Florida Cars, Election Finance, California Music, More: Friday Buzz, March 18, 2016

NEW RESOURCES

The state of Florida has created a VERY cool resource: early car registrations. Specifically, car registrations from 1905-1917. “This collection contains Florida’s first automobile registrations, which were recorded by the Florida Department of State between 1905 and 1917. Each registration, which was handwritten in a ledger, indicates the name and post office address of the registrant plus the manufacturer, style, horsepower and factory number of the vehicle. Each entry was dated and assigned a unique registration number, which was sent to the registrant on a certificate.”

TWEAKS & UPDATES

ProPublica has tweaked its FTC itemizer tool. “FEC Itemizer now shows more information about outside spending, not only in the presidential race but in House and Senate contests, too. It also provides more detail about committees’ activities, such as a page with summary totals for independent expenditures, along with subtotals for spending in each state.”

The UCLA Ethnomusicology Archive has added more material to the California Light and Sound collection on the Internet Archive. There are way too many to list here; hit the link for highlights. Unfortunately I couldn’t get any of the links in the first paragraph to work, so if you want to go directly to the archive, try https://archive.org/details/californialightandsound .

Hey! Bing is getting new search APIs. You’ll have to be signed up for the developer preview to have access, though.

Nifty. You can now set expiration dates for certain Google Apps files. “We know that businesses today don’t operate in isolation; employees work not only with one another, but with third-party vendors, clients, customers, and other businesses as well—and often on a temporary basis. To keep your organization’s information safe in these situations, we’re introducing the ability to set an ‘expiration date’ for specific user access to files in Google Drive, Docs, Sheets, and Slides.”

USEFUL STUFF

If you spend a lot of time resizing images for social media, you’ll love this new tool from Sprout Social, called Landscape. Upload an image, pick the social networks you want to optimize for, and the tool walks you through zooming and cropping the images. After it’s all done you get a zip file of your images. It’s free to use.

From Social Media Examiner, an extensive writeup on six productivity tools for Twitter.

And in our useful-for-a-given-value-of-useful department: first there was Facebook Messenger Chess, now there’s Facebook Messenger basketball. “Looks like someone in the Facebook team has caught the March Madness fever; in a small update to the Messenger app, typing in the basketball emoji can enable a secret mini-game between you and a friend.” Looks like this is app-only; didn’t work when I tried it on desktop.

AROUND THE SEARCH AND SOCIAL MEDIA WORLD

An article at TheNextWeb that frankly comes off as a bit apologist provides an update on the situation with Twitter tool Emojitracker. Emojitracker was sent an e-mail from Twitter saying its API access would be cut off, so the developer planned to shut it down. Nate Swanner, who did the article, wrote, “Without knowledge of whom it was reaching out to, Twitter’s email lacked details like the current access level the service has, options to communicate with Twitter or what may be available for its use-case….In Rothenberg’s case, his email blindly stated his elevated access to the API was being cut off — because Twitter doesn’t have many accessing its API on an elevated status. Most cases either need the ‘regular’ API or Gnip data. If you start framing the pieces of the puzzle — no company data on file, elevated access that isn’t typically offered and disjointed communiqué — it’s easy to see how it paints a picture of confusion.” In other words, developer Matthew Rosenberg took an e-mail from Twitter at face value. Tsk, Mr. Rosenberg!

SECURITY/LEGAL ISSUES

It’s been a long time since only “shady sites” carried a risk of infecting your PC with malware, especially since the rise of malvertising. And it’s getting worse. “Mainstream websites, including those published by The New York Times, the BBC, MSN, and AOL, are falling victim to a new rash of malicious ads that attempt to surreptitiously install crypto ransomware and other malware on the computers of unsuspecting visitors, security firms warned.” Please, uninstall Flash if you possibly can, use NoScript or an equivalent. Using an ad blocker at this point feels more like pragmatism than an attempt to rob sites of their livelihood…

The Pwn2Own annual hacking contest is off to a scary start. “On Wednesday, four teams and a researcher who competed on his own made six attempts to hack this year’s targets: Safari running on OS X, Chrome running on Windows, Microsoft Edge running on Windows and Flash Player on Windows. Four attempts were successful, one was only partially successful and one failed.”

RESEARCH AND OPINION

Excellent article from The Scholarly Kitchen: Why Is ClinicalTrials.gov Still Struggling? “…only 1,790 out of 13,327 clinical trials conducted between 2008 and 2013 had results reported via ClinicalTrials.gov, leaving 11,537 unreported. How many patients these trials represent isn’t clear, but given that many of these trials were Phase 2 or later, it seems safe to assume that at least 250 patients were involved in each trial on average (this is probably a conservative estimate). That would mean that more than 2.5 million patients participated in unregistered trials. That’s a lot of patients put at risk and a lot of science that’s going undocumented.” Good morning, Internet…

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