Dungeon Crawlers, Bangladesh Rivers, Department of Labor, More: Monday Buzz, February 8, 2016

NEW RESOURCES

Boing Boing has a quick writeup on an online database for dungeon crawlers — the graphic ones, not the ASCII ones like Nethack. I took a quick look at it and got a bad case of nostalgia. So many games, so many I recognize. Ah, Wizardry…

The country of Bangladesh is developing a database of its rivers. “A country of countless rivers, Bangladesh is set to build a database of all the rivers across the country by June-July this year in an effort to identify the rivers facing serious problems and thus save those.”

TWEAKS & UPDATES

The Department of Labor has adopted a CC BY policy. “…we are pleased to announce that the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has adopted a department-wide Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license requirement on intellectual property developed under a competitive Federal award process.”

USEFUL STUFF

Alan Levine is on some kind of retro roll. In a recent blog post he talks about bookmarklets!

Roundup from Hongkiat: 20 sites to listen to music for free. (And it doesn’t even include YouTube!)

AROUND THE SEARCH AND SOCIAL MEDIA WORLD

Edelman: 5 Reasons You Should Pay Attention to Snapchat. Agreed. I’m seeing more and more Snapchat chatter, and less and less Twitter chatter.

Wow, Hadoop is ten years old! Time flies. “When it comes to scale, Yahoo still boasts one of the largest Hadoop deployments in the world. From a footprint standpoint, we maintain over 35,000 Hadoop servers as a central hosted platform running across 16 clusters with a combined 600 petabytes in storage capacity (HDFS), allowing us to execute 34 million monthly compute jobs on the platform.”

Rumors are flying about Google developing a VR device. “In addition to a new plastic casing, it’s said that the headset will support a far wider range of smartphones than the Gear VR. Sources also tell the paper that it will feature ‘better sensors’ and ‘lenses,’ suggesting that it won’t be wholly reliant on the equipment built into your smartphone. The report mentions that “most of its processing power” would come from the smartphone. Google Cardboard, which has been around for over a year and a half, provides two plastic lenses and just holds your smartphone in the right position to function as a VR device.”

SECURITY/LEGAL ISSUES

Oh, yuck. It looks like there’s a really nasty WordPress hack going around. “In the past four days, researchers from three separate security firms have reported that a large number of legitimate WordPress sites have been hacked to silently redirect visitors to a series of malicious sites. The attack sites host code from the Nuclear exploit kit that’s available for sale in black markets across the Internet. People who visit the WordPress sites using out-of-date versions of Adobe Flash Player, Adobe Reader, Microsoft Silverlight, or Internet Explorer can then find their computers infected with the Teslacrypt ransomware package, which encrypts user files and demands a hefty ransom for the decryption key needed to restore them.”

RESEARCH AND OPINION

Not too long ago I mentioned a study that seems to indicate that social media use leads to sleep disruption. Now there’s a study which seems to indicate that lack of sleep can cause increased social media use. There’a a spiral you don’t want to be caught in. “The study, which took place in 2014, equipped student’s mobile devices with software to track usage, and incorporated sleep surveys as well as periodic ‘mood checks’ and questions regarding the perceived difficulty of tasks at hand and participant’s level of engagement with their work.”

Interesting article from the Cornell Chronicle on research being done to make search engines more responsive. “[Wenlei] Xie and colleagues have refined the algorithm (the underlying design of the computer program) to make it faster so search engines can become interactive, responding to your interests in real time. The new method is, they say, ‘breaking a decade-old performance barrier.’ The techniques could be applied in social media and private and commercial databases as well as in Web searches and recommendation systems.” 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!

