United Nations, Livestream Learning, Accessibility, More: Sunday Buzz, September 25, 2016


This is interesting: the United Nations has launched its own app. “U.N. officials say the SDGs [Sustainable Development Goals – RB] in Action mobile app, which will be promoted today during the Global Citizen Festival in New York, creates a “global forum” for industry, government and citizens to track and promote the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals, a set of 17 objectives the organization has set out to achieve by 2030. The app lets users track the progress of the U.N.’s goals at a local, national and global level while also uploading their own videos and other content as a way to show why they care about the SDGs.”

A new tool wants to use livestreaming to help with teaching. “Scriyb is different from other online class tools in that it uses live streaming video and allows interaction through a moderated chat room, where students can interact with each other, and a teacher can guide his or her lecture by seeing responses from the students. The chat was inspired by the chatrooms of online video games, and the streaming follows similar programing that apps such as Periscope use.” Read the article. Looks well thought out.

A bit off-topic, but I call important: an indoor navigation tool for the blind and visually-impaired as been released as an open-source app. “Navatar overcomes a number of the obstacles traditionally associated with indoor navigation systems for blind users. Unlike existing systems, Navatar doesn’t require any instrumentation and only relies on low-cost sensors available in smartphones and a digital map of the environment. Instead, Navatar takes advantage of the architecture of indoor environments, where hallways and other forms of physical infrastructure are already used by blind users to find their way. Navatar offers verbal directions, and users are actively involved by periodically confirming the presence of expected landmarks such as doors or water fountains along their path to ensure they are on track.”


Snapchat is launching Snapchat Spectacles. I’m not even kidding. “The high-tech shades will cost $130 and mark the app maker’s first crack at hardware, the Wall Street Journal Magazine reported late Friday. Snapchat Chief Executive Evan Spiegel told the publication that Spectacles are a toy, meant to be worn for fun at events like family barbecues or while on a hike.”

The United Nations and Twitter are teaming up (PRESS RELEASE). “Twitter and UN Global Pulse today announced a partnership that will provide the United Nations with access to Twitter’s data tools to support efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, which were adopted by world leaders last year. Every day, people around the world send hundreds of millions of Tweets in dozens of languages. This public data contains real-time information on many issues including the cost of food, availability of jobs, access to health care, quality of education, and reports of natural disasters. This partnership will allow the development and humanitarian agencies of the UN to turn these social conversations into actionable information to aid communities around the globe.”

Meanwhile, rumors are flying that Google will announce a WiFi router next month. “In the market for a new Wi-Fi router? You may want to wait a bit longer. Google is rumored to have one in the cooker for its October 4 Pixel phone launch, which may seem odd considering it already makes the OnHub router …”


For those of you into the preservation of audio media, check out this blog post from Stanford: An interdisciplinary solution to sound recording preservation. “Earlier this year the Stanford Media Preservation Lab and Conservation Lab were tasked with figuring out how to playback severely warped paper based disc sound recordings. The recordings in question are from a three disc set titled Man-Talk by Three Great Western Stars and each one-sided disc in the set features a single monologue by John Wayne, Bill Elliott, or Johnny Mack Brown.”


One of Google’s self-driving cars was involved in a pretty bad bust up. “As far as we know, this is yet another case where the human — driving what appears to be a commercial van (as you can see being towed in the background) — was at fault. It’s still notable, however, as one of the worst — if not the worst — accidents one of Google’s cars has ever been in. As you can see in the image above, the entire right door on the Lexus is crumpled in along with a broken window or two.” Happily, no one was hurt.

Instagram, now with 500,000 advertisers. “Today, we’re excited to announce there are more than 500,000 advertisers growing their businesses on Instagram. In just six months, the number of advertisers has more than doubled. And that includes a variety of businesses from around the world. In fact, the top five countries seeing advertiser adoption are the US, Brazil, UK, Australia and Canada.”


The latest voter information leak comes from Louisiana. “Someone accidentally left a database of 2,919,651 records of Louisiana voters online, in yet another leak of voter’s personal data. The database contained names, home addresses, phone numbers, what party the voter is registered to, and what dates he or she voted, among other information. ”

That was zippy: Yahoo has already been hit with lawsuits over the recent huge hack it admitted to. “On Friday, the firms Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd and Labaton Sucharow filed a suit in the US District Court in the Northern District of California. The suit, for which the firm intends to seek class action status, accuses Yahoo of ‘failure to establish and implement basic data security’ and being ‘grossly negligent’ with user data, according to the complaint. It also alleges the company knew of the breach ‘long before’ it was disclosed, but hid it from the public until after its $4.83 billion sale to Verizon.”

My go-to security blog, Krebs on Security, has been shut down after an astounding DDOS attack earlier this week. “Since Tuesday, Krebs’ site has been under sustained distributed denial-of-service, or DDoS, a crude method of flooding a website with traffic to deny legitimate users from being able to access it. The assault has flooded Krebs’ site with more than 620 gigabits per second of traffic — nearly double what Akamai has seen in the past.” Good morning, Internet…

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