Politwoops, Windows 3.1, California Politics, More: Thursday Afternoon Buzz, February 11, 2016

NEW RESOURCES

Less “New” and more “Back from the Dead,” it’s Politwoops! WOOT! “You’ll notice a few changes to the tool that we’re excited to share. For starters, we’ll be showing you every deleted tweet — not just the ones we think are important — made by elected officials and candidates for office. Right now that includes Senate, House and presidential candidates, as well as governors and the D.C. mayor. In the future we hope to expand that to executive branch officials and state legislators. We’re also planning to implement a filtering system to more easily weed out simple errors and typos.” This is just the announcement for the US version. Hopefully the other ones are on the way.

Oh my goodness. The Internet Archive has created a Windows 3.1 emulator that runs in JavaScript, AND made over 1500 software programs available. “Now, Scott and his crew have done it again with the Windows 3.X Showcase—made up of a whopping 1,523 downloads (and counting), all running in a surprisingly robust, browser-based JavaScript emulation of Windows 3.1. You’ll recognize offerings like WinRisk and SkiFree, but the vast majority of the collection sticks to a particularly wild world of Windows shareware history, one in which burgeoning developers seemed to throw everything imaginable against 3.1’s GUI wall and see what stuck.” The “Scott” in this quote is Jason Scott. Could I have any more of a nerdcrush on this guy?

California residents have a new tool for tracking independent expenditures in political campaigns. “Power Search now enables users to quickly and easily browse all independent expenditures affecting state-level candidates and ballot measures from 2001 through the present. The tool uses the California Secretary of State’s CAL-ACCESS raw bulk data and examines the independent expenditures reported in Form 465 (Supplemental Independent Expenditure Report) and Form 496 (24-hour Independent Expenditure Report). The data is refreshed daily.

TechCrunch takes a look at Gjirafa, a new search engine for Albania. “[Mergim] Cahani and his team are literally going out and capturing a plethora of information that exists solely offline and moving it online. To begin with, that’s meant digitising fragmented and disparate bus timetables, but Gjirafa’s longer term and more ambitious plan is to digitise the whole country, including creating a Yelp-style database of local businesses and venues — the majority of which currently have zero presence online.”

TWEAKS & UPDATES

Twitter has launched a new advertising tool called First View. “First View helps marketers achieve significant audience reach with exclusive ownership of Twitter’s most valuable advertising real estate for a 24-hour period. When users first visit the Twitter app or log in to twitter.com, the top ad slot in the timelines will be a Promoted Video from that brand. Now, marketers can tell a powerful visual story across the Twitter audience.” Powerfully expensive, I’ll bet…

In an effort to protect against click fraud, Google is filtering traffic from 3 botnets. “Vast networks of malware-infected computers, known as botnets, generate vast sums of revenue for perpetrators while depleting advertiser budgets on fake traffic by mimicking ad traffic patterns that look nearly identical to usual user behavior.”

USEFUL STUFF

Ants Magazine has a roundup of 40+ free fonts. I like Ants’ roundups because the fonts are not all decorative things that you’d maybe use once. These are every day fonts. And they pick good ones. Sunday, PH, and oh wow, Gagalin.

AROUND THE SEARCH AND SOCIAL MEDIA WORLD

UNICEF has announced an innovation fund to invest in open source technologies for kids. “To qualify for funding, projects must be open source and have a working prototype. They can involve developing a new technology, or expanding or improving an already existing one. UNICEF’s Innovation Fund, which has raised $9 million so far, offers innovators in developing countries a pooled funding mechanism to help them take their tested projects to the next stage.”

Yahoo has announced its first round of layoffs.

RESEARCH AND OPINION

Over on TechCrunch, Josh Constine rants (his word) about why Twitter is nearly unfixable. He has several good points but doesn’t mention developers. The comments (at this writing) bring up developers and bring up other points. Good afternoon, Internet…

I love your comments, I love your site suggestions, and I love you. Feel free to comment on the blog, or @ResearchBuzz on Twitter. Thanks!

