Vermont Snow Plows, Data Collaborations, Solar Energy, More: Thursday Buzz, January 19, 2017

NEW RESOURCES

The latest state to get a snow plow mapper is Vermont. “The new website includes plow finder, a map that shows the locations of the 250 Vermont Department of Transportation plow trucks.”

The NYU Tandon School of Engineering has launched a new site to encourage public-private partnerships (PRESS RELEASE.) “Through different partnerships with UNICEF (focused on creating data collaboratives to improve children’s lives) and Omidyar Network (studying new ways to match open-data demand and supply to increase impact) , The GovLab has catalogued dozens of cases in which data collaboratives are already being used for the public good.”

The World Bank has launched a new tool to help governments identify areas with solar power potential. “The tool displays annual average solar power potential, and has the capacity to zoom into areas in great detail (with a spatial resolution of 1 km, or 0.6 of a mile). The tool also provides access to high resolution global and regional maps and geographic information system (GIS) data, enabling users to print poster maps and utilize the data in other applications.”

TWEAKS AND UPDATES

Evernote has a new iOS app. “How do you keep loyal users after quickly stepping back from a potentially intrusive new privacy policy? For Evernote, it’s by releasing a new app that focuses on the core features its users love. The company’s latest iOS app has been ‘rebuilt from the ground up’ around simplicity.”

Google wants to make it easier to search on Android even when you have dodgy Internet. “Whether you’re a commuter reading the news with a spotty network, a farmer looking up crop prices with no service in the fields, or just driving through a tunnel, all is not lost when your search is interrupted by a bad connection. Now on the Google app for Android, even if your search fails, Google will deliver your results as soon as a connection is available—so you can keep searching with a single tap.”

Hey! Will Google Maps start showing parking? “Last year, rumors suggested Google was working on a new feature for its Maps app, which would tell users about parking availability. Now that feature has reportedly gone live for a limited number of users in the preview app.”

More Google: Google is now saying that the audio problems with its Pixel phone are hardware-related, not software. “Google’s Pixel smartphones may be considered the best Android devices available right now, but they’re certainly not without their issues. One of the handsets’ reported problems involves audio distortion when the volume is at its highest level. This was initially thought to be a software problem, but a Google Support specialist says it’s related to the hardware – which is much more serious.”

USEFUL STUFF

Oooh nice. MakeUseOf: How to Auto-Generate a List of Installed Programs on Windows. “You probably have several dozen pieces of software installed on your computer. Aside from tools you use every day like your web browser, it’s easy to forget about programs you don’t use often. This can cause problems whenever you’re resetting your computer or buying a new machine, as you won’t remember which software you need to reinstall.”

AROUND THE SEARCH AND SOCIAL MEDIA WORLD

Mashable: Facebook spent even more on Oculus than everyone realizes. “Back in March 2014, Facebook announced it acquired Oculus, the ‘leader in immersive virtual reality technology, for a total of approximately $2 billion.’ Turns out that was fake news — or maybe just a poorly written lede. ”

SECURITY/LEGAL ISSUES

Oh, how nice. Freemium ransomware. “Many ransomware attacks include a try-before-you-buy feature on their pay pages, where you can decrypt one or two files for free as an inducement to trust the crooks. By allowing you to upload two randomly chosen files and then returning copies of the originals, the crooks are hoping to prove that they do, indeed, have the decryption key they’re offering to sell back to you.”

The state of Mississippi is suing Google. “Attorney General Jim Hood sued the California-based computer giant Friday in Lowndes County Chancery Court. In a news conference Tuesday, Hood said Google is breaking Mississippi consumer protection law by selling ads using data from services it provides to schools.”

RESEARCH AND OPINION

CNET: Governments suck at social media, but you deserve some blame . No, I don’t. “The Leaders’ Report, published by advertising and consulting firm WPP, looked at how government agencies across 40 countries reach out to citizens. WPP spoke with communications leaders from 20 governments, along with five leaders of multilateral organizations. The report’s conclusion: the majority of countries have been failing on social media.” Good morning, Internet…

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