Thomas Pack writes the newly rebranded After Hours column for Information Today, which features a quick look at sites info pros might not know about, but should. (For years, the column was part of the magazine’s LiteByte series, but the new name better reflects when readers have a chance to dig into the sites covered—that is, after work hours.)
Here are excerpts from Pack’s columns from January/February 2021 to November/December 2021, which have been lightly edited and condensed for the web. You can read the full columns five times a year in Information Today, starting with the January/February 2021 issue.
Read Part 2
Browse an Online Gallery for Original Art
Home improvement projects have boomed during the pandemic. Hardware stores report major growth, and paint company Sherwin-Williams posted a 5.2% increase in Q3 2020 sales from Q3 2019. If you’ve recently remodeled a room—or if you’re just looking for a quick way to spruce up your space—you might be in the market for new artwork. Maybe you’d even be interested in an original work by a contemporary artist. Online galleries now offer an array of digital tools that make it easy to browse collections of work by artists worldwide. Here’s an overview of two popular websites.
The Saatchi Art online gallery offers about 1.4 million artworks from 94,000 emerging artists representing more than 110 countries. You’ll find paintings, sculpture, photography, drawings, collage, and prints. Based in Santa Monica, Calif., Saatchi Art provides many different ways to discover art. For instance, you can browse by price range. Five categories—starting at “up to $500” and ending with “$5,000 to $10,000”—are listed on the homepage. You also can browse by a range of styles, including New Figurative Art, New Abstract Expressionism, and Contemporary Takes on Surrealism.
Based in Paris, Singulart offers more than 200,000 works from 8,000 artists in more than 80 countries. The website sells paintings, sculpture, photographs, drawings, and works in other media, such as 2D art that incorporates neon lighting. You can browse by themes, styles, or techniques. Singulart’s webpages also include sliders and buttons that let you narrow your browsing by price, orientation, size, height, width, and even color.
Both sites make it quick and easy to find virtually any type of original artwork you like in your price range—whether you’ve recently remodeled, you’re an experienced collector, or you’re looking for your first original work.
Create Your Own Designs on Canva
Want to post an animated image on social media? Need a business card, presentation, poster, or T-shirt design? How about a high-quality Zoom background or a fancy thumbnail for your YouTube video? Create all of that and much more on Canva, a graphic design platform that now competes with programs offered by such tech giants as Adobe and Microsoft. Canva doesn’t have as many advanced features, but it provides templates and easy-to-use online tools that can help you create professional-looking images even if you have little design experience. You can unleash a lot of visual creativity on the site for free. If you want extra features, an array of premium plans is available.
“Design anything” is the slogan that greets you on the Canva homepage. The website offers more than 250,000 templates you can turn into designs via a super-simple drag-and-drop interface. Other features include the following:
- Millions of stock photos as well as vector images, illustrations, shapes, and icons are available for your designs. You also can easily upload your own.
- Hundreds of free fonts are available too, and, again, you can upload others.
- Photo-editing features include preset filters as well as advanced tools.
- The website’s Learn section includes graphic design basics and tips on building a brand as well as Design School courses and tutorials.
- A Resources section provides several nifty tools, including one that suggests good font combinations, a palette generator, a logo maker, and a design size guide.
- Collaboration features let your team work on a design together.
You Can Contribute to the ‘World’s Biggest Music Encyclopedia’
What was the first song in history to spend a full year on the Billboard Top 10? Hint: Many of the singer’s fans were shocked when he didn’t get any 2021 Grammy nominations. But maybe fans of the artist known as The Weeknd can find some solace in the fact that his song “Blinding Lights” reached its 52nd week in the Top 10 in early March 2021. Note: It wasn’t 52 consecutive weeks; the song dipped to No. 11 and then No. 18 in December 2020.
That’s the type of music news and trivia you can find on Genius, which bills itself as “the world’s biggest music encyclopedia with a passionate community of more than two million contributors. …” But you don’t just get music news and industry information on the site. You also can find the stories behind thousands of songs and complete lyrics (with commentary and musings on their meanings), as well as several other features for music fans. If you’re a passionate fan yourself, you might even want to become one of Genius’ contributors and share your own thoughts on your favorite tracks.
HIP-HOP AND MUCH MORE
Based in Brooklyn, Genius launched in 2009 as a platform for annotating hip-hop lyrics. In fact, it was originally called Rap Exegesis and then Rap Genius. Attention and support from artists—and venture capitalists—enabled the site to expand. It relaunched as just Genius in 2014. Today, “Genius spotlights the artists who are shaping music culture across every genre and musical discipline, sharing the stories behind their creativity and craft in their own words,” according to its About page, which also notes, “We champion curiosity and believe that everyone has music knowledge to share: insights, intel, and musings that make us more informed, engaged music lovers.”
