Victoria Cross, Scorpion Venom, Facebook Messenger, More: Monday Buzz, June 20, 2016


The UK government has created an online archive for the 175 non-UK recipients of the Victoria Cross during World War I. There are 175 recipients from 11 countries, including Belgium, India, Pakistan, and Ukraine.

Now available: a database of peptide toxins from scorpion venom. “The Kalium database is a set of information on peptide toxins extracted from scorpion venom that act on potassium channels. This constitutes half of all known peptide blockers of these channels. Once they enter the body, they selectively act on certain ion channels – membrane proteins that play a leading role in the transmission of signals in the nervous system. The disruption of the function of these proteins leads to various diseases, and therefore, they are considered important pharmacological targets.” There are currently 174 toxins in the database.

I always like the idea of these, but they always seem to end up weird. In the hope this one doesn’t end up weird, I’ll note that The Next Web has a writeup on Chatible, which lets you chat anonymously with people on Facebook. “It’s a simple bot for Facebook’s Messenger that connects you to another person anonymously, so you can get to chatting right away, with no preset agenda. It’s really as simple as that. There are other apps like it, but I was drawn to Chatible simply because it works in Messenger, in which I already spend a fair amount of time and am familiar with the interface.”


Still kicking: Yahoo has launched a couple new advertising options. “Today, as we kick off Cannes, we’re excited to announce two new opportunities for our advertisers to enhance their content marketing and mobile advertising efforts: Yahoo Storytellers and Yahoo Tiles. We are launching Yahoo Storytellers, a full service content marketing studio for brands and agencies that leverages Yahoo’s editorial expertise, extensive data, and native advertising through Yahoo Gemini. Now marketers can leverage Yahoo Storytellers to successfully develop, distribute and measure premium branded content that meets consumers’ high expectations and drives engagement.”


Algeria has blocked social media in the wake of a student cheating scandal. “Almost half of students are being forced to retake the baccalaureat exam, starting on Sunday, after the initial session was marred by online leaking.” Does the notion of a country shutting down Internet / social media access to stop cheating sound familiar? Ding ding ding! This is also happening in Iraq.

Microsoft did some testing to see how different browsers impacted a laptop’s battery life. Google Chrome did not fare well.

D-Link has launched an IFTTT-compatible camera. I was talking on a Facebook thread the other day about using IFTTT to make a security system, and this fits right in. “The DCS-8200LH captures video in 720p resolution and stores it on a local microSD card (up to 128GB capacity, but there is currently no cloud-storage option). De-warping technology will reduce the visual distortion you’d otherwise get from such a wide-angle lens, while h.264 and MJPEG compression will shrink the size of its video-capture files. Infrared LEDs enable the camera to see objects in the dark up to 16 feet away.”

The Verge: Facebook planned my birthday party, and I can’t decide how to feel about it. “… when my birthday approached this year, I thought I might invite one or two friends to dinner and enjoy the relative calm. But Facebook’s growth team had other ideas. A short while later, another friend sent me a screenshot similar to the one that Matt had, asking me what the hell was going on. I imagined dozens of my friends receiving the notification and simultaneously rolling their eyes. Look at Mr. Big Shot, getting Facebook to organize his parties for him. What will it be for you on your name day, Your Majesty? A tour of the seven kingdoms, perhaps?”


GotoMyPC has apparently hacked and is resetting passwords for everyone. “Unfortunately, the GoToMYPC service has been targeted by a very sophisticated password attack. To protect you, the security team recommended that we reset all customer passwords immediately. Effective immediately, you will be required to reset your GoToMYPC password before you can login again.”

Ugh. Own an HP laptop? Check ya battery. “This week, HP chalks up another battery recall covering a raft of laptops sold worldwide between March 2013 and August 2015. According to the company, batteries shipped with these laptops ‘have the potential to overheat, posing a fire and burn hazard to customers.'”

Is the government of Russia considering a bug bounty? Weird. “Local media report deputy Communications Minister Aleksei Sokolov is discussing a possible bug bounty with the Russian tech sector. The implications of such a bounty are being considered including staffing requirements for bug triage and validation, and the need to find a way to force developers to develop and apply patches for affected software.”


Is Instagram’s popularity slowing down? “Lately Instagram has been grabbing all the headlines for the right reasons. Introductions of algorithm, new color to go with the app’s icon, and more features to encourage brands to advertise on the platform. The Facebook-owned photo sharing app is also enjoying a boom in terms of active users—400 million people to be precise. However, the photo sharing social network platform suffered a 33 percent drop in both Likes and Interactions (Comments) over a period of one year, according to a new study.” Good morning, Internet…

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