AT&T builds network for Kentucky schools

AT&T Inc. recently installed a statewide network that will bring high-bandwidth broadband services and Internet access to Kentucky schools, Washington Technology reports. Provided through the company’s existing information highway contract with the Kentucky Education Cabinet, the $140 million service establishes virtual private network services for state school operations and connects 174 school districts in 120 counties. In addition, it will enable students and teachers to access information from post-secondary institutions in the state. According to company officials, the network services plan will facilitate analysis and improvement of student test scores online through Web-based diagnostic tools and the development of electronic individual-learning plans for more than 300,000 students. Meanwhile, Kentucky also is tapping AT&T network services to build a K-12 data warehouse intended to serve as a clearinghouse for assessment data, curriculum guidance and instructional tools accessible to students, parents, teachers and administrators (Welsh, Washington Technology, 3/5/08).

SBA launches contracting course

The Small Business Administration (SBA) recently added an online tutorial on winning federal contracts to its educational offerings for small businesses, Washington Technology reports. Available on the SBA Web site, the “Business Opportunities: A Guide to Winning Federal Contracts” course is free and self-paced. According to officials, the 30-minute tutorial applies to all small businesses, but particularly targets woman-owned firms and companies in markets that historically have struggled to get into the federal market. Among the topics, the course covers contracting rules and ideas for finding suitable contracting opportunities. Business owners also will learn how to register in the federal Central Contractor Registration database and find more than 40 links to contracting resources, according to officials (Hardy, Washington Technology, 3/5/08).


Medical hand-washing monitor developed

Canadian researchers are developing an electronic system to remind healthcare workers to wash their hands between treating patients, United Press International reports. Under the system, which is still under development, health care workers must wear a sensor around their neck that is tracked through overhead monitors, according to CTV News. The system identifies when workers have either washed their hands at registered locations or used hip-mounted alcohol cleansers and triggers the necklace sensor to beep when they forget, says Geoff Fernie, vice-president of research at Toronto Rehab. Noting he was “worried early on that there is an element of 'Big Brother'-creepy element that you know where people are and what they are doing," Fernie said his research team found staff actually appreciated the system in trial studies (UPI, 3/3/08).

Reuters reports IBM to provide Microsoft-free PCs to eastern Europe

According to Reuters, IBM is teaming up with Red Hat and other partners to offer computers without Microsoft software in eastern Europe, Triangle Business Journal reports. Other partners in the project include VDEL of Austria and LX Polska of Poland, which will get the actual computers from their partners, while Big Blue will use North Carolina-based Red Hat's Linux operating software on the computers. In addition, the PCs will be preloaded with Lotus Symphony—an IBM software suite that rivals Microsoft's Office software. According to the Journal, IBM left the PC-making business in 2005 and sold its North Carolina-based division to Lenovo, a China-owned company now based in Morrisville. Reuters also reports that the deal, which will specifically target Russia, could give IBM a boost in its battle to one-up Microsoft in the region (Triangle Business Journal, 3/4/08).

Broadcom acquires chip-maker; deal could cut costs on high-def disc players

Broadcom Corp. on Monday announced it has purchased Sunext Design Inc. and the licensed optical disk reader and writer technology from its parent company Sunext Technology for $48 million, Los Angeles Business reports. According to a release, Sunext Design created single-chip front-end technology that complements Broadcom's system-on-a-chip back-end Blu-ray Disc platform, and the combination could lower costs for high-definition players and recorders. Los Angeles Business notes that the cash deal closed on Friday, Feb. 29 (Los Angeles Business, 3/4/08). 

