Minnesota Biodiversity, Search With Emoji, Snapchat, More: Friday Evening Buzz, May 20, 2016


There is now a biodiversity atlas for the state of Minnesota. “The Minnesota Biodiversity Atlas is an online digital resource offering public access to hundreds of thousands of plant and animal specimens, from algae to zebras. The Atlas–the midwest’s first portal to integrate such disparate collections–houses over 5 terabytes of data from the museum’s botanical and zoological collections. More than 16,000 species from Minnesota and around the world are represented such as the calypso orchid and the emerald shiner.”


SEO Roundtable is reporting that Google now lets you search by emoji. I’m having mixed result while I play with it. Slot machine and rabbit emoji worked fine, but a couple of flags and a heart emoji didn’t work. Hit and miss.

Oh good grief, is Snapchat going to go to an algorithmic timeline too? Boo hiss! “Many publishers and brands are earmarking resources for Snapchat, the platform of the moment for reaching a large, young and active audience. Users currently see all the messages from accounts they follow in chronological order, but with an algorithm, Snapchat would act as curator of content from publishers and, especially, brands, according to sources.”


Android Police has a writeup on a nifty new app from Google called Science Journal. “Science Journal gathers data from your smartphone’s sensors or compatible external sensors (there’s a list of kits on Making & Science’s site). That can be the ambient light sensor, the microphone, or the motion sensor, and data will be gathered automatically and in real-time by your phone and plotted on nice graphs for you.”


From LittleSis News: The Business of Social Media Surveillance. “In keeping with our mission to monitor and track the powers that be, we at LittleSis turned the surveillance gaze back onto the local forces monitoring social media. We not only dug into the corporate profiles of some of the companies police contract to snoop on your Tweets and Facebook rants, we also filed freedom of information requests to twenty police departments across the country to find out how, when, and why they monitor social media.”

Megan McDonough, at the Washington Post, writes about a book with a fascinating subject. “In his book ‘Animal Internet,’ German author Alexander Pschera charts the new digital frontier in the human-animal relationship. Gone are the days of an untouched natural world. We have entered wilderness 2.0, where problem animals such as sharks can be tracked and monitored for human protection and vulnerable creatures such as snow leopards can signal us and receive support. The Internet, according to Pschera, can serve as a powerful tool to provide insight into the inner lives of animals. ‘We are standing on the threshold of a new era of interaction with and awareness of nature,’ he writes.”

Bids for Yahoo are expected to come in lower than originally anticipated. And if you’re shocked by this you haven’t been paying attention to the story. “The declining sales price may seem like more terrible news for the struggling Sunnyvale, Calif., tech firm. But the precipitous drop likely has more to do with what bidders are defining as Yahoo’s core business than Yahoo’s declining fortunes.”


Your vocabulary word of the day is Google dorking. “On Monday, a group within the US Government Services Administration became the latest cautionary tale when more than 100 Google Drives used by the agency were publicly accessible for five months. Investigators said the breach was the result of its OAuth 2.0 authentication system being set up to authorize access between the group’s Slack account and the GSA Google Drives. Blunders like these continue to happen more than a decade after Google dorking, also known as Google hacking, became a widely known technique available to both whitehat and blackhat hackers alike.”

Florida courts will allow Google to be sued because it delisted sites identified as “pure spam”. Pure spam? Bit of an oxymoron, isn’t it? Like pure pollution? “The case is called e-ventures Worldwide, LLC vs. Google. According to the facts laid out in court documents, in 2014 ‘e-ventures was notified by Google that 231 websites owned by e-ventures were being manually removed by Google from all of Google’s search results because they had been identified as “pure spam.”‘ Eventually all or most of e-ventures’ URLs were delisted. The plaintiff argues its sites were not spam, that Google delisted it erroneously and that it has suffered ‘irreparable harm’ as a result.”


Michigan State University research: Social Media Poses Threat to People with Intellectual Disabilities. “A first-of-its-kind study co-authored by a Michigan State University scholar finds that adults with Williams syndrome – who are extremely social and trusting – use Facebook and other social networking sites frequently and are especially vulnerable to online victimization. Roughly a third of study participants said they would send their photo to an unknown person, arrange to go to the home of a person they met online and keep online relationships from their parents.” This study focuses on Williams syndrome, but it would be good to do similar studies for Down syndrome, autism, etc. Good evening, Internet…

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