morningbuzz

Natural History, Victorian Humor, Raspberry Pi, More: Saturday Buzz, December 24, 2016

NEW RESOURCES

The Natural History Museum in London has digitized its oldest book and put it online. “The Museum’s Library and Archives has digitised its oldest book, Historia Naturalis, to mark the tenth anniversary of the Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL). The Museum’s copy is one of only 100 first editions. It was published in 1469, barely 30 years after the invention of the printing press – and about 1,400 years after it was compiled. Its author is Roman philosopher and scholar Gaius Plinius Secundus, commonly known as Pliny the Elder (AD 23-79).” Obviously I can’t read a word of it as it’s Latin, but man, it’s a beautiful book.

In development: a digital archive of historical humor. (I believe I have mentioned this before, but this is a good overview article with plenty of Victorian-era jokes.) “Millions of people in Britain will pull a cracker on Christmas Day, don the paper crown within, and inflict an old joke like this on their families. For my long-suffering household this experience will be all too familiar – they put up with it all year around, as I research the history of Victorian jokes. This might seem like a rather unpromising topic. After all, we’re accustomed to thinking of the Victorians as a rather humourless bunch – a straitlaced society in the fashion of their queen, who was famously ‘not amused’. But this old stereotype isn’t really fair.” The humor seems like an odd mix of dad jokes and things you would see on Hee-Haw.

TWEAKS AND UPDATES

BetaNews: Raspberry Pi’s Linux-based PIXEL desktop now available for PC and Mac. “If you own a Raspberry Pi, you’re probably familiar with PIXEL. The desktop environment is included in the Raspbian OS. The Raspberry Pi Foundation describes PIXEL as the “GNU/Linux we would want to use” and understandably so. It offers a smart, clean interface, a decent selection of software, the Chromium web browser with plug-ins, and more — and from today it’s available for PC and Mac.”

Facebook is adding live audio. “Book readings, interviews, and news radio are coming to Facebook thanks to its new Live Audio feature launching today with a few publishers and authors before opening up next year. A complement to its Facebook Live video streaming, it could bring audio-first content like podcasts to the News Feed, and provide a low-bandwidth real-time broadcasting options to publishers in low-connectivity areas.”

BBC News: Google app aids London hospital health checks. “Doctors at Imperial College hospitals will soon be monitoring the health of patients with an app developed by Google-backed AI firm DeepMind. The Streams app gathers information about key physiological measurers and warns when readings are high or low.”

Now Twitter is reporting ad metrics errors. “We are constantly monitoring our campaign reporting to ensure 100% accuracy. Through that process, we discovered a technical error due to a Twitter product update to Android clients that affected some video ad campaigns from November 7 to December 12. The issue has been fixed but we wanted to share more details on what the impact was to our advertising partners.” Doesn’t look as bad as Facebook’s.

Are Google and Honda teaming up for self-driving cars? “Honda is in talks with Google to install the tech company’s self-driving technology in Honda vehicles. Honda says collaboration with the Google unit called Waymo would let researchers learn about integration of sensors, software and computers.”

AROUND THE SEARCH AND SOCIAL MEDIA WORLD

Yay! From Search Engine Roundtable: Google Calls Out Sites With Taboola Or Outbrain Links. “Nathan Johns, a relatively quiet search quality analysts in the Google Search department posted on Twitter that sites writing about fake news should ‘think twice’ about placing taboola or outbrain links on your site.” It isn’t clear this is an official Google position, but it’s good to see that SOMEONE affiliated with Google feels like this.

All the people leaving Twitter is putting a hurting on its stock. “Just weeks after its chief operating officer resigned, the company this week lost two more senior executives, including its chief technology officer. The unexpected departures pummeled the stock (TWTR). Some analysts believe shares, now trading in the $16 range from near $19 a week ago, could retreat to their low, below $14, as investors lose confidence in founder Jack Dorsey. ”

SECURITY/LEGAL ISSUES

Ars Technica: This low-cost device may be the world’s best hope against account takeovers. “The past five years have witnessed a seemingly unending series of high-profile account take-overs. A growing consensus has emerged among security practitioners: even long, randomly generated passwords aren’t sufficient for locking down e-mail and other types of online assets. According to the consensus, these assets need to be augmented with a second factor of authentication. Now, a two-year study of more than 50,000 Google employees concludes that cryptographically based Security Keys beat out smartphones and most other forms of two-factor verification.”

Quartz: The EU is charging Facebook for misleading it over the WhatsApp deal. “The European Union’s competition regulator says it was misled by Facebook over the tech company’s ability to match its users to accounts on WhatsApp, the messaging company that was acquired for $19 billion in 2014. The allegations are limited in scope and will not change the commission’s decision to clear the acquisition. However,Facebook could face a fine of 1% of its total revenue.”

RESEARCH AND OPINION

The Drum: Study finds Google search results are more relevant than ever. “Google’s use of machine learning and artificial intelligence to better understand search intention and deliver the most relevant results is resulting in just that, according to new research from SEO and content performance platform Searchmetrics in its annual study of Google ranking factors.” I’m trying to align this in my mind against all the complaints against Google search results lately. Are the outliers becoming more of a problem? Good morning, Internet…

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