Facebook, Science Videos, Opera, More: Friday Buzz, December 16, 2016

NEW RESOURCES

Facebook has launched a new “Parent’s Portal”. “To be clear, this is not a set of guidelines that will teach parents younger people’s lingo or give them insight into what their kids want out of the world or out of Facebook today; or give them a way of monitoring or deleting their kids’ accounts. (As Facebook has said before, privacy laws forbid this.) Instead, this is a set of safety guidelines, as well as resources, to help first-time Facebook users, specifically younger people who want to sign up and get to grips with Facebook.”

TWEAKS AND UPDATES

OpenEd has added a bunch of science-themed videos and games to its content. “‘The addition includes science videos and games from quality publishers such as Scishow, CrashCourse, Veritasium, MinutePhysics—all with confirmed NGSS alignments. These add to the existing science resources in the OpenEd library from publishers including NASA, Smithsonian, Bozeman Science and many more,’ said OpenEd in a statement.”

New in Opera: a currency converter. “The new feature is simple. You can set the browser to automatically show foreign currency prices in your currency of choice. That allows you to get a quick conversion when you highlight a price, using the daily exchange rate from the European Central Bank. Given the rate of speed that Amazon, Alibaba and others are making cross-border trade happen worldwide, that could be a nifty feature for many Opera stalwarts.”

Google has updated Google Wallet. “Available across all browsers, the updated Wallet website has a brand new look and added features, which will make planning that New Year’s trip with friends a breeze.”

YouTube has blocked North Korea’s propaganda channel. But… “…North Korea’s YouTube channel wasn’t taken down because of the actual propaganda produced by a brutal dictatorship, but because North Korea could have made money from the videos though YouTube’s built-in advertising system.”

USEFUL STUFF

Quick tech tip from the NYT: How to back up your social media feeds.

Gizmodo: How to Make Windows 10 Look Like Windows XP. “Times were simpler in 2001. Amazon had just turned its first profit, Google was still just doing search, and Windows had a new bright green Start button you could spot from the other side of a room. If you want to coat your modern Windows OS with some vintage XP design cues, here’s how to do it.”

I need to find time to do this over the weekend. From CNET: How to move your photos from Flickr to Google Photos. “After the latest Yahoo hack, you might be ready to delete your Yahoo account. Before you do so, however, you need to save your Flickr photos from oblivion. When you shut down your Yahoo account, your Flickr account gets deleted along with it.”

From Amit Agarwal (of course): How to Add a Picture Password to your Google Forms. “…Google Forms do not allow passwords or CAPTCHAs to prevent spam bots from filling your forms with random data. Google itself maintains the reCAPTCHA project but it is not known if integration with Google Forms is in the works. There is a workaround, though.”

AROUND THE SEARCH AND SOCIAL MEDIA WORLD

The latest African country which might block Internet access for political reasons is the Democratic Republic of the Congo (as opposed to the Republic of the Congo.) “Authorities in Democratic Republic of Congo have asked telecoms companies to block social media networks from Monday, apparently to thwart protests against plans by President Joseph Kabila to stay in power beyond the end of his mandate.”

SECURITY/LEGAL ISSUES

Doesn’t look like Google and Indonesia will be reaching a deal on taxes any time soon. “An offer by Google to settle a tax dispute with the Indonesian government was too small and a deal will not be reached this year, the head of the tax office’s special cases branch said.”

RESEARCH AND OPINION

MIT Technology Review: If Only AI Could Save Us from Ourselves. “Google has an ambitious plan to use artificial intelligence to weed out abusive comments and defang online mobs. The technology isn’t up to that challenge—but it will help the Internet’s best-behaving communities function better.” Good morning, Internet…

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Female Illustrators, Department of Defense, Black People and American Colonization, More: Thursday Afternoon Buzz, December 15, 2016

NEW RESOURCES

Now available – a directory of female illustrators. “On the home page, a matrix of illustrations of female figures appears against a white background, each drawing rendered in a distinct style (submitting one, and having a professional website to link to, are also prerequisites to participate). Below each lady is the name of the artist responsible for creating her, and after that, a series of racial, religious, geographical, and sexual identity tags that can be used as filters to search the directory.”

