Planet Imagery, Photojournalists, Word Lens, More: Sunday Buzz, March 12, 2017


Wow! From TechCrunch: Planet’s new Explorer Beta lets anyone time travel through geospatial images. “Planet, the global imaging company that recently acquired Google’s Terra Bella satellite imaging business, is introducing a new tool called Planet Explorer Beta that allows its users to view how its image captures of Earth from space change over time. It’s available to the public without a login, which means petty much anyone can check out what a particular spot on the planet looked like over a monthly or quarterly period.”

Now available: a Web site of female photojournalists. “[Daniella] Zalcman began compiling the details of fellow female photojournalists from across the world. But what started as an attempt to create a comprehensive list to circulate to newspaper photodesks became something bigger, as hundreds of women submitted their details.” The site now has over 500 names.


Google Blog: Lost in Translation no more with Word Lens in Japanese. “With Word Lens now available in Japanese, you’ll never have to worry about taking a wrong turn on a busy Shibuya street or ordering something you wouldn’t normally eat.”

TechCrunch: Oculus introduces Facebook livestreaming, Oculus Voice in new update. “Explaining what VR is like can be a pretty daunting task. Today, Facebook and Oculus are making it a bit easer to share VR experiences with your friends and family. Alongside a host of social features which also included the addition of a new events app and viewing of 360 videos in Oculus Rooms, today Oculus showed off an update to its Gear VR platform which will allow users to share live gameplay footage of their virtual reality sessions directly to Facebook.”


From AltGov2: The Other Animal-Welfare Documents APHIS Deleted. “They did it again. At the beginning of February, the USDA’s animal-welfare division (APHIS) suddenly deleted tens of thousands of documents. This led to a media firestorm and a national outcry, including demands from Senators and Representatives that the database be restored. So what did APHIS do? While this was happening, they quietly deleted another set of documents from their website.”

Business Insider India: Google Tax could put a halt to India’s digitisation drive. “Although an official announcement by the government regarding an increase in the scope of equalisation levy is yet to be made, people in the know expect it to be rolled out in the coming months. This would mean a 6% tax levy on all online multinational companies that earn revenue from India. Equalisation levy, also being called as Google tax, could soon get a hold of companies like IBM, Microsoft, Amazon, Apple and Netflix , all of which provide online services in India.”

The Guardian: How many Snapchat clones does it take for Facebook to lose its self-respect?. “It must be getting hard to walk into work at Facebook with your head held high. You roll into the campus in your Tesla, waltz over to your desk, and sit down, head full of ideas as to how to make the social network better for users and advertisers alike. Then a notification pings up on Messenger. It’s Mark Zuckerberg himself! The boss is speaking to you! What could he have to say? ‘Clone Snapchat a bit more. Thanks, Mark.'”

Mashable: How teens are pranking your Facebook News Feeds with random events. “Seen any strange events popping up in your Facebook News Feed lately? Maybe something very mundane, like a niche event at a school you’ve never heard of? Or perhaps something a bit more unusual, like worm-charming or mushroom-growing classes? Well it’s not advertising, and it’s not an accident.”


The Intercept: Malware Attacks Used by the U.S. Government Retain Potency for Many Years, New Evidence Indicates. “The government has long insisted that it discloses more than 90 percent of the vulnerabilities it finds or purchases, and that those it doesn’t disclose initially get reviewed on a regular basis to re-evaluate if they should be disclosed. The problem with this is that the public doesn’t know how long the government is exploiting these security holes before they’re shared publicly — and therefore how long ordinary citizens are left exposed to Russian or Chinese nation-state hackers or cybercriminals who may discover the same vulnerabilities and exploit them.”

Quartz: Is Siri lying to you? Knowing when a bot sounds trustworthy is the next step in digital security. “The graphic user interfaces (GUIs) you use to interact with websites are slowly being complemented or replaced entirely by voice user interfaces (VUIs), such as personal-assistant bots. It’s the difference between Amazon—a GUI—and Amazon’s VUI helper, Alexa. We therefore need to learn how to distinguish between voices—not just graphics—that we can trust.”

New York Times: Sean Spicer’s Quick Twitter Reaction to Jobs Report May Break a Rule. “Oops. The enthusiastic reaction of Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, was understandable on Friday when the Labor Department reported a gain of 235,000 jobs. ‘Great news for American workers,’ he proclaimed on Twitter 22 minutes after the Labor Department release, ‘in first report for @POTUS Trump.'”

RESEARCH & OPINION Floods and hurricanes predicted with social media. “Social media can warn us about extreme weather events before they happen – such as hurricanes, storms and floods – according to new research by the University of Warwick. Nataliya Tkachenko, with her supervisors in the Department of Computer Science, has found that photographs and key words posted online can signal weather risks developing in specific locations and times – for example, posts about water levels rising can alert the authorities to a potential flood.” Good morning, Internet…

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