Saturday, September 26, 2009

NASA, Shuttle Crew Host DC Tweetup

Astronauts discuss the retirement of the space shuttle program and NASA's plans for a new spacecraft

Twitter users fascinated with space gathered at NASA Headquarters in Washington on Thursday to ask the crew of space shuttle Endeavour STS-127 candid questions about the future of NASA and space exploration.

This was the second Tweetup organized by NASA, the first one was held in July after the crew of Atlantis STS-125 successfully completed the final repair mission to the Hubble Space Telescope. On that mission, astronaut Mike Massimino, or Astro_Mike, became the first person to send a tweet from space. The message, sent to his 247,000 followers, said: "From orbit: Launch was awesome!! I am feeling great, working hard, & enjoying the magnificent views, the adventure of a lifetime has begun!"

During Thursday's Tweetup -- the term users of the social networking service Twitter use to describe an in-person meeting -- participants asked the STS-127 crew questions that ranged from their religious views to if they would volunteer for a one-way mission to Mars.

"I think that's a case-by-case question," Mission Specialist Christopher Cassidy said of a no-return trip to the Red Planet. "It's an interesting concept to think about it, and all of us are astronauts because we enjoy training for and operating in space. But there is certainly a human aspect to it, and we all have families, and to take a one-way trip to Mars with our families would be one thing, but take a one-way trip to Mars without our families is entirely different."

Video and more details:
Courtesy: Inside Science News Service

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Friday, September 18, 2009

Twitter: The New Mathematics

/PRNewswire/ -- The following comments were delivered today by Dr. Benjamin Ola. Akande, dean of Webster University's School of Business & Technology, to introduce Twitter creator, co-founder and chairman Jack Dorsey as the University's "Success to Significance 2009 Person of the Year." The event was presented by Webster's School of Communications and School of Business & Technology.

My favorite equation in mathematics is the original equation, one from which all other equations evolve. In my opinion, it is the holy grail of mathematics. The irrefutable law of mathematics. It is the convention in conventional wisdom. 1+1 equals 2. May I dare suggest to you that this universal truth may become something of our recent past? The reason: Twitter.

Twitter has successfully created a new equation which states that, 1+1 equals countless possibilities.

1+1 is equal to 3, to 300, 3 million. It is equal to the power of the written word -- 140 characters, succinct, precise and concise. Twitter is equal to the possibility to make a difference, to be a contributor to society for the greater good of mankind. Twitter is becoming the definitive equation of our time not just for its simplicity but also for its exponential potential of increase.

One of the ways in which we verify the overwhelming impact of a product and an idea is when it becomes a verb, a part of our lexicon.

Much like Google, Twitter has become a universal descriptor for sharing ideas in a concise format that speaks to universality, democracy, immediacy and transparency.

Twittering is a conversation between two people yet the definition of two is singular, infinite and boundless. Twittering has become a language unto itself. Words and symbols strung together in a deliberate order to create spontaneous, and sustained, bursts of ideas.

Twitter has in effect dismantled the constraints and boundaries of time and space between us. It is an enabler of ideas that has empowered the young and the young at heart to share and stay connected.

Twitter has fundamentally transformed the way we talk and listen to one another; the manner in which we inform each other and has extended and strengthened the power of the written word.

If I were to state the impact on society in 140 characters or less, I'd tweet "Twitter is to our generation what Guttenberg's printing press and Bell's telephone was to theirs."

In just three short years, Twitter's 40 million users have made it a public forum for the discussion of politics, business, culture, news, celebrity, gossip and idle chatter.

People are tweeting to raise money, to recruit talent, to make government more responsible, to find and distribute news, to discover knowledge, to build personal or business networks, or to just kill a little time with friends and family.

In the new book by Shel Israel, entitled Twitterville, the author makes a convincing case that Twitter's worth is not only the ability to broadcast short messages, but also the ongoing and transformative conversation that these tweets can ignite.

You know, every generation produces individuals who come along and make life better for those around them. They are notable individuals who rise from small and big places. They come from humble beginnings, unrecognizable even while in our midst. They are innovators, doers, ordinary people who enable others to achieve what has never been done before. The new math is Twitter.

With its home campus in St. Louis, Webster University ( is a worldwide institution committed to delivering high-quality learning experiences that transform students for global citizenship and individual excellence. Founded in 1915, Webster offers undergraduate and graduate degree programs through five schools and colleges, and a global network of more than 100 campuses. Its 20,000-plus student population represents almost 150 nationalities. The University's core values include excellence in teaching, joining theory and practice, small class sizes, and educating students to be lifelong independent learners, fully prepared to participate in an increasingly international society.

