Visual Impairment, Offshore Energy, SoundCloud, More: Tuesday Afternoon Buzz, March 29, 2016

NEW RESOURCES

A new database in England wants to connect visually-impaired people to “guide runners”. “The database is an online tool for anyone aged 18-years or older with a visual impairment in England, whether they have never run before, are a gym-goer looking to take their running outdoors or a seasoned runner looking for a new guide. It will enable visually impaired people to go for a run on their own, join a club or running group or take part in an event or race.”

Now available: a database of research in offshore energy technology. “The database, named the Ocean Energy Technology Portal, aims to make existing research readily available to companies and professionals across the board, especially in the field of offshore energy. This database has the potential of improving productivity and the safety for both the workers and the public.”

TWEAKS & UPDATES

SoundCloud has launched a paid subscription service. “SoundCloud is finally ready to take on Spotify. After months of teasing, SoundCloud’s subscription music service is debuting today: it’s called SoundCloud Go, and in many respects, it’s the same as any other streaming service. For $9.99 a month, you get access to songs from popular artists, ad-free streaming, and offline sync. But Go has a hook that no other service can match — a massive library of 125 million songs, most of which are only on SoundCloud. There is a catch, however.”

Looks like Facebook is doing even more to soup up Facebook Messenger. “According to The Information, comments in the code of the iPhone version of Messenger suggest that Facebook’s about to make a whole lot more effort at becoming a retail hub, which makes sense given the enormity of its user base.” And with any luck it’ll work better than it did last time..

USEFUL STUFF

Smart Bitches, Trashy Books keeps it going with Part 5 on its series on organizing with Google Calendar. I love my daily agenda. Except when it’s nine miles long.

AROUND THE SEARCH AND SOCIAL MEDIA WORLD

The EU is considering a “Google tax” on Google for showing snippets of articles and Web pages. I’m all for Google fulfilling its corporate responsibilities and paying appropriate taxes, but this is in the silly zone. “The European Commission has launched a public consultation on granting what it calls ‘neighbouring rights’ to publishers. This is EU-speak for a Google tax on snippets, which would require search engines and possibly others to pay for using short extracts to link to articles on other sites. The consultation also seeks views on whether there should be a ‘panorama’ exception to copyright allowing people to take pictures of public buildings and distribute them without permission of the architect.”

Looks like we’re creeping closer to a Yahoo sale. “The beleaguered Web pioneer has set an April 11 deadline for potential suitors to submit preliminary bids for its core Web business and Asian assets, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday. Letters sent by the company to potential buyers requested they submit proposals that include which assets they are interested in and at what price, unidentified sources told the newspaper.”

Here’s your daily dose of feelin’-like-a-prole: Facebook has a special place in New York where celebrities can learn how to use its products. “Nearly a year ago, Facebook decided to set up a studio space in its New York City office where it could invite celebrities and public figures to come visit during press junkets (or just for fun).”

SECURITY/LEGAL ISSUES

I think 2016 is going to be remembered as the Year of Ransomware. Case in point. “Ransomware encrypts data on infected machines and then asks for money before restoring access to information.
The FBI is analysing a strain of ransomware called MSIL/Samas that tries to encrypt data across entire networks rather than single computers.”

More cautionary tales from the malware front: a new phishing scam that tries to fool the recipient with very legitimate-looking speeding information. “The emails, sent to at least few local residents in Tredyffrin, Pennsylvania, purport to come from the local police department. Malware emails that masquerade as something official are not rare, but these messages are fairly unique: they are said to contain accurate speeding data, including street names, speed limits, and actual driving speeds, according to the Tredyffrin Police Department, located close to Philadelphia.” Good afternoon, Internet…

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