Ghana Plants, EU Whistleblowers, Deadly Force, More: Wednesday Buzz, September 28, 2016

Apologies: short issue, weird day.

NEW RESOURCES

The country of Ghana has created an online database of forest foods and medicinal plants. “This is not only meant to help to prevent the appropriation of local knowledge for private gain but serve as the ‘first port of call’ for any research activity in that area. It was developed by the Forestry Research Institute of Ghana (FORIG) under a research project to identify, capture, document and digitize indigenous knowledge on forest foods and medicinal plants in the country.” Unfortunately I could not find a link to the database in the article; you can find it at http://csir-forig.org.gh/tikfom/ .

A new “leaks” site is designed for whistleblowers in the EU. “The Greens-European Free Alliance announced the launch of a new website that will allow people working in the EU to anonymously and publicly post evidence of wrongdoing. The EU political party said that this is a move against a ‘the EU tendency toward secrecy.’ ‘Transparency is of the utmost importance,’ said Belgian MEP Philippe Lamberts, a Greens/EFA Parliamentarian and one of the founders of EULeaks, at a press conference announcing the launch.”

The FBI is creating a new database to track the use of deadly force by law enforcement. “The database is intended to capture how often police officers kill citizens and to correct a record-keeping gap that [FBI Director James] Comey said has resulted in uninformed conversations, based on anecdotes and not facts, about use of force. Demands for more complete records have grown in the past two years amid a series of high-profile deaths at the hands of police officers.”

TWEAKS AND UPDATES

The Google app for iOS has gotten some updates. “Earlier this year, we announced that your Google app for iOS got faster. Now buckle up, because today, we’re adding three new features that will make your app more private, video-friendly and stable.”

Chatter is growing that Facebook at Work will launch next month. “Like the consumer version of Facebook, the enterprise offering will have your News Feed, Groups, Events, and a dedicated Messenger app — though it will be company specific. There are said to be audio and video calling to compete with Slack and Skype.”

AROUND THE SEARCH AND SOCIAL MEDIA WORLD

You know how lots of different social media platforms have been encouraging users to register to vote? It appears to be working. “Top social media platforms steered hundreds of thousands of users to voter registration websites over the weekend in an effort several states said set new records for registration activity. Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and other social media networks began reminding users over the age of 18 to register to vote on Friday, ahead of Tuesday’s National Voter Registration Day. Users on Facebook were directed to a federal website that would then direct them to sites in their home states.”

Washington Post: What it was like to get examined by a doctor wearing Google Glass. “When I arrived for my annual physical at the office of doctor Darren Phelan this summer, he had a pair of titanium, WiFi-connected glasses pushed up on his forehead. He was about to examine me while streaming video of our encounter to a scribe some 8,000 miles away in India, one of more than 500 doctors nationwide to have turned Google Glass into a health technology.”

MIT Technology Review: I Saw Alphabet’s Health Watch. “Alphabet’s health spin-off Verily is a little like Santa’s factory a month before Christmas. Its labs are full of promising ideas not quite ready for delivery. These include a glucose-sensing contact lens, a cancer-detecting wrist band, and a big study of what it means to be healthy. However, during a visit to Mountain View-based Verily last week, I became the first journalist (that I know of) to see a prototype of the company’s health-tracking watch.” Good afternoon, Internet…

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US Elections, Movietone, Google News, More: Tuesday Afternoon Buzz, September 27, 2016

NEW RESOURCES

There’s another social media dashboard for the debates / elections out there. This one’s from MIT. “The Twitter dashboard Electome project at MIT, which charts Twitter in unique detail for journalists, announced its collaboration with the Commission on Presidential Debates. Electome will give journalists covering the debates near real-time feedback about the sentiments of people in the Twitter-sphere. It is a feedback loop for journalists to measure public sentiment to balance the attention given to subjects that sometimes receive copy-cat coverage of a lead story by a major news outlet in which the public has little interest.”

TWEAKS AND UPDATES

The Associated Press has purchased the Movietone film archive. “Most of the archive has been digitized and is available for licensing, but about 15 percent of the library has never been seen by the public. This footage includes material that failed to make it into news bulletins or was barred by censors during World War II. The Associated Press hopes to digitize and release the material over time.”

