What Happened When Scientists Asked Canadians to Record Horny Toads (frogs)

“Frog researchers asked the public to record mating calls and got everything but in response; a ‘deep, chirpy sound’”

Australian scientists recently asked smart phone owners to record frog mating calls for them. Scientists have been tirelessly listening to hundreds of these recordings in an office at the Australian Museum in Sydney, although most recordings appear to be of insects, dogs barking and even people arguing.

Australia is home to roughly 240 different species of frogs. The scientists’ intent is to catalogue the frogs’ mating calls, and they had hoped that they could get some help from us non-scientists.

The scientists released a cell phone app, which was specifically designed for people to record these frog mating calls and send them directly to the scientists. According to the Wall Street Journal, this is not a new idea.

Scientists have been calling on the public to be their eyes and ears with similar projects, such as tracking rabbits in New Hampshire and snapping pictures of clouds for NASA.

I definitely have mixed feelings about this concept. While, I get the convenience of so many people having smart phones, I don’t think the average person is as reliable as one would think, especially with complex tasks such as these. Taking pictures of clouds seems simple enough, but having people track animals can get kind of dodgy, in my opinion.

My concern is that untrained people would not use the same level of caution and care as a scientist would when entering the habitats of these animals. I also believe that people may cause harm to the animals and environment because of the myopic attitude of wanting to be the one that got the desired video clip or sound bite.

The Wall Street Journal article goes on to further discuss how unreliable the sound bites of the frogs being sent in are. Scientists at the Australian Museum in Sydney have complained that they are receiving an overwhelming number of recordings of crickets and cicadas, but no frogs.

I honestly can’t blame the people that are sending these audio clips in. To the untrained ear, frogs and insects sound eerily similar. The Wall Street Journal has a test, and out of the all of the audio clips I listened to, I only got about 30% correct, which is very poor.

I do hope that some of the data submitted by the non-scientists can be rendered useful, but it appears to be difficult to sift through all of the useless information, much like a lot of the noise we’re all exposed to on the internet.


The New iPhone Costs How Much!?

As a long standing iPhone user, it scares me about the ever increasing prices of the iPhone. I recently heard that the new iPhone 8, which is scheduled to be unveiled this week, will start at $1000. To me, that’s an absurd figure. The MacBook Air, which has a 13” screen and is an actual computer, starts at $999. I understand that the new iPhone will have capabilities that a computer could never touch, such as the camera and portability, but if you are like me, you seem to just be along for the ride with Apple.

In the past, periodic software updates have rendered my previous iPhones relatively useless. At some point I have always been forced to upgrade, whether I wanted to or not. At first, I thought that this was an anomaly and that it was only happening to me. Then I started to notice how few people on the subway had older phones. Now, I hardly ever see an iPhone older than an iPhone 6.  

For financial reasons, I have always used every iPhone I had until it was on its last leg. Because the iPhone is so well built, even when it was hanging on by a thread, it always had a little bit more juice left in it. I still have an iPhone 4S that if it wasn’t for the spent battery I would still at least be able to send an iMessage and make a phone call. Although it pained me to get rid of my beloved 4S, I had to admit to myself that the phone was obsolete and move on. But now, with a $1000 price tag the iPhone is becoming more and more out of reach. I currently have an iPhone SE, and I have zero complaints. The price was right, and aside from needing to reset it periodically, I have never run into any problems with it. This phone could easily last me another 3-4 years. As great as this sounds, do I really have to mentally prepare myself that in a few years I will have to shell out over $1000 to replace this phone?

Apple prides itself on releasing premium electronics, which is a philosophy that goes back to Steve Jobs. I get that, but there is also practicality. I have always preferred the iPhone for its dependability and simplicity. There’s very little unnecessary software on the phone, which I believe has plagued most of the Droid products. I have tried other smart phones, such as the Samsung Galaxy, an HTC and a Motorola, but still nothing came even remotely close to the iPhone. 

I understand Apple’s desire to always be on the cutting edge of technology, but I hope that they would also keep in mind that not all of us need every bell and whistle. I really just want a phone that is dependable, easy to use, and secure, without having to pay an arm and a leg each month.