Plants, Wisconsin, Arab Americans, More: Saturday Buzz, January 9, 2015


Now available: a database of plant species behaviors. “A new database that lists the behavioural traits of more then 1000 plant species is helping scientists better understand how to manage invasive species, and how to restore ecosystems after natural disasters. The information about plants from across the world was compiled by a group of researchers from the University of Queensland and several European institutions, and has been made available on a publicly accessible database for the first time.” Be sure to hit the “show transcript” button or you’ll think I quoted the whole article.

Zooniverse has a new project: the Wisconsin Wildlife Watch. “Like Snapshot Serengeti, Chicago Wildlife Watch, and WildCam Gorongosa, Wisconsin Wildlife Watch lets you explore never-before-seen camera trap photos of wild animals. Working alongside a science team from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, you’ll be taking part in valuable ecological research and helping ecologists better understand the trends, distribution, and ecosystems of these critters.”

This popped up in my traps. I don’t know how new it is but it’s definitely new to me: KalimahPress has a set of spreadsheets of early Arab immigrants to the US (and by “early” I mean late 19th/early 20th century).

The New York Public Library has over 180,000 items in its public domain collection. This really isn’t new; the NYPL has had some amazing items in its public domain collections in a long time, but it’s worth a good long explore.


WordPress 4.4.1 is now available. This is a security update so please update.

OCLC has signed agreements with several publishers to add metadata to WorldCat Discovery. “OCLC has signed agreements with leading publishers to add metadata for books, e-books, journals, databases and other materials that will make their content discoverable through WorldCat Discovery Services.”

Facebook is planning to let developers build Messenger bots? “The latest rumor, which comes to us from TechCrunch, says Facebook is working on a ‘Chat SDK’ that enables developers to build bots that would allow Facebook users to access shopping, travel and other services through conversations in Messenger.”


BetaNews has a writeup on a Windows tool that intelligently and automatically takes screenshots. “Taking regular screenshots of the desktop sounds like a smart way to record what’s happening on your PC. Until you try it, and are left sorting through folders packed with pointless, near-identical images. Automatic Screenshotter is different. It doesn’t just blindly capture images at fixed intervals, but also uses a host of rules and options to ensure it only captures the most relevant screens for you.”


Today’s Yahoo pile-on: its video advertising division. “Executives at several media companies and media advisory firms with direct dealings with Yahoo’s ad business said the company’s programmatic video ad platform generates mostly fraudulent ad traffic, and otherwise does not work as promised. The platform is largely powered by BrightRoll, which was acquired by Yahoo in November 2014.”


PACER is getting sued for bad math. “Seems straightforward, although pretty much unverifiable by the end user. PACER spits out ‘pages’ and puts a total at the bottom, and that’s what gets billed to their accounts. Bryndon Fisher says PACER’s math is screwy. He dug into PACER’s page calculations and, according to his class action lawsuit, it almost always adds its bytes up incorrectly.”

Canada’s military wants to monitor the world’s social media. “Canada’s military wants to monitor and analyze the world’s social media streams, with 24/7 access to real-time and historical posts on websites like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. And they don’t want anyone knowing it’s them doing the monitoring, either.”

Wow! An SEO has been sentenced to prison for extortion. “According to the announcement, [William] Stanley extorted individuals and companies by threatening to engage in illegitimate SEO work: posting ‘fraudulent comments and creating negative reviews online, if the victim did not pay him a certain sum of money.'” Good morning, Internet…

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One thought on “Plants, Wisconsin, Arab Americans, More: Saturday Buzz, January 9, 2015

  1. It would be great if there was a link to the actual database of plant species behavior, not just a link the the ABC report on the project.



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