Urban Trees, Delhi Land Records, Politwhoops, More: Wednesday Afternoon Buzz, November 2, 2016

NEW RESOURCES

A new database provides information on projected sizes for urban trees. “Sometimes in the cramped environs of U.S. cities every inch counts, especially if attempting to make space for nature. City planners and urban foresters now have a resource to more precisely select tree species whose growth will be a landscaping dream instead of a maintenance nightmare. The U.S. Forest Service’s Pacific Southwest Research Station recently published a technical manual and launched the most extensive database available cataloging urban trees with their projected growth tailored to specific geographic regions.”

Land records for Delhi, India, have been digitized and put online. “Land records of almost all villages across national capital have been digitised as part of efforts to bring transparency and weed out corruption, Delhi government said today…. A senior officer of the Revenue Department said that land records of all villages of Delhi except for the villages of North District have been digitised and digitally signed from today.”

TWEAKS AND UPDATES

Politwoops is being taken over by ProPublica. ProPublica is taking on other Sunlight Labs services as well. “The move follows the non-profit Sunlight Foundation’s announcement last month that it intended to discontinue its own tech development activities, under Sunlight Labs, and hand over its most promising projects to other entities.”

Twitter’s got new business tools. “Twitter is following Facebook into the automated customer service game. The social network just rolled out new welcome message and dropdown response features for advertisers that are reminiscent of Facebook’s recent branded bots push.”

Facebook has announced a Steam competitor. “After losing mobile gaming to iOS and Android, Facebook is making a big push into playing on PC with today’s developer launch of its Gameroom Windows desktop gaming platform. After months of name changes, beta tests and dev solicitation, Facebook opened up the beta build for all developers and officially named it Gameroom. The app is openly available for users to download on Windows 7 and up.”

Instagram is testing shoppable photo tags. ugh. “The retailers tag products in their photos, which are hidden behind a ‘Tap to view products’ button. After selecting their product of choice, users see an in-app details page with a specific product’s price, description, additional photos, and a “Shop Now” button to buy it on the web.”

The Talkshow app, which sounded pretty cool, is now kaput. “Twitter’s former VP of product Michael Sippey seemed to be building a service that might challenge his former employer: his Talkshow app allowed anyone to exchange text messages in front of an audience; the idea was to get other people talking. Now it’s gone quiet.”

AROUND THE SEARCH AND SOCIAL MEDIA WORLD

Bleh! Admiral Insurance had a scheme to set car insurance prices based on Facebook activity. “Admiral Insurance will analyse the Facebook accounts of first-time car owners to look for personality traits that are linked to safe driving. For example, individuals who are identified as conscientious and well-organised will score well.The insurer will examine posts and likes by the Facebook user, although not photos, looking for habits that research shows are linked to these traits. These include writing in short concrete sentences, using lists, and arranging to meet friends at a set time and place, rather than just ‘tonight’.” Happily Facebook has stopped it.

SECURITY/LEGAL ISSUES

You know that security vulnerability in Windows that Google outed? It’ll be patched November 8th. That’s the regular Patch Tuesday, so this update will not be out-of-band patch.

RESEARCH AND OPINION

Danny Sullivan weighs in on ProtonMail’s disturbing Google experience. “Have an issue with your listings in Google? Getting an official answer might be tough. And when that happens to a Google competitor, as it did with ProtonMail, it could come back to harm Google’s defense from antitrust charges.” Good afternoon, Internet…

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