Google News now has a “lite” mode. “In the full (normal) mode of Google News, as seen below, we aggregate headlines, images and related content, making it fast and easy for people to find articles they care about. In the new Lite mode things look a little different — we keep the headlines and trim the rest of the components down to their essentials so that the app loads more quickly (and uses less than one-third of the data). When people read an article in Lite mode, they’ll also benefit from Google’s previously announced faster and lighter mobile web pages. By default Lite mode triggers automatically when a slower network is detected (users can also choose to control Lite mode directly).”

Twitter wants to help you register to vote. “Starting today, when a Twitter user sends a Direct Message to the official @Gov account with their five-digit zip code, they’ll receive an automated response with their state’s voter registration deadline and a personalized link to register.”

Google has announced a bevy of products for India. “At the second ‘Google For India’ event in New Delhi, held on the day of its 18 anniversary, the company announced its Public Wi-Fi platform called Google Station, named to highlight its origins at Indian railway stations. It also announced that Google Assistant will be available in Hindi by the end of the year through the new smart messaging app Allo.”

USEFUL STUFF

MakeUseOf: Goodbye, Trello! 5 Alternative Free Kanban Board Tools “Trello’s interface can feel off-putting and old-fashioned. And the features are limited. You can get Trello Gold for free for a limited time, which gives you advanced features, but you’ll eventually have to pay for those. Of course, using Trello means that your data is being stored on yet another server. Safety of data aside, it means you have to connect it to other services that you or your team uses, to access your files and images.”

Sensible advise from the WSJ: It’s Time to Cancel Your Forgotten Internet Accounts. “No good comes from leaving details of your identity—alternate email addresses, date of birth and, yes, passwords—floating around the backwaters of the internet. Hackers who find their way into one account, dormant or still in use, can exploit details such as PINs or security-question answers to get into other accounts. That’s right, your old AOL Instant Messenger account could compromise your Facebook account.” The article includes a list of also-ran Internet services, but it needs to be longer.

SECURITY/LEGAL ISSUES

A social site for teenagers is leaking information about its users, including passwords. In plain text. “Operators of i-Dressup didn’t respond to messages sent by Ars informing them that a hacker has already downloaded more than 2.2 million of the improperly stored account credentials. The hacker said it took him about three weeks to obtain the cache and that there’s nothing stopping him or others from downloading the entire database of slightly more than 5.5 million entries. The hacker said he acquired the e-mail addresses and passwords by using a SQL injection attack that exploited vulnerabilities in the i-Dressup website.” It’s 2016 and storing passwords in plain text is absolutely inexcusable.

Facebook has been ordered to stop collecting information on WhatsApp users in Germany. “The city of Hamburg’s data protection commissioner ordered Facebook on Tuesday to stop collecting and storing data on WhatsApp users in Germany, the first time a privacy watchdog has waded into the debate. The regulator also called on the social network to delete all information already forwarded from WhatsApp on roughly 35 million German users.” Good afternoon, Internet…

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Walters Art Museum, US Elections, Corporate Crime, More: Tuesday Buzz, September 27, 2016

NEW RESOURCES

The Walters Art Museum has launched a new Web site for its manuscripts. “Featuring a user-friendly design, the site provides visitors with intuitive search options, including the ability to refine their search by date, geography, subject, culture, and more. It also gives users a chance to coordinate their own online collections by gathering, saving and sharing their favorite masterpieces. Over the past decade, cataloguers, conservators, curators and digitization specialists have been poring over the museum’s collection of more than 900 manuscripts dating from the 8th to the 20th century.”

Talkwalker has launched a new dashboard to monitor the Clinton v. Trump social media conversation (PRESS RELEASE). I suspect there will be many of these and I’ll try not to get tiresome with them. “The dashboard looks at which candidates are getting the most positive and negative attention online, the key election issues linked to each candidate, how the candidates perform in swing states and more. Want to know what the breakdown is between the candidates in terms of overall share of online buzz, share of topics, hashtags being used, overall positive and negative posts about each candidate or emerging people and topic themes, this real-time social media dashboard does all that and more.”

