Twitter Chat and Text Messaging Abbreviations Tuesday, May 26 2015 

This is good resource for all those pesky abbreviations that make a post totally unintelligible for the elder generation (who still hunt woolly mammoth for dinner)

NGS Picture ID:122644though it shortens considerably the time it takes to create a post.

http://searchcrm.techtarget.com/definition/Twitter-chat-and-text-messaging-abbreviations?utm_medium=EM&asrc=EM_ERU_43154048&utm_campaign=20150522_ERU%20Transmission%20for%2005/22/2015%20(UserUniverse:%201537017)_myka-reports@techtarget.com&utm_source=ERU&src=5391465

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Microsoft flips off Apple and adds a middle finger emoji Wednesday, May 6 2015 

TriciaTricia Gilbride

According to Emojipedia, the Windows 10 update due in mid-2015 will include a middle finger emoji at long last — in all skin tones.

middle-finger-emoji

The design only loosely resembles an actual hand flipping the bird, but it’s a start.  It also looks a little like an apple on a popsicle stick.  Either way, no matter your skin color, this is just rude.

folded-hands-emoji

Other emoji’s are more fun!

scream-emoji

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emoji

Emoji (絵文字えもじ?, Japanese pronunciation: [emodʑi]) are the ideograms or smileys used in Japanese electronic messages and Web pages, the use of which is spreading outside Japan. Originally meaning pictograph, the word emoji literally means “picture” (e) + “character” (moji). The characters are used much like ASCII emoticons or kaomoji, but a wider range is provided, and the icons are standardized and built into the handsets. Some emoji are very specific to Japanese culture, such as a bowing businessman, a face wearing a face mask, a white flower used to denote “brilliant homework,” or a group of emoji representing popular foods: ramen noodles, dango, onigiri,Japanese curry, and sushi. The three main Japanese mobile operators, NTT DoCoMo, au, and SoftBank Mobile (formerly Vodafone), have each defined their own variants of emoji.

Although originally only available in Japan, some emoji character sets have been incorporated into Unicode, allowing them to be used elsewhere as well. As a result, emoji have become increasingly popular after their international inclusion in Apple‘s iOS in 2011 as the Apple Color Emoji typeface,  which was followed by similar adoption by Android and other mobile operating systems.  Apple’s OS X operating system supports emoji as of version 10.7 (Lion).  Microsoft added monochrome Unicode emoji coverage to the Segoe UI Symbol system font in Windows 8 and added color emoji in Windows 8.1 via the Segoe UI Emoji font.

The exact appearance of Emoji is not prescribed but varies between fonts, in the same way that normal typefaces can display a letter differently. For example, Apple Color Emoji font is proprietary to Apple, and can only be used on Apple devices. Different computing companies have developed their own fonts to display emoji, some of which have been open-sourced to permit their reuse. Both color and monochrome emoji typefaces exist, as well as at least one animated design.

THE DISAPPEARANCE OF THE INSTRUCTION MANUAL Thursday, Jan 29 2015 

INSTRUCTIONS NOT INCLUDED: WHAT THE VANISHING MANUAL SAYS ABOUT US

0-how-to-camera

Instructional diagrams, like this one from the Voigtlander Vito II camera, have been going the way of the dinosaurs.

In the late 17th century, the printer Joseph Moxon published Mechanick Exercises, the first guide to printing in any language. It had been nearly 240 years since the debut of Gutenberg’s press, and books had proliferated. There were Bibles, of course, along with lots of schlocky literature, some porn, and guides to everyday topics—how to polish jewels, how to cast a spell against your enemy. But Moxon’s manual was subtly different. It rang with a decidedly DIY tone and suggested that readers could learn a new trade, at home, in their spare time.

