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Microsoft Honcho Tapped to Clean Up Healthcare Mess
December 18, 2013
The Obama administration has reached into Microsoft's ranks for the tech talent it needs to fix the Affordable Care Act cock-up. The White House on Tuesday named Kurt DelBene, who started at Microsoft in 1992 and most recently served as president of its lucrative Office Division, to oversee HealthCare.gov, the website for consumers shopping for healthcare insurance under Obamacare.
How to Use Twitter's New Crisis Alerts
December 12, 2013
Local government emergency managers have been trying for years to figure out ways to alert members of the public about crises and incidents, like natural disasters, that could affect them. Limited success has been achieved with auto-dialer implementation, which is dependent on phone lines' capacity. Twitter thinks it may have the best answer, though.
Chinese Supercomputer Gets a Job Forecasting Smog
December 10, 2013
Scientists in China will use the country's Tianhe-1A supercomputer to forecast and analyze smog in major cities. The Tianhe-1A will be used to create a simulation that will collate data from across more than 100 Chinese cities. Theoretically, this will enable scientists to predict the density of smog, how long it will linger, and where it might go next.
The Healing Begins for Healthcare.gov
December 04, 2013
The troubled Healthcare.gov website seems to have found its sea legs at last. After a botched rollout, the White House set itself a new deadline of Nov. 30 and hunkered down to repair the many glitches afflicting the site, through which Americans in the 36 states it serves must get their health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. By and large, it appears to have succeeded.
Chinese Chat App Exposes Kids to Prostitutes
November 20, 2013
China's massively popular WeChat messaging app has exposed school students to prostitutes through its "People Nearby" feature, which is sometimes used by prostitutes as a form of, shall we say, mobile advertising. A survey among students, conducted in a handful of major Chinese cities, found that the kids had indeed come across prostitutes' accounts when firing up the People Nearby function.
Big Data Spurs Big Collaborations
November 20, 2013
The U.S. government's Big Data initiative is sparking more investments in data management projects, especially those involving joint efforts between business and government. Under the sponsorship of the Obama administration initiative, the White House showcased more than 30 Big Data projects Nov. 12 at an event hosted by the federal Office of Science and Technology.
Cloud Efficiency: Different Paths, Same Destination
November 18, 2013
Aggressive use of cloud-computing strategies can significantly improve delivery of applications to end users. Healthcare patient-experience improvement provider Press Ganey and project and portfolio management provider Planview are both exploiting cloud efficiencies and agility. Their paths have been different, but the outcomes speak volumes for how cloud transforms businesses.
Google Reveals Skyrocketing US Data Requests
November 15, 2013
The U.S. government once again heads the list of those requesting data from Google, and lately it's been asking for a lot more. Google's Transparency Report, a twice-a-year reminder of how often governments ask for information, says that the U.S. submitted 10,918 requests for 21,683 user accounts during the first half of 2013. U.S. requests had the highest rate of compliance.
HealthCare.gov Is Symptomatic of Feds' Ailing IT Procurement System
November 06, 2013
The troubled launch of HealthCare.gov has been costly for President Obama and Democratic supporters of the entire Affordable Care Act program, also known as "Obamacare." The difficulties surrounding the launch have spurred broader criticism about the federal government's management of major IT deployments. So far, $118 million has been spent on the website launch itself.
BiiSafe Buddy Puts Caution on Your Side
November 05, 2013
We've looked at personal tracking products before, including stolen-phone locators and a breadcrumb-tracking, mugging-alarm combo for Google's Android mobile operating system. Where some of these kinds of products have disappointed is that they have needed daily user intervention. The personal attack alarm required turning on before entering crime-infested neighborhoods, for example.
The Unhealthy State of Healthcare.gov
October 25, 2013
Finger-pointing has erupted among contractors responsible for the Obama administration's troubled Healthcare.gov website. CGI Federal, the subsidiary of Canadian firm CGI that was the lead contractor for the project, blamed another contractor, as well as the United States federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, which it said directed and supervised its work.
Facebook: Decapitation Vids Are OK if You Oppose Decapitation
October 22, 2013
Facebook has reversed a ban that it implemented earlier this year forbidding the posting of graphic and gruesome content such as videos of decapitations and other atrocities. The company apparently made this about-face some time ago, but it only became widely noticed when the BBC reported on it this week after being alerted by a reader over a page with a clip of a masked man killing a woman.
