Walrus Sightings, Brexit Sites, Wearable Tech, More: Monday Afternoon Buzz, July 25, 2016

NEW RESOURCES

Now available: a walrus database. “For 160 years, seafarers have braved polar bears, storms and bitter isolation to observe huge herds of walrus gathering off the coast of Alaska and Russia each summer. For the first time ever, all records, from aerial surveys and island expeditions to 19th Century diary entries and maps by Russian explorers, have been compiled in a single database.”

The UCLA Library has published an online archive of Brexit campaign Web sites. “The UK European Union Membership Referendum Web Archive captures information from 46 important ‘remain’ or ‘leave’ websites published by the UK government, trade unions, business groups and environmental and academic grassroots organizations. Also included are the websites of scholarly organizations such as Academics for Europe, Historians for Britain in Europe and the Federal Trust for Education and Research.”

Two companies are teaming up to create a database of wearable tech. “Vancouver-based Vandrico Solution and Deloitte have partnered to create a Wearable Technology Database with a goal of compiling a list of all ‘wearable products.’ The database currently includes 442 devices from 306 companies, with specific categories in the head, neck, torso, chest, arm, wrist, hand, legs, and feet categories.”

TWEAKS AND UPDATES

The Digital Library of Georgia has relaunched its Macon Telegraph newspaper archive. “The Macon Telegraph Historic Newspapers Archive is now compatible with all current browsers and provides access to early issues of the Macon Telegraph ranging from its inception as a weekly newspaper in 1826, through the daily issues of the early twentieth century without the use of plug-ins or additional software downloads. Consisting of over 51,000 newspaper pages, the website provides historical images that are both full-text searchable and can be browsed by date.”

USEFUL STUFF

German Pearls: 21 Amazing Google Cardboard Apps. “If you’ve been wondering what virtual reality (VR) is all about here’s a list of Google cardboard apps where you can explore new worlds and new adventures. There’s more to virtual reality than just playing VR games. With these VR apps you can explore places in the world you’ve never seen, take tours through other parts of the universe, experience extreme sports first hand or immerse yourself in a scary movie. The best part is that you don’t have to be a tech geek or spend a lot of money to check them out!”

Geektime has a writeup on a tool that translates natural language questions into SQL queries. “Kueri’s system enables developers to implant a unique search box within apps. The search box knows how to take questions from end users in natural language … and translate them into SQL queries in real time. The app can run the queries through the database and display the results to the user. In addition, in order to make it even easier for the end user, it facilitates automatic completion during typing, with completions of words and smart suggestions according to the context of the search and database.”

AROUND THE SEARCH AND SOCIAL MEDIA WORLD

Huh. From TNW: When social goes wrong: My Vine feed is shockingly racist, and there’s no way to fix it. “Much of my Vine homepage is full of stupid ads for getting free ‘hoverboards’ or iPhones. It’s garbage, and I can’t get it to go away, no matter how many users I block. For You is a safe haven — or it should be. While Vine doesn’t say how it arrives at populating your feed, the assumption is that it’s based on your like and revine history. Which makes the fact that my ‘For You’ feed is really racist much more confusing.”

SECURITY/LEGAL ISSUES

Yes, one of the benefits of Snapchat is that it’s not as permanent as other social networks. But if you decide to steal a vehicle and Snapchat the whole thing, you’re gonna get caught. “A New York man was arrested by Ocean City police on Saturday evening after stealing a Jeep Wrangler and driving it erratically on Coastal Highway all while recording the incident on Snapchat.”

RESEARCH AND OPINION

Wow: using neural networks to turn face sketches into photorealistic images. How cool is this? “A team of four neuroscientists at Radboud University is working on a model for inverting face sketches to synthesize photorealistic face images by using deep neural networks. The results of the study (Convolutional Sketch Inversion) were first made available in the online archive arXiv and have recently been accepted at the European Conference on Computer Vision in Amsterdam.”

