Reverse Image Searching Is Easier Than You Think

October 6, 2016

One of the newest forms of search is using actual images.  All search engines from Google to Bing to DuckDuckGo have an image search option, where using keywords you can find an image to your specifications.  It seemed to be a thing of the future to use an actual image to power a search, but it has actually been around for a while.  The only problem was that reverse image searching sucked and returned poor results.

Now the technology has improved, but very few people actually know how to use it.  ZDNet explains how to use this search feature in the article, “Reverse Image Searching Made Easy…”. It explains that Google and TinEye are the best way to begin reverse image search. Google has the larger image database, but TinEye has the better photo experts.  TinEye is better because:

TinEye’s results often show a variety of closely related images, because some versions have been edited or adapted. Sometimes you find your searched-for picture is a small part of a larger image, which is very useful: you can switch to searching for the whole thing. TinEye is also good at finding versions of images that haven’t had logos added, which is another step closer to the original.

TinEye does have its disadvantages, such as outdated results and not being able to find them on the Web.  In some cases Google is the better choice as one can search by usage rights.  Browser extensions for image searching are another option.  Lastly if you are a Reddit user, Karma Decay is a useful image search tool and users often post comments on the image’s origin.

The future of image searching is now.

Whitney Grace, October 6, 2016
Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph


Recent Developments in Deep Learning Architecture from AlexNet to ResNet

September 27, 2016

The article on GitHub titled The 9 Deep Learning Papers You Need To Know About (Understanding CNNs Part 3) is not an article about the global media giant but rather the advancements in computer vision and convolutional neural networks (CNNs). The article frames its discussion around the ImageNet Large-Scale Recognition Challenges (ILSVRC), what it terms the “annual Olympics of computer vision…where teams compete to see who has the best computer vision model for tasks such as classification, localization, detection and more.” The article explains that the 2012 winners and their network (AlexNet) revolutionized the field.

This was the first time a model performed so well on a historically difficult ImageNet dataset. Utilizing techniques that are still used today, such as data augmentation and dropout, this paper really illustrated the benefits of CNNs and backed them up with record breaking performance in the competition.

In 2013, CNNs flooded in, and ZF Net was the winner with an error rate of 11.2% (down from AlexNet’s 15.4%.) Prior to AlexNet though, the lowest error rate was 26.2%. The article also discusses other progress in general network architecture including VGG Net, which emphasized depth and simplicity of CNNs necessary to hierarchical data representation, and GoogLeNet, which tossed the deep and simple rule out of the window and paved the way for future creative structuring using the Inception model.

Chelsea Kerwin, September 27, 2016
Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph
There is a Louisville, Kentucky Hidden Web/Dark Web meet up on September 27, 2016.
Information is at this link:

A Snapchat Is Worth a Thousand Twitter Characters or More

September 8, 2016

The article titled Snapchat Passes Twitter in Daily Usage on Bloomberg Technology provides some insights into the most popular modes of communication. As the title suggests, that mode is not with words. Rather, 150 million people appear to prefer images to language, at least when it comes to engaging with other on social media. The article reveals,

Snapchat has made communicating more of a game by letting people send annotated selfies and short videos. It has allowed people to use its imaging software to swap faces in a photo, transform themselves into puppies, and barf rainbows… Snapchat encourages people to visit the app frequently with features such as the “Snapstreak,” which counts the number of consecutive days they’ve been communicating with their closest friends. Snapchat’s other content, such as news and Live Stories, disappear after 24 hours.

Other Silicon Valley players have taken note of this trend. Facebook recently purchased the company that built Masquerade, an app offering photo-manipulation akin to Snapchat’s. Are words on their way out? The trend of using abbreviations (“abbrevs”) and slang to streamline messaging would logically result in a replacement of language with images, which can say volumes with a single click. But this could also result in a lot of confusion and miscommunication. Words allow for a precision of meaning that images often can’t supply. Hence the crossbreed of a short note scrawled across an image.

