Bird Habitats, Neil Gorsuch, Google Classroom, More: Thursday Afternoon Buzz, March 16, 2017


University of Florida: UF researcher: Online tool helps make neighborhoods more bird-friendly. “When it comes to urban planning, sometimes a bird in hand is not worth two in the bush. Researchers with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences have created an online tool to help planners strategically conserve forest fragments and tree canopy that will attract more birds and enhance future biodiversity. The Building for Birds web tool predicts how the distribution of trees and tree patches in a new development will impact resident and migrating bird habitat. Users can test different arrangements to see how they can optimize habitat for different development scenarios.”

From the University of Virginia School of Law: Gorsuch Project Launched. “Hearings on the nomination of the Honorable Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court are scheduled to begin March 20 and interest in the nominee’s judicial record is high. To assist researchers, we’re proud to announce the launch of the Neil Gorsuch Project, a website that assembles all of Gorsuch’s written opinions, as well as concurrences and dissents he either wrote or joined as a judge for the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals. Lists of published articles and speeches by Gorsuch are also included.”


Google is opening up Google Classroom to more users. “We see value in bringing technology to people who want to learn, no matter the setting. That’s why we’re opening up Google Classroom to users without G Suite for Education accounts. Now, teachers and students in many different environments can teach or attend classes, manage assignments and instantly collaborate—all with their personal Google accounts. Starting today, these new Classroom users will be able to join existing classes and over the coming weeks, they’ll have the ability to create their own classes as well. Schools interested in using Google Classroom should still sign up for G Suite for Education.”

The Verge: EU launches new tool for whistleblowers to report antitrust violations and cartels. “The European Commission (the executive arm of the EU) has launched a new initiative to encourage whistleblowers to step forward. A whistleblowing hotline including an email address, phone number, and encrypted web form will allow individuals to anonymously report price-fixing cartels and other anti-competitive practices.”

Ars Technica: Twitter to open up livestreaming API so companies can bypass Periscope. “Twitter wants to make it as easy as possible for companies to live stream video on its platform. According to a report from The Information, the company is set to announce next week that it will open up its live-streaming API to allow media companies to livestream to Twitter. This would let companies use Twitter software directly to livestream video; currently companies have to sign deals with Twitter in order to use this feature or use Twitter’s live video app Periscope.”


Okay. I HAVE to make some time to dig into Zapier. From its blog: How to Get an RSS Feed for Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest. “News can be distracting too, but RSS feeds help balance it out by letting you subscribe to only your favorite sites. You might want to follow your favorite brands’ Twitter feeds via RSS—or you might gain more followers for your own brand by making your own social-powered RSS feed. And, with a Zapier-powered filter, you can make a filtered RSS Superfeed that includes only the most important posts.”


CNET: WhatsApp, Telegram flaws left accounts vulnerable to hackers. “If you use WhatsApp or Telegram on your web browser, you’ll want to shut down the browser and start it up again to keep hackers from taking over your account.”


MIT Technology Review: The U.S. Military Wants Its Autonomous Machines to Explain Themselves. “Intelligence agents and military operatives may come to rely heavily on machine learning to parse huge quantities of data, and to control a growing arsenal of autonomous systems. But the U.S. military wants to make sure that this doesn’t lead to blindly trusting in any algorithm.”

The Guardian: Why won’t YouTube and Google consider moderators to tackle online hate?. “The problem is that these companies vacillate between positioning themselves as content-agnostic platforms and as publishers. They certainly have the financial benefits of publishers, but the openness of their platforms also gives them plausible deniability of responsibility for what users publish should they need it. It is striking how successful YouTube has been in ensuring that it is not awash with porn, and how quick it is to take down copyrighted material, compared with how unsuccessful social media companies have been (insofar as they have tried) in limiting the availability of racist material and other kinds of hate speech.” Good afternoon, Internet…

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