Natural Language, Houston Herald, Firefox, More: Friday Buzz, July 22, 2016

NEW RESOURCES

Google has launched a new natural languages API. “Google today announced the public beta launch of its Cloud Natural Language API, a new service that gives developers access to Google-powered sentiment analysis, entity recognition, and syntax analysis.”

The Houston Herald has added a big new chunk to its digital archive. “More than 83,000 pages of past issues of the Houston Herald are available on the publication’s website this week, marking the completion of a project that started last fall….About 12 years ago, the Herald rolled out its archives from 1948 to the present. The latest content fills the gap from the 1880s to 1947.” This archive does not appear to be free.

TWEAKS AND UPDATES

Firefox has jumped on the Flash-blockin’ bandwagon. “Starting in August, Mozilla’s Firefox will block Flash content that ‘is not essential to the user experience,’ the organization announced today. With this move, Mozilla is following Google’s lead, which made a similar decision last year and now plans to almost completely block Flash content in its Chrome browser.”

Twitter is giving Periscope a push. “The social network on Thursday unveiled several new tools for Periscope, including the ability for you to rewind live-streaming highlights. Another new features is designed to make it easier for you to find and watch videos, and a third allows Periscopes to play in embedded tweets.”

Facebook will allow Live broadcasters to filter their audience. Well, not us joyless proles. “The audience restrictions option is only available only to people who post their Live streams to Facebook using the social network’s API (application programming interface), e.g., media companies, professional creators and brands using software to send the stream that’s shot using fancy cameras or game- and screen-casting tools, a Facebook spokesperson confirmed. ”

USEFUL STUFF

Don Schindler: How to host a virtual farm tour on your website or Facebook Page. Yes, this is about farming. But the way he breaks it down you could apply his thoughts to any institution or business. (Well, perhaps you wouldn’t mention cows quite so much.) If you’ve been thinking about virtual tours, this article might help you organize your thoughts.

AROUND THE SEARCH AND SOCIAL MEDIA WORLD

If you’re a basketball fan you must be in a happy place right now. First we find out that Twitter signed a deal with the NBA, and now we learn that Facebook will be livestreaming the USA Basketball exhibition games. “A total of nine games played by the men’s and women’s basketball teams will be streamed on both the USA Basketball and NBA Facebook pages.” First game is TONIGHT!

Huh? China is going to ban ad blockers? “China is preparing itself towards banning ad-blocking programs from being installed on its citizens’ machines, as part of a new internet advertising rule which was implemented last week. This was recently discovered by Ben Williams, the head of operations behind the popular ad-blocking program AdBlock Plus.”

SECURITY/LEGAL ISSUES

If you’re wondering why Apple quickly pushed out iOS an update without signaling it first, here you go. “Android’s Stagefright vulnerability has been one of the biggest security issues discovered in the operating system, with nearly a billion devices potentially at risk when first discovered and able to infect devices with a specially crafted text message. Well, it looks like iPhones had their own Stagefright-like bug and Apple has just issued an update to address it.”

LAME. Someone DDOS’d the Library of Congress. “On Sunday morning, July 17, the Library became the target of a distributed denial of service (DDoS) network attack that resulted in the disruption of Library services and websites, including Congress.gov, the U.S. Copyright Office, the BARD service from the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, our many databases, and both incoming and outgoing email.”

Investigating a murder case? Can’t unlock the victim’s phone? Well, hey, maybe you can just 3D print his fingers. “[Anil] Jain and his PhD student Sunpreet Arora couldn’t share details of the case with me, since it’s an ongoing investigation, but the gist is this: a man was murdered, and the police think there might be clues to who murdered him stored in his phone. But they can’t get access to the phone without his fingerprint or passcode. So instead of asking the company that made the phone to grant them access, they’re going another route: having the Jain lab create a 3D printed replica of the victim’s fingers. With them, they hope to unlock the phone.”

RESEARCH AND OPINION

Now here’s a good smack in the head: Facebook as a painkiller. “Social networking sites (SNSs) are extremely popular for providing users with a convenient platform for acquiring social connections and thereby feeling relatedness. Plenty of literature has shown that mental representations of social support can reduce the perception of physical pain. The current study tested whether thinking about SNS would interfere with users’ perceptions of experimentally induced pain.” Can’t find a copy of the paper itself that isn’t behind a paywall in my quick look; let me know if you can. Good morning, Internet…

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Conservation Research, Snapchat, Google Maps, More: Thursday Buzz, July 21, 2016

NEW RESOURCES

A new portal for conservation research data has been launched. “The new SNAPP tool operates as a flexible, graphical data portal for the links between conservation interventions and human well-being outcomes that allows users to download desired information as well as charts and summaries. It collates information from over 1,000 studies in an easy-to-interpret way and visualizes it for quick uptake. Users can filter the information by intervention and outcome type, geographic location, biome and study design – allowing them to hone in on regions and ecosystems of interest and gain quick information on the abundance and general quality of information for specific linkages and areas.”

