Science Research, Wine (Linux), NBA, More: Saturday Buzz, January 20, 2018


Columbia University: New Tracker Keeps Tabs on Government Attacks on Science. “The tracker is aimed at documenting government attempts to restrict or prevent scientific research, education, discussion or publication. It currently contains 96 entries drawn from media reports, and links to other resources that complement the database. The tracker organizes attacks into specific categories: government censorship (currently 41 entries); personnel changes (20); budget cuts (15); self-censorship (11); bias and misrepresentation (8); and research hindrance (5). (Some entries are listed under more than one category.) The tracker will be updated on an ongoing basis.” Currently the site only tracks federal-level actions, but state-level actions are for the future.


BetaNews: Wine 3.0 is here to run Windows software on your Linux box. “When people make the switch from Windows to Linux, they often experiment with Wine. If you aren’t familiar, it is a compatibility layer that can sometimes get Windows software to run on Linux and BSD. I say ‘sometimes’ because it isn’t a flawless experience. In fact, it can be quite frustrating to use. I suggest using native Linux software as an alternative, but understandably, that isn’t always possible. If you depend on Wine, or want to start trying it out, I am happy to say that version 3.0 is finally available. It is quite the significant update too, as it features over 6,000 changes!”

Engadget: Yahoo Sports teams with NBA on live games, AR and more . “Verizon isn’t just obsessed with football. The carrier has unveiled an expanded partnership with the NBA that will make basketball games and related content available across Yahoo and ‘other Verizon media platforms.’ To start, it’s making much ado over NBA League Pass. You’ll have the option of buying League Pass on sites like Yahoo Sports, and Verizon’s ‘It’s On Us’ program will let you preview what you’d get without committing to a purchase. There will be additional material for non-subscribers, too.”

TechCrunch: Snap Inc. lays off at least two dozen amid slowed user growth and engagement. “Snap Inc. has laid off at least two dozen people across several divisions within the company, according to The Information and Cheddar which first reported the news. Snap has since confirmed these layoffs, which largely affect those on the content teams in the New York and London offices. More than half of the two dozen employees laid off today were part of the content team.”


PC World: Is your PC vulnerable to Meltdown and Spectre CPU exploits? InSpectre tells you. “The vital information you need to know about the serious Meltdown and Spectre CPU exploits isn’t whether your PC is inherently vulnerable to them—it is—but whether your system has been patched to protect against the flaws. Finding that information isn’t easy though. You need to sift through update logs, cross-referencing them with arcane vulnerability identifiers and Microsoft Knowledge Base codes—or at least you did. Gibson Research recently released InSpectre, a wonderfully named, dead simple tool that detects if your PC is vulnerable to Meltdown and Spectre.”

ReviewGeek: The Best Podcast Apps For Your Smartphone. “While Apple’s Podcasts does a decent job for iPhone owners and there’s always Google Play Music for Android users, the world of podcast apps is so much more diverse than those two old standbys. Here’s a look at some of our favorite apps to supercharge your podcast experience.” I have been using Pocket Casts for ages and I can’t recommend it enough. They don’t know a thing about me and this is not a paid endorsement. I just think they’re grand.


Kyiv Post: Open government data in Ukraine: available, but untapped. “Today, Ukrainians can already access and use more than 28,745 files published…. But many citizens are still unaware of the possibilities of open data, the which has power to increase public sector transparency and efficiency, improve business practices and fight corruption and tax evasion. Open data has become crucial source of information for businesses, civil activists, and investigative journalists in Ukraine. Indeed, there’s already a lot of data online, but this is mostly raw data that is impossible to find or read without special skills and tools.”

Quartz: Singapore’s government hired Instagram influencers to promote its budget. “Some governments may be alarmed about the political influence of social media, but Singapore is embracing it to reach its younger constituents. According to Singapore’s Straits Times, the country’s ministry of finance paid more than 50 social media influencers to promote an initiative that educates citizens about the country’s 2018 budget and asks them for feedback.”

Bloomberg: Google Researcher Ousted After Allegations of Sexual Harassment. “Google said a researcher has left the company after allegations of sexual harassment, the latest reaction to widening evidence of misconduct across the technology industry and other sectors. Steven Scott served as a director of statistics research at Google since 2008. In December, a data scientist named Kristian Lum posted a blog on sexual harassment in Bayesian statistics, a field that underpins artificial intelligence, where Google and other tech giants are investing deeply.”


Techdirt: Mozilla, Consumer Groups Sue The FCC For Its Attack On Net Neutrality. “Mozilla and several consumer groups say they’ll be joining 22 state Attorneys General in suing the FCC for its net neutrality repeal. While procedure dictates that lawsuits can’t be filed until after the FCC’s ‘Restoring Internet Freedom’ order is posted to the federal register (which hasn’t happened yet), Mozilla notes that it petitioned the United States Court of Appeals (pdf) out of an abundance of caution, kickstarting the process to determine which court will finally hear the case…”

Gizmodo: The Very Good Reason Why You Can’t Get That Google Art-Selfie Feature in Illinois or Texas. “…regardless of what Google is doing with the face photos, some people are prevented from participating in the digital Dorian Grey exercise. The app feature isn’t available in every US state, and that’s probably because of policies that are meant to protect their residents from handing over personal data for the sake of amusement and convenience. As Chicago Tribune and Houston Chronicle have pointed out, both Illinois and Texas have laws that block the collection of biometrics—like finger, retina, and face scans—for unclear purposes.”


Not particularly useful, but hilarious, and it IS the weekend. From CNET: Create hilarious medieval memes with this online generator. “The famous Bayeux Tapestry — which is returning to the UK for the first time in 950 years — tells the story of the Norman takeover of England via elaborate embroidery. But you don’t have to invade the UK to make your own version of the tapestry. Using the Historic Tale Construction Kit, you can grab the same images of warriors, citizens, beasts, buildings, ships and more from the tapestry and create your own embroidered memes.” Good morning, Internet…

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