Yahoo unveils new Digg-like service

Yahoo Inc. on Tuesday announced it will launch a service called Yahoo Buzz, will identify top news and blog posts from around the Web based on user votes and search patterns and bring them to Yahoo's homepage, Reuters reports. Currently still a beta version, Buzz measures Internet users’ votes and search patterns to collect interesting and up-to-date stories and videos from a variety of Web sources. According to the company, top stories will receive primary editorial consideration for feature placement on Yahoo.com. Officials add that the release represents a larger shift to make the site more social and relevant to its users. Specifically, as the Buzz evolves, officials say it will form the basis for an open system of publishers, advertisers and users, which will bring more syndication and revenue opportunities (Adegoke, Reuters, 2/26/08).

Colorado may infuse biotech industry with $26.5 million in grants

The Colorado House of Representatives on Tuesday awarded preliminary approval for a bill that would allocate $26.5 million in grants for biotech research across the next five years, the Denver Business Journal reports. Sponsored by Rep. Jim Riesberg (D-Greeley), the legislation would expand the state's existing Bioscience Discoveries Grant Program and earmark up to $150,000 per project to Colorado research institutions and $250,000 for Colorado-based biotech startups. According to statistics from the House Majority's communications office, the state’s bioscience industry currently yields $415 million per year in tax revenue and employs roughly 16,000 residents. Based on the data, Riesberg estimates that each successful biotech project generates $1.2 billion in private investment and new jobs for the state. The House must award final approval before the bill can move to the Senate Finance Committee for consideration (Denver Business Journal, 2/26/08).

Robots ease loneliness in nursing homes as well as real dogs

A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Directors Association, suggests that a robotic dog eases loneliness among nursing home residents as well as a real dog, Untied Press International reports. For the study, St. Louis University researchers compared how residents of three nursing homes interacted across seven weeks with Sparky—a living, medium-sized mutt—and Aibo—a robot manufactured by Sony that looks like a three-dimensional cartoon dog. Among the 38 nursing home residents, one group saw Sparky for one 30 minutes period each week, another group met with Aibo for one 30 minute period each week, and a control group did not visit with either dog. Researchers also surveyed study participants about loneliness at the start and end of the study. They found that participants who visited with real and robotic dogs felt less lonely and more attached to their doggy friend compared to those who visited with neither. Moreover, researchers found no statistical difference between outcomes of visits with the real or robotic dog (UPI, 2/26/08).

Sun completes MySQL purchase

Sun Microsystems, Inc., on Tuesday announced that it has officially acquired open source database developer MySQL for approximately $1 billion, TMCnet reports. As part of the announcement, Sun also released MySQL's complete portfolio of products and enterprise services. In addition, Sun recently introduced enterprise-class database subscriptions and services for the entire MySQL product line, which Sun president and CEO Jonathan Schwartz says allows IT organizations across the globe to take advantage of the open database for the Network Economy. Sun also will offer MySQL Enterprise Unlimited, a service that helps users deploy and manage an unlimited number of MySQL Enterprise Servers for a single annual fee. According to Schwartz, the acquisition will enable businesses worldwide to standardize on a commercially supported, open source platform that meets scale, quality and global service needs (Shrivastava, TMCnet, 2/27/08). 

Google, others to build underwater cable

Google Inc., in partnership with five telecom operators, recently announced plans to build an undersea cable that will link the United States to Japan, enabling a powerful surge in Internet traffic between the continents, Reuters reports. Other than Google, the coalition of companies, called Unity, includes Bharti Airtel, Global Transit, KDDI Corp, Pacnet, and Singapore Telecommunications. In joint statement, Unity said that the $300 million, 6,200-mile undersea fiber optic cable will provide the much-needed capacity to sustain unparalleled growth in data and Internet traffic between Asia and the United States. Unity has tapped NEC Corporation and Tyco Telecommunications to construct and install the system, which will likely be ready for service in 2010 (Loo, Reuters, 2/26/08)

Cox bolsters security offerings for high-speed Internet customers

Cox Communications on Monday unveiled the McAfee-powered Cox Security Suite free for its cable Internet customers, the Business Journal of Phoenix reports. The new security suite features McAfee Virus Scan, Privacy Service and SiteAdvisor, as well as antivirus and anti-spyware tools, personal firewall protection, customer identity theft protection, and parental control tools to filter offensive Web content. According to Cox, the McAfee package typically costs $69.95 annually, while the Cox suite is available for free download through the Internet Tools section of www.cox.net customer Web site (Business Journal of Phoenix, 2/25/08).

