Flu, Korea News, Emojis, More: Monday Afternoon Buzz, February 20, 2017

NEW RESOURCES

A new Web site provides information on flu activity around the US. “When you enter a zip code on Communidy.com, it shows where the flu level is in your county, breaks it down by age group based on real-time data from local physicians and helps connect you with nearby doctors.” It told me the flu activity was high in this county, which based on all the people taking off work I would have guessed…

The (South) Korea National Library has launched an archive of pre-1950 Korea news. “The ‘Korea Newspaper Archive’ has about 192 million articles from 70 newspapers.” The article I’m linking to, in the Korea Times, is very sparse. I went to the Korea National Library at http://www.nl.go.kr , and while I did get a warning for the security certificate, I was also able to find the newspaper archive in the library’s full text holdings – the Korea National Library has an excellent English interface. (All the newspapers I found were in Korean.)

TWEAKS AND UPDATES

Search Engine Land: Google brings back emojis in the search results snippets for relevant queries. “Google has confirmed with Search Engine Land that they have brought the ability for emojis to be displayed in the search results listing page. In June 2015, Google removed emojis from showing up in the results after promising to disable them over webmaster abuse.”

BetaNews: Google Home gets shop-by-voice. What could POSSIBLY go wrong? “One alternative to Amazon’s solution is Google Home. The search-giant’s device is essentially the same concept as Echo — an always-listening assistant ready to serve you. Today, Google announces that its assistant-focused device is gaining a really great new feature — shopping. Consumers can leverage their voices to buy goods — no need to go to their laptop or smartphone.”

USEFUL STUFF

Social Media Explorer: 4 Advanced Facebook Ad Hacks For Small Budgets. “I’m a huge fan of how easy Facebook has made it to advertise on their platform. You can create a campaign with zero experience and have it submitted to Facebook Ad Approvers within minutes. It’s truly a powerful time we live in. Want to know what’s not amazing? The fact that there are some incredibly profitable elements that 99% of Facebook Advertisers don’t know about.”

AROUND THE SEARCH AND SOCIAL MEDIA WORLD

Boing Boing: Watching Wikipedia’s extinction event from a distance. “After being a major contributor for many years, I’ve cringed as Wikipedia slowly devolves like a dying coral reef. Today’s example is hemovanadin, an innocuous article deleted through a mix of vandalism, bots, and incompetent humans.”

SECURITY/LEGAL ISSUES

TorrentFreak: Pirate Site With No Traffic Attracts 49m Mainly Bogus DMCA Notices. “It’s likely you’ve never heard of mp3toys.xyz since the site has very little traffic. However, thanks to a bungling anti-piracy outfit, the site is now the second most complained about ‘pirate’ site on the Internet, with Google receiving more than 49 million notices in just over six months.”

From NPR: Banned In Germany: Kids’ Doll Is Labeled An Espionage Device. “It’s nice to have a friend who’s a good listener, but a doll called My Friend Cayla listens a little too well, according to German regulators who say the toy is essentially a stealthy espionage device that shares what it hears and is also vulnerable to takeover by third parties.”

RESEARCH AND OPINION

From University at Buffalo: Is Your Big Data Messy? We’re Making an App for That. “The project, backed by a $2.7 million National Science Foundation grant, launched in January. Like Excel and other spreadsheet software, Vizier will allow users to interactively work with datasets. For example, it will help people explore, clean, curate and visualize data in meaningful ways, as well as spot errors and offer solutions. But unlike spreadsheet software, Vizier is intended for much larger datasets; it will be used to examine millions or billions of data points, as opposed to hundreds or thousands typically plugged into spreadsheet software.”

