Energy API, Google Search, Microsoft Flow, More: Tuesday Buzz, June 21, 2016


The US Energy Information Administration has released a new add-on for Google Sheets. “Similar to EIA’s Microsoft Excel extension, the new Sheets add-on allows users to browse EIA’s energy API data categories or search keywords to find domestic and international energy data for the production, consumption, and price of different fuels, as well as EIA’s short-term forecasts and long-term projections. EIA currently has 1.2 million data series available through the Application Programming Interface (API), developed as part of EIA’s Open Data program.”


Google is tweaking its search results to provide more health information. “…starting in the coming days, when you ask Google about symptoms like ‘headache on one side,’ we’ll show you a list of related conditions (‘headache,’ ‘migraine,’ ‘tension headache,’ ‘cluster headache,’ ‘sinusitis,’ and ‘common cold’). For individual symptoms like ‘headache,’ we’ll also give you an overview description along with information on self-treatment options and what might warrant a doctor’s visit. By doing this, our goal is to help you to navigate and explore health conditions related to your symptoms, and quickly get to the point where you can do more in-depth research on the web or talk to a health professional.”

Microsoft’s IFTTT competitor, Flow, now has a mobile app. Which is great, except that it’s iOS. Microsoft made an iOS app for Flow, apparently, before it made a Windows Mobile app for Flow. Wait, what?


Lifehacker’s got a writeup on an intriguing desktop client for Google Hangouts. “On a basic level, YakYak is a very simple little desktop client for Hangouts that looks pretty much exactly like the Hangouts app from Google itself. However, in YakYak, you can choose from a variety of color schemes, including a dark mode. You can also set up proper desktop notifications, and the app works without Chrome installed.”

MakeUseOf: 15 Awesome Chrome Extensions For Geeks. VERY geeky and all over the map.


WIRED: The Inventors of the Internet Are Trying to Build a Truly Permanent Web. “As fragile as paper is, written documents and records have long provided historians with a wealth of insight about that past that often helps shape the present. And they don’t need any special technology to read them. [Vint] Cerf himself points to historian Doris Kearns Goodwin’s 2005 bestseller Team of Rivals, which she based on the diary entries and letters of Abraham Lincoln and his cabinet members. The book influenced how President Obama shaped his own cabinet and became the basis for the Steven Spielberg film Lincoln. In short, old records are important. But as Cerf’s own email obsolescence shows, digital communications quickly become unreadable.”

MIT Technology Review: AI Drives Better Business Decisions. “As in other industries, business leaders in the automotive and financial-services industries have an urgent need for trusted and actionable real-world insights that can help them know and serve their customers better while enabling rapid innovation. Too often, however, executives have had to operate with uncertain, incomplete, and inconsistent information. Now advances in artificial intelligence (AI) have made the construction of data-based real-world models and simulations a reality.”

Governing: Dot-Govs Get a Much-Needed Facelift. “Is it time to give the government website a makeover? For years, city and state sites have been designed as portals through which the public could find as much information as possible. The motto was clearly, ‘the more, the better.’ But the result has been an overwhelming hodgepodge of columns and boxes filled with tiny text, drop-down menus that run on and on, and buttons everywhere.”

Fast Company: how to brainstorm like a Googler. “Here at Google, we don’t have a secret formula for innovation. But that doesn’t mean Googlers’ best ideas are ineffable mysteries. On the contrary, we’ve found they can be systematically coaxed into being and steadily improved upon. And so can yours.” Interesting reading, but I wiiiiiiiinced when I got to the Project Loon part.


This is why we can’t have nice things: ransomware that’s 100% JavaScript. “No additional software is downloaded, so once the JS/Ransom-DDL malware file is inside your network, it’s ready to scramble your data and pop up a ransom message all on its own.”

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked of Israel thinks large sites and content providers should be held accountable for their content. “The Justice Ministry is working on draft legislation ‘to order a removal’ of certain content from websites that incite to terrorism, and other legislation to curb specific content, like the distribution of child pornography, for example, she said. ‘In each case we are talking about content and websites that reach a particularly high threshold of criminal severity,’ she added.”

Oh dear. Apparently government Web sites aren’t so good at fighting off bots. “Distil Networks, a bot detection company, recently assessed about 1,000 websites for their ability to defend against bot attacks of varying complexity. Sites related to consumer, government and financial services were unable to detect the most ‘advanced’ level of bots, according to the assessment. ” Good morning, Internet…

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