Rare Diseases, Internet History, Venice Time Machine, More: Wednesday Afternoon ResearchBuzz, October 30, 2019


Drugs .com: New Database Shows ‘Rare’ Diseases Are Not So Rare Worldwide. “A disease is considered rare when it affects fewer than five in 10,000 people, according to a European definition. Until now, it’s been difficult to gauge how widespread rare diseases are. But a team led by a French research institute has analyzed the scientific literature on thousands of rare diseases and created a database that makes it possible to estimate how many people worldwide have them.”


BetaNews: Happy birthday Internet! 50 years old today. “50 years ago, on October 29 1969, a packet was sent between two computers — one at UCLA and the other at Stanford Research Institute — on the ARPANET. This doesn’t sound hugely exciting, but it was first step in the creation of the Internet.”

Slashgear: Venice Time Machine project temporarily sunk. “Over a thousand years of history in physical paper documents were in the process of being digitized by a state project called the Venice Time Machine Project. These state archives of Venice would have collected massive numbers of documents through the most modern means, allowing waves of ancient data to be interpreted with machine learning algorithms and utilized by data scientists aplenty. Unfortunately, a few mistakes were made between the start of the project and now. That’s effectively a half-decade of scanning data that might be dead in the water.”

Popsugar: Apple’s New Gender-Neutral Emoji Are Here to Make Your Keyboard More Inclusive. “Your iPhone keyboard is about to get a whole lot more diverse, thanks to Apple’s new iOS 13.2 software. The update boasts a whole host of inclusive emoji, including couples and families with different skin tones and tons of gender-neutral variations of existing human characters.”


The Conversation: How the US census kickstarted America’s computing industry. “This census has always been charged with political significance, and continues to be. That’s clear from the controversy over the conduct of the upcoming 2020 census. But it’s less widely known how important the census has been in developing the U.S. computer industry, a story that I tell in my new book, ‘Republic of Numbers: Unexpected Stories of Mathematical Americans through History.'”

RNZ: Digital platform to ease access of te reo Māori for 21st century conversations. “Northland based Te Hiku Media and Dragonfly Data Science have been awarded $13 million over seven years by the government to create a platform, Papa Reo, which will digitise 25 years worth of te reo Māori archives…. The world-irst project will create a te reo digital dataset large enough to be used for machine learning to create chat bots, online education, games, transcription of archival material, and real-time captioning in te reo Māori.”


ProPublica: The Ransomware Superhero of Normal, Illinois. “Each year, millions of ransomware attacks paralyze computer systems of individuals, businesses, hospitals and medical offices, government agencies, and even police departments. Often, files cannot be decrypted without paying a ransom, and victims who haven’t saved backup copies and want to retrieve the information have little choice but to pony up. But those who have recovered their data without enriching criminals frequently owe their escapes to [Michael] Gillespie.”

CNN: Facebook sues surveillance company NSO Group over alleged WhatsApp hack. “The lawsuit, filed on Tuesday, alleges that NSO Group was responsible for a security flaw that allowed potential hackers to install spyware through a phone call, first reported in May by the Financial Times. Targeted victims didn’t need to pick up the phone or take any action to get infected, and it affected both iPhones and Android devices.”


Phys .org: New online, interactive atlas gives comprehensive view of Texas quail decline. “The Texas A&M Natural Resources Institute, or NRI, has recently published the Texas Quail Atlas, a free online resource and the newest ‘story map’ to be developed by the institute. The online atlas was developed as a collaborative effort of the Reversing the Decline of Quail in Texas Initiative and the NRI Geospatial Analysis Team.”

The Regulatory Review: Making Guidance Available to the Public. “Regulatory agencies frequently issue guidance documents to help the public understand their policies better. But such guidance documents can only help those members of the public who can find them. Unfortunately, in some cases, guidance needs to be made more readily accessible to the public. That is the message of a recent recommendation issued by the Administrative Conference of the United States (ACUS), a government agency dedicated to finding ways to improve administrative processes in the federal government.” Good afternoon, Internet…

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