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News Clips - September 21, 2007

From September 14 to September 20, Carnegie Mellon Media Relations counted 690 references to the university in worldwide publications. Here is a sample.


Happy 25th Birthday to :-)
USA Today | September 19
Today is the 25th anniversary of the first :-), the smiley emoticon that has become ubiquitous in e-mail messages, online postings and instant messages. Scott Fahlman, a professor at Carnegie Mellon, says he was the first to use the symbol in something he published on Sept. 19, 1982. "I propose the following character sequence for joke markers :-)," he wrote at the time. "Read it sideways. Actually, it is probably more economical to mark things that are not jokes, given current trends. For this, use :-(."


Closer to home
The Wall Street Journal | September 17
Insead has long attracted executives from the Middle East to its business school campuses in Fontainebleau, France, and Singapore. But more and more in recent years, students found it harder to get away and wished Insead would open up shop closer to home. ... Carnegie Mellon University was one of the first American entrants into the region, setting up a Qatar campus in 2004 and admitting students in undergraduate business administration and computer science. This year, Carnegie Mellon's Tepper School of Business created an executive-entrepreneurship certificate, a nine-month part-time program aimed at helping people commercialize their technology research. "They're trying to establish a new economy built around knowledge and technological innovation, and they need a more entrepreneurial culture," says Arthur Boni, director of the Tepper School's entrepreneurship center.


The Fed should hold firm
The Wall Street Journal | September 15
Less than 25 years ago, the Federal Reserve ended the Great Inflation that plagued the 1970s and early 1980s. Harvard's Martin Feldstein and other economists are now urging the Fed to repeat past mistakes because they believe a loose monetary policy is necessary to head off an economic downturn they see coming our way. Beginning in 1967 and throughout the 1970s, the Fed responded to rising unemployment with rapid monetary expansion. The public, workers, bond holders and others quickly recognized that it was more determined to prevent unemployment from rising than to reduce inflation. So markets expected and got higher inflation. Chairman Arthur Burns offered many irrelevant reasons -- unions, monopolies, the welfare state -- for inflation. The public learned his sequence. Anti-inflation policy soon brought rising unemployment. The Fed abandoned its anti-inflation policy and brought on the next inflation. Why plan that lower inflation would become permanent when it never did? ***This article was written by Carnegie Mellon professor of statistics, Allan Meltzer.


Google to finance moon challenge contest
The Associated Press | September 14
Google Inc. is bankrolling a $30 million contest that could significantly boost the commercial space industry and spur the first non-governmental flight to the moon. Call it Moon 2.0. The bulk of the prize will go to the first private company that can land a robotic rover on the moon and beam back a gigabyte of images and video to Earth, the Internet search leader said Thursday. ... At least one group has expressed interest. Famed roboticist William "Red" Whittaker of Carnegie Mellon University said he is putting together a team to build a lunar rover. Last year, Whittaker was in charge of two autonomous vehicles that competed in a robot race across the Mojave Desert.


Research in Japan: Big winners, big expectations
Science Magazine | September 14
Immunologist Shizuo Akira is indisputably at the top of his field. For 2 years running, the Osaka University professor has been Thomson Scientific's "Hottest Researcher" for authoring the most highly cited papers in his field. But Osaka has not won recognition as a leading world center for immunology research; Akira fears the university may even be in danger of falling behind. Advancing technology "makes it very difficult for a single laboratory" to create an international buzz, he says: "What's needed is to accumulate a research team and get a big grant." ... The grant program is an audacious bet by Japan's Ministry of Finance, which is out to make at least this handful of centers as widely recognized as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Media Lab or the U.K.'s Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge. "It's a visionary program," says Matthew Mason, director of the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Mason was one of six foreign scientists on an international panel that reviewed 13 short-listed applications. The objective was to "pick groups already at the peak [of their field] and give them support to make them globally visible," says Hiroshi Ikukawa, who is heading development of the program for the Ministry of Education.

Education for Leadership

Stage Stores names Edward Record Chief Financial Officer | September 13
Stage Stores, Inc. (NYSE:SSI) today announced the appointment of Edward Record as Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer, effective September 13, 2007. As Chief Financial Officer, Record will oversee the Company's accounting, internal and external financial reporting, investor relations, strategic and financial planning, risk management, treasury operations and information technology functions. ... Record began his retail career in 1990 at Kaufmann's, now part of Macy's, Inc., ultimately attaining the position of Vice President of Finance, Controller of the Filenes/Kaufmann's merged entity. Record has an A.B. in Economics from Princeton University and an M.B.A. from Carnegie Mellon University.


