eBay purchases security firm to boost PayPal Web site safety

Online auctioneer eBay Inc. announced today that its PayPal division will purchase Fraud Sciences Ltd., an Israeli online risk tools company, for roughly $169 million, the Associated Press reports. Officials say the acquisition, slated to close within 30 days, will help enhance Web site safety.

Fraud Sciences founders Shvat Shaked and Saar Wilf and Chief Operating Officer Yossi Barak will join PayPal's technology and fraud management teams, while President and Chief Executive Gadi Maier will offer strategic and operational support during the transition period (AP/BusinessWeek, 1/28/08).

UAE, Microsoft enter historic partnership to enhance technology access

Microsoft recently announced it is partnering with the Dubai Cares charity program and the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation to improve technology access related to education and research in the Arab world, the Khaleej Times Online reports. Under the Dubai Cares-Microsoft Digital initiative, Microsoft across the next five years will provide technologies needed to improve skills building among students, teachers and communities. Specifically, the program is designed to raise computer literacy among school staff and parents in underserved communities, as well as help teachers encourage innovative thinking among students. In the first phase, Microsoft will help establish Learning Resource Centers, which will serve as community based e-learning hubs for students, teachers and communities. The next phase will enable Dubai Cares and partnering governments to launch targeted PC campaigns to promote an effective learning. Meanwhile, Microsoft also will partner with the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation to launch the Arab Education and Research Network, a first-ever knowledge portal in the Arab world. Microsoft will build the critical communications capabilities required for effective collaboration to establish an Arab Research Database and an extensive e-library. The platform will facilitate communication and information exchange among professors, researchers and academic institutions and will create a database of digital Arabic research to support Foundation initiatives (Khaleej Times Online, 1/28/08)

Honda to roll out e-learning for employee, dealer training

Honda Motor Europe recently announced it will implement a global knowledge sharing and learning program in order to create “brand ambassadors” out of its staff and partners, ITPro reports. The company is contracting with CERTPOINT to provide a mix of e-learning and classroom-based training and product information resources to 40,000 employees, distributors and dealers. Specifically, Honda will tap CERTPOINT's virtual learning system multi-lingual software as the foundation for the program. The training, delivered to participants according job title, responsibility and local regional requirements, will be available in 32 languages and cover a wide range of products across Honda’s three core business sectors: automobiles; motorcycles; and power equipment, including engines for motor boats. Honda Motor Europe's head of customer operations notes that the plan aims to “change the learning culture within Honda so that everyone could learn within working hours.” He adds that Honda “also wanted to establish a central repository of information and to enhance the skills base of all our employees and dealers to help us exceed customer expectations," which ultimately yields increased excellence both in terms of technology and enhanced customer service (Knights, ITPro, 1/28/08).

Hawaii tech firm to unveil new product at Demo 2008

The Honolulu-based technology company ChipIn will unveil a new product next week at Demo 2008 in Palm Springs, Calif., Pacific Business News reports. Founded in mid-2006 and based at the Manoa Innovation Center, ChipIn has been secretly developing Sprout, a widget-based fundraising program, which will expand the company’s product line. ChipIn’s existing technology includes a Web-based software program that organizes group transactions, or chip-ins, as a convenient way to pool or raise money. According to its CEO, ChipIn is the first Hawaii tech company to receive an invite to the semiannual show, which touts itself as the "premier launch venue for new products, technologies and companies." The event features six-minute demonstrations of roughly 70 new technology products that have yet to be publicly released. Past demonstrations include the Palm personal digital assistant and the Java programming language (Pacific Business News, 1/25/08).

Mayo Clinic, Microsoft partner to streamline health care

Microsoft Health Solutions Group and the Minnesota-based Mayo Clinic recently announced they will partner to develop tools designed to help consumers manage their health and better connect with their physicians, Healthcare IT News reports. Building on Microsoft's HealthVault Web portal platform, which offers consumer access to various clinical content and tools, the partnership aims to create tools that facilitate communication and help consumers’ take action to manage their health, according to the vice president of Microsoft’s health group. Under the agreement, Mayo Clinic will implement HealthVault, which is touted by the Patient Privacy Rights Foundation as the first tool to pass the Coalition for Patient Privacy's tough standards for patient privacy, though the Mayo Clinic also offers Web-based consumer health tools including a portal, health risk assessment and content applications. Officials plan to announce more details about the project later this year (Manos, Healthcare IT News, 1/25/08; Health Data Management, 1/25/08).

