BigQuery, Technical Writing, Yahoo Finance, More: Friday Afternoon Buzz, September 8, 2017

Just a reminder that I last year when Matthew was coming I created a “Bad Weather Florida” Twitter list that covers 89 news, weather, and emergency sources. You don’t have to be a Twitter user or even logged in to use it; just go to for the latest tweets. I wish you all peace and safety through the storm.


Google Blog: Analyze your business data with Explore in Google Sheets, use BigQuery too. “A few months back, we announced a new way for you to analyze data in Google Sheets using machine learning. Instead of relying on lengthy formulas to crunch your numbers, now you can use Explore in Sheets to ask questions and quickly gather insights. Check it out.”

TechCrunch: Google publishes its documentation style guide for developers. “Documentation is often an afterthought — especially for open-source projects. That can make it harder for newcomers to join a project, for example, and sometimes badly written documentation is worse than having no documentation at all. To help developers write better documentation, Google this week opened up its own developer-documentation style guide.”

Yahoo Finance: Inside the $14 billion business of football: Announcing Yahoo Finance’s new podcast. “As another NFL season kicks off, the king of American sports leagues is dealing with an increasing amount of negative noise: rising concerns over head injuries; more players protesting during the national anthem; and continued off-the-field disciplinary issues. But it’s difficult to make the case that American football is going away any time soon. The NFL is looking at $14 billion in estimated revenue this year. The league not only eclipses its NBA, MLB, and NHL peers in financial size, it also dominates the news cycle all year round, in-season or out.”

National Post: It’s taking the RCMP longer than anticipated to digitize Canada’s national database of criminal records. “The RCMP says it will now need until 2020 to finish uploading nearly half-a-million backlogged files to a nationwide criminal-record database, despite previously saying the job would be done next year. Criminal justice experts say they are troubled by how much time it has taken the RCMP, which manages the database, to eliminate the backlog for a database that is relied upon not only by police officers, who use it to check suspects’ backgrounds, but also by employers and volunteer organizations who use it to vet job applicants and the courts who use it to make bail and sentencing decisions.”


Carnegie Mellon: CMU Wins NEH Grant for Advanced Computer Analysis of Teenie Harris Archive. “A collaboration between Carnegie Mellon University’s Frank-Ratchye STUDIO for Creative Inquiry and the Carnegie Museum of Art aims to identify, annotate and organize the massive body of work of photographer Charles ‘Teenie’ Harris. The project has been awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities grant to create a set of image identification tools using machine learning and computer vision techniques. The software developed by the STUDIO will be open-source and compliant with international digital image standards, allowing the tool to be applied to collections across the globe.”

Reuters: Google says it has no evidence of Russian ads about U.S. election. “Search engine Google said on Thursday it had seen no evidence on its advertising platforms of the kind of suspected Russian propaganda campaign that Facebook Inc (FB.O) says appeared on its network before and after last year’s U.S. presidential election.”

Global Voices: Netizen Report: Togo Government Shuts Down Internet and SMS as Protests Escalate. “Internet and mobile SMS fell into a total blackout in the West African nation of Togo on the morning of September 7. Anti-government protests have been surging in the capital Lomé, with opposition leaders now demanding that President Faure Gnassingbé step down. On September 5, users began reporting that mobile internet connections were spotty and that social media sites like Facebook were inaccessible altogether.”


USA Today: Fake Facebook ‘like’ networks exploited code flaw to create millions of bogus ‘likes’ . “A thriving ecosystem of websites that allow users to automatically generate millions of fake ‘likes’ and comments on Facebook has been documented by researchers at the University of Iowa. Working with a computer scientist at Facebook and one in Lahore, Pakistan, the team found more than 50 sites offering free, fake ‘likes’ for users’ posts in exchange for access to their accounts, which were used to falsely ‘like’ other sites in turn.”

Northwestern: Want to Improve Your Sales Forecast? Check Your Company’s Facebook Feed.. ” In a recent study, Antonio Moreno, an associate professor of operations at Kellogg, found that social media data can improve sales forecasts. When researchers incorporated information about a clothing company’s Facebook interactions into prediction models, they could more accurately estimate purchases the following week. Using advanced algorithms was key to the improvements, meaning simply collecting social media data is not enough: companies should also upgrade their forecasting techniques.”

Medium: Science, open access… and Sci-Hub. “As with the content industry, the important thing is not whether a site is open access or not: what matters is to challenge outdated business models. Content publishers began to have problems when technology developed better and more efficient ways of accessing material and they began to stop having them when a wide range of simple and relatively inexpensive ways to access content appeared: Spotify, Netflix or whatever. There is no reason why the same dynamics should not apply to academia, and that the hundreds of journals that feed off scholars and institutions with high-priced subscriptions will find ways to disseminate scientific material that match their need for a reasonable level of profitability, while making science readily available to all.” Good afternoon, Internet…

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