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News Clips - November 30, 2007

From November 16 to November 29, Carnegie Mellon Media Relations counted 516 references to the university in worldwide publications. Here is a sample.


Confession is just a key pad away
USA Today | November 29
Confession used to be good for the soul. On the Internet, it may be good for business, as well, judging from the proliferation of websites where reading about the errant ways of others provides both online therapy and a bit of voyeuristic entertainment. ... And on the Web, there's feedback. But those who study behavior say a larger issue is at stake. "It's treating people as objects of amusement or entertainment," says Robert Kraut, a social psychologist at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. "It leads to a voyeuristic culture, and it seems like there's more commercialization of this voyeurism than in the past."


The office pessimists may not be lovable, but are often right
The Wall Street Journal | November 27
Operations manager Diane Alter once worked for such a committed optimist that despite a litany of daily workplace crises, he'd say, "It's all good." It only made Ms. Alter want to protect her momentary miseries. "Let me enjoy my bad mood for a minute," she felt like saying. "Let me wallow in it." ... Michael Scheier, head of the psychology department at Carnegie Mellon University, says spouses of ill patients fare much better if their husbands or wives are optimistic about their future. "It's absolutely amazing how uniformly adaptive this characteristic is in terms of health," he says.


Online library offers 1.5 million works and counting
CNET | November 27
The Universal Digital Library, a book-scanning project backed by several major libraries across the globe, has completed the digitization of 1.5 million books and on Tuesday made them free and publicly available. ... "You're not going to find over 900,000 works in Chinese on Google," said Michael Shamos, a professor of computer science at Carnegie Mellon University and director of intellectual property for the Universal Digital Library (UDL).


Arts, briefly
The New York Times | November 26
A book based on a heartfelt public talk by an ailing Carnegie Mellon professor is to be published by Hyperion, according to Crain’s New York Business. “The Last Lecture,” written by Randy Pausch, a 47-year-old computer science teacher who has terminal pancreatic cancer, and Jeff Zaslow, a columnist for The Wall Street Journal, will be based on a wide-ranging talk that Professor Pausch gave at Carnegie Mellon, in Pittsburgh, on Sept. 18.


When family feels like the enemy
US News & World Report | November 26
Ah, the holidays. Here come the glazed hams, the gifts—and the in-laws. While the season brings people together, some gatherings can be wrought with familial tension. And when households brim with testy spouses, moody teens, and button-pushing uncles, the inevitable bickering can't be good for anyone's health. Recurring spats, in fact, may be downright harmful. ... Negativity-plagued relationships are toxic in part because of the effects of chronic stress, says Sheldon Cohen, a Carnegie Mellon University psychologist. In addition to damaging the heart, ongoing stress can deplete the immune system—creating openings for colds, cancers, and other maladies—and also lead to depression and risky coping behaviors like excessive drinking.


Robotic cars tackle crosstown traffic--and not one another
Science | November 16
The Land Rover bristles with sensors like a mechanical porcupine. John Leonard, an engineer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, ticks off the robot's features. ... The robot is one of nearly three dozen vying in the Urban Challenge, a competition sponsored by the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). It's the third and most demanding in a series that aims to spur the development of autonomous vehicles, which the U.S. military hopes to press into service by 2015. ... Teams have hauled in tractor trailers full of equipment and plastered their robots with decals. Besides the $2 million first prize, the appeal of the challenge is obvious. It's hard, and by pitting idea against idea and technology against technology, "it determines what technical DNA moves to the next generation" in the evolution of autonomous vehicles, says roboticist William "Red" Whittaker of Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. type=HWCIT

Education for Leadership

Zachery Quinto discusses influences
Trek Today | November 26
Carnegie Mellon University was the source of his confidence, says Zachary Quinto, and his experiences there helped him in many ways. Speaking from the house of his best friend, a fellow Carnegie Mellon graduate, as reported on the Carnegie Mellon website, Quinto elaborated. "There are so many wonderful teachers there," he said. "Carnegie Mellon gave me the confidence to shape the role of Sylar."


Johnson controls adds students' green concerns to campaign | November 20
"In every campaign season, stump speeches inevitably include promises of reducing oil dependence and developing a sound energy policy. In the shadow of these promises, oil imports continue to rise and our transportation system remains overwhelmingly powered by petroleum.... What steps will you take to move us toward [a] low-carbon future?" That is the overarching question of the winning entry in Johnson Controls' TEAMS competition, which the company published in today's edition of USA Today. ... "The letter from Carnegie Mellon students in particular demonstrates that this generation is not so much 'quiet' as it is 'pensive,'" said Clay Nesler, vice president of global energy and sustainability at Johnson Controls. "We congratulate them for outlining an informed and timely query to the candidates."


Carnegie Mellon students create 'revolutionary' fast food robot
WTAE 4 | November 20
Many of you are busy preparing your Thanksgiving feast, so you might be tempted to hit the drive-through and grab something quick, but sometimes, fast food is anything but fast. Two students from Carnegie Mellon University are trying to revolutionize the fast food process. ... Using the same technology used for Carnegie Mellon's self-driving car, the pair created "Hyperactive Bob." Hyperactive Bob literally turns a restaurant into a robot. Using real-time data and historical info, Hyperactive Bob tells kitchen staffs not only how much to cook but when to cook it.

