Category Archives: Tools

Information about new tools that skeptics can use.

Afternoon Toolbox – November 1, 2012 – Sandy fakes, WOT and podcast awards

Morning Toolbox (which sometimes appears in the afternoon) is a daily digest of interesting tools and techniques that skeptics can use online.

Apologies for the recent missed toolboxes, been very busy this week with real life stuff and a shortage of links for you.  I may start doing these toolboxes on an as-needed basis, perhaps three times a week.  Let me know what you think.

First off, big congratulations to Web of Trust for reaching 50 million downloads!  I’ve blogged a bunch about Web of Trust and how it is a great tool for skeptics. Now you are reaching even more people with it.

Meanwhile Russian ISP mail.ru is expanding into other countries. Why do I mention that? This is the same ISP that recently started bundling Web of Trust for their customers.

Read on for more tools and ideas for skeptics working online…

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Morning Toolbox – October 29, 2012 – Post-CSIcon Monday Blues

Morning Toolbox is a daily digest of interesting tools and techniques that skeptics can use online.

Would you say skeptics are “outgunned by well-funded adversaries when trying to correct false claims”? I would. Well TruthMarket is starting an Affinity Program for such groups. They’ll support your efforts, do press for you, etc. while you use TruthMarket to challenge falsehoods. Check out this PDF document explaining the program, which runs from November 1 to December 31.

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Morning Toolbox – October 26, 2012 – CSICON continues

Morning Toolbox is a daily digest of interesting tools and techniques that skeptics can use online.

I’m at CSICON this weekend, so this post is small and late again. Normal pace will resume on Monday.

Google Instant is that feature where it will suggest popular searches as you start to type in the search box. It appears they are now pulling this info not just from searches but from the content of web pages too. I wonder what skeptic content is getting pulled in here? Have you seen any?

PBS Frontline has posted its program on climate change denial online.

Rebecca Rosen has an interesting piece at Atlantic about how Wikipedia is nearing ‘completion’ and that actually poses a problem for it.

ReadWrite suggests that a good place to go for political fact checking is your local librarian.

Don’t forget you can vote in the Stitcher Podcast Awards once per day, give your favorite podcasts some love.

Another short toolbox, have a good weekend!

Follow me on Twitter at @krelnik.  You can submit stories there or via submit at whatstheharm.net.

Afternoon Toolbox – October 25, 2012 – Short news from CSICON

Morning Toolbox is a daily digest of interesting tools and techniques that skeptics can use online.

I’m at CSICON this weekend, so my toolbox posts may be a little short and often late in the morning

Another day, another Chrome browser plugin it seems. This one is called Unpolitic.me and it removes politics-related posts from your Twitter and Facebook feeds. Could be handy if you are tired of that stuff by now.

Wikipedia reformats their pages for mobile devices like smartphones, which is very very useful. They recently redesigned their mobile formatting to make it more legible and easier to use.

I mentioned Blekko the other day, this is an alternative search engine that lets you customize the results in ways that are difficult to do in Google. Handy for skeptic-oriented searches, among other things. They have posted new tutorials, so go learn about this tool.

PunditTracker is teasing that they may add some sort of incentive program next week.

Don’t forget you can vote in the Stitcher Podcast Awards once per day, give your favorite podcasts some love.

Another short toolbox, have another good day!

Follow me on Twitter at @krelnik.  You can submit stories there or via submit at whatstheharm.net.

Morning Toolbox – October 24, 2012 – Slow news? Here’s an infographic

Morning Toolbox is a daily digest of interesting tools and techniques that skeptics can use online.

Not a ton going on today, it seems – everyone must be getting ready for CSICON this weekend.

But as they say, a picture paints a thousand words, so here’s a picture of some Wikipedia statistics:

I’ve pointed out before how Wikipedia gets huge traffic compared to skeptic web sites. You can see here Paul Kurtz’s bio on Wikipedia got almost 17,000 views in two days after news of his passing. Good thing Susan Gerbic and her team are keeping an eye on this, helping ensure vandals don’t take advantage of this (as I mentioned yesterday).

