Corporate Sponsorships, Let’s Encrypt, Raspberry Pi, More: Wednesday Afternoon Buzz, March 14, 2018


The Ecologist: New database tracks how Big Oil targets small communities. “Fossil fuel companies like to be seen to be doing good. That’s why you’ll see their logos splashed across school resources, kids’ sports team’s jerseys, and all kinds of ‘STEM’ celebrations. And it’s much more targeted than you might think. DeSmog UK’s new greenwash database – launched today – tracks fossil fuel companies’ involvement in local communities through funding and sponsorship. The entries come from hours of trawling through corporate twitter feeds and corporate social responsibility reports to find out where Big Oil companies are targeted their resources.”


Ars Technica: Let’s Encrypt takes free “wildcard” certificates live. “In July of 2017, the nonprofit certificate authority Let’s Encrypt promised to deliver something that would put secure websites and Web applications within reach of any Internet user: free “wildcard” certificates to enable secure HTTP connections for entire domains. Today, Let’s Encrypt took that promised service live, in addition to a new version of the Automated Certificate Management Environment (ACME) protocol, an interface that can be used by a variety of client software packages to automate verification of certificate requests.”

TechCrunch: Raspberry Pi Model B+ arrives just in time for Pi Day 2018. “It’s March 14, which means it’s Pi Day for math appreciators everywhere (I appreciate math, I just don’t understand it). To mark the occasion, the Raspberry Pi Foundation has a brand new version of its diminutive, affordable computer for DIY computing enthusiasts, the new Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+.”

CNET: Google may prioritize stories for paying news subscribers. “Google plans to prioritize news articles in search results for users who already subscribe to those news outlets, Bloomberg reported Tuesday. The Alphabet unit will also begin sharing data with media companies on who’s most likely to buy a subscription, Bloomberg reported, citing anonymous sources. The initiative, expected to be unveiled at an event March 20 in New York, aims to help media companies find and retain paying customers.”

BetaNews: Google slaps a ban on cryptocurrency ads. “Google has announced that advertisements for cryptocurrencies will be banned from its platform starting in June. The ban not only covers currencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum, but also related products such as initial coin offerings, cryptocurreny exchanges and digital wallets.”


BuzzFeed: These Three Far-Right YouTubers Were Denied Entry To The United Kingdom For Being “Not Conducive To The Public Good”. “Last week, far-right internet personalities Martin Sellner and Brittany Pettibone announced that they were planning to come to London deliver a speech. Sellner, originally from Austria, is the leader of a pan-European far-right group called Generation Identity. Pettibone, Sellner’s girlfriend, is a YouTuber from the US.”

Reuters: Google brings free WiFi to Mexico, first stop in Latin America. “Alphabet’s Google said on Tuesday that it will launch a network of free Wi-Fi hotspots across Mexico, part of the search giant’s effort to improve connectivity in emerging markets and put its products in the hands of more users.”


Krebs on Security: Flash, Windows Users: It’s Time to Patch. “Adobe and Microsoft each pushed critical security updates to their products today. Adobe’s got a new version of Flash Player available, and Microsoft released 14 updates covering more than 75 vulnerabilities, two of which were publicly disclosed prior to today’s patch release.”


The Verge: What an ‘infinite’ AI-generated podcast can tell us about the future of entertainment. “Sheldon County is a podcast that will never sound the same twice. Every time someone listens to it, they’ll begin by typing a random number into a website. This “seed” will set in motion a Rube Goldberg machine of calculation that will create characters, relationships, jealousies, betrayals, and maybe even a murder or two. These plot points will be turned into a text narrative, read aloud by a voice synthesizer, and then zipped up into an audio file. Each time it will be a unique version of Sheldon County’s story. A podcast made just for you. That’s the dream anyway — the current execution still needs work.”

Techdirt: Research Shows That Published Versions Of Papers In Costly Academic Titles Add Almost Nothing To The Freely-Available Preprints They Are Based On. “Academic publishers justify their high prices and fat profit margins by claiming that they ‘add value’ as papers progress through the publication process. Although many have wondered whether that is really true — does a bit of sub-editing and design really justify the ever-rising subscription costs? — hard evidence has been lacking that could be used to challenge the publishers’ narrative. A paper from researchers at the University of California and Los Alamos Laboratory is particularly relevant here. It appeared first on in 2016 (pdf), but has only just been ‘officially’ published (paywall). It does something really obvious but also extremely valuable: it takes around 12,000 academic papers as they were originally released in their preprint form, and compares them in detail with the final version that appears in the professional journals, sometimes years later, as the paper’s own history demonstrates. The results are unequivocal…” Good afternoon, Internet…

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