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Posts under ‘Technology, science, and math’

A better year for seaweed

Good news for Galveston beachgoers. In a lucky break for Galveston beachgoers and the Gulf Coast’s tourism industry, the masses of seaweed that plagued the area last summer seem to be turning toward the Caribbean and Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. The mats of Sargassum, now carefully tracked by a NASA app unveiled Thursday, drift in from […]

Diabetes

What happens when you expand access to health care in America? More people with previously undiagnosed illnesses can get the diagnosis and treatment that they need. Putting off visits to the doctor because you don’t have insurance is common, says Dr. Vivian Fonseca, a professor of medicine and endocrinology at Tulane University, in New Orleans. […]

Happy Pi Day!

How are you celebrating this once in a century event? Chances are that unless you teach math, the last time you thought about the number pi was about the same time you stopped crushing on the hot guy in AP English. But it’s time to renew acquaintance with this elegant number because this Saturday is […]

How to deal with anti-vaxxers

It’s a big problem. Certain that they are right, struggling to find ways to get their message across, public health officials are exasperated by their inability to convince more U.S. parents to vaccinate their children. “I think we’re all kind of frustrated,” said Stephen Morse, a Columbia University infectious disease expert. “As scientists, we’re probably […]

Measles

We haven’t had an outbreak in Texas. Yet. Measles has replaced Ebola as the infectious disease threat of the moment, but the only recent case in Texas occurred in Fort Worth in mid-January and was unrelated to the current outbreak that originated in Disneyland. The Houston health department has tested two suspected cases and both […]

Bitcoin art

I confess, I kind of love this. Bitcoin can be a work of art – literally. Troy Fearnow, a resident of The Woodlands, is selling images designed to “store” bitcoin and other digital currencies, which are like digital cash. His goals are threefold: keeping currencies away from hackers, creating collectibles that can be saved, traded […]

Houston gets a Bitcoin ATM

Just what you were waiting for, I’m sure. Houston unveiled its first bitcoin ATM on Wednesday, hoping to attract international travelers and more conventions to the George R. Brown Convention Center. Bitcoin is like digital cash. And this ATM, on the downtown center’s second floor next to a Starbucks, allows users to convert cash to […]

Please get a flu shot

It’s always a good idea, even if it’s more effective in some years than in others. The flu vaccine may not be very effective this winter, according to U.S. health officials who worry this may lead to more serious illnesses and deaths. Flu season has begun to ramp up, and officials say the vaccine does […]

Lawsuit filed against Comcast over residential WiFi hotspots

This ought to be interesting. Two San Francisco-area residents are suing Comcast for plugging their home’s wireless router into what they call a power-wasting, Internet-clogging, privacy threatening network of public WiFi hot spots. The class-action lawsuit, filed last week in U.S. District Court on behalf of Toyer Grear and her daughter Joycelyn Harris, claims Comcast […]

There’s an app for birth control

I’m sure this won’t controversial at all. “Isn’t there an app for that?” Turns out there is, if what you’re after is birth control or a test for a sexually transmitted infection. In the latest example of fast-growing “telemedicine,” video conferencing that virtually extends medical expertise, Planned Parenthood is rolling out a pilot project for […]

Making open data better

Some positive news. Houston leaders in the last year or so have cheered the promise of “civic hacking,” pushing to make the mountains of data the city collects accessible to tech enthusiasts capable of building programs to help citizens better understand and interact with their government. Two “hackathons” and a few dozen “app” ideas later, […]

More on the new Crime Lab boss

Meet Dr. Daniel Garner, the CEO and president of the Houston Forensic Science Center. Daniel Garner was ready to drift quietly into retirement after decades on the forefront in the field of forensic science. The last part of his career had the 66-year-old on the go, traveling to foreign countries for the U.S. Department of […]

911 to text is here

As expected. Text-to-911 service is available now in Harris and Fort Bend counties for Verizon and T-Mobile wireless customers. “This is not to be used just because people like to text, but when people cannot make a voice call,” said Sonya Clauson, spokeswoman for the Greater Harris County 911 Emergency Network. The service for Verizon […]

Next in “What’s wrong with our textbooks”: Climate change

From the inbox: An examination of how proposed social studies textbooks for Texas public schools address climate change reveals distortions and bias that misrepresent the broad scientific consensus on the phenomenon. Climate education specialists at the National Center for Science Education (NCSE) examined the proposed textbooks, which publishers submitted for consideration by the State Board […]

Text to 911 option coming locally

Ever wonder why you can’t text 911? Well, in Harris and Fort Bend Counties, you will soon be able to. By the end of the year, millions of Houston-area residents are expected to have a silent alternative: the Text-to-911 option for emergencies. Despite the popularity of messaging, the service hasn’t been available in most of […]

Two data points on e-cigarettes

The World Health Organization wants them to be regulated more strongly. Governments should ban the use of electronic cigarettes indoors and in public places and outlaw tactics to lure young users, the World Health Organization said in a report released on Tuesday. It also raised concerns about the role of big tobacco companies in the […]

Ebola treatment progress

Some good news. A study out [recently] shows that an experimental treatment for Marburg virus – a close cousin to Ebola – can be given after symptoms of the terrible disease have started to appear. […] One experimental drug – given to two Americans and several Liberians who showed signs of the disease – appears […]

