Google, Google Maps, Firefox Tabs, More: Friday ResearchBuzz, December 28, 2018

Apologies for the delay. Feeling under the weather just in time for the last weekend of the year.


The Indian Express: Google now ready to give public ‘flood alerts’. “Tech giant Google is scaling up its learnings from a pilot project in Patna to provide flood alerts in simple text format to people in many parts of the country using sophisticated machine learning techniques. The Union Ministry of Water Resources provides Google with data on river water levels for preparing such public alerts.”

Kurdistan24: Google erases Kurdistan from maps in compliance with Turkish gov.. “Google incorporation removed a map outlining the geographical extent of the Greater Kurdistan after the Turkish state asked it to do so, a simple inquiry on the Internet giant’s search engine from Wednesday on can show.” The article mentions that an official from Turkey (Cahit Turan) confirmed that Turkey requested Google remove the map. I do not have a thorough understanding of Kurdistan and its relationship with Turkey and I don’t want to pretend that I do. I did want to note the story as it is very relevant to current events. Here’s another story about this from Rudaw.

Bleeping Computer: Mozilla is Making it Easier to Search Open Tabs in Firefox. “If you always have a lot of tabs open and its difficult to find a particular tab, Mozilla is introducing a feature that will make this easier. Starting in Firefox 66, Mozilla will be adding the ability to search the open tabs in Firefox in order to find a particular tab.”

BetaNews: Here’s what 2019 holds for Paint.NET. “The developer of the popular image editing tool Paint.NET, Rick Brewster, has shared his vision of what the coming year holds for his software. The 2019 roadmap for Paint.NET is an exciting one, promising migration to .NET Core, support for brushes and pressure sensitivity, and an expanded plugin system.”


Lifehacker: How to Give Friends Emergency Access to Your Online Accounts. “As the year winds down, now is a great time to get your digital life in order. From organizing your online photos to refreshing your accounts with new, secure passwords or finally cleaning up your browser bookmarks; there’s a lot for you to tackle before 2019 hits. One thing you should consider—for the services that let you do it—is setting up a way for others to access your accounts in case of emergency.”


Lexington Herald-Leader: Facebook shuts down hemp pages just days after Trump signs Farm Bill. “Hemp is booming in Kentucky and elsewhere but still struggling on social media. On Dec. 20, President Trump signed the 2018 Farm Bill to legalize hemp, but Facebook apparently didn’t get the memo.”

The Verge: YouTube faces backlash on Twitter over lifted, uncredited holiday video. “When Lily Hevesh opened Twitter and saw YouTube’s Christmas video, it looked very familiar. That’s because it was her own. YouTube’s tweet doesn’t credit Hevesh at all, or mention her YouTube channel. The tweet also cuts Hevesh’s intro, which acts as a welcome to her channel for those who stumble upon the video. Hevesh’s original video, uploaded to YouTube on December 23rd, has just over 60,000 views, but YouTube’s lifted version boasts more than 250,000.” YouTube eventually DID credit Hevesh, but what an awful case of a giant Internet company just flat out ripping somebody off. If you want to see her domino creations for yourself, her channel is Hevesh5.


Route Fifty: A California Court Finds Social Media Posts Aren’t a First Amendment Right. “Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Packingham v. North Carolina that social media platforms are the new ‘public square,’ and access to them is protected by the First Amendment, which guarantees free speech. But that doesn’t necessarily mean there are no limitations on how social media can be used when an ex-convict is on probation. For example, a California state appeals court just found in AA v. The People that a ‘narrowly tailored’ limit on social media use for a juvenile on probation—in this case for a felony offense—was legal for rehabilitation purposes and to protect a crime victim.”

AJC: Hospital prices are about to go public. “Prices hospitals charge for their services will all go online Jan. 1 under a new federal requirement, but patient advocates say the realities of medical-industry pricing will make it difficult for consumers to get much out of the new data. A federal rule requires all hospitals to post online a master list of prices for the services they provide so consumers can review them starting Jan. 1.”

TechCrunch: Security flaws let anyone snoop on Guardzilla smart camera video recordings . “A popular smart security system maker has ignored warnings from security researchers that its flagship device has several serious vulnerabilities, including allowing anyone access to the company’s central store of customer-uploaded video recordings.”

TorrentFreak: Top 3 Copyright ‘Owners’ Sent Google a Billion Takedown Requests. “The three most active ‘copyright owners’ have asked Google to remove more than a billion allegedly infringing links from its search engine results. While more than 160,000 rightsholders have asked Google to remove content, 0.0001% are responsible for the majority of the flagged links.”


Washington Post: Tech predictions for 2019: It gets worse before it gets better. “When my Post colleagues and I looked into a crystal ball to make this list of nine intentionally provocative headlines we might see in 2019, it was hard to see past the problems we’re bringing with us into the new year. New technologies like 5G networks, alternative transportation and artificial intelligence promise to change our lives. But even these carry lots of caveats in the near term. I’m still optimistic technology can make our world better. So here’s a glass half-full of hope for the new year: 2019 is tech’s chance to make it right.” Good morning, Internet…

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