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News Clips - October 1, 2010

From September 23 to September 30, Carnegie Mellon Media Relations counted 389 references to the university in worldwide publications. Here is a sample.


Following CERT C programming guidelines can increase system security.
New Electronics | September 28
CERT ( was created by DARPA in 1988 to deal with internet security problems after the Morris Worm struck. Its coordination centre (CERT/CC) is located at Carnegie Mellon University's Software Engineering Institute (SEI). Although intended as an academic exercise to gauge the size of the internet, the Morris Worm had widespread repercussions and infected thousands of machines. SEI CERT/CC was established to deal with internet security and, for 12 to 15 years, studied cases of software vulnerabilities and compiled a database of them. The Secure Coding Initiative, launched in 2005, used this database to help develop secure coding practices in C.


Launch of the Global Training and Development Institute
IT-Online | September 28
South Africa is dire need of Information Communication Technology (ICT) and business training that incorporates practical experience, in order to bridge the gap with theory that is so often the only component within a curriculum. The Global Training and Development Institute (GTDI) is set to be launched in November this year by Jayen Vyravene, managing partner of Quency, in response to this growing requirement. Quency is an independent firm providing governance, risk and compliance (GRC) training and consulting services for African markets.  The Institute will provide training in the fields of ICT and management to school leavers, graduates and those already employed who wish to improve and extend their skills base. The ICT programme will be supported by, and based on the curriculum of, Carnegie Mellon University, a global research university recognised for its world-class technology programmes.


E-learning: great achievements so far | September 24
GigaPan Youth Exchange project that combines cultural inquiry, NASA imaging technology, and social media to let secondary-school students experience something of the life of their peers around the world. Schools participating in the E-learning are located in South Africa, Brazil, Indonesia, Switzerland, Trinidad and Tobago, and the United States, with multiple schools in each country. The project is being run by Carnegie Mellon University and UNESCO-IBE.


Technology helps property crime fall to 20-year low
USA Today | September 28
The FBI reported this month that violent crime dropped for the third straight year in 2009, while property offenses declined for the seventh consecutive year. The reductions surprise some analysts, who expected that high unemployment and cuts to police departments would spur increases in crime. "This is a hard one," says Carnegie Mellon University criminologist Alfred Blumstein. "All of the indicators point to trouble." In an informal survey of 23 major and midsized cities that Blumstein has tracked for five years, murder declined in 19 of the cities in 2009, while robbery was down in 21.


Honesty suits golf to a tee
Los Angeles Times | September 27
No one else had to know about the extra club in Zach Nash's golf bag. The five-wood belonged to a friend, and Zach forgot it was there as he played his way to victory in a junior tournament near his Wisconsin home this summer. […] Golf is different. In a win-at-all-costs world, the game holds itself to a higher standard, demanding that competitors know every rule and call penalties on themselves. "Even the slightest imputation of cheating, maybe you can get away with that in other sports, but not in golf," said Steve Schlossman, a history professor at Carnegie Mellon University who chronicles the game. "That will be used against you." For Zach, informing tournament officials about the extra club would mean returning his medal. His golf pro told him to go home, think it over.


The united state of hospitals
The Washington Post | September 26
The action in the mid-Atlantic is being watched closely, with experts saying consolidation in other parts of the country has led to higher health-care prices - size is power, and commanding market share can give hospitals an edge in negotiations with insurers. That kind of leverage mirrors the advantage many big insurers have, which has prompted complaints from doctors and hospitals. Tensions between hospitals and insurers are running high as both face pressure to contain costs. "All the evidence very clearly shows consolidation leads to higher prices," said Martin Gaynor, an economist at Carnegie Mellon. "Guess who pays for those higher prices? One might think insurers would eat them. No, they don't. It goes into higher premiums. When premiums go up, employers just pass them right on to their workers, either in the form of lower wages or reduced benefits."