The Defense Department is pushing forward with open data. “The DOD may have had an open data program but it hadn’t gotten a lot of attention, said data.mil site creator Mary Lazzeri to FedScoop. Defense Digital Service Director Chris Lynch says the goal with data.mil is to showcase a potential open data strategy to the department while collaborating with startups in the field to create interesting stories with the data instead of just posting it online.”

A new Web site traces the history of the first Black people in the Americas. “The core of [the] new resource comprises a collection of 72 archival document packages. They contain an equal number of manuscripts from 16th century La Española, the Island now shared by the Dominican Republic and Haiti. The selected material documents in various ways the presence of the black-African population and their descendants that lived in the island-colony (the first European outpost in the Americas in modern times) during the first 100 years of colonization. It is the first platform to make this kind of collection of sources available on the internet to the general public.”

TWEAKS AND UPDATES

Slack has had a couple of updates which take aim at Skype. “Slack, the workplace collaboration platform with 1.25 million paying users and 4 million overall, is adding one more key feature to its artillery of tools for people to communicate with each other, and it’s one that could help it pick up even more users away from other services like Skype and Gmail: it’s adding video calling, the audiovisual complement to the audio chat services that it released earlier this year. Group video calls, for those on paid tiers, can handle up to 15 people currently, Slack says.”

USEFUL STUFF

If you’re looking for a quick roundup article for people who need advice on what to do after the latest Yahoo hack disclosure, Sophos has you covered. “Yahoo discovered the 2013 compromise after analyzing data files law enforcement provided after an unnamed third party claimed to be in possession of Yahoo information. For users, the question now is what to do about it. Sophos senior security advisor John Shier outlined six steps you can take to protect yourself from this and all other data breaches… ”

Nifty from TechCrunch: Radio.Garden lets you tune into the globe. “Some of the most beautiful products are the simplest. Take Radio.Garden, for example. This project by Golo Föllmer at Martin-Luther University Halle displays a photorealistic globe full of green dots. Swing your mouse over one of the dots — in Iran, Estonia or the Faroe Islands — and you can hear a local radio station.”

AROUND THE SEARCH AND SOCIAL MEDIA WORLD

Oh boy. From the CBC: Federal government’s Canada.ca project ‘off the rails’. “The federal government’s bid to merge 1,500 departmental and agency websites into a single site, Canada.ca, is a year behind schedule and almost 10 times over budget. And experts warn it is on track to be another failed government IT project, like the Phoenix pay system.”

SECURITY/LEGAL ISSUES

International Business Times: German lawmakers want to ban fake news on social media. “German lawmakers are preparing a bill banning fake news on social media. Politicians in German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s CDU party have proposed the legislation, which reportedly has the backing of the opposition SDP.”

RESEARCH AND OPINION

MIT Technology Review: Google’s Long, Strange Life Span Trip. “Why does a mole rat live 30 years but a mouse only three? With $1.5 billion in the bank, Google’s anti-aging spinout Calico is rich enough to find out.” Good morning, Internet…

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Yahoo Hack, California Business, Islamic Studies, More: Thursday Buzz, December 15, 2016

The big story is Yahoo was hacked. Looks like a billion accounts were compromised. There are going to be many more stories on this in the days to come – new details, fallout on the Yahoo Verizon deal (I might have to drop my buy price estimate of $12 and a broken gas grill) and so on – but This Bloomberg story provides a lot of background. I put a lot of this on Marissa Mayer – read this NYT article for why. The only good thing to come out of this mess is a huge public vindication for Alex Stamos.

NEW RESOURCES

The state of California has announced a new business search tool. “The new and improved California Business Search tool provides access to more than 5.3 million records related to corporations, limited liability companies, and limited partnerships along with almost 5 million downloadable PDF images of Statements of Information.”

George Mason University has launched a new Islamic studies online publication. “The Ali Vural Ak Center for Global Islamic Studies is pleased to announce the launch of Maydan, our new online publication which offers expert analysis for academic and public audiences on a wide variety of issues in the field of Islamic Studies.”

