Apple unveils another security update

Apple Inc. on Tuesday released its second security update of the year, known as APPLE-SA-2008-03-18 Security Update 2008-002, CNet News reports. The update contains more than 40 specific patches for versions of Mac OS X, the most significant of which include Apache, ClamAV, Emacs, OpenSSH, PHP, and X11. According to CNet, these patches protect users from the most serious vulnerabilities, such as the ability for outsiders to gain remote access to a user's computer, as well as other issues that, for instance, may cause an application or service to crash. The update "is recommended for all users and improves the security of Mac OS X," according to the Apple Downloads page (Vamosi, CNet News, 3/18/08).

New Mexico taps federal grant to create regional telehealth network

The University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center’s Center for Telehealth is using a $15.5 million grant from the Federal Communications Commission to design, build, operate and assess a major broadband network designed to link rural telehealth networks throughout the region, the Associated Press reports. The Southwest Telehealth Access Grid would help create connect more than 500 Indian Health Service (IHS) and other health care facilities in New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, California, Nevada, Texas and Utah. Described as a “network of networks,” the grid will enable IHS to offer roughly 60 telemedicine services to patients including teleradiology, teleophthalmology and telepsychology. According to the center’s medical director, the grid will likely improve patient care and provider training, as well as disaster response capabilities. Noting that telehealth does not replace the value of in-person care, he also suggests that the network will significantly enhance physician-patient relationships, adding that demand for such services will likely increase as more experience the value of telehealth (Holmes, AP/Yahoo! News, 3/19/08).

Media remembers sci-fi writer Clarke, who passed on at age 90

With the recent passing of sci-fi writer Arthur C Clarke, a number of media outlets have been addressing his legacy and future predictions. BBC News specifically outlines eight of the author’s true and yet-to-come-true predictions including the space elevator, earthquake prevention, atomic travel and freezing people. Best known for penning the story that inspired Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey,” Clarke also offered a framework for developing geostationary satellites that was published in 1945, nearly two decades before scientists could make his prediction a reality (Schwankert, IDG News Service/PC World, 3/19/08).

Microsoft releases Vista update

Microsoft recently released a service update for all versions of its Windows Vista operating system, BBC News reports. According to the company, the update will improve software stability, security and performance. Specifically, the service pack includes many new patches, as well as some that were already released. Microsoft, however, warns that the service pack may clash with some security software and other programs that customers may have installed on their machine (BBC News, 3/19/08).

Baltimore aims to train more biotech workers

Baltimore County officials are partnering with area colleges to train job seekers in the biotechnology industry, the Baltimore Business Journal reports. Under the plan, Baltimore County will work with University of Maryland, Baltimore County Training Centers; Community College of Baltimore County, Parenteral Drug Association; and the Biotechnical Institute of Maryland to train residents. Companies can also enroll current employees in the program. Participating individuals will take courses in pharmaceutical manufacturing and laboratory skills. According to county officials, there are more than 370 biotech companies in Maryland and more than 75 in the Baltimore region including BD Diagnostic Systems, Shire Pharmaceuticals, MGI Pharma and Pharmaceutics International Inc.—all firms with a sizable presence regularly looking for trained professionals. Courses will begin April 11 at the Community College of Baltimore County's Catonsville campus. Tuition for the course will be priced at $500 per six-hour course, though the course will initially be offered for $295 during the upcoming spring semester (Sharrow, Baltimore Business Journal, 3/19/08).

Record-resolution Earth map is produced

The European Space Agency (ESA) has released a new global portrait taken from space that details Earth's land cover with a resolution never before obtained, United Press International reports. In partnership with the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, the ESA last week presented the preliminary version of the map to scientists during the 2nd GlobCover User Consultation Workshop in Rome. According to ESA scientists, but the new map has a resolution 10 times sharper than any other maps that chart the planet's land cover from space. The new map is based on 20 terabytes of imagery, which equals roughly the content of 20 million books, acquired from May 2005 to April 2006 by the ESA's Envisat satellite. Slated for public release in July, the map shows 22 different land cover types, including croplands, wetlands, forests, artificial surfaces, water bodies and permanent snow and ice (UPI, 3/18/08).


Berkeley to host computing research center

Microsoft Corp. and Intel Corp. have announced plans to invest $10 million in a new computer research lab at the University of California, Berkeley, the San Francisco Business Times reports. Microsoft and Intel will also invest $10 million in a center at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The California center, which computer science professor David Patterson will run, will focus on parallel computing, in which a computer task is divided into small pieces that are calculated at the same time, enabling computers to work more quickly and efficiently. Ultimately, the lab will work on applying parallel computing in the mainstream market, putting it to work in cell phones and other commonplace appliances with specific emphasis on battery operated devices. Seven other UC Berkeley faculty members will work in the center, which has been named the Universal Parallel Computing Research Center (Brown, San Francisco Business Times, 3/18/08).

Health IT group to analyze value of PHRs, provide framework

The Center for Information Technology Leadership (CITL), a not-for-profit research arm of Partners HealthCare in Boston, recently announced that it will conduct a study to assess the value of personal health records (PHRs), Modern Healthcare reports. Sponsored by Kaiser Permanente and Microsoft, both of which offer PHR services, the study aims to determine the impact, costs and value of PHRs, Health Data Management reports. In addition, CITL will study PHR practices and create a framework of market readiness, adoption issues and penetration, as well as provide a formal definition for the technology. Initial findings of the study are slated for release this fall (DerGurahian, Modern Healthcare, 3/17/08; Health Data Management, 3/17/08). 

Autism advocates set high bar for success of online database

Roughly 21,000 families have registered with the Interactive Autism Network (IAN) since its launch last year, making it "by far the largest database of its kind," the Baltimore Sun reports. The Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore deployed the system with a goal of collecting data from every family with an autistic child in hopes of providing data to find a cure for the disorder. Specifically, IAN collects information from an online questionnaire completed by families of children with autism. Its Web site also serves as an online resource, helping parents find information about autism research and compare experiences with treatment or school placement for their autistic children. In addition, IAN has helped recruit participants for more than 60 studies in areas such as medication efficacy, infant brain development and stress in parents. The advocacy group Autism Speaks provided a $6.5 million grant to cover IAN's costs for three years (Marech, Baltimore Sun, 3/16/08).

Human rights group developing Internet censorship code of conduct

The Human Rights Watch on Tuesday announced that a code of conduct addressing how major Internet service providers and portal operators should deal with Internet censorship in China is in the final stages of preparation, IDG News Service reports. Releasing on the heals of the upcoming Beijing Olympic Games, the code is due in the next couple of months. According to the head of the HRW, all of the major foreign Internet companies operating in China were taking part in compiling the code of conduct (Williams, IDG News Service/Yahoo! News, 3/18/08).

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