Japanese Monsters, Microsoft, Pastebin, More: Saturday Buzz, December 19th, 2015


Not new, but certainly new-to-me: an online database of Japanese ghosts and monsters!. “Within these pages you’ll find an ever-growing collection of yokai and yokai legends from all parts of Japan and all periods of Japanese history. Some of them have never appeared in English before, while others will be intimately familiar to fans of Japanese folklore. They have been collected from books, from the internet, and by word of mouth from yokai lovers who remember the tales from their childhoods. The illustrations accompanying each yokai are based on written descriptions or on Edo-period illustrations painted on scrolls hundreds of years ago.” In English. I looked up the first Japanese mythical creature I could think of (Kirin) and it was there with a thorough description and a few illustrations.


If you’ve got Windows 7 or 8, you may have noticed that Microsoft is really stepping up the nagging about upgrading to Windows 10. But you still don’t have to. “The large pop-up screen, which first appeared over the weekend, gives users the option of upgrading straight away or … that evening. Users can still opt out by clicking on the red ‘X’ in the top right corner of the window, but less savvy computer users (part of Redmond’s core market segments) might not figure that out.”

Snippet site Pastebin has gotten a bit of an update. “Pastebin, now home to 95 million ‘active’ pieces of text, has gotten a complete overhaul including a new mobile friendly site that lets coders share snippets of text on their phones.”

Yahoo’s E-mail search now features e-mail history. “Email history shows the frequency of your interactions with a person over time in an easy to read bar chart. We also show a summary of your email history, including how you were introduced or your very first message together. Talk about a blast from the past! The summary highlights the total and average number of emails exchanged with a contact and more.”


The government of Delhi, in India, is teaming up with Google and Twitter to provide information about mass transportation. “As the Delhi government prepares to enforce the odd-even vehicle scheme from January 1, Transport Minister Gopal Rai Friday announced a slew of measures to augment public transport in the national capital, including the government’s decision to tie up with Google and Twitter to provide primary data about bus and Metro services in the city.” This is not unprecedented; check out this great story about how Google mapped out the uncentralized bus system of Nairobi, Kenya.

Facebook is apparently testing providing search suggestions based on you and your friends. I saw this on my feed a few days ago and asked some friends about it. It appears not very focused, weird, and somewhat nonsensical.

Yahoo is going to close its final office in the mideast. “The sad end to its foray in the region came six years after the company bought Arabic social network for close to $170 million in 2009, with great hopes of expansion there. At one point, Yahoo had 400 employees all over the area, including in Amman, Jordan, and Cairo, Egypt, as well as 65 million users.”

Interesting and a bit odd: search engine Wolfram|Alpha has launched a video contest (PRESS RELEASE). “Users should submit videos revealing their favorite and most ingenious Wolfram|Alpha uses. Videos can be submitted by anyone, as long as they stay between six seconds and three minutes in length. We encourage users to be as creative as possible, while remaining appropriate for the general public to view.”


Canadians! Researchers at the University of Toronto have put together an online database that shows how your Internet communications may move through the United States and therefore be under the jurisdiction of the National Security Agency (NSA) in the US. “The project is also designed to offer Canadians a sense of agency, in that you personally can contribute to the project, adding to the 40,000 internet routes already crowdsourced in the IXmaps database.”

And in our “Really? Are you kidding me?” department, name and address information in the US-mandated drone registry will eventually be made public. “The FAA says only their agency and a contractor will have access to the personal information collected. The DOT says that all information regarding registered aircraft must be made publicly available.” This thing was thrown together in about ten minutes so it’s not surprising there’s contradicting information. If you have any interest in privacy I recommend you watch this story.

A researcher who found some pretty serious Instagram security flaws is now in a tussle with Facebook. “A security researcher who found a critical flaw in Instagram is claiming that Facebook’s chief security officer Alex Stamos tried to get him fired over the discovery. Earlier this year Wes Wineberg, a contractor with enterprise security intelligence firm Synack, received a tip on IRC about an Instagram server with an open admin panel that could be vulnerable to a flaw in Ruby, since it was using an older version of the software.”

Google researchers have found a security bug in FireEye appliances. “Google researchers found a software flaw in several models of FireEye’s security appliances that they say could give a cyberattacker full access to a company’s network. It’s not unheard of to find security flaws in security software, but the latest discovery highlights once again how no technology is immune to such problems.” FireEye has already patched the vulnerability. Good morning, Internet…

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