Florida Transportation, iOS, URL Shortening, More: Monday Afternoon Buzz, April 2, 2018

ResearchBuzz strives to remain an April Fools Day free zone. If you read a link here and realize I got snookered, please let me know. I will repeat this request through Monday’s issues.


WUSF: Online Service Helps Floridians Find Transportation Options. “Older adults in Florida who no longer can drive themselves have a new option when it comes to finding ways to get around. The University of Florida and the Florida Department of Transportation Safe Mobility For Life have created… a website where people can search for transportation options in all 67 of Florida’s counties.”


BetaNews: Apple releases iOS 11.3 with a massive focus on privacy. “Ahead of GDPR in Europe, Apple has released iOS 11.3, complete with a selection of privacy-focused tools. But while privacy is at the heart of the release, it is far from being the end of the story. The recent Facebook scandal has focused attention on privacy, and this is something Apple will be more than happy to capitalize upon, bringing GDPR-prompted tools to the world — not just Europe. But iOS 11.3 also includes an extensive changelog with a range of fixes and updates.”

Engadget: Google is shutting down its URL shortening service. “URL shorteners can be both useful and fun. Google’s take on the tech launched in 2009, and added a third-party API, the ability to create QR codes and the power to link right to iOS and Android apps. Even Keanu Reeves has a URL shortener named in his honor. Unfortunately, Google is replacing its own service,, with Firebase Dynamic Links (FDL) as of April 13th. These new smart URLs let you send folks to any location within iOS, Android or web apps.”


Mashable: How to make sure you’re getting the most out of Instagram Stories . “Instagram’s hottest new feature has become exponentially popular since its inception in August 2016, much to the detriment of competitors like Snapchat. In August, the company said that Stories have driven users younger than 25 to use the app upwards of 32 minutes a day on average. In September, the app as a whole announced it had 800 million monthly active users, 500 million of those who return each day. In comparison, Snapchat boasted 173 million daily active users as of August.”


Arab News: ‘Guardian of Nineveh’: Iraqi statue destroyed by Daesh recreated, showcased in the heart of London. “Daesh militants smashed the original to pieces in 2015, but it has now been recreated by Iraqi-American artist Michael Rakowitz, using recycled cans that contained another treasure from Iraq — date syrup…. The sculpture was chosen from a shortlist of six and is part of a larger project by Rakowitz. The Chicago-based artist is gradually reconstructing the entire database of 7,000 works looted from the National Museum of Iraq in 2003 or destroyed at archaeological sites in the aftermath of the Iraq war.”


Quartz: A legal question for the AI age: Is tricking a robot the same thing as hacking it?. “A team of computer scientists and a lawyer at University of Washington are raising a curious question: Do current US laws cover cutting-edge research that allows people to bend AI to their will?”

ZDNet: Update Drupal ASAP: Over a million sites can be easily hacked by any visitor. “Developers of popular open-source CMS Drupal are warning admins to immediately patch a flaw that an attacker can exploit just by visiting a vulnerable site. The bug affects all sites running on Drupal 8, Drupal 7, and Drupal 6. Drupal’s project usage page indicates that about a million sites are running the affected versions.”


TechCrunch: The real threat to Facebook is the Kool-Aid turning sour. “These kinds of leaks didn’t happen when I started reporting on Facebook eight years ago. It was a tight-knit cult convinced of its mission to connect everyone, but with the discipline of a military unit where everyone knew loose lips sink ships. Motivational posters with bold corporate slogans dotted its offices, rallying the troops. Employees were happy to be evangelists. But then came the fake news, News Feed addiction, violence on Facebook Live, cyberbullying, abusive ad targeting, election interference and, most recently, the Cambridge Analytica app data privacy scandals.”

The Next Web: Study shows social media echo chambers might actually be a good thing. “A group of researchers, as part of a social experiment, paid liberals and conservatives on Twitter to follow a bot for a month that tweeted political views from the other side. Shockingly, rather than softening their own views or learning to understand the opposition, most participants dug in deeper. We’re not partisan out of ignorance, it seems, but because we fundamentally disagree.”

Economist: A new app listens to the problems of bees. “YOU might expect to hear an angry buzzing when honeybees have been disturbed. But some apiarists reckon they can also deduce the condition of their bees from the sounds they make. A steady hum could be the sign of a contented hive; a change in tone might indicate that the bees are about to swarm. That intuition is about to be put to the test. Soon, beekeepers will be able to try to find out what is troubling a colony by listening to the buzz using a smartphone app.” Good afternoon, Internet…

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