To someone in 17th-century Europe, this was a deeply subversive notion. From the fall of the Roman Empire to the dawn of the Renaissance, age-old social hierarchies held firm. You were born into a station, whether peasantry or trade work or aristocracy, and you and your family remained there for generations. But then came science and technology, and with them new trades and opportunities. With no established guild system in place for many of these new professions (printer, navigator, and so on), readers could, with the help of a manual, circumvent years of apprenticeship and change the course of their lives, at least in theory.

These books, filled with ingenious methods, offered something new and relatively democratic: agency, skill, and command for anyone who could read.

Mechanick Exercises was not the first manual. Vitruvius’s Ten Books on Architecture is one of the only true manuals to survive from antiquity. It offers clear and concise instructions for how and where to construct a house (not in a dell, for instance), where to orient your summer and winter rooms, and many other useful matters. Scribes in the Middle Ages produced their shared guides too. One of the most consistently produced titles in the entire history of writing, the 15th-century Aristotle’s Masterpiece, is a sex manual. But where those early books served as compendia of sorts—the compiled wisdom on any given subject—Moxon’s manual and others like it promised something more: systematic treatments for solving complex problems, such as how to lift a horse with your little pinkie (and a pulley system), how to survey land and on building a fortification. These were books filled with ingenious methods, and they offered something new and relatively democratic: agency, skill, and command for anyone who could read.

Feats of Science

Anderson Newton Design

Moxon’s manual explained how to lift a horse with your pinkie (and a pulley system).

And so it went. As manuals explained more complex systems, they grew in size, developing into the heavy, barely penetrable and largely unread books that most people think of today. But then in the 1980s, the manual began to change. Instead of growing, it began to shrink and even disappear. Instead of mastery, it promised competence. My new iPhone, for instance, came with a “manual” that was about as brief as a Christmas card (and I did not read it). A recent rental car did not come with a manual at all, making its nonreading a snap (but finding out how to pop the trunk rather difficult).

The manuals of old, it turns out, have shape-shifted inward, into the devices themselves. That, or their information has been off-loaded to help-desk support or a parallel, Internet FAQ universe: a searchable realm often filled with answers to almost every question but the one you are asking. Change is the way of the universe, but what does it say that most of us now live our lives using tools that are, practically speaking, beyond our understanding or ability to fix? Have we traded away something important, perhaps even defining, about ourselves—a sense of our own autonomy and control over our tools—for the dubious benefit of convenience?

The Man Who Killed The Manual

If the era of minimalist manual design in which we live could be traced back to one person, it would be John Carroll. In 1976, Carroll, a linguistic psychologist, was finishing his Ph.D. at Columbia University and took a job at IBM’s Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, New York. His job was to help make computer programmers more efficient, but that quickly changed to a new focus—making computers more usable for average people. That was a big shift in thinking. “You have to remember,” Carroll says, “IBM was probably the richest computer research facility in the world, but at the time, the idea of focusing on the average everyday user was sort of off the radar.”

Carroll was doing, in essence, dissident research. He set up a lab, gave secretaries computers and manuals, and then studied them as they tried to accomplish regular office tasks. He tracked “frustration episodes,” observing as subjects became progressively more flummoxed by their manuals. “People would look at me, shaking, and they’d say, ‘I can’t do this.’ And then they’d get up and put their coat on. One person literally had to flee the building,” he says.

Though Carroll had worked at IBM for more than a decade, his quiet revolution—a culture-wide shift not just in the shape of manuals but in how we learn to use technology—didn’t coalesce until one day while he was on a vacation in Germany. He had just finished a manuscript that would become his groundbreaking minimalist opus, but he had no title for it. Then, in the basement of a castle in Nurnberg, he saw a postcard of a painting depicting an old German folktale: two professorial-looking gentlemen in a library standing over a young student who had a funnel affixed to the top of his head. The teachers are busily choosing potions from the library shelves and pouring knowledge down the funnel and into the boy. For Carroll, the image clearly represented the dominant paradigm in most scientific fields—the “systems approach,” a way of dividing the world into taxonomic orders and protocols of action. In computer science, that meant learning an arcane and exacting “command language” and typing directives precisely as prescribed by the system. Carroll’s book, The Nurnberg Funnel, outlined a new philosophy. Instead of focusing on the needs and values of the system designers, it shifted attention onto the end-user, the secretary in the office who needs to hyphenate a compound word.

Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, among others, quickly adopted a similar approach and more would soon follow. Writing a manual from a minimalist point of view, Carroll says, proved enormously successful because it harnessed the true source of all learning—active engagement. Short, succinct manuals allow the user to dive into many different tasks and to accomplish them quickly, thereby gaining a sense of control and autonomy that inspires further learning. “Skeptics would say we weren’t providing the user with any theoretical foundation,” Carroll says, “but we found that people got through their initial learning faster, and that later on, when they needed to learn more complex tasks, the users were also better at doing that, too.”

Manual As Mirror

So manuals began to slip from view. They still exist, sure. Highly complex things, like jet planes or nuclear plants, rely on big integrated enterprise resource planning systems, into which an army of sensors and engineers log the status and service history of every part in order to maintain standards. Many think that BP’s failure, in effect, to update the manual of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig led to the spill in the Gulf. But for most consumer products, the manual has become less an object or a thing and more a verb, a service, a response to the statement most likely uttered (or yelled at the top of one’s lungs) by someone stymied by a gadget: Help.

According to Carroll, the help we once sought from a manual is now mostly embedded into the apps we use every day. It could also be crowdsourced, with users contributing Q&As or uploading how-to videos to YouTube, or it could programmed into a weak artificial intelligence such as Siri or Cortana. Help can even be predictive, tracking our keystrokes or vocal cues to steer us away from trouble before we find it. Xerox is already using predictive analytics to manage calls from Medicare and Medicaid recipients more effectively. And IBM’s Watson Engagement Advisor, part of a new generation of cognitive assistants, can analyze large sets of customer service problems to more efficiently answer (or even anticipate) problems during a purchase. Help may soon arrive in the form of augmented reality. Carroll suggests that technology like Google Glass might one day offer a “task intelligence” visual overlay to help users figure out objects in their field of view.

Google Glass

Anderson Newton Design

Augmented reality devices like Google Glass could introduce a new form of interactive manual into the world.

For most of us, the transition from physical manuals to embedded help has been slow, steady, and apparently benign, like the proverbial tide that lifts all boats—who would argue against help after all? The disappearance of the manual-as-book coincides, moreover, with documented realities about how people actually learn to use new tools and devices. Studies published by the Society for Technical Communication, which regularly reports on “human-machine interaction,” suggest that even when manuals are available, people tend not to read or use them.

Yet even as we gladly cede more and more control of our tools, a growing chorus is calling attention to the costs. In his book Who Owns the Future?, computer scientist and virtual reality pioneer Jaron Lanier uses the analogy of the Sirens from Homer’s Odyssey. The creatures would lull sailors into complacency with their beautiful songs, only to have their boats wreck on the rocks. Lured by the convenience of the Internet, search engines, and all that they promise, most consumers are, in Lanier’s estimation, similar to those doomed sailors: a little too ready to give “the sirens control of the interaction.” Kimberly Nasief, president and co-founder of Measure Consumer Perspectives, a consumer monitoring and customer service consultancy based in Louisville, Kentucky, wrote about how Apple’s ease-of-use might be making her a dumber user. She tried out an Android tablet, and the greater complexity of the operating system actually forced her to learn more: “It made me develop some critical thinking on how the system I was using worked. With Apple, I don’t have to do that. It does it for me. And that just might be dangerous. Dangerous in that if I no longer am learning, or if it’s done for me, then I might just get technologically left behind,” she wrote.

If manuals began as great equalizers, then their disappearance should at least give us pause.

