NYPD Misconduct Records, USDA Soil Moisture Portal, Ireland Higher Education, More: Tuesday ResearchBuzz, March 9, 2021


New York Times: N.Y.P.D. Releases Secret Misconduct Records After Repeal of Shield Law. “Nearly nine months after New York lawmakers, inspired by mass protests over police brutality, repealed a law that kept the discipline records of officers secret for decades, the New York Police Department on Monday began publishing some of the sealed information. The department released partial disciplinary records for all 35,000 active police officers dating back to 2014 in an online database, searchable by name. Separately, officials posted redacted copies of more than 200 decisions by judges in administrative trials, going back to 2017.” It’s my understanding that this is a separate release (though it may contain overlapping information) from the CCRB release last week.

NASA: NASA Data Powers New USDA Soil Moisture Portal. “Farmers, researchers, meteorologists, and others now have access to high-resolution NASA data on soil moisture, thanks to a new tool developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), NASA and George Mason University. The app, Crop Condition and Soil Moisture Analytics (Crop-CASMA), provides access to high-resolution data from NASA’s Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) mission and the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instrument in an easy-to-use format.”

Silicon Republic: Gender equality in Irish higher education to be tracked with new tool. “A new interactive dashboard has been launched to track staff in Ireland’s higher education sector and help identify progress that is being made towards gender equality. The National Gender Equality Dashboard will provide an interactive and comparative visualisation of key staff data from Irish higher education institutions including universities, colleges and institutes of technology. This dashboard will be updated annually, and currently offers baseline data from 2017 to 2019.”


CNET: Facebook VR venture could include realistic avatars, Zuckerberg says. “Facebook’s exploration into virtual reality could soon include more realistic avatars. During a podcast interview with The Information, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg gave more details about the social media company’s plans to explore virtual and augmented reality with the Oculus VR device.”

TechCrunch: Google unveils $25 million in grants aimed at empowering women and girls. “Google announced a range of programs as well as grants worth $25 million on Monday to fund works of nonprofits and social enterprises that are committed to empower women and girls.’s new Impact Challenge, unveiled on International Women’s Day, is aimed at addressing systemic barriers and inequities so that women have access to economic equality, opportunity to build financial independence and pursue entrepreneurism, said Google chief executive Sundar Pichai at a virtual event.”


The Verge: Google HR reportedly advised mental health leave in response to complaints of racist or sexist behavior. “Several current and former Google employees say the company’s human resources department would often suggest mental health counseling or leave in response to complaints about racist or sexist behavior in the workplace, NBC News reported.”

KHON: Hawaiian newspapers being re-digitized to preserve Hawaiian knowledge. “An effort was taken in 2002 to digitize Hawaiian newspapers from microfilm images captured nearly 40 years ago. They are accessible online but only about 30% are clearly visible. A new effort is now being taken to improve the quality and quantity of those collections.”

Ars Technica: Demand for fee to use password app LastPass sparks backlash. “Two investment firms, Elliott Management and Francisco Partners, acquired the service as part of their $4.3 billion buyout of Internet software group LogMeIn in September last year. Now, the app is warning users that they must pay as much as $36 a year if they want access to those cumbersome passwords on all their devices. Those who refuse to pay will have to choose between synching only to their desktop computers, or only to mobile devices such as phones.”


AP: Microsoft server hack has victims hustling to stop intruders. “Victims of a massive global hack of Microsoft email server software — estimated in the tens of thousands by cybersecurity responders — hustled Monday to shore up infected systems and try to diminish chances that intruders might steal data or hobble their networks. The White House has called the hack an ‘active threat’ and said senior national security officials were addressing it.”

The Guardian: Apple and Google face new antitrust battle over Arizona app store bill. “The bill – which passed the Arizona state house last week and now will move to the state’s senate – would require Apple and Google to allow app developers to use their own payment systems, rather than Google’s or Apple’s, to process user purchases within the app.”


Berkeley: A tomb with a view: Egyptologist recreates after-death experience. “UC Berkeley Egyptologist Rita Lucarelli, a pioneer in the digitization of ancient funerary artifacts, is heading up an effort, enriched by high-end Vive Cosmos virtual reality headsets, to offer scholars and others an immersive tour of one of the world’s most spellbinding death cultures.”


ReviewGeek: Lay’s Browser Extension Turns on YouTube Captions When It Hears You Eating Chips. “When artificial intelligence rises up to take over Earth, it will be because of browser extensions like Lay’s Crispy Subtitles. The new AI-powered Chrome extension from Lay’s taps into your microphone and listens for the sound of crunchy, crispy potato chips. If it hears you eating chips while you watch a YouTube Video, the AI will automatically turn on captions for your video.” Good morning, Internet…

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