Hawaiian, Virtual Reality, Chile, More: Sunday Buzz, February 7, 2016

NEW RESOURCES

The University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo is preparing an online database of Ka Leo Hawaiʻi to launch at the end of the month. Please note this announcement is in both Hawaiian and English, alternating paragraphs. So don’t be surprised when you hit the link and the first words are “Ma ke komo pū ʻana i loko o ka Māhina ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi ʻo Pepeluali … “Ka Leo Hawaiʻi was a Hawaiian-language radio program that first aired on February 22, 1972 on KCCN on O`ahu and spanned 16 years and 417 programs during its initial run. Conducted in ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi and hosted by Kauanoe Larry Kimura, the program featured live in-studio interviews with mānaleo, most who were kūpuna and among Hawaiʻi’s last native speakers of Hawaiian….The soft launch will include the first 12 programs and their corresponding transcripts, followed soon by all 417 episodes of Ka Leo Hawaiʻi’s initial run.”

In private beta: a network for VR content. “Transport, which is in private beta, is an online virtual reality content network where creators will be able to publish their work and users will be able to experience them. An assortment of free and paid content will be available through the Transport app, which will be accessible to owners of any headset, including Google Cardboard, Samsung Gear VR, HTC Vive, Facebook’s Oculus Rift, and Sony’s PlayStation VR.”

The government of Chile will create a database of phones reported stolen. But the database goes way beyond Chile: “Chile’s Superintendency of Telecommunications (Sutel), mobile operators and the GSMA have signed an agreement to provide users with a platform to check if a phone has been reported stolen in more than 200 countries and 800 mobile operators worldwide.”

TWEAKS & UPDATES

Chatter everywhere that Twitter will introduce an algorithmic timeline next week. In other words, instead of seeing tweets as people will post them, Twitter will decide on your behalf what posts to see in what order. And if that’s the only option that I’m given, Twitter will lose 99% of its functionality for me. Between this, the “love” button, and the rumored “GIF” button, it looks like Twitter is trying to copy Facebook. Guess what, Twitter, you’re not going to get out of the hole you’re in by becoming a crappy version of Facebook. There’s already a crappy version of Facebook. It’s called FACEBOOK!

USEFUL STUFF

FindMyPast is making a collection of US marriage records free until February 15th. “n 2016/17, Findmypast will be releasing the largest online collection of US marriage records, spanning centuries of American history and over 100 million ‘I do’s’. As part of this project, Findmypast has launched the first 33 million records of this collection and is offering them to the public for FREE from now until 15 February.”

Want to know how to search better? Google wants to help. “To help you sharpen those search skills, we’re re-opening the Power Searching with Google online course starting February 8th. Through this free two-week course, we’ll show you new ways to be a great power searcher and share techniques that will sharpen your research skills. We’ll cover a wide variety of topics, from the advanced search operators (such as filetype: and site:), to the proper use of quote marks, to how to assess a web site’s credibility.” The course will be rerun several times, if you’re reading this a bit late.

Interesting. A new Google Cardboard app is designed to help you get over stage fright. “The app features a 360-degree view from the virtual stage. The audience is active throughout your speech and if you put earphones on, sound distractions like ambient noise try to get you as close to the real deal.”

AROUND THE SEARCH AND SOCIAL MEDIA WORLD

A Twitter employee has apparently learned about the problem of abuse on Twitter firsthand. “Late last night, Brandon Carpenter wrote a number of tweets in response to nasty replies he received demanding that Twitter not make changes to its social network. Carpenter, according to his LinkedIn profile, is a senior software engineer at Twitter — he works on the iOS app. The abuse appeared to come in response to news that the social network will soon show tweets out of order.” One of his tweets was “Wow people on Twitter are mean”. Dude, you just noticed that?

Bing is doing some more predicting: this time it’s the Grammys and BAFTAs.

YouTube has some stats on the commercials for that football game everybody’s talking about today.

SECURITY/LEGAL ISSUES

Google is taking a stand against deceptive download buttons. “You may have encountered social engineering in a deceptive download button, or an image ad that falsely claims your system is out of date. Today, we’re expanding Safe Browsing protection to protect you from such deceptive embedded content, like social engineering ads.”

