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News Clips - July 17, 2009

From July 10 to July 16, Carnegie Mellon Media Relations counted 200 references to the university in worldwide publications. Here is a sample.


Next for touchscreens: Temporary pop-up buttons?
Popular Mechanics | August Issue
Touchscreens allow for endlessly adjustable interfaces—well, nearly endless. You can’t operate a touchscreen by feel alone, although engineers working in the field of haptics have used vibrating virtual buttons to provide limited tactile feedback. Now, researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have gone a bit further, designing a screen with hidden latex air bubbles. When buttons are needed, an air pump pops the bubbles up into physical keys. The team tested the technology in a driving simulator, a situation where users don’t—and shouldn’t—devote full attention to electronic displays on GPS and audio systems. “There were only a quarter as many glances away from the road as there were with the touchscreen,” Chris Harrison, a graduate student at CMU who worked on the project, says. Volkswagen is interested in the buttons, according to the researchers. And the technology could eventually find its way into Braille-enabled gadgets.


How to make UAVs fully autonomous
Technology Review | July 15
Sanjiv Singh, a professor and researcher at Carnegie Mellon University, has developed a new system to help UAVs do just this. Since most UAVs are fairly small and lightweight, they can't carry the heavy, power-hungry sensors that larger aircraft can use to detect other planes. So Singh and student Debadeepta Dey developed an algorithm that uses an ordinary camera and several software programs to detect potential obstacles.


The flu waiting game
Inside Higher Ed | July 14
This reinforces the sentiment that no one really knows for sure what impact H1N1 will have in the fall until the season arrives. With this in mind, many colleges and universities are preparing as best they can to respond to the virus once flu season officially starts in the fall, according to Anita Barkin, director of student health services for Carnegie Mellon University and chair of the Pandemic Planning Task Force for the American College Health Association. She said that colleges need to be prepared for any form the virus can take. Thus, many colleges are changing their old pandemic plans -- based mostly on the last pandemic that took place, in 1918 -- to revolve around the symptoms that showed up this spring.


How safe is your social security number?
CNN | July 10
Professor Alessandro Acquisti and researcher Ralph Gross of Carnegie Mellon University said they began by studying a half-million expired Social Security numbers obtained from the "death master file" published by the Social Security Administration.

Education for Leadership

OU graduate Riley Harmon wins art fellowship | July 15
"It’s a tremendous recognition that Riley Harmon is highlighted as one of the state’s exceptional visual artists,” said Jonathan Hils, OU associate professor of contemporary sculpture. "When one of our students receives an award of this caliber, it inspires all of our students.” Harmon now is pursuing a master’s degree in fine art at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.

Arts and Humanities

Small Press Festival this weekend at Regina Miller Gallery at Carnegie Mellon University
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review | July 14
The Small Press Festival will be Saturday and Sunday at the Regina Miller Gallery on Carnegie Mellon University's campus. Workshops, panel discussions and readings are scheduled for both days. Publications including the New Yinzer, Creative Nonfiction, the Barn Owl Review, Casperian Books, County Line Press, Carnegie Mellon University Press and Pear Noir! will be represented.


Review: New Music Ensemble keeps its offerings fresh
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | July 11
Roger Dannenberg, the Carnegie Mellon professor who was a host for that NIME conference, used a conventional interface -- the cello -- to create a more expansive piece in his "Critical Point." As Lewandoski played a rich tone here or charged rhythms there, Dannenberg cued a computer to process the sound in myriad ways, all with a animated video projection (by computer scientist Tomas Laurenzo) that danced with the music. The rhapsodic piece dazzled but also had a soulfulness to it, introspective in the quieter sections.

Information Technology

Online backups could use Google’s expertise
The New York Times Blogs | July 10
“Backup in general is an essential technology which is not keeping up with demand,” said Garth Gibson, a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon University and one of the world’s top storage experts. “It’s not keeping up in the home, in the small office or the large office."

Regional Impact

Pittsburgh aims to strut its stuff at G20 meeting
Conde Nast Portfolio | July 9
Some of the strongest economic drivers have been the University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon University, PNC Bank and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, along with several healthcare-related businesses.


Top 10 reasons to start your career in Pittsburgh | July 16
Pittsburgh is home to some of the best colleges and universities in the country. The University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon, Duquesne, and Carlow College are a few worthy of mentioning. So if you are contemplating a graduate degree, there are many options that may suit you.


Pitt, CMU researchers get presidential award
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | July 10
Dr. Gonzalo E. Torres, 41, an assistant professor with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, and Carlos Guestrin, 34, an assistant professor at Carnegie Mellon University, were joined by four researchers at Penn State University in receiving "the highest honor bestowed by the United States government on young professionals in the early stages of their independent research careers."


This robot snake can go everywhere
Le Post | July 17
Manufactured by Carnegie Mellon, this robot snake is very ground. It can swim, to move in mud, to climb on the masts and to pass the fences. If it becomes a product, it could be brilliant to help the people taken with the trap in the debris, or to be a super robot spy.


Facebook should compete on privacy, not hide it away | July 15
Reassuring people about privacy makes them more, not less, concerned. It's called "privacy salience", and Leslie John, Alessandro Acquisti, and George Loewenstein – all at Carnegie Mellon University – demonstrated this in a series of clever experiments. In one, subjects completed an online survey consisting of a series of questions about their academic behaviour – "Have you ever cheated on an exam?" for example. Half of the subjects were first required to sign a consent warning – designed to make privacy concerns more salient – while the other half did not. Also, subjects were randomly assigned to receive either a privacy confidentiality assurance, or no such assurance. When the privacy concern was made salient (through the consent warning), people reacted negatively to the subsequent confidentiality assurance and were less likely to reveal personal information.