Amazon, Bay Area Reporter, Safety Chatbot, More: Thursday Buzz, October 20, 2016


If you’re looking for a place to stash your photos, and you’re an Amazon Prime member, you might want to check out the new Family Vault offering. “Via Family Vault, Prime members have unlimited photo storage and 5 GB for videos that can be shared with up to five family members or friends. Family Vault members can add their favorite photos as well and can set up their account to add all photos and videos they take to the Family Vault automatically if that is their wish.” I feel okay mentioning this now that Amazon has finally enabled two-factor security.

The Bay Area Reporter, a newspaper devoted to LGBTQ issues in the San Francisco Bay area, will be digitized. “The Bob Ross Foundation has donated $50,000 to the [GLBT] historical society to purchase state-of-the-art equipment to create an online, text-based, searchable archive of the B.A.R.’s first 34 years, before it launched its website.” An archive of of the years 2005- forward is already available online.

Nifty idea: a chatbot to help keep your kids safer online. (Though it’s sounds more like an AI assistant to help keep your kids safer.) “Instead of having parents shoulder-surfing kids’ profiles and posts, the idea is the bot sits in the middle, automatically scanning what kids are posting publicly and intervening by flagging problem posts to children themselves to help them understand why it’s not a good idea to share an overly provocative selfie, for example, or to publish their phone number.” It’s only available in the UK at this point.

A new tool provides more ways to analyze and pull data from Mississippi maps. “GeoDawg is a simple, yet sophisticated, geographic information system that allows users to view high-resolution aerial imagery, find elevations anywhere in Mississippi, create and share maps with others, among many other uses….GeoDawg provides a collection of tools to access a list of map layers, search the Internet for compatible GIS servers or create maps on top of base maps. Members of the public can use text, points, lines and polygons to highlight and describe features on the maps.”


LinkedIn is giving its endorsements feature an upgrade. “A new version of endorsements, LinkedIn says, will be supercharged with machine learning algorithms to surface endorsements that are more relevant to the person viewing your profile.” Don’t forget to endorse me for Okra Folding.

Facebook wants to tell you where to go. In a nice way. “I’m from the Philippines, which means that whenever someone I know is planning to visit Asia, they ping me on Facebook to ask what they should do. I offer a long list of suggestions, like visiting Palawan and Victoria Peak. Chances are, you provide your own vacation recommendations to people, not to mention tips on good bars, great hair salons, and so on. It’s a big part of social networks, and Mark Zuckerberg wants to make it even bigger part. If you send recommendations to someone, Facebook will compile them into a map for all your friends to see.”


LinkedIn is offering free access to its LinkedIn Learning courses next week. “Join us next week for the Week of Learning. It’s dedicated to helping you get a better job — whether you’re looking for a promotion, or searching for a new gig. LinkedIn Learning’s 5,000+ courses will be free, including the courses that can teach you the Top Skills of 2016.”

Dig Twitter? Want to use it more? Here’s a big list of 180 free and paid tools.


Oooh, I hate this trend: How the Web Became Unreadable. “Text that was once crisp and dark was suddenly lightened to a pallid gray. Though age has indeed taken its toll on my eyesight, it turns out that I was suffering from a design trend.
There’s a widespread movement in design circles to reduce the contrast between text and background, making type harder to read. Apple is guilty. Google is, too. So is Twitter.” Maybe this is one of the consequences of the tech industry tending to hire the fairly young: they don’t realize how annoying and unreadable gray text on an off-white background is. “But I can read it fine!” Come back in 25 years and tell me that, Sparky.

Fascinating article from the Washington Post: One in four debate tweets comes from a bot. Here’s how to spot them. I tried to use BotorNot to do a couple of spot checks after reading this article, but it failed at the analysis part…


From Yahoo: Yahoo demands transparency from the Director of National Intelligence. “In a letter today to James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence (DNI), Yahoo is formally urging that the U.S. government provide its citizens with clarification around national security orders they issue to internet companies to obtain user data. While the letter makes specific reference to recent allegations against Yahoo, it is intended to set a stronger precedent of transparency for our users and all citizens who could be affected by government requests for user data. As we’ve said before, recent press reports have been misleading; the mail scanning described in the article does not exist on our systems.” Two things: 1) I haven’t seen any news story or press release where Yahoo thoroughly explains what exactly was going on, and 2) The time to demand transparency was when Yahoo was first approached by the government to do exactly whatever it was they were asked to do.


Wow! Report: Nearly a quarter of news articles include social media embeds. “Some 23 per cent of news articles contain a social media embed,” – that’s not the bad bit. This is the bad bit – “and 10 per cent of these embeds have either been modified or removed by their author since the article’s publication, shows a report released today by SAM.” Good morning, Internet…

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