Canada Missing Children, Champion Trees, Colonists of Color, More: Wednesday ResearchBuzz, September 11, 2019


CTV: New high-tech web tool aims to enlist Canadians to help find missing kids. “Thousands of children are reported missing across the country each year but only a handful of Amber Alerts are issued, potentially leaving large numbers of people who might be able to help find them in the dark. Now, a new website that aims to reach far more people than is currently the case — especially those who might be close to where the child went missing — is launching on Tuesday.”

This project apparently started last year, but I just heard about it, and the story where I read about it isn’t really useful, so I’m using this Atlas Obscura story from last year, and why am I explaining all this? You probably don’t care and why should you? Anyway, Atlas Obscura: The Quiet Glory of Chronicling America’s Champion Trees. “Not every National Champion tree is an exhibitionist. Awarded by the nonprofit conservation organization American Forests, the accolade goes to the biggest and most majestic specimen (or specimens) belonging to each of more than 700 tree species in the United States, based on criteria such as height, ‘crown spread,’ and trunk girth. But for every imposing oak or towering redwood, there are just as many entrants that don’t seem to merit a second glance.”

Hartford Courant: A new project reveals the hidden history of colonial people of color who are buried in downtown Hartford. “The graves of hundreds of African Americans and Native Americans lie in downtown Hartford’s Ancient Burying Ground, but without headstones they remain invisible. Excluded from official records or referred to only by race, their stories remain as hidden as their graves. Four centuries after enslaved people were first brought to America, a new project organized by the Ancient Burying Ground Association investigates hundreds of these untold stories. ‘Uncovering Their History’ shares the stories of colonists of color: an enslaved couple given away as a wedding present, black men who joined the Continental Navy in hopes of obtaining their freedom, Native American doctors and servants.”


VentureBeat: Mozilla launches VPN as part of resurrected Firefox Test Pilot program. “The Firefox developer today lifted the lid on the first product to emerge from the new Test Pilot, and it appears to be something akin to a virtual private network (VPN) in all but name. Firefox Private Network, as the new tool is called, is available in beta today for logged-in Firefox desktop users in the U.S. only, and is accessible through a browser extension.”


Online Journalism Blog: FAQ: Books to read in preparation for doing a data journalism course. “This latest in the frequently asked questions series is an answer to an aspiring data journalism student who asks ‘Would you be able to direct me to any resources or text books that might help [prepare]?’ Here are some recommendations I give to students on my MA in Data Journalism…”

MakeUseOf: 5 Freedom of Information Sites Full of Declassified Documents and Secrets. “Leaks from whistle-blowers and informants often lead to damaging exposes like with WikiLeaks. But more and more hidden information is surfacing through common people and activists. The trailblazers leverage the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) in the USA and its equivalents in other countries. These portals show how they are forcing changes and making an impact, and even gives you the power and guidelines to dig out data yourself.”


Ars Technica: Some Chromebooks mistakenly declared themselves end-of-life last week. “Google has been working on a way to warn users six months ahead of time that their device’s EOL date is approaching to allow them to plan with a little less time-sensitive desperation. But users running the Canary and Dev early-preview ChromeOS builds discovered a bug in the new code the hard way. After any reboot, brand-new devices started warning ‘this is the last automatic software and security update for this Chromebook. To get future updates, upgrade to a newer model.'” I was happy to see this story because I thought it meant my Chromebox was fine. Spoiler: my Chromebox is not fine. Has anybody used CloudReady?

University of North Carolina Libraries: How Carolina’s Archivists Preserve and Share the History of UNC’s Confederate Monument. “Protestors toppled the monument on August 20, 2018, and officials swiftly removed it. Five months later, Chancellor Carol Folt punctuated her resignation announcement with an order to dismantle and remove the statue’s remaining pedestal and plaques. The protracted conflict—with its protests, counter-protests, petitions, news cameras and rallies—has played out dramatically and very much in the public eye. Meanwhile, just a quad away, librarians and archivists at the Wilson Special Collections Library have taken on a different kind of monumental task: helping people make sense of the statue’s controversial past and the role that it continues to play on campus, even in its absence.”

The Guardian: Apple made Siri deflect questions on feminism, leaked papers reveal. “An internal project to rewrite how Apple’s Siri voice assistant handles ‘sensitive topics’ such as feminism and the #MeToo movement advised developers to respond in one of three ways: ‘don’t engage’, ‘deflect’ and finally ‘inform’. The project saw Siri’s responses explicitly rewritten to ensure that the service would say it was in favour of ‘equality’, but never say the word feminism – even when asked direct questions about the topic.”


Boing Boing: Collection of sites with dumb password rules. “The entries at the dumb-password-rules hall of shame are truly dreadful, especially the banks. My favorite ones are sites whose security measures run in the user’s browser, which means it can be overridden by opening the web inspector and editing the rules. Why yes, javascript, 敗’ OR 1=1 — is a fine username.”


BloombergQuint: Vestager 2.0: Google and Facebook’s Nemesis Gets a Reboot . “Margrethe Vestager, famous for slapping vast fines on the likes of Apple Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google during her tenure as the EU’s top antitrust official, has been given the chance to do it all over again. She’s been handed the same job in Ursula von der Leyen’s proposed European Commission.”

NiemanLab: I create “convincing” manipulated images and videos — but quality may not matter much. “I’m proud of the work we’ve done, and hope it will help people keep track of the truth in a media-flooded world. But we’ve found that a key element of the battle between truth and propaganda has nothing to do with technology. It has to do with how people are much more likely to accept something if it confirms their beliefs.” Good morning, Internet…

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