Renewable Energy, Antarctica, Banking Complaints, More: Thursday Buzz, September 8, 2016


Researchers have developed a new tool to calculate renewable energy output anywhere in the world. “ uses 30 years of observed and modelled weather data from organisations such as NASA to predict the wind speed likely to influence turbines and the sunlight likely to strike solar panels at any point on the Earth during the year. These figures are combined with manufacturer’s specifications for wind turbines and solar panels to give an estimate of the power output that could be generated by a farm placed at any location.”

The government of New Zealand has launched a new Web site – about Antarctica. “The website also brings together our other digital platforms including ADAM (our digital asset platform that now hosts more than 70,000 images) and our social media profiles (Facebook,Twitter and Instagram).”

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (an agency of the United States government) has launched a database of consumer complaints against US banks. “If you are one of the lucky Americans who has not already been mugged in the shopping aisles of the financial supermarkets, you should carefully browse through the database to see what awaits the unwary. Just go to the complaint archive, and place the name of any bank you want to examine in the upper right-hand search box. Searching under the name Citibank (part of the Wall Street behemoth Citigroup) will bring up 29,000 rows of complaints. A search under Chase, part of the mega Wall Street bank, JPMorgan Chase, brings up 37,000 rows of complaints.”

A university in China has plans to build a database for trials of Japanese war criminals after WWII. “Shanghai Jiaotong University, together with the National Library of China and The Second Historical Archives of China, will collect dossiers on Japanese war criminals excluding the 28 Class A criminals such as the former prime minister and army generals, according to the university on Thursday.” If, like me, you had no idea there were classes of WWII criminals, PBS both has an overview of the Tokyo War Crimes Trials and defines the different classes.

The Abbe Museum (Maine) has launched a new online database. “Visitors can check out everything from an etched birch bark box by Tomah Joseph that illustrates Passamaquoddy life to mid-19th-century Penobscot baskets that are still vivid with indigo and other natural dyes. Intricate porcupine quill boxes created by Mi’kmaq artists during the late 1800s and some of the most outstanding work being done by Wabanaki artists today also can be viewed.”


Google has launched a new feature called Shop the Look, because no one knows fashion like tech people. “Users can search Google for an outfit, like ‘cocktail dress’, and the platform will pull in images from social influencers that match that outfit description. Then once users tap on one of those images it will pull up a gallery with each item of clothing featured in the picture, as well as a link to purchase it.”

More Google: it is tweaking its transparency report. “Back in 2012, as a part of our continuing effort to increase transparency around the flow of information online, we began disclosing the number of requests we get from copyright owners (and the organizations that represent them) to remove Google Search results because they allegedly link to infringing content. The report hasn’t changed much since 2012 and was getting a little rusty. So today, we’re releasing a new version of the report that makes it easier for you to understand the data….”

Instagram is getting rid of photo maps. “Geotags for locations aren’t disappearing. You’ll still be able to click on a location tag in an individual post and see other photos from that location as well as a small map. But when you go to someone else’s profile, there will no longer be a separate tab to view all their geo-tagged photos on a world map.”


Oh boy. I’ve been using FeedBurner for years. I think I was using it before it was acquired by Google. And maybe now I need to stop using it. WARNING: F-bomb in the headline. “The short version is that, many years ago, we signed up with a service from FeedBurner, to manage our RSS feeds. We did so somewhat reluctantly. We had first published an RSS feed back in April of 2001 (along with an apology for being so “late” to the RSS game) and we’d run it ourselves for years. Eventually, FeedBurner added enough features that we felt it was worthwhile to let it run our RSS feed — though that came with promises from the then FeedBurner team that if there were any problems we could easily dump it. Over time, FeedBurner got purchased by Google and subsumed into the Google machine. At some point, a few years ago, anyone still using FeedBurner had all links in those RSS feeds automatically switched to using Google’s URL shortener.”

From Recode: After a quiet summer, Twitter’s board will take a hard look at what comes next. “Twitter’s quiet summer may soon be coming to an end. The social communication company’s board of directors is set to meet this Thursday in San Francisco, and there are plenty of things to discuss. That includes, said sources, its fate as a standalone company.”

This is how pervasive ad blocking has gotten: almost a third of global Web page views are impacted by ad blocking. “Worldwide ad blocking (page views) now stands at 32.4 percent, while analytics blocking is 5.2 percent. This means that 32 percent of all page views Blockmetry is monitoring globally witness ad blocking. That’s up from 28.5 percent in May. However analytics blocking has not grown as much; it was 5.1 percent in May.

Google has a new undersea cable. “Fresh from expanding its data centers in the region — which are located in Singapore and Taiwan — last year, the company said today that it has switched on a new undersea cable that will quicken services like YouTube and its cloud computing platform.”


Google will get more time to respond to EU antitrust charges. “Alphabet’s Google has been given two more weeks to counter EU antitrust charges that it uses its dominant Android mobile operating system to block competitors, the European Commission said on Thursday.”


CMU has developed a new algorithm to detect online fraud. “The method, called FRAUDAR, marks the latest escalation in the cat-and-mouse game played by online fraudsters and the social media platforms that try to out them. In particular, the new algorithm makes it possible to see through camouflage that fraudsters use to make themselves look legitimate, said Christos Faloutsos, professor of machine learning and computer science. In real-world experiments using Twitter data for 41.7 million users and 1.47 billion followers, FRAUDAR fingered more than 4,000 accounts not previously identified as fraudulent, including many that used known follower-buying services such as TweepMe and TweeterGetter.” A link to the open-sourced algorithm is in the article. Good morning, Internet…

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