City Directories, WhatsApp, Google Cloud Next, More: Tuesday Evening ResearchBuzz, March 3, 2020


BusinessWire: MyHeritage Releases Massive Collection of Historical U.S. City Directories (PRESS RELEASE). “MyHeritage, the leading global service for discovering your past and empowering your future, announced today the publication of a huge collection of historical U.S. city directories that has been two years in the making. The collection was produced by MyHeritage from 25,000 public U.S. city directories published between 1860 and 1960. It comprises 545 million aggregated records that have been automatically consolidated from 1.3 billion records. This addition grows the total size of MyHeritage’s historical record database to 11.9 billion records.”


Neowin: WhatsApp working on letting you password-protect Google Drive backups. “WhatsApp currently allows Android users to backup their chat data to Google Drive. However, while WhatsApp chats stored on your device are encrypted, the backups in Google Drive are not. WhatsApp is possibly looking to change that as hints of the company working on password-protecting Drive backups have surfaced. This will be a major win from a security standpoint as it will ensure that your WhatsApp backups stored in Google Drive are also encrypted.”

TechCrunch: Google cancels Cloud Next because of coronavirus, goes online-only. “Google today announced that it is canceling the physical part of Cloud Next, its cloud-focused event and its largest annual conference by far with around 30,000 attendees, over concerns around the current spread of COVID-19.”


Lifehacker: Take Notes That Can Be Understood Two Weeks From Now. “A lot of us already know the value of carrying around some kind of note-taking device, whether it’s old-fashioned pen-and-paper or one of the bajillion smartphone apps designed to help us capture and organize our thoughts. But capturing those thoughts, in most cases, isn’t enough. A good note isn’t just a quick jot-down of an idea or an action item. Note-taking, when done well, provides both a record and a path forward.”


The Conversation: The census goes digital – 3 things to know. “The U.S. Census Bureau is hoping that most people who live in the U.S. will use the internet to answer census questions, rather than filling out a paper form or providing those answers to a census taker in person, at their home. That would be cheaper – a plus for a budget-strapped Census Bureau – and could help ensure maximum turnout and accuracy of the count. For instance, databases could keep track of which homes have not yet responded to the survey, allowing census officials to target mailings and in-person visits to those locations, without needing to spend time chasing households that have already responded.”

Medium: A journey into openness: an interview with Connecticut Digital Archive’s Mike Kemezis. “Michael Kemezis is the Repository Manager at the Homer Babbidge Library at the University of Connecticut. He is in charge of the Connecticut Digital Archive (CTDA) and he has been a key figure in CTDA’s adoption of Creative Commons and Rights Statements tools. In this interview, we explore the process that the CTDA followed to implement Rights Statements and Creative Commons tools, and gain insight on what still needs to be done to empower the sector.”


Techdirt: Senator Thom Tillis Pushed Awful Patent Reform Idea Last Year; Now Looks To Top It With Awful Copyright Reform This Year. “Last year, Senator Tom Tillis was pushing a completely ridiculous patent reform bill that would have enabled massive patent trolling, by expanding what would count as patent-eligible subject matter. After his bill was released — and basically everyone who wasn’t a patent troll explained what a disaster it would be for American innovation, Tillis quietly let the matter drop. Given that experience, you might think that Tillis would think twice before stepping into the even more fraught arena of copyright reform. And yet, Tillis has been champing at the bit to change the DMCA to make Hollywood happier with it.”

The Verge: All The Ways Congress Is Taking On The Tech Industry. “In 2020, lawmakers have lots of ideas about how to regulate tech companies. After the 2016 presidential contest and years of investigations from intelligence experts, Congress woke up to the power Big Tech holds over democracy — whether it’s through collecting data or serving up political ads. For legislators, it feels like time to rein in that power. New bills are introduced every day, creating a sea of regulatory threats that’s difficult to keep straight as time goes on.”


Boing Boing: Apple deleted files that I owned without telling me. It was inevitable, but I’m still pissed.. “This is, of course, the inevitable risk of buying any kind of digital media — you don’t actually own it. You’re technically just buying a license to access that media, which can be revoked at any time. Presumably, that’s what happened here (although Apple wouldn’t just say so directly). I’m certainly surprised that Epitaph — a famously independent punk rock record label — would revoke the license for one Menzingers album while leaving the rest of them intact on the iTunes Store. But music licensing is messy.” Good evening, Internet…

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