California, UNC, Fashion Photography, More: Friday Buzz, September 4th, 2015


The state of California has a new tool to track political campaign donations. “The search tool, developed by the nonprofit MapLight, takes nearly 15 years of Cal-Access contribution filings and presents them in a simpler and quicker search engine. People can look for specific candidates, donors, or time periods and download the results. Someone, for example, could search for specific contributors to Jerry Brown campaign committees from 2005 through 2010. Donation data will be updated daily.”

Ancestry has launched a large collection of Wills and probate records, which it is making free to access through September 7th. This is a press release/announcement blogged by Dick Eastman. “More than 170 million pages from the largest collection of wills and probate records in the United States is now available online exclusively on Ancestry. With searchable records included from all 50 states spread over 337 years (1668-2005), this unprecedented collection launches a new category of records for family history research never before available online at this scale the United States.”

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has put almost a hundred years of football game program covers online. “With the ability to search by year and opponents, the collection allows fans to scan hundreds of covers to browse a visual history of the sport on campus.” The first cover in the collection is from 1919.

Fashion photographer Tommy Ton has launched an online archive of his photography, with something like 15,000 images available. Apparently Mr. Ton takes pictures of “street style,” which I had to look up on Wikipedia as I know slightly less about fashion than a toad does about nuclear physics.

Google has created an online archive of war letters from Russia, which is fronted by an absolutely stunning typographic illustration. It apparently took about 100 hours to put together and you can see why. (This article is about the creation of the illustration but does discuss the archive too.)


Google Chrome’s new release patches 29 security vulnerabilites, so update update update! “The most critical issues fixed in this update were three cross-origin bypass problems, which netted researchers $7500 in each case. In addition, a bug bounty hunter earned $5000 for a use-after-free vulnerability in Skia.”

Google has announced a ton of new features for Google Docs. “Google unveiled a series of new features for Docs, Sheets and Slides Wednesday, including voice typing and new collaboration tools for Docs. The new features are aimed at students but available to anyone who uses the company’s productivity suite.”

Google Classroom has a new Chrome extension. “…the product is introducing something really nifty that will allow a teacher to share a link with students immediately without them having to give out a URL. If all of the students happen to be using a Chrome browser and are logged in, a teacher can jump on over to a webpage, click the extension and pick a class to share it with. An alert will pop up to the entire class, no matter where they’re located, and the page will load.”


Useful and extensive article from Lifehacker: Why Facebook Makes Your Images Look Like Crap and How to Fix It. “If you use Facebook, you’ve probably uploaded a picture at some point. While Facebook is great for sharing, it also uses some pretty ruthless compression (compared to other sites, anyway) that makes your pictures look like crap. Here’s how to prevent that from happening.”

Hey! Bing now has a metronome and guitar tuner. “Once you’re in tune, try Bing’s new metronome to help you stay on beat. You can select predefined tempos, state your exact desired beats per minute, tap along to a song to match the tempo, define your measure length, and even stress the beats you want.”

The New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) is making some of its content free to celebrate Labor Day. “The Census, Tax, and Voter Lists category is a collection of 40 separate databases containing a range of resources to provide information about the families who resided in the New England states between the 18th and 20th centuries. Other broader databases help to trace families as they moved to other areas of the United States. And a handful of European databases within the collection can assist researchers attempting to further document their family’s heritage.” The databases will be free through Wednesday, September 9.


Aaron Tay put me on to this article: The weird and wonderful world of academic Twitter. “Once the realm of celebrities and their beliebers, academics are taking to Twitter: about one in 40 scholars now use the popular microblogging site, according to some sources. While scholarly chat and self-promotion abounds, Twitter also acts as a virtual water cooler, a place where academics go to build community, have some fun, and let off steam.” Fun stuff here. Good morning, Internet…

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