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News Clips - November 21, 2008

From November 14 to November 20, Carnegie Mellon Media Relations counted 383 references to the university in worldwide publications. Here is a sample.


The new frugality: Americans return to thriftiness | November 19
People are not only buying cheaper, they're buying less, said Joachim Vosgerau, an assistant professor of marketing at Carnegie Mellon University's Tepper School of Business who specializes in consumer behavior. "It seems like this trend is only going to continue," Vosgerau said. It doesn't require a lost job or decimated retirement account to make shopping for new things seem wasteful.


TSA's 'behavior detection' leads to few arrests
USA Today | November 17
Critics say the number of arrests is small and indicates the program is flawed. "That's an awful lot of people being pulled aside and inconvenienced," said Carnegie Mellon scientist Stephen Fienberg, who studied the TSA program and other counterterrorism efforts. "I think it's a sham. We have no evidence it works."


U.S. academics may meet with Iran leader
CBS News | November 18
The presidents of six leading U.S. universities are touring Iran, the latest in a series of exchange visits involving senior academics and scientists. The American academics include the presidents of Cornell, Carnegie Mellon and Rice Universities. "We believe it is important to maintain and renew academic ties between our two countries as a means of laying the groundwork for greater understanding and rebuilding what was once a very healthy collaboration in science and higher education,” said Robert Berdahl, the president of the Association of American Universities which organized the tour.


Do sold-off corporate loans do worse?
The Wall Street Journal | November 19
Corporate bank loans sliced and sold to outside buyers perform far less well than loans kept by the lender, according to a new study that could have an impact on coming reform of U.S. financial markets. The study by Anurag Gupta of Case Western Reserve University and Antje Berndt of Carnegie Mellon University concludes that syndicated loans underperform nonsyndicated issues by 8% to 14% in trading in the secondary markets.


How industries survive change. If they do.
The New York Times | November 16
Of course, straying too far from what a company does well has also proven dangerous. “If you look at the history of firms that have tried to diversify their businesses, you’ll see it’s virtually an impossible thing to do,” says David A. Hounshell, a historian at Carnegie Mellon University who studies technology and social change. “Usually when a firm announces a program to diversify, they’ve pretty much written their death warrant."

Education for Leadership

How to foil "phishing" scams
Scientific American | December Issue
For that reason, my research group at Carnegie Mellon University is studying the best ways to teach people to recognize and avoid phishing scams. This research, in turn, is informing our design of antiphishing software so people are more likely to use it correctly. Because human factors are a critical element in the success of phishing attacks, we have found that they can be essential weapons to foil phishers as well.


Mod Cloth
Time Out New York | November 19
Mod Cloth founder Susan Koger can’t stop shopping either: “I wear at least one piece [from the site] every day—and it’s not unusual for my entire outfit to be Mod Cloth!” Koger started the site in 2002—and ran it out of her dorm room at Carnegie Mellon for a spell—as a way to turn her obsession with thrifting and vintage clothes into cash. Six years later, the budding entrepreneur runs a site that’s updated daily with quirky pieces that you won’t see anywhere else.

Arts and Humanities

The hot spot
World Changing | November 19
Finally, there needs to be a greater effort to address the large-scale lifestyle changes that will make a significant difference. “I don’t want to have to make a zillion little decisions,” says Baruch Fischoff of Carnegie Mellon University and former president of the Society for Risk Analysis. Rather, “I’d like to see people working out for me some alternative ways of organizing my life where it will really be a sustainable way to live.” This, Fischoff suggests, is the practical work that now lies ahead for both climate and social scientists.


Into the Woods
Pittsburgh City Paper | November 20
Carnegie Mellon University's School of Drama presents a wonderfully talented company taking full advantage of all Sondheim and Lapine offer. Given how perfectly cast this very large musical is, how "just right" every actor is in his or her role, it almost seems as if it were written specifically for them. With a show this big, director Kent Gash can be credited with keeping the whole thing as lucid and as compelling as it is, and he's responsible for the strong performances of this company.

