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Fun Size for 10/7/22: Fastest past tense in the West

Fastest past tense in the West

The race to update Queen Elizabeth II’s Wikipedia page was won by an anonymous editor, Sydwhunte, who corrected “is queen” to “was queen” within minutes of the announcement of her death. Known for their speed, volunteer “deaditors” consider it a badge of honor to be the first to edit a person’s biographical page after their death. NPR follows the scramble to keep Wikipedia up to date.

Purr-fect partnership

“Stray” is a new video game with a charity angle whose instant popularity is helping some real-world felines find new homes. This AP story describes how animal shelters and cat cafes are partnering with the game’s publisher and players in various ways to raise money for homeless cats.

Love in the stacks 

Over the past few decades, academic libraries have vastly expanded their digital offerings, installed banks of computers, added cafes and deaccessioned books. Writing in The Walrus, professor Andrew Stauffer understands the push for digitization but mourns the loss of stacks in academic libraries, where “the old shelves tell stories we need to hear.”

No paintbrush required 

The Colorado State Fair’s first-place winner in the digital art category drew a furious online reaction from artists this year. Jason Allen used Midjourney, an AI program that turns text into hyper-realistic graphics, to create “Théâtre D’opéra Spatial.” Producing beautiful art by typing a few words into a program looks like cheating to many artists. Allen’s response, “Art is dead, dude. AI won,” seems a little harsh. See the admittedly beautiful work in question in this New York Times article.

Phreaking perfect pitch 

Once upon a time, long-distance calls cost a lot of money. Enterprising early hackers known as phone phreaks figured out how to hack phone lines using various devices, including the whistle that came in a box of Cap’n Crunch cereal. GastroObscura describes how the whistle’s 2600 Hz pitch was perfect to allow hackers like young Steve Wozniak to “seize a phone line.” Yes, that Steve Wozniak.

View me, date me 

Apparently Google Docs can be used for more than co-authoring monthly reports, Wired findsSome people looking for love and fed up with online dating apps are experimenting with links to long-form descriptions of themselves in view-only Google Docs. Some, like Jacob, cut to the chase with handy Google Forms so you can apply to meet or just hang out with him.

Remedial college computer skills 

Today’s young people have a reputation as digital natives, able to text, TikTok and play video games with expertise. But it turns out they don’t exactly excel at Excel–or other MS Office programs for that matter. In college, that can be an issue. Some schools are helping students get up to speed with edtech tools, either embedded in courses or in stand-alone digital resource learning centers, says EdSurge.

Ay, que rico! 

Mexico News Daily: She may have fewer YouTube subscribers than Martha Stewart or Gordon Ramsey, but she has more viewers than both of them. The fourth most popular cooking channel on YouTube features a 71-year-old Mexican grandmother whose “De Mi Rancho a Tu Cocina” has made her a Latin American darling. Her first video, how to make enchiladas verdes, has over 11 million views. The programs are in Spanish, of course, and offer an authentic window into traditional Mexican cooking.

Getting paid to drop out 

The news that Adobe plans to pay $20 billion for the design software firm Figma prompted Business Insider to focus on the little-known fellowship program that bankrolled the startup. For 11 years, Silicon Valley investor Peter Thiel has been paying students $100,000 to drop out of college and launch their own companies. Successful proteges include founders of Ethereum, Polkadot and OYO. Seems Thiel doesn’t hold much with higher ed, though he concedes “it’s worth it for some people.” Just not wanna-be billionaires.