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University of Michigan School of Information


Fun Size for 8/5/21: The great book rescue

Athletes phone home

Cardboard beds, free beverage machines, self-driving shuttles—all part of daily life in the Olympic Village bubble. When they’re not practicing or competing, the athletes are sharing their insider views on TikTok. CNET has a nicely curated collection of videos, showing it’s not just the media who are giving those poor beds a beating.

Deep, dark and devious

If you’ve ever wondered about the difference between the Web, the Deep Web and the Dark Web, wonder no more, thanks to this clear explanation from Make Tech Easier. TL;DR: It’s good to be deep and yes, you should be afraid of the dark.

Leave no book behind 

The pandemic has reminded us that sanitation workers are truly unsung heroes and essential workers. But some community-minded garbage collectors in Turkey are also conservationists. They started rescuing discarded books headed for the landfill and created a 6,000 book library in a vacant factory at their Ankara headquarters. CNN has photos and the story.

Name that tune 

The Cornell Ornithology Lab has released a new app to help identify the birds in your backyard by their songs. The Merlin Bird ID app is powered by tens of thousands of citizen scientists who contributed sound recordings to the Cornell Lab’s global database. Open the app, press Record and discover which feathered friend is singing his little heart out.

Time for an upgrade 

Owners of older Kindle e-readers (like 1st and 2nd generation) should be aware they might not be able to access the internet starting in December. They won’t lose any paid content already loaded, says Übergizmo, but won’t be able to download new content wirelessly. To keep customers happy, Amazon is offering credit toward an upgraded device and will cover the recycling cost of these tech antiques.

Pretty in pix 

Let’s face it: Adobe Photoshop has a fairly steep learning curve—and price tag. For those of us non-graphic designers who still need a decent and affordable photo layout program, Mashable tested dozens of free apps and picked the five best.

Self(ie) preservation 

Hearing that Indians have the highest death rate in the world while taking selfies, some concerned Chinese netizens compiled advice for their neighbors on how to snap safely, according to China’s Global Times. Tips include dangerous settings to avoid, like roofs, roads, floods and standing next to wild animals.

Netflix’s gaming strategy 

In July Netflix announced it will be adding video games to its streaming entertainment service. Netflix lost 400,000 subscribers in the U.S. and Canada in the last quarter and this could be a way to attract new customers and halt the churn. But CNBC thinks it's more about gaining user data and exploiting its intellectual property. 

Booking leads to “book ’em” 

From Wired: Findings from some Northwestern University researchers might give city councils pause when approving short-term rentals. Apparently some crimes increase with the number of Airbnb listings in a neighborhood—but it’s not crimes committed by renters. Instead, the researchers conclude, the lack of long-term residents in an area can lead to a diminished sense of community and responsibility.

Don’t take our word for it 

In its ongoing campaign to educate users in “search literacy,” Google is testing a new misinformation disclaimer for fast-evolving newsreports Vox. In some cases, users could see a notice such as “It looks like these results are changing rapidly… it might take time for results to be added by reliable sources.” Everyone, just calm down.

Math + Art = Fun 

Sometimes an article is better online, so even if you saw this NYTimes story in print back in June, you’ll want to revisit it here for the animation. A father-and-son team of “algorithmic typographers” have created a suite of mathematically inspired typefaces that are pure fun - including fonts inspired by juggling, Sudoku, Tetris, origami and a conveyor belt. Font geeks, prepare to be dazzled.