National Park Service, Google, LibreOffice, More: Thursday Buzz, February 11, 2016

NEW RESOURCES

The National Park Service and Google are … teaming up for something, according to this announcement advisory, but not too many details yet. (The announcement is today.) “On Thursday, February 11, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell will host an event at Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site in Alabama to announce a public-private partnership between the National Park Service and Google to share the diverse history and culture of America with a global audience. Google’s Senior Counsel on Civil and Human Rights Malika Saada Sar will join Secretary Jewell for the announcement.” So some kind of expansion of the Google Cultural Institute?

TWEAKS & UPDATES

Google is phasing out its Google Search Appliance product. If you’re not interested in enterprise search you probably never heard of this. “The tech giant told its reseller and consulting partners the news via email on Thursday [last Thursday], noting that they can continue to sell one-year license renewals for existing hardware customers through 2017, but that they will be unable to sell new hardware. Renewals will end in 2018, according to a copy of the email viewed by Fortune.”

Open source office suite LibreOffice has just had its 5.1 release. “On tap are reorganized menus, integrated support for remote servers like Microsoft SharePoint and Google Drive, improved compatibility with Microsoft Office documents, and too many smaller improvements to count.” I love LibreOffice. I have to use Gnumeric for my spreadsheet stuff because I make goony-huge spreadsheets, but it’s great for everything else.

AROUND THE SEARCH AND SOCIAL MEDIA WORLD

The University of Virginia has put out an update about its APTrust digital preservation initiative. “APTrust – more formally, the Academic Preservation Trust – is a massive, UVA-led initiative meant to remove that threat [of technological obsolescence.]…To date, APTrust has already preserved more than 16 terabytes of data from all its partner institutions. Due to its rapidly growing storage-space demands, the group currently uses Amazon Web Services to store and safeguard all of its contents. Every piece of data is protected through multiple levels of redundancy. Once a new file is properly packaged and labeled at depositing institutions such as UVA, it’s saved at two separate Amazon data centers, one in Virginia and one in Oregon. Inside each center, a copy of the data is stored inside three separate ‘availability zones.’ These zones have independent power supplies, environmental controls and network connections, so if one is disrupted, the others will remain unharmed.”

Wired did a roundup on how much Twitter’s executives actually use the service. Some great, some — um, not.

Rumors are flying: is Verizon going to buy Yahoo? “Verizon Communications Inc. has given Tim Armstrong, chief executive officer of its AOL unit, a leading role in exploring a possible bid for Yahoo! Inc. assets, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.”

The US government has decided that, in the case of some of Google’s auto autos, computers equal drivers. “In a significant precedent for Google and other companies developing autonomous car technology, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) has ruled that the software behind some automated cars should be considered the driver.”

More US government: it teamed up with Facebook to do a voter registration drive. Now it has published a blog post with preliminary results. The one comment on the post asks a good question: is the government paying for this partnership or is this a goodwill thing?

Interesting. Viacom is going to sell ads for Snapchat. “Under the deal, Viacom will have exclusive third-party rights to directly sell advertising surrounding Snapchat’s owned and operated content. That includes pop-up ‘Live Stories’ that cull together posts from users in specific geographic locations or during a holiday.”

SECURITY/LEGAL ISSUES

The IRS has been hacked again. This time e-filing PINs were stolen. “Based on our review, we identified unauthorized attempts involving approximately 464,000 unique SSNs, of which 101,000 SSNs were used to successfully access an E-file PIN.”

After a push by EU governments, Google will start more scrubbing of search results in EU countries. “That means that if a German resident asks Google to de-list a link popping up under searches for his or her name, the link will not be visible on any version of Google’s website, including Google.com, when the search engine is accessed from Germany.”

