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News Clips - August 20, 2010

From August 13 to August 19, Carnegie Mellon Media Relations counted 512 references to the university in worldwide publications. Here is a sample.


Delusions abound on energy savings, study says
The New York Times – Green Blog | August 18
When it comes to saving energy, many Americans seem to get it — and at the same time they don’t get it at all. That’s the takeaway from a new study by researchers from Columbia University, Ohio State University and Carnegie Mellon University who found that people are far more likely to focus on switching off lights or unplugging appliances than on buying new bulbs or more efficient refrigerators. But people’s perceptions of the relative savings of various actions are significantly at variance with reality.


How corporate America went open-source
CNN/Fortune | August 16
These established technology firms have also become active in nurturing open source projects. More than 100 of them, such as SAP (SAP), Nokia (NOK) and IBM, now work on the free distribution at the heart of one open-source development platform called Eclipse, and even open-source scourge Microsoft (MSFT) had tiptoed into the enemy camp, recently helping start the CodePlex Foundation to encourage open-source development and releasing 20,000 lines of its own proprietary code. "This is one of the huge changes in open source over the last decade -- the move from mostly volunteer developers to corporate participation," says Jim Herbsleb, a professor of computer science at Carnegie Mellon University who has studied the open source movement. "It has provided a large infusion of resources. It has also created pressure for more discipline, for example in predicable release schedules, which makes open source more attractive."


Like it or not, Barcode Hero is your future | August 16
In his DICE 2010 game developer lecture, Carnegie Mellon "entertainment technology" professor Jesse Schell explained that in our (near) future, everything we do will be part of an ad-sponsored game — the food we eat, the liquids we drink, the parks we visit, the public transit we choose to take — everything will get us "points," a la Barcode Hero and Foursquare. If you want to be freaked out, watch the lecture — it's a 30-minute ride through a super-commercialized dystopia where he who has the most points wins. Schell's certain that this is the future, and although it reminds me all too much of Mike Judge's "Idiocracy," Schell's not sure it's necessarily negative. "It could be that these systems are all just crass commercialization and it's terrible," said Schell, "but it's possible that they will inspire us to be better people."

Education for Leadership

Top weird science stories of 2010
Popular Mechanics | August 12
As portable electronics shrink, our fingers become too large to press tiny buttons and our eyes too weak to read small screens. A computer science Ph.D. at Carnegie Mellon University has come up with a novel solution: use the human body as a proxy. To work, the device projects a screen and keypad onto the skin. Piezoelectric vibration sensors detect taps and finger flicks and translate them into commands. A prototype of the “Skinput” system straps to the upper arm, but the researchers expect future versions to shrink to the size of a wristwatch.

Arts and Humanities

Symphony to debut as CMU school of music expands
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review | August 17
Local concert life is about to become richer because the school of music at Carnegie Mellon University is expanding its offerings for the 2010-11 season. The music school has been named one of the top 10 in the nation by the author of Fiske Guide to Colleges. Starting in October, the school of music will introduce a new ensemble, the Carnegie Mellon Symphony, as well as present three special events. "I thought it would be good to have an ensemble bigger than a chamber orchestra but not as large as the full philharmonic," says Ronald Zollman, who became director of orchestral studies at the school in the fall of 2009.

Information Technology

Hacked smartphones pose military threat
Network World | August 16
Via his company FatSkunk, he proposes software for handsets that periodically detects active malware. If deployed on troops' phones it could trigger warnings and infected phones could be brought to facilities for cleaning. Adrian Perrig, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University, is working on a similar product that works slightly differently, but the goal is the same. He is exploring use of software that creates a trusted isolated environment into which authorized phone software can be launched and patched to protect it from malware. This safe zone is called a Dynamic Root of Trust, he says.


Alliance to rule on coal plant experiment
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review | August 13
Some experts agree with the government's move away from a research project to a full-scale demonstration project. "On balance, I think the move makes a lot of sense," said Edward Rubin, professor of mechanical engineering, engineering and public policy at Carnegie Mellon University. "The original FutureGen proposal made sense when proposed, but a lot has happened since then, with other projects now on the drawing board." Rubin said there is a need for a full-scale demonstration plant using what's known as oxygen combustion, which burns coal more fully and produces a nearly pure stream of carbon dioxide, making the emissions easier to collect and store. The CMU professor pointed out that while there is a need for a full-scale oxygen-combustion plant, repowering an existing facility will cost close to what a brand new facility would.

Regional Impact

Fitwits get healthy playing game in Wilkinsburg
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review | August 19
"These are really small steps that accumulate over the week into some pretty big things," said Kristin Hughes, the Carnegie Mellon University professor who helped to create the game. At the end of the program, physicians performed a physical assessment, and participants found they had lost weight and inches off their waists. About one-third of children are overweight, and obesity contributes to some of the nation's worst health problems, said Ann McGaffey, medical director of UPMC St. Margaret Bloomfield Garfield Family Health Center.


Regional Water Conference highlights water management
Pop City | August 18
Topics at the Conference include Marcellus Shale mining, water quality regulation, water protection and solutions to clean water. Panelists include Dr. Jean VanBriesen, professor of civil and environmental engineering at Carnegie Mellon, Thomas McCaffrey of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and Timothy Keister, chief chemist and president at ProChem Tech International, Inc. Registration is currently open and you can save $20 on admission if you sign-up by September 2.  The Conference will take place September 9 at the Regional Learning Alliance at Cranberry Woods.


Pittsburgh starts to earn name in video training circles
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review | August 17
Austin, Texas; Los Angeles and San Francisco are primary cities for the video game industry, but Pittsburgh may be gaining status as an industry hub, said Chris Klug, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University's Entertainment Technology Center. "Pittsburgh is almost at the point where it's going to be viewed as a secondary city where video game development is being done," Klug said. The Pittsburgh area is home to seven of nine video game companies in Pennsylvania listed in a study by the Entertainment Software Association, a Washington-based trade group for companies that develop video and computer games. The study found the video game industry added $43.2 million to the state's economy in 2009, compared with $29.5 million in 2005.


CMU-Q holds summer college preview
The Peninsula | August 17
The Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar (CMUQ) has culminated a successful Summer College Preview Programme (SCPP) with a festive ceremony. Forty high school students, 27 seniors and 13 juniors, recently celebrated the last day of their classes of the three-week long programme at CMU-Q. “The Summer College Preview Programme gives high school students exposure to a college-level experience,” says Bruce Volstad, manager of pre-college programmes at CMU-Q, adding the programme gives students the opportunity to explore an academic area of interest, while learning how to prepare for the highly competitive college admissions process.


Vacation slackers not to be trusted
Winnipeg Free Press | August 17
Studying this phenomenon, Jon Delano of Carnegie Mellon University wrote: "While most foreigners view vacation as an essential part of a sane and civilized existence and an entitlement which all employees should share rather equally, the view is quite different in this country. For the most part, American employers begrudge vacation time and dole it out parsimoniously, based on length of service." Only about three per cent of the work force takes four weeks off at any one time. The majority of workers take their vacations -- regardless of the time allotted -- in one-week increments. A growing number (30 per cent) take extended weekends and laughingly call it a vacation. That may account for the proliferation of ads extolling the weekend getaway and the growing number of articles on what is being called "mini-vacations," a phrase only rivalling the "staycation" for abuse of the real meaning of a vacation.