Archive for August, 2010

RFID and students

August 27, 2010 Leave a comment

forward-thinking school district in Connecticut is looking to crack down on wayward students, faculty and even equipment by making use of radio frequency identification (RFID) in its schools…New Canaan Public Schools hopes to increase the efficiency of its security efforts by embedding RFID tags into student and faculty identification cards and onto various pieces of school equipment…One of the alternative uses the company has offered to the district is to enable tracking on school busses to see who uses the busses and how often. The data collected from experiments like these could be used to better budget the school funds, potentially opening up more money to underfunded areas of education, like the arts. Some district board members raised questions about privacy, but the experiments will likely be opt-in if they are given the green light.


Sentiment analysis in real-time

August 27, 2010 Leave a comment

companies are turning to social-media sites to gauge the success of a new product and service. The latest activity on Facebook, Twitter, and countless other sites can reveal the public’s current mood toward a new film, gadget, or celebrity, and analytics services are springing up to help companies keep track. Social-media analytics startup Viralheat, based in San Jose, CA, is now offering free, real-time access to the data it is collecting on attitudes toward particular topics or products. One of the first customers for this new service–called Social Trends–is ESPN, which plans to use Social Trends to show live popularity rankings for different NFL teams…Viralheat uses natural-language processing and machine learning to sift through Twitter, Facebook fan pages, viral video sites, and Google Buzz posts to determine the Web’s collective sentiment toward everything from popular browsers to Pepsi to Steve Jobs…When a paying customer asks Viralheat to track a particular term, they have the option to share that information publicly. Kadam says that about 70 percent of users agree to share this information….Social Trends uses this information to provide a widget that can be embedded on a blog or website showing the sentiment around particular terms. These widgets stay connected to Viralheat’s data stores through an application programming interface (API) and are updated as the company collects more information. Viralheat believes the tool will be particularly useful for news sites wanting up-to-date infographics and for bloggers who want to track trends….Anyone can create a Social Trends account and then search for terms they’d like to follow, although the company doesn’t have data for every possible term. The system lets users create charts tracking a single term or comparing several terms. Kadam says that Viralheat is able to open up live connections to its data because its infrastructure can handle working with large amounts of information…Social Trends widgets only offer a snapshot of the data that paying customers get access to (72 metrics instead of just five metrics), he says…Alec Go, a Stanford University graduate student who created the “Twitter Sentiment” analysis tool, says there are dozens of sites offering such services. But he notes that many commercial analysis packages are closed off from public access…

App to see X-37B

August 27, 2010 Leave a comment

Seasoned skywatchers in North American may have several chances to spot the U.S. Air Force’s secretive X-37B space plane fly overhead with the help of a smart phone app that helps track satellites….imple Satellite Tracker app gives a one-week advance schedule of flybys, and also alerts users to when spacecraft will appear with a countdown clock and a direction guide…e robotic X-37B space plane and the International Space Station are expected to make a series of good passes over some North American cities and towns…X-37B space plane’s return date depends upon how well it performs its unknown tests in orbit…debut X-37B space plane was built by Boeing in Seal Beach, Calif., and weighs about 11,000 pounds (about 5,000 kg). It is about 29 feet (9 meters) long and has a wingspan of just over 14 feet (4 meters) across…space station can easily be seen from the Earth by the unaided eye on clear nights and can rival the planet Venus in brightness depending on observing conditions….U.S. Air Force officers have remained mostly tightlipped about the X-37B, except for denying that the vehicle represents a weapon.. Outside experts agree that the space plane most likely represents an orbital spy rather than a space weapon…

Pentagon and biometrics

August 27, 2010 Leave a comment

Biometrics has taken the U.S. Department of Defense by storm, both as a tool to fight war on the battlefield and as a way to make its business practices more efficient…“You can figure out who someone associated with and what they have been involved in. You can link events such as an [improvised explosive device] at one place and a protest at another. You build a picture of what has gone on.”… The military uses iris, facial, palm and voice characteristics in the field…now the Pentagon is bringing biometrics back for use at home. Just like in the combat zone — where biometrics are used to grant people access to secure facilities — the Defense department is using them in its own facilities as a type of universal access: every member of the military, their families and civilian employees have a common access identification card that is embedded with their fingerprints….At Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., the Air Force uses a device that scans hand prints to clear veterans who are receiving treatment at the Veterans Affairs clinic for access to the base hospital…Army uses iris scanning technology to provide keyless entry to sensitive areas…