Working on Ebola in Galveston

Given what’s been going on lately I thought this would be of interest. As the worst recorded Ebola outbreak in history sweeps across West Africa, hope for a cure is centering on scientists thousands of miles away at the Galveston National Laboratory, where researchers are working on three of the most promising potential cures. The […]

Travis County pursues new voting machines

Very, very interesting. With the nation facing what a January government report described as an “impending crisis” in voting technology, officials in Travis County are taking matters into their own hands by seeking to create a unique, next-generation system of voting machines. The efforts put Travis County, along with Los Angeles County in California, at […]

Dan Wallach: Home power analysis, 2014 edition

Note: From time to time, I solicit guest posts from various individuals on different topics. While I like to think I know a little something about a lot of things, I’m fortunate to be acquainted with a number of people who know a whole lot about certain topics, and who are willing to share some […]

Reading and writing and operating systems

Religion, politics, and operating systems – three things sure to start a spirited discussion. By January 2016, when the Houston Independent School District’s latest tech initiative hits full stride, the district will issue laptops to every high school student and teacher in the district. All 65,000 of those laptops will run Windows 7 and cloud-based […]

Comcast wants to use your routers

For a massive WiFi network. Comcast is expected to flip a switch Tuesday in Houston that will turn 50,000 of its customers’ home Wi-Fi routers into a massive network of public Wi-Fi hotspots. Comcast residential Internet subscribers with one of the newer cable modem/wireless router combos will show a public network called “xfinitywifi.” Other Comcast […]

Would you let Reliant turn off your air conditioning?

In the name of conservation, of course. “Our objective is to have more and more customers participate so we can make a material difference in an event when the state needs us to make a difference,” said Elizabeth Killinger, senior vice president and retail regional president for Texas at NRG, Reliant’s parent company. The program, […]

Texting 911

This is clearly the way of the future, though I admit that I myself would be a bit leery of using it right now. With eight of 10 Americans using their cellphones to send or receive text messages, some emergency response centers are updating their technology. Among them are centers in 12 Texas counties, hoping […]

Hackathon II: Son Of Hackathon

From the inbox: Houston Mayor Annise Parker today announced the City of Houston will host its second annual “Open Innovation Hackathon” on May 31-June 1 at the Houston Technology Center. This year’s Hackathon is also part of the National Civic Day of Hacking series of civic innovation events being hosted across the globe during the […]

Yik Yak

News flash: A new app that enables the posting of anonymous unfiltered thoughts can cause headaches for school administrators. Film at 11. A recent bomb threat alerted many Memorial High School parents and administrators to something that many Houston-area students already knew about: Yik Yak, a smartphone app that functions as a kind of cyber-bathroom […]

Tesla and Texas

Tesla Motors currently can’t sell its cars in Texas via its preferred model of direct sales to consumers. Its attempts to modify state laws to allow for direct sales went nowhere last session, blocked by fierce opposition from the Texas Automobile Dealers Association. They’re now looking for a place to build their new batteries. Why […]

Who’s spamming you?

Probably someone from Dallas. Figures, right? When it comes to those annoying and unsolicited text messages you get imploring you to reply for weight loss tips, “free” money, and adult-oriented services, Houston and Dallas are smartphone spam lords of Texas, acccording to Internet security firm AdaptiveMobile. The funny part is that most of the SMS […]

Google energy

Fascinating. Google may not seem like an energy company, but it sure is acting like one. Through more than $1 billion in investments and through large contracts for renewable power, Google has become the most significant player in the energy business outside of actual energy companies and financial institutions. The Internet search giant’s efforts to […]

Tesla will be back

This story was from earlier in June. Texas’ state legislature failed to vote on a bill backed by Musk’s Tesla Motors (TSLA) that would have loosened the state’s restriction on dealerships owned by automakers. The legislature concluded its most recent session last week, and won’t be back until January 2015. Tesla has tangled with dealership […]

Hello, Motorola

Welcome to Texas. Cellphone pioneer Motorola announced Wednesday that it’s opening a Texas manufacturing facility that will create 2,000 jobs and produce its new flagship device, Moto X, the first smartphone ever assembled in the U.S. The company has already begun hiring for the Fort Worth plant. The site was most recently unoccupied but was […]

Dan Wallach: Energy Pricing 2013

Note: The following is a guest post by my friend Dan Wallach For the past two years, I’ve written a guest blog post here about electrical rates. Let’s do it again, shall we? Last year, I switched from a variable rate to a fixed rate electrical plan, to avoid the occasional shocking price hikes that […]

Making the world a better place, one baby at a time

This is awesome. Conditions associated with premature birth, often related to breathing problems, are responsible for about 30 percent of neonatal mortality. In the developed world, these conditions can be treated using bubble Continuous Positive Airway Pressure machine. But these CPAP machines cost $6,000 and are out of reach of most hospitals in Malawi. So […]

Medicaid expansion is now double secret illegal

Whatever. In a surprise turn in the House on Monday evening, a bill to reform Medicaid long-term and acute care services became a vehicle for the GOP’s platform against Medicaid expansion. “Many of us are very weary of Medicaid expansion,” said state Rep. Jeff Leach, R-Plano, who offered an amendment to Senate Bill 7 that […]