Walrus Sightings, Brexit Sites, Wearable Tech, More: Monday Afternoon Buzz, July 25, 2016


Now available: a walrus database. “For 160 years, seafarers have braved polar bears, storms and bitter isolation to observe huge herds of walrus gathering off the coast of Alaska and Russia each summer. For the first time ever, all records, from aerial surveys and island expeditions to 19th Century diary entries and maps by Russian explorers, have been compiled in a single database.”

The UCLA Library has published an online archive of Brexit campaign Web sites. “The UK European Union Membership Referendum Web Archive captures information from 46 important ‘remain’ or ‘leave’ websites published by the UK government, trade unions, business groups and environmental and academic grassroots organizations. Also included are the websites of scholarly organizations such as Academics for Europe, Historians for Britain in Europe and the Federal Trust for Education and Research.”

Two companies are teaming up to create a database of wearable tech. “Vancouver-based Vandrico Solution and Deloitte have partnered to create a Wearable Technology Database with a goal of compiling a list of all ‘wearable products.’ The database currently includes 442 devices from 306 companies, with specific categories in the head, neck, torso, chest, arm, wrist, hand, legs, and feet categories.”


The Digital Library of Georgia has relaunched its Macon Telegraph newspaper archive. “The Macon Telegraph Historic Newspapers Archive is now compatible with all current browsers and provides access to early issues of the Macon Telegraph ranging from its inception as a weekly newspaper in 1826, through the daily issues of the early twentieth century without the use of plug-ins or additional software downloads. Consisting of over 51,000 newspaper pages, the website provides historical images that are both full-text searchable and can be browsed by date.”


German Pearls: 21 Amazing Google Cardboard Apps. “If you’ve been wondering what virtual reality (VR) is all about here’s a list of Google cardboard apps where you can explore new worlds and new adventures. There’s more to virtual reality than just playing VR games. With these VR apps you can explore places in the world you’ve never seen, take tours through other parts of the universe, experience extreme sports first hand or immerse yourself in a scary movie. The best part is that you don’t have to be a tech geek or spend a lot of money to check them out!”

Geektime has a writeup on a tool that translates natural language questions into SQL queries. “Kueri’s system enables developers to implant a unique search box within apps. The search box knows how to take questions from end users in natural language … and translate them into SQL queries in real time. The app can run the queries through the database and display the results to the user. In addition, in order to make it even easier for the end user, it facilitates automatic completion during typing, with completions of words and smart suggestions according to the context of the search and database.”


Huh. From TNW: When social goes wrong: My Vine feed is shockingly racist, and there’s no way to fix it. “Much of my Vine homepage is full of stupid ads for getting free ‘hoverboards’ or iPhones. It’s garbage, and I can’t get it to go away, no matter how many users I block. For You is a safe haven — or it should be. While Vine doesn’t say how it arrives at populating your feed, the assumption is that it’s based on your like and revine history. Which makes the fact that my ‘For You’ feed is really racist much more confusing.”


Yes, one of the benefits of Snapchat is that it’s not as permanent as other social networks. But if you decide to steal a vehicle and Snapchat the whole thing, you’re gonna get caught. “A New York man was arrested by Ocean City police on Saturday evening after stealing a Jeep Wrangler and driving it erratically on Coastal Highway all while recording the incident on Snapchat.”


Wow: using neural networks to turn face sketches into photorealistic images. How cool is this? “A team of four neuroscientists at Radboud University is working on a model for inverting face sketches to synthesize photorealistic face images by using deep neural networks. The results of the study (Convolutional Sketch Inversion) were first made available in the online archive arXiv and have recently been accepted at the European Conference on Computer Vision in Amsterdam.”

It’s good to stop and remember sometimes that more than half the world is still not on the Internet. “About 3.9 billion people, or 53 percent of the population, will still be offline at the end of this year, the International Telecommunication Union estimates. Even in Europe, the most connected region, 20.9 percent of all people aren’t online. In Africa, the least connected continent, 74.9 percent are offline.” Every week I have dinner with my family. Of the eight people usually at that dinner, three of them have no Internet access and don’t want it. Another one has access but as far as I know never uses it. And I’m in the US! Good afternoon, Internet…

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