Latvia KGB Archives, Chicago Parking Tickets, Scotland Surgeons, More: Sunday ResearchBuzz, December 23, 2018


Public Broadcasting of Latvia: First batch of Latvia’s KGB archives published online. “Accessible by providing the Latvian equivalent of a social security number, it seems that in reality only the email address has to be a valid one to register for access as LSM was able to register with fake credentials. According to Latvia’s state bulletin, the index spans some 4,300 out of about 25,000 KGB agents active in the period from 1953 to 1991, but it mostly concerns agents active in the late 1980s.”

ProPublica Illinois: How to Use the Ticket Trap, Our New Database That Lets You Explore How Chicago Tickets Motorists and Collects Debt. “This week, we published a new database that lets you explore how ticketing, debt and the rates at which people appeal their tickets compare across Chicago’s 50 wards. We call it The Ticket Trap. Why? Because as our reporting over the past year has shown, thousands of Chicago motorists — particularly residents of low-income and black neighborhoods — lose their right to drive or lose their vehicles. Many file for bankruptcy as a way out.”

Deadline News: Real accounts of Burke and Hare, and other gruesome medical history tales released online for first time. “The website launched by The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh (RCSEd) features a database with some of the most well-known surgeons, such as Elsie Inglis, Dr Robert Knox, Joseph Lister and James Young Simpson. The new website includes historic notebooks available in full, including the memoirs of Thomas Hume, which offer a rare account of an Edinburgh student who was close friends with the assistants of the notorious anatomist Dr Robert Knox.”


The Verge: Google Lens can now recognize a billion items. “Google’s AI-powered camera tool can now recognize over a billion items, the company wrote in a new blog post. Google Lens launched last year in a preliminary version on Photos and Assistant with only around 250,000 items within its repertoire.”

BBC: Slack ‘bans users’ who have visited US sanctioned countries. “Some users of communication service Slack have reported their accounts have been closed over visits to countries under US sanctions. The move, which Slack says is to comply with US regulations, is believed to be affecting users who have visited nations including Iran and North Korea.”


Mac only at the moment, with Windows version on the way, from BetaNews: Krisp reduces background noise on conference calls. “Krisp 0.6.8 is a public beta of a brand new tool which has one job and that’s to reduce or virtually eliminate background noise. Using neural network artificial intelligence, Krisp will asses your voice and learns your speech, prioritizing this over other noise and thus reducing background sounds which may interfere with your call.”


Search Engine Journal:
In Memoriam: The Rise, Fall & Death of Google Plus
. “The death of Google Plus really shouldn’t have been a surprise to anyone. It has been on life support for years now. Now what might be surprising for some is that Google Plus, though typically described as a failed social network, was never primarily a social network at all.”

TechCrunch: The LibreRouter project aims to make mesh networks simple and affordable . “In the city, we’re constantly saturated with the radio waves from 10 or 20 different routers, cell towers and other wireless infrastructure. But in rural communities there might only be one internet connection for a whole village. LibreRouter is a hardware and software project that looks to let those communities build their own modern, robust mesh networks to make the most of their limited connectivity.”

Slate: What It Means to Delete Facebook. “Slate spoke with a small group of people who had publicly declared they planned to #DeleteFacebook. Most were successful, though some find themselves back on the site from time to time. Their stories demonstrate that reducing exposure to Facebook does not necessarily mean deleting an account, but that taking the extra step makes it easier to avoid falling back into the trap.”


CNET: Facebook reportedly gathering personal data from Tinder, Pregnancy+, other apps. “Facebook may be gathering some of your most personal information. Android apps like Tinder, Grindr and Pregnancy+ are sharing sensitive user information with Facebook, according to a Wednesday report from German mobile security company Mobilsicher.”


New York Times: What We Can Learn About Online Privacy From Climate Change. “Deleting accounts and giving up on offending services can be good moves. But let’s be realistic: They’re small measures when you consider the big picture, that the gears of the online world are greased with our data. And there is no sign of that changing anytime soon. After all, if it’s not one tech giant with all of your data, it’ll probably be another, right? So what’s the point of even trying to switch? If being overwhelmed by the scale of the problem feels familiar, it should. It’s a lot like climate change.”

Terrific article from Ars Technica: Rising Star found a new species—now it wants to find a new way for paleoanthropology. “For most of its history, paleoanthropology has been a science built out of superlatives. Headlines tell us about the oldest fossil. The most complete skeleton. The earliest modern human. These sorts of claims make it easy to assume that the science of human evolution is driven by discovery, and the superlative-laden Rising Star project is proof that there’s a never-ending interest in fossil hominin finds. But science is a social process, and, more than anything else, Rising Star has dared its fellow paleoanthropologists to re-examine how they’re going about the business of doing their science. Homo naledi has had enough cultural cachet to challenge the science of human evolution to be more open and accessible with its data.”


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1 reply »

  1. Re: Deleting Facebook –
    Facebook now owns many other companies, so just deleting Facebook may not be as effective as people think.
    Companies owned by Facebook include Instagram, WhatsApp, Messenger and Oculus VR.
    So any data provided to them will also be tracked and stored in Facebook databases.

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