Startup Pitches Combined Security, Energy Service

iControl, a Palo Alto-based startup, has unveiled ConnectedLife Energy Management, a proposal for a home security system that doubles as a way to automate home energy consumption management. The idea is to get broadband companies and other providers to either offer a standalone energy service, or one that’s combined with interactive home security products. Continue reading

Facebook provides alibi for robbery suspect

A 19-year-old New York man who was arrested for armed robbery has been exonerated thanks to a status update he posted on social networking site Facebook.

Rodney Bradford was arrested and held for 12 days in connection with an October 17 armed robbery of two people in the Brooklyn housing project where he lives, prosecutors said. Continue reading

Carnegie Mellon Technique Accelerates Biological Image Analysis

Carnegie Mellon University Lane Center for Computational Biology researchers have improved an algorithm that automatically analyzes cell cultures and biological specimens. The new technique improves the efficiency of the belief propagation algorithm, a widely used method for drawing conclusions about interconnected networks and promises to allow for more accurate analysis of microscopic images created by high-speed and high-tech biological screening methods. CMU professor Geoffrey Gordon says current automated screening systems that examine cell cultures look at individual cells and do not fully consider the relationships between cells, largely because examining multiple cells simultaneously requires Continue reading

Electronic ‘Pet’ Could Replace Passwords and PINs

Northumbria University psychologist and computer scientist Pamela Briggs and Newcastle University computer scientist Patrick Olivier say portable electronic pets capable of recognizing their owner’s voice and walking style could replace passwords and PINs to secure personal information. Instead of storing a person’s biometric signature in a database, that information would be kept in a small electronic pet or “biometric daemon” the owner carries around. The daemon would learn to imprint itself on its owner, after which it would use biometric signals such as a voiceprint, fingerprint, or walking pattern to identify its owner. The connection between the owner and pet would be strengthened by games and interactions between the two. When near its owner, the daemon would receive “nourishment,” and act happy as a Continue reading

New Software Allows ISPs and P2P Users to Get Along Without Getting Too Cozy

Northwestern University researchers have developed Ono, software that eases the strain that peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing services place on Internet service providers (ISPs). Ono allows users to efficiently identify nearby P2P users and requires no cooperation or trust between ISPs and P2P users. Ono, the Hawaiian word for delicious, is open source and does not require the deployment of additional infrastructure. When ISPs configure their networks correctly, Ono can improve transfer speeds by as much as 207 percent on average, the researchers say. Ph.D. student David Choffnes, who developed Ono with professor Fabian E. Bustamante, says Ono relies on a clever trick based on observations of Internet companies to find nearby computers. Content-distribution networks (CDN), which offload data traffic from Web sites onto their proprietary Continue reading

Closing the Achievement Gap in Math and Science

The latest results from the National Science Foundation‘s Math and Science Partnership (MSP) program show that elementary and middle-school students have improved their proficiency in math and science, and that the achievement gaps between African-American and Hispanic students and white students in elementary school math, and between African-American and white students in elementary and middle-school science, are narrowing. The MSP program supports institutions of higher education and K-12 schools by partnering higher education science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) faculty with K-12 teachers for mentoring and professional development. The most recent results are collected from schools where MSP projects target specific improvements in math or science programs. Data was taken from three years of student scores on state proficiency tests in math and science. Between 2003 and 2006, among approximately 39,000 students at 160 schools, the scores of white students performing at or above proficiency rose 4.6 percent, while the scores of Hispanic students rose 18.3 percentage points, and the scores of African-American students rose 17.9 percent. Asian-American, special education, and limited English students also showed improvements. MSP is now working to determine which strategies had the greatest impact on raising test scores.
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White House Plans Proactive Cyber-Security Role for Spy Agencies

The White House could soon announce a policy in which U.S. spy agencies would play a role in collecting intelligence on cybersecurity threats, said an anonymous administration official. The official noted that the intelligence community is uniquely poised to counter cyberattackers who are continuously developing new intrusion strategies and taking advantage of unknown security holes in software and hardware to expose government networks. President Bush signed a directive in January that empowered the intelligence agencies to monitor all federal network traffic to prevent intruders from stealing sensitive data or disrupting vital systems, and the official said the directive will enable cyberthreat intelligence sharing between the government and the private sector. “We want a broader information flow to the private sector of the threats we’re seeing, so that they can increase their security posture as well,” the official stated. The majority of the 18 strategic objectives outlined in the cyber initiative are classified, but the official said the administration plans to issue additional details on at least a dozen of those goals, as soon as the Office of Management and Budget releases rules for assigning classification levels for data collected and shared under the new program. The SANS Institute‘s Alan Paller says intelligence agencies often face a dilemma in sharing new threat information with allies and the private sector because spy agencies frequently obtain intelligence by leveraging the same security holes in software and hardware used by America’s enemies. The Center for Democracy & Technology’s Jim Dempsey says the Bush administration has a tendency to tag even the most innocuous information as classified, which means the intelligence community may share less information with the private sector rather than more. “The more information that gets classified, the less likely the initiative will succeed,” he says.
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