Oliver Smithies, Kent State University, Daydream View, More: Monday Buzz, November 14, 2016


Nobel laureate Oliver Smithies’ journals have been digitized. “Oliver Smithies, Carolina’s world-renowned geneticist and Nobel laureate, has been taking daily notes in his journals since he was a biochemistry graduate student at Oxford University nearly 65 years ago. Smithies has dedicated his life to the study of science, and his notebooks contain not only his groundbreaking research, but also details of his day-to-day life. As of Nov. 7, those 150-plus notebooks are open to the world on the Oliver Smithies Research Archive website, which include digitized scans done by UNC-Chapel Hill’s Wilson Library with support from the Office of the Provost.”

The student newspaper of Kent State University, The Daily Kent Stater, has been digitized and put online. Mostly. “Thanks to efforts from the University Libraries Department of Special Collections & Archives and the Digital Projects team, 9,397 issues of The Stater have been digitized…. issues from 1940 to the Spring 2015 are now up online in the digital archive. The team has been able to digitize all content except issues from 1926 to 1939. Dressler said that this delay is due to the sensitivity of the hard copies.” Unfortunately there is only one issue in May 1970 – May 1 – and one issue in June 1970.


Uh-oh. Apparently Google’s new Daydream View VR headset is kind of rough on phones. “Google’s new Daydream View VR is knocking out users’ phones. Early adopters using the headset with Google’s new Pixel phones have told El Reg that the phone shuts down within minutes because of thermal issues.”

YouTube is getting into VR. “We want to continue to provide you with new ways to engage with the world and with your community, and we believe virtual reality will play an important role in the future of storytelling. More than just an amazing new technology, VR allows us to make deep, human connections with people, places and stories. That’s why we’re committed to giving creators the space and resources they need to learn about, experiment with, and create virtual reality video. In fact, we’ve already started working with some awesome creators, recording artists, and partners who are producing VR videos across a wide variety of genres and interest areas on YouTube.”


Good overview of the Google Trekker: In St. Paul, Google Trekker goes where Google Street View can’t. “…Google’s vast fleet of Street View cars, which roam neighborhoods around the world while taking pictures in all directions, are not designed to go off-road. So, in 2012, Google came up with the Trekker unit, initially intended for use by staffers, to carry onto hiking trails, ski slopes and other places autos cannot go.”

Speaking of Google Trekker: wow. Despite the headline this guy is not working for Google. He is apparently doing this with one friend as an unpaid labor of love: Yarra River Photo Survey: The man creating a Google Street View of the Yarra. “In 1864, miners were so desperate to find gold that they diverted the Yarra River into a tunnel so they could comb the river bed. The river still flows through the tunnel near Warburton, 90km east of Melbourne. Christian Taylor has already found intriguing nuggets like this, 14km into his unpaid quest to photograph the river’s entire 218km accessible length, from a national park near Upper Yarra reservoir to industrial Williamstown.” He is walking through the river at the moment with a camera on his backpack and he’s already uploaded over 600 pictures.


Microsoft is getting rid of security bulletins in favor of a security portal. “Microsoft announced yesterday plans to retire the Security Bulletins system after January 2017, and replace it with a new security portal that provides a searchable database of all the company’s security updates. The new portal is called Security Updates Guide, and is already live. The searchable database is available here. Microsoft says that starting with February 2017, the searchable database will replace its convoluted Security Bulletins system.”

The Register: Google Pixel pwned in 60 seconds. “The Google Pixel fell to a team of Chinese hackers alongside Apple Safari and Adobe Flash at the PwnFest hacking competition in Seoul on Friday. Mountain View’s latest offering was smashed by white-hat friendlies from Qihoo 360, who used an undisclosed vulnerability to gain remote code execution for $120,000 cash prize.”


Microsoft: Online risks have real-world consequences, new Microsoft research shows. “Most people have had at least one negative online experience that resulted in real-world consequences, including a loss of trust in others, increased stress or sleep deprivation, preliminary results of a new Microsoft survey show. Nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of those polled said they had fallen victim at some point to at least one of 17 different online risks. That figure grows to 78 percent when respondents also considered the online experiences of their friends and families. Half reported being ‘extremely or very’ worried about online risks generally, with the most common concerns being unwanted contact (43 percent) and various forms of harassment (39 percent).”

NN Group: The Distribution of Users’ Computer Skills: Worse Than You Think. “There is one more difference between you and the average user that’s even more damaging to your ability to predict what will be a good user interface: skills in using computers, the Internet, and technology in general. Anybody who’s on a web-design team or other user experience project is a veritable supergeek compared with the average population. This not just true for the developers. Even the less-technical team members are only ‘less-technical’ in comparison with the engineers. They still have much stronger technical skills than most normal people.”

Hong Kong Free Press: China is the obstacle to Google’s plan to end internet censorship. “It’s been three years since Eric Schmidt proclaimed that Google would chart a course to ending online censorship within ten years. Now is a great time to check on Google’s progress, reassess the landscape, benchmark Google’s efforts against others who share the same goal, postulate on the China strategy and offer suggestions on how they might effectively move forward.”

Science Blog: Crowd workers help robot keep conversation fresh. “People can find a hundred ways to say the same thing, which poses a challenge to robots that are expected to keep up their end of conversations. A Disney Research team’s solution is to devise an automated method of crowdsourcing multiple lines of dialogue. After all, ‘hello’ is a perfectly fine greeting, but not every time you see someone.” Good morning, Internet…

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