Ransomware, Presidential Candidates, Talkshow, More: Wednesday Buzz, July 27, 2016


A new Web site wants to help people avoid ransomware – or, if infected, to get files back without paying up. “The ‘No More Ransom’ initiative sees Europol, the Dutch National Police, Intel Security, and Kaspersky Lab join forces to create a portal that provides keys to unlocking encrypted files, as well as information on how to avoid getting infected in the first place.”


Google has had trouble before with the information it puts at the top of its search results. The latest is having only three candidates for President. “Searching for ‘presidential candidates’ brings up a handy guide above all of the other search results with pictures of candidates with active campaigns. Clicking on a picture brings up searches for the candidates. The only problem is that Republican candidate Donald Trump isn’t included. Neither is Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson.” The guide has been removed. Let the conspiracy theories begin. Google has way too much money and way too much reach for stuff like this.

Talkshow has added an “AMA” feature. “Michael Sippey, one of Talkshow’s co-founders, says that the feature was born out of users holding impromptu Ask Me Anything sessions. But the only way for the audience to chime in was to be promoted to co-host, where they can say anything they want. They could then be removed from the discussion, but adding and removing these guests can be a hassle. The new feature, however, lets viewers submit questions and/or responses, which the host can review before allowing them through. It’s like a moderated comments section, but in real-time.”


WIRED: How to Turn Google Into the Best To-Do App Ever. It’s all true about reminders, and the “HEY-O!” comment cracked me up.

From Lifehacker / Zapier: a handy visual guide to using Google Forms. Yeah, there’s a little Zapier advertising at the end, but it’s still useful.


Mashable: How Google Street View lets people reconnect with lost loved ones. “In recent years, more and more users of Street View have been harnessing the power of the service’s time shift feature, which allows you to move backward and forward in time to sometimes catch loved ones as they were captured by Google’s Street View cameras.”

I do not want to make this a Yahoo-heavy newsletter any more than I want to make it a Pokemon Go heavy newsletter, but Gizmodo has a thorough list of what happened with all the companies Yahoo acquired during Marissa Mayer’s tenure. (And linking to the story about making Nick D’Aloisio cry was really tacky. C’mon.) For nostalgia, just focus on the names of each acquisition and relieve that brief period in late 2013 when apparently most of the Internet was allergic to vowels.

The Guardian takes a look at Twitter’s quarter. “Twitter is battling for a share of the internet’s booming video advertising budgets, its executives said on Tuesday, as the company reported its slowest growth in quarterly revenue since going public in 2013.”

Sometimes I am rather joltingly reminded that I do not think of all the aspects of how the Internet of Things might work. Some things just don’t occur to me. Like mapping swarms of rats. “Royal ratcatcher Rentokil Initial is becoming an online ratcatcher after it teamed up with Google and consultancy PA to provide a ‘digital pest control’ service that will employ internet of things (IoT) technology to not only monitor infestations but then also predict rodent behaviour and map swarms of pests across continents.”


Do you use a wireless keyboard? They’re very convenient. But when it comes to safe? … not so much. “On Tuesday Bastille’s research team revealed a new set of wireless keyboard attacks they’re calling Keysniffer. The technique, which they’re planning to detail at the Defcon hacker conference in two weeks, allows any hacker with a $12 radio device to intercept the connection between any of eight wireless keyboards and a computer from 250 feet away> What’s more, it gives the hacker the ability to both type keystrokes on the victim machine and silently record the target’s typing.”

Experts are preparing to ban the use of SMS in two-factor authentication. “In the latest draft of the Digital Authentication Guideline, the rules by which authentication software must abide, the US National Institute for Standards and Technology is preparing to get rid of SMS-based two-factor authentication.”


Microsoft is working on “Shazam for Flowers”. “Has this ever happened to you? You’re out walking with your daughter. She finds a beautiful flower, quizzes you on it, but you’re stumped — you have no idea what it is. Instead of having to admit you don’t know, what if you could quickly identify the flower or any other plant wherever you happen to be? But how? At least 250,000 species of flowers exist and even experienced botanists have trouble identifying them all. Now there’s a way thanks to the rising power and sophistication of image recognition and the ease of taking pictures with your smartphone.” Good morning, Internet…

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