Minnesota Radon, Depression, Life Sciences Search, More: Saturday Buzz, July 23, 2016


The state of Minnesota has launched a new tool to show incidences of radon across the state. “A majority of Minnesota counties have high average levels of radon, according to a new online tool that tracks the prevalence of the odorless gas linked to thousands of lung cancer deaths in the U.S. each year.”

UW-Madison has released a new resource on depression. “The website is a collection of firsthand accounts of 38 young adults with depression, displaying a total of 350 video, text and audio clips. … Specifically, the patients discuss how depression feels, living with depression, coming to terms with depression and self-care strategies.”

In beta, still developing: a new life sciences search engine called Bioz. “The Bioz platform uses natural language processing and machine learning to extract data from published research articles on which products were used, under what conditions, for what experiments, and with which companion products. A Bioz algorithm ranks products based on how many times it is used in experiments, the impact factor of the journal in which papers are published, and how recently a product has been used. The result is Bioz Star rankings, which are meant to be objective measures of a products usefulness, not user-generated reviews.”

A new search engine faceswaps you into image search results. “The system analyzes the picture of your face and determines how to intelligently crop it to leave nothing but your face. It then searches for images matching your search term — curly hair, for example — and looks for ‘doppelganger sets,’ images where the subject’s face is in a similar position to your own.” Bleh. It’s in closed beta and I can’t play with it.

In development: a guide to every state’s public records law. “With agencies increasingly using an array of exemptions to deny access to information, we want to help requesters fight back. We’re launching a project to track every public records exemption in all 50 states – and provide the information needed to successfully overcome times when information is improperly denied.”


BBC’s iPlayer Radio app is now available in the US. “BBC does radio well, and now Americans can experience the full effect of the UK broadcaster’s audio content expertise with the iPlayer Radio app for iOS and Android. The app contains all of BBC’s radio feeds, including Radio 1 through 6, as well as the World Service. It also has offline support for BBC podcasts, and curated collections of past content.” I am a big fan of BBC radio and so excited about this!

Google has updated its transparency report. “During the period from January 2015 to June 2015, the search giant received 4677 requests for user data from law enforcement agencies worldwide, the largest number of data requests that the company has ever received.


And in today’s Moment of Facepalm, Twitter will not Periscope its earnings report on Tuesday. “Twitter’s investor-relations account tweeted Friday afternoon that the company won’t use Periscope to broadcast its Q2 earnings, which are set to land next Tuesday. Twitter says that feedback from investors made the company realize that the video feed wasn’t that important.” Because after 20 years of popular culture livestreaming, it’s time to listen to the investors. For crying out loud, you’ve got the tail wagging the dog. Twitter, it’s up to YOU to make Periscope relevant to your investors. And with decisions like this it won’t happen!

Nigerian Olympic hopefuls are using social media to request funding. “Antwon Hick, a Nigerian hurdler, has also set up a GoFundMe campaign as well. He is trying to raise $5000….The current fastest man in Nigeria, Seye Ogunlewe, also took to Twitter and urged corporate organizations to assist them.”

Rumors are flying that Verizon is the front-runner in the bid for Yahoo. “Verizon is discussing a price close to $5 billion for Yahoo’s core internet business, one of the people said and the deal doesn’t include the company’s patents at this stage. While other assets including Yahoo’s real estate were also on the block, it could not immediately be learned if they are part of the deal.” That seems way too high.


Two facepalms in one issue of ResearchBuzz! Apparently the customer database for Asiana Airlines has been unsecured since 2013. “In line with its internal rules, the company had been deleting login records on the server between January 2013 and August 2014, making it impossible to trace server activity during the period…. The unprotected information includes citizen resident numbers, passport information, home addresses, bank account details, phone numbers and family relations records.”


WIRED: Twitter Is Running Out of Time To Get Real About Fighting Abuse. “Yes, Twitter walks a fine line in balancing its identity as an open network for all views while at the same time reserving the right to police content so that a mob can’t overpower and harass a single user. And in a lot of ways, it’s made progress: it explicitly banned revenge porn last year. It routinely works with groups to refine its anti-abuse tools, and it hasn’t shied away from banning other high-profile users in the past, including pop star Azealia Banks and right-wing troll Chuck C. Johnson. But some say Twitter is running out of excuses in its failure to fully address this problem.” Good morning, Internet…

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