Arts and Humanities

Home of the chubby
Plenty Magazine | November 26
As the obesity rates rise in this country—from 15 percent of 20 to 74-year-olds in 1980 to 32.9 percent in 2004—we’ve been searching for the reasons Americans are so, um, fat. Corn syrup and car culture pop up quite a bit, but turns out there might be another culprit: architecture. Oh, and Brits are chubby, too. ... Carnegie Mellon architecture professor Kristen Kurland makes obesity maps, demonstrating pockets of overweight folks in her home city of Pittsburgh.


Count today's calories, and check your wallet
The Washington Post | November 19
What do the war in Iraq, your Christmas shopping and this week's Thanksgiving dinner have in common? They all involve judgments that ask the question "How much?" When it comes to Iraq, you and your elected representatives have to judge how much to spend. For your holiday shopping, you decide how much time you need. When you sit down to your turkey dinner, you figure out how much to eat. ... Carnegie Mellon psychologist Carey Morewedge recently had volunteers sit before a bowl of M&Ms. He and his colleagues told some volunteers that a packet of M&Ms contained about 3/25 their daily recommended caloric intake. The researchers told other volunteers that a packet of M&Ms contained about 3/175 their weekly recommended calories. Volunteers were then allowed to eat as many M&Ms as they pleased.

Information Technology

Managing patch pain
Information Week | November 24
In 2006, the CERT program at Carnegie Mellon's Software Engineering Institute reported upward of 8,000 application vulnerabilities that required software patches--that's 30% more than in 2005. We've had years to get this process down, yet patching continues to cause a great deal of angst. We frequently see organizations that are more than a month behind on patch applications--and open to viruses and security violations. Why take that risk? Too many IT groups lack the tools, processes, and resources to patch effectively.


Carnegie Mellon searches to zoom at 27 trillion per second
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review | November 20
Yahoo! Inc. uses its supercomputer cluster known as the M45 to scan the Internet, fetch copies of the Web pages it finds on a search subject and create indexes. Carnegie Mellon University researchers soon will have access to the same hyperpowered system, where they can work on language translation, photo enhancement and other projects.


Green your holidays
The Examiner | November 19
Welcome back to our healthy holidays series! While pushing through the gawking Macy’s windows crowd in New York this week, I came to terms with the fact that we are officially in the midst of the holiday hustle. Carnegie Mellon University reports that between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, waste increases by 25 percent!

Regional Impact

Butler County home costs keep growing
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review | November 25
If you are looking for the most likely spot for home appreciation in the region, then Butler County is your choice, according to the results of a recent study. And the news is generally good for five other local counties included in the "Residential Real Estate Prospective 2007" report complied by graduate students at Carnegie Mellon University's Tepper School of Business.


In 250 years, Pittsburgh has reinvented itself many times
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review | November 25
When the first white man ventured across the Allegheny Mountains, water was the only superhighway. "Coal was the driving factor in the 19th century. In the 21st century, it will be water," said Joel A. Tarr, Richard S. Caliguiri professor of urban and environmental history and policy at Carnegie Mellon University. "We are water rich. We have to develop that asset."


Carnegie Mellon algorithm names top 100 new blog sites, helps with water contamination too
Pop City Media | November 21
What does having the latest Internet news and gossip at your fingertips have in common with the location of contamination in a water supply system? Almost nothing, actually, except that both can be determined with a versatile algorithm developed by Carnegie Mellon researchers. Using a problem-solving method called Cascades, Carlos Guestrin, Carnegie Mellon assistant professor of computer science and machine learning, has compiled a list of the best 100 blogs in the blogsphere, sites deemed to be on the cutting-edge of news.


Environmental experts stress 'service learning'
Gulf Times | November 25
Environmental experts from around the world emphasised the need to incorporate ‘service learning’ into the school curriculum at a symposium in Doha yesterday. ... Judith Hallinen, director of the Leonard Gelfand Center for Service Learning and Outreach at Carnegie Mellon University (Carnegie Mellon) in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania described some of the service learning programs provided to students at Carnegie Mellon. “Students at Carnegie Mellon-Qatar will also be doing service learning in Spring 2008, by visiting local schools, labor camps and other places,” said Hallinen, who has worked extensively to improve educational programs for children in elementary and secondary schools in her region.


Thousands of Palestinians and Israelis to decide Mideast fate-- virtually
International Herald Tribune | November 25
While their leaders meet in the U.S. to negotiate, thousands of Palestinians and Israelis will be given the chance to determine the fate of the Mideast — virtually. The Peres Center for Peace on Sunday said it is distributing 100,000 copies of a computer game called "PeaceMaker" to Israelis and Palestinians. ... The game was designed by ImpactGames, a Pittsburgh company jointly founded by two Carnegie Mellon University graduates: Asi Burak, a former Israeli army intelligence official, and Eric Brown, an American software developer.


Tightwads and spendthrifts
Times Online | November 22
Neither a spendthrift nor a tightwad be, if you want to be a happy, guilt-free shopper. But what could these very different attitudes towards spending mean for retailers? Three researchers have developed a “spendthrift-tightwad” scale that measures individual differences in the pain of paying. ... “One of our major findings is that even though you hear a lot about overspending and undersaving, we found that tightwads overall outnumber spendthrifts by a ratio of 3 to 2,” says Scott Rick, a visiting professor of operations and information management at the Wharton School, Pennsylvania. Professor Rick is the co-author, with Cynthia Cryder, a doctoral student and George Loewenstein, a professor of economics and psychology, both at Carnegie Mellon University, of a paper called Tightwads and Spendthrifts.