Phys.org: Remembering the need to forget . “We are built to forget – it is a psychological necessity. But in a social media world that captures – and, more importantly, remembers – everything we say and do, forgetting is becoming a thing of the past. If we lose the ability to forget our past, we lose the ability to construct our own stories – a part of what it means to be human, warned one Western researcher.” Good afternoon, Internet…

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Federal Whistleblowing, LGBTQ Job Hunting, EPA, More: Friday Afternoon Buzz, February 17, 2017

NEW RESOURCES

Two US Congressmen have released a federal employees’ guide to whistleblowing. “Today, Congressman Ted W. Lieu (D | Los Angeles County) and Congressman Don Beyer (D | Virginia) released a resource guide for federal employees who wish to break the Administration’s communications blackout on federal agencies. The guide explains how to safely and responsibly share information, and encourages employees to ‘Know Your Rights’ and “Know Your Options.’ In the ‘Know Your Rights’ section, federal employees can learn about which federal laws apply to them. In the ‘Know Your Options’ section, employees can learn about how to safely disseminate information to agency inspectors general and the press. The resource guide also includes links to an in-depth list of federal whistleblower statutes and information about agency inspectors general.”

A new job site aims to assist LGBTQ job seekers in Australia (where the abbreviation is apparently LGBTI; the I in this case stands for Intersex.) “The Pride in Diversity initiative is called LGBTI Inclusive Employers and involves an online platform showcasing organisations active in LGBTI workplace inclusion. The website will also help to provide greater visibility for employers in regard to LGBTI workplace inclusion and will significantly increase the awareness for job seekers of an employer’s inclusive workplace practices.”

TWEAKS AND UPDATES

Washington Post: The EPA’s social-media accounts have been silent since the inauguration. “Nearly a month after the presidential inauguration — and after being subject to temporary media blackout shortly thereafter — the Environmental Protection Agency has remained silent on social media, even while other federal agencies have gone on communicating as usual. In fact, the agency has posted nothing on its official Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts since Jan. 19, the day before President Trump was sworn into office. According to an agency spokesman, the social-media hiatus will continue until an EPA administrator has been officially confirmed. But the reasons for the freeze in the meantime remain unclear.”

The Drum: Google ditches 30-second unskippable ads on YouTube. “Google will no longer force YouTube viewer to watch 30-second unskippable ads, saying that as of 2018 the ad product will be ditched. However, the 20-second and 6-second unskippable formats will remain.”

CNET: Google Fiber gets a new head, but loses employees. “After showing signs of emerging from last year’s funk with Fiber 2.0, Google has appointed a new CEO to lead the Fiber unit. Google’s parent company, Alphabet, tapped broadband veteran Gregory McCray to take over the Access unit, the Alphabet team primarily focused on Fiber. McCray comes to Google from Michigan’s Aero Communications and fills the roll left vacant after Craig Barratt stepped down last year.”

USEFUL STUFF

Cool Cat Teacher: 3 Fast, Free Lesson Plans to Fight Fake News. “The fake news epidemic is disturbing. How do we fight it? Well, we can take a hint from how the medical community fights the flu or any other virus. We inoculate ourselves. In this post, I’ll teach you how I teach about fake news.”

Naked Security: Fallen for a fake Twitter account? Here’s how to spot them. “On Tuesday, a fake Twitter account purportedly belonging to the retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, who had resigned from his position as US national security adviser the night before, hoodwinked not only the New York Times and other media outlets, but also House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Congressman Elijah Cummings.”

AROUND THE SEARCH AND SOCIAL MEDIA WORLD

Billboard: Snapchat Company Values Itself at Up to $22 Billion Ahead of IPO. “The parent company of the social network Snapchat said in a regulatory filing Thursday that the IPO is likely to be priced between $14 and $16 per share. Had the IPO price matched the $30.72 per-share price obtained in its last round of financing, Snap would have a market value of about $30 billion, based on the quantity of outstanding stock listed in its IPO documents.”

SECURITY/LEGAL ISSUES

JD Supra: Don’t Friend My Friends: Nonsolicitation Agreements Should Account for Social Media Strategies. “As social media becomes an important part of many companies’ sales and branding strategies, issues relating to companies’ ability to protect their investments in such strategies are emerging. Indeed, this blog has previously covered whether LinkedIn contacts can qualify as trade secrets (answer: maybe). Another such issue, recently addressed in a district court in Idaho, is whether and to what extent a nonsolicitation agreement can restrict a former employee’s Facebook interactions with the former employer’s customers.”