Today the hazards of being left behind seem ever more real. Even Carroll notes that research has suggested an unforeseen consequence of the minimalist approach. Furnished only with a manual of one or two pages, users soon reach a comfort zone, a knowledge plateau from which they tend not to wander. The aggregate effect, culturally, may be that less is less. The less we’re inclined to know about our devices, the more beholden we are to the manufacturers that make them, and the more we offer control to those who, for good or for ill, know more than we do. If manuals began as great equalizers, then their disappearance should at least give us pause. By dispensing with them, we could, consciously or no, be setting the stage for something few would relish: a society divided.

This article was originally published in the February 2015 issue of Popular Science, under the title “Instructions Not Included”.

Meditation Is Even More Powerful Than We Originally Thought Friday, Dec 12 2014 

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 | By

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/11/11/meditation-reduces-stress-harvard-study_n_6109404.html?&ncid=tweetlnkushpmg00000067

With our stress levels creeping higher than ever before, we could all stand to reap the benefits of this mindful practice.

A recent study from Harvard University and the University of Sienna found that the powers of meditation move beyond the cultivation of self-awareness, improvement of concentration and protection of the heart and immune system — it can actually alter the physiology of the human brain. Consistent practice can help alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression in people who often need it most.

In the study, published in the journal PLOS ONE, the scientists selected 24 subjects who had never meditated before and guided them through an 8-week meditation course. Each participant completed a two-and-a-half hour session each week, where they learned about various components and styles of a meditation practice. Outside of the weekly session, they each meditated for 45 minutes daily.

Data gathered from the MRIs conducted before and after the meditation program, along with psychological evaluations, revealed that the subjects experienced a thickening in the part of the brain responsible for emotions and perception. Such changes strengthen the body’s physiological resilience against worry, anxiety and depression.

For the increasing number of us struggling with the overwhelming demands of our lives, reserving a little time each day to tune into ourselves might not be such a bad idea. It takes a little prioritizing in an already-busy schedule, but the proven benefits can be well worth the effort.

2 New Tricks for Hiring Tech Talent Thursday, Nov 13 2014 

There’s a war for tech talent. Here’s how you can get creative about finding and training coding ninjas.

Jessica Stillman

BY   @ENTRYLEVELREBEL

Talk to any entrepreneur looking to hire technical talent and they’ll tell you its insanely tough out there, with companies facing a dire shortage of trained engineering and design talent.

Sure, you could always steal the competition’s talent, or look abroad for salvation. But both approaches have obvious costs. So as we’ve reported here before some businesses are trying a third way: growing their own tech talent through apprentice style programs.

Video gaming-focused media company IGN, for instance, is augmenting its traditional recruiting for the second year in a row with a “no resumes allowed” alternative. Their Code-Foo program selects participants by setting hopefuls up with online coding challenges and asking for a statement of passion about the company. Those that succeed aren’t asked to produce diplomas and sit for endless interviews. Instead, IGN brings them to a six-week training boot camp. If an individual impresses, he or she gets a job—without ever having to say a word about their work history or educational background.

So how did that work out last year? “We ended up with 30 people,” Roy Bahat, the president of IGN, told Inc.com. “Our guys thought we were going to hire one or two—a third of them didn’t even go to college, a third had non-technical degrees. These were not the people you would have even interviewed on the basis of their resumes. And then lo and behold, a third of them were meeting our bar and the best of them were running laps around much more ‘qualified’ candidates. We were thrilled.” Ten were hired and Bahat says, “on average they’ve worked out better than hires from a traditional hiring process. The best few are among our highest potential talent.”

thumbsup

Code-Foo and other training schemes outside of the academy aren’t just a good bet for smaller companies looking to recruit, but also something Bahat sees as having larger social benefits. “One of my personal passions is teaching young people coding skills because I think that it is the fastest path towards not just economically rewarding work but creatively rewarding work. It’s not as hard as people make it out to be—it’s like being an auto mechanic of the 21st century,” he said. IGN is accepting applications for Code Foo until April 30.