Punjab government approves plan to recruit 2,100 computer teachers

The Punjab government on Wednesday initially approved a plan to recruit 2,100 computer teachers to enhance computer education for students from grades 6 to 12 in government schools, Punjab Newsline reports. Under the plan, teacher recruitment would comply with proper selection procedures outlined by the Punjab Information Communication & Technology Education Society. In addition, the Chief Minister also agreed to transfer 10 acres of land in Muktsar to create the Punjab University Regional Centre, which is currently located in Gurdwara. The center would house vocational training facilities and space for short term courses to help school drop outs gain trade industry skills.  Together with the state technical education and industrial training department, Punjab University has already identified 60 such courses for the new center (Punjab Newsline, 1/25/08). 

Task force aims to boost high-speed Internet use among underserved populations

The Atlanta-based Alliance for Digital Equality this week announced a new 22-person council that will investigate strategies for bridging the “digital divide” among underserved communities in Charlesont, S.C., the Charleston Post and Courier reports. Made up of local community and business leaders, the task force will help roll out broadband Internet access to more of Charleston's minorities and low-income residents. According to the Washington-based Pew Charitable Trusts, from 2005 to mid-2007 the percentage of blacks with home high-speed Internet access nearly tripled to 40 percent from 14 percent, and though roughly 48 percent of white households had broadband, just 30 percent of homes with less than $30,000 in annual income had high-speed connections. South Carolina, however, is plugging into broadband much more slowly with just 34 percent of South Carolina homes at the end of 2006 reporting high-speed Internet access at home, compared with 46 percent of all U.S. homes, according to the Federal Communications Commission and the Census Bureau. Meanwhile, the Alliance for Digital Equality is organizing similar efforts in Atlanta, Detroit, Houston and Miami to bring together elected officials, consumers and business leaders to educate minority communities about the importance and benefits of broadband usage (Kyle Stock, Charleston Post and Courier, 1/25/08).

Software, information industry benefit economy, SIIA says

The Software and Information Industry Association (SIAA) on Friday issued a report emphasizing how the software and information industry benefits the U.S. economy, Federal Computer Week reports. However, SIIA officials point out that Congress is not doing enough to ensure the industry remains viable in the long run. Specifically, the SIIA suggests that the economic stimulus provided by the software and information industry is transforming other industries such as health care and higher education, yet officials note that a lack of comprehensive immigration reform is creating workforce problems for the industry and the economy. As a “relatively small fix,” officials support legislation that would enable international students who earn advanced degrees in computer science to receive green cards and legally work in the United States. According to SIIA President Ken Wasch, increased scrutiny of students attending U.S. colleges and universities since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks has hurt economic growth and competitiveness. Noting that Google co-founder Sergey Brin was a Russian student on a regular visa when he attended Stanford University, Wasch adds that the U.S. has “probably sent back several Sergeys, and we’ll never know it,” (Olsen, Federal Computer Week, 1/24/08).

Genome research project to require unprecedented power, data storage

The 1,000 Genomes Project, recently announced by an international consortium that includes the National Human Genome Research Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health, plans to examine the human genome across three years at an unprecendented level of detail. Government Executive reports that leaders of the ambitious project, which aims to produce a more detailed understanding of the link between genetic variations and susceptibility to disease, say it will require an unparalleled amount of computing power and terabytes of data storage. Under current plans, the project will sequence 8.2 billion DNA base pairs daily, or the equivalent of more than two human genomes every 24 hours, across its two-year production phase for a total of 6 trillion DNA bases, one co-chair of the analysis committee says. One project leader said researchers are working to develop algorithms and mathematical and computational models that should reduce the computing requirements, such as models and algorithms designed to process and crunch the fractional differences, which he compares to the way video compression algorithms function when processing power is applied to moving objects and not to static background objects (Brewin, Government Executive, 1/24/08).

Florida Nursing School Taps iPods, Patient Simulators for Training

Orlando, Fla.-based Seminole Community College is integrating technologies such as patient simulators and iPods to more efficiently provide high quality nursing student education, the Orlando Sentinel reports. The nursing school uses three patient simulators—"SimMan," SimBaby" and "Noel," a simulator of a pregnant woman—to help students learn "decision-making without hurting the patient," according to the school’s nursing director. Simulators also enable nursing students to practice treating rare medical conditions that more experienced physicians or nurses would handle in a true clinical setting. Additionally, nursing students will use video iPods to study new concepts and skills. Students will be able to load the iPods with lecture videos, demonstrations of medical procedures and electronic flash cards to review medical terminology (Horowitz, Orlando Sentinel, 1/25/08).

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