Global Water, Social Media, France, More: Friday Buzz, December 30, 2016


Daily Planet: New Interactive Tool Unleashes ‘Goldmine’ of Drought And Flooding Data. “A new tool provides easy access to information about water in lakes, rivers and coastal areas around the world based on millions of satellite images. The Global Surface Water Explorer, developed by the European Union and Google, is a new online interactive mapping tool that lets you zoom in on any area around the world. The tool shows the local changes in surface water over the past 32 years.”


NewsWhip has a quick overview of the major changes on each major social media platform. “Though 2017 is around the corner, social media platforms are rolling out an impressive amount of new features and changes. We gathered up the most important and recent implementations to be aware of. Consider this your cheatsheet into 2017.”

France’s Constitutional Council has ruled against a “Google Tax”. “The council’s ruling on Thursday comes as the government seeks to make France more attractive for foreign businesses after Britain’s decision to leave the European Union.”


Quick article but useful hints: How to Avoid Fake and Bad Videos on YouTube. “There are a lot of poorly-rated, bad and even fake videos out there that you don’t realize are a sham until you begin to watch them, wasting your valuable time. Here are a few tweaks for YouTube that will ensure you don’t start watching worthless videos anymore.”


LA Times: What it’s like wearing Snapchat Spectacles. This is a really, really extensive article and has an accompanying video. “For decades, from Kodak to Polaroid to GoPro, companies have marketed cameras by touting features such as focal length, image size and memory space. Spectacles — the debut camera from Los Angeles start-up Snap Inc. — might be the first capture device ever sold with most technical specifications withheld.”

From Greater Kashmir (India): Google will not censor ‘Pied Piper of Jihad’. “Google is refusing to censor the rants of Al Qaeda preacher Anwar al-Awlaki, who reportedly influenced the attackers who committed the 7/7 London bombings. Dubbed the ‘pied piper of Jihad,’ al-Awlaki’s hateful teachings were, according to RT online, easily searchable using Google’s enhanced search function and are believed to have inspired jihadist and radicalised many more.”

Search Engine Land: Why Google shutting down Map Maker should terrify SMBs. “Google’s Map Maker has often received bad press due to the amount of spam that originates from users of the product. In May of 2015, Map Maker was actually shut down to help prevent disasters like this one. So Google’s announcement that they’re shutting down Map Maker entirely in March of 2017 made a lot of people really happy. It’s the end of spam, right? We should all be celebrating, right? Nothing could be further from the truth.”


Another day, another vulnerability for Messages on iOS. “The new exploit, discovered by hacker vincedes3, is actually simpler—so simple that it’s kind of amazing it took anyone this long to find it. vincedes3 created a ridiculously complex vCard, a type of virtual business card you use to share contacts on your phone. vincedes3’s vCard has 14,281 lines of code where the average vCard has just around 200-300. When Messages attempts to open the card it crashes. Restarting the phone or the app doesn’t work because, in an effort to be super helpful, Messages always tries to open the most recent text. It puts Messages into a vicious and inescapable loop.”

From Jakarta Globe (Indonesia): Surge in Number of Social Media Hoaxes No Coincidence: Police. “The National Police said the recent surge in the number of hoaxes on social media is no coincidence and that it involves new ‘hit and run’ methods. ‘The perpetrators of these recent hoaxes that went viral on social media open new accounts, throw out rumors before closing the accounts and leaving. It goes on like that, hit and run. It is really taking our time and we are analyzing them,’ police special crime unit director Brig. Gen. Agung Setya said on Thursday (29/12).”

The state of Tennessee will see social media harassment and revenge porn become illegal in the new year. “Harassing someone via social media was added to current harassment laws. A violation of those laws is considered a Class A misdemeanor and carries a penalty of up to a year in prison or a fine up to $2,500…. It will also be a Class A misdemeanor if a person shares an image of an intimate part or parts of an identifiable person with the intent to cause emotional distress…”


Quartz: Storytellers make the most influential scientific researchers. “The vast majority of climate science research published goes unnoticed and is rarely if ever cited, leaving gaps in our shared knowledge. But researchers who tell a good tale, using narrative elements rather than expository writing, prove an exception to this rule and are more influential as a result, according to a study led by ecologist and lawyer Ryan Kelley of the University of Washington College of the Environment, published on Dec. 15 in Plos One.”


From Ars Technica: Minecraft expansion successfully tricks students into learning. “Tricks”? “Two chemists, a materials scientist and a game developer (all professors), have created a Minecraft expansion designed to sneakily teach chemistry and engineering concepts. They used the mod as part of a college course and found preliminary results that suggest it works reasonably well.” Good morning, Internet…

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