Meanwhile, online marketplace Etsy isn’t just trying to nurture tech talent in general, but female tech talent in particular. The Los Angeles Times reports that the Marc Hedlund, Etsy’s vice president of engineering, noticed that in his career he’s hired men by the hundreds but only a handful of women. To even out the gender balance, the company is hosting the summer 2012 session of Hacker School at its New York City headquarters and offering women who want to participate $5,000 grants to help them support themselves while they learn to be code ninjas.

“Our goal is to bring 20 women to New York to participate, and we hope this will be the first of many steps to encourage more women into engineering at Etsy and across the industry,” Hedlund commented. Which is a good thing, as so far only one woman has participated in Hacker School since its founding last year.

Why do we have to learn this? Monday, Oct 27 2014 

Originally published in the Los Angeles Times  December 26, 2004 by Arthur Michelson

Good afternoon! I got this from my college math ed advisor, and I thought it was great

American middle school students don’t much care that they’re worse at math than their counterparts in Hong Kong or Finland. “I don’t need it,” my students say. “I’m gonna be a basketball star.” Or a beautician, or a car mechanic, or a singer.

It’s also hard to get much of a rise out of adults over the fact, released earlier this year, that the United States ranked 28th out of 41 countries whose middle school students’ math skills were tested by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. So what if we’re tied with Latvia, while nations like Japan and South Korea leave us in the dust? After all, when was the last time you used algebra?  (Martin’s comment: We use calculus every time we drive a car or walk across a busy street!)

Math

But math is not just about computing quadratic equations, knowing geometric proofs or balancing a checkbook. And it’s not just about training Americans to become scientists.

It has implicit value. It is about discipline, precision, thoroughness and meticulous analysis. It helps you see patterns, develops your logic skills, teaches you to concentrate and to separate truth from falsehood. These are abilities and qualities that distinguish successful people.

Math helps you make wise financial decisions, but also informs you so you can avoid false claims from advertisers, politicians and others. It helps you determine risk. Some examples:

* If a fair coin is tossed and eight heads come up in a row, most adults would gamble that the next toss would come up tails. But a coin has no memory. There is always a 50-50 chance.

Be rational and real

See you at the casino?

* If you have no sense of big numbers, you can’t evaluate the consequences of how government spends your money. Why should we worry? Let our kids deal with it….

* Enormous amounts of money are spent on quack medicine. Many people will reject sound scientific studies on drugs or nutrition if the results don’t fit their preconceived notions, yet they might leap to action after reading news stories on the results of small, inconclusive or poorly run studies.

* After an airplane crash, studies show that people are more likely to drive than take a plane despite the fact that they are much more likely to be killed or injured while driving. Planes are not like copycat criminals. A plane is not more likely to crash just because another recently did. In fact, the most dangerous time to drive is probably right after a plane crash because so many more people are on the road.

The precision of math, like poetry, gets to the heart of things. It can increase our awareness.

Consider the Fibonacci series, in which each number is the sum of the preceding two, (0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13 … ). Comparing each successive pair yields a relationship known as the Golden Ratio, which often shows up in nature and art. It’s the mathematical underpinning of what we consider beautiful. You’ll find it in the design of the Parthenon and the Mona Lisa, as well as in human proportion; for instance, in the size of the hand compared to the forearm and the forearm to the entire arm. Stephen Hawking’s editor warned him that for every mathematical formula he wrote in a book, he would lose a big part of his audience. Yet more than a little is lost by dumbing things down.

Fibonacci squaresNAUTILUS

It is not possible to really understand science and the scientific method without understanding math. A rainbow is even more beautiful and amazing when we understand it. So is a lightning bolt, an ant or ourselves.

Math gives us a powerful tool to understand our universe. I don’t wish to overstate: Poetry, music, literature and the fine and performing arts are also gateways to beauty. Nothing we study is a waste. But the precision of math helps refine how we think in a very special way.