It’s good to stop and remember sometimes that more than half the world is still not on the Internet. “About 3.9 billion people, or 53 percent of the population, will still be offline at the end of this year, the International Telecommunication Union estimates. Even in Europe, the most connected region, 20.9 percent of all people aren’t online. In Africa, the least connected continent, 74.9 percent are offline.” Every week I have dinner with my family. Of the eight people usually at that dinner, three of them have no Internet access and don’t want it. Another one has access but as far as I know never uses it. And I’m in the US! Good afternoon, Internet…

Do you like ResearchBuzz? Does it help you out? Please consider supporting it on Patreon. Not interested in commitment? Perhaps you’d buy me an iced tea. I love your comments, I love your site suggestions, and I love you. Feel free to comment on the blog, or @ResearchBuzz on Twitter. Thanks!

Legal Research, Internet Security, WordPress, More: Monday Buzz, July 25, 2016

NEW RESOURCES

Kimball Parker has launched a new Web site with the idea of connecting underserved communities to more legal resources. “He created a crowd-sourced platform, which weaves research into one coherent visual map of the law, giving its users access to different pieces of logic related to an area of the law. For example, users can choose a legal topic such as “patent law” or “information privacy law,” and with the click of a button they can easily find cases and other legal information that may help them research their own legal information.”

Fidelis Cybersecurity has launched a new threat intelligence database (PRESS RELEASE). “The Fidelis Barncat™ Intelligence Database includes more than 100,000 records with configuration settings extracted from malware samples gathered during Fidelis’ incident response investigations and other intelligence gathering operations over the past decade. The typical remote access tool (RAT) malware sample includes a large number of configuration elements, including those controlling the behavior of the malware on the host and others related to command-and-control traffic. Barncat is updated with hundreds of new configuration records each day…. Barncat is available for use by CERTs, research organizations, government entities, ISPs and other large commercial enterprises. Access is free, but users must request access and meet specific criteria.”

TWEAKS AND UPDATES

WordPress 4.6 beta 4 is now available.

Google is now offering training for Google Apps. “Designed to be simple and efficient, Training for Google Apps is a new interactive in-app learning experience to help users get quickly up and running with Google Apps. Built on the Google Cloud Platform, Training for Google Apps acts like a virtual coach inside of the Google Apps interface. Users have access to voice and text interactive modules that are searchable by topic within any of the Google Apps products, which includes Gmail, Calendar, Drive, Docs, Google+, and even Classroom.”

Instagram is apparently working on an anti-spam tool. Of course, the famous people get it first. “Instagram’s revealed it’s testing a new feature on high profile accounts which is designed to prevent inappropriate or spam comments. After her high profile feud with Kanye West, hundreds of snake emojis appeared on Taylor Swift’s account. However, users noticed that the snakes later disappeared.”

AROUND THE SEARCH AND SOCIAL MEDIA WORLD

The Irish Times has a pretty extensive archive on the National Library of Ireland. “Since 2011, the department has amassed more than 1,000 websites that are either Irish, or of Irish interest, working in partnership with the Internet Memory Foundation in Paris. Staff select those websites for the foundation, to later receive copies back from Paris that are then put on the Library’s website. And even if those source sites become defunct – as many have over the last five years – the Library will always have a permanent record available.”

Hmm. It looks like Verizon is the one getting Yahoo. For $5 billion. Which just seems way too high! “Verizon and Yahoo are set to announce that they are striking an acquisition deal, according to sources close to the situation. The news is expected by Monday, although it could come earlier or later. But Yahoo told other bidders this afternoon — those interested in buying Yahoo have included private equity firm TPG and a group led by Quicken Loans’ Dan Gilbert — that the telco giant was the winner of the four-month process, said sources.” This story is from Saturday

SECURITY/LEGAL ISSUES

Yahoo has been ordered by a judge to explain how mail that, according to its own policies, couldn’t have been recovered was actually recovered. “Defense lawyers in the case claim that six months of deleted emails were recovered—something which Yahoo’s policies state is not possible. The defense therefore speculates that the emails may have instead been collected by real-time interception or an NSA surveillance program.”

