University of Idaho, Flood Monitoring, Urban Planning, More: Friday Buzz, February 17, 2017


The University of Idaho has launched a digital archive of its student newspaper. “The Argonaut is the award-winning student newspaper produced by UI Student Media in the Department of Student Involvement. Continuously in print since 1898, it was historically published twice a week during the academic year and distributed across campus and throughout Moscow and Pullman. … The Library’s new digital collection provides access to nearly 6,000 issues of the Argonaut in PDF format with transcripts produced by Optical Character Recognition, which allows for full-text searching.”

Humanosphere: New tool tracks floods, droughts for world’s most vulnerable farmers. “Researchers have developed a drought and flood monitoring tool for farmers without easy means of anticipating such weather events, even though their livelihoods rely almost solely on rainfall. Developed at the request of UNESCO, the program provides a way to view a vast amount of weather data across Africa and Latin America, including some of the world’s most environmentally and economically vulnerable regions.”

The Architect’s Newspaper: How old are the buildings in your area? A new interactive map might tell you. “The Atlas of ReUrbanism is meant to be a new tool for urbanists and advocates, one that better utilizes massive amounts of data on the age of cities. Along with the interactive map, the report draws connections between the physical character of cities and social, economic, and environmental concerns.” There are only 10 cities available at the moment, with plans to put 40 more online.


NASA is doing some crowdsourcing to help explore space. “For this project, participants are asked to look through data collected by NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) and help to separate real objects from system artifacts that can look like real objects (false positives). Citizen scientists will look for spots of light that move across the sky, signaling that those points of light are objects relatively close to Earth compared to the background stars.”

Wow! YouTube has auto-captioned one billion videos! “Google first launched video captions back in 2006 and automated them three years later. In addition to the 1 billion milestone, the company said people watch video with automatic captions more than 15 million times per day.”

While some federal agency Web sites are losing content, others are adding materials. “…who knows — maybe the FBI Archive Computer is an early version of an Ironic Timing AI. Because wouldn’t you know it, as Donald Trump’s relationship with the Intelligence Community has gotten a lot less friendly in recent days, the FBI Archive happened to post a whole trove of documentation from the Justice Department’s investigation of racial discrimination complaints against the Trump Management Company in the early 1970s.”


ZDNet: Protecting your data from snoopers – including government snoopers. “People have been fending off hackers for decades, but things are much harder now that governments and government-sponsored hackers are fishing for data. Tech Solidarity has published a list of suggestions that aim to improve security without requiring any special technical skills.”


Ross Mounce: Elsevier selling access to open access again. “This tweet references the fact that Elsevier have been caught selling access to paid-for ‘open access’ articles in 2014, 2015, and 2016. After the 2014 scandal they self-reported an internal audit (with no external or independent oversight) and apparently refunded a total of ‘about $70,000’ to readers who had ‘mistakenly’ been allowed to purchase articles that should have been open access. There was no independent audit of Elsevier’s systems – this was all self-reported.”

StateTech Magazine: How State Archivists are Taking on Avalanches of Email Data. “With state agencies generating terabytes of email data, state archivists must find ways to cull, store and manage millions of electronic messages.”


CNN: Please stop charging your phone in public ports. “I know the feeling: Your battery is low, but you have to keep tweeting. You see a USB port or an outlet in public, plug in your device and feel the sweet relief of your phone charging. That comfort could be shattered by an invisible attacker collecting information while your phone is plugged in to a hacked outlet.”


Google: Play a duet with a computer, through machine learning. “To help show what’s possible with Magenta, we’ve created an interactive experiment called A.I. Duet, which lets you play a duet with the computer. Just play some notes, and the computer will respond to your melody. You don’t even have to know how to play piano—it’s fun to just press some keys and listen to what comes back.” I tried this and it was interesting, but sometimes the AI responded before I was done playing a phrase.

Bloomberg: Without Big YouTube Star, Google Faces Setback in Content Plans. “YouTube’s programming strategy is devoted to the young, aspiring filmmakers, video bloggers and sketch comedians that first used the site. Unlike Netflix Inc. and Inc., which have spent billions of dollars on programming from professionals already working in the Hollywood system, YouTube has funded original shows from PewDiePie, Joey Graceffa and Rhett & Link. These stars help YouTube stand out from the crowd, but are harder to control. They built large followings speaking their minds without the filter of a producer or the restraints of a traditional media company.” Google is worth tens of billions with or without Mr. Pie. Is it really going to hit a big stumble by losing on content creator? C’mon now. Good morning, Internet…

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