Horrifying! From Billboard: Dominican Radio DJ and Producer Murdered During Facebook Live Broadcast. “A radio DJ and his producer were shot dead in a shopping mall studio in the Dominican Republic during a Facebook Live broadcast.” Good afternoon, Internet…

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New Mexico Transparency, Job-Hunting, Yahoo, More: Thursday Afternoon Buzz, February 16, 2017

NEW RESOURCES

NMPolitics: Secretary of state posts officials’ financial disclosure statements online. “The Secretary of State’s Office was noncommittal for years about posting annual financial disclosure statements filed by hundreds of government officials online. Gov. Susana Martinez hasn’t kept up with her pledge to post them on her website either (the last time she did so was in 2013). No worries.”

TWEAKS AND UPDATES

From the Facebook blog: Take the Work Out of Hiring. “Beginning today, businesses in the US and Canada will be able to post job openings, and their future employees will be able to easily find those posts on their Page or in the new jobs bookmark. This new experience will help businesses find qualified people where they’re already spending their time—on Facebook and on mobile.”

Bloomberg: Verizon Said to Near Yahoo Deal at Lower Price After Hacks. “Verizon Communications Inc. is close to a renegotiated deal for Yahoo! Inc.’s internet properties that would reduce the price of the $4.8 billion agreement by about $250 million after the revelation of security breaches at the web company, according to people familiar with the matter.”

USEFUL STUFF

CNET: 9 easy fixes for things Google Home can’t do. “Google Home may be the most direct competitor to the Amazon Alexa speakers, but there are still quite a few things it can’t do, including multi-user support, sleep timers and taking notes.” These solutions are IFTTT-focused.

AROUND THE SEARCH AND SOCIAL MEDIA WORLD

If you’re like me and find most popular culture completely bewildering: What is that purple bird on Facebook, and where did it come from? “Have you come across a head-banging purple bird in Facebook comment threads? Whether you’re infuriated by the enthusiastic little thing or happily using it to infuriate others, you’ve probably wondered where it came from.”

From News24, in South Africa: Racist online rants are a mirror of SA society – Facebook director. “Social media platforms should not be used as a scapegoat for the rise in hate speech online because they only mirror what society already feels, a Facebook representative said on Wednesday.”

Mashable: Twitter CEO puts money where his mouth is and buys Twitter shares. “No one loves Twitter more than Jack Dorsey loves Twitter. The cofounder and CEO of the news app is spreading the love this Valentine’s Day — to his own company.” If he loves Twitter so much, what does that make Square?

SECURITY/LEGAL ISSUES

This is weird: Microsoft delayed its Patch Tuesday update. “A Microsoft spokesperson said the company had nothing to say beyond the statement above. Meanwhile, some of my contacts are saying they are hearing a problem with Microsoft’s build system might be the reason for today’s patch delay.”

More legal action has been filed against the USDA (PRESS RELEASE). “Beagle Freedom Project (BFP), the renowned non-profit national, animal rescue and advocacy organization, filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). BFP, along with five other animal advocacy groups, are challenging the USDA-APHIS to restore the Animal Abuse Registry, an online database of records related to puppy mills, laboratories, roadside zoos, traveling animal shows, and other enterprises that use and exploit helpless animals. ”

RESEARCH AND OPINION

Phys.org: How social media data mining could shape the products of tomorrow . “Researchers at Nottingham Trent University have developed a way to analyse online consumer reviews and social media to help designers create better informed products. Led by design engineering expert Professor Daizhong Su, a research team used data mining techniques and produced an algorithm which identifies the most liked and disliked features of existing products, according to thousands of consumer comments on websites like Amazon, eBay, Facebook, YouTube and online stores.” Good afternoon, Internet…

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Great Lakes, WhiteHouse.gov, Outlook.com, More: Wednesday Afternoon Buzz, February 15, 2017

NEW RESOURCES

University of Michigan: Students and faculty build first geospatial database of Great Lakes, make available to public. “While the layperson may struggle to comprehend the full implications of the system, the web-based GLAHF Explorer provides a visualization that is as intriguing as it is instructive. Riseng’s team worked with developers for over a year to create the ecosystem management tool, employing “design thinking” methods to maximize the usability of the interface. With the entire Great Lakes basin mapped on a multi-layered grid, researchers and managers can overlay and examine data such as temperature, ice-cover duration, water depth, aquatic vegetation, and wave height for every location in the basin. Explorer also contains layers for shoreline classification, wetlands, and walleye populations, among others. ”

TWEAKS AND UPDATES

Oh boy. From USA Today: White House posts wrong versions of Trump’s orders on its website. “A USA TODAY review of presidential documents found at least five cases where the version posted on the White House website doesn’t match the official version sent to the Federal Register. The differences include minor grammatical changes, missing words and paragraph renumbering — but also two cases where the original text referred to inaccurate or non-existent provisions of law.”

