UK Politics, Facebook AI, Singapore Real Estate, More: Friday Afternoon Buzz, February 19, 2016


Followers of UK politics: Mark Pack has put together an archive of Liberal Democrat manifestos going back to 1992. “Moreover, the main general election manifesto itself is usually but one of a mini-ecosystem of documents. Other relevant information – such as the policy costings – are frequently in separate documents. Hence this archive presents both the designed version of Liberal Democrat general election manifestos and also other associated documents. That includes costings documents and ‘mini-manifestos’ focusing on specific policy areas.”

Facebook has released a dataset it uses to train its artificial intelligence– and it’s children’s stories! “Facebook today announced that it has released the data it used to train its artificial intelligence software to understand children’s stories and predict the word that was missing from a given sentence in a story. The data set (.tgz) comes out to more than 1.6GB, and it’s affiliated with a recently published academic paper called ‘The Goldilocks Principle: Reading Children’s Books with Explicit Memory Representations.'”

Singapore is getting a new search engine for finding and rating property agents. “The ‘Property Agents Bank’ is possibly the first search platform in Singapore to provide customer ratings and reviews on agents. On top of the usual search features for property listings, past transactions and names of agents, it gives free access to agents’ information, including their personal profile, achievements, current listings and, most importantly, customers’ reviews of their performance.”

Bing has resources available for the upcoming Academy Awards.


Google has launched its Cloud Vision API in beta. “With the beta release of Cloud Vision API, you can access the API with location of images stored in Google Cloud Storage, along with existing support of embedding an image as part of the API request. We’re also announcing pricing for Cloud Vision API and added additional capabilities to identify the dominant color of an image.”


My buddy Leo has a writeup about some really useful software. “Ninite is a free bulk installation service and utility that allows you to choose from a selection of applications and install or update them all at once. Best of all, they’re scrubbed of any foistware or malware.” Leo’s got a walkthrough of how to use.


Is Facebook going to put ads in Messenger? “A leaked document Facebook sent to some of its biggest advertisers reveals that Facebook will launch ads within Messenger in Q2 2016. The document, obtained by TechCrunch but kept private to protect its verified source, says businesses will be able to send ads as messages to people who previously initiated a chat thread with that company.”

More news from The Information: It looks like Yahoo has shut down Yahoo Originals. “Yahoo’s original programming division was laid off on Wednesday, including its head Ian Moffitt. The move, which happened during company-wide layoffs, is perhaps the final nail in the coffin for Yahoo’s original video ambitions.” Apparently, though, Yahoo Finance is holding its own.


This is why we can’t have nice things: there’s now ransomware that arrives via a Word document macro. “Several security researchers have discovered a new type of malware that jumps onto the ransomware bandwagon, encrypting victims’ files and then demanding a payment of half a bitcoin for the key. Named ‘Locky,’ the malware depends on a rather low-tech installation method to take root in a user’s system: it arrives courtesy of a malicious macro in a Word document.”

Friday fun: you know your browser needs more cats. Especially cats from the Met! “Meow Met is a new Google Chrome extension that shows you a different artwork featuring a cat from New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art every time you open a new tab.” Good afternoon, Internet…

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