It sounds that way from reading the news: DDOS attacks are getting worse. “Over the past 18 months, Arbor detected an average of 124,000 DDoS attacks a week. The peak size jumped a stunning 73 percent compared to 2015, up to 579Gbps. Just in the first six months of 2016, there have been 274 attacks over 100Gbps — in the whole of 2015 there have been 223 such attacks.”

Apparently France has a problem with Windows 10 – specifically, privacy and security issues. “The chair of France’s National Data Protection Commission (CNIL) has issued a formal notice to Microsoft letting it know that it collects far too much information and that its pin security is too deficient….The body has given Microsoft three months to comply with the data protection act, CNIL says this is a formal notice and Microsoft hasn’t yet been sanctioned for non-compliance.”

RESEARCH AND OPINION

Social Media Explorer: What We Learned from Analyzing 6.2 Billion Facebook Reactions. “Facebook Reactions were introduced in mid-March. Initially the response could be described as tepid, but new research from Unmetric shows that Reactions are gaining ground. As part of this study, Unmetric analyzed 6.2 billion Facebook Reactions from over 32,000 brand pages between April 25th and July 3rd.”

TheNextWeb: Twitter’s new ‘automated’ verification scheme feels desperate. “When Twitter decided to make account verification a simpler process, many rejoiced at the opportunity to be branded. Some accounts were obviously lacking verification, while some just covet it. And now that it’s here, verification feels like desperation.” Good morning, Internet…

Do you like ResearchBuzz? Does it help you out? Please consider supporting it on Patreon. Not interested in commitment? Perhaps you’d buy me an iced tea. I love your comments, I love your site suggestions, and I love you. Feel free to comment on the blog, or @ResearchBuzz on Twitter. Thanks!

LGBT New York, World Anthropology, Limestone Architecture, More: Sunday Buzz, July 24, 2016

NEW RESOURCES

In development: a map of historically-important LGBT sites in New York. “Still in the early stages, the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project will evolve into an online archive and interactive map of around 1,000 places throughout New York, from the residences of notable figures like Walt Whitman and Audre Lorde to cultural nexuses like the Apollo Theater and the West Side Tennis Club to business hubs—and protest sites—like the New York Stock Exchange. Contemporary and archival photos will supplement a searchable bibliography of each site.”

Thanks to Paul P. for the Twitter tip: Archives of the Planet is now available as open data. “This large iconographic collection consists of 72,000 Autochrome plates (color photographs on glass plates) and hundreds of hours worth of black and white films. This is the result of the work of photographers recruited by Albert Kahn and sent all around the world. Between 1909 and 1931, the photographers have been to more than fifty countries to record the everyday lives of the inhabitants of the planet.”

Architecture. Architecture featuring limestone. In the midwest. It’s an archive of photographs from the Indiana Limestone Company. “The 47 file drawers of photos, originally used by the Indiana Limestone Company for marketing purposes, were stored in the living room of a dilapidated house in Bedford, Indiana. They date from the early to mid-1900s and illustrate architectural styles and limestone use in crisp black and white imagery.” Over 1200 photographs are online, and grant support means an additional 4500 images will be digitized. There are over 25,000 photos total.

Now available: a digitized newspaper from the US Virgin Islands when it was the Danish West Indies. “Over 3,000 pages of David Hamilton Jackson’s The Herald, which is the first citizen-owned and -operated newspaper in the Danish West Indies, have been digitized and are freely available online to researchers everywhere … the digitization project includes issues spanning the entire publication run of 1915 to 1925.”

TWEAKS AND UPDATES

The National Institutes of Health Library is now on Facebook. “Please ‘like’ our Facebook page and you will get instant updates about our products, services, and events.” If you’re one of the lucky 5%.

Google and the United Nations are teaming up against climate change. “New Google-powered software will help the world tackle problems related to climate change, deforestation and food production, a United Nations agency said on Friday, as it presented its revamped online platform. Open Foris, U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) software, uses high-resolution satellite images to monitor the environment and changes in land use and forest cover.”

