Boston Diversity, Vivaldi Browser, Expressive Pixels, More: Tuesday Afternoon ResearchBuzz, September 8, 2020


BU Today: Activities to Activism: New Diversity & Inclusion Website for BU and Boston. “Other news-you-can-use features on the site include a Curated, Crowdsourced, Cultural Guide to Boston, which proves, among other things, that you can’t accuse [Boston University’s Diversity & Inclusion office] of rejecting advice. About 45,000 BU students and employees were consulted in assembling this catalog of 250-and-growing items from ethnic restaurants, houses of worship, and cultural outlets to activist groups confronting racism and LGBTQIA prejudice. Oh, and landmarks like the Arnold Arboretum.”


Neowin: Vivaldi browser introduces a Break Mode to help users unplug from work. “Vivaldi, the web browser available for Windows, macOS, and Linux, has introduced a new feature in its latest update – version 3.3 – to pause the internet. The Break Mode helps users unplug from continuous work and is aimed at improving work-life balance, especially in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic that has necessitated many people across the world to work from home where the lines of personal and professional time are often blurred.”

ZDNet: Microsoft: This free Windows 10 app lets developers express themselves in pixels. “Microsoft Research has released a new app called ‘Expressive Pixels’ that gives makers a new tool to create animations for LED displays or to insert as animated GIFs into emails. The free Microsoft app is available now from the Microsoft Store and offers technically adept Windows 10 users a new way to create animations like Emojis to display on LED screens. ”


The 961: Lebanese University Students Are Now Banned From Complaining On Social Media. “It is safe to say that the 2019-2020 academic year has been a very stressful road for Lebanon’s students, especially for the students of the state-run Lebanese University. All year long, they have shared their frustrations and concerns over unreasonable regulations on social media. Now, the university just released a statement warning against online complaining when it comes to its decisions. Students who wish to register for the academic year of 2020-2021 are asked to pledge to abide by that new rule that oppresses their freedom of expression.”

BBC: TikTok tries to remove widely shared suicide clip. “Video-sharing site TikTok is struggling to take down clips showing a man killing himself. The footage, which has been circulating on the platform for several days, originated on Facebook and has also been shared on Twitter and Instagram. TikTok is hugely popular with young people – and many have reported coming across the video and being traumatised by the content.”

New York Times: Are Influencers Responsible for the Behavior of Their Followers?. “Nearly all of Chris’s videos follow the same format: a video loops to his right, he smiles, sometimes gives a thumbs up, then something happens in the video and his smile drops. The majority of Chris’s videos are reactions to anodyne moments. In one, his smile drops when a man slams a brick of tofu in his own face; in another it’s when cockroaches appear onscreen. Some of his videos, however, feature reactions to LGBTQ creators. He has a shocked expression when men put on skirts, when a man sucks on a straw, or when trans people reveal transformations over time.”


The National: Social media companies failing to close people-smuggler sites, claims UK. “Social media companies, including Facebook and YouTube, have refused nearly 500 requests from British law enforcement to remove online material connected to suspected people smugglers, MPs heard on Thursday. Britain’s National Crime Agency (NCA) said that it had referred nearly 1,200 pages to social media companies in the first five months of the year as it attempted to tackle the communications of gangs involved in smuggling people to the UK. The NCA said that 578 pages were closed down but their appeals over 485 others were rejected and police expressed their frustrations that they could not do anything about it.”

CNET: Phones for low-income users hacked before they’re turned on, research finds. “Adware isn’t a problem just for [Rameez] Anwar and other users who have the same phone model, made by American Network Solutions. Because the phones and their service plans were subsidized by a US program, taxpayers were funding the data that was used to display the promotional campaigns. On top of that, the adware prevented the phones doing their intended job: keeping low-income people connected to vital services via phone and internet.”


The Conversation: Not just A-levels: unfair algorithms are being used to make all sorts of government decisions. “Algorithmic systems tend to be promoted for several reasons, including claims that they produce smarter, faster, more consistent and more objective decisions, and make more efficient use of government resources. The A-level fiasco has shown that this is not necessarily the case in practice. Even where an algorithm provides a benefit (fast, complex decision-making for a large amount of data), it may bring new problems (socio-economic discrimination).”

Cosmos Magazine: Renewed interest in weathered records. “Each week Cosmos takes a look at projects and news about citizen science in Australia. This week, we report on a new initiative launched by Climate History Australia at the Australian National University (ANU). Scientists at ANU have an ambition to create Australia’s longest daily weather record, beginning in 1838, and they’d like help from citizen scientists.” Good afternoon, Internet…

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