Finance Companies, African Cartoons, Nature Sounds, More: Friday Buzz, August 7th, 2015


Now available: a new financial company reference database. It’s free. “Members of the public can use the database to look up a financial company’s “business card” information, such as legal name, address, country, and business registry information. Also included is each corporate subsidiary’s unique, 20-digit legal entity identifier (LEI), a code that helps pinpoint the entity’s counterparties in financial market transactions and eliminates confusion when corporate subsidiaries have similar names.”

The US Department of Labor has launched a new system for allowing employees to check and see if they’re owed back wages. “The department has a new tool available on its website through its Wage and Hour division called Workers Owed Wages(WOW) – a system where the person simply enters their name and location to see if they are owed any money.” Well, you enter an employer name first, and if you get a hit you enter your name.

The state of Florida has a new database of charter schools. “For the first time, a new database is connecting charter schools to who runs them. The goal is to reduce the number of charter schools that close. The National Association of Charter School Authorizers wants to create a paper trail. The group has launched a database that lists who is operating a school and includes performance data from the website”

In development: an online archive of African political cartoons. This is a roughly three minute audio program. I did not see a transcript. It looks like the direct link is .

There’s a new privacy-focused search engine out there (PRESS RELEASE). “Hulbee maintains unprecedented levels of security not offered by any other privacy-based search company because it has its own data center in Switzerland, so all of its information is safely stored away from the National Security Agency in the U.S. and the European Union. … Unlike other search engines, which deliver results based of what’s most often searched, Hulbee is based on semantic search, which focuses on the meaning of the word and on various themes associated with it. After sifting through data in 33 languages, the Hulbee search engine presents a collection of words presented in colorful thematic tiles on the screen, giving users a broad range of choices rather than just the most popular selections.”

Trinidad and Tobago has gotten a digital law library. “A MASSIVE undertaking — conducted over four years and involving the scanning of more than 500,000 pages of Parliament acts, ordinances and legal notices dating as far back as 1838 – culminates today with the planned activation of a new digital legislative library.”

Cornell University has fully-digitized its natural sounds archive. “It took archivists a dozen years to complete the monumental task. The collection contains nearly 150,000 digital audio recordings equaling more than 10 terabytes of data with a total run time of 7,513 hours. About 9,000 species are represented. There’s an emphasis on birds, but the collection also includes sounds of whales, elephants, frogs, primates and more.”


Facebook is now offering live streaming for “public figures”. I guess if you’re a joyless prole you’re out of luck. “Facebook Mentions is an app that’s only available to famous athletes, musicians, politicians and other influencers. Through this app these public figures can broadcast live video in a way that’s similar to Periscope and Meerkat.”

Bing is going to start proactively warning users about fake online pharmacies. “…we are rolling out a new set of warnings on to give our customers more information about the dangers of visiting unsafe online pharmacies. This warning will appear if a Bing user clicks on a pharmaceutical site that has been cited by the FDA as a fake online pharmacy engaged in illegal activity, such as offering potentially dangerous, unapproved and misbranded prescription drugs to U.S. consumers. We will be using the FDA’s public list of these sites, which is updated on an ongoing basis.”


Bing is teaming up with the Seattle Seahawks. “The program, called Rewards powered by Bing, is basically the existing Bing Rewards platform customized for the Seahawks organization and its fans. By signing up at, fans will be able to earn credits when they use Bing’s search engine. The program will offer instant rewards like discounts on concessions and pro shop purchases, plus entries into sweepstakes for prizes…”


Facebook has gotten a really icky patent. “On Tuesday, the social network was granted a patent for authorizing and authenticating a user based on their social network on Facebook, as first spotted by SmartUp Legal. Though the document details multiple applications for the patent, including filtering out SPAM and helping with search queries, it also explicitly states that it could be used to approve a loan based on a user’s social connections…”

Google’s new retail beacons have some potential security issues. “Being able to push unauthorized updates to beacons in the field means that a physical version of the classic email ‘phishing’ scam is possible. And while we may be used to ignoring scam emails, scam notifications on phones are something new; apps and people who receive the notifications may be more easily taken in.”


Like Google’s Deep Dream, the AI that turns photos and videos into trippy, dogfaced art? Check out this Twitter bot for making glitch art. “After mentioning PixelSorter in a tweet with an uploaded image, it will then download the image, and begin segmenting an image into rows or columns according to their hue, brightness, luminance, etc. A few moments later, PixelSorter will @reply you with its own glitched-out version of the image you just uploaded.” Good morning, Internet…

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1 reply »

  1. Hulbee, the “…new privacy-focused search engine out there (PRESS RELEASE)…” IS a good find. I was uncertain what it would yield, given the description in the press release, but decided to give it a shot on my never-ending research project. The first couple of pages of hits were much like what Google provides, but useful results continued appearing so I kept going – through the first 200 hits. The quality of hits varied, but relevance was much better than Google and Bing results. I actually gleaned several previously unknown items and I’m still working on the English language materials.

    Hulbee is a keeper.

    Mike Graff Kirkland, WA _____________________________________________

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