Fantasy Cartography, Emoji Image Search, Hepatitis C, More: Thursday Buzz, August 18, 2016


Wow! A Twitter bot regularly generates fantasy maps. “Nimrathutkan is the result of an automated map generator that was inspired by those novels. The map bot, created by glaciologist Martin O’Leary of Swansea University in Wales, combines imaginary place names with fake terrain to produce fantasy worlds, tweeting a new one every hour…” read the description of how the terrain is generated – fascinating!

How cool is this? You can tweet an emoji to the New York Public Library and it’ll tweet back an image from its collection of public domain images.

A new database provides information about the Hepatitis C virus. “Although 150 to 200 million people around the world have HCV, the virus was only proven to exist in 1989. The authors say, ‘The data generated from thousands of experiments are spread across many journal articles, with no standardized reporting format.’ The database was constructed using information manually gathered, and is ‘arranged to reflect the availability of published information including HCV genotype, nucleotide changes, systems used to monitor translation efficiency, activity in translation assays, plasmid constructs and reporter genes used, clinical data and the original publication reference,’ say the researchers.”


Search engine for nonprofit information GuideStar has revamped its search engine (PRESS RELEASE). “The new GuideStar Search also makes it easier to identify organizations working in specific fields, cause areas, or locations. Nonprofits can use these tools to inform their strategic planning and identify potential partners. Funders can see where a field is well served or under served. Donors can get crucial information on the range, capability, and impact of nonprofits working in a region or on a particular issue.”

Google has made some updates to Google Classroom. “While Classroom has traditionally focused on offering tools for teachers and students, this new version now also brings in parents and guardians. Parents can now automatically receive summaries of their kids’ work so they can know exactly how they are doing in any given class (helicopter parents will surely love this feature, though students may not be so happy about it). This feature is optional, and teachers can opt in parents to daily or weekly emails.”


Genealogists, you might like this one from MakeUseOf: How to Easily Restore an Old Family Photo Using Photoshop. “Everyone has old family photos lying around. If they’ve been sitting in a box for a few decades, though, they’ll be discolored, faded, and probably scratched or bent. With Photoshop, you can make them look as good as new. For this article, I’m going to assume you already have a basic understanding of Photoshop’s major tools and how to use them. I’m going to focus on strategies rather than the minutiae of the spot healing tool.”

21st century problems: How to include your digital assets in your estate plan. “Got email? These days, our email accounts are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of our online presence. From bank accounts to Facebook, PayPal and more, a good chunk of our personal and financial lives are online. If you fail to account for those digital assets in your estate plan, you risk burying your family or friends in red tape as they try to get access to and deal with your online accounts that may have sentimental, practical or monetary value.”


Nature: Spiking genomic databases with misinformation could protect patient privacy. “Large genomic databases are indispensable for scientists looking for genetic variations associated with diseases. But they come with privacy risks for people who contribute their DNA. A 2013 study showed that hackers could use publicly available information on the Internet to identify people from their anonymized genomic data. To address those concerns, a system developed by Bonnie Berger and Sean Simmons, computer scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, uses an approach called differential privacy.”

Good question from BuzzFeed: Why Isn’t Twitter Taking Down Harassment As Fast As It Takes Down Olympics Content? “Many questioned why Twitter seemed to be reacting much faster to possible copyright infringement than it does to the abusive messages so many users experience on a daily basis – or why the company doesn’t consider some abusive material worthy of taking down at all.”

Everybody gets hacked. Everybody. Even the NSA, apparently. “A group of hackers called ‘The Shadow Brokers’ claim to have hacked the NSA, and are posting data to prove it. The data is source code from ‘The Equation Group,’ which is a sophisticated piece of malware exposed last year and attributed to the NSA…. Nicholas Weaver has analyzed the data and believes it real…”


From Mashable: stats about the presence and discussion of third party candidates on Facebook. “Between July 10 and Aug. 9, 4.3 million U.S. Facebook users who are 18 or older have garnered 27.6 million interactions — likes, comments, posts and shares — related to Johnson. About 2.8 million people generated 16.1 million interactions related to Stein. That’s a steep climb from the 15,247 and 15,812 people talking about Johnson and Stein, respectively, back on May 2.”


Are you an old-school computing nerd? Remember Conway’s Game of Life? Here it is in a Google Doc. Just wow. Good morning, Internet…

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