TWEAKS AND UPDATES

Snapchat will now let you use Bitmoji. “Bitmoji, for the uninitiated, allows users to create their own personal emoji with passing resemblance to their real flesh human face, which they can then use in messaging apps to express person feelings like ‘Surprise!’ and ‘Disappointment.'” And “What the heck is Bitmoji?”

Google Maps is apparently showing fewer business listings in search results. “This includes showing fewer results on the left hand side where it shows local listings as well as it showing less results in the map itself with less pins showing up for local businesses. I personally saw this when I searched for some keywords that I track – although I do not have before and after screen shots.”

What’s with all the speed tests all of a sudden? Now it looks like Google’s getting one.

I really am trying to keep the Pokestuff to a minimum, but I thought it was fascinating that Delaware State Parks was so fast off the mark that it’s already launched a Pokemon Go contest. “On Monday, the Division of Parks and Recreation launched ‘Poké Park Adventure,’ a contest for Pokémon trainers of all ages. To win, players must take a screenshot of their avatar in one of Delaware’s state parks, and then take screenshots of each Poké Stop that they visit. Then, players must upload the screenshot to social media and use the hashtag #pokeparkde.”

USEFUL STUFF

MakeUseOf: 5 Retro Operating Systems You Can Revisit with Ease on Linux.

AROUND THE SEARCH AND SOCIAL MEDIA WORLD

Uri Shaked: Exploring the Physical Web (Without Buying Beacons) “The Physical Web is still pretty new, but the basic idea is that the Physical Web lets you broadcast any URL to the people around you. Awesome, right? The Physical Web lets you anchor URLs to physical places by way of a BLE beacon, effectively allowing you to ‘park’ a webpage, link to a file, etc., wherever you want.”
I knew about beacons because of their expanding use in retail, but this article showed me how accessible the Physical Web is to anybody.

SECURITY/LEGAL ISSUES

The New Jersey Supreme Court will decide if government metadata is public. “The New Jersey Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case brought by an open-government activist who contends that the public should be allowed to view electronic data and metadata kept by local government agencies. In summer 2013, John Paff requested a log of the emails sent by the Galloway Township police chief and the township clerk during a two-week period in June 2013, and then sued in an Ocean County court when his request was denied.”

I have wondered about this a lot: Forensic psychologists reveal why people are posting evidence to their crimes on Facebook and Snapchat. “Across social media, people are using the platforms to showcase their crimes — with heartless selfies and humiliating clips of their victims. For all the crooks posting their own incriminating evidence on social media, forensic psychologists say a common thread ties them all together: an insatiable craving for attention.”

RESEARCH AND OPINION

A very long read, and the conclusions are not – uh – conclusive. But what a great project. Are games a viable solution to crowdsourcing improvements to faulty OCR? – The Purposeful Gaming and BHL experience. “The Missouri Botanical Garden and partners from Dartmouth, Harvard, the New York Botanical Garden, and Cornell recently wrapped up a project funded by IMLS called Purposeful Gaming and BHL: engaging the public in improving and enhancing access to digital texts … The goals of the project were to significantly improve access to digital texts through the applicability of purposeful gaming for the completion of data enhancement tasks needed for content found within the Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL). This article will share our approach in terms of game design choices and the use of algorithms for verifying the quality of inputs from players as well as challenges related to transcriptions and marketing.”

Study: Using Twitter to Share Physician-Generated Medical News. “Over a 1-year period, academic cardiovascular physicians at the Mayo Clinic used a new Twitter account to share medical news and gained more than 1,200 followers, with tweets of original journal content garnering the greatest response, according to an article published in Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, a peer-reviewed journal from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers. The article is available free on the Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking website until August 20, 2016.”

From Think with Google: Why YouTube Stars Are More Influential Than Traditional Celebrities. This is an infographic and at least on my computer took a moment to load, so the page might look blank at first. Good morning, Internet…

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B&W Pictures, African-American Art, Movies, More: Wednesday Buzz, July 20, 2016

NEW RESOURCES

Oooh, genealogists, you might love this. A new tool instantly colorizes black and white photos. I played with it for a while and your mileage varies (and if your original image is sepia, forget it) but when it works, it’s really impressive. It’s free, at least the version I was playing with is. I just tried desaturating a sepia tone image to black and white and colorizing that, and my poor Aunt Rhett ended up with a purple chin…

The Hammer Museum has launched a digital archive for the exhibit Now Dig This!. “The exhibition Now Dig This! Art and Black Los Angeles, 1960–1980 chronicled the vital legacy of the city’s African American artists. The work of these practitioners was animated to an extent by the civil rights and Black Power movements, reflecting the changing sense of what constituted African American identity and American culture. … The exhibition presented 140 artworks by these artists and the friends who influenced and supported them during this period and explored the significant contributions of African Americans to the canon of Los Angeles–based art.” When scrolling through the exhibit, be sure to click “See All” to get all the artwork. Betye Saar. John T. Riddle Jr. Wow.

