IT Products, IT Makers, Big Data, More: Tuesday Buzz, August 4th, 2015


Now available: a tool for pricing used IT equipment. “An electronics recycler has created an IT products database representing 9,000 manufacturers and 11 million equipment models. The products range from consumer to business equipment, such as network storage devices, routers, switches, as well as servers, PCs and office machines. The database, called the Sage BlueBook, was launched this week in beta and will remain free to use.”

Anil Dash and Gina Trapani, the people behind ThinkUp (I am a subscriber but otherwise unaffiliated) have launched Makerbase. Which belong to them, not us. “Makerbase is a new project that hopes to be a collection of people and their digital creations, or a directory of who’s who of tech. It’s a reference for if you’re trying to find out who the people are behind an app or website. Think of it as a mashup of IMDB and Wikipedia.”


Periscope now has “couchmode”. “With ‘Couchmode’, you can quickly flip through videos on Periscope just like you would while sitting on your couch when watching TV.” Be nice if you could actually do this on TV.


Decided you don’t like Windows 10? You can go backwards.

Google Location Tracking creep you out? Ubergizmo on how to disable it. (Android / iOS / Web)

From How-To Geek: How to customize appearance settings on a Chromebook.


I’m linking to a story about Republicans, not because I’m a Republican (I’m not, nor Democrat either) but because everyone in the universe needs to be aware of how much politics and big data are slamming into each other. The next presidential election will be – to a sickening level in my opinion – about who manipulates the manifest (and manifestly non-transparent) algorithms that control what we see in social media and in search results. The article’s in Forbes, and it’s called Exclusive: Republicans Launch Game-Changing Data Center That Will Forever Change Politics. “As of today, candidates can access 300+ terabytes of data and over 20 years of voter contact data free of charge. Moreover, the user interface appeared easy to use, allowing quick, LinkedIn-like, advanced navigation drill downs into meta-data for any territory in the United States. For example, if you want to find 10 people on a residential block that haven’t voted in the past 20 years, have strong views on conservative topics, and don’t like the Affordable Care Act, candidates can do that in seconds.”


Interpol is training police to fight crime on the “darknet”. “Interpol has just completed its first training course designed to help police officers to use and understand the Darket. The five-day course was held in Singapore, and attended by officers from Australia, Finland, France, Ghana, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Netherlands, Singapore, Sri Lanka and Sweden. According to Interpol, the next course will be held in Brussels. The students did not, it seems, explore the Darknet itself.”

Apparently the Spanish government can fine citizens who refer to its police as “slackers”. “On July 1st, the Spanish government enacted a set of laws designed to keep disruption within its borders to a minimum. In addition to making dissent illegal (criminal acts now include ‘public disruption’ and ‘unauthorized protests’), Spanish legislators decided the nation’s law enforcement officers should be above reproach. This doesn’t mean Spanish cops will be behaving better. It just means the public will no longer be able to criticize them.”

The EFF has announced a new standard for “Do Not Track” Web browsing. “The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), privacy company Disconnect and a coalition of Internet companies have announced a stronger “Do Not Track” (DNT) setting for Web browsing—a new policy standard that, coupled with privacy software, will better protect users from sites that try to secretly follow and record their Internet activity, and incentivize advertisers and data collection companies to respect a user’s choice not to be tracked online.”

Heads up official and unofficial tech support people: ransomware and Windows 10 mentions have intersected in a phishing scam. “Microsoft released Windows 10 earlier this week (July 29) and it will be available as a free upgrade to users who are currently using Windows 7 or Windows 8. This threat actor is impersonating Microsoft in an attempt to exploit their user base for monetary gain. The fact that users have to virtually wait in line to receive this update, makes them even more likely to fall victim to this campaign.”


From Hybrid Pedagogy: Teaching with the Internet; or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Google In My Classroom “The Internet poses to us an active challenge to deeply reconsider what it means to be literate in the twenty-first century. Does literacy for us simply mean, the way it did in the 19th century, the memorization and regurgitation of factoids and arguments? 21st century literacies demand that we teach radically differently from before. They ask us to replace content in the classroom with action, centering what our students do, how we interact with them, and the community these dynamics form. I’m going to talk about my experience with experimenting with this: breaking down the walls of the traditional classroom, letting the world in via the digital, and changing our focus from what we teach to how we teach, why we teach and the community that we build through teaching. Near its end, I’m going to ask you to work together with me on restructuring a traditional literary studies exercise in a way that welcomes, rather than ignores, the advent of the Internet.”

From Josh Bernoff: Making Twitter relevant. If you’re into Twitter speculation, as I am, this is a fun article. “Whoever runs Twitter must face the same problem: Twitter isn’t relevant. It’s no fun to read, and nobody clicks. This is the root of both the user problem and the advertising revenue problem. So I set out to answer one question: what would get people to participate in Twitter? I would like to optimize the three things that make Facebook so successful and engaging: Conversations, sharing, and click-throughs to Web content.” (And making nice with third-party developers so you can have plenty of tools to do all of the above.)

More opinion: Google should buy Twitter. I’m kind of ambivalent about Google buying Twitter, but I would a thousand times more want Google to buy Twitter than Apple. Apple would ruin it. Here’s a weird one: what if Amazon bought Twitter and put it under the same operational aegis as the Washington Post? Good morning, Internet…

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