Māori Land Court Records, Google, Twitter, More: Sunday Buzz, July 8, 2018


NZ Scoop: Index of historic Māori Land Court records now open access. “The Māori Land Court Minute Books Index has been made available by Libraries and Learning Services at the University of Auckland, run as a joint project by Special Collections and Digital Services. The index covers the Native Land Court (as it was then called) for the years 1865-1910. The Court established in 1865 to award titles and partition surveyed blocks of Māori land, was renamed the Māori Land Court in 1954. Minute books were kept of all proceedings.”


The Quint: Google in Snooze Mode as Third Parties Caught Pilfering User Data. “According to a Wall Street Journal Report, some third-party app developers had gained access to users’ data on Gmail and were able to read whatever data was available online! Google recently came out with a rebuttal saying that it was only vetting third-party apps and not reading the data. Many might believe what Google is saying, but the rabbit hole goes deeper. Here’s a closer look at this whole mess that Google has got itself in.” I have mentioned this issue before, but this article is an excellent overview/explainer. Beware of LOUD AUTOPLAY VIDEO. Sheesh.

CNET: Twitter suspending 1M accounts a day in fight against disinformation, report says. “Twitter is reportedly stepping up its fight against fake accounts by suspending more than 1 million accounts a day in recent months. That’s more than twice the number of account suspensions in October, when the social media company was under pressure from lawmakers to fight Russian meddling, The Washington Post reported Friday. Data obtained by the Post shows more than 70 million Twitter accounts were suspended in May and June, and the company has continued to crack down at that rate into July.”

Bloomberg Government: Federal Spending Site Still Lacks Data After Revamp, Report Says. “A new version of the Treasury Department-run, officially launched March 2, was designed to remedy missing or faulty information on federal contract awards and executive compensation. The site was re-launched under the DATA Act, the law passed in 2014 to make federal expenditures more transparent. Yet eight of the 97 agencies the website tracks are late in reporting DATA Act spending information—including the Defense Department, which is almost a year behind in its submissions, according to a June 28 letter from the Project on Government Oversight, a Washington-based nonpartisan, independent government watchdog. Other government programs have submitted very few spending records or none, according to the group.”


Gizmodo: How to Avoid Getting Screwed by a Sneaky Tech Support Scam. “Tech support scams, obviously shady though they might seem to some, continueto catch more and more people—Microsoft says the number of reported cases is on the rise, while in March the U.S Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) said it logged 11,000 complaints last year, a rise of 86 percent over 2016. The claimed losses amounted to nearly $15 million. ‘This type of fraud continues to be a problematic and widespread scam,’ says the IC3. So how can you protect yourself? And the less tech-savvy members of your family?”

If you’re interested in listening to podcasts, have an iPhone, and don’t want to spend any money, check this out from MakeUseOf: A Guide to the (Surprisingly Excellent) iPhone Podcasts App. “Podcasts aren’t the most glamorous form of media. They’ve been around in some form since the early 2000s and it’s easy to take them for granted in a world with YouTube and other streaming services. That said, they’ve recently become more popular than ever. iPhone users have so many iOS podcast apps to choose from. But the iPhone comes with a dedicated podcast app already installed, and it’s more than capable of meeting all your podcast needs.”


SBS News: At Russia’s World Cup, Google Translate breaks language barriers. “Soccer might be the most universal language on the planet. But when it comes to deciphering the Cyrillic alphabet or communicating with locals at the World Cup in Russia, the love of the game is sometimes not enough.”

The New Indian Express: Vietnam activists flock to ‘safe’ social media after cyber crackdown. “Tens of thousands of Vietnamese social media users are flocking to self-professed free speech platform Minds to avoid tough internet controls in a new cybersecurity law, activists and the company told AFP. The draconian law requires internet companies to scrub critical content and hand over user data if Vietnam’s Communist government demands it.” Are new social media platforms going to rise because of activism, social change, and repressive governments? That’s a different dynamic.

ARC Digital: Pro-Trump & Russian-Linked Twitter Accounts Are Posing As Ex-Democrats In New Astroturfed Movement. “The primary functional goal of an astroturfed campaign like this one is to manipulate public opinion by gaming online algorithms to amplify certain content and push it onto people’s social media feeds and to the top of search engine results. The high volume of tweets associated with this campaign is also indicative of an effort to drown out real, reasoned debate between humans and replace it with content that pushes fringe or extreme viewpoints into the mainstream, ultimately hijacking and derailing public discourse.” I know I’ve been including stories that might seem at odds with my desire to stay apolitical in this newsletter. The reason they are here is not because of my distaste for a particular political ideology but because I despise astroturfing and propaganda.


From Digital Information World, and filed in our “Are you freaking kidding me,” department: Body Heat Gives Away Passwords. “A recent study made by researchers from the University of California suggested that it was possible for hackers to steal one’s password by analyzing the heat left by one’s fingers on his/her keyboard. This news was both intriguing and shocking at the same time.”


New Atlas: PixelPlayer isolates the sound of individual instruments in music videos. “Although a whole band playing together may make a song what it is, sometimes it’s interesting to know what an individual instrument within a band sounds like on its own. Thanks to a new system developed at MIT, viewers of musical performance videos should soon be able to find out.”

MIT Technology Review: Given a satellite image, machine learning creates the view on the ground. “Leonardo da Vinci famously created drawings and paintings that showed a bird’s eye view of certain areas of Italy with a level of detail that was not otherwise possible until the invention of photography and flying machines. Indeed, many critics have wondered how he could have imagined these details. But now researchers are working on the inverse problem: given a satellite image of Earth’s surface, what does that area look like from the ground? How clear can such an artificial image be?” Good morning, Internet…

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