afternoonbuzz

Google Chrome, Instagram, Spreadsheets, More: Wednesday Afternoon ResearchBuzz, January 15, 2020

TWEAKS AND UPDATES

CNET: Google Chrome’s privacy changes will hit the web later this year. “Google’s Chrome team, advancing its web privacy effort, later this year will begin testing the ‘privacy sandbox’ proposals it unveiled in 2019. The Chrome tests, which Google announced Tuesday, are part of an effort to make it harder for publishers, advertisers and data brokers to harvest your personal data without your permission and to track you online.”

PetaPixel: Instagram is Now Hiding Photoshopped Photos. “In an effort to combat misinformation and fake news, Instagram recently rolled out a new feature that flags fake photos. But now some photographers are wondering whether the system is going too far and making it harder to share and view certain types of photography.”

USEFUL STUFF

Lifehacker: Preserve Data From Your Apps on a Spreadsheet. “My spreadsheet recaptures much of the information collected by my apps—workflow, scheduling, finances, health, and so on—in a document that I both control and update myself. I started developing this spreadsheet in 2013, and am now beginning my sixth year of record-keeping. The current version of the spreadsheet includes separate sheets for my daily schedule and workflow, my Getting Things Done action item list, my finances, my meal planning, and my health.”

AROUND THE SEARCH AND SOCIAL MEDIA WORLD

ABC News (Australia): Tasmanian lavender farms being loved to death by tourists seeking social media photos. “The purple haze of the lavender fields brings tourists from all around the world to Tasmania to as they attempt to snap the perfect photo in front of the crop. The intertwined nature of agriculture and tourism has helped to boost both industries. But some farmers say over-enthusiastic visitors are damaging their crops.”

SECURITY & LEGAL

ZDNet: 49 million user records from US data broker LimeLeads put up for sale online. “A hacker is currently selling a huge database of 49 million business contacts on a underground hacking forum, ZDNet has learned. The hacker claims the data belongs to LimeLeads, a San Francisco-based business-to-business (B2B) leads generator, which +makes its money by renting access to an internal database containing business contacts that can be used for pitches and sales.”

Computer Weekly: Sextortion campaign hits Nest home security cameras. “The campaign was uncovered by researchers at email cyber security company Mimecast, which found almost 1,700 examples sent to individuals, mostly in the US, earlier in January. Although in essence a run-of-the-mill extortion racket, it is a more unusual campaign than usual due to a rather more complex methodology that appears to obfuscate the origins of the scam emails and other details that might make it possible to identify those responsible, said Mimecast’s head of data science overwatch, Kiri Addison.”

RESEARCH & OPINION

Ars Technica: How Google researchers used neural networks to make weather forecasts. “The researchers say their results are a dramatic improvement over previous techniques in two key ways. One is speed. Google says that leading weather forecasting models today take one to three hours to run, making them useless if you want a weather forecast an hour in the future. By contrast, Google says its system can produce results in less than 10 minutes—including the time to collect data from sensors around the United States.”

Phys. org: You’re probably more susceptible to misinformation than you think. “Ask people directly and most will tell you they don’t trust the news they see on social media. And a landmark study in 2019 found 43% of social media users admitted to sharing inaccurate content themselves. So people are certainly aware in principle that misinformation is common online. But ask people where they learned about the ‘facts’ that support their political opinions, and the answer will often be social media.”

The Architect’s Newspaper: Sidewalk Labs is using machine learning to make neighborhood design smoother. “Sidewalk Labs, the Alphabet subsidiary focused on urban technology, has been working on a new software tool for generating optimized city layouts. In an effort to combat the disconnect between various stakeholders in the urban planning process—architects, planners, engineers, and real estate developers—and their software, product manager Violet Whitney and designer Brian Ho have created a new computational tool that analyzes a wide array of data to automatically create thousands, or millions, of neighborhood layouts from a baseline design.” Good afternoon, Internet…

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