Voting Rights, Biomedical Animations, Gov Oversight, More: Wednesday Afternoon Buzz, July 27, 2016


The state of Tennessee has launched a new online archive about the fight for women’s voting rights in that state. “This online collection about the suffrage movement, drawn from the many documents and photographs stored at Library & Archives, includes papers from prominent pro-suffrage lobbyist Carrie Chapman Catt, anti-suffrage lobbyist Josephine A. Pearson and Governor Albert H. Roberts, as well as letters, telegrams, political cartoons, broadsides, photographs and three audio clips. In all, the online collection already has more than 100 items and more will be added as the 100th anniversary of the suffrage vote approaches.”

This sounds interesting: a database of 3D biomedical animations. “Have you ever wanted to see what’s going on inside the human body? The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research in Victoria is creating a free online database of more than 100 scientifically accurate 3D biomedical animations.” I took a look at “Molecular Visualisations of DNA,” which was a 3-minute YouTube video. Very interesting, but the background noise of the video (not the narration, but the background noise) was distracting and kind of creepy.

New to me, but man, it looks fantastic: Oversight Garden. “The US government has many dozens of offices dedicated to keeping the government honest and efficient through strong, independent oversight. They produce a lot of good work, but the results are scattered all over the internet. Sometimes they get the attention they deserve, and many times they don’t. It would be a shame for good oversight to go overlooked. We gather the work of the US government oversight community in one place so you can freely search and subscribe to it.” There are just under 50,000 documents on the site.


Microsoft Word has gotten an interesting research feature. “Researcher uses Microsoft’s Bing Knowledge Graph to query content from the internet and then pull it straight into Word. Microsoft has a curated list of trusted sources and reference materials which the company plans to expand upon over time. If you add source material, it will even automatically create the citation in your bibliography as part of your research paper.”

Google has launched the Google Play Family Library. “For families like mine, who bond over shared entertainment, we’re introducing Family Library, a way for up to six family members to share purchases on Google Play. When you buy an eligible app, game, movie, TV show, or book in the Play Store, you can now share it with your family—across devices—with no additional sign-up fee.”

Google has open-sourced a spatial audio tool. “Google today announced that it has open-sourced Omnitone, a piece of software that developers can use to incorporate spatial audio into websites. The software is available now on GitHub under an Apache license.”

Speaking of open sourcing, got $30K lying around? Facebook has open-sourced its Surround 360 camera. “Essentially 17 cameras on a UFO-looking stick, the Surround 360 camera can be built for about $30,000 in parts. The 4-megapixel lenses can shoot 4K, 6K, or 8K 360 video, and fisheye lenses on the top and bottom remove the blindspots. Facebook forced a random engineer to try to build the Surround 360 from the open source instructions, and found it took about four hours.” Forced? What, did they light matches between their toes?

Hmm. Reddit is rolling out a new ad offering next month. “On August 4, Reddit will debut a new ad offering called Promoted User Posts, which will give marketers the ability to sponsor user generated posts on Reddit’s platform. That means if someone creates a giant replica of a Taco Bell hot sauce packet, for example, and shares it on Reddit, the restaurant chain could step in and sponsor that post. In turn, Reddit will display it in different parts of its website and target specific users that the brand wants to reach.” Looks like the original poster gets Reddit Gold, but not any other compensation.


Oh, ouch: Nest thermostats are having outages at a very bad time. “Google’s Nest is experiencing a widespread outage that has knocked its line of thermostats offline, a particularly scary situation given the widespread heatwave across the United States right now. Members of our staff noticed the thermostats weren’t functioning properly this morning, in multiple states around the U.S., and a quick search on Twitter shows a similar story.”


Who’s surprised? 26% of Desktop Users Turn On Ad Blockers. “According to a new IAB report, 26 percent of desktop users and 15 percent of mobile consumers use blockers to remove ads from publishers’ websites. Roughly 32 percent of ad blockers across both groups are males between 18 and 34, and 22 percent are women of the same age. In terms of people who aren’t using ad blockers, 20 percent were convinced to stop using them because a blocker wiped out a publisher’s content, for instance, or messages asked them to turn ad blocking off. Another 17 percent of non-ad block users are ‘at risk to start doing so,’ according to the study.” Good afternoon, Internet…

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