Engadget: Microsoft’s Outlook.com subscription is officially available. “Microsoft’s paid take on email, Outlook.com Premium, is officially open for business: the company has quietly dropped the Preview label on its service, making it available to anyone in the US. Spend $50 per year ($20 if you act before March 31st) and you’ll get an ad-free inbox, custom domain support for up to five users, info sharing between those people. ”

TechCrunch: Google launches Cloud Spanner, its new globally distributed relational database service. “Google today announced the beta launch of Cloud Spanner, a new globally distributed database service for mission-critical applications. Cloud Spanner joins Google’s other cloud-based database services, like Bigtable, Cloud SQL and the Cloud Datastore, but with the crucial difference of offering developers the best of both traditional relational databases and NoSQL databases — that is, transactional consistency with easy scalability.”

USEFUL STUFF

I complain so much about the difficulty in finding podcasts that I was thrilled to see this article from MakeUseOf: How to Find Random New Podcasts Based on Length of Episodes. “Free iOS app Stabl makes it easy to find a podcast that will fill the exact length of your commute, lunch break, or whatever amount of time you have on your hands. If you’re a bit of a control freak, it might not be for you. Otherwise, it’s a great way to find fresh content that’s tailored to your schedule.”

AROUND THE SEARCH AND SOCIAL MEDIA WORLD

WIRED UK: All hail the privacy pioneers! DuckDuckGo’s ambitious plans to be more than a search engine. “Almost seven years after founding the company, DuckDuckGo has become a staple search engine for the privacy-conscious. In January, Weinberg and his now 35-person strong team, announced DuckDuckGo had provided answers to more than ten billion search queries. These numbers are nowhere near those celebrated by Google, Bing, or Yahoo; Google alone has 3.5 billion searches a day, but the 38-year-old has ambitions to grow beyond search. ‘We’ve had a very narrow focus for the life of the company because it has been hard to get the product to where it needs to be,’ Weinberg told WIRED.”

SECURITY/LEGAL ISSUES

Mashable: This creepy security bug on Android is finally getting a fix. “Well, we certainly didn’t expect Google to ask for this data. Some Android users have been experiencing a weird bug in their Gmail app that demands access to ‘Body Sensors’ before allowing them to send email.”

Naked Security: Ransomware attackers shift focus and resources to high-value sectors. “Ransomware attacks shifted focus last year to the industries most likely to pay up, such as healthcare, government, critical infrastructure, education and small businesses. Phishing volume grew by an average of more than 33% across the five most-targeted industries, according to a study released by phishing defense company PhishLabs last week.”

Korea Times: Google investigated for practice against Samsung. “Google is facing an anti-competitive investigation into whether it obstructed Samsung Electronics’ development of its own operating system (OS) to replace the U.S. tech giant’s Android OS, according to the Fair Trade Commission (FTC), Monday.”

RESEARCH AND OPINION

Social Media Explorer: How Social Media Will Change By 2020: An Informed Hypothesis on the Future of Social “Today, social platforms are starting to expand their horizons. Now that robust social advertising systems are available to businesses on almost any popular social media platform, these platforms have both the means and the incentives to make their platforms as functional, useful, and cutting edge as possible. Already, we’re seeing the emergence of radical shifts in the social media world, and by 2020, we’ll be fully realizing the dawn of a new era of social media. Here’s how we see Social Media in the not too distant future of 2020.” Good afternoon, Internet…

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Yahoo Mail, Authenticated Reality, Valentine’s Day, More: Tuesday Afternoon Buzz, February 14, 2017

TWEAKS AND UPDATES

Are you still using Yahoo Mail? A couple new features have been added. “Get excited! Two unique features are coming to Yahoo Mail: Caller ID and photo upload. We’ve all been there – letting a call from an unknown number go to voicemail, only to realize it was the person you were just emailing. Or sitting down at your laptop to send photos to friends and remembering they’re stuck on your phone. Now, thanks to the Yahoo Mail app, you’ll never have to guess who’s calling or email yourself a photo again.”