U.S. researchers unveil lensless X-ray

A U.S.-led research team has developed a lensless X-ray technique that records images of extremely tiny structures in nanoparticles and nanomaterials, United Press International. Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory worked with colleagues at the University of California-Los Angeles, the University of Melbourne, La Trobe University in Melbourne and the Australian Synchrotron to develop the method for examining internal and buried structures in micrometer-sized samples on the scale of nanometers. According to the lead Argonne researcher, X-ray resolution has traditionally been limited by lens technology, but “the new lensless technique avoids that limitation by using sophisticated algorithms to reconstruct the image." He adds that the technique can extend beyond the current resolution of roughly 20 nanometers to create images of the internal structure of micrometer-sized samples at much finer resolution. The scientists, who published their findings in the journal Physical Review Letters, said the new method may enhance understanding of disease and its eradication, healing after injury, cancer and cell death (UPI, 2/25/08).

Software analyzes, predicts terrorism

University of Maryland researchers recently released a software program that can analyze threats and forecast acts of terrorism, United Press International reports. Funded by the U.S. Air Force Office of Scientific Research, researchers at the school’s Institute for Advanced Computer Studies developed the Stochastic Opponent Modeling Agents (SOMA) Terror Organization Portal, enabling analysts to determine learned rules on terrorist organization behavior, predict potential behavior based on those rules and share data with analysts examining the same subjects. According to its developers, SOMA is a formal, logical-statistical reasoning framework that uses data on the past behavior of roughly 30 terror groups to generate rules about the likely behavior of each. Comenting on the release, the project's lead investigator notes that "SOMA is a significant joint computer science and social science achievement that will facilitate learning about and forecasting terrorist group behavior based on rigorous mathematical and computational models" (UPI, 2/26/08).

Rural Illinois hospitals tap federal grant for EMR project

Washington County and Salem Township hospitals in Southern Illinois are creating a $3 million communitywide health information exchange that will enable physicians, hospitals and other medical providers to electronically share patient information, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. Using a $1.6 million federal grant and funding from other sources, the Illinois Critical Access Hospital Network will help deploy electronic medical record (EMR) and picture archiving systems at Washington County and an EMR system at Salem Township. Later, officials will expand the system to include access for providers at SSM Health Care’s St. Mary’s/Good Samaritan hospital in Mount Vernon, as well as for other providers such as dentists and long-term caregivers. According to the Post-Dispatch, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services awarded grants to 15 other similar programs nationwide to foster broader adoption of health information technology (Feldstein, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 2/20/08).

Web services help baby boomers track parents' health

A growing number of baby boomers are tapping online services to help them care for their elderly parents, the Boston Globe reports. Users such as the executive director of the Defeat Diabetes Foundation note the attraction to the 24-hour accessibility and comprehensiveness of online services, adding they also offer "an opportunity to share information with each other, and have a place to store valuable documents like insurance papers, and to communicate quickly and efficiently." Additionally, the Globe notes that such services also can help disseminate information to family members. The article lists several successful Web-based caregiver services including Caregiverhelper.com, a secure online service that stores information about medications, emergency contacts and physician appointments; House-works.com, which is designed to help seniors live independently; Lotsahelpinghands.com, which provides an online calendar for organizing meals, appointments and transportation; and Parentcarecall.com, a service that calls those living alone to remind them when to take their medication (Lebovits, Boston Globe, 2/25/08).

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