How do we revitalize the learning of math? I don’t have the big answer. I teach middle school and try to find an answer one child at a time. When I can get one to say, “Wow, that’s tight,” I feel the joy of a small victory.

Arthur Michelson teaches at the Beechwood School in Menlo Park, Calif.   This commentary was written for the Los Angeles Times.

FBI Director Calls On Congress To ‘Fix’ Phone Encryption By Apple, Google Friday, Oct 17 2014 

WASHINGTON — FBI Director James Comey called Thursday for “a regulatory or legislative fix” for technology companies’ expanding use of encryption to protect user privacy, arguing that without such a fix, “homicide cases could be stalled, suspects could walk free, and child exploitation victims might not be identified or recovered.”

Comey said he understood the “justifiable surprise” many Americans felt after former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden’s disclosures about mass government surveillance, but he contended that recent shifts by companies like Apple and Google to make data stored on cell phones inaccessible to law enforcement went too far.

“Perhaps it’s time to suggest that the post-Snowden pendulum has swung too far in one direction — in a direction of fear and mistrust,” said Comey, speaking at the Brookings Institution in Washington in his first major policy speech since taking over the FBI 13 months ago.

FBI Director James Comey Speaks At Intelligence And National Security Summitt

Justice may be denied because of a locked phone or an encrypted hard drive,” he said.

The latest versions of smartphone operating systems from Apple and Google provide strong default encryption that cannot be broken even by the companies themselves — as long as users store data like photos only on their own devices and not in the cloud.

Law enforcement officials like Comey worry that as a result, some kinds of data will “go dark” to investigators who need forensic data to solve crimes. But the companies and tech experts both say strong default encryption is necessary to protect users from unwanted intrusions into their privacy by governments and freelance hackers.

Comey said the FBI was seeing “more and more cases” in which law enforcement officials believed there was significant evidence on a laptop or phone they couldn’t access due to encryption. It’s not clear, however, that any of the cases he specifically referenced — from a murder in Louisiana to a hit-and-run homicide in California — could not have been solved with a traditional warrant to cellular service providers.

“Law enforcement has access to more data than they’ve ever had access to,” Matthew Green, an assistant professor of computer science at Johns Hopkins University, told The Huffington Post. “We’re just finally as a society trying to get back to a point where it’s a little more in line with what law enforcement would have been able to get back in the ’80s.”

Snowden’s revelations have provoked a crisis abroad for major U.S. tech companies, which could lose billions as foreign customers leery of American software and devices compromised by the NSA turn to other providers. Comey said that he was “not trying to jump on the companies,” like Apple and Google, that implement encryption systems closed off to law enforcement and that he believed they were “responding to a marketing imperative.”

The FBI director didn’t propose any specific legislative solution, saying he simply hoped to begin a dialogue about the issue. He indicated that he wanted some way for manufacturers to provide law enforcement with access to their devices under a court order.

676494_fbi_costume_pin_badge

“We aren’t seeking a back-door approach,” Comey said. “We want to use the front door, with clarity and transparency, and with clear guidance provided by law. We are completely comfortable with court orders and legal process — front doors that provide the evidence and information we need to investigate crime and prevent terrorist attacks.”

Green said that statement indicates Comey would be comfortable with either the government or tech companies themselves holding onto the tools necessary to decrypt messages and data.

But whether law enforcement has access to users’ information through a legally mandated front door or a covertly installed back door, others argue that intentionally giving electronic devices privacy vulnerabilities carries great risks.

“Sophisticated adversaries” could use the same holes to siphon off data, said Christopher Soghoian, the principal technologist for the American Civil Liberties Union, in a question posed to Comey during a questions-and-answers period Thursday. Many have warned that those adversaries could include foreign governments like China or freelance hackers.

