Microbe Search Engine, Google, Genealogy, More: Tuesday ResearchBuzz, February 5, 2019


EurekAlert: The web meets genomics: a DNA search engine for microbes . “The search engine, called Bitsliced Genomic Signature Index (BIGSI), fulfils a similar purpose to internet search engines, such as Google. The amount of sequenced microbial DNA is doubling every two years. Until now, there was no practical way to search this data. This type of search could prove extremely useful for understanding disease. Take, for example, an outbreak of food poisoning, where the cause is a Salmonella strain containing a drug-resistance plasmid (a ‘hitchhiking’ DNA element that can spread drug resistance across different bacterial species). For the first time, BIGSI allows researchers to easily spot if and when the plasmid has been seen before.”


City A.M.: Google beats estimates on revenue and profit, but shares fall on rising costs. “The tech giant reported net income of $8.9bn (£6.8bn), marking a turnaround from a $3bn loss in 2017 when it recorded a one-off tax charge of $9.9bn. This outperformed the average analyst prediction of $7.7bn, as collated by S&P Global Market Intelligence. Revenue during the busy holiday quarter rose 21.5 per cent to $39.3bn, beating estimates of $38.9bn.”


Genealogy’s Star: A Step-by-Step Approach to Using Genealogical Cluster Research: Step One. “In genealogical terminology, a ‘cluster’ consists of extended family members, friends, neighbors, and other associates such as business partners. Using the term expansively, a cluster could include anyone who would possibly come in contact with the person who is the target of your research. Cluster research is a research technique or methodology that is supplemented by ‘jurisdictional research’ and utilizes the concept of beginning your research in the lowest or basic jurisdictional level.”

Hongkiat: How to Declutter Your Web Browser Bookmarks. “Browser bookmarks can become a mess over time. Do you need bookmarks to hundreds of web pages you never visit? Here’s how to back up your bookmarks, purge them efficiently, and keep a more organized browser going forward.”


Helsinki Times: An Almanac dedicated to the Sami culture will be released in Russia this year. “The United Nations General Assembly has proclaimed 2019 as the International Year of Indigenous Languages. UNESCO keeps reporting that approximately 600 languages disappear each year. As a result, world globalization smashes many cultures and people literally lose their roots. The Sami is a unique example of indigenous people and culture uniting mainly six countries—Norway, Sweden, Finland, Russia, Ukraine and the USA. They speak six dialects of Sami language. The Zhivaya Classica Foundation from Russia took the initiative to unite the work of Sami authors and poets from different countries in one almanac to be released in May 2019.”

Nieman Lab: Happy birthday, Facebook! These are the 10 most important moments in your not-so-great relationship with the news industry. “Because it has become, alongside Google, the largest director of human attention in our species’ history, Facebook has impacted pretty much everything in one way or another in the past sesquidecade. But few have felt its force more than the news industry, which has tried at various times to steer into and against its gale-force winds — on net, to little success. So with Facebook celebrating a big day today, I thought it might be useful to look back at the 15 most important dates in Facebook’s history for news publishers (and those who love them).” If you’re wondering why the headline says 10 and the paragraph I quoted says 15, read the article.

CNN: Early Facebook investor blasts company in new book ‘Zucked’. “Facebook is bad for democracy and its executives have put profits over their civic responsibilities, an early investor in the company charges in a new book. Tech investor Roger McNamee makes these claims in ‘Zucked: Waking up to the Facebook catastrophe,’ due out on Tuesday.”


CNET: Department of Labor drops appeal in fight for Google pay data. “The US Department of Labor has dropped its appeal in a spat with Google over employee salary data. On Friday, a review board granted the agency’s voluntary request to dismiss its appeal.”

The Register: LibreOffice patches malicious code-execution bug, Apache OpenOffice… wait for it, wait for it… doesn’t. “A security flaw affecting LibreOffice and Apache OpenOffice has been fixed in one of the two open-source office suites. The other still appears to be vulnerable.”


Medium: Why Fears of Fake News Are Overhyped. “Many important concerns about online misinformation still remain, including the influence of the fake news audience, the difficulty of countering fake news at scale, the dangers of Facebook’s size, and the threat of YouTube-based radicalization. But none of these questions can be adequately addressed without creating a reality-based debate that puts fake news in context as just one of the many sources of misinformation in our politics.”

Engadget: Don’t trust all of those health articles you see in your Facebook feed. “Facebook’s battle with fake news stories goes beyond the world of politics. According to fact-checking site Health Feedback, seven of the 10 most shared health stories on Facebook in 2018 contained false or misleading information. The top 100 stories fared slightly better, but stories with misinformation were shared 12.3 million times. Well-sourced and accurate stories were shared 11 million times.”

Psychology Today: Google and Facebook AI Make New Linguistics Discovery. “How did human language emerge and evolve? The challenge to solving this mystery is largely due to the scantiness of empirical evidence. The other roadblock is time—it could take many years, even centuries, to observe and understand the patterns of emergence and evolution of natural language. Recently, researchers from Google AI, Facebook AI, and New York University deployed AI deep learning to simulate and understand the emergent phenomena of language, and released their findings in arXiv in January 2019.” Good morning, Internet…

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