morningbuzz, Satellite Imagery, Texas Floods, More: Thursday Buzz, May 26, 2016


WOOT! has expanded e-mail alerts and RSS feeds! “Last year’s most viewed new post on In Custodia Legis was Legislation Email Alerts on The email alerts are an excellent addition to the system that allow you to track a specific piece of legislation, what a Member of Congress is sponsoring and cosponsoring, and when the next issue of the Congressional Record is available. Building on those email alerts, there is now an additional set of email alerts and the first RSS feeds that you can subscribe to from”

Popular Science has a writeup on a nifty search tool for satellite imagery. Think: reverse image search for physical locations. “Start by clicking anywhere on the map in one of four cities: New York, Detroit, Pittsburgh and San Francisco. Terrapattern will analyze a square measuring 256×256 pixels on the map, which is equivalent to 50×50 meters in real life, and find every other place in the city that looks like that square (from an aerial view, that is). Click a bus depot in New York, and boom, all of the other bus depots will appear with a photo and their location on the map.” It’s only four cities at the moment, but this is amazing to test. I was able to find sets of things as specific as swimming pools, baseball diamonds, and even flagpoles!

The state of Texas has a new Web site for flooding information. “ will serve as a one-stop shop for statewide stream gage, weather, radar, and precipitation data. The data will be featured on an interactive map, making access to data on rising rivers, streams, and reservoirs more easily accessible to Texans. The TWDB will continue to add more data to the website in the coming months. Today’s launch features the first phase of”


Family Search has added a bunch of new records from the US Civil War. “The FamilySearch Civil War page also provides records from the Freedmen’s Bureau, including marriage and bank records and letters, making it possible to locate and learn about African-American Civil War-era ancestors.”

Oh gross: Google Maps are getting ads. “For example, you might be on a road trip and decide to take a lunch break. A search for ‘drugstore’ might feature a purple, promoted business listing followed by other relevant hits in red pins. The feature will work on both desktop and mobile versions of Maps.”

Google has discontinued its Nexus Player. Someone needs to write a book about all of Google’s hits and misses in the hardware space. “The Nexus Player may have been the best TV media player no one ever bought. Google and Asus introduced the Nexus Player back in November 2014. It was one of the first Android TV devices, and a more-than-capable device. And yet, despite Google’s weight behind this device, it hasn’t been a mainstream success, especially when you compare it with the Chromecast.”


MakeUseOf: 7 Creative Ways to Use the Power of Google Drive with Evernote. “You can use both Evernote and Google Drive. But what exactly are the benefits you are signing up for? And how can you maximize your productivity? Let’s take a few back of the envelope ideas and talk about them. I am sure you will have your own lightbulb flashes of inspiration – so do add these ideas to the comments!”


Just wow: How to Snapchat from Mt Everest. There are many (stunning) images here and Snapchats which have been uploaded to YouTube. “At the beginning of April, [Adrian] Ballinger, along with climber and photographer Cory Richards, National Geographic’s 2012 Adventurer of the Year, set out to climb Everest without oxygen tanks. They’re not the first to attempt this feat, but they are the first to document the entire journey in real time using Snapchat. (Editor’s note: on May 24, the partners reached their goal and summited Everest.)”

How many searches does Google process per year? We don’t have exact numbers but it’s at least two trillion. “How many searches per year happen on Google? After nearly four years, the company has finally released an updated figure today of ‘trillions’ per year. How many trillions, exactly, Google wouldn’t say. Consider two trillion the starting point. Google did confirm to Search Engine Land that because it said it handles ‘trillions’ of searches per year worldwide, the figure could be safely assumed to be two trillion or above. After all, you can’t do trillions of searches — plural — unless it’s two or more.”


Don’t you hate it when you read a press release about an interesting research paper but then discover that the paper isn’t freely available online? Big thanks to Lauren Margulieux for pointing me toward the Georgia Tech story on her research on usability in online collaborative apps. “Georgia Institute of Technology researchers have tested the most widely adopted free collaboration apps on the web to identify how well they work based on established design principles for interactive interfaces. They looked at freely available desktop apps for productivity and communication, and for those with paid features, only the free features were tested. The team found overall that the 20 selected apps provided a high level of usability for the most common tasks found across workplaces, such as e-mailing, scheduling events, managing calendars and videoconferencing. The researchers tested each app by individual function, rather than as a single tool.”

The New York Times writes about a study on gender and language on Facebook. “Women used warmer, gentler words in their status updates on Facebook compared to men, who were more likely to swear, express anger and use argumentative language, a study of 10 million postings released on Wednesday found.” Maybe my Facebook feed is an outlier


It’s the future! An article at Gamasutra features a writer in 2020 reviewing a VR visit to the National Museum of China. ” Last week, my good friend Dr Wong comes back home from Indonesia for a short stay. He had admired the museum for a long time and asks me to give him a tour this time. The museum was undergoing some renovation in the last few months, and there was news that they had reopened with something new. So I first go to their official site to check out open time and admission policy. o my astonishment, the site says the museum doesn’t accept regular visitors in the future, and the only option they reserve for the public is the online VR version. My head is spinning, VR museums are mostly digital version, recreated in 3D, why they took such long time to make big changes to the inside then closed it for good? Well, this is the first time they offer a VR version, and the site says ‘Google Walker supported’, great, so I have my headgear and Google Walker connected, let’s go!”

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