AROUND THE SEARCH AND SOCIAL MEDIA WORLD

Bloomberg: Microsoft’s Bing Isn’t a Joke Anymore When was it a joke? “Bing is on track to generate roughly $5.3 billion in revenue for Microsoft’s fiscal year ended June 30, based on the pace of sales during the previous nine months. Here’s some context: Web search and advertising are among Microsoft’s lowest-priority businesses, yet Bing’s revenue is more than Yahoo’s sales over the last 12 months, and two-and-a-half times Twitter’s advertising revenue. Bing’s yearly revenue may top what Microsoft makes from selling Windows PCs to consumers, based on some rough 2015 disclosures.”

The Wall Street Journal takes a look at how video distribution on Facebook has been better for media companies than YouTube. Writing a thorough article about how much I hate YouTube’s content-discovery systems would take days, so let’s just stick with: I’m not surprised. “In May, the do-it-yourself, home-and-garden site Hometalk made its first big push into video on Facebook. Since then, its Facebook video audience has surged, driven by clips such as an eco-friendly oven cleaning technique that has garnered over 38 million views since July 2, according to Hometalk’s co-founder and chief marketing officer, Miriam Illions. That’s far more attention than Hometalk’s videos have generated on YouTube, where it has had a limited presence for years.”

The Republican National Convention apparently caused a spike in people searching for third party information.

SECURITY/LEGAL ISSUES

Illinois online voter registration database has been hacked. “McLean County Clerk Kathy Michael tells WMBD the biggest cause for concern lies in which records were compromised. Older records contained voters’ full social security numbers; newer records only contain public information.”

Two paramedics about whom I am way too angry to describe without melting my keyboard apparently had a “selfies war” featuring their patients. Mostly non-consensually. “Investigators initially identified a total of 41 patients. Two of whom have since died. Three of the photos appear consensual. Out of the remaining patients, 19 were female, and 17 were male. One of those victims was an Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Deputy. Five were homeless, the Sheriff’s Office said in a Facebook post.”

RESEARCH AND OPINION

Chinese search engine Baidu has created a tool that makes composes music based on images. “In a new exhibit at the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing, Baidu’s new AI is analysing photos and paintings and creating entirely original musical arrangements based on the imagery it sees.”

OTHER THINGS I THINK ARE COOL

I love the idea of a “pop-up” newspaper. “Pro-Remain newspaper the New European is thought to have sold more than 40,000 copies of its launch edition, more than the short-lived national the New Day when it was shut by publisher Trinity Mirror.” Conception to newsstands in NINE DAYS. Good morning, Internet…

Do you like ResearchBuzz? Does it help you out? Please consider supporting it on Patreon. Not interested in commitment? Perhaps you’d buy me an iced tea. I love your comments, I love your site suggestions, and I love you. Feel free to comment on the blog, or @ResearchBuzz on Twitter. Thanks!

Minnesota Radon, Depression, Life Sciences Search, More: Saturday Buzz, July 23, 2016

NEW RESOURCES

The state of Minnesota has launched a new tool to show incidences of radon across the state. “A majority of Minnesota counties have high average levels of radon, according to a new online tool that tracks the prevalence of the odorless gas linked to thousands of lung cancer deaths in the U.S. each year.”

UW-Madison has released a new resource on depression. “The website is a collection of firsthand accounts of 38 young adults with depression, displaying a total of 350 video, text and audio clips. … Specifically, the patients discuss how depression feels, living with depression, coming to terms with depression and self-care strategies.”

In beta, still developing: a new life sciences search engine called Bioz. “The Bioz platform uses natural language processing and machine learning to extract data from published research articles on which products were used, under what conditions, for what experiments, and with which companion products. A Bioz algorithm ranks products based on how many times it is used in experiments, the impact factor of the journal in which papers are published, and how recently a product has been used. The result is Bioz Star rankings, which are meant to be objective measures of a products usefulness, not user-generated reviews.”

A new search engine faceswaps you into image search results. “The system analyzes the picture of your face and determines how to intelligently crop it to leave nothing but your face. It then searches for images matching your search term — curly hair, for example — and looks for ‘doppelganger sets,’ images where the subject’s face is in a similar position to your own.” Bleh. It’s in closed beta and I can’t play with it.

