afternoonbuzz

TurboTax, YouTube TV, Library of Congress, More: Monday Evening ResearchBuzz, December 23, 2019

TWEAKS AND UPDATES

ProPublica: TurboTax Tricked Customers Into Paying to File Taxes. Now Several States Are Investigating It. . “Multiple state attorneys general, including Josh Stein of North Carolina, have opened investigations of TurboTax maker Intuit, following ProPublica’s reporting that the company charged millions of Americans for tax filing services they were eligible to receive for free, according to people with knowledge of the investigations.”

USEFUL STUFF

TechHive: Make the most of YouTube TV with these 14 tips. “Although a simple interface is one of YouTube TV’s best qualities, not all of its features and capabilities are obvious from the outset. Here, then, are some tips and tricks that will help you make the most of it.”

AROUND THE SEARCH AND SOCIAL MEDIA WORLD

Library of Congress: New Endowment to Support National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled. “The Library of Congress today announced a major endowment in support of the work of the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled (NLS). Established by Susan D. Diskin in honor of her late mother, the Tiby Diskin Memorial Fund will provide resources for the Library to expand its services to individuals with visual impairments and other print disabilities.”

Lawfare: The Biggest Social Media Operation You’ve Never Heard of Is Run Out of Cyprus by Russians. “What the heck is TheSoul Publishing? I’m still honestly not sure. Here’s what I do know: Measured in terms of views and subscribers, it had the third-largest reach of any group of entertainment channels on YouTube in November—outranked only by Disney and WarnerMedia. It is run by Russian nationals and based in and managed from Cyprus, with U.S. operations housed in a shared work space in New York. It funds itself with ad revenues from YouTube and Google worth tens of millions of dollars. And in 2018, it purchased a small suite of Facebook advertisements targeting U.S. citizens on political issues—and it made those purchases in rubles.”

International Business Times: A YouTuber from Balochistan is petitioning against Google Translate. “Chiragh [Baloch] stated that the Balochi language is spoken by almost 10 million native speakers, making it 0.15% of the world’s population. Furthermore, he stated that the Balochi language is spoken in the regions of Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Southern Turkmenistan, Oman, India and Middle East countries.” Balochistan, which my spell checker insists is spelled Baluchistan, is a region in the Middle East and — it’s complicated. The Diplomat has a history / overview.

SECURITY & LEGAL

Ars Technica: Congress passes legislation expanding robocall penalties. “The US Senate unanimously passed legislation Thursday that aims to end the scourge of robocalls. The TRACED Act had already passed the House of Representatives, so it’s now headed to President Donald Trump’s desk for signature.”

Bloomberg: The Hacker Who Took Down a Country. “Daniel Kaye, also known as Spdrman, found regular jobs tough but corporate espionage easy. He’s about to get out of prison.”

CNET: Popular messaging app ToTok reportedly an Emirati spy tool. “A popular messaging app billed as a secure way to chat with friends and family is actually a spying tool used by the United Arab Emirates to track the activities of those who download it, The New York Times reported Sunday. The app, which debuted only a few months ago, has been downloaded millions of times around the world.” Please note that ToTok is not TikTok.

RESEARCH & OPINION

ELLE Magazine: Google Loved Me, Until I Pointed Out Everything That Sucked About It. “My last day came in May 2019, six months after the Google Walkout, during which 20,000 Googlers left their desks in a mass protest unprecedented in the tech industry. I helped to organize it after corporate documents obtained by the New York Times showed that Google paid executive Andy Rubin nearly $90 million in severance after he was accused of sexual misconduct. Little did we know it would be like waving a lit match in front of a powder keg: when people poured out of Google offices in 50 cities around the world a week after the severance news broke, it was clear this wasn’t just about Andy Rubin anymore.”

Phys .org: Study busts 9 to 5 model for academic work. “QUT’s Professor Adrian Barnett led the research which examined more than 49,000 manuscript and 76,000 peer review online submissions to The BMJ and The BMJ Open, measuring whether the submissions were made on weekends, national holidays or late at night.” Good evening, Internet…

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