DDOS, CRS, NYT, More: Friday Buzz, October 21, 2016

A DDOS attack on a major DNS host is causing some chaos this morning. “Internet users around the world, but mostly in the United States, reported that top websites are not loading on Friday morning. The affected sites include Amazon, Twitter, Etsy, Github, Spotify, and others.”


Some glorious group of individuals has made an online archive of Congressional Research Service reports. There have been archives in this past, but it looks like this one is more complete and is being actively updated. “Unlike basically all of the other aggregators of CRS reports that collect released reports and aggregate them, it appears that EveryCRSReport basically has teamed up with members of Congress who have access to a massive stash of CRS reports loaded onto the Congressional intranet, all of which have been released via the site — and it appears that the site is automatically updated, suggesting that the still nameless Congressional partners have set up a way to continually feed in new reports. To avoid public pressure or harassment (one of the core reasons used by Congress and CRS to reject proposals to open up the content), the site removes the names and contact info of the CRS staffers who create the reports. The reports that are available are not just in unsearchable PDFs, but they’re fully HTML and fully searchable.”

If for some reason you can’t get enough of the 2016 elections, the New York Times has a chatbot for you. “The New York Times has launched a new elections news service via its NYT Politics Bot for Messenger that will text you every morning with the new numbers, as well as offer on-demand access to the latest news, key takeaways, and more.”


Google’s G Suite, formerly known as Google Apps, has gotten some upgrades. “There isn’t necessarily a common theme here, but for the most part, the new features focus on supporting more of the existing workflows in larger companies and bringing more of Google’s smarts to these apps.” The ability to create action items sounds really, really good.


Social Media Examiner: 11 Ways to Grow Your Snapchat Following. Lots of good ideas here, though auto-DM always feels icky.

This looks like fun: 3 Twitter clients for the Linux command line. “While this may seem like a solution searching for a problem, for some people interacting with Twitter in a terminal window makes sense. There’s less distraction at the command line than with a desktop Twitter client or even Twitter’s web interface. On top of that, command-line clients are fast and their interfaces are generally quite clean.”


In Australia, an effort is underway to save endangered indigenous languages. “One to two Indigenous languages are being lost every year, say experts who estimate if the trend continues only 50 Indigenous languages will be left by the year 2050…. To try to capture these languages before it becomes too late, the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) has launched a foundation to record languages and songlines.”

Is Snapchat buying Vurb? Is THAT what’s happening? “Snapchat Inc. is in the process of acquiring the personalized search app [Bobby] Lo created, people familiar with the matter said Monday. Los Angeles’ highest-valued tech company would spend more than $100 million in cash and stock to purchase the 5-year-old San Francisco start-up Verbify Inc., said a source unauthorized to speak publicly about the deal. The transaction hasn’t been finalized, multiple sources said.”


BuzzFeed: Hyperpartisan Facebook Pages Are Publishing False And Misleading Information At An Alarming Rate. “Hyperpartisan political Facebook pages and websites are consistently feeding their millions of followers false or misleading information, according to an analysis by BuzzFeed News. The review of more than 1,000 posts from six large hyperpartisan Facebook pages selected from the right and from the left also found that the least accurate pages generated some of the highest numbers of shares, reactions, and comments on Facebook — far more than the three large mainstream political news pages analyzed for comparison.”

From The New Yorker: Twitter’s Anti-Semitism Problem. “From August, 2015, to July, 2016, the A.D.L. [Anti-Defamation League] found 2.6 million tweets that included anti-Semitic language, with a spike in anti-Semitism this year, as news coverage of the Presidential campaign increased. Researchers looked more closely at attacks on the Twitter accounts of some fifty thousand journalists and found almost twenty thousand anti-Semitic tweets directed at them, with almost seventy per cent of the invective coming from sixteen hundred accounts.”

Wow! Microsoft pitted its neural network-powered transcription against profession human transcriptionists – and the computer won. “In a report released Monday, researchers pitted Microsoft’s NIST 2000 automated system against professional transcriptionists and found for the first time a higher error rate among humans than computers…. Earlier this year, in conjunction with University of Washington and Stanford University, Baidu Research announced that the Baidu program Deep Speech 2 was able to transcribe speech three times faster than humans can type with their fingers.”

Doc Searls: How @Twitter can help #journalism while saving its own ass. “Go B2C. Sell services direct. Start with the high end. Make your best users into your first and best customers. The easiest way to start is by offering an ad-free Twitter experience. Lots of people will be willing to pay for that.” All of this. Also open up the API and charge for it, as I’ve been saying for ages. Good morning, Internet…

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