Reference Ratiocination: The Quote Investigator

Quote Investigator

Fearful of creating an oratorical oversight by accrediting words to the wrong writer? At a loss for words when friends, peers, acquaintances, or colleagues want to know who originally uttered a particular phrase? Feel as though famous lines have been erroneously attributed to an individual? A solution to such citational slip-ups would be a great relief to one’s mind.

Well, it turns out that we may all rest with lighter hearts. The Quote Investigator, a tireless tracker of initial utterances, stands ready to rid the world of misquotations whether innocent or iniquitous. The Quote Investigator (QI), also known as Dr. Garson O’Toole, meticulously explores the origins of great quotations. Seeking to substantiate storied statements with a reasoned train of thought, Dr. O’Toole’s blog is a captivating collection of assiduously analyzed allusions, a veritable Study in Citation that would undoubtedly please the Great Detective himself. QI even tweets! If your mind rebels at stagnation and craves for mental exaltation, make stopping by The Quote Investigator a habit. You will be most pleased, and you may quote me on that.

New Year’s Resolution, Part II: See the Big Picture

My friend Molly is still looking for powerful images that she can use for instructional purposes. She knows that great pictures can enhance learning by making content more engaging, relevant, memorable, and ultimately, meaningful. Though Molly understands the efficacy of stopping by the Creative Commons Search site (CC Search), she’s hungry for more photographs, illustrations, and graphics. After reading yesterday’s post about the importance of looking for digital graphics with good image resolution, Molly now knows to pay attention to pixel count.

Molly knows that people use Google’s search engine to find images. In fact, she’s done so herself. Molly is well aware of all places at Google where one can switch over to an image search.

Simple Google Image Search

However, Molly wants to know if there are any quick tricks that she can use to make her Google image searches more productive. For example, when she’s searching for images of Charles Dickens and simply clicks one of the many links to Images, she gets any number of pictures.

Results of a simple Google Image search

Even so, Molly has to hover her mouse over a particular picture to discover the image resolution (number of pixels) for that image. In the example above she finds and image that is 311px wide and 400px. That image won’t be so pleasant to gaze upon if she has to increase its size. If Molly is looking for images with a lot of pixels this kind of search will take a long time. Ugh! If only there was  a quicker way to find pictures with a larger image resolution.

Wait! There is a way to do that. Google’s Image Search allows Molly to look for pictures with a certain image resolution. This means she can get Google to return only those images of a particular pixel size.

Detailed Google Image Search

There are only four steps to the process:

  1. Click on the Search Tools button.
  2. Look for and click upon the Any Size drop down menu.
  3. Choose a size. In this case, Molly wants digital images that are Larger than a specified size.
  4. Choose a specified size. Molly is going with 1024 px wide and 768 tall (Why? It’s because most 21-inch monitor screens can show images that are 1024 px x 768 px. If she’s going to be displaying images with a digital projector, she could look for even larger images with (*gasp*) even more pixels!)

After successfully using this technique, Molly will have her pick of digital images rich with pixels! The images have such great image resolution that it’s very unlikely she’ll need to resize them to be larger. This means that her students won’t be subjected to awful grainy pictures. They’ll marvel at how clear and impressive her images are!

Google Image Search Big Pixels

I’m sure this handy trick for zeroing in on the biggest, best images will only server to whet Molly’s appetite for even more compelling images.

New Year’s Resolution: Find Clear Images

My friend Molly is always looking for powerful images as a prompt for rich discussions in her online class. She usually completes a quick Google search and finds pictures that look promising; however, when she stretches those images they become grainy. Her students are less than impressed. What a waste of time! Ugh! What if there was a trick that would help Molly find images that look great regardless of their size? There is a solution! Anyone who targets a search for high resolution images can find and use great graphics. Want to feel proud of the pictures you find, too? Here’s how to find great pictures every time: look for lots of pixels!

The images we see on a computer screen are digital pictures. These digital images are made of small squares, just like a mosaic tiles called pixels (a portmanteau word made from picture element). Generally, the more of those little digital mosaic tiles, pixels (abbreviated px), we have in an image, the clearer the picture will appear to us. We generally refer to this as image resolution. If we keep that in mind when searching for images we can find  crisp looking images and avoid grainy graphics.

Suppose Molly needs a very sharp image of Charles Dickens (she teaches lessons about literature, after all). The first place I’d suggest she look is the Creative Commons Search site (CC Search). Why? In addition to leading her to high resolution images, CC Search will also help Molly identify a greater number of images she can modify, adapt, build upon, and use for commercial purposes. Though she could search through all kinds of places at CC Search, I’d guide her to select Wikimedia Commons as it’s a safe bet that the content there isn’t going to lead to copyright hassles.

Creative Commons Search

After Molly’s search returns a few images, I’d draw her attention to the pixel count on each picture. An image that is 1,300 pixels wide and 1,852 pixels wide means that the picture has a total of 2,407,600 pixels! Wow! That picture will have a higher resolution which means more image detail.

Pixel count comparison

The more pixels in an image, the better that image is going to look if Molly has to increase the image in size; however, given the size of the image, that’s pretty unlikely. An added benefit of choosing a higher resolution image is that the image will look good if she has to decrease its size.

In the past, even though she’s ferreted out a great image with great resolution, Molly’s made a mistake. She’s copied the thumbnail picture of the image she’s settled upon using. If all she copies is the thumbnail image of that great Dickens image, she’ll be disappointed. The thumbnail is only 84px x 120px, totaling a paltry 10,080 pixels–ugh! If she stretches that small resolution image out, she might get something like this:

Blurry enlargement

Thankfully, Molly clicks on the thumbnail which is a link that takes her to the read-deal image with the higher pixel count (and better resolution). In fact the image she finally gets to is enormous. The  high resolution image is so big that she has to decrease it in size. Here’s what her final image looks like compared the thumbnail. Much better, Molly!

Image with higher resolution

Now that Molly knows the secret to finding excellent looking images she’s on her way to quite a few rich discussions with her students. She can also teach her pupils how to track down better pictures for the multimedia presentations she wants them to create.