“I don’t think that anybody with complete confidence can build an interception-proof system,” Comey acknowledged. But, he added, “when you aggregate various risks and tradeoffs, the alternative doesn’t make any sense to me.”

The Justice Department and FBI have been raising their increasing concern over criminals or terrorists “going dark” for years. Any push in Congress to provide the government with more tools to access user data, however, will likely face opposition from the tech companies and from privacy advocates.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), a tech industry ally and NSA foe, tweeted in response to Comey’s speech that he opposes “requiring companies to build back doors into their products.”

“This Apple thing wasn’t done on a whim,” said Green. “I don’t think you’re going to see anyone back down right away.”

Why we need volunteers for the first human Ebola trials Tuesday, Sep 2 2014 

https://theconversation.com/why-we-need-volunteers-for-the-first-human-ebola-trials-31158

Ebola vaccine testing to begin on humans

The current outbreak of Ebola in West Africa has emerged rapidly and evolved with alarming ease. An unprecedented number of lives have been lost and WHO predictions are that the virus will infect in excess of 20,000 people before the situation can be brought under control.

Authors:

Claire Tully

Claire Tully currently a final year DPhil student at The Jenner Instutute, University of Oxford.

Adrian Hill

Adrian Hill is a Professor of Human Genetics at the Jenner Institute, University of Oxford.

This is an extraordinarily challenging time for the nations affected, many of which have fragile, inadequate health infrastructures and have been unable to contain the outbreak.

International efforts are now required to strengthen and implement comprehensive emergency response strategies across the areas affected and most at risk.

Accelerated development

An important part of the measures to be implemented involves fast-tracking access to treatment and vaccine options in order to reduce morbidity and mortality rates and help stop transmission. The gravity of the current epidemic is such that for the first time in history an international consortium has been assembled in order to accelerate the development and deployment of potential Ebola vaccines.

At the Jenner Institute in Oxford we will run the first phase I trial of a vaccine targeted at the Zaire strain of Ebola virus that is causing the current outbreak. The main purpose of this first-in-humans trial in the UK is to establish a detailed safety profile of the vaccine and assess the type of immune responses it induces before it could be considered for widespread use. A further goal is to identify the most suitable dose of the vaccine.

The vaccine is being co-developed with GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and the National Institutes of Health who are running parallel human phase I trials in the US. Our trial is being funded with a £2.8m grant from the Wellcome Trust, the Medical Research Council and the UK Department for International Development.

Chimpanzee adenovirus

 

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The candidate vaccine in question uses a chimpanzee adenovirus (a type of respiratory virus) as a means to expose or prime the immune systems of volunteers to a specific protein that exists on the surface of the Ebola virus.

The vaccine contains some genetic material but not the entire Ebola virus genome so it cannot cause an Ebola infection. As with the US trial, the adenovirus also will not replicate but instead prompts the person vaccinated to express an Ebola vaccine that the immune system will later recognise if the person became infected.

Previously it has been tested in animal models and has demonstrated impressive effectiveness at protecting against infection and promoting recovery from animals later exposed to Ebola. Just a single dose was required to induce very high levels of protective efficacy.

Chimpanzee adenoviruses have been used extensively in clinical trials for malaria, hepatitis C and other infections but no vaccine of this type has been licensed as yet. In the 25 clinical trials of chimpanzee adenoviruses that have taken place, the safety profile of this type of vaccine has been good.

At present, ethical and regulatory approvals are being prioritised so that the trials may begin in the UK in September 2014. This will be run in parallel with a cohort in the US and extended to The Gambia and Mali shortly thereafter. At the same time, 10,000 vaccine doses will be stockpiled by GSK in order that, should the vaccine meet safety requirements, it may be deployed without any further delays.

The candidate vaccine will be tested in 60 healthy volunteers over the age of 18, who we will shortly begin recruiting. During the trial volunteers will be administered a single dose of the vaccine into the muscles of the upper arm and blood samples will be taken at specific time points.

