Edible Plants, Beijing Diseases, Election Data, More: Thursday Buzz, September 15, 2016


The Weekly Times has a story on a database I didn’t know about: Food Plants International “Welcome to Food Plants International, in the home of Bruce French and his wife, Deb. It’s the world’s largest database of edible food plants, with more than 27,800. ‘We try and practise what we preach and eat at least a dozen vegies every day and eat plants from across the colour spectrum,’ says 71-year-old Bruce.”

The Beijing Municipal Science & Technology Commission (BMSTC), a part of the government of Beijing, China, has created a serious diseases database. “Beijing has established a serious diseases database, which contains 164,000 cases and 1.63 million samples of diseases, according to the Beijing Municipal Science and Technology Commission Wednesday. Fourteen medical institutions participated in establishing the database.”

Because nobody can get enough politics (I can’t believe I just typed that without my fingers instantly falling off), Google has launched a new Google Trends Elections Hub. “Starting today, the Trends Elections Hub will offer a real-time pulse of the U.S. elections based on Google Trends. On the Hub, you can explore how people are searching for the candidates and political issues across the country. For example, if you explore search interest in the Libertarian party, you’ll see that it’s more searched now than in the 2008 and 2012 elections. The Hub also will help you to find insights about this election at a new, granular level. For instance, while the economy is the most searched issue on average across the swing state of Florida, immigration is more searched in southern counties in the state.”

This new social media site (PRESS RELEASE) sounds like it might be interesting for genealogists. “BragShare was created by founders Chad Gundry and Daniel Coburn to make social media more meaningful by providing users and companies with a new, easy-to-use customizable medium for creating and sharing memories, achievements, aspirations, and messages. This new social media resource enables you to assemble, tag and share the past, present and future milestones that define your life and organizes them into one, easy-to-use timeline to help you describe who you are and what you are about.”


This is very interesting. Statistics Canada will launch a crowdsourcing project next month to gather information on non-residential buildings in Canada. “There are currently no accurate national-level statistics on buildings— and their attributes—that can be used to compare specific local areas. The information you submit will help to fill existing data gaps and provide new analytical opportunities that are important to data users. This project will also teach us about the possibilities and limitations of crowdsourcing. Crowdsourcing data collection may become a way for Statistics Canada and other organizations around the world to collect much-needed information by reaching out to citizens.”


Librarian and Search Guy Phil Bradley is offering training now – and has created a video about using Yandex. You don’t have to sign up to see the video; it’s embedded directly at the link and is about ten minutes long.

File this under geeky-but-fascinating: Hack This: Extract Image Metadata Using Python. “Photos taken nowadays with a digital camera in JPG format are almost all guaranteed to contain Exif data, and this is what most metadata extractors are interested in. There are a billion such tools populating the internet for getting at this metadata and the Python language has its own pretty handy Exif extraction tool called ExifRead. For the sake of learning stuff, and because we’ll eventually need to find metadata beyond the Exif standard, we’re going to skip ExifRead and use the Python Imaging Library (PIL), which is a much, much more general toolset for doing stuff to images via Python code. In other words, even if you don’t particularly care about image metadata, you’re going to learn something useful.”


Google’s having some trouble with its auto auto product. “Once considered a leader in the field, Google has lost its first-mover advantage to other companies pursuing more practical, less-ambitious self-driving car services, said former members of the project and other people familiar with the situation. They asked not to be identified because details of the effort are private.”

More Google: this year’s “Doodle 4 Google” contest is underway. “This year’s contest is going to be one for the record books; the future and the ways to depict it are limitless. That’s why we’ll have an all-star group of judges including our very own Google Doodlers help select the National Winner. In addition to the homepage showcase, the winner will receive $30,000 towards a college scholarship, and the opportunity to work with the Doodle team at the Googleplex in Mountain View. As an added bonus: Their home school will get to spend $50,000 on technology to help foster the next generation of professionals (and who knows, maybe future Googlers, too!).


The latest country to look into Google’s taxpaying is Indonesia. “The country’s tax department said today that it will launch an investigation this fall into Google after the U.S. firm reportedly refused to co-operate with tax officials. Indonesian tax specialist Muhammad Hanif told reporters today that Google has refused to cooperate, despite being sent a letter in April asking the company to hand over its tax reports.”


I love seeing stories about interactions between companies and consumers on social media which involve good customer care and having fun. Here’s one, about an unwanted worm found in some lettuce. “The life of a social media manager for a major #brand must be a bleak one, having to face constant complaints and trolls with corporate-mandated politeness and grace. But sometimes, a bright spot appears and the #guy has a chance to shine. Such a stroke of luck recently befell Ross, a Facebook account manager for British grocery chain Sainsbury’s. A woman named Leila Daly posted an insane, dramatic, yet good-humored complaint about a worm in her lettuce, setting Ross up for a beautiful response.” Finally a chance to use the words “hilarity ensues” without irony. Good evening, Internet…

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