Jessica Dolcourt at CNET writes about a recent issue she’s been having with what appears to be “mailbot” attacks. “If you’ve ever sent an automated out-of-office message from your account when you went on vacation, you’ve already encountered a mailbot, so you know that these software agents aren’t necessarily nefarious on their own…. But the same kind of automation that’s used for convenience can also orchestrate a scam that cycles through variations of email permutations until it latches onto a valid address. Then, it signs up that address for newsletters and websites, likely as a way of lifting your account credentials to use in further mailbot attacks.” 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!

NLM, NYT, Wyoming, More: Saturday Buzz, February 6, 2016

NEW RESOURCES

The National Library of Medicine (NLM) has launched MedPix, a medical image database. “Over the past 16 years, MedPix has amassed an impressive collection of over 53,000 images from over 13,000 cases. The MedPix collection categorizes and classifies the image and patient data for each of several subsets of image database applications (e.g. radiology, pathology, ophthalmology, etc.). The content material is both high-quality and high-yield and includes both common and rare conditions. ”

The New York Times has created a Slack bot for the 2016 elections. “Want more election coverage right in your company’s Slack? On Friday, The New York Times rolled out NYT Election Bot, which anyone can add to their Slack channel to receive “live results and updates on the 2016 elections from The New York Times.”

The Wyoming State Historical Society is launching an online archive of oral histories. “The database will be a catalog of Wyoming’s oral histories, categorized by criteria such as historical events, as well as where to find the recordings. Project Director Barbara Bogart spent over a year tracking down the stories from the state’s museums, private collections and libraries.”

The Internet Archive has started a museum of old computer viruses. Don’t worry, though: “To ensure visitor safety, all viruses have been neutered by removing any destructive routines contained within. All that’s left are some semi-amusing DOS-based computer graphics with a slightly cheeky edge.” Oh dear. I think I remember some of these…

TWEAKS & UPDATES

LinkedIn is getting rid of its ad network. “Last year LinkedIn followed the example of other tech platforms with lots of user data, like Google and Facebook, and started letting advertisers use that data to target their ads to people outside of LinkedIn. Twelve months later the work-centric social network is shutting down that part of its ad business.”

Looks like Periscope might be getting some updates. “As big Periscope users here at Phandroid, we get excited whenever we hear about new features that could soon make their way to the service. Take Periscope co-founder and CEO Kayvon Beykpour who, when asked about 2 new features currently in testing by beta users, revealed private broadcasts are already in the works.”

Apparently Yahoo is scaling down Flickr, and now I am very worried about Flickr Commons. The Commons isn’t nearly the busy place it used to be, but there are enough institutional collections on it that it would be a huge loss. “To be clear, Yahoo is *not* shutting down Flickr, but it has decided to scale it down. In other words, Flickr will be alive, but Yahoo has decided to reduce its investment in the online photo sharing service. Flickr will soon be operated with minimal overhead, and resources and funds meant for Flickr might be allocated to some other venture within Yahoo’s umbrella.”

USEFUL STUFF

From Lifehacker Australia: The Best Tips for Finding Cheap Airfare with Google Flights. As you might imagine I review a lot of “tips” articles. I bypass the ones that are thin and minimally-researched, and include only most substantive. This one is especially good.

Alan Levine is on a roll! He’s written a great look at old-school social bookmarking. And one of the things I love about Alan’s blog is that the comments add even more to his post.

Platter of Gold has a roundup of services to convert PDFs to high-quality images.

Larry Ferlazzo has a short list of links about this year’s Super Bowl commercials . (I’m sure the list will get longer.)

AROUND THE SEARCH AND SOCIAL MEDIA WORLD

Twitter says it has shut down over 125,000 terrorist- or terrorism- related accounts since mid-2015. “We have increased the size of the teams that review reports, reducing our response time significantly. We also look into other accounts similar to those reported and leverage proprietary spam-fighting tools to surface other potentially violating accounts for review by our agents.”

