Australian Films, Image Search, BC Child Care, More: Wednesday Buzz, June 1, 2016


The Victorian College of the Arts will be releasing 50 student films into a digital archive. “Each week, in the run up to the anniversary party on June 19, the Victorian College of the Arts (VCA) will be releasing the films as part of a series of Pursuit articles highlighting films from the collection and the decades in which they were made. Head of Film and Television at the Victorian College of the Arts, Nicolette Freeman said the project was a celebration of the school’s legacy and its contribution to the Australian screen industry.” Check out the trailer for this project.

A new software/tech package lets you do image and video searches by sketch. “Researchers at the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science at the University of Basel have developed a system known as ‘vitrivr’, which allows a search for images and videos by means of a sketch. The user creates a sketch of the desired object on a tablet or interactive paper, and the program delivers the images and video clips that most resemble it. For videos, the user can even specify on the sketch in which direction an object is moving in the searched sequence.” The system is open source.

The government of British Columbia (Canada) has launched a online map to show daycare vacancies. “The new online child care map provides parents with a look at what facilities and programs are available in their cities. The map, which cost about $150,00 to create, also shows whether there are vacancies at any of the 4,000 licensed daycares across B.C., and what level of training staff at each daycare has.”


In Russia, Google is now more popular than Yandex. “The American company’s success over Russian web giant Yandex has been attributed to increasing numbers of users accessing the service through tablets and smartphones, Vedomosti reported. Statistics provided by market research agency TNS showed Google reached 20.5 million Russian users in April 2016. Yandex was only narrowly beaten with 20.4 million monthly users, while reached 19.3 million.”

The BBC is making its micro:bit computer available to everybody. “The BBC micro:bit is a small, 32-bit computer, with LED lights and buttons which can be programmed to do your bidding. It also has Bluetooth support, an accelerometer and a compass, widely expanding the number of usage scenarios.”


Because the Internet isn’t weird enough, there’s now a Werner Herzog chatbot on Facebook. “This is the first thing WernerBot — a whimsical Facebook message bot that claims to be the “best and only way to chat with Werner Herzog over the Internet” — will say to you when first engage it with a simple greeting, ‘Hello Werner.’ WernerBot is not affiliated with the famed director, but it responds in a way that one can’t help hearing Herzog’s excited voice.”

Uh-oh, looks like Google’s Go-playing AI AlphaGo is playing another human challenger. “The world’s top Go (or Weiqi) player, 19-year-old Chinese Ke Jie, is likely to compete with an AI-powered Go-playing system in October in Hainan province, according to a tweet on Chinese Twitter-like Sina Weibo. The tweet is believed to have been posted by the account of Ke’s official fan club. It also quoted a picture originally tweeted by Ke on his personal Weibo account, illustrating that he is confident he will defeat AlphaGo even though the system has defeated South Korean Go master Lee Sedol.”


What’s worse than ransomware? Self-replicating ransomware. “Dubbed ‘Ransom:Win32/ZCryptor.A,’ or simply ‘ZCryptor,’ the malware is distributed by the usual spam email infection vector. Once executed, the malware makes sure it runs once the system is booted. Furthermore, to be able to reproduce itself, it drops an autorun.inf in removable drives, a “zycrypt.lnk” in the start-up folder, along with a copy of itself as {Drive}:\system.exe and %APPDATA%\zcrypt.exe. Lastly, it changes the file attributes to hide itself from the user in the file explorer.”

A US Court has decided that Google Earth does not infringe any patents. “The US District Court for the District of Delaware has determined that the Google Earth technology, which is used to display refined images of the planet, did not infringe a US patent owned by Art+Com Innovationpool (ACI).”

Facebook, Twitter, Google, and Microsoft have reached an agreement with the EU over its hate speech rules. ” Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft, and YouTube today agreed to European regulations that require them to review ‘the majority of’ hateful online content within 24 hours of being notified — and to remove it, if necessary — as part of a new ‘code of conduct’ aimed at combating hate speech and terrorist propaganda across the EU. The new rules, announced Tuesday by the European Commission, also oblige the tech companies to identify and promote ‘independent counter-narratives’ to hate speech and propaganda published online.”

And in part 27 of the series “Removing someone’s name from data does not truly anonymize it,” we have this story about cars. “…researchers from the University of Washington and the University of California at San Diego have found that the data collected by a car’s onboard computer can be surprisingly personal. In fact it’s so personal, the researchers found that they could identify a driver — from a possible list of fifteen drivers — just by looking at data collected from the brake pedal alone.”


Zow: researchers in Finland have created a tool that uses Google trend to predict unemployment levels for the 28 members of the EU. “In the UK, 14 different search terms were chosen as likely indicators of someone’s unemployment, with other terms in other languages used in different countries.” Good morning, Internet…

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