Pioneer Medallions, Economic Statistics, Google Map Maker, More: Wednesday Buzz, November 9, 2016


The Royal British Columbia Museum has digitized its collection of Pioneer Medallion applications. “In 1971 the B.C. government launched a project to celebrate the centennial of B.C.’s entry into Confederation. B.C. residents who were either born or living in Canada before 1897 were encouraged to complete applications to receive what government called Pioneer Medallions.”

The Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) is launching a new tool to provide quick access to economic statistics for the US and Europe. “The tool is being built on the statistical programming language called ‘R’ that taps into BEA’s and Eurostat’s huge databases and provides analysts, researchers, economists, data-savvy entrepreneurs and others quick access to economic statistics – requiring only a few lines of code to do so. GDP, disposable income and employment by industry and by geographic region are among the key economic statistics that will be available as part of the new data tool.”


Google is killing off the standalone Map Maker app. “Google has killed off their Google Map Maker product and has told people the features have ‘graduated’ to the Google Maps app. Google said ‘Google Map Maker features will officially graduate and be integrated directly into Google Maps in March 2017 when we’ll retire the standalone Map Maker product.'”

Wha? Is Microsoft working on a to-do list app? “Although Microsoft bought to-do list app maker Wunderlist back in 2015, the company has been working on another to list app experience, code-named Project Wunderlist, which is now in private beta testing. Not much is known about Microsoft’s intentions with its new app, but according to a report out today, this simple to do list app will soon be available on iOS, Android and on Windows 10.” Oh I hope this is good. I thought Wunderlist was great.


From Family Tree Magazine, a list of the 75 best genealogy Web sites for 2016. “Digitized old records are beautiful for genealogists to behold. As US states increase their record digitization efforts, it’s become even harder to finalize our annual list of 75 Best State Genealogy websites. In particular this year, you’ll see that state archives and libraries are creating more digital archives and ‘memory’ websites with records and photos. Search for a Civil War soldier’s name in the Iowa Digital Library, and you might find his diary and letters. Or with a little luck, you might find relatives named in an unpublished genealogy in the South Carolina Digital Library.”


I read this entire article from Microsoft with hearts coming out of my head: Museums and machines: Curating tech to democratize art, culture, history and science. “These aren’t your father’s museums. Heck, they’re not even your big sister’s. From digital pens that let visitors virtually take collections home with them to artificial intelligence that links modern photographs with historic paintings, the world’s cultural institutions are democratizing technology to help them stay relevant in a connected world.” The pen technology sounds fantastic!

Washington Post: From the attics and shoeboxes of Virginia, a trove of historical gold. “From 2010 until last year, as Virginia observed the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, archivists traveled the state in an “Antiques Roadshow” style campaign to unearth the past. Organizers had thought the effort might produce a few hundred new items. They were a little off. It flushed out more than 33,000 pages of letters, diaries, documents and photographs that the library scanned and has made available for study online.”

Archaeology News Network: Modern-day tools help probe our distant past. “Computers are better than humans at carrying out mathematical operations, a facility that extends to the organization and retrieval of digital data. Electronic and digital sensors are better than humans at perceiving and recording many of the qualities of the physical environment, especially when it comes to measurement. Since the measurement, recording, and organization of data are the primary goals of the process of archaeological documentation, why not turn this over to computers? What do humans have to offer to this process?”

Global Voices Advox: Demystifying Social Media Censorship — in Arabic, Spanish and English. “From Facebook banning photos of female breasts (if they include the nipple) to YouTube’s prohibition on ‘shocking’ violent content, social media companies play a powerful role in deciding what types of speech are most commonly seen and heard on the Internet. These and other leading platforms have terms of use that restrict several types of content including nudity, hate speech, and violence. But these difficult-to-define rules are always subject to interpretation.”


Microsoft has patched the zero-day Windows flaw that was revealed by Google. “On October 31, Google publicly outed Microsoft for a critical zero-day security flaw in Windows 10 just 10 days after reporting the vulnerability to the firm. Today, as promised in a subsequent (and angry) blog post, Microsoft has patched up the hole and more in a round of updates.”

What’s the point then? The FCC will not force tech companies to honor Do Not Track. “Websites will not be forced to honor consumers’ ‘Do Not Track’ requests as the Federal Communications Commission today dismissed a petition that would have imposed new requirements on companies like Google and Facebook.”

Facebook is backing off on using WhatsApp data in the UK. “Facebook has agreed to stop using the data of its WhatsApp users in the United Kingdom for ad targeting and product changes after a data protection regulator raised privacy concerns about the practice. The Information Commissioner’s Office said in a blog post on Monday it told Facebook-owned WhatsApp it could face ‘enforcement action’ if it didn’t do so. Facebook agreed to “pause” the use of U.K. WhatsApp user data, according to the regulator.” Good morning, Internet…

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