Images, Art, Facial Recognition, More: Sunday Morning Buzz, May 17th, 2015


Wolfram|Alpha has launched an image identification tool. “Now I’m excited to be able to say that we’ve reached a milestone: there’s finally a function called ImageIdentify built into the Wolfram Language that lets you ask, “What is this a picture of?”—and get an answer. And today we’re launching the Wolfram Language Image Identification Project on the web to let anyone easily take any picture (drag it from a web page, snap it on your phone, or load it from a file) and see what ImageIdentify thinks it is…” Warning: you can play with this for hours. I uploaded an image of one of my cats and it got it spookily correct (“Calico cat”) but then I uploaded a picture of a person and it misidentified him as a fire extinguisher. It seems to do best with images without lots of details.

Amit Agarwal, who has no need to prove how brilliant he is but keeps doing it anyway, has created a tool to send bulk personalized Tweets and DMs.


May be useful depending on your research needs: a roundup of 60 facial recognition databases.

Interesting! Using a ‘bot to help people discover art. “Artbot, developed by Desi Gonzalez and Liam Andrew in the HyperStudio research group of Comparative Media Studies/Writing (CMS/W), is a mobile website app that mines both user preferences and event tags to provide serendipitous connections to the local art scene…. Artbot enables users to select their interests from a list that ranges from medieval art to surrealism and from ancient history to photography. At the same time, the app scrapes data from museum websites to find artists, movements, and themes that link events to each other in various ways. Artbot then cross-references the data collected to generate event recommendations.”


Chromecast has gotten some updates. “Ever since Google launched the Chromecast in July 2013, the company has been steadily updating the HDMI dongle with new capabilities and features. Today, the company has announced six new apps for its $35 streaming media stick: CBS All Access, HGTV, FOX Now, FXNOW, Pluto TV, and Haystack.”

Libraries and Archives of Canada has put more WWI service files online. “As of today, 155,110 of 640,000 service files are available online…”


YouTube “How To” video searches are way up in 2015. “People trying to figure out how to accomplish a home improvement project, fix their hair or prepare a recipe have helped grow YouTube’s ‘how-to’ searches by 70 percent year-over-year.”

More YouTube: what’s YouTube’s most-watched game? Why, it’s Minecraft. “Think about that for a minute. YouTube’s list of the top 10 biggest games on the site, based on a decade’s worth of viewing hours, features long-running game franchises like Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto. But it’s six-year-old Minecraft that comes out on top.”

From Search Engine Land: How Google made it a little harder to reach from outside the US. “Last fall, things were quietly changed. Instead of that link always being at the bottom of country-specific versions, it was altered to appear only the very first time someone tried to reach and got redirected to their country-specific version. On subsequent attempts, it would not be shown.”

There are concerns going around about a phantom Google update. “HubPages, a collection of more than 870,000 miniblogs covering everything from the ‘History of advertising’ to “How to identify venomous house spiders,” saw its Google search traffic plunge 22 percent on May 3 from the prior week. Of the company’s 100 top pages, 68 lost visitors over that stretch.”

HathiTrust, in its blog, has a post about quality and OCR issues. “For the digital content we ingest, HathiTrust has established specifications related to image formats, resolution, color space, and other characteristics. Rigorous validation ensures that these specifications are met. The methods of production or processing of digitized items may leave fingerprints of some sort, however. These may be benign, such as the presence of digitization color targets, added coversheets, book cradles, or a characteristic coloration of pages, which do not generally interfere with the display or understanding of the original object and its content. They may also be more serious, including mis-colorations of pages, human fingers in the images, systemic cropping, warping, or bolded or light text—problems that do interfere with legibility or clarity of the image.”

The Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) is now on Pinterest. Good morning, Internet…

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Canada, Wright Brothers, Dubai, More: Tuesday Morning Buzz, May 12th, 2015


The country of Canada has launched a huge new online archive of information (PRESS RELEASE). “, a digital initiative of extraordinary scale, is a joint effort of 25 leading research institutions, libraries and archives working together with the goal of creating Canada’s multi-million page, comprehensive online archive…. Canadiana offers more than 35 million pages of primary-source documents in 21 languages, including languages of our First Nations.”

Wright State University now has a Wright brothers newspaper archive. Yeah, those Wright brothers. “The Wright Brothers operated a printing business from 1889 to 1899, before they started their bicycle business, and before they tackled the challenge of flight. Over the years, they worked on several publications and local newspapers, including: The Midget, a small school newspaper; church pamphlets; the West Side News; The Evening Item; parts catalogs for bicycles; and the Dayton Tattler, published for neighborhood friend and noted poet and novelist, Paul Laurence Dunbar.”

