Connecticut Health Care Costs, Utah Birds, Windows 10, More: Wednesday ResearchBuzz, October 9, 2019


Hartford Courant: New tool aims to remove the mystery of health care costs at Connecticut hospitals. “A new cost estimator tool launched by the Office of Health Strategy reveals how much medical treatment costs vary across Connecticut’s health care facilities. Standard procedures, like knee replacements, can cost nearly three times as much at certain hospitals than they do at others.”

KSL: Want to know where Utah’s waterfowl migrate to? There’s now a website for that. “Each year for more than a century, state wildlife biologists place metal bands on various ducks, geese and swans with the purpose of tracking migration patterns. Now, a new comprehensive website allows anyone to see where those birds went after they were tagged — and there are some interesting places.” Props to the bird which ended up in Hawaii. Wow.


How-To Geek: Windows 10’s Phone Calls Will Support All Android 7+ Phones. “If you have an Android phone, the Calls feature will let you answer phone calls on your PC, initiate phone calls from your PC, access your call history in the Your Phone app, and seamlessly transfer calls between your PC and Android phone while on a call. You can even decline a call from your PC and send a custom text message in response or just send it to voicemail.”


Washington Post: Everyone’s AirPods will die. We’ve got the trick to replacing them.. “Cupertino, we have a problem: AirPods are comfortable and convenient headphones that have attracted tens of millions of customers. But each one of those white sticks contains a rechargeable battery marching toward an untimely death in as little as two years. Apple’s plan to deal with that reality is just to sell us new ear buds. When your AirPods’ day comes, the only option is to ask Apple for discounted replacements — but you’ll need to know its code word to even get that.”

Oprah Magazine: What in the World Is TikTok? A Beginner’s Guide to the Fast-Growing Social Media App. Note this is more of a FAQ than a how-to. “Even if you do happen to stumble upon someone who reads TechCrunch with regularity, you’re still likely to come away from the conversation more confused than when you started—with questions like What is it? Why is it so popular? Is it monetized? Is it safe? dancing in your head. Below, we tackle all those questions and more, as TikTok, a new social media app that feels like a cross between Vine and Snapchat, is spreading like viral wildfire. And you’re going to want to stay ahead of it.”


CNBC: Google buys 40 acres of farmland in Silicon Valley so it can grow trees for its campuses. “The Alphabet-owned company spent $2.1 million on 40 acres of land in Gilroy, California, according to a recent report by the San Jose Mercury News. The intent is to use the property as a tree farm to produce foliage for its existing and new campuses, a company spokesperson told CNBC.”

NPR: Senate Report: Russians Used Social Media Mostly To Target Race In 2016. “The Russian government’s interference in the 2016 U.S. elections singled out African Americans, a new Senate committee report concludes. Using Facebook pages, Instagram content and Twitter posts, Russian information operatives working for the Internet Research Agency had an ‘overwhelming operational emphasis on race … no single group of Americans was targeted … more than African Americans.'”


Ars Technica: Senator proposes mandatory labeling for products with mics, cameras. “Much in the same way that food labels are now required to disclose the potential presence of allergens such as peanuts, one Senator is proposing a law that would require tech companies to include a label on products disclosing the presence of recording devices.”

CNET: Twitter misused security information for advertising purposes. “A Twitter security feature may’ve wound up costing people their data privacy, the company said in a statement Tuesday. Twitter said it recently discovered that email addresses and phone numbers meant to be used for security ‘may have inadvertently been used for advertising purposes.'”

CNN: WhatsApp had a bug that let hackers take over phones with a GIF . “WhatsApp has fixed a security bug that allowed hackers to take over the messaging app with a malicious GIF. The hack could be triggered when a user opened a malicious GIF in their gallery. After the GIF was opened, the app’s contents could have been exploited, revealing previous chat history.”


Phys .org: Scientists use machine-learning algorithms to help automate plant studies. “Father of genetics Gregor Mendel spent years tediously observing and measuring pea plant traits by hand in the 1800s to uncover the basics of genetic inheritance. Today, botanists can track the traits, or phenotypes, of hundreds or thousands of plants much more quickly, with automated camera systems. Now, Salk researchers have helped speed up plant phenotyping even more, with machine-learning algorithms that teach a computer system to analyze three-dimensional shapes of the branches and leaves of a plant.”

CBC: Saskatoon hopes new Google tool will help the city battle the effects of climate change. “City of Saskatoon officials hope new software designed by Google will provide more information in the city’s battle against climate change. The software tool, Environmental Insights Explorer, combines information from Google Maps with existing information about greenhouse gas emissions to paint a picture of a city’s environmental footprint.” Good morning, Internet…

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