Helmet cueing system

August 27, 2010 Leave a comment

ability to find a target from a jet cockpit with the naked eye and lock onto it simply by fixing your gaze upon it. This science fiction concept has become a reality at the 336th Fighter Squadron…4th Operations Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment technicians, who support the 336th FS, have spent the past few months equipping “Rocket” pilots with the Joint Helmet-Mounted Cueing System…JHMCS integrates a magnetic helmet mounted tracker that determines where the pilot’s head is pointed with a miniature display system that projects information onto the pilot’s visor. Together, the head tracker and visor display act as a targeting device that can aim sensors and weapons wherever the pilot is looking…”JHMCS is a force multiplier that significantly improves the speed and agility with which F-15E aircrew can find, fix, track, target and engage on the battlefield,” said Lt. Col. Charles Wallace, 4th Operations Squadron commander….The JHMCS interface provides visual information from the aircraft such as basic flight parameters, sensor and targeting information from the crewmate and other aircraft’s location and targeting information,” said Capt. Matt Swanson, 336th Fighter Squadron Weapons Flight commander. “It puts needed information in front of your eye so that you can quickly find those locations on the ground, and maneuver the aircraft to support the ground commander.”… crew will be able to quickly cue sensors and identify friendly locations. The enhanced aircrew coordination and seamless system integration will increase accuracy while shortening the employment chain….technicians and aircrew members had to overcome some initial challenges in equipment maintenance and training, the implementation process has gone smoothly….

Radiation Risk in breast screening

August 27, 2010 Leave a comment

When Dr. Deborah Rhodes orders a diagnostic test that involves radiation, she consults a chart in her office that lists the amount of radiation exposure from each test. She considers the patient’s total past exposure, and then carefully weighs the risks and benefits of each test and any alternative approaches she can take…more physicians should take this approach. One study found that certain nuclear-based breast imaging exams that involve injecting radioactive material into patients expose women to far higher doses of radiation than regular mammography, increasing their risk of cancer in vulnerable organs beyond the breast, like the kidneys, bladder or ovaries….point of the paper was to say that not all the breast imaging procedures have comparable risks and doses.”… consultant to G.E. Healthcare regarding digital breast tomosynthesis, another breast imaging technique,… nuclear technologies breast-specific gamma imaging (B.S.G.I.) and positron emission mammography (P.E.M.) are meant to be used as complements or adjuncts to mammography and ultrasound, once there is concern about a cancerous lesion, and not for routine screening. These technologies are also more useful in women who have very dense breast tissue, when mammography often does not provide clear images…single breast-specific gamma imaging or positron emission mammography exam exposes patients to a risk of radiation-induced cancer that is comparable to the risk from an entire lifetime of yearly mammograms starting at 40,… While digital mammography has an average lifetime risk of inducing 1.3 fatal breast cancers per 100,000 women aged 40 at exposure, a single B.S.G.I. exam was estimated to involve a lifetime risk 20 to 30 times greater in women aged 40, and the lifetime risk of a single P.E.M. was 23 times greater….mammography only increases a woman’s risk for breast cancer while B.S.G.I. and P.E.M. increase the risk of cancer in other organs, such as the intestines, kidneys, bladder, gallbladder, uterus, ovaries and colon…


August 27, 2010 Leave a comment

little dispute that people feel better after receiving the treatment, in which thin needles are inserted deeply into the skin at specific points on the body. But are they benefiting from acupuncture itself, or just getting a placebo effect?… Researchers from MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston found that among 455 patients with painful knee arthritis, acupuncture delivered no more relief than a sham treatment….Actually, patients got significant pain relief from both treatments — an average reduction of one point on a scale of 1 to 7…patients in both groups received treatment with needles and electrical stimulation; the main difference was that in the sham group, the needles were not inserted as deeply and the stimulation was far shorter in duration….a trained acupuncturist would customize the treatment to a patient’s specific symptoms. But in this study, the patients in the “real” acupuncture group all received needles inserted in the same way….Rather than proving that acupuncture does not work, in other words, the study may suggest that it works even when administered poorly…MD Anderson research and other recent acupuncture studies have fueled speculation that the prick of a needle, whether from real acupuncture or a sham version, can influence the way the body processes and transmits pain signals…