Amazon, YouTube Music, Adobe Illustrator Alternatives, More: Monday Afternoon ResearchBuzz, August 21, 2023


Engadget: Amazon is reportedly testing a confusing star rating system. “Amazon has started testing a new way to display its star rating system in specific regions that makes it harder to gauge how buyers are liking a specific product. Android Police has spotted the the experimental system on the company’s mobile app in India, its German website and its global website when accessed from Germany.”

How-To Geek: YouTube Music’s New “Samples” Will Help You Find New Songs. “TikTok has been such a runaway success that many other apps have implemented similar short-form videos, from Instagram Reels to YouTube Shorts. Google is now experimenting with them in YouTube Music, the company’s music streaming service, with the introduction of ‘Samples.'”


MakeUseOf: The 9 Best Free Browser-Based Adobe Illustrator Alternatives. “Adobe Illustrator is the default choice for anyone who needs high-quality graphic design software. But Adobe’s subscription model is pretty expensive, and you can’t use Illustrator online—it only works on Windows and Mac. If you’re a hobbyist on a budget, use Linux or a Chromebook, or want a more mobile option, what can you do? Fortunately, there are plenty of free, browser-based Adobe Illustrator alternatives you can try.”


The Verge: Linus Tech Tips pauses production as controversy swirls. “Linus Sebastian’s Linus Media Group YouTube empire is currently in crisis, with accusations of theft, lapses in ethics, and most recently, allegations of sexual harassment. The company has currently paused all production to improve its review processes, and CEO Terren Tong tells The Verge an outside investigator will be hired to examine the harassment allegations.”

MuckRock: Call for Proposals: Better ways to help collect, understand and preserve the public’s documents. “MuckRock’s first two rounds of Gateway Grantees are using DocumentCloud to reveal those secretly profiting from the destruction of Brazil’s rainforests, probe police misconduct in Chicago and much more. Now’s your chance to pitch a project that uses primary source documents to help inform and strengthen the public while leveraging AI, distributed storage and other leading technologies, baked right into DocumentCloud. Selected projects will receive funding of up to $50,000 as well as technical and editorial support.”


New York Times: In a War of Tanks, Ukrainian Soldiers Play World of Tanks Online. “Somewhere along the several hundred miles of front line in Ukraine, a Ukrainian soldier is probably playing World of Tanks — the video game. A war hero recently admitted to gaming although he had to open a new account when he lost his login information. During training in June, border guards outside Bakhmut, where one of the war’s bloodiest battles was fought, were found playing. And a tank crew seen grabbing a quick lunch last year had slapped a World of Tanks logo on the hull of its T-80 main battle tank.”

Ars Technica: Roblox facilitates “illegal gambling” for minors, according to new lawsuit. “A new proposed class-action lawsuit (as noticed by Bloomberg Law) accuses user-generated ‘metaverse’ company Roblox of profiting from and helping to power third-party websites that use the platform’s Robux currency for unregulated gambling activities. In doing so, the lawsuit says Roblox is effectively ‘work[ing] with and facilitat[ing] the Gambling Website Defendants… to offer illegal gambling opportunities to minor users.'”


CityAM: How bots came to rule the world, from Ticketmaster to global elections. “Bots are not only a problem on social media: they shape retailers like Ticketmaster and can influence politics, including global elections. Yet the danger they pose is underestimated, writes Elena Siniscalco.”

Washington Post: Revealing The Smithsonian’s ‘Racial Brain Collection’. “The vast majority of the remains appear to have been gathered without consent from the individuals or their families, by researchers preying on people who were hospitalized, poor, or lacked immediate relatives to identify or bury them. In other cases, collectors, anthropologists and scientists dug up burial grounds and looted graves. The Natural History Museum has lagged in its efforts to return the vast majority of the remains in its possession to descendants or cultural heirs, The Post’s investigation found. Of at least 268 brains collected by the museum, officials have repatriated only four.”


University of York: Digital puzzle games could be good for memory in older adults, study shows . “Older adults who play digital puzzle games have the same memory abilities as people in their 20s, a new study has shown. The study, from the University of York, also found that adults aged 60 and over who play digital puzzle games had a greater ability to ignore irrelevant distractions, but older adults who played strategy games did not show the same improvements in memory or concentration.” Good afternoon, Internet…

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