Taipei Soil, Citroën Cars, Amazon Echo, More: Sunday Buzz, September 11, 2016


Man, this looks scary: a database of soil liquefaction potential for Taipei. “An online database launched Saturday by the Taipei City Government shows that nearly 30 percent of sites in Taipei have a medium to high vulnerability to soil liquefaction during a strong earthquake. Vulnerable areas include the site of the landmark Taipei 101 Tower, the Chinese-language United Evening News reported.”

French automobile manufacturer Citroën has launched a new online museum. “The site is called “Citroën Origins” and features about 50 cars spanning from 1919 to present day. Users can select any of the vehicles to take in a 360-degree view of exterior and the interior. The interior view is particularly immersive, allowing the user to look up, down and around. You can even zoom in for a closer look. If you get bored with that, press the car’s key on the left of the screen, and you can listen to each car fire up and rev.”


Hmm. Is Amazon’s Echo going to get push notifications? I’m mentioning this here because I’m all about push notifications. Perhaps a short, discreet chime before she speaks so I don’t jump out of my chair. (I have an Echo in my office at work. Great for playing music.) “The speaker that speaks might soon speak without you speaking to ask it to speak. Amazon’s Echo is set to get push notifications, according to The Information, which would allow it to give you a heads up about activity from its connected services, so it could, for example, tell you when your connected doorbell rings or pipe up and tell you when a loved one’s flight has landed.”

Speaking of Echo, Twitter has an Alexa app. “Too lazy to read your tweets? Now, Amazon Alexa can just read them to you instead. Yes, that’s right: Twitter today has launched an app for Amazon’s voice platform Alexa, which means you can listen to the latest from Twitter right on your Echo speaker or other Alexa-powered device. The new app can give you general information on trends, or deliver information from your own account, says Twitter.”

Yelp has joined the bug bounty bandwagon. (Say that three times fast.) “The company has, for two years, participated in a private bounty program with HackerOne, rewarding a closed field of experts for finding hundreds of vulnerabilities, said Martin Georgiev, Yelp security engineer. Today, the program goes public, and it’s fairly expansive with a number of areas of its infrastructure in scope, including its desktop site, mobile application and public API.”


Hey! The New York Times has a huge list of over 150 crossword puzzles for students. They cover topics like American history, civics, geography, math, etc. “Below, more than 150 puzzles on topics inspired by subjects across the curriculum. Each one is written by Times crossword master Frank Longo, and each comes with links to the answers and to more Times and Learning Network content on the topic.” Neat!


Facebook’s trending stories algorithm is turning out to be a trainwreck. (Why does Facebook even need trending stories?) “Facebook’s trending news algorithm has failed once again. Earlier today, Facebook users who clicked on the “9/11″ trending topic on the social network were directed to a tabloid story by The Daily Star, which claimed that bombs destroyed the World Trade Center towers. As The Washington Post reports, the story was quickly removed after they contacted Facebook.”

From the BBC, an article from late June but I’m spending the weekend catching up on my e-mail (HA!) How good is Tibet’s Beijing-backed search engine? “This week saw the launch of the very first search engine in the Tibetan language. Yongzim, backed by the Chinese authorities, claims to be better at handling complex searches involving several words in the language than any alternative. But a spokesman for the government in exile, the Central Tibetan Administration, told the BBC it could also be used as a ‘platform to promote propaganda to legitimise the illegal occupation of Tibet’.”

More BBC: ‘How I accidentally became a poet through Twitter’ “It started with a tweet. I never thought it would come to this. I’m not even sure it was a poem. More of a play on words, each one carefully selected to fit into the 140-character constraint of a tweet.”


Futuristechinfo: We need a secure anonymous open access genetic database for researchers. “…genetic data banks amassed by private companies don’t necessarily have to follow the same regulations regarding access to their data that federally funded researchers do. And a recent proposal to change consent regulations for human research may make it cheaper for private companies to collect and use this data than public ones. As bioethicists (myself included) have warned, we need to pay attention to concerns about how these private genetic data banks are used and accessed before we enable a system where the future of public genetic research lies in private hands.” Good afternoon, Internet…

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