Education for Leadership

FEARLESS: Carnegie Mellon students host TEDx event
U Magazine | Summer 2010
Students at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA hosted their first TEDx event in April titled 'Fearless.'  Smartly titled to reflect the most common fear worldwide - public speaking.  The event was not to just share "ideas worth spreading" in Technology, Education and Design, but also to motivate people to action.  Carnegie Mellon's TEDx was modeled after the annual TED conferences, which challenge the world's brightest minded individuals to speak for 18 minutes on the same topic. (page 12)

Arts and Humanities

Infographic of the day: Admitulator cracks the code for college admissions | September 29
The old standby that killer test scores and a 4.7 GPA are a red carpet into any college in the world hardly abides nowadays. For better or for worse, colleges consider a swarm of additional factors: teacher recommendations, personal essays, extracurriculars, volunteer work, daddies in high places -- you know the list. To help faculty and administrators sift through the gobs of application information they face each year, legendary interaction designer Golan Levin developed an evaluation program called Admitulator for Carnegie Mellon University's art school.


For many with autism, reading facial expressions is a struggle
American Psychological Association | September 27
While people with autism are worse as a group at reading faces than typically developed people are, there is a wide variation among them. That showed up in one recent study done by Suzy Scherf of Carnegie Mellon University's Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition. Dr. Scherf and her team did brain imaging of autistic and typical adolescents as they looked at video clips of faces, places and objects. The autistic youths had the same brain patterns as their counterparts when they looked at places and objects, she said in a recent interview, but they had a different signature of brain activity when it came to faces. Of the 10 youths with autism who were tested, only three had activity in a typical face-processing location known as the fusiform face area. The others tended to analyze faces in a part of the brain normally used for objects, she said. "We found there was a lot of variability in individuals with autism in how they perceived faces, even moreso than in typically developing individuals," Dr. Scherf said.

Information Technology

Major sites are violating consumers privacy preferences, says a new study | September 28
Internet Explorer is the only popular web browser that reads privacy policies that conform to the Platform for Privacy Preferences (P3P) protocol. P3P is designed to help standardize how privacy preferences are communicated between web sites and browsers so that a web browser like Internet Explorer immediately understands a site’s privacy policy for cookies. […] However, the way Internet Explorer interprets the token codes enables web site operators to get around consumers’ preferences, the study says. “The loophole is that Internet Explorer only looks for codes that are unsatisfactory,” says Lorrie Faith Cranor, a Carnegie Mellon University associate professor and co-author of the report. “If a code is meaningless, it’s fine.” This means that site administrators can use invalid codes, or fewer codes than are required, and that Internet Explorer will accept them. The study found, for example, multiple web sites using the same string of tokens and uncovered posts in web forums aimed at site administrators that offered generic tokens that Internet Explorer has accepted.


The future of autonomous Mars rovers | September 23
Researchers from across Europe — with a little help from experts at NASA’s  Jet Propulsion Laboratory — are working on a new, robotic exploration system that could enable future Mars rovers to independently explore the planet’s surface, identifying geological and biological samples and performing their own terrain hazard analysis. Scientists hope that by enabling robotic explorers to autonomously scout their landscape for potential dangers and areas of interest, the PRoViScout system will overcome one of the primary obstacles to efficient robotic exploration of Mars — the time lag involved in sending and receiving messages to and from bots on the Martian surface. If successful, PRoViScout will enhance rovers’ mission-planning intelligence, dictating how resources should be deployed at any given time. Visual sensors, including cameras and a unique laser-fluorescence life-detection system that uses next generation Blu-ray technology will identify potential samples and hazards. […] Those supporting technologies are critical because the ProViScout team faces several challenges ahead when it comes to identifying organic life-forms using laser-fluorescence says Alan Waggoner, Director of the Molecular Biosensor and Imaging Center at Carnegie Mellon. “Lasers in the UV range create background fluorescence from some types of minerals, so you have to watch out for that. I hope that the organic molecules Muller is looking for are in a high enough concentration to overcome background signal issues,” says Waggoner, who has developed a flash-lamp and dye based system for detecting organic material as part of a NASA-sponsored project.


