Google Web Search, Facebook, Yahoo, More: Friday Buzz, March 3, 2017


From Google: Improvements to searching for special characters in programming languages. “For those seeking answers to technical queries, Google just upped its search game. Now for queries containing sequences of 2-3 special characters such as [== vs ===] and [+=], Google will return results on the meaning of these sequences in programming languages.”

TechCrunch: As Messenger’s bots lose steam, Facebook pushes menus over chat. “Facebook’s Messenger bots may not be having the impact the social network desired. Just yesterday, online retailer Everlane, one of the launch partners for the bot platform, announced it was ditching Messenger for customer notifications and returning to email. Following this, Facebook today announced an upgraded Messenger Platform, which introduces a new way for users to interact with bots: via simple persistent menus, including those without the option to chat with the bot at all.” Reminds me of when Facebook opened stores for Facebook pages…

Yahoo isn’t long for the world, but it just turned 22 years old. “I’m filled with so much pride as I reflect back on 22 years of Yahoo. When we first started the company, Jerry and I could never have imagined that one day Yahoo would serve more than a billion users.” “Serve them with a notice that their accounts might have been compromised,” he did not add.

Engadget: Twitter will livestream ESL and DreamHack eSports tournaments. “Twitter’s initial foray into livestreaming eSports must have went well, as it’s expanding the range of tournaments it covers in a big way. The social network has reached deals to stream 15-plus ESL One, DreamHack and Intel Extreme Masters tournaments over the course of 2017. ESL will also make its own originals for Twitter, including a half-hour show that covers competition highlights and behind-the-scenes stories. The first tourney to get the treatment is Intel Extreme Masters Katowice, which starts on March 4th.”


From The Whip: The 2017 Cheatsheet to Live Video. “Live video continues to be popular for other platforms too – Instagram Stories, Twitter Periscope, YouTube Live, and others. So how do you know how to experiment for each platform? We put together this cheatsheet to help. Most of these options seem to be intended for mobile users. No matter where you are – whether behind a desk or on the go, you can share your experiences with your followers and the world.”

From Wolfram|Alpha: How to Use Your Smartphone for Vibration Analysis, Part 1: The Wolfram Language. “Until now, it has been difficult for the average engineer to perform simple vibration analysis. The initial cost for simple equipment, including software, may be several thousand dollars—and it is not unusual for advanced equipment and software to cost ten times as much…. I’ve figured out how to use the Wolfram Language on my smartphone to sample and analyze machine vibration and noise, and to perform surprisingly good vibration analysis. I’ll show you how, and give you some simple Wolfram Language code to get you started.”


So apparently the giant AWS outage was because of…. a typo?. “A team member was doing a bit of maintenance on Amazon Web Services Tuesday, trying to speed up the billing system, when he or she tapped in the wrong codes — and inadvertently took a few more servers offline than the procedure was supposed to, Amazon said in a statement Thursday. With a few mistaken keystrokes, the employee wound up knocking out systems that supported other systems that help AWS work properly.”

Recode: Internet Archive Chairman Brewster Kahle: The web is ‘not fun and games any more’. “Brewster Kahle, the entepreneur-turned-chairman of the Internet Archive, has a George Orwell saying on his mind: ‘If we allow those who control the present to control the past, then they control the future.’ This thought, pulled from Orwell’s ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four,’ guides today’s work at the nonprofit Archive, which turned 20 years old last fall. The average life of a web page is 100 days, Kahle said on the latest Recode Decode, hosted by Kara Swisher, and ‘most of the best of the web is already off the web.'”


The Inquirer: Security researcher breaks Google ReCaptcha with Google tools. “A SECURITY RESEARCHER HAS EARNED HIS MONEY this week by poking a fat hole into the Google Captcha system by turning Google on itself. The attack is simple, but that doesn’t mean that it is not capable. In very short terms, it takes the audio Captcha challenge from Google, runs it through Google’s voice recognition technology and throws it back as a response.”

Yahoo has copped to the compromise of 32 million Yahoo accounts. “It has been a tough couple of quarters for Yahoo. Over the past few months, the company has confirmed massive cyberattacks that it faced in 2014 and 2013 which affected more than 500 million and 1 billion user accounts respectively. Yahoo has now confirmed another cyberattack. It was a cookie-forging attack which left more than 32 million accounts breached. There aren’t a lot of details available about this attack right now but it’s believed to have taken place between 2015 and 2016.”


CBC: Google Street View data can predict how you vote, researchers say. “Google Street View can be incredibly useful for finding your way around a new city. But a new project out of Stanford University shows that Google Street View is full of surprisingly useful demographic information, too. It may even be able to predict who you’ll vote for.” How social media has synchronized human civilization. “Human activity, whether commercial or social, contains patterns and moments of synchronicity. In recent years, social media like Twitter has provided an unprecedented volume of data on the daily activities of humans all over the world. Observing this activity on the scale of a city, a continent, or the globe reveals the patterns. In a paper published by the Journal of the Royal Society Interface, researchers at the New England Complex Systems Institute (NECSI) have observed a new pattern of synchronized activity: a simultaneous peak of Twitter activity stretching across half the planet, from Europe and Africa to Asia and Oceania.” Good morning, Internet…

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