In all, volunteers will be expected to attend for a total of nine clinic visits over six months. Clinical trials are an essential part of the vaccine development process and invaluable tools when it comes to understanding and ultimately improving the processes that provide vaccine-mediated protection from disease. In order gain the upper hand over Ebola, we need all the help we can get.

The Universe Changes Monday, Jun 30 2014 

The Who have announced a 50th anniversary UK tour that is likely to be their last.

wholivegetty

The rock group, whose hits include Substitute and My Generation, announced the Who Hits 50 tour would include songs from across their career.

“This is the beginning of the long goodbye,” said singer Roger Daltrey.

Guitarist Pete Townshend said: “We are what we are, and extremely good at it, but we’re lucky to be alive and still touring.

“If I had enough hairs to split I would say that for 13 years since 1964 The Who didn’t really exist, so we are really only 37.

Townshend said the show would include “hits, picks, mixes and misses”.

who66getty

 

 

Daltrey and Townshend revealed the tour dates at a launch event at Ronnie Scott’s jazz club in London, at which they played a short acoustic set.

The Who have sold more than 100 million records since forming in 1964. Their best-known albums include My Generation, and rock operas Tommy and Quadrophenia.

The original line-up included drummer Keith Moon, who died from an accidental overdose in 1978, and bassist John Entwistle who died of a heart attack in 2002.

In 2013, The Who toured the UK with a full-length performance of 1973’s Quadrophenia, which inspired the 1979 film of the same name.

Daltrey told Rolling Stone last year that The Who were planning a world tour for 2015 which would be their “last big tour”.

He said: “We aren’t finishing after that. We intend to go on doing music until we drop, but we have to be realistic about our age. The touring is incredibly grinding on the body and we have to draw a line in the sand somewhere.”

The Who Hits 50 UK tour begins at Glasgow SSE Hydro on 30 November and ends at London’s The O2 on 17 December.

http://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-28087350

3-Year-Olds Can Learn to Code — One Robot Turtle at a Time Sunday, Jun 15 2014 

Samanthamurphy

Samantha Murphy Kelly

Samantha Murphy Kelly is a Senior Tech Correspondent for Mashable, where she covers lifestyle tech and entertainment. She joined the Mashable team in 2011 and is based in New York.

 

NEW YORK — It’s never too early to turn your child into a computer programmer.

A new board game called Robot Turtles is attracting plenty of attention at the 2014 International American Toy Fair for teaching kids as young as 3 the basics of coding.

Robot Turtles by ThinkFun is the most-funded board game in Kickstarter history, far surpassing its $25,000 goal with $630,000 in pledges. The company is now accepting preorders, priced at $24.99, and will ship in June.

The concept comes from former Google programmer Dan Shapiro, who wanted to share his love for coding with his two daughters. Although many computer-based platforms for preschools are already on the market, Shapiro wanted to take the learning process offline with a traditional board game.

 

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He designed the game so kids can pick up the essentials in just a few minutes. It’s also approachable for parents who might want to get kids on a tech literacy track but didn’t know how to get started.

The child plays the role of the programmer while the adult is the computer. The young player picks one of four turtles (blue, purple, yellow or red) and a corresponding jewel, and places them in different spots on the board. Up to four players can play at the same time.

The child has to direct — or write code — for the adult to follow and get the turtle to the jewel. Each card instructs the user to take a specific action, so the child can lay down a left-hand card or forward-step card. The adult then follows the cue from the card and helps move the turtle closer to the gem. The child then puts down another card to build a coding sequence.

Some obstacles, such as blockades or ice walls, come up along the way. Others cards have special abilities, such as shooting a laser to melt the ice wall.

“As the child gets more advanced, they can do more planning and lay down a few cards at once,” the spokesperson said. “Coding for kids is huge right now, but a lot of it is screen based because that is the obvious route. This brings the computer world to traditional play.”

 

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