The CAMEL Lab at the University of Chicago has launched a new online data repository. “The Center for Ancient Middle Eastern Landscapes (CAMEL Lab) at the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago would like to announce that a substantial subset of its digital holdings of maps and geospatial data are now available for online public search and download…. CAMEL’s database includes over 20,000 unique objects of spatial data that relate to the archaeology, anthropology, and history of the Middle East, almost 9000 of which are now publicly available. ”

TWEAKS AND UPDATES

Google Maps is now wheelchair-friendly. “Google Maps is now wheelchair-friendly. The wildly popular map app will now tell you whether locations are suitable for people with access needs — and it’s thanks to a group of Googlers who worked on the feature in their ‘20% time.'”

Snapchat has added group chat. “You can create a Group while sending a Snap or by selecting friends’ names when starting a Chat. When your friends are present in a Group Chat, you will be able to see their name at the bottom of the screen.”

USEFUL STUFF

Washington Post:
Seven simple ways to master your Instagram account
. “Instagram, at first glance, seems like a pretty simple social network: Snap, post, repeat. But while the service started as a way to share artful pictures from your smartphone, it has evolved into a far more complex network for sharing photos and videos with friends — or an adoring public. Just within the past few weeks, the company has released a bunch of new updates. To keep up with those changes, we offer some tips to help you master your own Instagram account.”

AROUND THE SEARCH AND SOCIAL MEDIA WORLD

From The Gulf News: Parliaments told to harness power of social media. “Senior parliamentarians and experts called for using communication technologies and social media not just to educate and inform, but also to communicate and engage, a global parliamentary summit was told yesterday. Under the title ‘The changing dynamics of political communication’, a session of the Global Summit of Women Speakers of Parliament examined the role of parliaments in maximising the use of communication technologies and social media.” The Gulf News is published in Dubai and its audience seems to be mostly the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf, though it is also available in Pakistan.

The AP: New report says Ethiopia blocked social media, news sites. “Ethiopia’s government illegally blocked social media and news websites during the months of turmoil that led to the country’s ongoing state of emergency, a new report says.”

SECURITY/LEGAL ISSUES

Neowin with the Patch Tuesday roundup. “With this final patch release for 2016 Microsoft published 11 security bulletins, six of which address critical issues found in Windows, Internet Explorer, Microsoft Edge, Office, and the .NET framework. As you can see that spans quite the gamut of Microsoft products, so let’s jump in and see what got fixed.”

RESEARCH AND OPINION

Washington Post: Scientists are frantically copying U.S. climate data, fearing it might vanish under Trump. “Alarmed that decades of crucial climate measurements could vanish under a hostile Trump administration, scientists have begun a feverish attempt to copy reams of government data onto independent servers in hopes of safeguarding it from any political interference.” While I appreciate the concern here – boy, do I appreciate it – I wish the Washington Post and other media had before now focused more on the difficulty in accessing much government data in the first place. Like Congressional Research Service reports (this is a Washington Post link, to be fair.) Like declassified CIA files (though this is finally getting better.). Like PACER and its goony fees. My point is that public access to government data has been a problem for a long time, and was not initiated by the election of Donald Trump.

OTHER STUFF I THINK IS COOL

This is not cool, but it needs to be known. You probably heard the story of the terminally-ill child who died in the arms of a man who works as a Santa Claus. I have seen it on my Facebook, Twitter, I’ve had it e-mailed to me, etc. Unfortunately it doesn’t seem to be true. It is however a terrific example of how false news can spread – it gives you the feels (by reinforcing your opinions or in this case making an unapologetic lunge for your heartstrings), the feels drown out your cynical parts, and away it goes. Good morning, Internet…

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Népszabadság, iOS, Google, More: Wednesday Afternoon Buzz, December 14, 2016

NEW RESOURCES

An online archive for Hungarian daily newspaper Népszabadság will be made freely available online. “Publishing company Mediaworks will maintain the online archive of Népszabadság, what had been Hungary’s largest-circulation daily before it was closed down in October, as a free service … the company said in a statement on Tuesday.”

