Japanese Wine, State Government Policies, Military Scholarships, More: Thursday Buzz, December 22, 2016


In development: a database of wines from Japan. “The planned database will list purely domestic-made wine produced using only grapes grown in Japan, dubbed ‘Japan wine.’ The company aims to make the database available from February 2017.”

Wow, I can’t wait to see this one. In development: a database of state government decisions. “Policymakers, researchers and journalists alike will soon have access to roughly 4.2 million state government decisions in a single database. West Virginia University political science researcher, William Franko, a professor in the Rockefeller School of Politics and Policy, is part of a research team collecting every legislative bill, executive rule and judicial decision across all 50 states, some dating back to the 1950s.”

A new search tool finds scholarships relevant to military families. “The Scholarships for Service tool can help those with any affiliation – active- or reserve-component members, veterans, retired military personnel​ and military family members. There are more than 3,000 scholarships available to those with various affiliations in the military community, offered from organizations ranging from the military relief societies to associations for Seabees and 82nd Airborne Division troops, to name just a few.” The link in the article does not work; I added the link in a comment at the bottom of the article.


Google’s public toilet locator has officially launched in parts of India. “The user just needs to type ‘public toilet’ on Google Maps in an area where the service is available. Then, Google will list all the nearby restrooms with its address and working hours.”

Facebook Messenger has added group video calling. “Facebook just added a feature to Messenger that may make even the most ardent skeptics want to use the app: group video calling. The chat app now allows groups of up to six friends to make video calls directly from their messages.”

React VR has launched from Facebook. “React Native itself is Facebook’s second most popular open source projects as ranked by GitHub commits. Only Nuclide, a package for the Atom editor that adds support for Facebook-centric tools like React Native, Hack and Flow, bests it in terms of commits. As Facebook announced in October, React VR will allow developers to write virtual reality applications can run in the browser (based on the WebVR standard that Mozilla, Google and others have championed). On Facebook’s own Oculus platform, that browser is currently code-named Carmel.” Caramel rhymes with VRML! Coincidence? I THINK NOT! (If you got that joke you are old; come sit over here with me and we’ll tell everybody to get off our lawn.)


MakeUseOf: Craft a Printable Calendar for the New Year. “If you go to the shops, calendars are normally based around certain themes: sports teams, animals, scenic views, art, and so on. Although they might initially look pleasing, there’s only so long you can look at a picture of a tropical island before you started getting frustrated that you’re stuck at home rather than feeling the sand between your toes. The solution? Make your own calendar, either for yourself or a friend. You can fill it with memories of the previous year, your favorite photos, or other images you have a personal connection with.”

If there is any pony in the muckbucket of misinformation and outright fraud online, it’s how many tools are being developed to combat it. “While Facebook works with third-parties to warn users about fake news on the site, others are still trying to figure out where it comes from, and who’s giving it such massive visibility on social media. A new tool, called Hoaxy, attempts to do exactly that: it finds the most popular fake claims, and then charts when they went viral on Twitter and who was sharing them. ”


From the Online Journalism Blog: How bots came to play a role in journalism: a brief history. “2016 was the year of the bot in journalism. In this edited extract from the forthcoming second edition of the Online Journalism Handbook, I outline what bots are, how bots have been used by media organisations from early Twitter bots to the recent wave of ‘chatbots’, and some tips and tools for getting started with journalistic bots.”

Washington Post: What could happen to Yahoo if Verizon backs away from its $4.8 billion deal. “Security experts have criticized Yahoo’s use of outdated security technologies to defend user data, and the company’s top security official resigned in protest in 2015 when he was cut out of a major decision to allow the federal government to scan customer emails. The renewed concerns over Yahoo have caused Verizon to think seriously about abandoning the deal or asking for a discount, Bloomberg News reported Friday. Some analysts have suggested that Verizon may seek as much as a $200 million price cut.” I’m surprised it wouldn’t be a lot more!


The Guardian: Google sued over policies ‘barring employees from writing novels’. “Google is being sued over its internal confidentiality policies which bar employees from putting in writing concerns over ‘illegal’ activity, posting opinions about the company, and even writing novels ‘about someone working at a tech company in Silicon Valley’ without first giving their employer sign-off on the final draft.”

Scary from Route Fifty: Subverting Government Data Is Replacing Economic Espionage. “State and local government employees are being spear-phished at work—the act of emailing them malicious links or talking them into wiring money using advanced social engineering. Such scams sound simplistic, but at a rate of 400 a day the Federal Bureau of Investigation estimates $3 billion has been lost to them to date…. Still, economic espionage attacks against the U.S. are waning in favor of subversion—stealing and making changes to increasingly vulnerable data. And that data can increasingly be found in the cloud.” Good morning, Internet…

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