BetaNews: New authentication platform seeks to tackle fake news and profiles . “Released in beta today, Authenticated Reality uses real-time authentication of a user’s driving license along with verification of email, social media accounts, Apple in-app purchases, and biometric elements including facial recognition. This ensures each member of the community is genuine and eliminates fake profiles.”

USEFUL STUFF

It’s Valentine’s Day. If you use Snapchat you might want to take advantage of Snapchat’s romantic geofilters. “Nothing says romance like the word ‘geofilter’ or at least that is what the fine people at Snapchat believe. They’re offering users the chance to create their own custom designed filters to surprise their valentines. This isn’t a completely new idea — you’ve long been able to add them to weddings, parties and other special events.” Based on this article I think you’re going to have to shell out a minimum of $5 for the grand gesture; still, it’s cheaper than roses.

AROUND THE SEARCH AND SOCIAL MEDIA WORLD

And from our “do what now?” department, this bit from Bloomberg: One Reason Staffers Quit Google’s Car Project? The Company Paid Them So Much. “For the past year, Google’s car project has been a talent sieve, thanks to leadership changes, strategy doubts, new startup dreams and rivals luring self-driving technology experts. Another force pushing people out? Money. A lot of it. ”

Poynter: Facebook is beginning to reach out to local newsrooms. “Last week, Facebook visited journalists in Atlanta and Dallas in what looks like the start of a more reciprocal relationship between the social media giant and local newsrooms. Journalists rely on Facebook to help them reach their audiences, but, until now, Facebook’s attention has largely been on national news organizations. The visits are part of the Facebook Journalism Project, which Poynter is part of.”

SECURITY/LEGAL ISSUES

From Ars Technica: Republican senators concerned about Yahoo’s “candor” concerning data breaches. “Two senators have given Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer until February 23 to answer lingering questions regarding the two massive data breaches the company sustained in 2013 and 2014.” Good luck with that.

The Economist: Internet firms’ legal immunity is under threat. “GOOGLE, Facebook and other online giants like to see their rapid rise as the product of their founders’ brilliance. Others argue that their success is more a result of lucky timing and network effects—the economic forces that tend to make bigger firms even bigger. Often forgotten is a third reason for their triumph: in America and, to some extent, in Europe, online platforms have been inhabiting a parallel legal universe. Broadly speaking, they are not legally responsible, either for what their users do or for the harm that their services can cause in the real world.”

Medium: Facebook forced to disclose more information about its ad targeting. “Facebook now tells each of its users which advertisers are tracking them individually through so-called Custom Audiences. This change was most likely brought by my legal actions against Facebook, conducted through PersonalData.IO. This change opens up exciting new possibilities for investigative journalism and the #MyData movement, explained below.”

RESEARCH AND OPINION

Techdirt: With So Much Public Interest In Our Judicial System, It’s Time To Free Up Access To Court Documents . “Like hundreds of thousands of Americans, I am closely following the “airport cases” around the country. In order to keep abreast of the latest developments in one of the fastest-moving cases, Washington v. Trump, I built a Twitter bot that scrapes the public docket mirror hosted by the Ninth Circuit and tweets about new documents and links as soon as they’re added. This case leads a legal push that has attracted incredible amounts of public attention.”

OTHER STUFF I THINK IS COOL

Backchannel: First They Got Sick, Then They Moved Into a Virtual Utopia. “Today, Second Life is mostly forgotten by the broader public. An estimated 800,000 users are active on a monthly basis, according to Second Life parent company Linden Lab. That’s tiny compared to the 1.86 billion users who are active on Facebook each month. Yet some communities have quietly continued to thrive in the virtual world. One of these is the disability community, a sundry group whose members include people who are blind or deaf, people with emotional handicaps such as autism and PTSD, and people with conditions that limit their mobility, such as Parkinson’s, cerebral palsy, and multiple sclerosis.” 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!