Indian leader calls for greater technology adoption

India’s Minister of State for Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions Suresh Pachauri on Wednesday called on civil servants to keep pace with developments in modern technology in order to serve the country better, The Hindu reports. in his inaugural address at a seminar on “Human Resources Management—Revisited,” Pachauri said the government needs “to make efforts to ensure that our officers remain fully motivated.” Noting the need to foster discussion among officers, Pachauri said that leaders “need to build an environment where creativity is not killed by failure,” adding that they need to motivate “officers and staff to excel in modern day technology” (The Hindu, 3/26/08).

New technology helps the brain to learn

New technology developed at Tufts University in Boston is enabling scientists to translate the most abstract, complex concepts into clearer, more precise three-dimensional images, United Press International reports. The technology involves a 14-foot by 8-foot visualization display called "VisWall," which is designed to facilitate work in diverse disciplines including mathematics, physics, drama and dance. Specifically, the wall features a high resolution display that uses a single screen with roughly nine-megapixel resolution and two rear projectors that together help create high-resolution images and animation that appear smoother and without seams. UPI adds that the system also can “combine the sense of touch with that of sight through haptic devices that convey varying levels of resistance to a user when he or she touches graphical objects on the display.” According to researchers, "users will be able to manipulate, simulate, touch and literally immerse themselves in data in a way they never have been able to before" (UPI, 3/25/08).

Partnership to facilitate old computer donations

Goodwill Industries and Austin-based Dell Inc. have expanded the Reconnect alliance to foster computer equipment recycling in the Houston area, the Houston Business Journal reports. Through the alliance, consumers can donate old computers at a Computer Works store or nearly 50 participating Goodwill locations throughout the city to be refurbished. Reconnect, Dell and Goodwill's partnership, began with a pilot program in October 2004. More information is available at www.reconnectpartnership.com (Houston Business Journal, 3/26/08).

Dell makes India retail deal

Dell last week announced plans to introduce new computer models specifically for the Chinese and Indian computer markets, Digital Trends reports. Specifically, Dell has made a deal with Infinity Retail to distribute its notebook and desktop computers to India's Croma retail stores beginning this April. According to Digital Trends, “the move marks the computer maker's latest foray into retail offerings as it struggles to regain it's title as the world's top computer maker” (Digital Trends, 3/25/08).

Study reports more global warming evidence

U.S. researchers at the University of Colorado-Boulder's National Snow and Ice Data Center have discovered that, based on satellite imagery, a large part of the Antarctic ice shelf is disintegrating as result of climate change, United Press International reports. According to the scientists, satellite pictures indicate that a 160-square-mile portion of Antarctica's massive Wilkins Ice Shelf has started to collapse on Feb. 28because of rapid climate change in a fast-warming region of the continent. Though the area of collapse involves just 160 square miles, the lead researcher notes that a large part of the 5,000-square-mile ice shelf is now supported only by a narrow strip of ice between two islands, adding that "if there is a little bit more retreat, this last 'ice buttress' could collapse and we'd likely lose about half the total ice shelf area in the next few years." The study notes that, across the past 50 years, the western Antarctic Peninsula has experienced the biggest temperature increase on Earth, rising by 0.9 degrees Fahrenheit per decade (UPI, 3/26/08).

USDA awards loan to spur rural broadband network

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development agency on Tuesday announced it is loaning satellite broadband company Open Range Communications Inc. $267 million to develop wireless Internet service for 518 rural towns in 17 states across the country, the Denver Business Journal reports. Awarded as part of the government's effort to help bring high-speed Internet services to regions outside the reach of DSL or cable Internet service, the loan marks one of the largest public-private partnerships formed in the agency's $1.6 billion program to extend rural Internet access, according to officials. Under the partnership, the Denver-based company must roll out the service within five years. In addition to the government loan, Open Range has lined up $100 million in private investment, according to the USDA (Denver Business Journal, 3/25/08).

Web 2.0 tools and Enterprise Social Software – Where Are We?