Microsoft unveils $100,000 sweepstakes for beta workspace software suite

Microsoft Corp. on Tuesday plans to announce a new sweepstakes with a $100,000 grand prize for U.S. beta testers of its free Web-based document storage and collaboration service called Office Live Workspace, IDG News Service reports. The company also announced that it has added several new features to Office Live Workspace, a service designed for individual users and small businesses that Microsoft describes as an "online extension" of its Office suite. As part of the sweepstakes, Microsoft will award a total of 30,000 prizes through May 11. Prizes other than the grand $100,000 prize include 300 Xbox 360s, 500 Samsung BlackJack II mobile phones, 200 30GB Zune media players, 400 Expedia travel vouchers worth $300 each, and several thousand other Microsoft software and hardware products. The bulk of the prizes, however, include roughly 23,000 soda coupons and 1,000 $10 gift cards to an unidentified "specialty coffee retailer." While any user can currently sign up to try Office Live Workspace, only U.S. residents who are age18 or older are eligible for the prizes. Testers can sign up for both the service and the sweepstakes on Microsoft's Web site (LAI, IDG/New York Times, 3/4/08).

Kentucky HIE to use health record bank for data sharing

The Louisville Health Information Exchange (HIE) is tapping the health record bank model to exchange patient information because it, Health Data Management reports. HIE officials plan to use the data bank model, which enables patients to control who accesses their information, to collect, store and facilitate access to medical information for residents who open a health record account. The HIE is currently developing a request for proposals for one or more vendors to collaborate, build and operate the health record bank (Health Data Management, 2/29/08). 

Cisco unveils high-power, efficient router

Cisco Systems Inc. on Monday unveiled a new router for processing data, voice and video that is built atop its new QuantumFlow Processor, Computerworld reports. Resulting from five years of research and a $250 million investment, the new Aggregation Services Router (ASR) 1000 will become available in April in two-, four- and six-rack-unit sizes, according to Cisco officials. The ASR 1000, starting at $35,000, is designed for use in WAN applications at “the network edge,” a term defining those areas outside the data center such as surrounding buildings in a campus setting. Touted as the company’s highest-performance and most efficient router, the ASR 1000 features instant-on provisioning, according to Cisco's director of product management for midrange routing. He adds that its embedded capabilities will eliminate the need to deploy multiple single-function applications, thus lowering costs and reducing the carbon footprint. Such combined functions include a firewall, IPsec VPN, deep packet inspection and session border control (Hamblen, Computerworld, 3/3/08)

Dell unveils tougher laptop product to rival Panasonic Toughbooks

Dell on Tuesday plans to launch its first rugged notebook that meets all U.S. Department of Defense standards for durability and operation in extreme conditions, IDG News Service reports. With a hardened cover, the Latitude XFR D630 notebook is shock-resistant and resists moisture, high altitude and high temperatures, according to officials. In accordance with federal standards for operating in extreme conditions, the notebook can run in environments from -20 degrees Fahrenheit (-9 degrees Celsius) to 140 degrees Fahrenheit (60 degrees Celsius), as well as altitudes as high as 15,000 feet. Additionally, the laptop is sealed to resist moisture and dust. IDG reports that the laptop is a more rugged version of the company's still-available Latitude D630 laptop, which only complies with some of the DOD's rugged laptop requirements. The more rugged version specifically targets the military, public-safety first responders and enterprises such as oil and gas exploration companies, among others, and officials note the product enables Dell to compete against companies such as Panasonic—the leader in rugged laptops (Shah, IDG/InfoWorld, 3/4/08).

University of Pittsburgh taps patient monitoring technology

The University of Pittsburgh is using patient-monitoring technology to improve care delivery in "step down" units, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports. Patients in step down units are being carefully transitioned from intensive care units to hospitals' acute care departments. University officials have implemented the patient-monitoring system made by OBS Medical to automatically tracks patients' vital signs and alerts nurses when a patient's heart rate or breathing pattern is abnormal. The system also helps nurses react "very early on when the patient starts to develop instability, sometimes when there isn't even what we would consider to be a significant change in vital signs," according to one acute care nursing professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing. Meanwhile, the school also is tapping technologies such as simulated patient robots to help train nurses (Roth, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 3/3/08).

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