William Henry Seward, Poetry, Flash, More: Monday Afternoon Buzz, April 11, 2016


The papers of William Henry Seward and his family are now online. “Seward is often remembered for his role in the US purchase of Alaska. But his influence, most historians agree, was much greater. He was a trial attorney, state senator, US senator, governor of New York, and an influential secretary of state to President Abraham Lincoln. Seward was targeted for assassination along with Lincoln, but survived with serious injuries.”

How interesting! A new app can tell you when a place you are has inspired poetry. Unfortunately it’s restricted to London at the moment. “Utilising geolocation services and push notifications, Poetic Places can let you know when you stumble across a place depicted in verse. Alternatively, you can browse the poems and places as a source of inspiration without travelling to them.”


Up next on the Flash bash bandwagon: Microsoft Edge. “The next update to Microsoft’s Edge browser will automatically pause Adobe Flash when it detects it in ads and animations on a website, reducing power consumption and lessening the load on your computer.”


Hey, why not: How to use your Nest thermostat as a motion detector. This involves IFTTT, as you might expect.

Larry Ferlazzo has a writeup on WordSift2, an apparent upgrade from the old WordSift. “Paste in a text, and you get all sorts of stuff in return — word clouds sorted in various categories, images of words to enhance understanding, sentences showing the words in context, word webs, and more!”

Neat: an online simulator for circuits. “Iain Sharp, maker of the popular and addictive LushOne synth – and other kits – also has this Circuit Simulator online. The simulator is based on Paul Falstad’s simulator, however his being Java-based, will require a plugin, whereas Sharp’s version is built using HTML5.”


A story from the University of California, Santa Barbara, caught my eye. It’s about how the Associated Students Senate (which is called the A.S. Senate for obvious reasons) will start livestreaming its meetings. “Previous attempts to implement a video recording system during Senate meetings failed because of the high cost of hiring a videographer, said [Jerel] Constantino, off-campus senator and third-year history of public policy and political science double major. The senate improved the idea during Spring quarter by instead purchasing an iPad tripod, costing approximately $50, using the Senate Chair’s budget.” That’s all it took! Wonder how many municipalities will do something similar because of decreased costs.

Well, why not: a sort-of teleprompter for Facebook Live.


Good question from TechCrunch with an odd context: Dear Facebook, why are Facebook Comments so unremittingly terrible? (The odd context is that TechCrunch uses Facebook for comments.) “Obviously Facebook could clean up comment spam if they really wanted to. (And, in fairness, Facebook Comments have always been terrible.) Maybe they even will, on some executive whim. But, really, who can blame them for not bothering? Facebook has become a business which focuses on things that affect billions of users, and/or bring in billions in revenue. Comments don’t come even close to moving the needle on that scale. But Facebook Comments are an excellent object example of a curious tech paradox: the bigger the business, the less you can rely on its new initiatives.”

A Google X company has launched a new robot. “About a meter tall, the robot is a very strange sight – it is essentially a pair of almost entirely straight legs which pivot from the top. An ankle mechanism is used to ensure that the robot lands with a flat foot. It was accompanied on stage by Yuto Nakanishi who gave a commentary on a video that shows the robot climbing stairs, walking on snow and across a rocky beach, and staying upright when a rod is used in a deliberate attempt to trip it.” The robot looks to me like something Terry Gilliam would animate for a Monty Python sketch. 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!

Categories: afternoonbuzz

Leave a Reply