June 16, 2015

The Research Desk: Drones, Cool Tools, Green Companies

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sketch garyHere’s a new selection of reference resources along with two favorite tools that might make your time online more productive.

“World of Drones” — Four Databases

These online resources on drones are global in scope. The first comes from the London-based Bureau for Investigative Journalism, a GIJN member, which has compiled years of data on hundreds of secret drone strikes for its Covert Drone War project. You can compare TBIJ’s work with that of the New America Foundation’s International Security Data Site, which includes data on drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen.

New America Foundation also now offers databases on drone regulations and civil drone projects. According to its news release, “In some countries, the regulation of UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) is quickly changing; many others still lack a clear regulatory regime. The map of UAV regulations is New America’s effort to gather in a single place the best available information about the current state of global drone regulation.

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“The new website also includes a database of over 120 civil drone projects that is meant to illustrate the diverse uses of drones in disaster response, mapping efforts, environmental monitoring, and other applications. It includes examples like mapmaking drone flights made by Peruvian archaeologists and by an NGO that worked with Guyanese villagers, the UAV response to the earthquake earlier this year in Nepal, and efforts by UN peacekeepers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to use drones to protect civilians.”

Reports from the European Parliament Research Service (EPRS)

In past updates we’ve shared a variety of research reports from the U.S. Congressional Research Service and the UK House of Commons Library.

dronesI also want to point out that the European Parliament Research Service provides a variety of often data-rich reports on its website.  An RSS feed is available to alert you to new publications.

Some recently published reports include:

Top Green Companies in the World 2015

This annual ranking was recently released by Newsweek magazine. The research is done by Corporate Knights Capital and HIP (Human Impact + Profit)  Investor Inc.

From the Website:

“The 2015 iteration of the project features eight indicators that are used to assess and measure the environmental performance of the world’s largest publicly traded companies.

“The project consists of two separate rankings. The U.S. 500 ranks the 500 largest publicly-traded companies in the United States by market capitalization, while the Global 500 looks at the 500 largest publicly-traded companies globally by market capitalization as determined by Bloomberg as of March 4, 2015.”

An FAQ and methodology is also provided.

Productivity Tool: DownThemAll

Screen Shot 2015-06-16 at 4.45.19 PMThis free extension (Firefox only) allows users to download entire pages or individual files linked on a web page by just pointing and clicking.

For example, let’s say a web page has posted or liked to 40 PDF files, and you want copies of 30 of them. Using DownThemAll you can quickly select the files you want to copy and with a single click download each of them to your hard drive.

This is only one of the many things you can do with this useful Firefox extension. A real timesaver!

Sadly, DownThemAll is not available for Chrome.

There is a free app called JDownloader that works much the same way. It requires Java, which allows it to work with most operating systems, but it has a much steeper learning curve.

Social Media Tool: QueryFeed

Even though Google got rid of its RSS reader a couple of years ago, this has not meant the death of RSS. Aggregators like Newsblur and Feedly are going strong and with services like IFTTT (a free service I’ll write about soon) RSS is still a useful format to learn about news and new resources.

In the early days of Twitter it was possible to have tweets delivered to you via RSS. Unfortunately, they got rid of this feature.

However, a third-party service named QueryFeed is available (free) and will not only send tweets to your aggregator but will also supply you with Google+ and Facebook posts via RSS.

If you like to receive some or all of your news and social media in a single place — through an RSS aggregator — QueryFeed works well.

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