TWEAKS AND UPDATES

iOS 10.2 is now available. “If all the new emoji weren’t enough of a reason for you to upgrade to iOS 10.2, the security updates added to the release should really push you over the edge.”

Google has released its annual year in search. “It’s that time of year — when we look back at the last 12 months and reflect on the trends that defined the year in Google Search. From Powerball numbers to Olympic champions, whether making dessert or becoming a mannequin, this year affected us all in different ways. Through all the highs and lows, people came to Search to learn more and understand.”

USEFUL STUFF

Amit Agarwal has a great roundup of lesser-known search tips for GMail. “Gmail supports a plethora of search operators to help you instantly find that elusive email message buried in your mailbox. You have size search – like larger_than:5mb – to find the big messages in your account. File search – like has:attachment filename:doc – will locate email messages that contain file attachments of specific types. This graphic illustrates all the known search operators that work both on Gmail and Google Inbox.”

In case you want to start 2017 on a new foot: How to Start Fresh Again on Social Media. “Drunken ramblings, bad sports predictions, political opinions you’re now ashamed of… there are plenty of reasons why you might want to clean up some (or all) of the social media trail you’ve left behind you in one go, aside from just canceling your account and starting again. Here are the tools you need to do it on Facebook and Twitter.”

AROUND THE SEARCH AND SOCIAL MEDIA WORLD

South China Morning Post: Google, Naver in all-out war for accurate translation service in South Korea. “Two companies ― Google and Naver ― have so far adopted the NMT [Neural Machine Translation services] in the Korean-English translation, gearing up to gain an upper hand in the infant AI industry here. In October, Naver, the nation’s No. 1 portal service operator, launched its own NMT service, Papago. Google also unveiled its upgraded translation service the following month, equipped with its AI software.”

SECURITY/LEGAL ISSUES

Google: Sharing National Security Letters with the Public. “In our continued effort to increase transparency around government demands for user data, today we begin to make available to the public the National Security Letters (NSLs) we have received where, either through litigation or legislation, we have been freed of nondisclosure obligations. We previewed this back in October when we updated our Transparency Report.”

Some very nasty ransomware will let you off the hook if you’re willing to infect other people. “The diabolical software Popcorn Time, which is not at all affiliated with the Popcorn Time piracy app, shakes victims down like any other ransomware. If you can’t afford the one bitcoin payout or you’re feeling especially spiteful, you can share a link to download Popcorn Time in an attempt to infect others. If two of your victims pay up, the attackers give you the key to decrypt your data. It’s a bit like the movie It Follows, but for malware instead of killing.”

RESEARCH AND OPINION

New York Times: Twitter Has the Right to Suspend Donald Trump. But It Shouldn’t. “As a corporation, Twitter is under no First Amendment obligation to let Mr. Trump use the service. It gets to make its own set of speech rules within its own walls, and among those rules is a prohibition on using the service to incite harassment. Earlier this year, the company suspended several Trump supporters who appeared to run afoul of those rules. Twitter has said that its policies apply to every user. And yet Twitter is no position, now, to suspend @realDonaldTrump.” Good afternoon, Internet…

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Kenya Photojournalism, Wikipedia, Patents, More: Wednesday Buzz, December 14, 2016

NEW RESOURCES

The Kenya News Agency and the ICT Authority (that’s Kenya’s Ministry of Information, Communications, and Technology) have teamed up to create a digital library of multimedia. “More than one million historical images and nearly 5,000 hours of videos dating back to the 1940s are now in digital format. Broadcast and telecommunication Principal secretary Sammy Itemere said government is committed to digitise all records and provide rich and interactive content online for public access.”

A new site lets you surface possible geographic bias in Wikipedia. “A new website lets you uncover geographical biases in Wikipedia articles by tracking down where editors of different languages source their information. Insert the URL of any Wikipedia page into Wikiwhere and the site’s algorithm trawls the web to find out where the references cited in the entry originate from. Martin Körner at the University of Koblenz-Landau, Germany, and his colleagues made the tool to compare how Wikipedia articles about the same topic but in a different language might be influenced by different sources.”

