Prince, Historical July 4th, Profile Pictures, More: Wednesday Afternoon Buzz, July 6, 2016


The official Web sites of musician Prince have gotten an online archive. “‘We launch with 12 of Prince’s most popular sites, but over 20 years online, Prince launched nearly 20 different websites, maintained a dozen different social media presences, participated in countless online chats and directly connected with fans around the world,’ Sam Jennings, director of the Prince Online Museum, tells Billboard. Jennings was also webmaster of Prince’s NPG Music Club website, which offered music, videos and radio shows to fans online via monthly and annual memberships from 2001 to 2006; in 2006, Prince was the winner of a Webby Lifetime Achievement Award and the NPG Music Club won a Webby Award for best celebrity/fan site.”

In development: an online archive exploring the 4th of July during the Civil War era. “The war and its aftermath brought the issues of racial equality and national identity to the fore. Americans disagreed sharply on these matters, and it was on the fourth day of July each year that they were most likely to air their opinions. Everyone could have their say: not only the political leaders and intellectuals, but ordinary men and women, black and white Americans, soldiers and civilians, immigrants and the native born. The full kaleidoscope of differing views can only be appreciated by studying the treasure trove of newspaper articles, letters, diaries and countless other primary sources that Civil War era Americans left behind. Reading the testimony of the participants, in their own words, is the only way to understand the complex history of Independence Day during America’s greatest crisis. To make these fascinating stories more accessible, a team of faculty, staff, and students at Virginia Tech is currently building an interactive online archive of primary sources covering the entire Civil War era, 1848—1877.”

Possibly new, possibly only new-to-me: want to see all the profile pictures on Facebook? All of ’em? ALL ONE BILLION PLUS OF THEM? Here ya go. “A new website created by Freelance technologist Natalia Rojas brings together all 1.278,842,363 Facebook profile pictures in one place, and claims to arranged them numerically starting with Facebook Founder Mark Zuckerberg. Try it yourself.” I’m not sure how this would work. I can say there are a LOT of profile pictures here, it was fun to play in, and it was kind of comforting to zoom around the page and look at all the different people.


Twitter’s gone to Wimbledon. “It’s a match made in second screen heaven: Twitter has just launched its first sports livestream broadcast with today’s Wimbledon games.”

Another round of Yahoo bids are due today. At this writing I don’t have any news on the bids, but here’s an update on the latest. “Yahoo suitors will offer up their third round of bids tomorrow, according to sources close to the situation, yet another sluggish step in the endless process that has become the sale of the former Silicon Valley powerhouse. Remaining bidders — including Verizon and a group headed by Quicken Loans’ Dan Gilbert — have been told that the final selection process will take place around July 18.” Between this and the other moves that Verizon has been making lately on the phone side, I’ve been trying to figure out what it’s up to. Some kind of pivot, I think, but it’s murky from over here.


The Guardian newspaper built a bot for finding recipes on its site, then wrote up the experience. “We initially had two bot ideas we wanted to explore: a football bot and a food bot. The football bot proposal was complex, offering information about the Euros and functionality to send football related notifications to people when we start a live blog. We tested both concepts by building…nothing. We decided to write a pre-scripted interaction, and test it behind the curtain using a technique called Wizard of Oz testing. We were strict with ourselves, and only responded to users in a way that a ‘dumb’ bot might do.”

Martha Stewart apparently thinks Facebook Live is a good thing. “Martha Stewart is expanding her empire to include Facebook Live. According to The Wall Street Journal, Stewart is using the livestreaming platform to replace her much more expensive, complicated TV show.”


Lenovo computers apparently have yet another security problem. Oh c’mon, Lenovo! Who do you think you are.. Adobe? “Lenovo, and possibly other PC vendors, is exposed to a UEFI bug that can be exploited to disable firmware write-protection. If the claims made by Dmytro Oleksiuk at Github are correct, an attacker can ‘disable flash write protection and infect platform firmware, disable Secure Boot, [and] bypass Virtual Secure Mode (Credential Guard, etc.) on Windows 10 Enterprise.'” To be fair, this looks like it might be more of an Intel problem than a Lenovo-specific problem.

Once again, Facebook’s crack security team is keeping its site safe for all of us, by banning the account of a woman who happens to be named Isis. “Facebook, much to the dismay of a 27-year-old British woman, still hasn’t gotten it through its social media noggin that somebody by the name of Isis who takes out an account is not necessarily a bloodthirsty jihadist looking to promote the Islamic State. Yes, that’s right: Facebook’s real-name policy, or maybe its report abuse function, has struck again.” This actually happened to another lady named Isis back in November, and apparently a Facebook rep said that the company was “working on fixing it”. KEEP WORKING.


Wow! A facial recognition AI was narrowly beaten by a human with apparently astounding observational skills. “Wang [Yuheng] is famous in China for his photographic memory. He successfully identified a specific glass of water out of 520 seemingly identical ones in a Chinese reality TV show. He also reportedly helped police crack a case by extracting ‘hidden clues’ from surveillance camera footage, thanks to his exceptional observational skills.”


I’ve never met Howard Hamilton and I probably never will, but he’s my kind of guy. “Hamilton has spent his life mining Omaha newspapers and archives for the bits of the past that are often quickly forgotten. His home is filled with scrapbooks — hundreds of them — that document the city from its founding to the present day. Demolitions. Ribbon-cuttings. Famous residents. Historical oddities. A lot of historical oddities.” Good afternoon, Internet…

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