Wolfram, Birds, Kansas, More: Saturday Buzz, January 23, 2016


Wolfram, those brilliant folks behind the search engine Wolfram|Alpha, have launched a new resource for learning programming (PRESS RELEASE). “Wolfram Research has announced a new product for anyone to learn programming and computational thinking: Wolfram Programming Lab. Available as a standalone software or accessible in the browser, the Wolfram Programming Lab provides people with no experience an avenue to begin coding….When you code in the Wolfram Programming Lab, you are not only using the Wolfram Language, you’re also learning Mathematica: the software used for technical courses at 90% of universities in the United States.”

This is very cool! The Cornell Lab of Ornithology has created an animated map of bird migration in the Western Hemisphere. “For the first time, scientists at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology have documented migratory movements of bird populations spanning the entire year for 118 species throughout the Western Hemisphere. The study finds broad similarity in the routes used by specific groups of species—vividly demonstrated by animated maps showing patterns of movement across the annual cycle.”

The state of Kansas has been digitizing its “Governor’s Messages” and putting them online. “Recently State Library staff started scanning the original Governors’ messages offering a virtual copy for researchers. At present we have the digitized messages stretching back from Governor Brownback’s 2016 Message to Governor Davis’ 1923 Message. As scanning continues we should have the original speeches available back to the 1860s within the next several weeks. Included among the late 19th century Messages are a few in German and Swedish as well as English.”

In development: an online archive of historical glacier photos. “The $148,586 grant from the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) to the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) and the University of Colorado Boulder Libraries will support a team that will digitize about 9,000 images, dating back to the 1850s. They will also prepare descriptions of each image to facilitate searches.”

Facebook has set up “Sports Stadium” to aggregate relevant content during live events. “With the new virtual stadium, all the content on the social networking site relating to the game, including posts and comments from friends on the plays, and comments from experts such as teams, leagues and reporters will surface in real time and chronologically, according to Facebook.”


The Google Cultural Institute now features over 1000 museums and cultural institutions. “Starting today, you can descend through the famous rotunda of the Guggenheim museum in New York—a piece of art in itself—thanks to special aerial Street View imagery, or stroll the grand halls of the world’s heaviest building, the Palace of Parliament in Romania. View Monet’s famous water lilies in super-high ‘gigapixel’ resolution and zoom in to see his layered brushstrokes—then visit Monsieur Monet’s real-life garden to see his inspiration.”

Google has launched a “real-time ads” feature. “For Real-Time Ads, AdWords online tools will allow a pre-created ad to have a component — such as a photo or overlaid text — that can be updated immediately to reflect some event that is generating chatter. It points to the day when ad elements may be automatically generated from, say, trends detected on social media.”

You can now loop videos on YouTube without extra software. In case you need to hear “Let It Go” an extra 50,000 times.

Twitter has launched a new gaming account. “@TwitterGaming is the handle for this new account, seemingly with the focus seemingly to interact with gamers and fans of eSports as opposed to releasing gaming news like ESPN. Rodrigo Velloso was announced as the new director of gaming partnerships for Twitter’s media team not too long ago, a move that hints towards the social media giant adding gaming as one of its main verticals.”


Beware, looks like there’s a new phishing campaign aimed at Facebook users going around. Of course, it’s 2016 and you know better than to open e-mail attachments anyway. Right? “Now Comodo’s researchers have identified a similar phishing campaign targeting Facebook users, which it believes was created by the same group behind the WhatsApp malware. The new Facebook campaign tries to represent itself as an email from Facebook which states there is a new message for the recipient.”

Google’s got a new version of Chrome, and there are several security fixes. “The Chrome v48 brings a number of bug fixes most of which were detected using AddressSanitizer, Controle Flow Integrity, and MemorySanitizer codes, says the blog post. It also lists 37 security fixes as a part of its bounty rewards programme. The version has already been rolled out for Windows, Mac, and Linux.”

I’m confused. Google is being sued for using someone’s song in its ads. Here’s the thing: they had negotiated the rights to use the song, but hadn’t gotten her permission. Huh? “[Darlene] Love’s voice was used, as it was part of the licensed track. Her goodwill remained where it always was — loaded like a spring trap, apparently. She accuses Google of deliberately using a non-union ad producer to ensure her union-granted ‘rights’ (whatever they are…) were routed around.” Good morning, Internet…

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