morningbuzz

Snakes, WordPress, YouTube, More: Friday Buzz, December 1, 2017

NEW RESOURCES

Reptiles Magazine: Database Of 74 Percent Of All Snake Species From 27 Countries Released. “Scientists from Brazil, Australia, USA, Ecuador, Germany and Sweden have recently published a database of snakes of the American tropics collected from museum collections of the past 150 years and have concluded that there is a very high diversity of the reptiles in the region.”

TWEAKS AND UPDATES

WordPress 4.9.1 is now available. This is a security update so please patch! “WordPress versions 4.9 and earlier are affected by four security issues which could potentially be exploited as part of a multi-vector attack. As part of the core team’s ongoing commitment to security hardening, the following fixes have been implemented in 4.9.1…”

Neowin: YouTube debuts Reels, a feature that will attempt to compete with Instagram and Snapchat. “YouTube is always touted as being about the community. While this notion has been tested as of late with the demonization and improper pulling of content, the firm stands by its motto by introducing new features that allow its creators to engage better with its audience. YouTube is now unveiling a new tool called Community that will be open to creators with more than 10,000 subscribers. The new feature has been in testing for the past year and is made to bolster engagement with fans and an audience.”

USEFUL STUFF

Hey, Amit’s back! From Digital Inspiration: How to Embed the Facebook Customer Chat Widget in your Website . “Looking for a simple and free alternative to popular live chat software like Intercom or Zendesk chat? Well, the new customer chat widget from Facebook Messenger is here and anyone can embed these widgets on their website to engage with visitors in real time. Facebook Customer Chat widget, if you are new, lets people chat with businesses without leaving the website. The widget works on both desktop computers and mobile phones. The business owner needs a Facebook Page and all the visitor needs is a regular Facebook account.”

The Next Web: This free Chrome extension lets you watch geo-blocked videos on YouTube. “Every once in a while I would stumble upon an interesting video on YouTube only to discover the uploader hasn’t made the clip available in my country. Switching my VPN to another region usually solves the problem, but thanks to this new Chrome extension, there is now a way to do this entirely VPN-free.”

Free Technology For Teachers: Four Tools for Recording Time-stamped Notes While Watching Videos. “There are many tools for creating video-based lessons and quizzes in which students answer the questions that you create for them. There is nothing inherently wrong with that. I’ve done that myself. However, there are times when I want students to watch an educational video and record notes of their own. Those notes could be questions that they want to ask me or they could be simple notes about an important point made in a video. The following four tools enable students to record time-stamped notes while watching educational videos on YouTube, Vimeo, and other video hosting services.”

AROUND THE SEARCH AND SOCIAL MEDIA WORLD

Defense One: Russia Will Build Its Own Internet Directory, Citing US Information Warfare. “The Russian government will build an “independent internet” for use by itself, Brazil, India, China, and South Africa — the so-called BRICS nations — ‘in the event of global internet malfunctions,’ the Russian news site RT reported on Tuesday. More precisely, Moscow intends to create an alternative to the global Domain Name System, or DNS, the directory that helps the browser on your computer or smartphone connect to the website server or other computer that you’re trying to reach. The Russians cited national security concerns, but the real reason may have more to do with Moscow’s own plans for offensive cyber operations.” Skip the comments.

Mashable: Google Translate users report sexist results. “Supporting 103 languages, the digital Babel Fish directly influences our understanding of languages and cultures different than our own. In providing such an important tool, Google has assumed the responsibility of accurately translating the content that passes through its servers. But, it doesn’t always. Or, perhaps more precisely, where there exists a gray area in language, Google Translate can fall into the same traps as humans. That seems to have been demonstrated by a series of tweets showing Google Translate in the act of gendering professions in such a way that can only be described as problematic.”

Fedscoop: White House missing opportunity to modernize federal websites, think tank says. “The White House’s directive for widespread federal tech modernization misses out on a key opportunity to improve agency websites, a D.C.-based technology think tank says in a new report. The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation comes to this conclusion in its latest ‘Benchmarking U.S. Government Websites’ report, which in its second installment has once again found more than 90 percent of federal websites to be poor performing.”

TechCrunch: Meet the man who deactivated Trump’s Twitter account. “As Twitter tries to figure out how to lock down the parts of its platform that enable harassment, as well as the spread of misleading information and illicit content, there have been a number of moments that highlight how the service, and its levers of control, are far from perfect. One such moment took place earlier this month, when the very active, very watched Twitter account of President Donald Trump was abruptly deactivated for 11 minutes. The man responsible for those 11 minutes moved back home to Germany, and he agreed to speak to TechCrunch about what happened that day.” This is not something I would normally mention, but I do think the fact that one person – a contractor – had this much control over the mechanisms of a single account is worthy of note.

SECURITY & LEGAL

BetaNews: Google faces class action lawsuit for gathering personal data from millions of iPhone users. “A group going by the name Google You Owe Us is taking Google to court in the UK, complaining that the company harvested personal data from 5.4 million iPhone users. The group is led by Richard Lloyd, director of consumer group Which?, and it alleges that Google bypassed privacy settings on iPhones between June 2011 and February 2012. The lawsuit seeks compensation for those affected by what is described as a ‘violation of trust.'”

RESEARCH & OPINION

NZ Stuff: Scientists can now figure out neighbourhood demographics using Google Street View photos. “A team of computer scientists has derived accurate, neighbourhood-level estimates of the racial, economic and political characteristics of 200 US cities using an unlikely data source – Google Street View images of people’s cars. Published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the report details how the scientists extracted 50 million photographs of street scenes captured by Google’s Street View cars in 2013 and 2014.” Good morning, Internet…

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