Germany Castles, Blue Ridge Murals, NC Newspapers, More: Wednesday Buzz, January 31, 2018


Deutsche Welle: Does Germany really have 25,000 castles?. “How many castles are there in Germany? Which one is the highest? Which one is the oldest? Nobody really knows the answer — at least not yet. The European Castle Institute wants to put an end to the confusion. … In Braubach, not far from Koblenz, the EBI has started to establish a record of every single castle in the country, information which it is uploading into a public database called EBIDAT. ”

New-to-me: a database of murals in the Blue Ridge Parkway area. “A local organization is sharing its love for an artistic part of history. During America’s Great Depression, more than 5,000 jobs for artists were created by the federal government through the New Deal, according to researchers with the Appalachian Mural Trail, an organization which seeks out and promotes murals in western North Carolina. These artists produced more than 225,000 works of art in post offices throughout the nation.”


Digital NC: 11 More Years of the Carteret County News-Times Now Available. “Nearly a dozen years and over 14,000 pages of the Carteret County News-Times have been newly added to DigitalNC, courtesy of our partner, the Carteret County Public Libraries. While previously covering from May 1948 to March 1949, DigitalNC now covers from May 1948 to January 1960. Based out of Morehead City, this newspaper covers Carteret County and joins the Pine Knoll Shores, another newspaper that services Carteret County.”

The Guardian: OED’s new words include ‘mansplaining’ but steer clear of ‘poomageddon’. “From ‘poonami’ to ‘shitastrophy’, the venerable editors of the Oxford English Dictionary found themselves deluged with words relating to the explosive contents of nappies when they turned to parenting forum Mumsnet to ask which words and phrases should be considered for inclusion in their latest update.”

TechCrunch: Instagram now allows businesses to schedule their posts. “Instagram today made a long overdue change to its product that social media managers have wanted for some time – it will allow businesses on Instagram to schedule their posts. Before, there were unofficial means to aid with this – like tools that would send out a push notification to remind you to publish a post at a given time, for example. But no functionality was available in Instagram itself.”

Search Engine Land: Google publishes comprehensive guide to featured snippets. “Google has published one of the most comprehensive explanations yet of their featured snippets in a post on the search blog. Featured snippets, in short, are the quick direct answers you see at the top of the Google search results page that appear in response to some search queries. In this blog post, Google explains what featured snippets are, the various user interfaces and treatments you can get from these featured snippets and how they interact with desktop, mobile and voice search results.”


Hongkiat: Best Time Lapse Apps For Your Smartphone. “Shooting time lapse videos is the best way to capture the mesmerizing beauty of slow moving things around us that our eyes (or patience) can’t keep up with. Thanks to low frame rate and high video speed, you can make epic videos of blooming flowers, sunset, moving clouds and many other beautiful scenes.” Or people painting a building. Do not ask me how I know this.

Gizmodo: How to Avoid Being Tracked on Your Laptop, Phone, or Fitness Tracker. “As you’ll be able to tell if you actually read through any of the privacy policies that appear when you sign up for a new website, install a new app, or boot up a new device, it’s just about impossible to stay completely untracked unless you’re going to retreat to an off-the-grid cabin in the woods to see out your final days. That said, there are steps you can take to at least limit some of the data that developers, tech companies, websites, and advertisers are amassing on you. Here are the key settings you need to know about for your laptop, your phone, and your fitness tracker.”


Wired: Look Out: Chrome Extension Malware Has Evolved. “YOU ALREADY KNOW to be wary of third-party Android apps, and even to watch your back in the Google Play Store. A flashlight app with only 12 reviews might be hiding some malware as well. But your hyper-vigilant download habits should extend beyond your smartphone. You need to keep an eye on your desktop Chrome extensions as well.”

CNET: UK digital surveillance laws ruled unlawful. “Appeal court judges confirmed on Tuesday that the foundations of Britain’s mass digital surveillance programme give police and intelligence agencies too much leeway to access confidential information. According to the ruling, the current system doesn’t do enough to limit snooping to those involved in serious crime, or require police to seek the thumbs-up from independent authorities before they delve into our data.”


Times of India: Now, an app to record, bring down roadkill. “A large number of animals are killed each year along roads and railway lines crisscrossing reserve forests in the country, but the exact number of lives lost is not recorded. Wildlife Conservation Trust (WCT), an NGO working for tiger conservation, recently launched a citizen science initiative…. The idea is to collect data on mortality of wild animals on roads, irrigation canals or railway lines so that targeted mitigation measures can be undertaken in these areas, and wildlife conservation and planned development can go hand-in-hand.”

University of Alberta: Using AI to uncover ancient mysteries. “Computing scientists at the University of Alberta are using artificial intelligence to decipher ancient manuscripts. The mysterious text in the 15th century Voynich manuscript has plagued historians and cryptographers since its discovery in the 19th century. This ancient mystery made its way to the artificial intelligence community, where computing science professor Greg Kondrak was keen to lend his expertise in natural language processing to the search. Kondrak and his graduate student Bradley Hauer set out to use computers for decoding the ambiguities in human language using the Voynich manuscript as a case study. Their first step was to address the language of origin, which is exquisitely enciphered on hundreds of delicate vellum pages with accompanying illustrations.” Good morning, Internet…

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