The Chicago Academy of Sciences has been uploading its publications to the Internet Archive. “We already have issues of two Academy publication series uploaded to Internet Archive: Chicago Naturalist, published from 1938 to 1948; and The Bulletin of the Chicago Academy of Sciences, published on and off from 1883 to 1995. Keep checking back though, because we’ve got plenty more to share in the future, including motion film.”

Google has announced a giantic database platform. “As businesses become increasingly data-centric, and with the coming age of the Internet of Things (IoT), enterprises and data-driven organizations must become adept at efficiently deriving insights from their data. In this environment, any time spent building and managing infrastructure rather than working on applications is a lost opportunity. That’s why today we are excited to introduce Google Cloud Bigtable – a fully managed, high-performance, extremely scalable NoSQL database service accessible through the industry-standard, open-source Apache HBase API.”

The Wellcome Library has launched the St. Luke’s Hospital archive. “St Luke’s Hospital for Lunatics was founded in 1750 by City of London philanthropists to cure ‘lunacy’, as well as to make treatment accessible to poorer people. The hospital was named Saint Luke’s due to its proximity to Saint Luke’s, Old Street. Previously the only provision for the poor in London was Bethlem Hospital, but waiting lists were long and the private ‘mad houses’ were beyond the means of most people.”


From Hongkiat: 40 Tools & Apps to Supercharge Your Instagram Account.


Facebook is firing across Google’s bow with a new link-adding feature. “Some mobile users on Facebook’s iPhone app are now being offered an ‘Add a Link’ option when they post status updates. After selecting the button, users can type in keywords and see search results listing articles on a given topic that have already been shared on Facebook.”

Google has put Madagascar on Google Street View.


The Dubai Digital Library will launch by the end of the year. “The first phase will include more than 1,600 books covering subjects including language, medicine, geography, history, religion and sociology.”

Interesting: How a Seoul bureau chief is using Tumblr to complement her reporting. “Elise Hu, NPR’s new Seoul bureau chief, covered the protests for the network, and interviewed one of the grieving mothers. But perhaps the most poignant part of the interview didn’t make it into Hu’s piece that ran on All Things Considered and NPR’s website.”

Bing wants you to check out its summer movie guide.

Meerkat has launched a developer’s platform.

A Twitter bot will tweet your salary and associated information: “A Twitter bot called @talkpayBot is working as a catalyst for discussion on wage inequality by allowing people to anonymously submit any or all of the following criteria to be tweeted out: age, job title, ethnicity, years of professional experience, sexual orientation, and most importantly, rate of pay.” Good morning, Internet…

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Scotland, Canada, William Blake, More: Saturday Morning Buzz, March 7th, 2015


The FDA has launched a mobile app to provide information about drug shortages. “The app identifies current drug shortages, resolved shortages and discontinuations of drug products….App users can search or browse by a drug’s generic name or active ingredient, and browse by therapeutic category. The app can also be used to report a suspected drug shortage or supply issue to the FDA.”

WordPress is now offering a security white paper. “The white paper is an analysis and explanation of the WordPress core software development and its related security processes, as well as an examination of the inherent security built directly into the software. Decision makers evaluating WordPress as a content management system or web application framework should use the white paper in their analysis and decision-making, and for developers to refer to it to familiarize themselves with the security components and best practices of the software.”

Princeton University has digitized its Godefroy Engelmann proofs and samples albums. “The publisher and printer Godefroy Engelmann I (1788-1839) had offices in a number of locations, including Rue Cassette No.18, Paris (1817); Rue Louis-le-grand No 27 à Paris (1827); Rue du Faub No.6, Montmatre, Paris (after 1829); Paris & Mulhausen (1826); 66 St Martin’s Lane, Strand, London (1826-7); 92 Dean Street, Soho, London (1827-9); and 14 Newman Street, London (1829-30).” Stunning examples of early chromolithography.

A new Web site lets people search for pets available at animal shelters, rescue groups, and breeders (PRESS RELEASE). “’s database of available pets – the most comprehensive anywhere – allows pet lovers to find a pet their way. For example, when searching for a pet, they can choose to search just for breeders, shelters or rescues, or a combination thereof for maximum results. Petcha’s unique functionality also allows pet lovers to filter results by gender, breed, size, coat color, eye color, tail type, coat length, age, sex, or energy level. Additionally, they can search by pet or organization.”

Library and Archives Canada have put up a small-but-lovely album of travel photography from the 19th and early 20th century.

Now available: a memorial for projects abandoned by Google. It’s in French but the gist, it is easy to get.

Historic Scotland has launched an online database of 400 artefacts.

The Blake Archive has added a new section for back issues of the Blake Quarterly journal. Currently issues from 2000-2009 are available. As far as I can tell the issues are free.