TWEAKS AND UPDATES

A corporate crime and misconduct database has been expanded (PRESS RELEASE). ” Since the beginning of 2010, drug manufacturers, hospital systems, insurers and other healthcare companies have paid nearly $7 billion in fines and settlements to resolve cases in which they were accused of defrauding the federal government. Banks, led by Wells Fargo, account for the second largest portion of False Claims Act penalties, with more than $3 billion in payments…. With the addition of more than 750 cases relating to the 150-year-old False Claims Act and similar laws, Violation Tracker now contains a total of 112,000 entries from 30 federal regulatory agencies and all divisions of the Justice Department.”

USEFUL STUFF

Quick roundup from Educational Technology and Mobile Learning: 8 Useful Educational Web Tools for Research Students (thanks to Jennifer W for the heads-up.) “There are a wide variety of web tools and mobile applications that facilitate researchers work and help them communicate and collaborate with the research community and easily share and disseminate research findings. Besides the numerous resources we reviewed here over the last few years, today we are sharing with you this interesting collection of web tools that student researchers can use to manage their references, compile bibliographies, generate citations, access journal articles and many more.”

AROUND THE SEARCH AND SOCIAL MEDIA WORLD

TechCrunch: Is Facebook having a crisis of confidence over all the bad news its algorithms are making? “I ask because Facebook is surveying users to ask whether they think it cares about them. Yes, it is literally using the word ‘cares’. The survey, which Facebook says is being pushed to ‘a small group of people’, includes questions probing for users’ strength of feeling about Facebook (positive or negative), before asking them to elaborate on why they feel that way.” Good roundup article.

Rumors are flying about an Android/Chrome hybrid. “We’ve learned from multiple sources that Google plans to launch its forthcoming Andromeda Android/Chrome OS hybrid OS on two devices: a Huawei Nexus tablet and a ‘convertible laptop’. The latter device was just reported on by Android Police, and we can independently confirm that this device is planned. Our sources say, however, that a Huawei Nexus — yes, a Nexus — is also planned…”

Google is celebrating its birthday even though it apparently can’t settle on a date. (Fun fact: ResearchBuzz is older than Google.)

SECURITY/LEGAL ISSUES

Senator Mark Warner is calling for an SEC investigation into the Yahoo hack. “Although the SEC has longstanding guidance on when publicly traded companies should report hacking incidents, companies that have experienced known breaches often omit those details in regulatory filings, according to a 2012 Reuters investigation…. In a Sept. 9 regulatory filing with the SEC, Yahoo stated it did not have knowledge of ‘any incidents of, or third party claims alleging … unauthorized access’ of personal data of its customers that could have a material adverse effect on Verizon’s acquisition.”

Twitter has refused to block the account of a Turkish journalist. “A Turkish court ordered Twitter to block the account of a noted journalist last week, accusing him of “instigating terrorism.” But despite receiving the court order, Twitter has decided not to comply, Motherboard has learned. The company got a court order requesting the censorship of 17 accounts, including that of Mahir Zeynalov, a well known DC-based writer. But as of Monday morning, the account was still up all over the world, including within Turkey.” As of this writing — 9/26 at 1954 — it’s still up.

Meanwhile, Facebook is being accused of censoring Palestinian journalists. “Facebook has apologized for disabling the personal accounts of several editors and executives at two major Palestinian news publications, according to a report from The Electronic Intifada. Facebook says the accounts were mistakenly suspended after being reported for violating the site’s community standards, but the publications believe the incident is related to Israel’s recent push to combat online incitement to violence.”

RESEARCH AND OPINION

From MIT Technology Review: The Internet Is No Place for Public Elections. “Despite what your local election officials may tell you, you can’t trust the Internet with your vote. This election year we’ve seen foreign hackers infiltrate the Democratic National Committee’s e-mail system as well as voter databases in Arizona and Illinois. These attacks have reinforced what political scientists and technical experts alike have been saying for more than a decade: public elections should stay offline. It’s not yet feasible to build a secure and truly democratic Internet-connected voting system.”