A new, large scale survey was launched last week to create a baseline map of how social software is being used in the enterprise. The research, which will be shared with participants under a creative commons license, will uncover experiences organizations are having as they plan and implement social software. Readers are encouraged to take the survey by visiting the website: http://www.essresearch.com/ieee. The researchers, Mike Reid and Christian Gray, would like participants to complete the survey before March 21. Recently they have been writing about the topic for Searcher magazine. Data collection will include; types of implementations, plans and strategies for implementation, departments and functions served, vendors selected, criteria for vendor selection, budget, impetus for implementation, criteria for success, how users measure success, level of internal support, and the impact on the organization. The survey is targeted for a broad base of private sector, public sector, and non-profit organizations. It will be analyzed by researchers and data analysts with Sector Intelligence (www.sectorintelligence.com), an independent market intelligence firm, and Datacollection-tools, an online survey implementer.

Method detects, predicts structural strain

U.S. scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Florida International University have created a software program that can predict stress fractures that occur in statues hundreds of years old, United Press International reports. Presenting last week in Honolulu during the International Conference on Computational and Experimental Engineering and Sciences, the researchers said they applied their technology to Michelangelo's David in an analysis that proved simpler, faster and more accurate than previous methods. The "Scan and Solve" program “takes 3-D sampled or scanned data of an object and calculates where points of weakness occur and how those points will be affected by forces acting on them, such as gravity in the case of David or activity in the case of a human bone,” according to UPI. The researchers note that by applying the technique to other objects, such as human bones, they also are gaining new perspective on the likelihood of other structures to fail, adding "this research is likely to result in a breakthrough technology for performing direct engineering analysis on physical artifacts in situ" (UPI, 3/24/08).

Yahoo, Google, MySpace partner for open application development site

Yahoo Inc., Google Inc., and MySpace Inc. on Tuesday announced plans to collectively form the OpenSocial Foundation to "ensure the neutrality and longevity of OpenSocial as an open, community-governed specification for building social applications across the Web," the San Jose Business Journal reports. Yahoo, a founding member of the new foundation, said the rapidly growing specification will help developers connect with more than 500 million people. The OpenSocial Foundation will be “an independent nonprofit with a formal intellectual property and governance framework,” according to the Journal, which adds that related assets will be assigned to the new organization by July 1. The companies also note that “the foundation will provide transparency and operational guidelines around technology, documentation, intellectual property, and other issues related to the evolution of the OpenSocial platform, while also ensuring all stakeholders share influence over its future direction." www.opensocial.org will serve as the community portal, offering information about OpenSocial and the foundation. Developers and Web site owners can now visit the site for the latest specifications, links to other resources and tips for getting involved (San Jose Business Journal, 3/25/08).

New Web site aims to deliver critical medication updates to physicians via email

The not-for-profit iHealth Alliance—owned by Medem Inc, a for-profit company created by the American Medical Association and six other medical societies—is launching an online network to email pharmaceutical alerts to participating physicians, the Wall Street Journal reports. Until now, physicians would only receive notices about drug warnings and label changes from pharmaceutical companies via U.S. mail—a method many consider inefficient. Under the iHealth system, participating physicians will receive email alerts tailored by specialty. The notifications, slated to begin within the next two months, will be limited to alerts about medication label changes, warnings and recalls, and will not include any drug company marketing materials. While drug makers will pay to use the system, physicians can sign up for free and will gain access to the Health Care Notification Network, which archives drug alerts for one year and tracks physicians’ site access. After receiving an email notification, participating physicians can access the network to see additional information and resources including suggested language for explaining the changes to patients and a tool to send feedback about patients’ reactions to drugs to manufacturers or the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). According to the Journal, the site also may be used to alert physicians in the event of a major public health crisis. Meanwhile, other drug label information is available through the National Library of Medicine’s DailyMed Web site, and the FDA’s MedWatch email alert system, which sends out notices on various health and safety issues. Physicians can sign up for iHealth Alliance at www.hcnn.net, and consumers can create a personal health record at Medem’s www.ihealthrecord.org to receive similar notifications about drugs that they are taking (Rubenstein, Wall Street Journal, 3/25/08 [subscription required]).

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