Washington Courts, Indiana Vital Records, Indiana Trails, More: Sunday Buzz, June 5, 2016


The state of Washington has created a new site providing published opinions of the Washington Supreme Court and Court of Appeals. It looks like it goes back to about 1854. “The opinions on the new website are intended to mirror word-for-word the opinions that are printed in the state’s official set of appellate court opinions – the books and advance sheets that make up the Washington Reports series and the Washington Appellate Reports series. For this reason, users will be able to quote language from the new website’s opinions with confidence in its accuracy.”

A partnership with Ancestry means that more Indiana vital records are now available online. “The project, which began in October 2014, was a collaboration among the IARA, the Indiana State Department of Health and The new collections available online include Indiana marriage records from 1958-2005, Indiana death records from 1900-2011 and Indiana birth certificates from 1907-1940.”

More Indiana: National Trails Day was yesterday, so to celebrate the state of Indiana launched a new trail-finding tool. “The web app, called ‘InDNR Trail Finder,’ allows users to explore Indiana’s more than 3,600 miles of public trails, including federal, state, local and non-profit trails. The app is compatible with a variety of interfaces and uses data from the existing Indiana Trails Inventory. The trail finder features information on trails for hiking, biking, mountain biking, horseback riding and motorized recreation. ”


Google Scholar has added query suggestions. “When you do a query, the results page may also include related search queries to help you explore different directions within your topic of interest. Query suggestions appear after search results.” Currently this new feature is for selected English-language queries only, but there are plans for that to expand.

Wow, the Amazon Echo has gotten pretty smart — it now has over 1000 skills. “In an announcement, the company highlighted several of the more notable additions to Alexa’s selection of skills, including those from Capital One, Domino’s, Fitbit, KAYAK, SmartThings, Uber, and others. Rob Pulciani, Director, Amazon Alexa, also gave an idea of the third-party developer community’s size – which is now in the ‘tens of thousands.’ That implies significant interest in at least toying around with Alexa, even if not all developers are actually launching apps.”

The New York Times is closing down the ArtsBeat blog. “This is post No. 23,231 on the ArtsBeat blog. And it is the last one. But don’t fret, faithful readers! None of the content that appeared here is being lost. Links will persist, and past posts should be easily found through search. The Times’s online culture coverage will still be delivered on our website and to mobile devices and apps.”


Online Journalism Blog: 5 ways to find useful Snapchat accounts to follow as a journalist. Finding good Snapchat accounts to follow really is more difficult than it should be.


Snicker. People are testing Google’s own Web sites with Google’s new site testing tool and it’s not going well. (Google is apparently saying that the scores are an early-launch error.)

Tony Fadell is leaving his position as head of Nest Labs. “The departure, and problems that precipitated it, are a blow to Google, which purchased Nest in 2014 for $3.2 billion, its third-largest acquisition ever. The deal brought in a proven technology hardware executive to help the internet giant design better devices and integrate its web services deeper into people’s homes.”

You often think of SEO expertise as something only smaller companies need, right? After all, the big boys wouldn’t have any problem with SEO. Apparently, not so much. “Facebook has a job listing up to hire a SEO or SEM engineer. I am not sure why it says SEO or SEM, why not SEO & SEM or SEO only or SEM only because the job description seems very SEO oriented.”


The Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) is warning about a rise in extortion attempts following several high-profile data breaches. “The Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) continues to receive reports from individuals who have received extortion attempts via e-mail related to recent high-profile data thefts. The recipients are told that personal information, such as their name, phone number, address, credit card information, and other personal details, will be released to the recipient’s social media contacts, family, and friends if a ransom is not paid.”

Facebook is stating that it does not use your phone’s mic to listen to ambient audio and use it to target advertising to you. The rumors have been floating around in stories for the last few days; I have not mentioned it here because I never saw any with hard evidence or even cogent speculation. If Facebook did do this I can’t imagine how it wouldn’t violate all kinds of wiretapping laws. Anyway, now that Facebook has responded, I have a reason a little stronger than rumor to mention it. “Facebook has shut down rumors that it uses your mobile device’s microphone to eavesdrop on conversations so it can better target ads. In a statement issued on June 2nd, Facebook said it ‘does not use your phone’s microphone to inform ads or to change what you see in News Feed.’ The company says it only shows ads based on people’s interests and other profile information.” There are, of course, all kinds of ways to test this if you really don’t believe Facebook. Good morning, Internet…

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