RESEARCH AND OPINION

Google’s DeepMind AI gets to play Go, mess with pictures, and now it’s navigating mazes. Sounds like a fun job! “The AI’s greatest challenge came from a 3D maze game called Labyrinth, a test bed for DeepMind’s tech that resembles Doom without the shooting (see video at top). The system is rewarded for finding apples and portals, the latter of which teleport it elsewhere in the maze, and has to score as high as possible in 60 seconds.” 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!

Slack, Mormons, African-Americans, More: Friday Afternoon Buzz, February 5, 2016

NEW RESOURCES

I’ve been interested in Slack but I haven’t done anything with it because I’m just one person, and it didn’t seem like it would be useful. An article on TechCrunch pointed me toward Hamster Pad, which is an online directory of Slack chats/communities. Now I have a Slack account, though I’m still not sure why it’s asking me to register and provide a password for every chat/community – and I can’t find a help page. Yes, I am a total SlackNoob.

Now available: a database of early Mormon missionaries. “The database…features the names of 41,000 men and women who served full-time proselytizing missions for the church in 36 countries worldwide from 1830 through 1930, with links to thousands of sources in the Church History Library.”

The New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) has launched a new resource portal for African-Americans. “To commemorate Black History Month in February, New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) has assembled a wealth of information in a single portal on its data rich website, offering important resources to the researcher of African American ancestry. The portal … features a NEHGS webinar and study guide about African American genealogy, and hints concerning researching African American and other minorities in online databases, as well as beautifully illustrated articles on several important African American historical figures, culled from the vast manuscript collection at NEHGS.”

TWEAKS & UPDATES

It looks like Google is making an effort to improve Google Hangouts with peer-to-peer connections. “However as pointed out by 9to5Google, by using a peer-to-peer connection, it will reveal the IP addresses of both parties, although there isn’t a way to reveal said IP via the Hangouts UI. If you are using voice calls to make calls to friends or family, we suppose this might not necessarily be a big deal, but if you are making calls to strangers then you might want to be wary.”

You remember that Facebook chat encryption extension I mentioned a few days, ago? Crypter? Facebook has crippled it. “Chat encryption app, Crypter, that seemed to offer a secure way to communicate with your Facebook friends has effectively depreciated in functionality after Facebook made changes to its platform to prevent the app from working.”

USEFUL STUFF

Huh. Did you know you can play chess via Facebook Messenger?. (Obviously it won’t be encrypted chess….) “Unfortunately, the board is not drag-and-drop; instead, you need to send text commands to move your pieces across the board, with the board refreshing as a new static image after each move. ”

If you’ve been on the Web for 20+ years you’ll enjoy this: Alan Levine falls down a Gopher hole.

AROUND THE SEARCH AND SOCIAL MEDIA WORLD

Google has announced its Doodle 4 Google state winners. “This time around, we added a little twist: for the first time in eight years of Doodle 4 Google, there were no restrictions on the medium or materials kids could use to create a doodle. Kids took us up on the challenge. A quarter of all finalists used some non-traditional media—from clay and wood to origami, photographs and sheets of music—in their submission.”

Google’s Go-playing AI is set to take on another champion. “Google’s French Go-champion-beating AlphaGo artificial intelligence will take on the Go world No 1 in a live broadcast from Seoul, South Korea. The contest will begin on 9 March and offers a $1m prize.”

SECURITY/LEGAL ISSUES

RESEARCH AND OPINION

How much traffic is going to pass through the Internet this year? We’ll be catching a z. “f you thought the 2GB monthly data cap on your phone was low, well, you’re right. And, in comparison to the world’s overall Internet traffic figures, it appears to be even more microscopic as we’re slated to approach the one zettabyte mark later this year. This news comes from Cisco’s Visual Networking Index, a survey predicting Internet traffic trends all the way up to 2019.” A zettabyte is a trillion gigabytes. This Wikipedia article on zettabytes notes that after the zettabyte is the yottabyte. 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!

Irish Politics, Visa, Twitter, More: Friday Buzz, February 5, 2016

NEW RESOURCES

Enough about US politics. There’s a new Web site for comparing 500 candidates in the Ireland elections. “Every political party and candidate was asked to complete a questionnaire which indicated where they stood on the key issues, including taxation, water, housing, employment and abortion. Voters can answer a set of questions to see which candidates they agree with in their constituency.”

