Vermont Business, Drone Owners, Monk Chants, More: Monday Buzz, May 23, 2016


A new project is attempting to build a database of co-op businesses in Vermont. “A new database maps businesses that operate in a cooperative model across the state of Vermont. The census, unveiled last week, tracks a total of 130 businesses across sectors including food, energy, education and housing, as well as credit unions.”

The FAA has released a database of registered drone owners. “The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) today posted a large database showing the city, state and zip code of each registered drone owner. Release of the database responds to a number of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests submitted since the new unmanned aircraft registration system began operating on December 21, 2015.” That data has already been mapped.

In development: a database of monk chants. “[Kate] Helsen and her colleagues hope to resurrect these prayer cycles with the help of big data and optical music recognition (OMR) software. The effort is called the Optical Neume Recognition Project, and its goal is to build a search engine for sifting through the millions of written ‘neumes,’ which were primitive riffs on notation, that abound in prayer books from the Medieval era.”

The Polar Museum announced this in March and I missed it, but I got it last week: the Antarctic Catalog is now online. “Over 1500 records are now available online, of which 900 currently have images. This includes clothing and footwear, snowshoes and crampons, skis, goggles, medals and coins, domestic and personal equipment, foodstuffs, animal equipment such as whips and harnesses, scientific equipment, and geological and natural history specimens. It covers material from the expeditions of Scott and Shackleton in the 1900s and 1910s, the British Graham Land Expedition in the 1930s, the Norwegian-British-Swedish Antarctic Expedition in the 1950s, the Transglobe Expedition in the 1980s, and the expeditions of the Falkland Islands Dependencies Survey and the British Antarctic Survey, as well as many others. More images will be added as the objects are photographed, and more records will be added as the cataloguing progresses.” As the blog post I’m linking to indicates, the catalog is nowhere near finished.


If you’re at all interested in the technical workings of the Internet Archive, may I recommend Patrick R. Wallace’s blog? Recent blog posts include Fetching subject tags from an Internet Archive Collection, Digitized monographs: packaging for Internet Archive, and Scraping metadata from Internet Archive. Code snippets and thoughts, not entire walkthroughs, but if this is what he’s scribbling down in a month I can’t wait to see this blog after a year.

Netflix has launched a new tool for you to check your Internet speed. I usually use Speedtest but I like this one better – it’s really simple. It told me my Internet is terrible but I knew that already. “We all want a faster, better Internet, yet Internet speeds vary greatly and can be affected by other users on your network or congestion with your Internet service provider. When you’re experiencing streaming issues, allows you to check the download speeds you’re getting from your Internet service provider. Using Netflix servers, works like other globally available tools including, and the results should be similar in most cases.”

Want to play with chat bots some more? Here ya go. “The potential appeal of bots lies with the ability of a news consumer to interact with them in a conversational way. But building a bot that can understand natural conversation is an intimidating challenge. Where to start? One tool that might help is, which helps you quickly build apps people can talk to. It isolates all the complicated details, so that you can focuses on making something that functions, rather than writing new machine learning and natural language processing software. So let’s talk about how to use to make your bots conversational.”

CNET: 7 helpful ways to use Google Now on Tap. “While the feature was received with quite a bit of fanfare, it’s not always as practical as Google would have you believe. It’s very hit or miss. Often giving you no useful search cards when you would expect it to. However, there are some situations where Google Now on Tap shines and makes what would normally be a multistep process just a tap or click away. Here’s how to get the most out of Google Now on Tap.

You can do similar with IFTTT when you’re going to and leaving a certain area: How to Create iPhone Reminders for When You Get In and Out of Your Car.


Google is teaming up with Levi’s to make a smart jacket. “Google is working on making a connected, technology-laced jacket that you’ll be able to wear in any type of weather, Google announced Friday. It’s called Jacquard, and the company has been working on it since 2015. It’s set to come out in spring 2017. Jacquard is made with interactive denim, made in partnership with Levi’s.”


From Alan Levine: Digital Durability? My Money is on the Individual. “That project you are posting online, or maybe it’s a paper, maybe its a conference presentation, maybe it’s an OER– does it matter if it will be accessible in 5, 10, 20 years? How durable is your digital content? Is it hosted on someone else’s server? Is it constructed in a technology that will not be usable in the future?”

No, I don’t particularly agree with everything Glenn Beck says, and in point of fact I don’t agree with everything in this essay. But in his position as a well-known conservative commentator he went to Facebook and talked to them and put together a thoughtful response, and that’s worth respecting. “Before I dig in, since I’ll be talking about bias, let me share a bit about mine. I have been an avid Facebook user for about 8 years. I have 3.2 million followers. I consistently see high engagement on my Facebook page. We have begun using Facebook’s live video streaming platform and are encouraged by the results and plan on utilizing it more. The Facebook staff has always treated me and my staff kindly. They have been responsive, helpful, and available. I came into the meeting today wanting to believe that Facebook was a good, if not perfect, actor.” Good evening, Internet…

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