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Posts under ‘Technology, science, and math’

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 […]

Three four six

Meet your new area code, Houston. The Public Utility Commission (PUC) on Thursday announced the addition of area code 346 to accommodate continued growth in and around Houston. The 346 area code will overlay existing area codes 713, 281 and 832 in Harris, Fort Bend, Waller, Austin, Montgomery, San Jacinto, Liberty, Chambers, Galveston and Brazoria […]

Check this out

Scan while you shop, and other technological advances to get you checked out faster. In February, San Antonio-based H-E-B invited customers to try out a new scanning “tunnel” for the first time at its McCreless Market location on South New Braunfels Avenue. The company spent about three years developing the so-called Fast Scan technology, which […]

Mobile payments

Austin is a hot spot for the hot new thing in retail technology. Mobile payments technology is gathering steam across the country, but Austin is one of the hot spots, both for deployment of new technology and for development of new software for payment systems and payment processing. Dozens of merchants have affiliated with Square […]

The HPV vaccine

This story about HPV and its vaccine is from a couple of weeks ago, but it needs to be read. The vaccine that blocks a sexually transmitted infection that causes cervical, oral and other cancers was hailed as a home run when it was approved seven years ago, but, given usage rates, doctors still aren’t […]

What other environmental groups think about “One Bin For All”

As you know, last week the city announced that it had won the $1 million runnerup prize from the Bloomberg Foundation that would enable it to begin work on a single-bin solution for solid waste and recycling. While this announcement was generally met with cheers, the Texas Campaign for the Environment was not among those […]

Nationwide WiFi?

This sounds like a big deal. The federal government wants to create super Wi-Fi networks across the nation, so powerful and broad in reach that consumers could use them to make calls or surf the Internet without paying a cellphone bill every month. The proposal from the Federal Communications Commission has rattled the $178 billion […]

TEC approves texting campaign contributions

From Jerad Najvar: After brief discussion and comments by Jerad Najvar, attorney for Harris County Republicans, the TEC voted unanimously to approve a draft opinion permitting Texas political committees to accept contributions by text message. APPROVED OPINION HERE (the first page is a diagram of each method) The request proposed two methods for processing text […]

Free WiFi finally coming to Houston airports

And there was much rejoicing. Free WiFi is set to land at Houston’s two main airports by year’s end. As wireless fidelity service becomes a consumer expectation, the Houston Airport System told the Houston Chronicle it is working to develop a complimentary – as well as fast, reliable and easy to use – network for […]

The 311 app is here

I’ve been waiting for this. The brand-new Houston 311 app will allow residents to file a complaint and then track its progress. The program officially goes live Tuesday, city officials said. Here’s how the 311 app works, city spokesman Chris Newport said: “Say you see a pothole on your street. Before you even leave for […]

Green batteries

This is very cool. In one more step of a global effort to develop greener battery technology, researchers at Rice University say they have found a way to replace a costly metallic component in lithium-ion batteries with material from a common plant. While many of today’s lithium-ion batteries incorporate cobalt, which has to be mined […]