Recode: Why Disney Won’t Buy Twitter. “Forget, for a moment, whether Disney could fix Twitter’s fundamental product problems, which have capped the company’s growth. Or whether Disney is ready to associate its pristine brand with a platform that’s become a playground for the worst people on the internet. Or whether [Bob] Iger, who made three of the best acquisitions in history, period — Marvel + Lucasfilm + Pixar, for a mere $15 billion (!) — wants to gamble his legacy on this.” Also, Disney tried the online space once. It ended very badly. There is no indication that Disney has the infrastructure to support developing something like Twitter. Good morning, Internet…

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Chinese Jade, Mars Mission, Japanese Laws, More: Monday Afternoon Buzz, September 26, 2016

NEW RESOURCES

The Smithsonian will launch a digital catalog of Chinese jades next month. “The jades included in the first release are searchable through customizable filter options that combine typological, historical, cultural, material and geographical details. The primary contents are jewelry and ceremonial objects such as ritual disks (bi) and tubes (cong), as well as symbolic tools that were found close to the body in tombs. The majority of the works were produced by the Neolithic Liangzhu culture (ca. 3300–2250 B.C.), which is now recognized as the most prolific and advanced center for jade production in ancient China.”

The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) has released a bunch of data from its Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM). “The Mars Orbiter Mission has been orbiting the red planet ever since September, 2015. The MOM is also special considering that it is ISRO’s first interplanetary mission. The satellite is orbiting around Mars in an elliptical orbit of about 343 km x 71191 km as of 16th September 2016 and is continuously transmitting all sorts of useful data back to its home planet.”

TWEAKS AND UPDATES

The Japanese government will be upgrading its online database of laws. “The current system is run by the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry. Its accuracy has often been questioned, with several corrections and modifications being made on a monthly basis. The government aims to offer accurate information under the revised system. Not only the internal affairs ministry, but also other ministries and agencies in charge of each law, will check the contents and update the information following amendments.”

It seems like every social platform in the known universe is getting in on the Presidential debates. Including Instagram. “CBS News’ streaming service CBSN is joining forces with Instagram to feature the app’s Stories within its live coverage of the presidential debates. In an election season teeming with digital partnerships between news organizations and social media platforms, CBSN’s Instagram tie-in still manages to stand out from the crowd. The deal marks the first time the relatively new Stories feature will be used by a network as part of its live coverage.”

Science news site EurekAlert is now back online, partially. “The EurekAlert! public ‘read-only’ pages are now online. Embargoed news sections remain offline as our IT team works around the clock to put strong safeguards in place to repel future cyber-attacks. This means that public information officers are still unable to log onto EurekAlert! to submit news releases, and reporters cannot log on to browse potential science-news stories.”

AROUND THE SEARCH AND SOCIAL MEDIA WORLD

Now this is what I call a born-digital archive. From Canterbury University: Restoring the world’s first recorded computer music. “University of Canterbury Distinguished Professor Jack Copeland and UC alumni and composer Jason Long have restored the earliest known recording of computer-generated music, created more than 65 years ago using programming techniques devised by Alan Turing.”

Google filed a patent for an energy kite. “Like the past, using the sail to harness wind energy to propel a ship could be a solution. There are some problems that render this solution unfeasible for cargo vessels, however. First, these cargo ships demand energy in megawatt range and second, unpredictable nature of wind could make a ship arrive on a port late than its scheduled time which it strictly needs to adhere to. A recent patent filed by Google seems like solving both of these problems. Instead of a sail, it suggests using its flying energy kites Makani to propel engine of a ship.”

SECURITY/LEGAL ISSUES

Krebs on Security is supposedly back online due to Google’s Project Shield. I say “supposedly” because when I try to connect I get a “connection refused” error, and I’m not sure if it’s me or him. I’m linking to a Slashdot story about Mr. Krebs’ return. Good afternoon, Internet…

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Asteroids, Japan Politics, Minnesota Folk Songs, More: Monday Buzz, September 26, 2016

NEW RESOURCES

The Smithsonian has launched a new newsletter about asteroids. “Almost every day, a known asteroid passes within a few million miles of Earth. On those dates, the Daily Minor Planet will list the flyby asteroid along with the time and distance of its closest approach. On days without a cosmic flyby, the report will feature a newly discovered asteroid. It will also highlight an article from the popular press.”