Chelsea Kerwin, September 8, 2016
Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph
There is a Louisville, Kentucky Hidden Web/Dark Web meet up on September 27, 2016.
Information is at this link:

Image Recognition: Think Tattoo Recognition

June 8, 2016

I know that some bad guys encourage their “assistants” to get facial tattoos. I am not personally into tattoos, but there are some who believe that one’s immune system is strengthened via the process. The prison tattoos I have seen in pictures mind you, did not remind me of the clean room conditions in some semi conductor fabrication facilities. I am confident that ball point pen ink, improvised devices, and frequent hand washing are best practices.

I read “Tattoo Recognition Research Threatens Free Speech and Privacy.” The write up states:

government scientists are working with the FBI to develop tattoo recognition technology that police can use to learn as much as possible about people through their tattoos.

The write up points out that privacy is an issue.

My question:

If a person gets a facial tattoo, perhaps that individual wants others to notice it?

I have heard that some bad guys want their “assistants” to get facial tattoos. With a message about a specific group, it makes it difficult for an “assistant” to join another merry band of pranksters.

Stephen E Arnold, June 8, 2016

Turn to Unsplash for Uncommon Free Photos

June 7, 2016

Stock photos can be so, well, stock. However, Killer Startups points to a solution in, “Today’s Killer Startup: Unsplash.” Reviewer Emma McGowan already enjoyed the site for its beautiful free photos, with new ones posted every day. She especially loves that their pictures do not resemble your typical stock photos. The site’s latest updates make it even more useful. She writes:

“The new version has expanded to include lovely, searchable collections. The themes range from conceptual (‘Pure Color’) to very specific (‘Coffee Shops’). All of the photos are free to use on whatever project you want. I can personally guarantee that all of your work will look so much better than if you went with the usual crappy free options.

“Now if you want to scroll through beautiful images a la old-school Unsplash, you can totally still do that too. The main page is still populated with a seemingly never ending roll of photos, and there’s also a ‘new’ tab where you can check out the latest and greatest additions to the collection. However, I really can’t get enough of the Collections, both as a way to browse beautiful artwork and to more easily locate images for blog posts.”

So, if you have a need for free images, avoid the problems found in your average stock photography, which can range from simple insipidness to reinforcing stereotypes and misconceptions. Go for something different at Unsplash. Based in Montreal, the site launched in 2013. As of this writing, they happen to be hiring (and will consider remote workers).


Cynthia Murrell, June 7, 2016

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

No Search Just Browse Images on FindA.Photo

March 2, 2016

The search engine FindA.Photo proves itself to be a useful resource for browsing images based on any number of markers. The site offers a general search by terms, or the option of browsing images by color, collection (for example, “wild animals,” or “reflections”) or source.  The developer of the site, David Barker, described his goals for the services on Product Hunt,

“I wanted to make a search for all of the CC0 image sites that are available. I know there are already a few search sites out there, but I specifically wanted to create one that was: simple and fast (and I’m working on making it faster), powerful (you can add options to your search for things like predominant colors and image size with just text), and something that could have contributions from anyone (via GitHub pull requests).”

My first click on a swatch of royal blue delivered 651 images of oceans, skies, panoramas of oceans and skies, jellyfish ballooning underwater, seagulls soaring etc. That may be my own fault for choosing such a clichéd color, but you get the idea. I had better (more various) results through the collections search, which includes “action,” “long-exposure,” “technology,” “light rays,” and “landmarks,” the last of which I immediately clicked for a collage of photos of the Eiffel Tower, Louvre, Big Ben, and the Great Wall of China.


Chelsea Kerwin, March 2, 2016

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph


She Is a Meme Librarian

January 20, 2016

Memes are random bits of Internet culture that come and go faster than the highest DSL speed.  There are so many memes out there that it seems impossible to catalog the trends, much less each one.  The Independent tells us that Amanda Brennan has made a career out of studying and documenting memes, becoming the world’s first meme librarian: “Meet Tumblr’s ‘Meme Librarian,’ The Woman With The Best Job On The Internet.”

Brennan works at Tumblr and her official title is content and community manager, but she prefers the title “meme librarian.” She earned a Master’s in Information from Rutgers and during graduate school she documented memes for Know Your Meme, followed by Tumblr.

“[In graduate school] immediately I knew I did not want to work in a traditional library. Which is weird because people go to library school and they’re like ‘I want to change the world with books!’ And I was like ‘I want to change the world of information.’ And they started a social media specialization in the library school, and I was like, ‘This is it. This is the right time for me to be here.’”