WordPress updated their iOS app yesterday. I’m finding it more and more useful with each update, especially for moderating comments as they come in.

Don’t forget you can vote in the Stitcher Podcast Awards once per day, give your favorite podcasts some love.

Another short toolbox, have another good day!

Follow me on Twitter at @krelnik.  You can submit stories there or via submit at whatstheharm.net.

Morning Toolbox – October 23, 2012 – Awards season

Morning Toolbox is a daily digest of interesting tools and techniques that skeptics can use online.

Online awards may seem silly, but they can really help your favorite web sites and podcasts gain visibility, which is good for skepticism. Voting is open on the Stitcher Podcast Awards and many skeptic favorites like Skeptoid, Skeptic’s Guide and Geologic Podcast are nominated in various categories – along with other good podcasts like RadioLab, StarTalk and so on. You can vote once per day. It does require a Facebook “Like” from you, so you’ll need an account there, but they don’t spam you as far as I can tell.

CSICOP founder Paul Kurtz died over the weekend. When people are in the news or die, that is a key time that their Wikipedia articles get vandalized. Fear not, Susan Gerbic and her team leapt into action.

Remember how Google’s Knowledge Graph has given added visibility to skeptics in search results? Well now Google is adding “explanations” to the related people displayed below. It’s mostly actor and actress appearances now, but I’m wondering what the explanation for James Randi below Sylvia Browne will be?

Chrome browser plugins like Fishbarrel and RBUTR are key skeptic tools. If you’re switching to Chrome to take advantage, here are some tips to get the most out of Google’s browser.

A short toolbox, have a good day!

Follow me on Twitter at @krelnik.  You can submit stories there or via submit at whatstheharm.net.

Morning Toolbox – October 22, 2012 – Monday miscellany

Morning Toolbox is a daily digest of interesting tools and techniques that skeptics can use online.

Google has upgraded their Ngrams book search tool to 2.0. It now supports more languages, millions more books and several new advanced search options. (For instance, you can specify whether you are searching for a verb or a noun and so on). I’ve mentioned before it as a useful tool for skeptic research on historical trends.

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Morning Toolbox – October 19, 2012 – Charts, Twitter, Robocalls and more

Morning Toolbox is a daily digest of interesting tools and techniques that skeptics can use online.

I’ve talked about fake online reviews on Virtual Skeptics once or twice. Yelp is trying to clamp down on this, they are putting red ‘consumer alert’ banners on businesses they detect doing it. Here’s a project for skeptics: scan the site for pseudoscience and paranormal businesses that have earned one of these.

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Morning Toolbox – October 18, 2012 – Newsweek ditches paper, Stormtroopers not to blame

Morning Toolbox is a daily digest of interesting tools and techniques that skeptics can use online.

I’ve got a small toolbox for you today.

Newspapers and magazines continue to have trouble: Newsweek announced it is ending its print edition as of early next year. Craig Silverman is curating reactions to this using Spundge.

Virtual Skeptics panelist Bob Blaskiewicz has an article on the JREF blog about using RBUTR as an educational tool in the classroom.

Not all skeptical tools succeed. An attempt to rate web site credibility called NewsCred was launched in 2008. The company had to pivot to a different business, providing licensed news feeds to other sites. I guess that went well, because now they’ve bought a competitor.

Just for fun, did you know that Google has had photos inside many public buildings and businesses integrated into Google Maps for some time? This month they decided to join in themselves and post detailed views of their North Carolina data center. If you virtually wander around in there you can find many Easter eggs including a rick roll and a stormtrooper.

Follow me on Twitter at @krelnik.  You can submit stories there or via submit at whatstheharm.net.

Morning Toolbox – October 17, 2012 – Meet, Develop, Disavow

Morning Toolbox is a daily digest of interesting tools and techniques that skeptics can use online.

I’ve pointed out before that journalists seem to be building more tools than skeptics – there are many interesting skeptic-relevant projects coming out of journalism circles. So many, that Knight-Mozilla OpenNews has introduced Source, a hub for all that activity. Developers can share their work, collaborate and so on. I think skeptic developers would be wise to keep an eye on this.

Read on for more news of interest to skeptics working online…

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