George Washington, Research Papers, Google Voice, More: Wednesday Buzz, January 25, 2017


The George Washington papers at the Library of Congress have gotten a new home. “If you are one of the many scholars, teachers, students and members of the curious public who have relied on the George Washington papers on the American Memory site, don’t worry. All of Washington’s papers are still online. You will, however, see changes in the way the site works. Among the most significant of these changes are the methods you can use to search for items and display your results.”

TechCrunch: Chan Zuckerberg Initiative acquires and will free up science search engine Meta. “Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan’s $45 billion philanthropy organization is making its first acquisition in order to make it easier for scientists to search, read and tie together more than 26 million science research papers. The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative is acquiring Meta, an AI-powered research search engine startup, and will make its tool free to all in a few months after enhancing the product.”

I was kind of worried that Google Voice was going to get shut down by Google, but it appears that this is not the case as it’s just gotten a pretty substantial update. The Verge has a good overview article. “Aside from simply bringing Voice up to date aesthetically, the upgraded app carries over some features that until now were only available for users who had switched to Hangouts for some Voice functions like texting and voicemail.”

Apparently Raspberry Pi is teaming up with Google. “The credit-card-sized computer Raspberry Pi will get a major power-up in 2017 thanks to a partnership with Google. The Raspberry Pi Foundation has said that the search-engine giant intends to make a range of its machine-learning and artificial-intelligence tools available to the microcomputer.”


Hongkiat: How to Add Text-to-Speech Feature on Any Web Page. “The text-to-speech feature refers to the spoken narration of a text displayed on a device. At present, devices such as laptops, tablets, and mobile phones already have this feature. Any application running on these devices, such as a web browser, can make use of it, and extend its functionality. The narration feature can be a suitable aid for an application that displays plentiful text, as it offers the option of listening to website visitors.”

Lifehacker: How to Opt Out of the Most Popular People Search Sites. “Genealogy site Family Tree Now made waves when people discovered it can be used to look up almost anyone’s personal information, even if they’d never heard of the site before. Addresses, family members, and known associates are free for anyone to find. Here’s how to protect yourself from Family Tree Now, Whitepages, Spokeo, and other popular free people search engines just like it.”


YouTube has removed two channels featuring North Korea content but it’s not clear why. “The removal of the two channels comes less than three months after YouTube suspended the KoreaCentralTV1 channel, which, until its suspension, claimed to be the official representative of North Korea’s state tv channel. On Sunday a YouTube channel maintained by Polish national Emil Truszkowski from Japan, who regularly discussed and promoted travel to North Korea, was terminated without warning.” Earlier suspensions of North Korea material were because of potential advertising revenue issues.

TechCrunch: Google starts testing Instant Apps in the wild. “One of the biggest surprises at last year’s Google I/O developer conference was the announcement of Instant Apps for Android. These new kinds of apps are meant to help bridge the gap between web apps and native apps. The idea here is to break native apps into very small packets that, because they are so small, can run almost instantly — and without having to go to an app store — when you tap on a URL.”


Engadget: Cisco’s web meeting plugin for Chrome has a whopping flaw. “If you participate in corporate web meetings, there’s a good chance you have Cisco’s WebEx Chrome extension. If so, you’ll want to check that it’s patched to version 1.03, because it has a scary hole that leaves machines open to drive-by attacks. In other words, ‘any website could just install malware on your machine silently,’ security expert Filippo Valsorda tweeted.”

Libraries in St. Louis have been paralyzed by ransomware. “Libraries in St Louis have been bought to a standstill after computers in all the city’s libraries were infected with ransomware, a particularly virulent form of computer virus used to extort money from victims. Hackers are demanding $35,000 (£28,000) to restore the system after the cyberattack, which affected 700 computers across the Missouri city’s 16 public libraries.”

From the FTC: FTC Releases New Report on Cross-Device Tracking. “The Federal Trade Commission has released Cross-Device Tracking: An FTC Staff Report that describes the technology used to track consumers across multiple Internet-connected devices, the benefits and challenges associated with it, and industry efforts to address those challenges. The report concludes by making recommendations to industry about how to apply traditional principles like transparency, choice, and security to this relatively new practice.”


Content Insights: Medium is good for us, but what’s good for Medium? “What [Ev] Williams needs is the chance to refocus on the core of his product – the written word – and in doing so, he wouldn’t be alone. Industry forecasts for 2017 are all striking similar tones: after the issues with the press, fake news, click-bait and audience-media disconnect, they all seem to agree that the only way out is to champion quality content. (Does anyone else get the sense that we’re going around in circles here; that audiences are always going to fall for great writing first and foremost, no matter how much time passes, and that bells and whistles are never going to be the answer?)” Good morning, Internet…

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