Semantic Scholar, Spotify, WordPress, More: Sunday Buzz, November 13, 2016


Semantic Scholar is getting another focus. “The Allen Institute’s latest effort is Semantic Scholar, a scientific-paper search engine powered by machine learning and other artificial intelligence systems. Semantic Scholar went live in November 2015 with a focus on computer science papers. Today, the service expanded to include neuroscience, bringing the search engine’s database to more than 10 million papers.” More to come, according to the article.

Do you use Spotify? Looks like it’s got a bug that makes it rough on solid-state drives. “For almost five months—possibly longer—the Spotify music streaming app has been assaulting users’ storage devices with enough data to potentially take years off their expected lifespans. Reports of tens or in some cases hundreds of gigabytes being written in an hour aren’t uncommon, and occasionally the recorded amounts are measured in terabytes. The overload happens even when Spotify is idle and isn’t storing any songs locally.” Solid state drives, while not vulnerable to mechanical failure like platter-based hard drives, do have a limited number of read/write cycles before they fail. You can read more about that here.

WordPress 4.7 Beta 3 is now available.


Make Tech Easier: 5 of the Best Vine Alternatives to Share Your Videos. Naming Twitter as an alternative was a bit of a cheat, but there are two options here I’d never heard of.

When it comes to useful tools, Robin Good is on the case as always: Discover new relevant content next to your favorite RSS feeds: Winds. “Wind is an web-based open-source RSS reader, which learns from your activity and preferences and uncovers and suggests relevant new content.”

MakeUseOf: What Are Google Now Cards? 3 Tips to Get You Started. “It’s amazing to see how far Google Now has come since it launched in 2012 — yet perhaps more surprising is how many people don’t use it, and more surprising still is how many don’t know what it is. In short, Google Now is a better, sleeker alternative to Siri. But the problem is that Google Now is more confusing for users than, say, Siri or Cortana, and I think it comes down to terminology.”

TechCrunch has a writeup that sounds useful but also sounds like it’ll get pounded with a C&D stick sooner rather than later: PlayOn Cloud lets you record and download videos from streaming services to your iPhone. “PlayOn has long offered media server software that allows cord cutters to record from streaming services like Netflix, Amazon, HBO, Hulu and others, in order to watch on any device – without ads – even when offline. Now, it’s taking this ‘cloud DVR’ functionality to mobile through the launch of a new iOS application that lets you record and watch videos offline via your smartphone.”


Wow. From Women of China: High-Tech VR Brings Archaeology to Life in Beijing’s Palace Museum. “It depicts an archaeological site in the city of Jingdezhen in southeast China’s Jiangxi Province. Chinese call it the “Porcelain Capital”, for its well-documented history of producing ceramics for over 1,700 years. Also, the name of the city in Chinese is linked to fine porcelains…. An estimated more than 2,500 high-definition photos [museum researchers] took in Jingdezhen amid the ruins of the kilns bring vivid life to the 14,000-square-foot (0.13 hectare) space where the porcelain was baked for the benefit of dynastic rulers.”

The Internet Archive is requesting help in building the 2016 US Presidential Election Web Archive. “Help us build a web archive documenting reactions to the 2016 Presidential Election. You can submit websites and other online materials, and provide relevant descriptive information, via this simple submission form. We will archive and provide ongoing access to these materials as part of the Internet Archive Global Events collection.”

Mashable: Wearing Snapchat Spectacles made me feel like a hipster spy. “Getting my hands on a pair of Snapchat Spectacles felt like getting a golden ticket. Only instead of Willy Wonka greeting me at the ‘chocolate factory’ (Venice Beach), there was just a bright yellow vending machine. And a line of hundreds of people also waiting to get the specs.”


WIRED: The US Military Launches “Hack the Army,” Its Most Ambitious Bug Bounty Yet. “Announced by outgoing secretary of the Army Eric Fanning, the program asks hackers to vet and find flaws in the Army’s digital recruiting infrastructure. Unlike Hack the Pentagon, which only asked hackers to assess static websites, Hack the Army focuses on recruitment sites and databases of personal information about both new applicants and existing army personnel. The program isn’t open to everyone; it’s invite-only so hackers can be vetted. Any military and government personnel who want to participate, though, get automatic entry.”


Columbia Journalism Review: Facebook can no longer be ‘I didn’t do it’ boy of global media. “The good news for [Mark] Zuckerberg is that, unlike most people, he can make the world a better place almost immediately just by taking more responsibility for Facebook’s publishing policies. By acknowledging that Facebook can and should play a more active part in editing—yes, editing—its own platform, and hiring actual people to do so, Zuckerberg will further the civic commons as well as address a growing problem of how people perceive Facebook.” Good morning, Internet…

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