A new Web site aggregates movie information from every single corner of the Web. “If you tend to waste hours surfing the Web before you eventually give up and settle for a movie you’ve already seen because there’s nothing better to watch, Cinesift is about to change your life. Built by Redditor yombato, it’s a massive film database that sources information from popular websites like Rotten Tomatoes, IMDb and Metacritic to help you quickly and effortlessly pick a movie to watch.”

World War I historians, you’re going to like this. DigitalNC has added 53 issues of Trench and Camp to its online archives. “The Trench and Camp newspaper was published for soldiers living in the 32 domestic cantonments during World War I…These editions are excellent resources for those interested in communication during war time, as these papers were seen as direct communication between the President and those serving their country.”

WOW! Apparently this has been in the works for a year, but I just read about it yesterday. The University of Minnesota is building a metasearch engine for African-American archives. “It has launched an ambitious project, called Umbra Search, to make it easy to search not only its own collection, but hundreds of African-American archives across the country. All at once. So far, Umbra has made a dramatic, if spotty, start, with links to more than 400,000 pieces of history — photos, videos, letters and manuscripts — from 500 libraries and museums, including the Smithsonian Institution.”

TWEAKS AND UPDATES

Snapchat is making it easier for users to suggest accounts to follow. “If you go into the Stories list, then tap and hold on someone’s name, a new option appears. Tap the blue arrow on the right, and you can send the account to other people. They’ll receive it as a private Chat message. From there, the recipient can see the suggested account’s name, handle, profile GIF, and a button to Add them.”

USEFUL STUFF

MakeUseOf: 13 Best Chrome Extensions and Apps to Work Offline. “No Internet on the go? Don’t worry, you can still have a productive day on your laptop if you do a little prep work. Chromebook user or not, as long as you’re a Chrome user, you can install offline extensions (and apps) for common tasks like note taking and editing PDFs.”

First Draft News: How to get started in online investigations with open-source intelligence. “Myself and others at First Draft frequently receive emails from a whole range of people asking how they can start doing the sort of online open-source investigation and verification that they’ve seen us doing. The skills and methodologies used are all something that can be learnt through a little persistence, but here are a few pieces of advice to get you started.”

AROUND THE SEARCH AND SOCIAL MEDIA WORLD

It’s 2016, so of course the presidential election includes shade-throwing Snapchat filters. “The Clinton campaign is trolling Hillary Clinton’s likely White House rival during this week’s Republican National Committee convention, buying anti-Trump filters for Snapchat images captured in downtown Cleveland. Geofilters are those tiny pieces of art that Snapchatters can use to overlay images captured in a certain location. During the 2016 race for the White House, politicians have employed these sponsored filters to playfully knock their opponents and attract the attention of college-age voters.” “Playfully”? What planet are you on?

SECURITY/LEGAL ISSUES

A new service will let you know when someone uses your social security number. “Civic, which bills itself as an ‘identity protection network’ and launches in beta today, hinges on a simple enough premise: If your Social Security number is used, you’ll get a push notification. That’s about it. ‘We think the way you secure information is not by keeping information private, it’s about being able to follow its use,’ says Civic co-founder and CEO Vinny Lingham.” Like the idea in theory, worried would would happen if the service itself got hacked…

A court in India is issuing a notice to Google, but this time it’s not about taxes or taxation. “An Allahabad court on Tuesday issued notices to Google, its Chief Executive Officer Sundar Pichai and India head Rajan Anandan for supposedly listing Prime Minister Narendra Modi among the top 10 criminals in the world.”

The High Court of Paris has ruled that Google and Bing do not have to scrub torrent-related results from their search results. “Google and Bing are not required to automatically filter ‘torrent’ related searches to prevent piracy, the High Court of Paris has decided…. More specifically, the court notes that the word ‘torrent’ has many legitimate uses, as does the BitTorrent protocol, which is a neutral communication technology. This means that blocking everything ‘torrent’ related is likely to censor legal content as well.” Good. Would have been a terrible precedent. Good morning, Internet…

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Jeff Buckley, Microsoft Stream, Cold War Documents, More: Tuesday Buzz, July 19, 2016

NEW RESOURCES

You can now explore musician Jeff Buckley’s record collection. “Jeff Buckley’s personal record collection, filled with the music that influenced the Grace singer, is now digitally available for fans to listen to. Sony’s Legacy Recordings and Buckley’s mother Mary Guibert have partnered to present Jeff Buckley’s Record Collection, a site offering an intimate and interactive dive into Buckley’s own vinyl shelf.” Mr. Buckley died in 1997.

