Ballet, British Columbia, Local Business, More: Wednesday Buzz, April 20, 2016


Many thanks to Paul J who gave me the heads-up on a new YouTube channel from the George Balanchine Foundation. From the announcement he forwarded to me: “The GBF’s Video Archive Collection is designed to document as closely as possible Mr. Balanchine’s original intent as he choreographed his ballets. We engaged dancers for whom Mr. Balanchine either created or taught his ballets to coach today’s dancers in these roles. These recorded coaching sessions provide invaluable insights into Mr. Balanchine’s creative process. At the end of each coaching session, a dance historian or critic interviews the original interpreter(s) in depth in order to further flesh out Mr. Balanchine’s ideas. These interviews will now be readily accessible to dance professionals, students and the general public through our YouTube channel.”

The 1978-1985 photo archives of The Whistler Question (Whistler, British Columbia, Canada) are being archived. “When the collection’s digitization is complete, anyone with an Internet connection will be able to explore this town’s sporting events, parades, Village construction projects, road collisions, festivals and portraits of locals from the years 1978-1985. Corresponding captions that originally accompanied the photos in each week’s published newspapers will tell the story of Whistler’s transitional years and the day-to-day lives of the people who lived here at the time, all on one snazzy website.” Seven years might not seem like much, but that’s about 35,000 photos according to the story.


Hoo boy. Looks like Google is testing ads in its Google Maps search results. Barry’s got the story and the screen shots. Man, local businesses which are not Internet-savvy are just going to get crushed…

Microsoft has expanded its Skype-bots. “At Microsoft’s annual BUILD conference in March, the company announced its plans to bring bots to Skype and other communications platforms, including Slack, Outlook, LINE, and elsewhere. Today, the company says Skype bots have rolled out in ‘preview’ to two additional platforms: Mac and Skype on the web.”


Vice has a writeup on a very cool tool that can help organize your searches and saved data. “Save the Web page” tools are not new, but this sounds simple and elegant. “Hunchly works as a Google Chrome extension. After installation, users can create a new ‘case,’ and then start their normal sleuthing. Every URL visited or Google search typed is stored locally on the machine, and users can call up full, archived versions of each piece of content. This applies even if the original version has been deleted, and the storage only happens when the user turns Hunchly on. Hunchly doesn’t collect videos.”


Dennis Yu over at SocialTimes breaks down one of those weird spammy Facebook ads so you don’t have to.

Would you like to spend eternity as a chatbot? “Eternime says it ‘preserves your most important thoughts, stories and memories for eternity’. Which sounds sweet, until you read the vaguely threatening website: ‘We all pass away sooner or later. We only leave behind a few photos, maybe some home videos, or in rare situations, a diary or autobiography,’ adding: ‘But eventually, we are all forgotten.'” I find this horrifying. There’s a presumption here that you never change and grow and therefore any static collection of your thoughts is perfectly all right. Am I going to think and believe the same things 20 years from now as I do now? Do I really want a snapshot of myself, well-meaning but absolutely flawed, frozen in some AI and nattering on and on while my ghost listens somewhere and winces?

Man, What is going on with Google and Nest? “Nest, the smart home company under Alphabet, has suffered a wave of recent press critical of its culture and business. So much so that, as we reported last week, CEO Tony Fadell appeared before the all-hands meeting of sister company Google to offer a contrite defense of his firm. That message didn’t stick across all of Google.”

No matter what happens with the Yahoo sale, Marissa Mayer will be okay. Really okay. “What’s the price of failure? For Yahoo’s boss, Marissa Mayer, it could be about $137m. Bids are now in for the ailing tech company – and no matter who gets it, Mayer is set to be one of the biggest winners.” It would not shock me at all if she actually ends up banking more than the company is sold for.


Canada’s Competition Bureau has dropped its Google probe. “The watchdog said it had found evidence to support one of the allegations against Google but that the company had already made changes to remedy those concerns and agreed not to reintroduce anticompetitive clauses in its contracts.”

Meanwhile, the EU is charging Google with violating antitrust laws. “As part of the latest charges — officially known as a statement of objections — Margrethe Vestager, Europe’s competition chief, said on Wednesday that Google had unfairly promoted its own services, like mobile search and Google Maps, with cellphone manufacturers, limiting how rival companies could operate in the fast-growing smartphone software market.”

The leaked database of Filipino voters is now searchable online. eeesh.


Ad blockers block ads, but they can also mess up your Web site experience. “According to tests conducted on the UK’s 100 most popular websites, ad blockers didn’t just block pop-ups, but accidentally corrupted useful parts of a website, such as an airline check-in screens or retail order tracking pages. If you were browsing, all you would see is an error message or simply a chunk missing on screen, but no explanation for what was behind it.” Good morning, Internet…

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