Delaware Doulas, India Toilets, Google Earth, More: Friday Buzz, November 18, 2016


A new Web site helps citizens of Delaware find midwives and doulas. “Sarah Culver, a local doula, launched The Lighthouse Birth Collective in early November, which lists licensed certified midwives and nurse midwives that facilitate home births in Delaware, doulas and how to contact them. Doulas assist women non-medically before, during and after childbirth.”

Google will launch a new tool to help users find toilets in India. “Roughly 70 percent of Indian households don’t have access to toilets, which results in a nationwide culture of open defecation and urination. To combat this issue, India’s Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD) is partnering with Google to launch a toilet-locator tool on Google Maps to help people find access clean public restrooms, International Business Times India reports. ”


Google Earth has gone VR. “Google Earth has been around for a decade and through a series of updates and improvements, now offers a highly detailed window into the many corners of the globe. But that experience may get a touch more intuitive with its latest iteration. Earth VR works on the same principle, acting as a real-world portal into different locations around the world. But rather than simply clicking to zoom in and out, users can fly through cities, canyons and mountain ranges and simply turn their heads to take in all the features. You know, kind of like VR.”

Google has launched a new game where you try to draw things so that Google’s AI recognizes them. “Quick, Draw! players are tasked with sketching out six different objects per game using mouse to touchscreen. The neural network has 10 seconds to figure out what the thing they’re drawing is supposed to be. Sometimes it works very well. Other times, not so much.” I played twice, drawing with my mouse, and got all six the first time and five the second. Google managed to recognize my snail drawing but not my shoe drawing.

WordPress 4.7 Beta 4 is now available.

Twitter is offering Snapchatesque QR codes for some users. “To create the code, just go to your profile and click Settings. You should be met with a menu that now includes QR Code. If so, just click it and create your own. From here it’s as simple as taking a screenshot and sharing it on other social media platforms, in email, or even printing it on a business card.” I actually like QR codes; it’s nice to see them get a little love.


Kickstarter Corner: Two Colorado police officers are trying to Kickstart a nationwide database of stolen property. “Two current serving police officers from the State of Colorado were frustrated with finding property both lost and stolen and it not having a registered owner. Even property we were 99% sure was stolen, we had no way to prove it was stolen because we didn’t have a victim. The property was either given back to the thief, or at most seized only to sit in found property lockers for months on end, ultimately being sold at public auction to the highest bidder. This is unacceptable. We initially thought of simply utilizing a spreadsheet to store data locally, but quickly realized we needed something more powerful. Something us and our colleagues could easily access out on the street. The model quickly grew from locally-focused to a nationally-based system to enable everyone the ability to benefit from it. ” The database will be free for all to use; they are trying to raise $10,000.

Thinking about buying a Google Pixel and then reselling it? Think twice. “Google has suspended the accounts of hundreds of people who took advantage of a loophole in US sales tax to make a small profit on Pixel phones. The Google customers had all bought the phones from the company’s Project Fi mobile carrier, and had them shipped directly to a reseller in New Hampshire, a US state with no sales tax. In return, the reseller split the profit with the customers.”

From Route Fifty: Going Where No Street View Has Gone Before. “Santa Catalina Island and its lone city, Avalon, were incredibly hard to navigate as late as September because local street-level imagery was nonexistent. Google Street View lacks a financial interest in mapping out-of-the-way places like Catalina, so the Pacific island southwest of Los Angeles, but still part of L.A. County, was a virtual void.”


A little outside my remit, but I’m linking to it anyway. From the Consumerist: Office Depot Allegedly Diagnosing Computers With Nonexistent Viruses To Meet Sales Goals. “Retailers upselling customers on services they don’t need is nothing new, but a new report claims that some Office Depot employees are falsely claiming computers are infected with viruses in order to meet sales goals. According to KIRO-TV in Seattle, employees of the office supply retailer allege that pressure to sell protection plans and other services has led store staffers to misdiagnose computers with viruses.”


University of Florida: Facebook Gamers Play for Human Connection . “People who obsessively play Facebook games like Farmville are often mocked for being anti-social and online obsessed. But, new research suggests that compulsive gamers play to connect with others. New research out of the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications suggests that people who play a lot of online games do so to build and maintain their relationships.” Social media activism is driving corporate agendas. “Close to half the world’s population lives in countries without press freedom, where governments restrict civil activism and individuals have less capacity to exercise their public voice. The rise of digital media allows social activists to address this challenge, providing new mechanisms to influence public policy. There is also evidence that social media activists are influencing corporate agendas.” Good morning, Internet…

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