South Africa Parks, FDA, Tor, More: Saturday Buzz, November 4, 2017


The South African: South African national parks now on Google Street View. “The new trails, launched yesterday, extend the existing Street View imagery of South Africa’s wilderness areas to include all 19 national parks, 17 previously ‘un-trekked’ nature reserves and many sites of natural, cultural and historical significance in all nine provinces of South Africa.”


FDA: FDA Widens Scope of Navigator – Information Tool for Expanded Access. “FDA is committed to expanding access to safe and effective treatment options for patients with rare, debilitating, and sometimes fatal diseases. These patients face unique medical challenges. Sometimes there isn’t an FDA-approved drug to adequately address the needs of a patient with a rare disease. Therefore, the agency needs to take new steps to enable more patients with unmet needs to get access to promising treatments prior to full FDA approval. Two examples of the recent steps FDA has taken in pursuit of these goals are improvements we made to our Expanded Access Program and our Orphan Drug Program.”

The Register: Biggest Tor overhaul in a decade adds layers of security improvements. “Tor developers have taken the wraps off the next generation of Onion Services. The alpha release promises the biggest overhaul in the anonymity service for the last 10 years. The opening section of the change log provides a good overview of the tweaks, some of which aim to address recently discovered security weaknesses in the protocol, such as the potential for rogue nodes to learn about the network.”

TechRadar: Facebook now lets you make two-option polls with GIFs and photos. “Two years ago Twitter started letting its users create polls for just about everything, making it easier for them to learn whether their followers prefer Westworld or Stranger Things, or decide whether they should have beef bourguignon or Cinnamon Toast Crunch for dinner. And now, at last, Facebook is getting in on the polling action as well.”

eWeek: Microsoft Uses AI to Tighten Word’s Translation Tool in Office Update. “Thanks to Microsoft’s accelerated software release cadence, Word now features an improved built-in translation tool that can help users make sense out of documents from their overseas colleagues.”


Whoa! From The Next Web: Detective by Charlie is an AI tool that’s like having your own personal CIA. “Imagine having a button that can instantly tell you (virtually) everything there is to know about something or someone. That, in a nutshell, is Detective by Charlie, which uses natural language processing (NLP) and AI to unearth and collate information about a particular subject in a couple of seconds.” Obviously not free. I don’t think I could even afford to try it.

Digital Trends: How to save a webpage as a PDF, so you can view it offline. “Everyone eventually comes across a web page they need to save for sharing with teammates or doing offline research. You could just copy and paste the link, but sometimes it’s nice to have the page as an image that you can view offline, mark up, or print. The most flexible solution to this problem is creating a PDF file that can be viewed and sent nearly anywhere.”


Bloomberg: Twitter Sidestepped Russian Account Warnings, Former Worker Says. “In early 2015, a Twitter employee discovered a vast amount of Twitter accounts with IP addresses in Russia and Ukraine. The worker, Leslie Miley, said most of them were inactive or fake but were not deleted at the time. Miley, who was the company’s engineering manager of product safety and security at the time, said efforts to root out spam and manipulation on the platform were slowed down by the company’s growth team, which focused on increasing users and revenue.”

Sputnik: (In most circumstances I would not link to Sputnik. This is an exception) Google Confirms Russia’s Federal News Agency Outlet Blocked From Google News. “A Google spokesperson confirmed to Sputnik that materials from the Federal News Agency, a Russian online outlet, are currently unavailable in the Google News aggregator, however, did not specify the reason behind the outlet’s exclusion from the service.”

CNET: ‘Fake news’ named word of the year, even though it’s two words. “‘It has been derided by the leader of the free world and accused of influencing elections, but “fake news” is today legitimate news as it is named Collins’ Word of the Year 2017,’ the dictionary site announced Thursday. Good luck going back in time and trying out the phrase on yourself just two years ago because it barely existed then. Collins reports that ‘the word saw an unprecedented usage increase [of] 365 percent since 2016.'” Dear posterity: this story tells you a lot of what you need to know about 2017.


ComputerWorld: MS fixes ‘external database’ bug with patches that have even more bugs . “Yesterday, in an odd Patch Thursday, Microsoft released five patches for the ‘Unexpected error from external database driver’ bug. But the cure’s worse than the disease. If you installed one, yank it now — and expect Microsoft to pull the patches soon.” Good morning, Internet…

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