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Posts under ‘Technology, science, and math’

Here come the drones

Look! Up in the sky! Companies in Austin and Addison on Wednesday became the first two firms to become officially credentialed to operate unmanned aircraft systems under a new training and safety program that officials said promises to boost Texas’ place in the emerging drone market. At a statewide conference hosted by the Texas A&M […]

Anti-vaxxers gain ground in Texas

There’s a lesson in here that we need to learn. On a Friday night little over a year ago, a Texas mother of three was attending a school dance when she got a text message that stopped her cold. A state lawmaker from Dallas had filed legislation taking aim at a provision in state law […]

Find those leaks

I don’t care how. A pair of state and federal government inspectors spent two weeks traveling around northern Colorado’s oil and gas fields in early 2012, filming with an infrared camera. Air pollution was rising in the region, and attention was turning to the rapid increase in drilling activity. The inspectors focused on Houston-based Noble […]

Dan Wallach: 2016 Electric Power Usage Update

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 […]

Fighting pertussis

Sure hope these folks can make a lot of progress in their work. Of the more than 30,000 children hospitalized with pertussis in the United States each year, 10 to 20 will die. Worldwide, pertussis infects more than 16 million and causes nearly 200,000 deaths a year. “We need to come up with some therapeutic […]

An app to help the homeless

This is a great idea. A shower. A meal. A place to sleep. Those basic needs come to mind when most think of the homeless. Our Calling, a Dallas nonprofit, has given the homeless an iPhone app. The faith-based nonprofit is using technology to help people who live under bridges, near crack houses and in […]

It’s hard out here on a recycler, part 3

A story in the WaPo about the ongoing struggles of the recycling business. Once a profitable business for cities and private employers alike, recycling in recent years has become a money-sucking enterprise. The District, Baltimore and many counties in between are contributing millions annually to prop up one of the nation’s busiest facilities here in […]

Ambulances and ERs

Very interesting story about the overuse of ambulances in Houston and how the city is trying to deal with it. But in truth little works in a system that has been broken for years. Over the past generation, patients began to see emergency rooms as doctor’s offices, taking ambulances to get there. It’s the most […]

It’s hard out here on a recycler, part 2

As if they didn’t have enough to deal with. As low commodity prices have left recyclers short on cash to invest in technological upgrades, product manufacturers are coming out with new types of packaging that make business even tougher. These products include lighter-weight plastic bottles, resealable pouch containers and other items that are popular with […]

It’s hard out here on a recycler

Whole lot of not so good in there. When Waste Management bought the plant in 2010 and converted it to handle single-bin recycling, commodity prices were high, the city was on board and Houstonians were eager to recycle. As the company introduced single-bin recycling, residents became ever more vigilant about keeping bottles, cans and newspapers […]

Dan Wallach: 2015 Electric Power Usage Update

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 […]

Get out of solar’s way

Keep an eye on this. “Hawaii is a postcard from the future,” said Adam Browning, executive director of Vote Solar, a policy and advocacy group based in California. Other states and countries, including California, Arizona, Japan and Germany, are struggling to adapt to the growing popularity of making electricity at home, which puts new pressures […]

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 […]