Railroad Pensions, Cigarette Cards, Abby Williams Hill, More: Friday Afternoon Buzz, October 30th, 2015


Now available: a free online index of national railroad employee pensions. “A free index to over 1.5 million pension records from the U.S. Railroad Retirement Board can now be located online for the first time ever through the Genealogy Quick Look from the Midwest Genealogy Center in Independence, Missouri.” Note that this is just an index.

Last year I wrote about Duke University’s project to create an online archive of cigarette advertising cards and similar items. Looks like it’s here. “Between 1875 and the 1940s, cigarette companies often included collectible trading cards with their packages of cigarettes. Cigarette card sets document popular culture from the turn of the century, often depicting the period’s actresses, costumes, and sports, as well as offering fascinating insights into mainstream American humor and cultural norms. The W. Duke, Sons & Co. digital collection features over 1800 individual cigarette cards, as well as two large scrapbooks that contain several hundred additional cards. The collection also includes images of other tobacco advertising ephemera such as pins, tobacco tags, silk, and souvenir albums. Companies represented here include W. Duke, Sons & Co., Allen & Ginter, Kinney Bros. Co., Liggett & Myers, and others.”

Under development: a huge digital archive of American case law. “Harvard Law School and Ravel Law today announced an initiative to digitize and make available to the public for free Harvard’s entire collection of U.S. case law, which it says is the most comprehensive and authoritative database of American law and cases available anywhere outside the Library of Congress. The collection contains 40,000 books and 40 million pages of decisions from the federal courts and the courts of all 50 states, including original materials from cases that predate the U.S. Constitution.”


Paintings from Abby Williams Hill have been added to the Artstor Digital Library. “The Abby Williams Hill (1861–1943) paintings include commissions by the Great Northern and Northern Pacific railways that richly portray the natural landscape and iconic sights of the American West between the Civil War and World War II.”

Giphy has udpated its app. “with the debut of Giphy 2.0, the new app will no longer be focused solely on supporting Messenger users. Instead, the revamped (and rebranded) app now lets users share to Messenger as well as SMS, Twitter, Facebook, or email. You’re also able to save GIFs to your Camera Roll for use in other applications, or copy GIFs to your clipboard for more immediate sharing.”

Evernote on IFTTT has a couple new triggers. From the e-mail announcement: “Now you can trigger Recipes when a new note is created or when you add a tag to any note.”

Microsoft is apparently going to classify Windows 10 as a “recommended update,” which means I have to go remind some people again that we’re not upgrading until we have to… “Starting early next year, Microsoft says it’s planning to re-categorize Windows 10 as a ‘recommended update’ in its Windows Update system. That means the Windows 10 upgrade process will download and start automatically on thousands of machines. ‘A user will be presented with a choice to install Windows 10,’ explains Terry Myerson, Microsoft’s head of Windows and devices, in an interview with The Verge. ‘They’ll come back to their PC and there will be a dialog where they can choose to upgrade to Windows 10 or choose not to upgrade to Windows 10.'”


Just in case you need some last-minute info, Larry Ferlazzo has a massive list of sites for learning about Halloween.


From Medium: Why Instagram Worked. “People often ask how much of Instagram’s adoption we anticipated. Working on a startup is a balancing act: being crazy enough to believe your idea can take off, but not crazy enough to miss the signs when it’s clearly not going to. We grappled with both in the year before launching Instagram.”

This should be interesting: Google wants to monitor your mental health? This is a slightly different slant on a story I linked to earlier about biomedicine in tech. “IBM this year carried out research with Columbia University that suggested computer analysis of speech patterns can more accurately predict the onset of psychosis than conventional tests involving blood samples or brain scans. Other researchers theorise that a person’s internet search history or even shopping habits (so handily recorded by your innocuous loyalty card) can identify the first signs of mental illness.” My Amazon Instant Video history is not going to serve me well.

Hey! The camera started taking pictures before it was quite unloaded, so you can check out Google Street Van View. Heh. Good afternoon, Internet…

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