The easiest way to find insights and intel on a specific song is to use the search box on the site’s homepage. If you search for “Blinding Lights,” your results will include a link to a page with the full lyrics, some of which are highlighted with gray boxes. This means you can click them for information and interpretations of those specific words from the sites’ contributors.
Additional information on the song is available in a right-hand column on the page. For instance, you’ll learn that “Blinding Lights” was used in a Mercedes-Benz commercial, that it has been certified platinum, and that the previous record holder for the number of weeks in the Top 10 was Post Malone’s “Circles.” Besides details on specific songs, Genius offers videos, merchandise, featured artists, charts of songs that are trending on the website, and even interactive live music experiences.
Glassdoor Demographic Data Supports Diversity
Glassdoor is known for job listings as well as for tools and information that help job seekers evaluate prospective employers. In addition to salary information and such rankings as Best Places to Work and Top CEOs, the website offers employee-provided reviews and other insights for more than a million companies in 190 countries. Glassdoor now also includes information that offers a look into many companies’ commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI). According to a Glassdoor press release, these additional features are part of a significant new commitment toward leveraging the company’s products and resources “to help achieve equity in and out of the workplace.”
A PUBLIC COMMITMENT
In June 2020, Glassdoor CEO Christian Sutherland-Wong used a blog post to announce a new commitment to equity and even admitted that “to date, Glassdoor has not done enough to fight racial inequities in society or to proactively foster a higher level of diversity and inclusion within our own company.” In September 2020, the website launched new products and resources, including a Diversity & Inclusion Rating, which joined five existing workplace factor ratings. Glassdoor also launched a Diversity FAQ feature to provide easier access to relevant reviews about diversity and inclusion at specific companies. In addition, employees and job seekers could begin voluntarily and anonymously sharing their own demographic information, including race and ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability status, and parental status.
In February 2021, Glassdoor announced that it had collected about 800,000 demographic insights from 187,000 employees at more than 3,300 companies. Walmart, Amazon, Target, Starbucks, and AT&T were among the companies whose employees shared the most demographic data. Glassdoor then began unlocking new features to reveal employee-provided company ratings and salary reports broken down by specific demographic groups. “Glassdoor is delivering a deeper look inside the modern workplace by unlocking insights into how employees feel about diversity, equity and inclusion and by displaying employees’ differing sentiment and pay,” Sutherland-Wong said in the February press release.
That same release also pointed out several ways job seekers may want to use the new information: “For example, people can see and compare how Black employees at a company rate their company’s culture or career opportunities, how LGBTQ+ employees rate senior leadership at a company, or what the average salary is for those who identify as female, male or non-binary in a particular role.”
Reverse Image Searching With TinEye
You don’t use keywords when you do a reverse image search. Instead, you upload an image. The search system then shows you the places it appears online. If you’ve never searched for images with an image, you may be wondering why anyone would want to do that. Here are a few possible reasons:
- To find out where an image originally came from
- To find webpages that have posted an image you created
- To determine the authenticity of an image (Maybe the context or date is different from what someone is claiming it to be.)
- To find out who created an image
- To find a higher-resolution version
- To track the chronological appearance of an image online
You can do reverse image searching in Google Images (click the camera icon in the search box, which is the Search by Image button). Or you could use Bing Visual Search. But there’s a search engine specializing in reverse image searching: TinEye, which is often able to find even partial matches and modified versions of images.
YOUR SEARCH RESULTS
TinEye finds exact matches and modified copies of the image you submit, even if they’ve been edited, cropped, slightly rotated, or color-adjusted. TinEye does not, however, find similar images, and because it can’t recognize image contents, it won’t find different images with the same people or objects in them. It also cannot find images posted on most social media sites or any password-protected pages. But the TinEye index does include more than 49.1 billion images, and it constantly crawls the web for more.
You can sort your results by such criteria as “biggest image,” “most changed,” and “newest” or “oldest” crawled image (note that this is not the date a photo was taken or that an image first appeared on a webpage). TinEye also can help you identify stock images and even images on pages that are no longer online. You can filter your search results by collections, which are groupings of images TinEye crawled from specific websites, such as Flickr or Wikipedia. An especially nice feature is TinEye Compare, which lets you quickly switch back and forth between your search and result images to help you spot any differences.