Google collected Android users’ location without permission

Keith Collins reporting for Quartz:

Since the beginning of 2017, Android phones have been collecting the addresses of nearby cellular towers—even when location services are disabled—and sending that data back to Google. The result is that Google, the unit of Alphabet behind Android, has access to data about individuals’ locations and their movements that go far beyond a reasonable consumer expectation of privacy.

What.

Google says they didn’t store or use the data. But still. If you’re Google, you should know better.

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Drone Race: Human Versus Artificial Intelligence

JPL engineers recently finished developing three drones

Artificial intelligence could soon match the skills of professional drone pilots.



Cassini Image Mosaic: A Farewell to Saturn

Saturn

A bevy of color images was assembled to produce the mission's final end-to-end look at the planet and its rings.



Troubling pick for Census Bureau deputy director

The administration’s current pick for deputy director of the United States Census Bureau is Thomas Brunell. He is a political science professor outside of the Bureau and argues against “competitive elections.”

Danny Vinik and Andrew Restuccia, reporting for Politico:

Since 2005, he has worked at the University of Texas at Dallas, where his research and writing has focused on redistricting and voting rights cases. He has frequently advised states on redrawing their congressional maps. In his 2008 book, “Redistricting and Representation,” he argued that partisan districts packed with like-minded voters actually lead to better representation than ones more evenly split between Democrats and Republicans, because fewer voters in partisan districts cast a vote for a losing candidate. He has also argued that ideologically packed districts should be called “fair districts” and admits that his stance on competitive elections makes him something of an outlier among political scientists, who largely support competitive elections.

Hm.

I’m not familiar with Brunell’s research, but shouldn’t the pick for deputy director of the giant statistical, nonpartisan agency be, um, a statistician? Someone who is familiar with how the Bureau and its 5,000-plus employees function day-to-day?

Hm.

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November 28th NCBI Minute: An update to “API Keys for Better E-Utilities and EDirect Access to NCBI Data”

On Tuesday, November 28, 2017, NCBI will present an update to the webinar originally presented on November 8, 2017 about the new API keys. In this updated webinar, you will learn about the relationships between API keys, NCBI accounts and … Continue reading

Lancet retracts and replaces news story about controversial abortion drug

The Lancet has retracted a journalist-written piece about a controversial drug used off-label to induce abortions, and replaced it with a corrected version. In the retraction notice, the journal said it “removed the information that we believe to be inaccurate.” The article, first published Oct. 28, 2017, highlights Pfizer’s decision to withdraw the drug, misoprostol, […]

The post Lancet retracts and replaces news story about controversial abortion drug appeared first on Retraction Watch.

Institute for Broadening Participation

Have you heard of the Institute for Broadening Participation (IBP)? IBP’s mission is to increase diversity in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) fields by connecting students with relevant resources and opportunities. IBP can connect undergraduate students, graduate students, and post docs to scholarships, fellowships, and full time positions.

You can filter your search for opportunities by state or geographic region, as seen below.

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The site also offers resources and tools for faculty and administrators on how to promote their programs and reach a wide range of students. This is a popular platform faculty and administrators use to recruit students from underrepresented groups and you can find numerous scholarships and fellowships specifically for women and minorities in STEM.

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So, whether you’re an undergraduate looking for an REU-type summer research opportunity or an investigator seeking students from underrepresented groups, check out IBP’s website. Click around, be mindful of the deadlines, and apply!


Publisher issues first retractions for fake peer review, starts new checking policy

The publisher Frontiers has retracted four papers in three of its journals after discovering they had been accepted with fake peer reviews. The problem of fake reviews has been on the research community’s radar since at least 2014, and several major publishers—including Springer, SAGE and BioMed Central—have retracted hundreds of papers accepted via fake peer […]

The post Publisher issues first retractions for fake peer review, starts new checking policy appeared first on Retraction Watch.

Global cycling and running heatmap

A few years back, cycling and running app Strava mapped the paths of its users. Now with a lot more data and the challenges that come with that, Strava provides a more fine-tuned rendering of where the world cycles and runs.

Beyond simply including more data, a total rewrite of the heatmap code permitted major improvements in rendering quality. Highlights include twice the resolution, rasterizing activity data as paths instead of as points, and an improved normalization technique that ensures a richer and more beautiful visualization.

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