In development: a guide to every state’s public records law. “With agencies increasingly using an array of exemptions to deny access to information, we want to help requesters fight back. We’re launching a project to track every public records exemption in all 50 states – and provide the information needed to successfully overcome times when information is improperly denied.”

TWEAKS AND UPDATES

BBC’s iPlayer Radio app is now available in the US. “BBC does radio well, and now Americans can experience the full effect of the UK broadcaster’s audio content expertise with the iPlayer Radio app for iOS and Android. The app contains all of BBC’s radio feeds, including Radio 1 through 6, as well as the World Service. It also has offline support for BBC podcasts, and curated collections of past content.” I am a big fan of BBC radio and so excited about this!

Google has updated its transparency report. “During the period from January 2015 to June 2015, the search giant received 4677 requests for user data from law enforcement agencies worldwide, the largest number of data requests that the company has ever received.

AROUND THE SEARCH AND SOCIAL MEDIA WORLD

And in today’s Moment of Facepalm, Twitter will not Periscope its earnings report on Tuesday. “Twitter’s investor-relations account tweeted Friday afternoon that the company won’t use Periscope to broadcast its Q2 earnings, which are set to land next Tuesday. Twitter says that feedback from investors made the company realize that the video feed wasn’t that important.” Because after 20 years of popular culture livestreaming, it’s time to listen to the investors. For crying out loud, you’ve got the tail wagging the dog. Twitter, it’s up to YOU to make Periscope relevant to your investors. And with decisions like this it won’t happen!

Nigerian Olympic hopefuls are using social media to request funding. “Antwon Hick, a Nigerian hurdler, has also set up a GoFundMe campaign as well. He is trying to raise $5000….The current fastest man in Nigeria, Seye Ogunlewe, also took to Twitter and urged corporate organizations to assist them.”

Rumors are flying that Verizon is the front-runner in the bid for Yahoo. “Verizon is discussing a price close to $5 billion for Yahoo’s core internet business, one of the people said and the deal doesn’t include the company’s patents at this stage. While other assets including Yahoo’s real estate were also on the block, it could not immediately be learned if they are part of the deal.” That seems way too high.

SECURITY/LEGAL ISSUES

Two facepalms in one issue of ResearchBuzz! Apparently the customer database for Asiana Airlines has been unsecured since 2013. “In line with its internal rules, the company had been deleting login records on the server between January 2013 and August 2014, making it impossible to trace server activity during the period…. The unprotected information includes citizen resident numbers, passport information, home addresses, bank account details, phone numbers and family relations records.”

RESEARCH AND OPINION

WIRED: Twitter Is Running Out of Time To Get Real About Fighting Abuse. “Yes, Twitter walks a fine line in balancing its identity as an open network for all views while at the same time reserving the right to police content so that a mob can’t overpower and harass a single user. And in a lot of ways, it’s made progress: it explicitly banned revenge porn last year. It routinely works with groups to refine its anti-abuse tools, and it hasn’t shied away from banning other high-profile users in the past, including pop star Azealia Banks and right-wing troll Chuck C. Johnson. But some say Twitter is running out of excuses in its failure to fully address this problem.” Good morning, Internet…

Do you like ResearchBuzz? Does it help you out? Please consider supporting it on Patreon. Not interested in commitment? Perhaps you’d buy me an iced tea. I love your comments, I love your site suggestions, and I love you. Feel free to comment on the blog, or @ResearchBuzz on Twitter. Thanks!

Natural Language, Houston Herald, Firefox, More: Friday Buzz, July 22, 2016

NEW RESOURCES

Google has launched a new natural languages API. “Google today announced the public beta launch of its Cloud Natural Language API, a new service that gives developers access to Google-powered sentiment analysis, entity recognition, and syntax analysis.”

The Houston Herald has added a big new chunk to its digital archive. “More than 83,000 pages of past issues of the Houston Herald are available on the publication’s website this week, marking the completion of a project that started last fall….About 12 years ago, the Herald rolled out its archives from 1948 to the present. The latest content fills the gap from the 1880s to 1947.” This archive does not appear to be free.

