Scots Cemetery, Ontario Reference, Opera Browser, More: Monday Buzz, July 18, 2016


An effort is underway to preserve a cemetery for Scots citizens – in Kolkata, West Bengal, India. (Until 2001, Kolkata was known to English speakers and others as “Calcutta”.) “A register at the St Andrews’ Church maintains records of all the deaths of Scots who lay buried in the cemetery. Interestingly, though the cemetery came up in 1820, the earliest records that are available in the register date back to 1843, says Souvik Mukherjee, professor of English at Presidency University. Mukherjee has prepared a digital history of the cemetery as part of the university’s digital humanities initiative in association with the UK India Research Initiative (UKIERI).”

Peterborough, in Ontario, now has an extensive set of city directories available for viewing – and even downloading, seeing as they’re hosted on the Internet Archive. “A collection of 115 Peterborough city and county directories, dating back to 1858, have been digitized. They’re now available online for anyone to search – for free.”


The Opera Internet browser has been bought. “A Chinese consortium has bought the Opera internet browser for $600 million (543 million euros), its Norwegian developer said Monday, after a public share offer for the company failed. The consortium led by Golden Brick Silk Road will purchase the mobile and desktop versions of the internet browser, plus performance and privacy apps and a stake in a Chinese joint venture, but not the advertising, games and television units, said Opera Software in a statement to the Oslo stock exchange.”


The skills you need in 2016: How to spot a fake Facebook page during a breaking news situation. “When the gunman of a mass shooting is named, the Internet rushes to find that person’s digital footprint. On Sunday, those looking for Baton Rouge gunman Gavin Long’s Facebook profile instead found — and by the hundreds, shared — a badly faked account.”

Lifehacker has a writeup on a nifty Android tool that makes it easier to find words on a printed page. “It’s pretty straightforward: You take a picture of the printed text you want to search, and CTRL-F quickly analyzes the text to create a searchable, digital version on your phone.” I can see this being useful when you’re doing genealogy or searches with a lot of small, printed text.

Hat tip to Jonathan B for the pointer to Bard College’s regular newsletter on drones. From the About page: “The Center for the Study of the Drone at Bard College is an interdisciplinary research institution that examines the novel and complex opportunities and challenges presented by unmanned technologies in both the military and civilian sphere. By conducting original, in-depth, and inquiry-driven projects, we seek to furnish stakeholders, policy-makers, and the public with the resources to engage in a robust public debate and develop policies that best address those opportunities and challenges.”

This is for all the old nerds out there (like me): Parsing an RSS News Feed With a Bash Script.


The TIME Magazine archive has apparently been scraped from behind its paywall and dumped online. “In all, Best downloaded 3,471 scanned magazine issues (or 340,000 pages) of TIME magazine, stretching from the year 1923 to 2014, totaling up to 97GB of uncompressed data. Best said the only changes he made to the files was the name of the files themselves. Now, instead of a placeholder filename that every page seemed to hold, the files follow the format of issue date and page number.” I am really upset by this. I agree that copyright laws are in dire need of reform, but these are not government documents paid for by taxpayers or scientific research paid for mostly by taxpayer funds. Egregious copyright laws are not best combated by egregious acts of theft.

Christian Science Monitor: Could Google Sway the Presidential Election? I think Facebook would be more likely. “Google is not the only technology powerhouse that will provide coverage of the conventions, or that has prompted controversy about its involvement in the election. Facebook – which dealt with the controversy over how it chose trending news stores – will have its Facebook Live feature used by C-SPAN and PBS Newshour to stream the conventions, according to USA Today. Facebook will also sponsor the Republican and Democratic conventions.”


Are you looking for a Web browser besides Chrome, IE, or Firefox? Better skip Maxthon. “Researchers at Fidelis Cybersecurity and Exatel found that Maxthon frequently sends zip files to Beijing over HTTP and this contains a terrifying amount of data about users’ browsing habits. The file incudes, among other things, details of the sites visited by users, the applications they have installed, and what searches have been performed.”


Hey, quit feeling guilty for taking pictures when you’re on vacation. Science says it can help you enjoy your experience more. “Experiences are vital to the lives and well-being of people; hence, understanding the factors that amplify or dampen enjoyment of experiences is important. One such factor is photo-taking, which has gone unexamined by prior research even as it has become ubiquitous. We identify engagement as a relevant process that influences whether photo taking will increase or decrease enjoyment. Across 3 field and 6 lab experiments, we find that taking photos enhances enjoyment of positive experiences across a range of contexts and methodologies. This occurs when photo-taking increases engagement with the experience, which is less likely when the experience itself is already highly engaging, or when photo-taking interferes with the experience. As further evidence of an engagement-based process, we show that photo-taking directs greater visual attention to aspects of the experience one may want to photograph. Lastly, we also find that this greater engagement due to photo-taking results in worse evaluations of negative experiences.”

Yesterday was World Emoji Day (sorry I forgot to send you a card) and in response Twitter released a list of the most popular emoji. “Worldwide, the most tweeted emoji is the ‘face with tears of joy,’ as dubbed by Unicode. It’s followed by the smiling face with heart eyes and a weeping emoji. Where is the judgmental ‘thinking face?’ Where is the ‘vulcan salute’? Where is any emoji with some personality?” Good morning, Internet…

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