New software targets Australian businesses, helps manage greenhouse emissions

Tech application developer SAP is launching an environmental compliance solution specifically targeting the Australian market to coincide with new federal greenhouse legislation, Computerworld reports. Released on Wednesday, the software platform enables companies to monitor and manage their greenhouse emissions to ensure compliance with national and international environmental laws and policies. The application is housed within SAP's governance, risk and compliance business unit and is platform neutral, meaning it can run in non-SAP environments. Meanwhile, Australia’s National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting Act 2007, which “establishes a national framework for Australian corporations to report on greenhouse gas emissions, reductions, removals and offsets, energy consumption and production,” according to Computerworld, is slated to take effect July 1, 2008 and will apply to 700 medium and large companies (Rossi, Computerworld-Australia, 5/8/08).

U.K. researchers create new carbon nanotube technology

British scientists recently unveiled a technology that yields carbon nanotubes that instantly form a highly sensitive, ready-made electric circuit, United Press International reports. Published in journal Analytical Chemistry, the study from the University of Warwick involved using “a form of chemical vapor deposition and lithography to create the disc shaped, single walled carbon nanotube-based ultra-microelectrodes,” according to UPI. The researchers note that the nanotubes deposit themselves flat on a surface in a random, yet even manner, adding that they also overlap enough to create a single, complete metallic micro-circuit across the final disc. Moreover, the researchers note that the nanotubes take up less than one percent of the surface area of the disc. According to the scientists, the technology can have various applications, such as serving as ultra sensitive sensors that measure neurotransmitter levels (UPI, 5/8/08).

Microsoft releases Web service development platform to U.S. municipalities

Local and regional U.S. governments will soon gain free access to Microsoft’s Citizen Services Platform, which help create Web-based electronic government services, Government Computer News reports. Though available without charge, the platform must run on a Microsoft computing environment. According to GCN, the Citizen Services Platform features eight ready-to-use templates for the most common types of transactions between municipal governments and residents. In addition, governments can customize the platform for their preferred level of sophistication. For instance, governments can create e-government services that range from “simple, so-called presence offerings that provide static information to more complex transactional services incorporating live data streams or enabling online, real-time interactions between residents and government,” GCN reports (Rendleman, GCN, 5/7/08).

Sans Institute report calls for defense against patch-based exploits

The Sans Institute--a global tech security training organization--on Monday released a report cautioning that centralized patch management can be leveraged to combat the threat of automated, patch-based exploit generation, ZDNet UK reports. The assertion specifically addresses research recently released by the University of California at Berkeley, University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University, which suggested that “exploits for vulnerabilities in code can be reverse-engineered from patches and generated automatically,” according to ZDNet UK. In the Sans report, the authors criticize advice outlined in the university research, which maintains that distributing software patches in encrypted form can reduce the amount of time attackers have to reverse-engineer the patch. Specifically, Sans contributor John Bambenek asserts that the most significant issue with patching is the time it takes to reboot systems once a patch has been applied. To remedy the shortcoming, Bambenek urges systems managers to centrally manage patch distribution and other defense interventions including hot fixes and kill bits (Espiner, ZDNet UK, 5/7/08).

Carnegie Mellon researchers enhance biological image analysis

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University's Lane Center for Computational Biology recently unveiled technology that can significantly speed up critical steps in an automated method for analyzing cell cultures and other biological specimens, according to the university. Published online in the Journal of Machine Learning Research, the study suggests that the new technique is capable of enabling higher accuracy analyses of microscopic images created by high-throughput biological screening methods and can help decode the complex structure of human tissues. Commenting on the innovation, the researchers note that improved accuracy could help cut costs and boost time efficiency related to these screening methods. They add that the technology could lead to new types of experiments that “previously would have required an infeasible amount of resources,” as well as potentially reveal “interesting but subtle anomalies that otherwise would go undetected,” according to the release. Meanwhile, the release notes that the technique can be adapted in fields beyond biology “because it improves the efficiency of the belief propagation algorithm, a widely used method for drawing conclusions about interconnected networks” (Carnegie Melon release, 5/1/08).

Yahoo unveils new search engine concept in India

Yahoo is rolling out the beta test of its new search concept that aggregates text, images, and video results on a single results page in India, IDG News Service reports. Called the Glue Pages Beta, the latest search engine update currently works for specific search terms across select categories such as health, sports, entertainment, travel, technology, and finance and displays the Glue Pages results alongside the usual Yahoo India search results. According to officials, Yahoo selected India for the beta test because it is an important company market with a rising number of new users, plentiful local content and a large number of developers capable of creating applications around Yahoo's technologies. If the beta proves successful, Yahoo plans to expand Glue Pages to other countries (Ribeiro, IDG News Service/CIO, 5/8/08).

HP launches tech research collaboration program

HP's new research director on Wednesday is launching a formal collaborative research program, the Associated Press reports. Under the program, HP will request project proposals from university researchers and select dozens to help fund for as many as three years. In addition, while patents from the work completed at universities could remain in the schools, HP would become first in line to license the technologies. The AP notes, however, that the resulting intellectual property also could become freely available in much the same way that IBM’s 2006 agreement stated under its university collaboration plan (Bergstein, AP/USA Today, 5/7/08).

Microsoft China breaks ground on massive Beijing-based tech facility

Microsoft China on Tuesday began construction on a 280-million-dollar research facility in the middle of Beijing's "Silicon Valley," AFP reports. Slated for completion in 2010 and located in Beijing's Zhongguancun area, the Microsoft China R and D Campus will include two buildings measuring 80 meters and 65 meters (270 feet and 215 feet) and totaling 101,000 square meters (1.1 million square feet) of space (AFP/Yahoo! News, 5/6/08).

Cell phones bring medicine to remote areas

U.S. and Brazilian researchers have developed an inexpensive technical system capable of bringing advanced medical services to remote areas, United Press International reports. Led by Harvard University Professor George Whitesides, the research team designed a system using cell phone cameras and paper test-strips to collect and characterize artificial urine samples. To test the system, researchers photographed the color-changing test-strips using the cell phones and electronically transmitted them to an off-site expert. From the test-strip images, the off-site expert was able to accurately measure glucose and protein levels that are commonly used to diagnose kidney diseases. According to researchers, the system also could help conduct similar analyses of teardrops and saliva. They add that, in addition to diagnosing human diseases, the system could also help detect diseases in plants and livestock and be used to test water and food quality. Commenting on the system, Whitesides notes that "the cellular communications industry is, and will continue to become, a global resource that can be leveraged for detecting disease" (UPI, 5/6/07).

MIT building low-cost solar concentrator

Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers are building a prototype power concentrator that they say could revolutionize the solar energy field, United Press International reports. Under the direction of MIT mechanical engineering graduate student Spencer Ahrens, the student research team is constructing a 12-foot-square mirrored dish that can concentrate sunlight by a factor of 1,000. UPI notes that the toll will be made from simple, inexpensive industrial materials selected for price, durability and ease of assembly rather than for optimum performance. According to Ahrens, the team aims to make a dish that, in mass production, can be competitive in cost with other energy sources and produce heat for space heating and electric power at the same time. He adds that, if placed in the Sun Belt, the dish could make roughly 10,000 peak watts of heat and 3,500 peak watts of electricity (UPI, 5/7/08).

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