Diverse Books, Russian Art, Hawaii Emergencies, More: Friday Afternoon Buzz, October 14, 2016


In development: an app with a database of 1200 diverse books. “According to [We Need Diverse Books] representatives, the organization has heard repeatedly from both adults and children that it is difficult for them to identify quality books with diverse characters, themes, and by multicultural authors from among the numerous books released each year. OurStory, WNDB representatives explained in a release, ‘seeks to solve the problem with a tool that highlights books with diverse content and by marginalized content creators.'”

The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts has launched a digital archive for its Fabergé collection. “More than 700 items have been digitized, resulting in 1,500 downloadable image files, all of which are available to the public via a new online portal dedicated to digital resources about Fabergé and Russian decorative arts. The website provides access to the digitized Pratt archive, newly filmed videos of the imperial Easter eggs opening, new 360° views of the imperial Easter eggs, and downloadable resources for educators.”

A little outside my remit but I think it’s important: Hawaii has launched a text-to-911 service. “Gov. David Ige announced today that Hawaiʻi has launched an enhanced 911 service allowing residents to report an emergency to 911 as a text message. Text-to-911 can support plain text Short Messaging Services (SMS) messages only and is limited to 160 characters per text. Pictures, videos and emojis currently cannot be processed. In addition, callers must have active wireless service including a text or data plan, and the device’s location service must be turned on. Text-to-911 may not be available if the wireless phone is roaming or outside of the provider’s coverage area.”


Ubuntu has released version 16.10, “Yakkety Yak”. “For those waiting for the new Unity 8 desktop, Ubuntu 16.10 includes the new desktop environment as a technical preview, which can be selected from the login screen.”

You will probably not be stunned to hear that Twitter isn’t holding its annual developer conference. “Sources say that the conference was planned, at least tentatively, but then abandoned. Company spokesperson Will Stickney confirmed Flight isn’t happening, and said Twitter plans to focus on smaller developer events instead.”

Facebook’s removal of its human news editors is apparently not going that great. “As part of a larger audit of Facebook’s Trending topics, the Intersect logged every news story that trended across four accounts during the workdays from Aug. 31 to Sept. 22. During that time, we uncovered five trending stories that were indisputably fake and three that were profoundly inaccurate. On top of that, we found that news releases, blog posts from sites such as Medium and links to online stores such as iTunes regularly trended. Facebook declined to comment about Trending on the record.”


The latest company to announce a data breach is Vera Bradley. “Handbag maker Vera Bradley Inc said on Wednesday hackers may have accessed customer data from payment processing systems in its stores, partly contributing to a delay in an upgrade of its website that could hurt holiday-season sales.” This breach was retail stores only, not online.


From New Scientist, and if you want to see more than the first few paragraphs you’ll need to be a subscriber: The database that is rewriting history to predict the future. “Seshat is a vast and growing database of historical and archaeological knowledge that can be explored using scientific techniques. That makes it a powerful tool for testing and ultimately discarding hypotheses. ‘A cemetery for theories,’ is how Seshat co-founder Peter Turchin at the University of Connecticut in Storrs describes it. ”

From Using computer vision to make millions of memes. “Gifs and short mp4s may be whimsical, but looks at them through a different lens. Over the coming months, will be unveiling large scale computer vision, machine learning, and automation projects that tap into the information we’re collecting. We’re a little hush hush on the specific projects we’re working on, but we can’t wait to show you — we think they’ll change the video industry.”


I think this is kind of sweet: South African-Russian Couple Who Corresponded Using Google Translate Meet in Israel. “Departures / arrivals: ‘We wanted to meet on neutral ground, and the weather here is nice,’ says the South African half of an online couple whose first face-to-face meeting took place at Ben-Gurion Airport.” Good afternoon, Internet…

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