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Fun Size for 2/3/20: How to find spy cams in your Airbnb

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 umsi.funsize@umich.edu.

Your flight concierge

Some think it’s creepy, some think it’s cool. IEEE Spectrum reports Delta Airlines is “piloting” a new digital display screen at Detroit Metro airport this summer. Instead of seeing dozens of flight arrivals and departures on the board, each Delta traveler will view an individual message targeted just to them. Even more amazing: Everyone will look at the same screen but see only their message.


Creative cartographer

Infographic timelines and data visualization might seem relatively recent information tools. But pioneer feminist educator Emma Willard (1787-1870) created detailed, imaginative “maps of time” in the mid-19th century to illustrate lessons in history, philosophy and literature. This Susan Schulten essay in the Public Domain Review chronicles the woman with examples of her work.


Home, safe home

Virtual private network (VPN) sounds so… well, private. Yet Bob Kfir, writing for OneZero, warns that using a VPN at home is a bad idea, particularly if you’re using a free service. Because as we’re learning, online free isn’t really free. Kfir explains how a VPN works and why your home internet service probably provides enough protection.


Quiet humor

Librarians are some of the funniest people we know – really! Bored Panda.com has the proof, with a collection of 30 examples of librarian humor culled from the internet. Just don’t LOL.


Dot-org to cost more

In December, a private equity firm purchased the rights to manage dot-org, the domain name that designates non-profits and NGOs, for over $1 billion. The controversial sale caused near-unanimous disapproval during the comment period over concerns that a for-profit entity should not control this non-commercial sphere of the web. Mashable reports the immediate impact was the removal of price caps for dot-org domain names, which could increase more than 200% in the next decade.


Caveat renter

Airbnb amenities renters can select include wi-fi, fireplaces, wide-screen tv and waterfront views. Hidden cameras are not among the choices, yet apparently some Airbnb homeowner have added that feature as a way of keeping track of (or spying on) their guests. Aaron Mack, writing for Slate, provides tips on how to scan your Airbnb for hidden cameras.


Check it out!

The New York Public Library has released its top ten most-checked-out books in its 125-year history, says the New York Times. Over half are children’s books, leading off with one of the first books to feature an African-American boy as the protagonist, Ezra Jack Keats’s The Snowy Day.


No trivial feat

Jeopardy! fans rejoice: Polygon.com has unearthed the J! Archive. Nerdier fans than you have painstakingly developed a Jeopardy! fan-site that includes nearly every clue on every show going back to 1984. It includes verbatim transcripts of Alex Trebeks’s banter with contestants, player winnings and a wagering calculator. In addition to aiding contestant hopefuls, it was used in programming IBM’s Watson, developers admit.


Goofus and Gallant

A hapless, clueless floppy toy learns safe internet practices and appropriate use of technology – from a cow. Kudos and moo-dos to the UC Davis Information and Educational Technology department, which created these five short video comedies for students during Cybersecurity Awareness Month in October.


What’s in a name?

Colors, if you are someone with grapheme-color synaesthesia, like Berndette Sheridan, who perceives numbers and letters as specific colors. She’s created “What Color Is Your Name?,” an online generator that displays your name in colors; Boing Boing has the link to her site.


News from UMSI

A collaboration between UMSI students in the Citizen Interaction Design program and the Ann Arbor City Clerk’s office has resulted in a national award from the U.S. Election Assistance Commission. The team developed a tool that allows voters to check the length of lines and wait times at their local polling place. “We were very impressed with the innovation and professional work coming from the student fellows,” said Ann Arbor City Clerk Jacqueline Beaudry. Read more.