Facebook is paying out less in bug bounties – and it’s receiving fewer bug submissions as well. “One figure that did remain fairly constant over the past year was the average payout, which was $1,780 in 2015 and $1,788 in 2014 — though that’s also down from the $2,204 average per reward in 2013. Researchers in India were again the top recipients of payouts this year, while participants from Egypt, Trinidad, and Tobago pipped last year’s runners-up, the UK and US.” Good morning, Internet…

I love your comments, I love your site suggestions, and I love you. Feel free to comment on the blog, or @ResearchBuzz on Twitter. Thanks!

Brass Bands, Yahoo, Wikipedia, More: Wednesday Buzz, February 10, 2016

NEW RESOURCES

Pennine Music has launched a new search engine for finding brass band music. “This new ‘Google’ of Brass Band Music visits every publisher across the globe and catalogues their titles of brass band music with the aim of helping bands quickly and easily find out if a piece of music has been published and is available to buy.” Pennine did not have any brass arrangements for Eurythmics in its own inventory, for example, but their search engine linked to an another music publisher which had a brass arrangement of Sweet Dreams Are Made of This. And now I’m giggling myself silly imagining that song arranged for tuba and French horn.

TWEAKS & UPDATES

Yahoo is shutting down Yahoo BOSS. “BOSS allowed both non-developers and developers to build a simple search service through their search tools. There were APIs and developer tools, as well as simple-to-use web interfaces to construct your own search service.” Will the last person to leave Yahoo please trigger the IFTTT recipe to turn off the lights.

USEFUL STUFF

From MakeUseOf: 4 Easy Ways to Export Wikipedia for Offline Use. I admit this one is for me; I occasionally need to grab something from Wikipedia but can’t remember my options.

AROUND THE SEARCH AND SOCIAL MEDIA WORLD

Google wants its cars to be driverless. And… wireless? “What’s the point of having a self-driving car if you still have to get out to plug it in? That’s a good question, says Alphabet, Google’s parent company. With that in mind, it is testing wireless charging systems for its electric self-driving cars. Documents filed at the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) suggest that Google is working toward cutting its robocars’ charger cables and beaming power to them instead.”

Kohl’s will use Periscope to stream the Oscars. “Employing the Periscope app, Kohl’s will livestream during the Academy Awards’ red-carpet ceremony and the show’s commercial breaks. Thanks to the app’s new Twitter integration, people will be able to watch Kohl’s livestream on the microblogging platform and have the option of viewing it on Perisope. They’ll also be able to peek in on Bayer’s Oscars house party during the Feb. 28 Hollywood gala.”

Apparently this year’s Super Bowl wasn’t all that on social media. “On Facebook, the level of activity worldwide for Super Bowl 50 dropped 25 percent compared with last year, according to the social giant. Twitter posts among U.S. viewers was down 49 percent, according to Nielsen figures, after record-breaking Super Bowl action on social networks last year.”

Wow, Kickstarter has funded 100,000 projects! “Lucky number 100,000 was from Argentinian photographer Adriana Groisman, who raised over $50,000 to document the stories of veterans of the Falklands/Malvinas conflict of 1982.”

The Air Force is warning airmen to watch what they say on social media when it comes to politics. “Things like campaigning for a candidate, soliciting donations to a particular campaign and even wearing a military uniform to a partisan political event have long been outlawed by the military, [Holly] Roberts-Davis says in the video. But 21st century ways of communicating have extended those same concepts to the online world. Roberts-Davis says active-duty military members are generally allowed to express political views on social media platforms, but there are several important caveats.”

SECURITY/LEGAL ISSUES

The Center for Auto Safety is suing the Department of Transportation (DOT) for failing to create a database of automobile safety defects. “While the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration lists recalls, it requires consumers to use their vehicle identification number to find details about their car, and it does not provide information on service bulletins — issues that do not require a recall.”

The Register has a roundup of Windows’ latest patches. And I really hope you’re not using the Windows browser. “Microsoft has patched 41 CVE-listed security vulnerabilities in its software this month. The second … monthly update of the year brings with it fixes for security flaws in both Internet Explorer and Edge that could allow remote-code-execution attacks simply by visiting a webpage.”

