Qatar Schools, Pinterest, Snapchat, More: Friday Buzz, April 1, 2016

This is a zone as free as I can make it from April Fool mess. If you’re into it, great, but I’m not going to work hard on bringing you great news and resources 364 days a year (365, this year) and then try to goof with you on the other one day. Nope. Have a good weekend.


The government of Qatar has released an online database of private schools in that country. “Locations are displayed on a map of Qatar, with flags denoting which type is curriculum is taught at each school. In addition to browsing schools by neighborhood, users can find information on tuition fees, the size of the student body, contact details and other information.”


Yeah, it’s advertising of a sort, but this sounds pretty cool: Pinterest has launched “How-To” pins. “How-to Pins are launching today in the U.S., France, UK and Germany on Android and web, with iOS to come in the future, the company said. Jason Costa, product manager for Pins, said that in all more than 25 brands and organizations are providing content for How-to’s free of charge (that is, it costs nothing for the brands to create these Pins in their own Custom Feeds).” Individual users can’t create how-to pins (I hope that’s “can’t create how-to pins YET.”)

Snapchat has gotten a big update. Keep watching Snapchat! “Snapchat just stepped up its one-on-one chat features in a major way. The company added a host of new messaging features to its app Tuesday, including voice and video calling, audio and video notes and stickers.”

Google Wallet is ditching its debit card. “The card, which is linked to the user’s Google Wallet account balance, launched in 2014 in an effort to help people make purchases in stores and also provide Google with data on what people buy offline. ”


Google’s happy little GMail April Fool joke broke GMail’s functionality and made a lot of people mad. “So if you don’t really know what’s going on in terms of a major piece of software oddly changing functionality (Ha Ha!), it might completely burn you, because not only does it send the Minions gif, responses to the email don’t go into the inbox, but are archived immediately. (You can see them in your sent items or via deep searching, but they will skip the inbox.)” Google has fixed this, but according to this article this prank cost someone their job.

Bloomberg takes a look at Microsoft’s chatbot future. “Predictions about artificial intelligence tend to fall into two scenarios. Some picture a utopia of computer-augmented superhumans living lives of leisure and intellectual pursuit. Others believe it’s just a matter of time before software coheres into an army of Terminators that harvest humans for fuel. After spending some time with Tay, Microsoft’s new chatbot software, it was easy to see a third possibility: The AI future may simply be incredibly annoying.”

A little off-topic, but this BBC article about the loss of library staff in the UK was pretty scary. “Almost 8,000 jobs in UK libraries have disappeared in six years, about a quarter of the overall total, an investigation by the BBC has revealed. Over the same period, some 15,500 volunteers have been recruited and 343 libraries have closed, leading to fears over the future of the profession.”

North Korea is expanding its social media blocks. “North Korea has officially announced it is blocking Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and South Korean websites in a bid to further control access to outside information.”


From the Washington Post: When our culture’s past is lost in the cloud. “We’re now in the midst of the most far-reaching shift in media ever, as we rush to replace all manner of physical media with digital alternatives. The benefits are compelling. We’ve gained instant access to a seemingly infinite store of information. But there are losses, too.”

I have no idea whether this is amazing or creepy. It’s a tie. A man was offered condolences on the death of his father by the Google Now bot. Read the whole story. This is one of those things I can’t excerpt.


Oh the silly: Microsoft has created a face-swapping Skype bot. “Project Murphy is billed as ‘the robot with imagination.’ With a keyboard or your microphone, you can ask it to imagine the combination of two things, and it’ll do its best to answer in the form of a robotically-made composite image, sourced from Bing Image Search.” Good morning, Internet…

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Categories: morningbuzz

3 replies »

  1. No joke, the video of the Google Now bot made me cry at my desk. Chalk one up for AI.

  2. No joke, the video of the Google Now bot nearly made me cry at my desk. Tick mark in the amazing column.

  3. Sorry,the condolences from a creepy little bot 6 years late is totally creepy,not to mention reading and remembering emails is also.creepy. Another reason not to use google anything.

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