This weekend, access to FindMyPast records is free!

From Edudemic: 5 Ways Google Tools Can Make Education More Exciting. Nice ideas here.


If you’re an old-school user of TweetDeck, like me, be told: it is switching to Twitter logins on 31 March.


Small Business Trends takes an in-depth look at Big Picture, a data visualization tool for Excel 2007 and up (unfortunately it’s Windows-only.) It looks delicious. I would love to find something like that for Gnumeric.

OpenDNS is prepping a new tool to find malicious domains before they’re put to extensive use.

From the Washington Post: Google’s quest to make art available to everyone was foiled by copyright concerns. Good morning, Internet…

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Yahoo, Space War!, Font Town, More: Tuesday Morning Buzz, April 29, 2014

Sunday it was a zero-day Internet Explorer vulnerability, today it’s a zero-day Flash vulnerability. It has already been patched, so be sure to run your updates.

Alicia Peaker has a brief blog post on building digital exhibits in the classroom wih open source tool Omeka and a few various plugins. She also links to several examples.

Noupe takes a look at font site Font Town. “In the game since 2009, Font Town has recently created ripples . This is mainly due to the service enhancements implemented as well as the rapid growth to over 30,000 fonts and the redesign of their UI. All the fonts hosted are free downloads and the user experience can well be called intuitive, while the actual use of the fonts is not always that straightforward. We have taken a closer look at Font Town and checked whether this is the new world capitol of free fonts.”

Fortune has a quick roundup of 8 of Google’s biggest flops. I’d forgotten about Google Lively!

Yahoo has launched Yahoo Travel. “… an immersive digital magazine that makes those daydreams to getaways near and far a reality, with all the inspiration and information you need right at your fingertips.”

Meh. I’m much more interested in Yahoo’s announcement of Yahoo Live. “Beginning this summer, Yahoo and Live Nation will begin producing the largest collection of U.S. concert live streams on the web: one live concert, every day, 365 days a year.” There will also be additional music content and sports content as well. An intelligent and oblique way to attack Google’s YouTube dominance.

Parks Canada is considering a giant database for its cultural resources. “If the plan proceeds, members of the public would likely have online access for the first time to Parks Canada information about its 700,000 historical objects and reproductions, and 30 million archeological artifacts.”

From Forbes, an article on three Web sites which can show you if you’ve been hacked.

Did you know Wolfram|Alpha has cost of living information? A blog post shows how to use it.

Wow! For the true game geeks: Internet Archive now has Space War! Space War! is… “a 1962 collaboration of multiple students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Playing off the cathode-ray tube of a Digital Equipment PDP-1 (of which less than 60 were sold), this two-player space-battle game has been lauded as a major advancement in computer gaming for over 50 years.”

MyHeritage now has over 5 billion historical records.

Over at Search Engine Land, Will Scott asks: Does Google’s Review Count Inflation Give Them An Unfair Advantage In Local Search? “Next time you’re on a Google+ Local page, check for yourself: does the quantity of reviews boasted match the actual number of reviews? Anecdotally speaking, this seems rare.”

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!

Searching 60 Million Pages of Canadian History

Saw an interesting (if really brief) story in the Telegram about a new Web site called The Canadiana Discovery Portal, which searches through 60 million pages of Canada history from 14 different institutions. You can visit it at It’s in beta, as you can tell by the page, and this of course is the English version; there’s a link to the French version on this page.

It looks like a Google Custom search (I don’t think it is; that’s just what it looks like.) Simple keyword search. I did a search for Ottawa, and got over 62,000 results, so I abandoned that and did a search for locomotive.

There are still almost 3,000 results for locomotive and that’s a bit daunting. But take a look at the navigation across the top of the search results page. You can change the order of results (relevance, newest, oldest), and restrict your results to particular languages (in this case English, French, German, or Ojibwa, though in one search I saw Hindu, Swedish, Italian, and Latin, along with several Native American languages and even Chinese.) You can restrict your results to a media type (712 locomotive images!) and look for a specific contributing institution or narrow to a certain date range. In short, these navigation results make it super easy to narrow down your search results in several comprehensive ways.

And what of the results themselves? I found a lot of photographs, of course, but also individual pages from texts (A page of language from The Esquimaux their life, customs and manners had me baffled until I saw a reference to “locomotion”), press releases, typed statements, and entire books (“Cyclopedia of engineering;: a manual of steam boilers, steam pumps, steam engines, gas and oil engines, marine and locomotive work”) Clicking on an item in the search results list takes you directly to the that item at the holding institution’s Web site.

I would love an RSS feed. I would love a quick way to do a search within a search. But this is nice. The options for zeroing in on results are terrific. If you’re interested in Canadian history this is a must-visit.