Demo Fall 2013: Little Slices of Amazing New Technology
October 21, 2013
Demo's fall conference took place last week. This show has proven to be both a great and an expensive experience for me every year. Great because the technology shown is often truly amazing; expensive because I almost always end up buying one or two items, and my taste trends toward pricey. This year was no different, and my product of the week is the product I'd most like to personally own.
Adidas Trots Out Smartwatch for Runners
October 17, 2013
Adidas on Wednesday introduced the miCoach Smart Run, its new fitness-based smartwatch for runners, just a day after rival Nike introduced the latest update to its own Nike+ Fuelband SE tracker. Fjord collaborated with Adidas on the design. Paul Gaudio, vice president of Adidas Interactive, demonstrated the new fitness tracker at the GigaOM Mobile 2013 conference in San Francisco.
Nest Brings Brains and Brawn to Smoke Detection
October 09, 2013
The company that brought Apple-style elegance to the lowly home thermostat is attempting to do the same for the common smoke detector. Nest Labs, founded by Apple emigres Tony Fadell and Matt Rogers, on Tuesday announced Nest Protect, a US$129 combination smoke and carbon monoxide detector with more smarts than others in the market.
Fitbit Uses 'Force' for Flex Follow-Up Device
October 03, 2013
Fitbit only just released its first fitness-tracking wristband back in May, but the company is reportedly getting close to rolling out the next generation. Dubbed "Force," this new device will apparently be both smaller and more capable than the current Flex. Among several new features expected in the upcoming device are a built-in altimeter and watch functionality.
4 Young Innovators Capture Google Science Fair Awards
September 25, 2013
Google has announced the winners of its Science Fair, awarding three students for their innovative ideas in public health, alternative energy and app development. The company's third annual competition drew contestants between 13 and 18 years of age from more than 120 countries. Google this summer announced 15 finalists, who presented their final projects to a panel of judges last weekend.
Google's Next Search: The Fountain of Youth
September 19, 2013
Google on Wednesday launched Calico, a company that will focus on health and well-being, with a particular emphasis on aging and associated diseases. At the helm of this new endeavor will sit founding investor Arthur Levinson, chairman and former CEO of Genentech, chairman of Apple, director of Hoffmann-La Roche and now Calico's CEO.
High-Tech Tools Make Indoor Cycles Brainier and More Fun
September 18, 2013
Bicycles have seen much in the way of technological advancement in the past 150 years, and that was widely apparent on the show floor at the annual Interbike trade show in Las Vegas this week. The modern face of cycling was clearly visible in the electric-assist motors that make bicycles an optimal alternative vehicle for commuting, for example, and the space-age carbon fiber frames that aren't limited just to the high end.
Hot Off the 3D Presses: A New Generation of Fitness Equipment
September 17, 2013
Health buffs today have no shortage of apps, gizmos, gadgets and devices promising to help them get and stay in shape. At the same time, new materials are enabling lighter, stronger and more diverse products. The next revolution in fitness, however, could come from a technology that seems to have little to do with athletics but is already being used daily in the development of new products.
DNA 'Glue' May Someday Repair Damaged Organs
September 11, 2013
Researchers at the Wyss Institute at Harvard University have found a way to trigger the self-assembly of tiny water-filled gel-like cubes into larger structures, a discovery that could lead to practical applications in tissue engineering. The scientists developed the self-assembling system by programming DNA to act as a glue that guides the hydrogels into the larger structures.
Video Game Rejuvenates Brains of Older Adults
September 06, 2013
A multitasking 3D video game that helped some older adults show neurological activity similar to much younger adults could shed light on the plasticity of the older brain. A UCSF research team recently tested a 3D-driving game on a group of adults. The game play was designed to elicit a multitasking response, which generates a certain interference in the brain that increases with age.
If You Like Guitar Hero, You'll Love Working Out?
July 30, 2013
The creators of the Guitar Hero video game franchise are looking to put down the plastic guitars and get pumped up instead. Specifically, RedOctane founders Kai and Charles Huang are teaming up with OpenLink founder Coleman Fung to launch Blue Goji, a new interactive fitness company. The company's mission is to transform gameplay into something that can help players get fit.
VuPack Camera Mount Puts You Back in the Picture
July 26, 2013
One of the most fundamental keys to garnering interest in a democratically funded project is to propose something that people are going to seriously want. Wishy-washy concepts won't cut it -- it's got to be seductive. The svelte Pebble smartwatch is a good example of this funding technique, and it raised millions on Kickstarter. The Ouya video game console is another.

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