Kansas, Prescription Drugs, Alberta Climate, More: Wednesday Buzz, December 23nd, 2015


The state of Kansas has a new Web site providing information on the school’s 250+ districts. “In Kansas, a new website allows the public to browse the state’s 286 school districts, along with 24 other private and specialized public school systems, in order to compare and contrast several evaluative factors and points of information.”

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have released a new tool to explore the costs of Medicare prescription drugs. “The tool includes information on a total of 80 drugs: 40 that are covered under the Medicare Prescription Drug Program (Part D) and 40 that are administered by physicians and other professionals. The tool allows you to sort these drugs in different ways, so you can rank them by total spending, spending per person, or by cost increases. It also shows how much the seniors and people with disabilities on Medicare pay for these drugs. The tool launched today provides a look at information on drug spending in the program and by beneficiaries going back five years and also includes helpful charts showing these trends over time.”

A new Web site provides 60+ years’ worth of climate data for Alberta, Canada. Climate, not weather: “Weather is the atmospheric condition that can be observed and measured at a location, such as temperature, precipitation, wind or sunshine, while climate is the long-term statistics of weather, typically a 30-year average of weather.” And there’s your vocabulary for the day. Also: “The information on six climate indices is now available to the public through the Alberta Climate Records website. The measures include growing season, heat waves, days over 25 C, frost days, full days below 0 C, and days below -25 C.”


Facebook appears to be testing a little blue-dot update to show when your friends have posted new content. “I spotted this small design change last night on my own Web profile. Below your bio on the left hand side where nine random friends are featured, I noticed blue dots appeared under the names of friends with new posts. The text also indicate how many new posts you’ve missed.” So on one hand Facebook limits the number of things you see from friends or pages or whatever, and on the other hand creates ways to show you how many posts you’re missing. MMkay.


MakeUseOf: 10 Online Collaboration Tools Perfect for Visual Jobs. Netboard looks like FUN.


GigaOm has an update on the social network Ello and changes to come. “…perhaps the biggest change will be the ability for Ello users to post content to other social networks through the platform. This could make it something akin to a central management tool that allows people to share things on Ello first, thus giving them access to what’s described as a supportive community filled with talented people, before sharing them with the masses on other networks.” Oh, this could be great, especially if the platform includes sites that are not usually lumped in with other social networks (DeviantArt, for example.)

Publishers are now starting to block users who have ad-blockers. “Forbes, meanwhile, has already pulled the trigger on its solution: When a reader with ad-blocking software turned on hits a page, a road-block ad pops up and denies the user access to the content unless they turn off the software. If they agree to turn it off, they get access to what the magazine calls an ‘ad light’ experience for the next month.”

Rumor: Google is working on a new messaging app. “Google is working on a mobile messaging app to catch up with Facebook’s Messenger and WhatsApp, Viber and QQ and WeChat, which are big in China and Asia, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the project. Google will tap its artificial intelligence know-how and incorporate chatbots — which answer questions — to get a slice of the 2-billion user business and help preserve its lead in search.”


Oracle is finally going to warn users about Java. “Millions of Java users are to be warned that they could be exposed to malware as a result of a flaw that existed in the software’s update tool. The plug-in is installed on many PCs to let them to run small programs written in the Java programming language. Its distributor Oracle has agreed to issue an alert on both social media and its own site following an investigation by the US’s Federal Trade Commission.”

Bank of America apparently doesn’t get the concept of fair use. “The founding editor of Business Insider UK, Jim Edwards, had a bank delete two of his tweets today. In an e-mail, Bank of America told Edwards that his tweets violated the bank’s copyright and that if he kept it up, they’d see to it that his Twitter account was deleted….Edwards had quoted a research document produced by analysts.”

Net neutraladowhatnow? YouTube claims T-Mobile is throttling its video content. “T-Mobile declined to address YouTube’s complaint but no doubt this is something the FCC wants to take a look at. Recently the FCC had publicly stated that they wanted to speak to the likes of AT&T, T-Mobile, and Comcast about their free data programs. The FCC noted that this wasn’t an investigation, but rather they wanted to gather all the facts about it.”


The Financial Times has a writeup on a very cool Google Street View game called GeoGuessr. “The game deposits the player in a random Street View spot somewhere on the globe. It is then your job to work out where you are, to the closest metre. You can do this on your own, or with a challenger, who can be in the same room, or another location. I’ve been playing it transatlantically with a daughter, keeping Skype open as we play to goad/mock/disrupt the other’s efforts. We are quite competitive.” Good morning, Internet…

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