Maryland Hospitals, Weather Forecasting, Freshwater Lakes, More: Friday Buzz, October 20, 2017


Baltimore Sun: New website will let Maryland consumers compare hospital rates for the first time. “A new website… being launched Thursday by the Maryland Health Care Commission will help consumers compare these types of costs among hospitals and bring more transparency to hospital pricing practices. While patients can request all or some of this data from other agencies and the hospitals themselves, the commission said the website compiles the information all in one place and in an easy-to-navigate, consumer-friendly way.”

NOAA: NOAA and partners release database for research to bridge weather to climate forecast gap . “Wouldn’t it be nice to know now what the weather is going to be like for the vacation you have planned next month? Or, if you’re a farmer, whether you’re going to get enough rainfall during a crucial planting time coming up in a few weeks? Weather forecasts help us make decisions about the next few days to a week, and seasonal climate forecasts give us information on the time scale of three months to a year or more. But a significant gap in scientists’ understanding has limited the ability to forecast what will happen two weeks to two months from now, also called the subseasonal scale…. Two new datasets, funded in part by NOAA Research’s Modeling, Analysis, Predictions, and Projections (MAPP) Program, now provide easy access to 60 terabytes of climate forecasts containing predictions of rainfall, temperature, winds and other variables at the subseasonal level.”

National Science Foundation: A fresh look at fresh water: Researchers create a 50,000-lake database. “To better understand the complex factors that threaten lake water quality, scientists need data on many lakes in various environmental settings. Unfortunately, much of the lake and geographic data needed for such studies is not easily accessible. The datasets exist in multiple formats in government, university and private databases – and sometimes in file drawers. Now, a new ‘geography of lake water quality,’ called LAGOS, is allowing scientists to understand lakes in ways that will better inform water policy and management. LAGOS, or the LAke multi- scaled GeOSpatial and temporal database, includes information on 50,000 lakes in 17 U.S. Northeastern and upper Midwestern states.”

The Local (SE): Swedish university launches digital archive of Nazi concentration camp survivor testimonies. “A digital archive of over 500 survivors’ testimonies from a Nazi concentration camp will be launched in the southern Swedish city of Lund later this week. The archive includes interviews with women and children who were interned at the Ravensbrück camp in northern Germany, as well as documents belonging to survivors and Nazi officials. ”


BetaNews: Ubuntu 17.10 ‘Artful Aardvark’ ditches Unity for Gnome . “Six months after introducing Ubuntu 17.04 ‘Zesty Zapus,’ Canonical has released a new version of its popular Linux-based distribution. Ubuntu 17.10, also known as ‘Artful Aardvark,’ arrives with a host of major changes, including the highly-anticipated switch to a new desktop environment and display server. Canonical has shipped the alpha and beta versions of Ubuntu 17.10 with Unity, but the first official release now comes with Gnome 3.26 as the desktop environment of choice. Wayland is the default display server, replacing Mir. And that is not all that is new.” Good. I hated Unity.

CNET: Facebook begins testing paywall for subscriptions. “Earlier this year Facebook announced plans to introduce a subscription news service with paywalls, and now the company is testing it out.”


BuzzFeed: Twitter Was Warned Repeatedly About This Fake Account Run By A Russian Troll Farm And Refused To Take It Down. “Twitter took 11 months to close a Russian troll account that claimed to speak for the Tennessee Republican Party even after that state’s real GOP notified the social media company that the account was a fake.”

Recode: Facebook admits Russia agents used Messenger to disrupt U.S. presidential election. “A top Facebook executive admitted Wednesday that Russian agents had used the social network’s popular Messenger platform to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. Facebook Messenger boss David Marcus disclosed that a ‘very small’ number of the 470 accounts active in the Russian interference campaign were using Messenger to communicate with their users.”

Bloomberg: Facebook, Google, Twitter Will Send Lawyers to Face Congress. “Facebook Inc., Twitter Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google will all send their top lawyers to testify Nov. 1 in front of congressional committees investigating how Russian state actors used social networks and online platforms to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.”


The Next Web: Shop owner’s takedown of Google leads to new consumer protection law in Colombia. “A Colombian shop owner fought for his rights against Google. The small-scale furniture seller recently won a court battle with Google after failing to silence an anonymous blogger who spread false accusations, shattering his online reputation.”

Reuters: Google offers bug bounty to clean up mobile apps. “Google is offering security experts a bounty to identify Android app flaws as the Alphabet Inc (GOOGL.O) unit seeks to wipe out bugs from its Google Play store.”

TechCrunch: Consumer report warns over safety of kids’ smartwatches. “A report by an EU consumer watchdog has flagged up myriad problems with smartwatches designed for children, including security flaws, privacy concerns, and risks posed by unreliable features.” Good morning, Internet…

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