WWII, Texas, Native Americans, More: Sunday Buzz, January 10, 2015


A database has been launched with information and transcripts from the “Tokyo Trials” following World War II. “The database currently contains documents amounting to 60 million words, 50 million of which are in English. It also contains 700 pictures and video records totaling 50 minutes, all featuring the trial and key figures involved.” Currently the site is in Chinese (I don’t know enough about Chinese writing systems to tell you if it’s written Cantonese or Mandarin, sorry), but Google Translate did a decent enough job for me to poke around. Plans are to translate it into other languages.

The state of Texas has a new database of agencies claiming eminent domain powers. “The 2015 session of the Texas Legislature charged my office with assembling the first-ever online database of entities claiming eminent domain powers in Texas. We recently opened the online reporting form for these entities and expect to have the completed database ready later this year. With this database, Texans will be able to see contact information for each entity, the legal provisions granting it eminent domain authority and the focus or scope of that authority, and whether it has used this authority in the preceding year by filing a condemnation petition, among other data.”

Harvard will be digitizing a collection of Native American petitions. “With support from the Mellon Foundation, the project will digitize more than 4,500 petitions on Native American affairs that were sent to the Massachusetts legislature from 1640 to 1870. The petitions are housed at the Massachusetts Archives, which has collaborated with Harvard in digitizing them since 2012. More than a third of these petitions were sent from Native Americans themselves, including dozens of Native American nations, communities, and individuals.”

Oyo State (Nigeria) is developing a database of small- and medium- sized enterprises, to assist with economic development. “The Executive Secretary, Bureau of Investment Promotion and Public, Private Partnership, Yinka Fatoki made this known at a meeting between the inter-governmental technical committees facilitating the generation of database for SMEs in the state and the Heads of Local Government Administrations of six local councils that have been short-listed out for the pilot exercise of the database generation.”


The Knight Foundation is funding a Wikimedia project to help people use its properties better. “With support from Knight Foundation, we’re kicking off exploratory research and prototyping to improve how people find and engage with knowledge on Wikimedia projects. Knight’s support will fund six months of investigation around search and browsing on the projects, with the ultimate goal of building better experiences to help people discover knowledge. This exploratory project will include deep research, analysis, and prototyping to assess potential improvements in how people find information on Wikipedia and its sister projects.”


The Verge has an excellent, extensive overview of the state of bots in 2016. “The first bot I ever befriended went by the name of GooglyMinotaur. The Minotaur appeared in 2001 to promote Amnesiac, the latest album from Radiohead, which was and still is my favorite band. I happily chatted with the Minotaur about Radiohead history, information about the band’s tour, and the MP3s it offered for download. The Minotaur was popular among fans like me: 1 million people added it as a friend, and in its lifetime it sent more than 60 million messages.”

Pando takes a look at the current mess that it is Twitter. When I say mess I don’t mean that it’s doomed; in fact I think it’s exceptionally viable. More viable, in some ways, than Facebook. But it needs to focus and needs to rebuild some bridges.

The latest challenge for Google’s self-driving cars? Why, it’s rain!. “Google’s self-driving car fleet is mainly based in California, a part of the world where there’s not much rain. Now the company is thinking about equipping its vehicles for more inclement weather: and that means wipers for the sensing equipment as well as the windshield.”

Speaking of water, Google Fiber is being blamed for… flooding? “According to a report from Austin’s NBC affiliate KXAN, homeowners are convinced that Google Fiber contractor, MasTec, is responsible for making flooding in the area even worse than it would have been by failing to clean up construction material once they had finished installing the fiber optic cable in the ground.”


From MakeTechEasier: 9 Non-Intrusive Security Add-Ons for FireFox. And they really are non-instrusive — addons like NoScript are not mentioned here because though they do make browsing more secure, they can make using the Web difficult unless you know what you’re doing.

The Copyright Office wants your opinion on the DMCA. Sure. Got about nine hours? Good morning, Internet…

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