Transistor paint | September 23
Semiconductors are the foundation of modern electronic devices, and organic semiconductors have recently been thrust into the spotlight due to several attractive properties. The attention of the electronics industry has been drawn by the promise of polymer semiconductors that are both cheap and easy to produce, and the potential to use these to manufacture flexible and lightweight plastic electronics. These polymer semiconductors could be used to create organic solar cells, LEDs, and transistors. Now, in a new study just published in Advanced Materials, Toby Nelson and a team at Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, have produced a new innovative organic semiconductor. The team have dubbed their new creation “transistor paint”. Just like paint is comprised of grains of pigment, which can be dispersed in a liquid in order to easily apply them to a surface, transistor paint is comprised of semiconductor grains, which can also be dispersed in a solution and then applied to a substrate in order to create transistors and other organic electronic devices easily and at low cost.


Steven Chu speaks at GridWise | September 23
Hundreds of industry players and high-level officials patiently waited to hear what U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu had to say about green energy at the GridWise conference this afternoon. […] In Chu’s professorial talk, he maintained a positive demeanor, only pointing out the nation's weaknesses via oblique quotes and baseball analogies. “Energy storage is a big deal,” Chu said, noting that the federal government is putting $620 million into demonstration projects. For example, Aquion and Carnegie Mellon are building a new battery, made with an aqueous sodium-ion based electrode. Beacon Power received a $43 million loan for a 20MW flywheel project.

Regional Impact

Greater Pittsburgh rakes in $18.9M for healthcare, federal startup initiative and more
Keystone Edge | September 30
The region received $18.9 million in funding from several sources for HIV and Alzheimer's research, the creation of a new business model to promote startups, supercomputing and community-based healthcare. A new federal program to help early stage companies with commercialization is being created through a $1 million grant to Carnegie Mellon University's Donald H. Jones Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation Works from the Economic Development Administration. IW and the Center will partner in the development of a model that will locate and support technology companies, drawing on the commercialization abilities of both to help companies reach the commercial stage faster and on leaner resources. The program hopes to evolve into a national model.


Regional showcases help performers and arts groups connect
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | September 27
Sage Crump, program director of PAE for the Southern Arts Exchange, is looking forward to the pre-conference event, "Social Media for Presenting and Touring: From Experiment to Strategy," that will incorporate Carnegie Mellon University's Center for Arts Management and Technology. "It's not necessarily learning just what's the newest and the latest," she says. "This is about taking a day to build your own social media strategy, and that's important." Workshops are also tailored to provide "a learning exchange" for professional development and that is important to Ms. Crump. The list ranges from fundamentals to skills, issues and ideas and short-attention span sessions.


Promoters debut ultramodern music and video festival in the Steel City
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | September 30
The cultural scene in Pittsburgh is vibrant, but there's a broad homogeneity to the offerings, with slight variation from year to year: outdoor folk-rock, Downtown popular musicals, gallery crawls, traditional jazz, classical and chamber music, punk and metal, hipster indie-rock, and predictable club weeklies and erstwhile raves. […] Enter two young people with typical Eastern European surnames: Lauren Goshinski, marketing manager for Carnegie Mellon's College of Fine Arts, and Quinn Leonowicz, Web developer and designer. With an art history degree from Pitt, Ms. Goshinski eventually landed in London doing an internship. "My thesis was on interactive cinema," she recalls. "But we both have parallel interests in music and art. We want to create a scenario that transcends the space, not just in a gallery, movie theater or a concert venue. VIAFest has that spirit."


CMU store to try out futuristic signs
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review | September 29
Carnegie Mellon University's campus store will become a testing ground in coming months for interactive signs that help customers find what they're looking for and even save money. Intel Labs Pittsburgh on the Oakland campus is developing digital signs and other technologies that can read or predict what a shopper wants, said Priya Narasimhan, the center's director. She pitched the technology Tuesday at Intel Corp.'s annual open house to show off projects that involve its researchers, plus CMU faculty and students. Think of a college store during freshman orientation, with hundreds of new students looking for the same textbooks and asking a few store clerks the same questions.