Disability Help, Cloud Dataprep, Cyberbullying, More: Saturday Buzz, September 23, 2017


Huffington Post: New Website Helps People with Disabilities After Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. “People with communication disabilities, such as ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), Down syndrome, aphasia caused by a stroke, and some forms of cerebral palsy and autism, are the most vulnerable during and after disasters like Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. In many cases, these individuals get separated from their helpers, lose access to their speech-generating devices and their low-tech tools, and get relocated to places where they are unable to receive the proper support. The United States Society for Augmentative and Alternative Communication (USSAAC), a 501©(3) non-profit established in the 1980s, has launched two websites… to help people with disabilities and their families who have been affected by Harvey and Irma.”

VentureBeat: Google launches Cloud Dataprep in public beta to help companies clean their data before analysis. “At its Google Cloud Next conference in San Francisco back in March, Google unveiled Cloud Dataprep, a service that lets companies clean their structured and unstructured datasets for analysis in, for example, Google’s BigQuery, or even for use in training machine learning models. Over the past six months, Cloud Dataprep has been in private beta, but Google is now officially graduating the service to public beta for anyone to use.”

Arizona State University: ASU team takes cyberbullying app public. “Just this month, [Yasin] Silva and his New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences team of faculty and students announced the public availability of BullyBlocker, a smartphone application that allows parents and victims of cyberbullying to monitor, predict and hopefully prevent incidents of online bullying. The first version of the app is currently available for free in the Apple app store, and the ASU team has received a nearly $300,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to continue research and development of subsequent versions. While there are other cyberbullying applications available, BullyBlocker is different in that it is the first and only application so far to do more than just flag potentially harmful posts and comments.”

The Art Newspaper: Germany launches internet portal to fight art trafficking. “The German government has launched a new internet portal providing information relevant to the Cultural Property Protection Law that came into force last year, and aims to tackle illegal trafficking in looted antiquities and to protect German national heritage. The new site offers information on the German cultural property regulations for collectors, artists, museums and archives, as well as on national regulations in 60 further countries including Iraq, Afghanistan, China and Egypt. It also includes a database of German cultural property that is banned from sale abroad.”


Ars Technica: Facebook revamps political-ad rules after discovering Russian ad buys. “Two weeks ago, Facebook admitted that a ‘shadowy Russian company’ spent $100,000 on political ads targeting US Facebook users during the 2016 election campaign. At the time, Facebook turned in information about these ad buys to special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating Russian interference in the election. Today, Facebook announced that it would also be turning the information over to Congressional investigators. And Mark Zuckerberg announced that Facebook would be stepping up its efforts to prevent foreign election interference in the future.”

Google Blog: Google signs agreement with HTC, continuing our big bet on hardware. “Creating beautiful products that people rely on every single day is a journey, and we are investing for the long run. That’s why we’ve signed an agreement with HTC, a leader in consumer electronics, that will fuel even more product innovation in the years ahead. With this agreement, a team of HTC talent will join Google as part of the hardware organization. These future fellow Googlers are amazing folks we’ve already been working with closely on the Pixel smartphone line, and we’re excited to see what we can do together as one team. The deal also includes a non-exclusive license for HTC intellectual property.”


Muckrock: The ultimate guide to searching CIA’s declassified archives. “While the Agency deserves credit for compiling a basic guide to searching their FOIA reading room, it still omits information or leaves it spread out across the Agency’s website. In one egregious example, the CIA guide to searching the records lists only three content types that users can search for, a review of the metadata compiled by Data.World reveals an addition ninety content types. This guide will tell you everything you need to know to dive into CREST and start searching like a pro.”


India Times: China bans use of anti-Islam words on social media. “‘Islamophobic’ terms used by Chinese internet users to stigmatize Muslims have been blocked by authorities to prevent bias against Islam, official media reported on Thursday. China has over 21 million Muslims mostly the Uyghurs in Xinjiang and Hui community in Ningxia province, according to unofficial accounts.”

Times of Malta: Malta becomes first country to explore blockchain education certificates. “The government has launched a pilot project to explore the possibility of issuing educational certificates on the blockchain. The project will see diplomas at MCAST, training certificates at ITS, and equivalence statements, accreditation and licensure from the NCFHE, all issued on the emerging technology this year.”


Ottawa Citizen: Google is linking secret, court-protected names – including victim IDs – to online coverage. “Google’s powerful search engine is defeating some court-ordered publication bans in Canada and undermining efforts to protect young offenders and victims. Computer experts believe it’s an unintended, ‘mind-boggling’ consequence of Google search algorithms.” Please read the entire story. It’s a bit terrifying.


Irish Times: UL scientists work to identify social media ‘superspreaders’. “Researchers at the University of Limerick (UL) are developing new mathematical techniques and models to examine how information spreads rapidly online. A team headed by Prof James Gleeson is to benefit from €900,000 in funding from Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) to investigate ‘social spreading phenomena’.” New technique accurately digitizes transparent objects. “A new imaging technique makes it possible to precisely digitize clear objects and their surroundings, an achievement that has eluded current state-of-the-art 3D rendering methods. The ability to create detailed, 3D digital versions of real-world objects and scenes can be useful for movie production, creating virtual reality experiences, improving design or quality assurance in the production of clear products and even for preserving rare or culturally significant objects.” Good morning, Internet…

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