A little outside the ResearchBuzz remit but I think this is going to end up impacting a lot of people: Visa has launched a developer platform. “With regards to today’s Visa Developer announcement, for the first time in the company’s nearly 60 year history software developers will have open access to payments technology, products and services by Visa. The new Visa Developer platform is designed to help financial institutions, merchants, and technology companies meet the demands of consumers and merchants, who increasingly rely on connected devices to shop, pay and get paid.”

TWEAKS & UPDATES

Twitter might be testing a new GIF tool for its users to easily add pre-selected images to their tweets. Looks like Twitter’s version of Facebook’s stickers. “Various Twitter users have tweeted, naturally, that a dedicated GIF tool has popped up in between the photos and polls options on their mobile app.”

Huh. Google might have launched a “Trusted Verifier” program that certifies people to verify local businesses for Google. But maybe it’s not ready for prime time? “It comes with a mobile app where the Trusted Verifier can use the app to mark the business as verified….It seems like the app was pulled…”

USEFUL STUFF

MakeUseOf has a quick tip for using symbolic links in Google Drive. oooh, this is going to come in handy…

AROUND THE SEARCH AND SOCIAL MEDIA WORLD

Amit Singhal, head of Google Search, is leaving the company. Instead of linking to a news story, I’m linking to the incredibly classy post he put on Google+. “Now, with pride, gratitude, and joy in my heart, I need to define my next fifteen years. I am eager to see what kind of impact I can make philanthropically, and of course, to spend more time with my family–especially with my wife who I miss spending time with given our incredibly busy lives, and our son who will go to college soon, leaving an empty nest behind.” Best of luck in your future endeavors, sir.

Google’s new head of search is John Giannandrea. “Giannandrea joined the company in 2010, after Google bought his startup Metaweb Technologies. His company was the basis for Google’s ‘Knowledge Graph,’ which stores information to help users answer their questions as quickly as possible. ”

PricewaterhouseCoopersIndia (PwC India) and Google are teaming up to launch a security product for India. “The product will be able to detect, analyse and stop possible cyber attacks or any other forms of threats from cyber criminals, competitors or governments. PwC already plays a role in the cyber security space and helps its clients prevent, and in some cases, take corrective actions after cyber breaches.”

Interesting: Joe Biden is apparently the first US Vice-President with a Facebook page.

SECURITY/LEGAL ISSUES

The University of Central Florida has been hacked. “Hackers gained access to the personal information of current and former student-athletes and support staff as well as current and former university employees. The stolen info includes Social Security numbers but not credit card information, financial records, medical records or grades, [John C.] Hitt said.” The information of about 63,000 people was compromised.

RESEARCH AND OPINION

Erin Brown at Duke University did her honor’s thesis on Twitter. Specifically #Activism: Tracking Twitter’s Impact on Campaigns for Political Change. ” Various interest groups have thus increasingly begun to adopt social media – and Twitter in particular – as a means to achieve institutional goals. However, as social communication has moved to online networks, the scope and variety of information that citizens receive has begun to shrink. Understanding how different groups have utilized social media has become imperative to examining what messages people see, and as a result, how social media may change activism in the future. This study thus seeks to answer the following questions: How have interest groups utilized social media, and Twitter in particular, to facilitate political change? How does partisan affiliation affect and shape social media strategy?” Not a super-long thesis (35 pages) and if you’re at all interested in social media activism or the communication strategies of different political parties, worth a read.

Move over, Kevin Bacon, the people on Facebook have a lot less than six degrees of separation. “New research from the social suggests that for the 1.59 billion active users of Facebook, there are only 3.57 degrees of separation, on average, between everyone on the social network.” If you visit the Facebook Research Blog you can find out what your degree of separation is on Facebook. Mine is 3.13; so close to pi and yet so far away. The story of my life (or my desserts, anyway.) 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!