter-related search features, users now can perform hashtag searches to find topics trending on the social media platform, as well as search for specific Twitter handles and celebrity-related tweets.”

Are social search engines back? The International Business Times has an article on startup ttwick.

The Library of Congress has a cool story about the Georgetown Law Library’s project to digitize early legal dictionaries. Good morning, Internet…

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David Byrne, Kickstarter, Pennsylvania Roller Coasters, More: Sunday Morning Buzz, May 18, 2014

David Byrne thinks Google is Evil. Read the article and then wonder if Google will dare fling a C&D at him for the logo job.

Which UK and US universities are the most infuential on Twitter, according to THE?

From Amit Agarwal – Getting more advanced GMail filters with Google Scripts.

Bing has added more “Snapshot” information, this time for food and drugs.

Copyblogger has posted an extensive article on its lessons from running a Kickstarter campaign.

What should you post on Pinterest? Apparently it depends on the day of the week.

Yow. Yahoo Likely to Slip Below 10% Search Share Next Month. “In July 2009 when the Microsoft-Yahoo search deal was first announced Yahoo had 19.3 percent of the US search market according to comScore data. Microsoft had 8.9 percent. Now the numbers are almost exactly reversed and Google’s share is 3 points higher than in 2009. So much for strengthening competition.” I guess the question “Is Yahoo a search or a media company” is pretty much moot; it better be a media company or it’s doomed.

Google Play, now with PayPal support.

Facebook continues its quest to belt sand all my nerves with the addition of an ‘Ask’ button. “Now, when Facebook users peek at friends in their network on desktop Web browsers, they’ll see an ‘ask’ button on a profile’s top-left ‘about’ box when pertinent information has been left blank. (These ‘ask’ buttons also appear when clicking through a user’s profile on mobile browsers.)”

Pennsylvania’s amusement park safety records are going online. “Just four inspectors in the department’s Bureau of Ride and Measurement Standards cover 800 ride operators. Reports last year showed flaws in how the department handles inspection records, said Michael Rader, executive director of the Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee.”

The British Library wants your help tagging its comic art.

Google has released a Hangouts extension for Outlook. 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!