afternoonbuzz

New Mexico Decedent Image Database, Texarkana Phantom Killer, Google Pigweed, More: Friday Afternoon ResearchBuzz, February 7, 2020

NEW RESOURCES

ScienceNode: What the dead can tell us . “The New Mexico Decedent Image Database (NMDID) website will offer qualified researchers free access to more than 15,000 full-body CT scans, along with corresponding information about the deceased.”

Texarkana Gazette: FBI releases Phantom Killer archive | More than 1,100 pages available via internet. “The FBI on Thursday published an extensive archive of documents — some perhaps never before available — from the investigation of Texarkana’s infamous Phantom Killer murders of 1946.” It’s not clear if any of the information is new, but it’s been released all together in one big chunk.

TWEAKS AND UPDATES

9to5 Google: Google files trademark for new operating system called ‘Pigweed’. “Over the years, Google has developed its fair share of operating systems — beloved and otherwise — including Chrome OS, Android, and most recently Fuchsia. It appears Google may be working on yet another operating system, ‘Pigweed,’ according to a new US trademark application.”

AROUND THE SEARCH AND SOCIAL MEDIA WORLD

New York Daily News: Nearly half a million U.S. naturalization records from the Bronx and Queens to become available online. “More than 400,000 naturalization records from the Bronx and Queens will become available online as part of a new project funded by the feds. The three-year, $872,000 grant from the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration will pay for the Bronx and Queens County Clerks offices to upload thousand of records online and then promote them.”

Huffington Post: Instagram’s Search Results For Vaccines Are A Public Health Nightmare. “When HuffPost created a new Instagram account and searched for the term ‘vaccines’ on Saturday, almost all of the top results were anti-vax pages. (Searches from other accounts produced the same results.) At the very top was a profile with more than 74,000 followers and posts pushing blatant falsehoods about vaccines and the Wuhan coronavirus. As soon as HuffPost followed that account, Instagram recommended dozens more that, just like it, were promoting dangerous medical misinformation amid a global health emergency.”

SECURITY & LEGAL

Engadget: US opens investigation into Google amid Sonos patent suit. “It’s been about a month since Sonos sued Google for allegedly violating some of its patents behind syncing wireless speakers, and now the US government is getting involved. The US International Trade Commission today announced that it had voted to investigate whether Google and its parent company Alphabet have imported patent-infringing products into the country. To be clear, this doesn’t mean the US government has decided that Google has violated Sonos’ patents — but whether or not those patents were violated should fall under the scope of this investigation.”

Ubergizmo: Hackers Can Steal Your Data From Your Monitor’s Brightness. “According to a report from The Hacker News, it seems that hackers have figured out a way to steal information off a computer simply based on the brightness of your display. This makes it a great hack for computers that are standing alone and aren’t connected wirelessly to a network or to other computers.” I never know whether to be impressed or annoyed by articles like this.

PC Magazine: Avast to ‘Archive’ Users’ Collected Browser Histories, Not Immediately Delete Them. “The antivirus vendor plans on ‘securely archiving’ the collected browser histories that an Avast subsidiary, Jumpshot, was selling to third-party firms. Avast hasn’t elaborated on the decision, but it may have to do with the company trying to comply with privacy laws in Europe and California.”

RESEARCH & OPINION

Digital Trends: Barnes & Noble used A.I. to make classic books more diverse. It didn’t go well. “For Black History Month, Barnes & Noble created covers of classic novels with the protagonists re-imagined as people of color. Then it quickly canceled its planned Diverse Editions of 12 books, including Emma, The Secret Garden, and Frankenstein amid criticism that it clumsily altered books by mostly white authors instead of promoting writers of color. The project used artificial intelligence to scan 100 books for descriptions of major characters, and artists created covers depicting Alices, Romeos, and Captain Ahabs of various ethnicities.”

OTHER THINGS I THINK ARE COOL

The Verge: You can now make sick beats in Microsoft Excel. “Late last year, electronic musician and YouTuber Dylan Tallchief made a functional drum machine in Microsoft Excel after a bunch of Excel DAW memes made their way around social media. Now, Tallchief is back with an even more ambitious project that fully realizes the original meme’s potential: an Excel DAW he calls xlStudio. (For those outside the audio world, DAW stands for ‘digital audio workstation’ and is a software suite like Ableton or FL Studio used for making music.)” Good afternoon, Internet…

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