CSV Files, Sunspots, Instagram, More: Thursday Afternoon Buzz, January 18, 2018


From a gentleman named Simon Willison, and this looks delicious: Datasette Publish: a web app for publishing CSV files as an online database. “I’ve just released Datasette Publish, a web tool for turning one or more CSV files into an online database with a JSON API. Here’s a demo application I built using Datasette Publish, showing Californian campaign finance data using CSV files released by the California Civic Data Coalition. And here’s an animated screencast showing exactly how I built it…” Are there are enough hours in the day? Find out in our next episode, THERE ARE NOT ENOUGH HOURS IN THE DAY.

Eos: Preserving a 45-Year Record of Sunspots. “In 1964, the late solar researcher Patrick McIntosh launched an ambitious effort to track sunspots—relatively cool, dark blotches on the Sun caused by disturbances in the star’s magnetic field. He traced sunspots and other solar surface features from daily photographs, creating a map of the full Sun approximately every 27 days. This led to important advances in the prediction of solar flares and helped to reveal the large-scale organization of the Sun’s magnetic field. Now scientists are working to preserve and digitize McIntosh’s project, a uniquely consistent record of solar activity over 45 years.”


The Next Web: Instagram tests new ‘Type’ feature for Stories and screenshot alerts. “Instagram’s Stories are one of the most popular ways to share content on social media, but sometimes images and videos just aren’t as effective as plain old text. Instagram knows this too, so now it’s testing a new feature – simply called ‘Type’ – that puts the emphasis on written stories.”

Bloomberg: Twitter to Alert Users Who May Have Seen Russian-Linked Content. “Twitter Inc. will inform users who may have seen posts covertly crafted by Russians during the 2016 presidential campaign, the company’s director of U.S. public policy told a Senate committee Wednesday.”


MuckRock: Guerrilla FOIAfare: How to use exemption codes to find the most interesting documents hidden in the CIA archives . “As many researchers have learned over the years, government agencies in general and the Central Intelligence Agency in particular often apply exemptions very broadly, and at times, bordering on the ridiculous. Exemption codes, on the other hand, can still be useful to researchers, journalists, and curious citizens – by searching for these codes, clever researchers can find documents that discuss war plans, cryptography, WMDs, and diplomatically damaging information.”

Digital Trends: Learn how to use Google Maps with these handy tips and tricks . “Google Maps boasts more than 1 billion active users today, making it the most popular navigation software in the world. It gets millions of us where we need to go every day, but are you sure you’re getting the most out of it? It’s easy to miss new features or hidden options. That’s why we’ve compiled this guide on how to use Google Maps. It’s time to take your first step on the road to mastery with our Google Maps tips and tricks.” There’s a little marketing stuff at the beginning for selling iPhone mounts and like that, but the rest of it is solid overview.


The Atlantic: Raising a Social-Media Star. “When then-14-year-old Jonas Bridges ran down the stairs of his Atlanta home shouting, ‘Dad, I’ve got 1,000 fans!’ his father, Rob Bridges, hardly took notice. A few days later Jonas barreled into the living room again, saying, ‘Dad, I’ve got 3,000 fans now.’ Again, his father brushed him off. Several days later, Jonas told his father, ‘I have 5,000 fans now and if I get to 10,000 I’ll get paid for it.’ Finally, Rob Bridges turned to his wife and said, ‘Denise, what the hell is he talking about?'”

CNET: YouTube yanks videos showing dangerous ‘Tide Pod challenge’. “YouTube is taking steps to shut down a viral video trend in which people post recordings of themselves purposely ingesting laundry detergent. The so-called Tide Pod challenge, which involves people eating the brightly colored laundry detergent packs known as pods, reportedly began last year as a joke on the internet. But like viral video predecessors the ‘cinnamon challenge’ and the ‘bath-salt challenge,’ this fad represents a dangerous health threat, officials warn.” Tide put out a warning against eating pods on January 12. It’s January 18. YouTube is just now getting around to pulling videos?


Salt Lake Tribune: Utah man who runs popular YouTube science channel is charged with possessing explosives during backyard experiments. “The man behind the popular science-focused YouTube channel King of Random has been charged with two counts of second-degree felony possession of an explosive device for allegedly conducting incendiary experiments in his backyard. Jonathan Grant Thompson, of South Jordan, was charged Tuesday for two separate events involving an explosive. He was not arrested.”

RESEARCH & OPINION Court software may be no more accurate than web survey takers in predicting criminal risk. “A widely-used computer software tool may be no more accurate or fair at predicting repeat criminal behavior than people with no criminal justice experience, according to a Dartmouth College study. The Dartmouth analysis showed that non-experts who responded to an online survey performed equally as well as the Correctional Offender Management Profiling for Alternative Sanctions (COMPAS) software system used by courts to help determine the risk of recidivism.” Good afternoon, Internet…

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