I think I wrote enough articles in 2017 for a roundup here. (Articles, not just news link collections that ResearchBuzz has daily or twice-daily. I also didn’t include site updates or things like that because how boring.) My hope in 2018 is that I write so many that this seems like a chore that’s too difficult to bother with.
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I hope at least one of these articles was useful to you in 2017. I hope that in 2018 I write dozens of articles that are useful to you. Happy new year.
How to Quickly Follow Local Protests and Actions With Twitter, IFTTT, and Pushover — “There have been several protests going on at various airports around the United States over the new immigration policy. If you want to get information on protests from where the protests are actually happening, I have a recipe for you.”
Google Has a Weird Definition of Verbatim — “Sometimes when I’m working around the house I like to listen to old episodes of the game show Match Game. With the chatter and the comments and people laughing it’s like being at a party without all the requirements for social interaction, at which I am terrible. One of the disadvantages to this strategy is I’ll find myself wondering about some aspect to this show. What happened to this contestant? Is that panelist still alive? What kind of suit is THAT, anyway? (Remember, this was the 1970s.) And when this strikes I do what everybody does, I Google it.”
Finding Kellyanne Conway’s Bowling Green Massacre — “This evening, Kellyanne Conway talked about a “Bowling Green Massacre” in an interview with Chris Matthews…. When I heard that, I got really confused, because if there’s anything that our news outlets here in America will cover, it’s a massacre or any kind of mayhem. So I thought that was off. At the same time, it seemed such an unusual thing to make up out of whole cloth. Bowling Green? I’m sure it’s a lovely place (actually every place I’ve been to in Kentucky is beautiful) but it’s not a metro area that pops to the front of your mind. So I went digging.”
Google Scholar and the Full-Word Wildcard — “I know a lot of folks avoid Twitter because it be kind of a mess / useless timesink / brain drain / dumpster fire. And sometimes it can. But it also can lead you to a lot of interesting people, like Spencer Greenhalgh. Spencer is a PhD candidate at Michigan State University who came to my attention in December 2015 because of his work with R and Twitter. And we’ve had some conversations and he’s pointed me toward some great resources. And he also gave me a terrific question recently – a question about Google Scholar.”
This Morning’s Google Alert Spam Deluge Brought to You by the US Department of State — “As I have mentioned before, I have many, many Google Alerts. And I get, regularly, spam in those Google Alerts. Usually it’s from a university which is inadvertently showing spammy advertising or something like that. I used to e-mail them with a heads-up, but as I almost never got a response, I gave up. It’s not for me to try to monitor their Web sites. This morning, though, I got an unusual deluge – and it was from a US Department of State Web site. Ugh.”
Covfefe And Confusion: A Quick Way to Save Tweets That Get Deleted — “If you woke up this morning and checked social media, you would have noticed that the Internet is on fire with covfefe. The nonsense word came from a tweet that President Trump posted at 12:06AM and then, at some point, deleted. (The legal question of an elected official deleting tweets that he sends as an elected official is, thankfully, way beyond my pay grade.) … Despite President Trump’s deletion of the Tweet, I was able to look at it because I set up an easy way to get all his tweets, whether he deletes them later or not. ”
Nuzzel Begins Offering Pro Option — “Nuzzel is both a desktop tool and an app (I have used the app but I infinitely prefer the desktop tool) that pulls links from your Twitter and Facebook feed into one easy place for you to review. It’s integrated with Pocket and Instapaper so it’s easy to scan your feed and save things for later. It’s also integrated with Slack and Buffer so you can quickly share items if that’s what you’d rather do. You can set up e-mail alerts when stories are shared by more than x number of friends in your feed.”
Why Aren’t We Talking About Google Maps? — “There’s been a lot of controversy and discussion – there is still a lot of controversy and discussion – about Google’s search results. Google does not disclose the algorithm that decides its search results (some speculate that Google itself does not perfectly understand it) so whenever something goofy happens with a search result, we get news, speculation, and some opining that Google should be more transparent. And nothing ever changes. However Google has another product which makes a lot of weird mistakes but is not subject to the transparency issues of Google’s Web search. I’m talking about Google Maps. Why aren’t we all talking about Google Maps?”
