Black WWI Veterans, Twitter, Ben Nevis, More: Friday Buzz, December 11th, 2015


In development: an online archive about African-American WWI veterans. “Visitors will also be able to view historical photographs, film, audio recordings, and other documents. Site users will also be able to post information on their knowledge of the contributions of Black World War I veterans.”


Twitter is going to start showing ads to everybody who looks at tweets — even if they’re not logged in. This greatly expands the audience but because they’re not logged in, they’re less able to be targeted by demographics. This makes them less appealing to advertisers.

Now available on Google Street View: Ben Nevis. “Travel enthusiasts can use the technology for the first time on Friday to hike through the highest peaks in the UK, including Snowdonia in Wales and England’s Scafell Pike.”

Google has expanded its Project Sunroof, which shows potential savings for homeowners who are considering solar, to more states. “The tool, which uses Google Earth’s high-resolution aerial mapping technology, launched in August and has now expanded to several more states. Metro areas in California, North Carolina, Nevada, Massachusetts, Arizona, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, and Colorado are now covered by the service.”

Google’s Chromecast Audio hockey puck has gotten some updates. “If you’ve got a bunch of good speakers throughout your home, hooking up a Chromecast Audio to each one means you can play a single song throughout your entire home. They don’t even have to be the same brand of speaker; so long as they have a 3.5mm audio input, they can accept a Chromecast Audio.”


I understand the concept of “bingewatching,” but I haven’t engaged in it. MakeUseOf may change that, with its article on educational YouTube channels suitable for bingewatching.

Mashable: 12 Awesome Instagram Features You’re Probably Not Using.

NewsWhip has a big overview of Facebook’s Instant Articles.


Google has added album sharing to Google Photos, and The Verge takes a look. The reviewer, Katherine Boehret, seems ambivalent: “But despite all their cross-platform goodness, Google’s shared albums are still missing key features. Amazingly enough, you can’t caption, comment on, or like things that you share or see, and this sucks the emotion from albums, leaving you with an unsatisfying feeling. Google also sorts your album’s photos in chronological order of when they were taken — not when they were added — and this can leave you confused about where to find newly added photos.”

The Telecom Minister of India is worried that Google’s Project Loon will interfere with cellular operations. “The statement of the Minister assumes significance in the backdrop of call drop problem faced by consumers due to poor network quality. On a query that whether there are technical glitches in according approval to Project Loon, the Minister replied in affirmative.”

Facebook has open-sourced its AI hardware. “…this morning, Facebook announced that it will open source the designs for the computer server it built to run the latest in AI algorithms. Code-named Big Sur, this is a machine packed with an enormous number of graphics processing units, or GPUs—chips particularly well suited to deep learning.”


The password cracking software Hashcat has been released as open source. “One of the reasons for making Hashcat and oclHashcat open source is to allow penetration testers and forensic scientists to add and modify algorithms without exposing any potentially sensitive information. Now that the tools are open source, users will also be able to easily integrate external libraries.”

A new EU directive will make online sites more responsible to report security breaches. “The rules ask much of firms like Amazon and Google and will encourage them to be more open about security problems, data breaches and the like. The European Parliament reckons the rules will help protect the EU’s essential infrastructure, such as air and road traffic control systems and the electricity grid, from cyber attack as well as safeguard digital services, with the likes of eBay and Amazon specifically mentioned in the legislation.”


A research team has mined Wikipedia to come up with a list of the most influential universities. “Today, we get such a ranking thanks to the work of Jose Lages at the University of Franche-Comte in France and a few pals. They’ve used the way universities are mentioned on Wikipedia to produce a world ranking. Their results provide a new way to think about rankings that may help to avoid some of the biases that can occur in other ranking systems.”

Hey, another search engine company is developing a self-driving car. Yahoo? No no no no. Baidu. “Baidu has indicated that it could be a serious competitor in the market for self-driving cars by testing a fully autonomous car on a route it said had mixed roads under a variety of environmental conditions. The vehicle, a modified BMW 3 Series, is said to have made right, left and U-turns, slowing down if it detected vehicles ahead, changed lanes, passed other cars and merged into traffic on the highway, Baidu said Wednesday.” Good morning, Internet…

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