Information Technology

Threat of ID theft rises as web users face jump in spy programs
Bloomberg | November 19
Consumers expose themselves to malware by downloading attachments or clicking links in e-mails. "Drive-by downloads'' occur when a compromised Web site sends malware to an unknowing visitor's computer, said Jonathan Woytek, a member of the technical staff at Pittsburgh-based Carnegie Mellon University's CERT Coordination Center, which studies Internet security. CERT offers a tutorial on securing Web browsers against malware on its Web site,


Theory of visual computation reveals how brain makes sense of natural scenes
Lab Spaces | November 19
Computational neuroscientists at Carnegie Mellon University have developed a computational model that provides insight into the function of the brain's visual cortex and the information processing that enables people to perceive contours and surfaces, and understand what they see in the world around them. A type of visual neuron known as simple cells can detect lines, or edges, but the computation they perform is insufficient to make sense of natural scenes, said Michael S. Lewicki, associate professor in Carnegie Mellon's Computer Science Department and the Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition.


Track your fitness, environmental impact with new cell phone applications
Science Daily | November 19
Intel helped fund these projects. Other researchers involved in UbiFit and UbiGreen are Jon Froehlich, UW computer science and engineering doctoral student, Pedja Klasjna, doctoral student in UW's Information School, Jennifer Mankoff, computer science associate professor at Carnegie Mellon University, Tawanna Dillahunt, Carnegie Mellon University human-computer interaction doctoral student, and Beverly Harrison, researcher at Intel Research Seattle.

Regional Impact

Real life found in youngsters' digitized universe
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | November 20
Throughout history, though, there have been "moral panics" over new technology as a perceived threat to social cohesion, noted Teresa Foley, a Squirrel Hill-based media literacy consultant. "It was the same with the introduction of telephones," said Ms. Foley, who also works at Carnegie Mellon University's Studio for Creative Inquiry, a center for experimental and interdisciplinary arts. The lesson is, if you can't beat them, join them, as the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh has learned. On Tuesday afternoon, it hosted "Get Your Game On," at the Hill District branch, a once-a-month, after-school program that offers state-of-the-art video games using Nintendo Wii and PlayStation2 gaming systems.


Carnegie Mellon profs roboticize orchards
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review | November 19
Carnegie Mellon University roboticists received $10 million in federal agriculture grants to help grow apples and oranges, the university announced today. The U.S. Department of Agriculture gave the grants to two groups of Carnegie Mellon researchers who are building automated farming systems. One is for apple growers and one is for orange growers, but both are designed to improve fruit quality and lower production costs.


Carnegie Mellon prof Pausch's work will live on
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review | November 19
Computer networking company Sun Microsystems, Inc., partnered with Carnegie Mellon University to continue developing the software pioneered by late professor Randy Pausch, the university announced today. Last year the City of Pittsburgh declared Nov. 19 "Randy Pausch Day." The Carnegie Mellon computer science professor and father of three young children died in July at the age of 47, after nearly a year of publicly battling pancreatic cancer while spreading an inspirational message about achieving childhood dreams.


Researcher: Self-driving cars could save U.S. auto industry
Thaindian News | November 20
Chris Urmson, director of technology for Carnegie Mellon University's Tartan Racing team, said in a previous interview that he wouldn't let the team's autonomous vehicle drive his wife and children around city streets just yet. But he added that he thinks we're only 10 to 20 years away from having driverless cars motoring around the roadways. Thron, who talks to auto company officials about how they can better use robotics, said he hopes self-driving vehicles are on the road in less than a decade. He added that the first autonomous cars won't be driving us from the restaurant to the garage at first, but they may be able to take over the controls on the highway.


Carnegie Mellon Qatar holds another successful CS4Qatar
AME Info | November 18
The professional development workshop, taught by the computer science faculty at Carnegie Mellon Qatar, is designed for educators in Qatar who want to broaden their horizons in the ever-expanding and broad-reaching field of computer science. 'The number of teachers who sign up for CS4Qatar shows just how eager they are to learn about the latest technologies and share what they learn with their students.' says Khaled Harras, Ph.D., computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon Qatar.


Google is taking questions (spoken, via iPhone)
International Herald Tribune | November 14
Raj Reddy, an artificial intelligence researcher at Carnegie Mellon University who has done pioneering work in voice recognition, said Google’s advantage in this field was the ability to store and analyze vast amounts of data. “Whatever they introduce now, it will greatly increase in accuracy in three or six months,” he said.