Tips for Angelina Jolie: How to Set Up a Google News Alert on a Famous Person — “My Google Alerts were filled this morning with the rumor that actress Angelina Jolie has a Google Alert set for estranged husband Brad Pitt. My knowledge of popular culture is pretty woeful after the 1970s: I know both these people are actors and that their marriage broke up. And I feel bad for them both because I wouldn’t be a Hollywood actor for all the money in the world. Still, the idea of trying to set up a Google Alert on Brad Pitt is kind of intriguing; for all my ignorance he is popular and well-known. How could you set up a Google Alert for him and not get a lot of junk results?”
Note: I wrote an article on Twitter in June that I almost immediately revoked because I got a lot of stuff just wrong. It is still revoked and will stay revoked. My big mess-up of 2017, at least on the blog.
Is Bing News Worth Using? (Spoiler: Yes) — Google News has dominated news search as completely Google has with its Web search. With over 50,000 sources as of 2013, you might wonder if you need any other free service when you’re looking for news. Yes, you do. And I’ve got a suggestion for you: Bing News. It looks a bit plain compared to Google News, and hides its features in a frustrating way, but I find that Bing News search can bring you materials that you’d find above and beyond Google News. You just need to know a few tricks to get to them.
Cooking Up Lots of RSS To Feed Your News-Monitoring Needs — “You may have noticed that there’s a lot more international happenings in ResearchBuzz these days. It’s a natural evolution – it’s important to know how other countries are handling things like social media access restrictions, or how countries are actually using Google resources for political reasons or reasons of governance. It’s also easier to restrict certain kind of searches to one country. For example, if I tried to monitor Bing News for the word Google, I would quickly get overwhelmed. On the other hand, if I tried to monitor news from New Zealand with the word Google, I would get a more manageable list of results. In this case however I want to monitor Bing News from non-US countries for the word database, since online database seems to be turning less effective as a search term. ”
IFTTT Launches the Data Access Project With Connections to Government Information — “IFTTT (‘If This, Then That’) has launched a new Data Access Project which provides information from government – and not just federal government, but also state and municipal governments as well as other relevant groups.”
Going Nuts Trying to Keep Up with Facebook Page Updates? Try Inoreader — “I’ve got a Facebook account, you’ve probably got a Facebook account, lots and lots of people have Facebook accounts. Which might be why I’ve been seeing more and more of an unsettling trend: blogs ditching their Web sites and going to Facebook-only posts. The reasoning seems to be ‘Everybody’s on Facebook anyway, it’s easier to post updates, and I don’t have to worry about maintaining a Web site. Winning!’ No, not winning. I want to address two things in this article: why abandoning your spot on the Web in favor of Facebook’s walled garden is a terrible idea, and how you as a searcher can get around it if blogs insist on doing it.”
Drug, Casino Spam in Google News — “I’m used to seeing spam in my regular Google Web searches. In Google News? Not so much. But it’s there! I got a heads-up from eagle eye Jonathan B, who said he was going through the Health section of Google News and found a couple of spammy pages from a news site that looked like it’d been hacked. ”
Bing’s New Image Search Feature Is a Tiny Bit Disappointing — “I was stoked to see that Bing had launched a new feature in its image search. It’s basically a reverse image search feature for areas inside images you’ve already found. After playing with it, though, I find myself with mixed feelings – a little disappointed but at the same time still impressed with the feature.”
Bots On Twitter: Why Are There So Many People-Imitating Bots? — “I try – oh boy, I desperately try – to avoid politics in ResearchBuzz. But sometimes you come across a fascinating story or article idea, and there’s politics associated with it. For that I apologize in advance. Chatter started circulating on Twitter this week about Donald Trump’s follower count on that network, his favorite for proselytizing. Newsweek published an article yesterday afternoon: Nearly Half Of Donald Trump’s Twitter Followers Are Fake Accounts And Bots.”
