Los Angeles Property, Yahoo Bots, WordPress, More: Sunday Buzz, October 30, 2016


The city of Los Angeles has released a database showing what properties it owns. I’m mentioning this because the city owns almost nine thousand parcels and this is the most comprehensive list to be published in a long time. “The city previously had an asset management system but it failed in 2005 and the company behind the software was unable to repair it. Since then, General Services has relied on various, and often outdated, Excel spreadsheets, city records show.” Love the quotes from city officials. Paraphrased: “Yeah, we’re not really sure why we own an orange grove…”

Yahoo has created one app for all its bots. “Yahoo has made an app for people to chat with its bots called Yahoo Bots, a Yahoo spokesperson told VentureBeat Wednesday. The app utilizes buttons, cards, and carousels similar to the kind made available on several chat platforms this year, including Facebook Messenger.”


WordPress 4.7 Beta 1 is now available. No video headers, please no video headers…

Imzy is now open to the public. “Can you make a large online space where people treat each other like human beings, without sacrificing the freedom of anonymity? It’s a question that social networks like Twitter, which just decimated its workforce in a push for profitability, have been struggling to answer. But a company called Imzy, founded by veterans of Reddit and Twitter, has spent the last several months laying the foundation for what it hopes will be a kinder and more manageable social network. This week, it’s going from an invite-only beta to a fully open platform, after raising $8 million in a funding round led by Index Ventures.”

Facebook looks to be getting more Snapchat-y. “The new features include digital masks, which uses software to superimpose an image onto your face, similar to Snapchat lenses. There are other digital images you can add to the frame, too, like hearts or bubbles. Another type of filter reanimates a scene in the style of a famous artist, like Vincent Van Gogh or Georgia O’Keefe.”


Facebook lets its advertisers exclude by “ethnic affinity” – which isn’t always legal. “The ubiquitous social network not only allows advertisers to target users by their interests or background, it also gives advertisers the ability to exclude specific groups it calls ‘Ethnic Affinities.’ Ads that exclude people based on race, gender and other sensitive factors are prohibited by federal law in housing and employment.” In addition to the illegality of some possible ads, note also that Facebook is not always right. It has me with an ethnic affinity of African-American when in fact I am pasty pink.

Defense One: Here’s How the Pentagon Wants to Use Social Media On the Battlefield. “It still takes the U.S. military too long to turn social media and other open-source information into something that operators in the field can use. Artificial intelligence is going to change that, and give U.S. troops a distinct battlefield edge, says U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work.”

AWK-ward: Twitter employees share last day memories on Twitter Moments. “In attempt to cut costs, Twitter announced Thursday plans to restructure the company, which involved laying off nine percent of the workforce. The company also shared plans to shut down its Vine mobile app in the coming months. Following the news a Twitter Moment was created, entitled, ‘Last Day at Twitter.'”


The Atlantic: The Inevitability of Being Hacked. “I don’t actually own a wireless toaster. But I devised a test. Renting a small server from Amazon, I gussied it up to look like an unsecured web device, opening a web port that hackers commonly use to remotely control computers. Instead of allowing real access, though, I set up a false front: Hackers would think they were logging into a server, but I’d really just record their keystrokes and IP addresses. In cybersecurity circles, this is called putting out a honeypot—an irresistible target that attracts and ultimately entraps hackers and the scripts they use to find vulnerable servers.”

Not so fast, WhatsApp. The EU wants a look at your new privacy policy. “A seismic shift in privacy policy by messaging app WhatsApp this summer, when it said it would begin sharing user data with parent company Facebook including for ad targeting, has now attracted the attention of European’s data protection watchdog group, the Article 29 Working Party. The WP29 group wrote to WhatsApp founder Jan Koum yesterday, setting out its concerns about the privacy policy U-turn — including how the shift was communicated to users.”

Oh, what the heck. A ransomware that forces you to take surveys? REALLY? “Ransomware, as it’s called, is so lucrative that countless different strains have popped up in the last couple of years. Some are really effective ones, and some are just plain weird. Now, someone is making particularly annoying new type of ransomware. Instead of asking infected users for money, it forces them to fill out tedious online surveys.”


New York Times: Twitter Has an Old Media Problem. Here’s a Solution. “On Thursday, Twitter reported its latest quarterly results — a net loss of $103 million, only modest growth in revenue and layoffs of 9 percent of its work force — confirming that the company is still stuck in the same unhappy place. I have a solution: Larry Page, a founder of Google, should buy Twitter. Pull out his own wallet and buy it. Personally.” I’m not sure that would stand up to an antitrust/monopoly investigation – and how is that so different than Amazon buying it so supplement the WaPo? Good morning, Internet…

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