Speaking of patching, guess who just issued an emergency, out-of-cycle patch? Why, it’s Oracle! And it’s a Java patch! Of course. “An Oracler called Eric Maurice is the giver of the bad news, depending on how you approach security updates, saying that application of the patch will prevent vulnerabilities with Java 6, 7 and 8 on the Windows platform.”

RESEARCH AND OPINION

On Academia.edu from Brandon C. Bouchillon and Melissa R. Gotlieb: Making Them Count: Facebook Sociability for Optimizing the Accumulation of Social Capital. “In light of waning interpersonal contact in America, scholars have turned their attention to social network sites and the opportunities these provide for building and maintaining social relationships.The present study adds to this research, using national survey data from U.S. adults to examine how motivated use of Facebook for expanding and diversifying personal networks might revitalize real-world efforts of sociability for users, and returns to social capital that come by way of them. Results support our overall model relating weak-tie interactions to generalized trust.” I do not have the sociology chops to appreciate the fine details of the experiments, but the before and after discussion is well worth reading, and frankly it’s refreshing to see some optimism about social networks and social capital. Good morning, Internet…

I love your comments, I love your site suggestions, and I love you. Feel free to comment on the blog, or @ResearchBuzz on Twitter. Thanks!

Computer Books, Labor Migration, New York Times, More: Tuesday Afternoon Buzz, February 9, 2016

NEW RESOURCES

UK publisher Usborne has put a bunch of its old computer programming books online. “UK publishing house Usborne is giving out its iconic 1980s programming books as free downloads. The books, which are available for free as PDF files, include Usborne’s introductions to programming series, adventure games, computer games listings and first computer series.” The article lists 15 books available as free downloads.

Tilburg University has launched a database about labor migration. “At the moment the labor migration database contains around one hundred scientific publications and policy and advisory reports on cross-border labor migration over the last twenty years or so. Over the next few years significant efforts will be made to expand the database. All publications contain keywords and a short summary with the most important insights.” Tilburg University is in the southern Netherlands and the database appears to be EU-focused.

The New York Times has launched a Spanish-language Web site. It didn’t have one before? “The New York Times en Español features content produced by a dedicated editorial team based in Mexico City, as well as the work of NYT correspondents across Latin America and areas with Spanish-speaking populations, including Venezuela, Argentina, Brazil and Miami, with additional coverage and oversight from the newspaper’s headquarters in New York City.”

The University of Manchester in the UK has begun a project to digitize Iranian newspapers, specifically around the time of the 1953 coup d’état and the 1979 revolution. “Nashriyah: Digital Iranian History, which was funded by The University of Manchester Library, forms the first steps in building a comprehensive digital archive chronicling these periods of modern Iranian history, events that have shaped Iran’s turbulent relations with the West and continue to resonate to this day.”

TWEAKS & UPDATES

Google is making flood alerts available through its public alerts in India. “Users can browse all active alerts at google.org/public alerts, and relevant alerts will also appear on normal Google Maps searches depending on the query.”

AROUND THE SEARCH AND SOCIAL MEDIA WORLD

Twitter has launched The Twitter Trust & Safety Council. “…we are announcing the formation of the Twitter Trust & Safety Council, a new and foundational part of our strategy to ensure that people feel safe expressing themselves on Twitter. As we develop products, policies, and programs, our Trust & Safety Council will help us tap into the expertise and input of organizations at the intersection of these issues more efficiently and quickly.”

Oooh, this could get interesting. Is India going to step into the Google taxes fray? The Delhi High Court is asking Google if YouTube has made money from Indian government content. “[K N] Govindacharya’s lawyer, Virag Gupta, claimed in the court that YouTube generated revenue from contents uploaded by the government, prompting the court to raise the query. Gupta also said that since the entity allegedly earned revenue from government content, it should pay taxes.”

