California Psychiatric Facilities, Thermal Plant Efficiency, NBoost, More: Thursday Afternoon ResearchBuzz, December 05, 2019


Los Angeles Times: Their kids died on the psych ward. They were far from alone, a Times investigation found. “How many others die in California psychiatric facilities has been a difficult question to answer. No single agency keeps tabs on the number of deaths at psychiatric facilities in California, or elsewhere in the nation. In an effort to assess the scope of the problem, The Times submitted more than 100 public record requests to nearly 50 county and state agencies to obtain death certificates, coroner’s reports and hospital inspection records with information about these deaths.”

National Renewable Energy Laboratory: Getting the Big Picture through Better Data. “Funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Wind Energy Technologies Office, NREL researchers set about building the first-ever comprehensive, processed U.S. thermal plant performance database for the energy modeling community to use in grid studies.” I now understand thermal plants better thanks to this article in Electrical Easy.

Towards Data Science: How we built an AI-powered search engine (without being Google). “In this article, I’ll be recounting the difficulties of creating a generalizable, AI-powered search engine, and how we developed our solution, NBoost.”


The Register: AWS has new tool for those leaky S3 buckets so, yeah, you might need to reconfigure a few things . “At its re:Invent event under way in Las Vegas, Amazon Web Services (AWS) dropped the veil on a new tool to help customers to avoid spewing data stored on its S3 (Simple Storage) service to world+dog.”

Search Engine Journal: Google Upgrades Its Built-In Mortgage Calculator With New Features. “Google has upgraded the built-in tool that shows up in search results for the query ‘mortgage calculator.’ Now, the tool has many of the key features that were missing from the previous version of Google’s mortgage calculator.”

TechCrunch: Mozilla launches the next phase of its Firefox Private Network VPN beta. “Mozilla today announced that its Firefox Private Network (FPN), which lets you encrypt your Firefox connections, is now in an extended beta after a few months of relatively limited testing in the Firefox Test Pilot program.”


The New York Times: Facebook Gives Workers a Chatbot to Appease That Prying Uncle. “Some Facebook employees recently told their managers that they were concerned about answering difficult questions about their workplace from friends and family over the holidays…So just before Thanksgiving, Facebook rolled out something to help its workers: a chatbot that would teach them official company answers for dealing with such thorny questions.” This is so on-brand I laughed out loud.

Advance Local: Grant to help former inmates find employment. “Gov. Kay Ivey today announced a $99,546 grant to create a database of employers open to hiring inmates who have been released from prison. The database will be facilitated through J.F. Ingram State Technical College and will show inmates who have successfully completed vocational training there.”


Chicago Tribune: Gov. J.B. Pritzker signs law requiring additional disclosure from lobbyists. “When the General Assembly approved the measure last month, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle described it as a small step toward fixing state government ethics laws amid an ongoing federal corruption probe that has ensnared Democratic politicians from Chicago City Hall to the Capitol in Springfield. The law, effective immediately, also requires the secretary of state to create a combined online database for information on lobbyists, campaign contributions and public officials’ annual statements of economic interest.”

Variety: Bright Lines: Musicologists Police the Boundaries of Copyright Law. “Todd Decker is a music historian who chairs the music department at Washington University in St. Louis. A few years ago, a local attorney called the department looking for help on a case. The lawyer represented Flame, a little-known Christian rapper who claimed that Katy Perry had ripped off his song in her 2014 smash hit ‘Dark Horse.’ Decker had never worked on a lawsuit before, but he volunteered his services as a forensic musicologist — an expert who parses melodies and chord structures to determine if two songs are ‘substantially similar.'” Good afternoon, Internet…

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