Spoon, celebrity robot "Keepon" reunite at concert
Digital Media Wire, Inc. | September 13
Several months ago, a little robot did a little dance and captured the hearts of the Internets. He was a very sophisticated robot, but didn't look like the typical Transformer-inspired, back-handspring-performing models coming out of Japan that make the rounds at gadget sites. This robot was cute. Very cute. His name is Keepon, and he's like a little, yellow, mouthless snowman and baby chick rolled into one. With googly-eyes that don't google. His signature anthropomorphic skill: dancing. To show off his creation, Hideki Kozima, a senior research scientist at Japan's National Institute of Information and Communications Technology, teamed with Marek Michalowski, a Ph.D. student in the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, to program Keepon to dance along with a popular tune by Spoon, an indie rock band from Austin, Texas. Keepon is otherwise part of a project called BeatBots, which is studying social development and communication through dance-oriented nonverbal play between children and robots.

Arts and Humanities

Storytelling poet Jim Daniels scores with "Revolt of the Crash-Test Dummies"
Pittsburgh City Paper | September 13
Jim Daniels' poem "Cry Room, St. Mark's Church" navigates a world toured inside-out: from an enclosed space to outdoors, where a weary mother indulges a single-minded child. The kid is Daniels, enduring Mass with his mother and little sister in the windowed box reserved for small children. Walking home through urban neglect circa 1963, they pass the ditch where a boy he knew, named Larry, was found dead. Daniels gets his mother to buy him doughnuts, which he wolfs down -- then, once home, taunts his older brothers with his sugary triumph. ... "Cry Room" succinctly introduces Daniels, a Carnegie Mellon English professor: His narrative impulse, characteristic tone (conversational, perceptively wise-guyish), and his roots in Catholic, working-class Detroit. But in his latest poetry collection, "Revolt of the Crash-Test Dummies", Daniels demonstrates both an admirable range of subjects and a sure grasp of tone, verses flowing seamlessly between humor, poignancy and cutting observation, a sense of social justice at one with a wry, leveling wit.

Information Technology

Cranor, Buckman, join EFF board | September 18
Privacy and security expert Lorrie Cranor and Free Culture leader John Buckman are joining the EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) board. Cranor is an associate research professor in the School of Computer Science and the department of engineering and public policy at Carnegie Mellon University.


reCAPTCHA: Using captchas to digitize books
TechCrunch | September 16
Captchas are well known for keeping automated spammers out and letting humans in. However, ReCaptcha is a rather clever service using them to help digitize books scanned into the Internet Archive as well. It’s a project from the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon. ... ReCaptcha’s founders, Luis von Ahn and Ben Maurer estimate that about 60 million CAPTCHAs are solved every day. Assuming that each CAPTCHA takes 10 seconds to solve, it is over 160,000 human hours per day (that’s about 19 years).


Risk analysis: Do it right and save money
IT Security | September 13
It sounds straightforward: Risk analysis calls for organizations to identify their key assets, the threats those assets face, the potential cost to the organization should a given threat come to pass and the cost of risk mitigation. When properly executed, risk analysis can help managers make informed decisions on where to invest their security dollars. It can also enable them to launch a comprehensive risk-management program. ... Gossels, meanwhile, said he recommends the OCTAVE (Operationally Critical Threat, Asset, and Vulnerability Evaluation) methodology to clients pursuing risk analysis. OCTAVE was developed by Carnegie Mellon University’s SEI (Software Engineering Institute), which describes OCTAVE as a framework for identifying important information assets and the risks to them.


Green schools: Color them healthy places of teaching and learning
Seattle Post-Intelligencer | September 13
Because buildings are the No. 1 contributor to climate change through their greenhouse gas emissions because of the massive amounts of energy they consume, we have a tremendous chance to address this situation. We can employ a smart, economically viable, environmentally responsible approach to creating schools or we can allow first-cost objections to cloud the judgment of school boards and follow the business-as-usual approaches that will result in a slew of cheaply constructed, energy-hogging schools littered throughout the nation that fail to create better learning environments. ... The building performance program at Carnegie Mellon University examined 17 extensive studies on the subject. The major health impacts focused on by the program included asthma, flu, sick building syndrome, headaches and respiratory problems. The improvements measured in these studies found a reduction in sickness ranging from 13.5 percent to 87 percent, with an average 41 percent improvement.


Couple's $5 million to fund cancer research at Carnegie Mellon (AP) | September 20
Carnegie Mellon University is establishing a new research center to help fight cancer with the help of a $5 million donation. The Ray and Stephanie Lane Center for Computational Biology will be named for the couple who donated the money. ... The donation also endows a professorship and will support doctoral and postdoctoral training in computational biology.

Regional Impact

Schools slowly shrinking
Pittsburgh Business Times | September 14
When children returned to classes a few weeks ago, they might not have noticed their school slowly shrinking. School districts throughout the area are seeing enrollments decline, in some cases much faster than they had predicted. And the decline is having positive and negative impacts on a wide array of businesses, from private and charter schools to businesses that hire high-schoolers to real estate developers interested in old school buildings. ... The region's declining population is due to the number of deaths outpacing the number of births, says Shelby Stewman, professor of demography and sociology at Carnegie Mellon University's H. John Heinz III School of Public Policy & Management.


