Private-Sector Mandates, California Doctors, Periscope, More: Wednesday Buzz, May 11, 2016


The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has released a new tool for private and intergovernmental mandates. “Users can now search for mandates by entering keywords and selecting filters such as budget functions and costs relative to the statutory thresholds. Data are currently available for calendar years 2013–2015, and new data will be added periodically throughout the year. In addition to the new search, CBO’s website also features background information about the agency’s work under the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (UMRA) and historical data about mandates identified in bills and public laws.” I wasn’t really sure what a mandate was in this context, but another page on gave me a little background: “CBO analyzes pending federal legislation and enacted laws to identify private-sector mandates, which are enforceable duties imposed on entities in the private sector. About 12% of the laws enacted between 2001 and 2011 impose such mandates.” I did a search for agriculture in private sector mandates and got two results, with the listing for the Agriculture Reauthorizations Act of 2015 having two mandates noted in its result: “Extends fees assessed on exporters of grain for inspection and weighing services,” and “Extends and expands reporting requirements for packers, processors, and importers of livestock.”

From Boing Boing comes a writeup about a spreadsheet that has aggregated information about California doctors on probation. “State medical boards are hybrids: part independent regulator, part industry association. They are in charge of handing down professional probations against doctors who do wrong, but the details of which doctors are on probation, and why, are kept from patients. Until now. Using Freedom of Information requests, Consumer Reports has extracted doctors’ probation records for California, assembling them into a searchable spreadsheet.”


Periscope is adding some new features. “Everyday, our community creates amazing broadcasts — whether visiting a new place, performing a song, or sparking a passionate discussion. In the coming weeks, we’re launching broadcast search and drone support to help people form communities around the topics they care about and broadcast from new perspectives. We also want to share a preview of our full beyond 24 hours approach that will be available in the coming weeks.”

Okay then: Google Cardboard has an unofficial Virtual Boy emulator. “Nintendo’s Virtual Boy is often used as a grisly warning in articles about virtual reality. ‘This is what you get when expectations outpace technology,’ they say. “A bulky headset, six months of nonexistent sales, and users complaining of dizziness and neck pain.” But we’ve moved past these failings with the latest VR boom, and now, even the Virtual Boy has been made palatable with time, with one Reddit user (The-King-of-Spain) managing to get some of the system’s old titles working on Google Cardboard.”


Wow stuff from MakeUseOf: How to Use Google Forms to Create an Interactive Workflow. “Google Forms isn’t just another simple survey tool. In its most simple form, it’s a free data collection tool. With a little know-how, you can unleash the combined power within Google Forms, Google Sheets, and Add-ons to create some powerful workflows to help you get more done in the office.”

Use Windows 10? The latest update is giving a small number of computers a performance problem. But fortunately there’s a fix. “Microsoft released its latest cumulative update for Windows 10 PCs and phones today, bringing a wide range of fixes and improvements, and bumping the build number up to 10586.318. For PCs, though, the update – which is documented on Microsoft’s site as KB3156421 – may also introduce a fresh issue for some devices. Luckily, there’s a possible fix if your PC is affected.”


Facebook and Peabody are teaming up. “The Peabody Awards and Facebook teamed up to create the Peabody-Facebook Futures of Media Award, aimed at recognizing ‘excellence and innovation in digital storytelling.'”

National Geographic is getting deeper into social media, with new content planned for VR and Instagram. “National Geographic has unveiled plans to form a virtual reality studio and announced plans for its first Instagram video series.”


Oh dear. Google had a bit of an embarrassing data leak. It wasn’t Google’s fault, though – it was a vendor. “Google employees’ personal details have been spilled by a vendor who handles the company’s benefits management.Somebody working at the third-party vendor accidentally breached the employees’ information by sending an email with sensitive data to a benefits manager at another company.”


Doc Searls takes a look at the online advertising bubble. “I started calling online advertising a bubble in 2008. I made “The Advertising Bubble” a chapter in The Intention Economy in 2012. I’ve been unpacking what I figure ought to be obvious (but isn’t) in 52 posts and articles (so far) in the Adblock War Series. This will be the 53rd.”

From Pew (pew pew pew pew!): How mobile readers get news via Facebook and Twitter. “Facebook sends by far the most mobile readers to news sites of any social media site, while Twitter mobile users spend more engaged time with news content, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of audience behavior metrics from 30 news sites. This gap holds true for both longer and shorter news articles.”

NYT: What Do Our Online Avatars Reveal About Us?. My Facebook avatar is a South Park version of myself. ‘Nuf said. “Our avatars represent a self-image that’s fractured across dozens of sites and text bubbles and email chains. We present ourselves differently on Twitter and Tumblr and Slack depending on the norms built into each space. On Facebook, I’m posed by a professional photographer, waist contorted into a slimmed line, eyes peering up out the window of a skyscraper. On Snapchat, I’m burrowed into my office chair, blankly blinking my eyes open and closed. On Candy Crush, I’m a cartoon man-otter. I don’t particularly know why I’ve selected these avatars as my representatives; it’s some combination of my read on the platform’s sensibility, my emotional state at the time of upload and the suite of photos I had on my phone at that moment.” Good morning, Internet…

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