Form 990s, Detroit Destruction, Windows 10, More: Saturday Buzz, June 18, 2016


The IRS has made available a huge amount of form 990 data. The data are available on Amazon Web Services as a public data set, and it looks like it’s XML, so this is not a tool you can go searching through. It’s more like a back end of data for an API or something. Or you if were doing something small scale, you could probably use Google Sheets to importXML certain data, if you were able to use the URL standards to build the URL for the data you wanted.

The city of Detroit has launched a rather astonishing municipal tool: a demolition tracker. “With this new tool, anyone can track the nation’s largest demolition program, which has been awarded more than a quarter-billion dollars by the U.S. Treasury Department and Michigan State Housing Development Authority. In 2014, Detroit took down 4,000 vacant buildings. This year, the city will take down 5,000 dangerous structures and 6,000 more in 2017.”


Microsoft is testing a tool to get the junk out of your Windows 10 install. “Currently available only for Windows Insiders, the new tool fetches a copy of Windows online and performs a clean installation. The only option is whether or not you want to preserve your personal data. Any other software that’s installed will be blown away, including the various applications and utilities that OEMs continue to bundle with their systems.” The tool has some issues, and unless you’ve got a completely clean system you wouldn’t mind hosing, I wouldn’t start playing with it yet. Good idea, though.

Twitter has integrated a Periscope “Go Live” button into its mobile apps. But it’s more of a shortcut than anything else: “…it ‘sort of’ lets you use Periscope because in reality what it really does is it acts as a shortcut to the Periscope app. This is fine if you already have the app, but if you don’t, you’ll be prompted to download it.”

YouTube is rolling out new ad-maker tools. “The YouTube Director suite comes in three parts: the first is a free iOS app that lets you shoot your own commercial using a template and step-by-step instructions of what to shoot. There are also tools to add text and animation as well.”


From the excellent Social Media Examiner: 9 Visual Tools to Create Awesome Social Media Images. This is more of a series of steps with resource recommendations rather than just a pile of resources.

I’ve been bouncing between Mint Linux and Ubuntu Linux for the last couple of years, so I was glad to see this Mint vs Ubuntu article at MakeUseOf. It doesn’t clearly recommend one or the other, though, even based on whatever factors are relevant to you. But it’s a good breakdown of each system. (For the record, I’m currently on Ubuntu until it frustrates me so much that I go back to Mint, then I’ll be on Mint until it frustrates me so much I go back to Ubu, etc.)


I tried to read The Da Vinci Code. I honestly did. After one chapter and two instances of the book going flying across the room, I gave up. So I’m happy to see that some good came of that book, notably author Dan Brown’s donation of 300,000 euros to the Ritman Library in Amsterdam. “The funding will be used to digitize part of the library’s rare collection of books and manuscripts about the Hermetic religious tradition that Brown referenced when writing ‘The Lost Symbol’ and ‘Inferno’, [the library] said in a statement.” And if you liked it, good for you! I read all kinds of books but couldn’t stand that one.

Snapchat is launching its own online magazine. Uh… “According to the new website for Real Life, the magazine is going to ‘publish essays, arguments, and narratives about living with technology.’ Snapchat is looking to do something different here, instead of being about gadget reviews and industry gossip, Real Life is going to discuss how we live with technology. The new magazine is expected to launch on June 27th and will be “fully funded” by Snapchat.”


Google’s Android bug bounty program has paid out over half-a-million dollars in its first year. “Over the past twelve months Google has paid out more than $550,000 to 82 people for their discoveries, with an average of $2,200 per reward and $6,700 per researcher. The year’s top performer was Peter Pi (@heisecode) who earned $75,750 for 26 reports. Google also paid $10,000 or more to 15 researchers, but no one managed to snag the top prize for a complete remote exploit chain leading to TrustZone or Verified Boot compromise.”


Tim Carmody gives Facebook the knock it deserves for predicting an all-video future. “Text is surprisingly resilient. It’s cheap, it’s flexible, it’s discreet. Human brains process it absurdly well considering there’s nothing really built-in for it. Plenty of people can deal with text better than they can spoken language, whether as a matter of preference or necessity. And it’s endlessly computable — you can search it, code it. You can use text to make it do other things.” Good morning, Internet…

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