Brennan is like many librarians, obsessed with taxonomy and connections between information.  The Internet gave her an outlet to explore and study to her heart’s content, but she was particularly drawn to memes, their origins, and how they traveled around the Internet.  After sending an email to Know Your Meme about an internship, her career as a meme librarian was sealed.  She tracks meme trends and discovers how they evolve not only in social media, but how the rest of the Internet swallows them up.

I wonder if this will be a future focus of library science in the future?


Whitney Grace, January 20, 2016
Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Bing Uses Image Search for Recipes

December 8, 2015

Recipe websites have become the modern alternative to traditional cookbooks, but finding the perfect recipe through an Internet search engine can be tedious. LifeHacker informs us that Bing is now using image search technology to help users whittle down the results in, “Find Recipes by Image in Bing’s Image Search.” Writer Melanie Pinola describes how it works:

“When you look up ‘baked ziti’ or ‘roast turkey’ or any other food-related term and then go to Bing’s images tab, photos that you can access recipes for will have a chef’s hat icon, along with a count of how many sites use that image. Click on the image to see the recipe(s) related to the image and load them in your browser. You’ll save some time versus click through to every recipe in a long list of search results, especially if you’re thinking of making something that looks a particular way, such as bacon egg cups.”

So remember to use Bing next time you’re hunting for a recipe online. Image search tech continues to improve, and there are many potential worthwhile uses. We wonder what it will be applied to next.

Cynthia Murrell, December 8, 2015

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Algorithmic Bias and the Unintentional Discrimination in the Results

October 21, 2015

The article titled When Big Data Becomes Bad Data on Tech In America discusses the legal ramifications of relying on algorithms for companies. The “disparate impact” theory has been used in the courtroom for some time to ensure that discriminatory policies be struck down whether they were created with the intention to discriminate or not. Algorithmic bias occurs all the time, and according to the spirit of the law, it discriminates although unintentionally. The article states,

“It’s troubling enough when Flickr’s auto-tagging of online photos label pictures of black men as “animal” or “ape,” or when researchers determine that Google search results for black-sounding names are more likely to be accompanied by ads about criminal activity than search results for white-sounding names. But what about when big data is used to determine a person’s credit score, ability to get hired, or even the length of a prison sentence?”

The article also reminds us that data can often be a reflection of “historical or institutional discrimination.” The only thing that matters is whether the results are biased. This is where the question of human bias becomes irrelevant. There are legal scholars and researchers arguing on behalf of ethical machine learning design that roots out algorithmic bias. Stronger regulations and better oversight of the algorithms themselves might be the only way to prevent time in court.

Chelsea Kerwin, October 21, 2015

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Plethora of Image Information

July 24, 2015

Humans are visual creatures and they learn and absorb information better when pictures accompany it.  In recent years, the graphic novel medium has gained popularity amongst all demographics.  The amount of information a picture can communicate is astounding, but unless it is looked for it can be hard to find.   It also cannot be searched by a search engine…or can it?  Synaptica is in the process of developing the “OASIS Deep Image Indexing Using Linked Data,”

OASIS is an acronym for Open Annotation Semantic Imaging System, an application that unlocks image content by giving users the ability to examine an image closer than before and highlighting data points.  OASIS is linked data application that enables parts of the image to be identified as linked data URIS, which can then be semantically indexed to controlled vocabulary lists.  It builds an interactive map of an image with its features and conceptual ideas.

“With OASIS you will be able to pan-and-zoom effortlessly through high definition images and see points of interest highlight dynamically in response to your interaction. Points of interest will be presented along with contextual links to associated images, concepts, documents and external Linked Data resources. Faceted discovery tools allow users to search and browse annotations and concepts and click through to view related images or specific features within an image. OASIS enhances the ability to communicate information with impactful visual + audio + textual complements.”

OASIS is advertised as a discovery and interactive tool that gives users the chance to fully engage with an image.  It can be applied to any field or industry, which might mean the difference between success and failure.  People want to fully immerse themselves in their data or images these days.  Being able to do so on a much richer scale is the future.

Whitney Grace, July 24, 2015

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

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