Health IT acceptance could mirror Internet model, Steve Case says

At the Medco Health Solutions 2008 Drug Trend "Predictions" Symposium, Revolution Health CEO Steve Case predicted that consumers will overcome concerns about the security of electronic health records, comparing the trend to online banking, Healthcare IT News reports. Case, co-founder of America Online, compared skeptics of health information technology (IT) with those who downplayed the development of the Internet in the 1980s. Specifically, he noted that a secure, universal system will entice patients and payers, boasting financial efficiencies and clinical benefits.  He added that patient control of electronic health information is essential to consumer confidence. According to Case, empowering and engaging consumers to more actively manage their own health care is a vital component of boosting health IT adoption (Monegain, Healthcare IT News, 5/16/08). 

Mass SQL attacks span China, Taiwan

A security company in Taiwan recently found that a mass SQL injection is attacking Web sites across China and Taiwan, implanting malware in thousands of sites, IDG News Service reports. According to Taipei-based Armorize Technologies, attack is coming from a server farm inside China, which has made no effort to hide its IP addresses. First detected on May 13, the SQL injection attack has infected 10,000 servers just last Friday. Officials note that most of the affected servers are located in China, while some are located in Taiwan. Under such a malware scheme, "an attacker attempts to exploit vulnerabilities in a Web site's database by entering SQL code in an entry field, such as a login. If successful, such an attack can give the attacker access to data on the database and the ability to run malicious code on the Web site," IDG notes (Lemon, IDG News Service/CIO, 5/19/08).

Support for saving XP operating system grows

The InfoWorld-sponsored petition SaveXP.com as of May 15 had reached more than 200,000 supporters who all aim to extend the availability of Window's XP operating system, InfoWorld reports. InfoWorld in January asked businesses and individuals to sign the online petition, which requests that Microsoft keep Windows XP for sale beyond the planned June 30 general end-of-sales date. As of May 15, the count was 200,805 signatures, excluding duplicates and fake signups. InfoWorld reports that Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer a few weeks ago indicated that the company may give XP a reprieve similar to what it had done six months ago when it extended the system's end-of-sales date. However, Microsoft's PR firm Waggener Edstrom "quickly issued denials that any change was imminent, suggesting that the voices seeking to keep XP were a small minority," according to InfoWorld. Meanwhile, Microsoft has declined to meet with InfoWorld to receive the petition and discuss the concerns of its customers who have signed it (InfoWorld, 5/19/08).

Microsoft announces possible new Yahoo deal proposal

Microsoft on Sunday said it has proposed a new deal with Yahoo that may involve buying a part but not all of the company, IDG News Service reports. Though the details were limited, the company said it does not plan at this time to make a new bid to acquire all of Yahoo, but that it is exploring other options to expand its online services and advertising businesses. The announcement comes a few weeks after Microsoft's May 3 withdrawal of its offer to buy Yahoo. Since then, the activist investor Carl Icahn has said he will launch a proxy battle to replace Yahoo's board and force it back to the negotiating table with Microsoft, according to IDG. A Yahoo spokeswoman, meanwhile, declined to comment on Microsoft's statement (Niccolai, IDG News Service/Computerworld-Australia, 5/19/08). 

U.S Jaguar supercomputer upgraded

The U.S. Department of Energy recently upgraded its Oak Ridge National Laboratory's Jaguar supercomputer to more than doubled its performance, United Press International reports. According to officials, the Jaguar system, a Cray XT4, recently completed various tests that included running applications in climate science, quantum chemistry, combustion science, materials science, nanoscience, fusion science and astrophysics, as well as benchmarking applications that test supercomputing performance. Jaguar now uses more than 31,000 processing cores to deliver up to 263 trillion calculations a second, or 263 teraflops. Commenting on the change, the lab's director notes that "this upgrade is an essential step along that path, bringing us ever closer to the era of petascale computing," which UPI notes is capable of thousands of trillions of calculations per second (UPI, 5/19/08).