There Are Benevolent Bots, and They’re Doing Good on Twitter — “Last week I did an article about people-imitating bots on Twitter and why they should concern you. I tried to make it clear that Twitter bots are software programs, and therefore can run the gamut from simple and uncomplicated to complex and dangerous. But I’m afraid I left the impression that Twitter bots are without exception bad. And that’s not the case; not only are there non-dangerous bots, but there are Twitter bots made for benevolent purposes. They’re doing a lot of good for transparency and communication on Twitter. Let me give you an overview with some pointers to more information .”
Bing News RSS Feeds: There Will Be Crud — “Last week I wrote an article about how to easily make lots of RSS feeds for the Bing News search engine. I wrote that because I wanted to use Bing more, so it should follow that when I made those RSS feeds, I actually started using those RSS feeds. And after using them for over a week, I wanted to return with a followup and a warning: There will be crud.”
Bring in ‘da Noise, Bring in Defunct: Checking the Status of Unresponsive Web Sites — “Recently someone contacted me on Twitter and asked about a short URL service called Snipurl; specifically if it was defunct. I went looking around to see what I could find and was able to tell the person within twenty minutes or so that yes, it did appear the service was defunct. Looking back on it, I found the steps I took interesting enough to make into an article. So here it is: five steps to check on the status of a Web service when the Web site for that service is no longer available.”
That Web Site Looks Weird: Is It Just You? Find Out In Two Steps — “Last week I posted a link to a story about a new resource for Ukrainian genealogy on my Facebook page. Then Cyndi Ingle — she of Cyndi’s List fame — mentioned that she could access the site, but it was showing that it was down for maintenance. It wasn’t that she couldn’t access it at all, but she was getting something entirely different from me and other people who were commenting on the post. (The rest of us were getting the Web site’s home page.) This is always frustrating; a problem that isn’t as clean-cut as not being able to access a site at all, but with few clues as to what’s going on. But there’s a simple two-step process you can use to see if there is, in fact, a different Web site available from the one you’re getting. And you won’t have to install any software or browser extensions, either; you’ll just need to use two Web sites.”
Removal of Irish Parliament Debate Videos Sparks Questions: Are We Developing a Distrust of Transcripts? — “Leinster House, as I understand it, is the seat of Ireland’s Parliament (Oireachtas). The Dáil mentioned in the quote above is the House of Representatives of the Irish Parliament (Dáil Éireann.) (By the way, if you want to dig into all this yourself, www.oireachtas.ie/parliament/ is very helpful in getting an overview.) So here’s what happened as far as I can tell: over twenty years’ worth of footage of debates from the House of Representatives of Ireland’s Parliament was removed from the Parliament’s Web site with what appears to be no notice.”
New Resource: US Attorneys General – News Releases, Twitter, Facebook, and RSS (Or as Much as I Can Find) — “You might remember when the Trump administration announced it would be requesting voter records from each state there was a lot of pushback from various attorneys general. I thought at the time, ‘Y’know, I should put together some kind of resource for US attorneys general, because I’m sure legal questions between states and this administration will come up again.'”
Step Back to Vintage Internet With New Search Engine Wiby — “If you’d like to take a step back in Internet time, to when Web pages were smaller and less advanced, check out Wiby.me, a search engine that launched at the beginning of October. It’s designed to find only smaller Web pages (which usually means older Web pages.)”
Handy Tool for Reading Twitter Threads: Thread Reader — “While there’s a lot of bad on Twitter, there’s a lot of good too – good resources, good discussions, and good people I doubt I would have found or connected with otherwise. I spend a fair amount of time there. But one thing that doesn’t thrill me about Twitter is its UI. Even using TweetDeck, doing really basic things on Twitter can be a pain. Things like reading threaded tweets, for example. I’ll have to open someone’s Twitter page, or start a new TweetDeck column just for them and scroll backwards, etc. It’s annoying.”