TWEAKS AND UPDATES

Firefox has jumped on the Flash-blockin’ bandwagon. “Starting in August, Mozilla’s Firefox will block Flash content that ‘is not essential to the user experience,’ the organization announced today. With this move, Mozilla is following Google’s lead, which made a similar decision last year and now plans to almost completely block Flash content in its Chrome browser.”

Twitter is giving Periscope a push. “The social network on Thursday unveiled several new tools for Periscope, including the ability for you to rewind live-streaming highlights. Another new features is designed to make it easier for you to find and watch videos, and a third allows Periscopes to play in embedded tweets.”

Facebook will allow Live broadcasters to filter their audience. Well, not us joyless proles. “The audience restrictions option is only available only to people who post their Live streams to Facebook using the social network’s API (application programming interface), e.g., media companies, professional creators and brands using software to send the stream that’s shot using fancy cameras or game- and screen-casting tools, a Facebook spokesperson confirmed. ”

USEFUL STUFF

Don Schindler: How to host a virtual farm tour on your website or Facebook Page. Yes, this is about farming. But the way he breaks it down you could apply his thoughts to any institution or business. (Well, perhaps you wouldn’t mention cows quite so much.) If you’ve been thinking about virtual tours, this article might help you organize your thoughts.

AROUND THE SEARCH AND SOCIAL MEDIA WORLD

If you’re a basketball fan you must be in a happy place right now. First we find out that Twitter signed a deal with the NBA, and now we learn that Facebook will be livestreaming the USA Basketball exhibition games. “A total of nine games played by the men’s and women’s basketball teams will be streamed on both the USA Basketball and NBA Facebook pages.” First game is TONIGHT!

Huh? China is going to ban ad blockers? “China is preparing itself towards banning ad-blocking programs from being installed on its citizens’ machines, as part of a new internet advertising rule which was implemented last week. This was recently discovered by Ben Williams, the head of operations behind the popular ad-blocking program AdBlock Plus.”

SECURITY/LEGAL ISSUES

If you’re wondering why Apple quickly pushed out iOS an update without signaling it first, here you go. “Android’s Stagefright vulnerability has been one of the biggest security issues discovered in the operating system, with nearly a billion devices potentially at risk when first discovered and able to infect devices with a specially crafted text message. Well, it looks like iPhones had their own Stagefright-like bug and Apple has just issued an update to address it.”

LAME. Someone DDOS’d the Library of Congress. “On Sunday morning, July 17, the Library became the target of a distributed denial of service (DDoS) network attack that resulted in the disruption of Library services and websites, including Congress.gov, the U.S. Copyright Office, the BARD service from the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, our many databases, and both incoming and outgoing email.”

Investigating a murder case? Can’t unlock the victim’s phone? Well, hey, maybe you can just 3D print his fingers. “[Anil] Jain and his PhD student Sunpreet Arora couldn’t share details of the case with me, since it’s an ongoing investigation, but the gist is this: a man was murdered, and the police think there might be clues to who murdered him stored in his phone. But they can’t get access to the phone without his fingerprint or passcode. So instead of asking the company that made the phone to grant them access, they’re going another route: having the Jain lab create a 3D printed replica of the victim’s fingers. With them, they hope to unlock the phone.”

RESEARCH AND OPINION

Now here’s a good smack in the head: Facebook as a painkiller. “Social networking sites (SNSs) are extremely popular for providing users with a convenient platform for acquiring social connections and thereby feeling relatedness. Plenty of literature has shown that mental representations of social support can reduce the perception of physical pain. The current study tested whether thinking about SNS would interfere with users’ perceptions of experimentally induced pain.” Can’t find a copy of the paper itself that isn’t behind a paywall in my quick look; let me know if you can. Good morning, Internet…

Do you like ResearchBuzz? Does it help you out? Please consider supporting it on Patreon. Not interested in commitment? Perhaps you’d buy me an iced tea. I love your comments, I love your site suggestions, and I love you. Feel free to comment on the blog, or @ResearchBuzz on Twitter. Thanks!