Texas Scientists, Cloud Storage, Logo Design, More: Thursday Afternoon Buzz, August 31, 2017


The Scientist: Science Labs Offer Help to Texas Researchers. “Yesterday afternoon (August 28), Thomas Jefferson University neuroscientist Tim Mosca tweeted out an offer to help any researchers in Texas who’d been displaced by Tropical Storm Harvey, and encouraged other willing labs to retweet his offer. Dozens picked up on it, and within a day, the March for Science–Houston launched a database with contact information for those labs, along with a description of the type of research they do, indicating what accommodations might be available.”


Hongkiat: Cloud Storage Face-off: iCloud vs Google Drive vs OneDrive vs Dropbox. “Cloud storage services have gotten rather handy in recent times. The ability to save your files to the cloud and retrieve them anywhere and at anytime gives users a degree of flexibility that was considered impossible years ago. For those who aren’t quite sure which cloud storage is suitable for them, I’ll be breaking down the free offerings from the big four cloud storage services.”

Boing Boing: This AI trained on a million logos will now rate your logo. “If an artificial intelligence reviewed your favorite logo, how would that logo fare? now you can find out with Logo Rank, a nifty tool by the guy behind Brandmark.”


ProPublica: Have You Experienced Hate Speech on Facebook? We Want To Hear From You.. “We’re launching an effort to learn more about Facebook’s secret censorship rules. (Details of how you can help are below.) These rules, which it distributes to thousands of human censors it employs across the world — draw elaborate distinctions between hate speech and legitimate political expression. One Facebook training slide published by ProPublica was particularly surprising to many of our readers. It asked which group was protected against hate speech: female drivers, black children or white men. The correct answer was noted as being ‘white men.'”

Above the Law: One Teen’s Quest To Take Jordan’s Law Digital. “Naji lives in Amman, Jordan, and he aspires to be a lawyer one day. He’s intrigued by how much information exists online with respect to U.S. law, and he has started a website…to help his community learn more about Jordan’s law. There’s no fancy database or algorithm — it’s just a handful of cases with some summaries. But he believes it’s transformational, and he may be right.”


Government Technology: With Hurricane Harvey Comes Money- and Data-Gathering Scams via Social Media, Email, Phone. ” The Internal Revenue Service has issued warnings for people to avoid two new scams. One scheme uses impersonators of the IRS and the Federal Bureau of Investigation as part of a ransomware scam to take computer data hostage. The IRS also issued a warning about possible fake charity scams emerging due to Hurricane Harvey and encouraged taxpayers to seek out recognized charitable groups for their donations.”

eWeek: Instagram API Vulnerability Exposes High-Profile User Information. “Instagram publicly admitted on Aug. 30 that an attacker was able to gain unauthorized access to a small amount of user information. The social networking service noted that it has already fixed the root cause vulnerability that enabled the attack.”

Krebs on Security: Twitter Bots Use Likes, RTs for Intimidation. “I awoke this morning to find my account on Twitter (@briankrebs) had attracted almost 12,000 new followers overnight. Then I noticed I’d gained almost as many followers as the number of re-tweets (RTs) earned for a tweet I published on Tuesday. The tweet stated how every time I tweet something related to Russian President Vladimir Putin I get a predictable stream of replies that are in support of President Trump — even in cases when neither Trump nor the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign were even mentioned.”

Ars Technica: FCC ‘apology’ shows anything can be posted to agency site using insecure API. “The Federal Communications Commission’s website already gets a lot of traffic—sometimes more than it can handle. But thanks to a weakness in the interface that the FCC published for citizens to file comments on proposed rule changes, there’s a lot more interesting—and potentially malicious—content now flowing onto one FCC domain. The system allows just about any file to be hosted on the FCC’s site—potentially including malware.”


University of Michigan: ‘Learning database’ speeds queries from hours to seconds. “University of Michigan researchers developed software called Verdict that enables existing databases to learn from each query a user submits, finding accurate answers without trawling through the same data again and again. Verdict allows databases to deliver answers more than 200 times faster while maintaining 99 percent accuracy. In a research environment, that could mean getting answers in seconds instead of hours or days. When speed isn’t required, it can be set to save electricity, using 200 times less than a traditional database. This could lead to substantial power savings, the researchers say, as data centers gobble up a growing share of the world’s electricity.” Oh. My. Good afternoon, Internet…

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