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University of Michigan School of Information


Fun Size for 4/5/24: NY Times culls Wordle clones

Apple of discord 

The U.S. government has its sights trained on Apple. In March, the Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against the tech giant, claiming its monopolistic practices have edged out rivals, kept consumers chained to its products and suppressed industry innovation. Sounds like your typical business plan. NPR has a succinct account of the government’s case and Apple’s defense.

Preserving an African American landmark  

In the early 1900s, Booker T. Washington and Sears & Roebuck president Julius Rosenwald collaborated to build over 5000 schools in the American south for African American children. A team of UVA-affiliated architectural preservationists has found one of the last remaining Rosenwald schools in Virginia. While one architect attends to its physical restoration, another is creating a virtual model of the historic schoolhouse that can be experienced in a walk-through wearing virtual reality goggles.

Movie time

Before you settle in to stream a movie on a weeknight, you might want to know what time the film will end. To your aid comes Movie Span. Boing Boing has found this helpful website that lets you know when the movie ends–not including snack breaks, of course. It has a theater option, too, though you might need to add 20 minutes for movie trailers.

Cats in the stacks 

Libraries and cats are a purr-fect pairing. Cheers to a Massachusetts library for its novel idea to get some patrons with overdue books back into circulation. All fines were fur-given to borrowers who brought in a picture of a cat. About 400 backsliders pounced on the opportunity, reports the New York Times. [gift article]

Holding your place in line  

Waiting on hold for 40 minutes listening to glitchy music and assurances your call is important surely ranks as one of the circles of hell. But Google, ever seeking new ways to make itself indispensable, is testing a search service that will wait on hold for you, then contact you when a live agent is available, Mashable has found. Sounds like heaven.

Culling Wordle wannabes 

Not satisfied with one measly Wordle a day? Many have found ways to feed their puzzle addiction with Wordle clones like Quordle, Xordle, Hexadecordle, etc. Enough already, says the New York Times, which last month started sending take-down notices to Wordle-like sites, claiming copyright infringement, according to AP News. Developers have two five-letter words for that: Spoil sport.

Granny’s got game 

A Scottish granny, known online as GrumpyGran1948, briefly became an internet sensation when superstar gamer SypherPK invited her to play Fortnite with him. Cath Bowie fell in love with the game in 2017 and had been playing on her own and then in squads of older players. Her match with SypherPK attracted thousands of new followers, though “things have quietened down a bit now,” she told the BBC.

AI as Big Brother 

A wide range of industries are using emotion AI to infer their employees’ emotional states. A recent survey led by UMSI’s Nazanin Andalibi found that a large number of employees have concerns over the practice, citing privacy, harm to work performance and bias, among other issues. Andalibi’s article in The Conversation shows how technologies ostensibly designed to support employees’ well-being may have the opposite effect.

Short and sweet 

People looking for a user-friendly alternative to those cumbersome strings of gibberish in many URLs will appreciate Zapier’s list of the best URL shorteners of 2024.

Sing a song of pi 

Akiri Haraguchi currently holds the unofficial world record for memorizing pi to 100,000 decimal places, according to Wikipedia. But he probably didn’t have as much fun as Asap SCIENCE guy Mitchell Moffit, who created a catchy song for the first 200 decimal points of pi, which you can enjoy in this video found by Laughing Squid. All together now, “3.14159 this is pi …”.