Sustainability, War Rugs, CRISPR Crops, More: Friday ResearchBuzz, March 15, 2019


UN Environment: New ‘hotspots’ tool pinpoints unsustainable consumption and production. “UN Environment launched in March 2019 a new tool that allows countries to see ‘hotspots’ of unsustainable practices in consumption and production. The tool, known as the Sustainable Consumption and Production Hotspots Analysis Tool, is an online application that analyses the environmental and socio-economic performance of 171 countries over the past 25 years to provide scientific evidence of areas where improvement can be made.”

New-to-me, from Artsy: Lessons from the Afghan Women Who Weave Modern War into an Ancient Tradition. “Despite decades of war, ancient pattern techniques that can take months or years to complete are still passed from mother to daughter. Testimony from the makers of these carpets is difficult to obtain, as many of these works remain unattributed, and the female weavers lack easy access to modes of international communication. But the largest online archive of Afghan war rugs, maintained by New York–based artist Kevin Sudeith, offers information and an online store. Still, the weavers’ authorship is often lost when these works go to market, yet their masterful compositions reveal a dark humor and complex commentary on contemporary life.” If you decide to visit the Web site, go to the “Index of Rugs” to browse the various styles.

Chile Bio, translated from Spanish using Google Translator: New database published on crops genetically edited with CRISPR. “…researchers at the Boyce Thompson Institute (BTI; Ithaca, NY) have developed the Plant Genetic Editing Database (PGED) to be a central repository for efficiently managing data. of mutant plants, as well as to provide a platform to share data and mutants with the research community. The last hope is that PGED will lead to a more efficient use of resources by reducing unnecessary duplicate experiments and catalyzing collaborations between research institutions.”


Krebs on Security: Patch Tuesday, March 2019 Edition. “Microsoft on Tuesday pushed out software updates to fix more than five dozen security vulnerabilities in its Windows operating systems, Internet Explorer, Edge, Office and Sharepoint. If you (ab)use Microsoft products, it’s time once again to start thinking about getting your patches on. Malware or bad guys can remotely exploit roughly one-quarter of the flaws fixed in today’s patch batch without any help from users.”

CNET: Carmen Sandiego is hiding in Google Earth and we’re all nostalgic. “It’s been almost 30 years, but Carmen Sandiego isn’t done jet setting around the globe and teaching us about it. The international master thief, a positive role model of course, has taught us the capitals of countries, the locations of historic events, and other geographical facts. Sandiego was such a staple for ’90s kids that Google said it’s releasing a series of games in Google Earth. The first, The Crown Jewels Caper, is available now. ”

Ars Technica: Google Hardware makes cuts to laptop and tablet development, cancels products. “A report from Business Insider claims that Google has axed ‘dozens’ of employees from its laptop and tablet division. BI’s sources describe the move as ‘roadmap cutbacks’ and also say that Google will likely “pare down the portfolio” in the future.”


MakeUseOf: Spotify Users Can Now Get Hulu for Free. “From today (March 12), anyone subscribing to Spotify Premium can add Hulu’s Ad-Supported plan for free.”

Make: Learn How To Design And Print Assistive Devices With This Free Course. “Items like can openers, easy to grip door handles, and other simple tools can make a massive difference in people’s lives. With modern 3D printing, creating a custom tool for someone that does exactly what they need is incredibly easy, or at least it can be. PrintLab and Makers Making Change have partnered to put out this free course in designing and printing assistive devices, complete with tips on design and even tips on how to interact with someone who you’re helping (the most important tip? Listen to them).”


Poynter: Facebook’s fact-checking project sometimes forces hoaxers to change their content. “It’s true that, generally speaking, fact checks from outlets like (Poynter-owned) PolitiFact struggle to scale to the reach of misinformation on Facebook. But the program, which enables fact-checkers to flag false posts and decrease their future reach in the News Feed, has changed the production of misinformation in ways beyond simple reach. (Disclosure: Being a signatory of the International Fact-Checking Network’s code of principles is a necessary condition for joining the project.)”


Engadget: Senate bill proposes stricter privacy controls for children. “Some politicians don’t believe the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act does enough to protect kids in the modern era, and they’re hoping to update it accordingly. Senators Ed Markey and Josh Hawley have introduced a bill that would amend COPPA with stricter controls on kids’ data.”


Yale Environment 360: Species Sleuths: Amateur Naturalists Spark a New Wave of Discovery. “Through close study of niche areas, some of these so-called amateurs amass decades of expertise rivaling or exceeding that of traditional taxonomic experts. Others are more typical collectors who dabble in discovery, with the help of online information and collaboration. Either way, in a poorly-funded academic field in the throes of a long-recognized workforce crisis, career scientists are increasingly welcoming to these enthusiastic volunteers.”

Google Blog: A recipe for beating the record of most-calculated digits of pi. “While I’ve been busy thinking about which flavor of pie I’m going to enjoy later today, Googler Emma Haruka Iwao has been busy using Google Compute Engine, powered by Google Cloud, to calculate the most accurate value of pi—ever. That’s 31,415,926,535,897 digits, to be exact. Emma used the power of the cloud for the task, making this the first time the cloud has been used for a pi calculation of this magnitude.” Good morning, Internet…

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