Support for saving XP operating system grows

The InfoWorld-sponsored petition SaveXP.com as of May 15 had reached more than 200,000 supporters who all aim to extend the life of Window's XP operating system, InfoWorld reports. InfoWorld in January asked businesses and individuals to sign the online petition, which requests that Microsoft keep Windows XP for sale beyond the planned June 30 general end-of-sales date. As of May 15, the count was 200,805 signatures, excluding duplicates and fake signups. InfoWorld reports that Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer a few weeks ago indicated that the company may give XP a reprieve similar to what it had done six months ago when it extended the system's end-of-sales date. However, Microsoft's PR firm Waggener Edstrom "quickly issued denials that any change was imminent, suggesting that the voices seeking to keep XP were a small minority," according to InfoWorld. Meanwhile, Microsoft has declined to meet with InfoWorld to receive the petition and discuss the concerns of its customers who have signed it (InfoWorld, 5/19/08).

World IT convention meets in Kuala Lumpur

The 16th World Congress on Information Technology (WCIT) began on Monday in Kuala Lumpur, Xinhua News Service reports. Often billed as the Olympics of ICT, the 16th WCIT is themed "Enable, Empower and Enrich" to reflect its potential to enable businesses, empower societies, and enrich economics. Held at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Center on May 18-22, the five-day event has drawn more than 3,000 delegates from 92 countries worldwide. At the opening ceremony, the Chairman of World Information Technology and Services Alliance (WITSA) George Newstrom announced that the WCIT will be held in the Netherlands in 2010 and Montreal, Canada, in 2012. In 2006, the event was held in the United States. Commenting on the congress, Newstrom notes "this event is designed so that the leaders of government and industry from around the world share their vision of their world and how we in information technology and communications can support their dreams and direction" (Xinhua News Service, 5/19/08). 

CMU researchers tap online games to boost computer performance

Carnegie Mellon University researchers on Wednesday launched www.gwap.com: a gaming site that aims to help computers grow “smarter,” the Associated Press reports. Featuring five games designed to help computers with tasks they can't automatically do, the site matches users age 13 and older with other players. One task, for instance, involves improving computer searches for images or audio clips. For example, a Web search for "sad songs" generally yields links to audio files that have the word sad in the filename. Games such as “Tag a Tune,” however, get people to describe audio clips as sad, and then researchers can improve searches for audio files (AP/Fox News, 5/16/08).

Indonesia joins new global bird flu monitoring database

Indonesian Health Minister Siti Fadilah Supari on Thursday announced that the country will begin sharing genetic information about the country's bird flu virus with a new global database, the Associated Press reports. More than a year after scientists and health experts called for bird flu data to be shared more quickly and openly, the Global Initiative on Sharing Avian Influenza Data’s (GISAID) free, online site went live on Thursday. According to the AP, Indonesia, China, Russia and other countries previously withheld bird flu samples and DNA sequencing information from international databases such as the World Health Organization's 50-year-old virus sharing system. Supari said that WHO's database, which required member countries to submit bird flu samples and data to the global body, was unfair to developing countries and that pharmaceutical companies could use the information to develop costly vaccines that would be inaccessible to people in Indonesia. However, countries that previously boycotted such databases said the new online site offers full transparency and basic protection of intellectual property rights (McDowell, AP/Washington Post, 5/15/08). 

Web-Based genome service partners with Parkinson’s researchers

23andMe, a Google-backed company offering personal scans of DNA to see how genetic variations might affect patients' health, has formed its first research partnership with the Parkinson's Institute and Clinical Center in Sunnyvale, Calif., the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The consumer genome service 23andMe on Wednesday announced its plans to conduct a Web-based study based on genetic data of clinical trial subjects that could provide links between family health histories and Parkinson's disease. The institute will recruit 150 participants to enroll in 23andMe's genome service. Half of the subjects will have Parkinson's and the other half will be a control group. Under the agreement, the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research provided the project with a $600,000 grant, which will cover the 23andMe fees for participants in the trials. One of 23andMe’s co-founders notes that, if the company is able to host large-scale groups of people with various illnesses, pharmaceutical companies could begin paying 23andMe to communicate their offers to participate in clinical trials. She added that the online service also can support clinical trials with database services and that patients could use the Web site as a forum to prompt research in areas they deem important (Tansey, San Francisco Chronicle, 5/15/08).

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