A new Web site will make it easier to track money in Japanese politics. “Starting Oct. 21, the group, which calls itself Japan Center For Money and Politics Foundation in English, will post online the reports of about 2,200 political organizations donating to politicians in both chambers of the Diet. There will also be online explanations of the law regarding political funds, as well as plans to offer training sessions on the most efficient ways of using the site.” The site will be in Japanese only, and unfortunately Google Translate did not have much luck with the site as it currently is.

New-to-me and still under development: an online archive for Minnesota folk songs. “The Minnesota Folksong Collection is an online digital library for audio recordings, song texts and and other materials documenting traditional folksong from Minnesota. The current collection consists of a set of songs recorded by Robert Winslow Gordon in 1924.” Looks like it got rolling at the beginning of the year.

TWEAKS AND UPDATES

The East Riding archives [Yorkshire, England] have joined the Flickr Commons (which is great to see because I was starting to think Flickr Commons was kaput.) “The Archives collect, preserve, and make accessible the cultural heritage of the East Riding of Yorkshire. Their collections originate from a variety of sources including, local government, courts, hospitals, churches, parish councils, businesses, societies, charities, landed estates, as well as private individuals and families. The Archives formed in 1953 and moved to their current location, called the Treasure House, in 2007.”

Yahoo Messenger now supports video. “Launching today, video in Messenger makes it even easier to show rather than tell when you want to share experiences with the people you care about. Now available on both the iOS and Android app globally, you can send videos in one-on-one and group conversations!”

Yahoo Mail for Android now has fingerprint support. Barn doors, horses… “The fingerprint support is via Google’s Fingerprint API, meaning that as long as your device has a fingerprint scanner it should work.”

USEFUL STUFF

Sounds useful! From PC World: How to search the full text of web pages in your Chrome browsing history with Falcon “Falcon describes itself as a ‘full text browsing history search.’ What that means is Falcon indexes the text in the body of nearly every webpage you visit. Then when you need to find something, all you have to do is search for a keyword from any part of the webpage you’re looking for. If you only remember that the page mentions Alabama that’ll be enough.” The article does address privacy and security concerns you’d have with such a tool.

Noupe has a writeup on a free-to-use photo site called Visual Hunt. “The reason why Visual Hunt provides over 350 million high-quality photos is, that the service collects the best images from creative-common, and public-domain websites on the internet. Don’t worry, the service doesn’t accumulate the material from random sources. Instead, it focuses on sources like Flickr, and other services with a good reputation and quality.” Ignore the not-perfect English. This looks like a useful resource.

Thanks to Esther S. for the heads-up: How to Follow Any Twitter User, Search or List via RSS This writeup uses Inoreader.

From Hongkiat, because I know at least a lot of Firehose readers are into travel. Google Trips & 9 Alternative Travel Apps for Avid Travelers. “For those unfamiliar with travel planner apps, you can now easily create your itinerary, book tours, flights, accomodation and car rentals etc. right from your laptop or mobile app. In this list, I have 9 other travel apps apart from Google Trips, each with their own specialty that will probably prove useful for different groups of travelers.”

This is for SQL fans only. My SQL chops are not great, but what I could understand out of this paper I liked: SQL Query Parser: An Automated Tool for Translating the Queries Into Spreadsheets. “Many people find difficulties in working with databases queries so they completely want to migrate from databases to another application. Hence here it is the solution to combine the database concept with another application to make it simple and easy. The concept called spreadsheet is combined with the databases which forms a method which is called as a SQL Query Parser. Spreadsheets are the most popular application for data analysis and manipulations. Thus SQL Query Parser is an automated tool which translates the Database SQL query to Formula based Spreadsheet. Also it parses the statements into the parse tree and generates the syntax tree providing validation to the statements at an early stage.”

RESEARCH AND OPINION

Cornell: ‘Likes’ less likely to affect self-esteem of people with purpose “The rush of self-esteem that comes with the ubiquitous thumbs-up of a ‘like’ has more people asking that question, as Facebook and other social media sites offer more ways for friends to endorse photos and posts. But one group seems immune to that rush: people with a sense of purpose. In the first study on the effects of purpose in the online world, Cornell researchers have found that having a sense of purpose limits how reactive people are to positive feedback on social media.” Good morning, Internet…

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