Apple Reviews (Fruit, not Tech), Meredith Bixby’s Marionettes, Twitter, More: Sunday ResearchBuzz, December 25, 2022


New-to-me: a database of apple reviews. The fruit, not the tech. They absolutely savaged my favorite (Granny Smith) but to their credit they also slagged the SugarBee, an apple purchase I bitterly regretted a few weeks ago. From the About page: “Brian Frange is a comedian and writer who has been yelling about apples for years. He started yelling about apples professionally in 2016 while working on Comedy Central’s Not Safe with Nikki Glaser while serving as co-host on the Not Safe Podcast. Shortly after that he started the Tumblr apple review blog The Appleist and it became popular, I guess.” This man has a burning hatred for Red Delicious apples and this Web site is a fun read.

Michigan Live: Get up close with Saline’s Bixby marionettes in this new immersive online exhibit. “Marionettes handcrafted by Saline puppeteer Meredith Bixby delighted children across the country through shows based on stories like ‘Pinocchio,’ ‘Aladdin’ and ‘Treasure Island’ for more than 40 years…. During the past year, the group, CultureVerse, has employed cutting-edge 3D scanners to create ‘digital twins’ of a dozen of Bixby’s string-bound creations and recreate the interior of the gutted Saline Opera House, publishing their work in a virtual exhibit.” It’ll take a few minutes for the exhibit to load, but it’s worth it.


The Guardian: Twitter restores suicide-prevention hotline feature after outcry. “Twitter has restored a feature that promoted suicide prevention hotlines and other safety resources to users looking up certain content, after coming under pressure from users and consumer safety groups.”

CNET: Search Engine Launches ChatGPT-Style Chatbot, But Don’t Trust It Fully Yet. “The site works like OpenAI’s ChatGPT, which went viral earlier this year for its unique and realistic responses from a computer program. But be careful about its answers.”

Bleeping Computer: DuckDuckGo now blocks Google sign-in pop-ups on all sites. “DuckDuckGo apps and extensions are now blocking Google Sign-in pop-ups on all its apps and browser extensions, removing what it perceives as an annoyance and a privacy risk for its users.”


Business Insider: Twitter alternatives that got traction after Elon Musk takeover are suddenly seeing downloads plunge. Which has staying power and who is the next Clubhouse?. “Daily usage of Mastodon, Hive Social, and Counter Social are all up dramatically over the last two months. Meanwhile, at least half a dozen other Twitter-like platforms have recently been launched in beta or are set to be early next year, including Post.News, Spoutible, Mozilla.Social and Bluesky, founded by none other than Twitter co-founder and former CEO Jack Dorsey.”

Ars Technica: Meta and Alphabet lose dominance over US digital ads market. “The share of US ad revenues held by Facebook’s parent Meta and Google owner Alphabet is projected to fall by 2.5 percentage points to 48.4 percent this year, the first time the two groups will not hold a majority share of the market since 2014, according to research group Insider Intelligence.” Still too high.

Wall Street Journal: Elon Musk’s Finances Complicated by Declining Wealth, Twitter Pressures. “Historically, Mr. Musk has been a cash-poor billionaire, depending upon so-called margin loans—borrowing backed up by his shares—for his personal expenses and business investments while holding on to his Tesla shares and benefiting from their rising value. But Tesla’s market value has fallen by about $700 billion this year, sinking his personal wealth along the way.”


Washington Post: Fake job postings are stealing applicants’ money and identities. “Lisa Miner thought she had found the perfect new job: Earlier this year, the dialysis technician got an offer to be an app developer for CVS Health after passing a skills test administered by a purported recruiter who had reached out via a personal Gmail account. But the job wasn’t just fake — it was a ploy to steal her money.”

Engadget: Robocall company may receive the largest FCC fine ever. “The FCC has proposed a $299,997,000 fine against ‘the largest robocall firm’ it has ever investigated, the regulator announced. It would be the FCC’s largest fine ever, and targets a firm that made over 5 billion calls in three months, enough ‘to have called each person in the United States 15 times,’ it wrote.”


Kyiv Post: OPINION: Twitter’s Lack of Action Sees Users Tumbling Down the Pro-Russia Rabbit Hole. “Though long overdue, it seems that Twitter is more frequently acting on reports of accounts that break its anti-hate policy – or at the very least has finally stopped ignoring such reports altogether. And yet, working against the aims of this important process, many high-profile accounts once banned for spreading dangerous disinformation are being restored – including those directing hate at Ukraine.”

Washington Post: Science Twitter Needs a New Home. “Twitter also helped create a venue for public accountability in science. People like Dutch microbiologist Elizabeth Bik used the forum to shed light on research improprieties in both academia and biotech companies. Even with its warts — and we all know there are many — those things are not only worth keeping alive, but important to maintaining a healthy scientific ecosystem.” Good morning, Internet…

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