Microsoft is launching a new video service for business. “Microsoft today launched Stream, a new business video service that aims to give businesses that want to share video internally the same kind of tools and flexibility that YouTube offers to consumers — but with the added benefits of the security tools enterprises expect from their document management services. The service is now available as a free preview.” This sounds like what Google Video SHOULD have been.

The British Academy has created a online archive of early documents from the Cold War. “Around 360 documents with editorial notes, totalling more than 1,150 pages, of telegrams, letters, records of meetings, memorandums and reports have been published online. These documents include Maxim Litvinov’s notes from November 1944 on preparations of peace-treaties and post-war settlement, titled ‘On prospects and possible foundation for Soviet-British cooperation’, that envisioned “an amicable division of security spheres in Europe”, and Stalin’s secret instructions to Molotov on how to handle Bevin and Byrnes during the Council of Foreign Ministers meetings in 1945-1946.”

TWEAKS AND UPDATES

Wake Forest University’s Museum of Anthropology has relaunched its artifact database. Don’t have more details than that – the announcement was pretty sparse.

Dictionary.com is adding a bunch of words (PRESS RELEASE). “The update includes more than 300 new words and definitions and over 1,700 updated entries, with a focus on recent political news, pop culture, and gender identity.” New words include ze, health goth, and deso.

Google is apparently showing how many minutes people spend at venues on its Google Maps displays. “So if you want to get a coffee and you want to know how long the average time it takes, Google will show you based on their tracking data. Creepy but most of us know Google has been tracking this already.”

Dropbox is dropping support for Windows XP. “Also, realize that for the FREE version of Dropbox, you need to log in – at least on the Dropbox website – at least once every 90 days or you risk having your data removed. This is part of the terms of service at Dropbox for free account holders.”

USEFUL STUFF

Knight Lab: Three tools to help you make colorblind-friendly graphics. “…as a news consumer and designer I often find myself struggling to read certain visualizations because my eyes just can’t distinguish the color scheme. As information architects, data visualizers and web designers, we need to make our work accessible to as many people as possible, which includes people with colorblindness.”

AROUND THE SEARCH AND SOCIAL MEDIA WORLD

Oh boy. Google Maps is just a wee bit confused about Scotland. “Bishopbriggs in East Dunbartonshire is a middle-class commuter town boasting a large shopping centre and three golf courses…. But Google Maps’ online picture of the community actually shows a £1,200-a-head resort in the Indian Ocean paradise of Mauritius.” This has been fixed. But — really, Google?

More on Facebook paying the famous to use Facebook Live. “Jon Paul Piques gained social-media fame posting bawdy six-second videos on Vine. In April, however, he used Facebook to live-stream a behind-the-scenes look at Playboy. He had a big incentive: Facebook Inc. is paying Mr. Piques up to $119,000 to use its new Facebook Live streaming service at least five times a month through September.” People as content, I suppose, and every site wants exclusivity.

RESEARCH AND OPINION

Consumers are turning to social media when it comes to making purchases. “Social media is fast becoming the most powerful tool available to marketers, according to a survey by Influence Central, which found 81 percent of consumers frequently buy items they’ve seen shared on social media. The survey also found 81 percent say product reviews influence the way they shop, while 72 percent say the ability to check social media recommendations takes the guesswork out of buying a new product.”

BloombergView: Beware of Robots Telling You How to Vote. “Voting is partially a social endeavor, in which people consider the opinions of others when making up their own minds. Increasingly, though, they’re being influenced by an inhuman force: software robots specifically designed to deceive them. Lest democracy be undermined, humans need help in distinguishing their brethren from the bots.” Good morning, Internet…

Do you like ResearchBuzz? Does it help you out? Please consider supporting it on Patreon. Not interested in commitment? Perhaps you’d buy me an iced tea. I love your comments, I love your site suggestions, and I love you. Feel free to comment on the blog, or @ResearchBuzz on Twitter. Thanks!

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

NEW RESOURCES

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.”

TWEAKS AND UPDATES

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.”

USEFUL STUFF

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.

AROUND THE SEARCH AND SOCIAL MEDIA WORLD

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.”

SECURITY/LEGAL ISSUES

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 ueipdata.zip file incudes, among other things, details of the sites visited by users, the applications they have installed, and what searches have been performed.”

RESEARCH AND OPINION

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…

Do you like ResearchBuzz? Does it help you out? Please consider supporting it on Patreon. Not interested in commitment? Perhaps you’d buy me an iced tea. I love your comments, I love your site suggestions, and I love you. Feel free to comment on the blog, or @ResearchBuzz on Twitter. Thanks!