New tool helps companies manage information security risk

Digital Defense Inc. (DDI) has unveiled a new tool to help companies organize, assess and manage their information security risks, the San Antonio Business Journal reports. The company released the tool as part of its Information Security Risk Assessment (ISRA) service portfolio, which helps management improve compliance with regulatory guidelines by managing risk-assessment data and using tools that automatically notify management and create reports for the company. The new management tool has been certified as compliant with the OCTAVE Allegro methodology, which is a technology standard developed by Carnegie Mellon Software Engineering Institute for the information security risk-assessment tools. Alabama-based MAX Credit Union is one of the trial users of DDI’s new product (Tuttle, San Antonio Business Journal, 3/3/08)

Iowa medical center taps eICU to boost patient outcomes, cost efficiency

Mercy Medical Center in January launched the first Iowa-based electronic intensive care unit (eICU) in an effort to reduce patients' stays and health costs, the Des Moines Register reports. Through its remote monitoring center, physicians, nurses and specialists—called intensivists—track patients remotely 24 hours per day all week long. The center features a number of computer monitors that enable staff to view vital statistics, electrocardiograms, ventilators, and X-ray and lab data. In addition, a two-way video conference system enables off-site care providers to view the actual patients when necessary.According to the Register, the Mercy eICU currently tracks roughly 80 patients in five ICUs (Sagario, Des Moines Register, 2/27/08).

U.S. scientists make detailed brainstem images

According to a study published in the journal Science, Princeton University researchers have developed a technique that can, for the first time, produce three-dimensional, high-resolution images of the human brainstem, United Press International reports. The brainstem controls biological functions including breathing and experiences of reward or pleasure and is one site that produces neurotransmitters, which (in surplus or absence) relate to disorders such as schizophrenia and Parkinson's disease. For the study, researchers obtained brainstem images by applying specialized techniques to functional magnetic resonance imaging. According to UPI, “the three-dimensional images allow scientists to observe the brain processes that accompany human movement and mental activities with unprecedented precision.” The researchers note that they plan to use the new technique to neuroscience research (UPI, 2/28/08).

Men learn about prostate cancer online

A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine suggests that men who view online presentations about prostate cancer are more likely to understand the disease than those visiting health Web sites, United Press International reports. For the study, researchers from the University of California at Los Angeles assigned 611 healthy men ages 50 to visit public prostate-cancer Web sites or view online presentations designed to help them make decisions. They found that men who watched the online presentations scored higher on tests about prostate knowledge than those who visited the public Web sites. At the beginning of the study, 96 percent of participants expressed interest in a prostate-specific antigen PSA test. After the study, 9 percent of the men were less likely to want to undergo a PSA test, while those who only visited Web sites were roughly 3 percent less likely to undergo the test. The lead study author notes that some physicians support routinely administering the PSA test to healthy men, while others question its value. He adds that there exists no evidence that "screening for prostate cancer in men without symptoms would help them live longer" (UPI, 2/29/08).

MySpace taps Harvard scholars for Internet safety task force

Harvard University Web scholars will convene a yearlong task force to explore how to protect children from unwanted contact and content through popular online social networks, the Associated Press reports. Created by MySpace as a result of an agreement it made with all state attorneys general except Texas' in January, the Internet Safety Technical Task Force will include representatives from leading Internet service companies and nonprofit groups, including those focused on children's safety. Though the group will operate independently, MySpace named the task force members and chose Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet and Society to run it, according to Berkman's executive director. The AP also reports that the group’s recommendations, which will cover pornography, sexual predators and bullying, will be nonbinding (AP, 2/28/08).

Google offers free phone number, voicemail access for San Francisco homeless

San Francisco's homeless will soon have access to free, lifelong phone numbers and voice mail through Google Inc.'s Grand Central telephony service and Mayor Gavin Newsom's Project Homeless Connect (PHC), InformationWeek reports. Designed to help people transitioning from homelessness to housing, PHC launched in October 2004 and has been replicated in more than 100 cities across worldwide. The start-up company Grand Central, before its July acquisition by Google, began providing phone and voice mail services through its Project Communications and Respect for Everybody (CARE) in April 2006. Under the program, homeless participants will be able to record greetings and check messages from any phone. In partnership with the mayor's office, Google plans to make its service for the homeless available throughout San Francisco's homeless shelters (Claburn, InformationWeek, 2/28/08). 

Microsoft to reduce Vista prices

Microsoft Corp on Thursday announced plans to cut prices of its Windows Vista operating system sold at retail outlets, a move that officials hope will entice customers to switch to the newest version of Windows, Reuters reports. Under the plan, the company will lower retail prices for Vista in 70 countries later this year, when it ships the first major update to Vista—Service Pack 1 (SP1). Because most consumers opt to buy a new PC, which comes preloaded with the latest version of Windows, packaged versions of Windows Vista sold at stores and on the Web currently account for less than 10 percent of all licenses of the dominant Windows operating system, according to Reuters. One Microsoft corporate vice president notes that officials “anticipate these changed will provide greater opportunities ... to sell more stand-alone copies of Windows" (Wakabayashi, Reuters, 2/28/08).

Law can help warn of nanotech risks, study finds

The Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies (PEN) recently determined that a key federal toxics law could help warn the public of nanotechnology risks, United Press International reports. Formed in 2005, PEN—a partnership between the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and Pew Charitable Trusts—aims to address the social, political and public safety aspects of nanotechnology. UPI notes that, “in its first legal analysis, PEN found the federal Toxics Release Inventory law could be applied to production and commercialization of nanotechnology, providing the public with more information about such revolutionary, yet still potentially risky, technologies.” Before the statute can be applied to nanomaterials, however, PEN notes that researchers must develop more toxicological data to better understand nanotechnology's potential affects on human health and the environment. According to one of the analysis authors, "the key question is whether [the federal government] will make any determinations about whether particular nanomaterials constitute toxic chemicals," (UPI, 2/28/08).

IPTV gaining popularity, study finds

A new study by Yankee Group Research Inc. suggests that Internet protocol television (IPTV) is will redefine pay TV in the United States by changing the service from a one-size-fits-all traditional broadcast to an open, flexible offering, the East Bay Business Times reports. According to the study, more than 9 million households in the United States will subscribe to telco-provided video service by 2011. Unlike traditional cable, which is a one-way programming transmission, viewers using IPTV retrieve programming similar to pulling up Internet sites. The program manager at Yankee notes that "IPTV will forever alter the video ecosystem by creating not only a new breed of service, but also a new breed of service provider," adding that "IPTV will transform telcos from the market dominating gorillas they once were, to street fighting guerrillas" (East Bay Business Times, 2/28/07).

Florida YMCA, Lockheed Martin launch tech center for students

Lockheed Martin and the Central Florida YMCA on Tuesday unveiled a new technology lab at the South Orlando YMCA family center, the Orlando Business Journal reports. Supported by $250,000 from Lockheed Martin, the center, which will be free to local students, will feature laptop computers, high-speed wireless Internet access, printers and video conferencing. Students also will be able to use to math and science tutoring software, modeling and simulation programs and virtual presentations. Ultimately, the founders aim to raise grade point averages, attendance and graduation rates, though the center will largely focus on creating future engineers and scientists (Orlando Business Journal, 2/27/08).


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