Harrisburg U to begin test of virtual job interviewing
The Patriot News | September 14
Harrisburg University of Science and Technology will be using a new system that could revolutionize online interviewing and recruiting. Students at Harrisburg University and other midstate colleges will use technology developed by Carnegie Mellon University researchers to post virtual job interviews. Area employers will have access to the interviews through TechQuest, a Web site offered by the Technology Council of Central Pennsylvania.


Teachers move to other areas as school enrollments fall here
Pittsburgh Business Times | September 14
As enrollment at the region's school districts continues its steady decline, Pennsylvania-bred teachers may have an even tougher time finding work on their home turf. "Pennsylvania has been a net exporter of teachers for years," said Bob Strauss, professor of economics and public policy at Carnegie Mellon University's H. John Heinz III School of Public Policy & Management. "The real reason is that education schools are very profitable. ... Universities have allowed enrollment in education schools to continue."


Retailers, video gamers poised for launch of video game
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review | September 18
As video games go, there are few bigger than the "Halo" franchise. ... On Sept. 25, the final chapter in the Halo trilogy -- "Halo 3" -- will be released to an eager gaming community. ... Drew Davidson, director of Carnegie Mellon University's Entertainment Technology Center, thinks multiplayer mode is where the "Halo" games really excel.


Community forum to discuss science high school
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | September 18
The Pittsburgh Public Schools tonight will raise the idea of expanding the proposed science and technology high school to include sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders. ... Officials plan to open the science and technology school next fall as part of an overhaul of district high schools. The district asked Carnegie Mellon University's Heinz School of Public Policy and Management to design a prototype, and a team in February unveiled a design that would allow students to graduate in three to five years, while majoring in one of four fields.


Carnegie Mellon entering newest space race
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | September 14
A Carnegie Mellon University roboticist is assembling a team to land a robot on the moon to complete various tasks and win a $20 million prize. "My hat is in the ring," said William "Red" Whittaker, the Fredkin Research Professor in Carnegie Mellon's Robotics Institute. "We have spent decades building and testing robotic technologies for just this purpose." ... "There's no question that the Lunar X Prize will capture imaginations around the world," Dr. Whittaker said. "Regardless of who takes home the cash, this achievement will enrich us all."


Instant make-up: Perfect your holiday snaps
The Independent News and Media Limited | September 19
You pay a small fortune to reach your dream location, whip out your new digital camera, set up what you think is a composition worthy of Ansel Adams, and click. When you get home, you think to yourself, you'll have it blown up and framed. The perfect holiday snap. Until you get back to the hotel, and spot that baseball-capped stranger right there, in front of the Taj Mahal. A Kodak moment, ruined. ... "You have to be an experienced Adobe Photoshop artist to do this. And there are some things you could, realistically, never achieve," says Alexei Efros, an assistant professor of computer science and robotics at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, where the software has been developed. "If you're removing a small detail, then fine, but in the example you see here, you're dropping in a huge area with boats and sea. You could never do that in Photoshop. A human could, in theory, go over a million images and try and find a match. But it would require perhaps a month to go over each image carefully to see if it would be useful. Scene Completion does it in five minutes."


Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar launches new information systems undergraduate degree
Al Bawaba | September 19
Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar is adding a third undergraduate degree to its course offerings. Information Systems is an internationally recognized, bachelor of science degree for students who want to understand and solve information problems for organizations. “The new IS program is an obvious and welcome addition to our two existing programs: it is the natural bridge between Computer Science and Business Administration,” says Charles E. Thorpe, Dean of Carnegie Mellon Qatar. ...  “It’s great to have the support of Qatar Foundation in launching a new degree program that will have a positive and lasting impact on Qatar, the Gulf Region and the Middle East as a whole,” says Thorpe. “Carnegie Mellon is always looking for innovative ways to make a difference in the world, and by offering an IS degree in Qatar we can do just that."


Politics start at the water's edge
International Herald Tribune | September 17
It is rare for world leaders to be selected on the basis of their foreign-policy acumen or experience. Most leaders are chosen over rivals because of their skills in domestic politics. Consequently those who shape international affairs are best understood first as politicians and only later, perhaps, as statesmen. Understanding how leaders achieve and stay in office is far more important to our grasp of major events in international politics than are traditional ideas about the balance of power or polarity.  ***This article was written by Carnegie Mellon professor of history and political science, Kiron K. Skinner, in collaboration with Serhiy Kudelia, Bruce Bueno de Mesquita and Condoleezza Rice.


'Dark' net sites under scrutiny
The Daily Yomiuri | September 14
Police and private organizations have been strengthening oversights on online "dark sites" following the kidnapping and killing of a 31-year-old woman in Nagoya late last month by three men who got together to plot the alleged crime at the suggestion of one of the suspects through a cell phone-accessible web site. ... Prof. Keiji Takeda of Carnegie Mellon CyLab Japan pointed out the difficulty in regulating Web sites. "Some people argue that regulating sites runs counter to freedom of expression or communication guaranteed by the Constitution. It's a sensitive issue because too much control may lead to censorship," he said.