Reptiles Magazine: Database Of 74 Percent Of All Snake Species From 27 Countries Released. “Scientists from Brazil, Australia, USA, Ecuador, Germany and Sweden have recently published a database of snakes of the American tropics collected from museum collections of the past 150 years and have concluded that there is a very high diversity of the reptiles in the region.”
The Next Web: This free Chrome extension lets you watch geo-blocked videos on YouTube. “Every once in a while I would stumble upon an interesting video on YouTube only to discover the uploader hasn’t made the clip available in my country. Switching my VPN to another region usually solves the problem, but thanks to this new Chrome extension, there is now a way to do this entirely VPN-free.”
Hey, Amit’s back! From Digital Inspiration: How to Embed the Facebook Customer Chat Widget in your Website . “Looking for a simple and free alternative to popular live chat software like Intercom or Zendesk chat? Well, the new customer chat widget from Facebook Messenger is here and anyone can embed these widgets on their website to engage with visitors in real time. Facebook Customer Chat widget, if you are new, lets people chat with businesses without leaving the website. The widget works on both desktop computers and mobile phones. The business owner needs a Facebook Page and all the visitor needs is a regular Facebook account.”
Defense One: Russia Will Build Its Own Internet Directory, Citing US Information Warfare. “The Russian government will build an “independent internet” for use by itself, Brazil, India, China, and South Africa — the so-called BRICS nations — ‘in the event of global internet malfunctions,’ the Russian news site RT reported on Tuesday. More precisely, Moscow intends to create an alternative to the global Domain Name System, or DNS, the directory that helps the browser on your computer or smartphone connect to the website server or other computer that you’re trying to reach. The Russians cited national security concerns, but the real reason may have more to do with Moscow’s own plans for offensive cyber operations.” Skip the comments.
BetaNews: Google faces class action lawsuit for gathering personal data from millions of iPhone users. “A group going by the name Google You Owe Us is taking Google to court in the UK, complaining that the company harvested personal data from 5.4 million iPhone users. The group is led by Richard Lloyd, director of consumer group Which?, and it alleges that Google bypassed privacy settings on iPhones between June 2011 and February 2012. The lawsuit seeks compensation for those affected by what is described as a ‘violation of trust.'”
Neowin: YouTube debuts Reels, a feature that will attempt to compete with Instagram and Snapchat. “YouTube is always touted as being about the community. While this notion has been tested as of late with the demonization and improper pulling of content, the firm stands by its motto by introducing new features that allow its creators to engage better with its audience. YouTube is now unveiling a new tool called Community that will be open to creators with more than 10,000 subscribers. The new feature has been in testing for the past year and is made to bolster engagement with fans and an audience.”
Fedscoop: White House missing opportunity to modernize federal websites, think tank says. “The White House’s directive for widespread federal tech modernization misses out on a key opportunity to improve agency websites, a D.C.-based technology think tank says in a new report. The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation comes to this conclusion in its latest ‘Benchmarking U.S. Government Websites’ report, which in its second installment has once again found more than 90 percent of federal websites to be poor performing.”
Science Blog: Yelp Reviewers Take A Dimmer View Of Nursing Homes Than The Feds. “The stars are not aligned when it comes to online reviews of nursing homes. A new study by the USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology shows that Yelp reviewers give nursing homes significantly less favorable ratings than those found on the federal website, Nursing Home Compare, run by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).”
Artstor Blog: Now available: Alka Patel Archive: Afghanistan and Iran, Art and Architecture. “Alka Patel and the University of California, Irvine have contributed approximately 5,000 images of the art and architecture of historic Islamic sites in Afghanistan and Iran to the Artstor Digital Library. The collection in Artstor is made up of Patel’s field photography, with an emphasis on mosque architecture, and it includes extensive and uncommon coverage of the monuments of the Ghurid Dynasty (c. 1149-1215).”
Artsy: A New Museum Exists Solely in VR. What Does that Mean for the Future?. “At the new Kremer Museum, the lighting is perfectly optimized to accentuate the colors, brushstrokes, and details in each painting. The frames reflect light differently than the art, and soon, all of the lighting will be adjusted according to each visitor’s height to entirely eliminate glare. Visitors can not only view the front of each painting, but also the back, and potentially the X-ray as well—and they can do so from anywhere in the world, as long as they have the proper gear. The museum exists solely in virtual reality.”
Digital Trends: New Facebook Messenger tool could let businesses broadcast mass chat messages. “Businesses could soon use Facebook Messenger to send you automated, mass-delivered messages. First spotted by The Next Web’s Matt Navarra, Facebook recently confirmed that it is privately testing Messenger Broadcast, a platform that would allow businesses to send mass messages — though only to Messenger users that have already initiated a conversation.” Ugh.
Google Blog: The British Museum and Google Arts & Culture: Decoding the secrets of the ancient Maya. “In the 19th century, the explorer Alfred Maudslay set out to capture and preserve the stories the Maya of Central America, one of the largest and most successful indigenous cultures in the world, with more than 2000 years of rich and vibrant history. For decades, he travelled through the region carrying tons of equipment on mule trains through the jungle and created the first glass plate photographs and plaster casts of some of the most important ancient Maya art from the region. More than 100 years later, Google Arts & Culture and the British Museum are picking up where Maudslay left off. Now, visitors from around the world can explore the Maya’s rich heritage online and learn about their achievements in art, architecture, astronomy, mathematics and language.”
Bloomberg: How to Tame Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple. “It’s harder to fix a problem than to identify it. That goes quadruple for Apple Inc., Alphabet Inc.’s Google, Amazon.com Inc., and Facebook Inc. On the upside, these U.S. tech giants provide some of the world’s best-loved products and services. Investors love them, too. They’re the first-, second-, fourth-, and fifth-most-valuable companies. (Microsoft Corp. places third.) Yet the four, taken together, also stand widely accused of the sins associated with corporate bullies: crushing competition, avoiding taxes, undermining democracy and invading privacy. Russian operatives have used American social media companies as a playground. Executives of Facebook, Google, and Twitter Inc. told Congress on Oct. 31 that they can’t even measure the extent of Russia’s manipulation of the U.S. presidential election and don’t yet have the tools to stop it the next time.” This is an enormous article with a lot to think about.
The Register: ‘Break up Google and Facebook if you ever want innovation again’. “If the tech industry wants another wave of innovation to match the PC or the internet, Google and Facebook must be broken up, journalist and film producer Jonathan Taplin told an audience at University College London’s Faculty of Law this week. He was speaking at an event titled Crisis in Copyright Policy: How the digital monopolies have cornered culture and what it means for all of us, where he credited the clampers put on Bell then IBM for helping to create the PC industry and the internet.”
The Verge: Microsoft’s photos app for iOS and Android will quickly transfer pictures to a PC. “Microsoft is planning to release a photos companion app for iOS and Android devices, to quickly transfer pictures to a PC. The app will be available soon for Windows 10 testers, and it will support the quick transfer of photos or videos from phones to PCs on the same Wi-Fi network.”