Building a Search Engine for Data

Happy Endpoints


I don’t know if you’ve heard, but last month we built a search engine that is currently indexing open data sites around the world.

In the current startup ecosystem, that seems so retro. We’ve all basically accepted Google as our lord and master, the tastemaker to end all tastemakers. Why bother investing time and energy when you will never be able to compete with such a dominate player?

But as anyone who has dipped their toes in the waters of SEO will tell you, Google’s algorithms judge quality by making a bunch of core assumptions about what useful internet content is supposed to look like. These assumptions over emphasize pages with lots of high quality text (blogs) and under emphasize pages with duplicate structure and low amounts of text (like … for example, catalogues).

That means using Google to try to figure out which open data site has the data…

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RBUTR supports more browsers, adds a universal linking toolbar

Skeptical Software Tools

RBUTR logo

Some exciting new additions to RBUTR have been announced in the last few weeks. The folks on the team behind this skeptic favorite have been busy!

RBUTR is an excellent skeptic tool that I’ve written about here before. It is a service that links web pages to other articles which rebut them (hence the name). Skeptics could do well to both evangelize the tool to the general public, and to populate it with links to good skeptical content.

RBUTR works via a browser add-in: a small piece of software that adds new functionality to your web browser. When you navigate to a new web page, the add-in looks up whether there are any rebuttals to that article or content and gives a visual indication at the top of the browser window.

One limitation of browser plugins is each one is usually only compatible with one browser. Since its launch, RBUTR…

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Useful links and resources from the #SkepTech 2 security panel

My favourite blog. Read and learn.

Skeptical Software Tools

Skep Tech 2 LogoToday in Minneapolis I was on a panel with Neil Wehneman of Secular Student Alliance and Jason Thibeault of Freethought Blogs. It was moderated by Sean Wurgler. The panel was frankly titled “How to protect your shit online” and this was the summary:

Even “real life” activists have to navigate online spaces–online activists obviously more so. Unfortunately, the power that online activism can lend can easily turn against activists. How do we protect our content from hackers, spammers, and trolls? How to we maintain security while simultaneously engaging in online activism–an act that requires us to put our content out into the interwebspaceplace? Expect conversation on basic content protection measures, DDOS attacks and how to subvert them, and beyond.

In this post I will attempt to gather up the links and resources we mentioned during the panel and closely related ones as well. Feel free to chime in…

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Exploring Central Havana’s Hamel’s Alley


On afternoon I decided it was time to explore a different part of Havana that I had yet to see, Centro Habana or Central Havana. I’d see enough of beautiful Old Havana and thought it was time to see the real Havana that has been untouched. Central Havana is the most densely populated part of town and unlike Old Havana, nothing has been restored.

I hailed a coco-taxi (a three-wheeled scooter) right from my hotel in Vedado and enjoyed a fun ride down the Malecón to my first destination in Central Havana, a special place called El Callejón de Hamel (Hamel’s Alley). I was in for quite a wonderful surprise!

Taking a Coco Taxi in Havana Taking a Coco-taxi in Havana. (A three-wheeled scooter with a cover and room for two in back).

Centro Habana Cuba Heading into Centro Habana (Central Havana), a more densely populated and rundown part of town with ramshackle buildings and potholed streets.

Centro Habana Cuba

I paid…

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Perennial Favorites: What’s Your Style?

The Daily Post

Daryl L.L. Houston, former Daily Post oracle for all things grammar, hasn’t written here for a while but is far from forgotten. Here’s one of our favorite of his pieces, on writing style  — something many of us constantly play with as bloggers.

Style is the quality of a piece of writing that sets it apart from other pieces of writing that might otherwise be considered similar. Given the same subject matter and a directive to explain the same facts or tell a story whose details are substantively the same, different writers will set out to do the telling in different ways.

For example, one author might write very descriptively, using lots of imagery and adjectives. Another might favor a less ornate approach and simply convey the information. Often, authors for whom style is an important concern will adopt several styles. James Joyce wrote Ulysses in 18 very distinct styles. Another, perhaps…

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Nicollette Rose

In 2009, my freshman year of high school, I stumbled upon Xanax, which is a highly addictive pill that treats anxiety. After my first time taking one, I knew that these were something I was going to enjoy, and that’s exactly what happened. I enjoyed them too much. I enjoyed them to the point where I completely lost my sense of reality. It was to where I couldn’t function throughout the day if I didn’t take one every two hours or so. I loved the rush, I felt at peace, as if I had no worries and no one mattered but myself. In fact, I felt more alive than I did prior to them. It’s not the easiest thing to explain, it’s just something you’d have to personally experience to completely comprehend. Xanax took over my entire life. I didn’t want anything to do with anyone or anything, including school…

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Tools & Apps We Love: Writing

Resources we love

The Daily Post

Lots of us have folders full of apps for working with photos — our Beyond Instagram post is a perennial favorite, and we’ll revisit photo apps tomorrow. But when it comes to writing, most of us use far fewer tools. There’s There’s your word processing program of choice. There’s… actually, that’s pretty much it.

Between us editors, there are a few features,  apps, and browser extensions we rely on for writing, editing, and keeping track of topics, ideas, and notes. Today, we’re focused on writing.

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