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Saturday, September 12, 2009

Apple Introduces New iPod touch Lineup

/PRNewswire/ -- Apple(R) announced September 9 the new iPod touch(R) lineup starting at the breakthrough price of just $199, giving users a great iPod(R), a great pocket computer, a great game player and access to Apple's revolutionary App Store with over 75,000 applications. iPod touch features Apple's revolutionary Multi-Touch(TM) user interface, a gorgeous 3.5-inch widescreen glass display, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and a built-in accelerometer and speaker - all in an amazingly thin metal design that slips easily into your pocket. The 8GB iPod touch is now available for just $199, along with new models which deliver twice the capacity for the same price, with the iPod touch 32GB model for $299 and 64GB model for $399.

"At just $199 the iPod touch is the most affordable gateway to Apple's revolutionary App Store with more than 75,000 applications that you can wirelessly download right into your iPod touch," said Philip Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing. "You get a great iPod, a great pocket computer with the industry's best mobile web browser and a great game player, all in this super-thin beautiful enclosure."

iPod touch is a great iPod for enjoying music, television shows, movies and podcasts. iPod touch has incredible features for music fans such as Cover Flow(R), Shake to Shuffle(TM), and access to the legendary iTunes(R) Store. And now, the new iPod touch supports Genius Mixes, which automatically creates up to 12 endless mixes of songs from your iTunes library that go great together. Movies and television shows look great on the gorgeous 3.5-inch widescreen display. iPod touch customers have the entire iTunes Store catalog at their fingertips, giving them instant access to the world's largest catalog of over 11 million songs, TV shows and Hollywood movies to purchase and download directly to their iPod touch.

iPod touch is a great game player with its built-in accelerometer, revolutionary Multi-Touch user interface, its amazing graphics performance and the over 20,000 game and entertainment titles available on the App Store. With support for peer-to-peer connections, the new iPod touch gives users the ability to play multi-player games with people next to them or around the world. iPod touch customers can add new game titles from the App Store over Wi-Fi anytime and anywhere.

iPod touch is a great pocket computer, letting users surf the web, do email, manage their calendars, organize contacts, and use social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter. With its award-winning Safari(R) web browser, iPod touch users can experience the Internet like no other pocket-size device. iPod touch comes with the latest iPhone(TM) 3.1 software including: Cut, Copy and Paste; Spotlight(R) Search to search across iPod touch or within Mail, Contacts, Calendar and iPod; landscape keyboard for Mail, Notes and Safari; remote lock for MobileMe(TM) and anti-phishing features.

Apple's App Store is a phenomenal success with a selection of over 75,000 apps available and customer downloads topping a staggering 1.8 billion apps. iPhone and iPod touch customers in 77 countries can choose from an incredible range of apps in 20 categories, including games, business, news, sports, health, reference and travel. The App Store works with iPod touch over Wi-Fi so users can discover, purchase and download apps wirelessly and start using them instantly.

iPod touch features up to 30 hours of music playback or six hours of video playback on a single charge. The 8GB model holds up to 1,750 songs, 10,000 photos and 10 hours of video; the 32GB model holds up to 7,000 songs, 40,000 photos or 40 hours of video; and the 64GB model holds up to 14,000 songs, 90,000 photos or 80 hours of video.* The 32GB and 64GB models also include up to 50 percent faster performance and support for even better graphics with Open GL ES 2.0.

iPod is the world's most popular family of digital music players with over 220 million sold. Apple's new holiday lineup includes iPod shuffle(R) in five great colors starting at just $59; iPod classic(R) in a new 160GB model holding up to 40,000 songs for $249; the incredible new iPod nano(R) with a video camera available in nine brilliant polished aluminum colors starting at $149; and the revolutionary iPod touch starting at the breakthrough price of just $199.

Pricing & Availability

The new iPod touch is available immediately for a suggested price of $199 (US) for the 8GB model, $299 (US) for the 32GB model and $399 (US) for the 64GB model through the Apple Store(R) (, Apple's retail stores and Apple Authorized Resellers. iPod touch requires a Mac(R) with a USB 2.0 port, Mac OS(R) X v10.4.11 or later and iTunes 9; or a Windows PC with a USB 2.0 port and Windows Vista or Windows XP Home or Professional (Service Pack 3) or later and iTunes 9. Existing iPod touch users can update to the latest 3.1 software for just $4.95 (US) to enjoy new features including Genius Mixes and Genius for Apps. iPod touch owners who already have the 3.0 software get the 3.1 software update for free. Simply download the latest version of iTunes onto your Mac or PC, and purchase the 3.1 software update via iTunes.

*Battery life and number of charge cycles vary by use and settings. See for more information. Music capacity is based on four minutes per song and 128-Kbps AAC encoding; photo capacity is based on iPod-viewable photos transferred from iTunes; and video capacity is based on H.264 1.5 Mbps video at 640-by-480 resolution.

Apple ignited the personal computer revolution in the 1970s with the Apple II and reinvented the personal computer in the 1980s with the Macintosh. Today, Apple continues to lead the industry in innovation with its award-winning computers, OS X operating system and iLife and professional applications. Apple is also spearheading the digital media revolution with its iPod portable music and video players and iTunes online store, and has entered the mobile phone market with its revolutionary iPhone.