France is ordering Facebook to make chances to the way it collects data about French citizens. “The CNIL [Commission Nationale de l’Informatique et des Libertés] has ordered Facebook to, among other things, inform people who don’t have Facebook accounts that their Internet surfing is being tracked via like buttons across the Web, and to seek explicit consent for collecting information about users’ religious beliefs, sexual orientation and other sensitive information.” Good morning, Internet…

I love your comments, I love your site suggestions, and I love you. Feel free to comment on the blog, or @ResearchBuzz on Twitter. Thanks!

Alaska, Netherlands, Instagram, More: Tuesday Buzz, February 9, 2016

NEW RESOURCES

Alaska residents have a new tool to see if they’re eligible for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits – instead of filling out a 28-page application, they answer questions via text message. “At the end, the free service tells you if you are likely eligible or not and connects you to local resources, like the Department of Public Assistance or local food pantries. You can even request help applying if you qualify.”

The Dutch royal family has started an online archive of historical items. “The site displays more than 300 unusual or remarkable items – including oil paintings, illuminated manuscripts, valuable artworks, old photos and precious objects.”

TWEAKS & UPDATES

Instagram’s app now supports account switching. “Up to five accounts can be added and switching between them will not require logout, however you will need to be using version 7.15 of the app (iOS and Android).”

USEFUL STUFF

Last year I tried to get into Snapchat and I failed. Couldn’t wrap my head around it. Terry White has done a 30-minute video on YouTube that walks you through it, so I’m going to try again.

From Geektime: 10 languages Google Translate lacks and where to find them. Languages listed here include Cantonese, Pashto, and Mayan. “Traditional Chinese script is still used in Mandarin-speaking Taiwan, so don’t trust the traditional Chinese translation on Google to get you through a conversation in Hong Kong.”

AROUND THE SEARCH AND SOCIAL MEDIA WORLD

The Prime Minister of Cambodia, Hun Sen, seems to be embracing Facebook in a big way as a tool for government/citizen communication. “Prime Minister Hun Sen has fast developed a penchant for conducting political business via Facebook since he formally joined the social networking site in September. Now he is making that official, issuing a new directive on Monday in­structing every government minister to form a working group for tracking citizens’ grievances and re­quests that they post to his Facebook page.”

Meanwhile, the government of India has blocked Facebook’s Free Basics program over net neutrality concerns. “To be clear, the announcement and the wider report that lay out the conclusion in greater detail do not single out Facebook or FreeBasics by name, but it was the emergence of this program that caused outcry and prompted the investigation by the regulator.” Not a surprise at all, and in my opinion a good decision by the government of India.

Marketing Land has a roundup of Super Bowl 50 Twitter brand — um, kerfuffles? Arguments? Slams? Playground fights?. If Snickers and Doritos can’t get along, what hope is there for the rest of us in this cruel world?

Twitter is now, according to the stock market, worth a little over $10 billion. Meanwhile Pinterest and Snapchat both have higher private market values.

SECURITY/LEGAL ISSUES

Google will give you 2GB of free Google Drive space if you complete your account security checkup. Google did this last year for “Internet Safety Day,” but it’s not clear how long the offer will last this time.

RESEARCH AND OPINION

From Harvard Business School: The Civic Benefits of Google Street View and Yelp. “In a new working paper, Big Data and Big Cities: The Promises and Limitations of Improved Measures of Urban Life, [Michael] Luca and three collaborators argue that cities have never been better positioned to take advantage of the vast amounts of data being generated in the world. The key is figuring out how to use it. In the paper, Luca, Edward L. Glaeser and Scott Duke Kominers (PhDBE 2011) of Harvard University, and PhD student Nikhil Naik of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab, cite three trends that make cities particularly poised to exploit big data.” Read the bit about using Yelp to identify restaurants for inspection. Good morning, Internet…

I love your comments, I love your site suggestions, and I love you. Feel free to comment on the blog, or @ResearchBuzz on Twitter. Thanks!