Fortune has a writeup on a new patent search called Trea. “A review of Google’s patent applications over the past year shows the search giant filed 189 applications in the acoustics field—more than it did in any other…. It’s also important to note how I found this patent information in the first place. I got it from a start up called Trea whose 20-something founder, Max Yuan, pulled off the remarkable feat of scraping the U.S. Patent Office’s entire database in order to build a website that’s easy to use and search.” The site is in public beta and apparently will require registration to use.

Singer FKA Twigs has launched a digital archive of her work. I was not familiar with Ms. Twigs, but I rather enjoyed her music when her Web site finally loaded (I have lame Internet and this is a very resource-intense site.) Hint: when you’re listening to the audio the play icon will pulse. When you pause it, it stops; it won’t turn into a pause icon. Just click it to play again. Many of the visuals I saw were surreal and intense; I’d review it more thoroughly before letting kids explore it.

Wolfram|Alpha has launched Open Code. “Every day, millions of students around the world use Wolfram|Alpha to compute answers. With Wolfram|Alpha Open Code they’ll now not just be able to get answers, but also be able to get code that lets them explore further and immediately apply computational thinking. It takes a lot of sophisticated technology to make this possible. But to the user, it’s simple. Do a computation with Wolfram|Alpha. Now in almost every section of the output you’ll see an ‘Open Code’ link. Click it and Wolfram|Alpha will generate code for you, then open it in a fully runnable and editable notebook that you can immediately use in the Wolfram Open Cloud… ”

TWEAKS AND UPDATES

Amit Agarwal has updated his Google Forms add-on to include push notifications for mobile. I use this add-on at work as it makes it easy to send form content to multiple people in an easy-to-read format. DISCLAIMER: Amit knows me, but this recommendation is not paid, he’s never given me a dime, etc etc.

Skype’s real-time translation now works for mobile and landline calls as well. “The translation will work just like it does with regular Skype calls. You bring up the dialer, toggle the switch marked ‘Translate,’ and then select the languages. When the person on the other side picks up, they’ll be played a message telling them the call is being recorded and translated. The rest of the call will take place with short delays waiting for the conversation to be translated.”

Facebook has added 360-degree Live videos. “The new video format is simply called ‘Live 360’ and launches on Tuesday. For its debut, Facebook’s teaming up with National Geographic for a special live 360-degree experience from the Mars Desert Research facility in Utah.”

Google is spinning off its self-driving car project into its own company. “For nearly eight years, we’ve been working towards a future without the tired, drunk or distracted driving that contributes to 1.2 million lives lost on roads every year. Since 2009, our prototypes have spent the equivalent of 300 years of driving time on the road and we’ve led the industry from a place where self-driving cars seem like science fiction to one where city planners all over the world are designing for a self-driven future. Today, we’re taking our next big step by becoming Waymo, a new Alphabet business. Waymo stands for a new way forward in mobility.”

USEFUL STUFF

From Hannah Hethmon, very thorough and uses a historical society for examples: How to Set Up Facebook Ads for Your Small Museum (On a Small Budget). “Along with Google Adwords, Facebook Ads are one of the more efficient, flexible ways to promote your museum and engage local audiences who may or may not have known about you or cared about you before. In this tutorial, I am going to show you the basics of using Facebook Ads.”

A couple days ago I came across a blog post from a student containing an exhaustive analysis of how her Twitter followers expanded and how she used Twitter during a certain class at Syracuse. It was interesting, I thought, but not informative enough for me to include. Yesterday I got a few more similar posts in my Google Alerts and now there’s enough there to just point to the entire blog. There are several extensive posts here detailing how students grew their Twitter followers, what posts worked and didn’t, how they used hashtags, and so forth. If you’re looking for a “bird’s eye” view of Twitter and some thoughtful reflections on posted content without hype and froth, do yourself a favor and browse these posts.

AROUND THE SEARCH AND SOCIAL MEDIA WORLD

Poynter: Meet the researchers saving radio news from oblivion. “How many historical radio broadcasts have been lost to history? Josh Shepperd, an assistant professor of media studies at Catholic University in Washington D.C., estimates that up to 90 percent of all radio broadcasts that aired between the mid-1920s and the mid-1980s were not saved.” 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!