(C) 2009 Apple Inc. All rights reserved. Apple, the Apple logo, Mac, Mac OS, Macintosh, iPod touch, iPod, Multi-Touch, Cover Flow, Shuffle, iTunes, Safari, iPhone, Spotlight, MobileMe, iPod shuffle, iPod classic, iPod nano and Apple Store are trademarks of Apple. Other company and product names may be trademarks of their respective owners.

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Saturday, September 5, 2009

UGA to convene cybersecurity panel Sept. 11

Nationally recognized experts will come to the University of Georgia on Sept. 11 to teach university and community members how to protect themselves from cyberterrorism during “The Growing Cybersecurity Threat: From National Security to UGA,” a free panel discussion running from 10 a.m.–noon at the UGA Chapel.

As information sharing and Internet use become cornerstones of the average person’s wired life, keeping up-to-date about growing threats is increasingly important, said John Newton, event organizer and emergency operation coordinator in UGA’s Office of Security and Emergency Preparedness, which is co-sponsoring the event with the Center for International Trade and Security and Enterprise Information Technology Services.

“There’s been an explosion of cybersecurity threats over the past few years that affect everyone from governments and the military down to people who shop or do business online,” Newton said. “It’s something that reaches most of us nearly every day, and because the threats change rapidly it’s important to keep re-learning how to combat them.”

The panel will consist of FBI Special Agent Lee Kirschbaum; Brian Rivers, director of information security at UGA, and Kevin Mandia, a cybersecurity expert and owner of the information security firm Mandiant Systems

“As far as information security risks and threats, they always change, but for the most part the university has changed and adapted along with the threats,” Rivers said. “But threats continue to evolve. People are getting better at attacking us. Over the last 10 years there’s been a shift from people hacking for fun to people hacking for profit. It’s now big business overseas.”

As Web surfers increase their online business transactions and store more personal information on the Internet, the availability of data to potentially harmful sources ramps up. Over-the-net business is overwhelmingly safe, but it’s important to be watchful for new trends in hacking, said Kirschbaum, who works at the Atlanta FBI headquarters.

“We want to make folks at UGA aware of some of the threats that are out there, so if they come up, they may sense them. When you’re in academia and doing research, the propensity is to share your information with anybody and everybody because we all want to see knowledge advance,” Kirschbaum said. “But at times the information you’re giving out can be too sensitive. People may begin to ask questions that are too probing, and at that point in time we want people to realize that this maybe something that they should let law enforcement know about.”

Modern hackers use a variety of computer intrusion techniques like unsolicited e-mails, malware and programs embedded on thumb drives that can invade entire computer networks and send back users’ private information, he said. A one-computer virus does not rate the same threat level as it did a few years ago.

Beyond personal and professional significance, the issue has national prominence as well. Cyberterrorism grabbed worldwide headlines in July, when the U.S. and South Korea fell victims to an orchestrated network attack. While no major harm was done, the incident revealed computer weaknesses in the governments that could have been disastrous and caused renewed interest in cyber health, said Igor Khripunov, interim director of the Center for International Trade and Security.

“The newly-announced U.S. Cyber Command will likely make great strides in protecting national-level critical infrastructure and systems from cyberterrorists,” he said. “However, other systems are at risk, including those here at the University of Georgia.”

“According to the Homeland Security Department, cyber attacks on federal computer systems alone have increased by more than 250 percent over the last two years,” he added. “But a few fundamental management changes—centralized management of information technology systems, better education and training, and tougher access control—could prevent man of the most common attacks.”

The event is part of OSEP’s Academic-Professional Security Series. For more information, see

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Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Emory on iTunes U Passes the One Million Downloads Mark

One million downloads have been made from Emory’s iTunes U site – a free service hosted by Apple on their iTunes store. Emory celebrates its one-year anniversary on iTunes U in October and now offers more than 1,700 audio and video podcasts related to the University and its community.

Emory’s site hosts public lectures and events, interviews with top faculty and researchers, and a wealth of consumer health and less-commonly taught language materials. “Our most popular collections are language videos for self-study, talks from the Dalai Lama’s visit to Emory and readings from Alice Walker’s placing of her archives at the University,” says Shannon O’Daniel, Emory’s iTunes U system administrator.

Emory captured the No. 20 spot for all iTunes U downloads in October 2008 for chemistry professor David Lynn’s lecture on evolution, and a reading from Alice Walker at Emory reached the No. 6 spot in all downloads.

Apple has featured on the noteworthy section of its home page, many of Emory’s collections, including King Tutankhamun, Emory faculty’s Life of the Mind series, Cartooning for Peace, and Evolution Revolution with world-renowned biologist E.O. Wilson.

Students and Emory organizations use an internal iTunes U site, “Exclusively Emory,” to access course materials, presentations and other resources, averaging nearly 1,200 downloads per week. Students say they value the ease, convenience and portability of this new study device.

Access Emory on iTunes U. The project is a collaboration between University Technology Services and Communications & Marketing.

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