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University of Michigan School of Information


Fun Size for 12/6/19: Dirty tricks of fake reviewers

The world of information - in Fun Size!

UMSI's Fun Size digest features tiny, delicious news tidbits relating to information and library topics. Reach us at [email protected].

Inaccessible beauty

The new Long Island City library is a $41 million marvel of architecture that took two decades to plan, design and build. In all those years, someone might have remembered that accessibility is now a thing. Only one elevator in the 5-story building and bleachers deemed too dangerous for kids to climb are just some of the complaints, reports the New York Times. “Just a small wrinkle,” defends the architect.

Unimpeded view

On the other hand, researchers at Carnegie Mellon are making memes accessible to people with visual impairments via prewritten templates. “If you’re blind, you miss part of the shared online conversation,” observes Cole Gleason, a PhD student at CMU. Developers admit getting the technology deployed is a challenge: another good reason to use that alt text field.

Super-sized file sharing

Taking 10MB photos is easy but sending a batch of large files, photos or videos via email can be frustrating. Gizmodo to the rescue, with several options for sharing huge files, including cloud storage servers, browsers and email services.

Proud to be number three

Ann Arbor ranks third for its share of residents in STEM occupations in Bloomberg’s Brain Concentration Index 2019, just behind Boulder and San Jose. There’s also a downside Brain Drain Index, ranking those areas losing white-collar jobs and declining STEM pay.

Tech tips for travelers

Technology enhances travel planning with apps like GPS, online bookings and nearby restaurants. But along with convenience comes potential peril, Tech Republic warns, with five tips for using tech safely on the road. Note Rule #3: beware public charging stations.

Cloud’s-eye view of Nazca Lines

Scientists have sought and studied the Nazca Lines in Peru since their discovery in 1920 but finding and reconstructing the ancient symbols has been challenging. Now MIT Technology reports that Japanese researchers and IBM are employing algorithms in a cloud platform to locate these geoglyphs in a fraction of the time it used to take.

Visualizing green pastures

Sometimes we include a story just for the photos, like this C|Net piece about Russian farmers fitting their cows with VR glasses in hopes of inducing them to produce better milk. Cows wearing VR oculars – what moore could you want?

The fault in our stars

Online shoppers naturally gravitate towards the items with the highest ratings. One extra star in an Amazon review correlates to 26% more sales. Sadly, those online reviews and stars turn out to be remarkably easy to fake, as the New York Times’ reporter Sapna Maheshwari reveals. Even sadder, e-commerce sites don’t seem to care.

Happy, sad and Aussie Alexa

Developers now have the options of giving Alexa a bit more personality and a new accent, Amazon has announced. She can sound excited (Yay, your team won!), disappointed (Bummer, it’s going to rain all day) and even sound Australian (Beauty!). Audio samples of each are included in this article from TheVerge.

News from UMSI

After a five-year-long archive rescue project, the Voice of America’s “Music Time in Africa” radio shows from the 1960s to the 1990s are now available for the public to enjoy, thanks to efforts by two U-M professors. Read more.