Posts tagged mobile

xcel

Gas “outage” comes at a bad time

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Boulder Fire-Rescue offers safety tips during gas outage

Xcel Energy is working to address a gas outage that is impacting a significant number of homes in parts of the city and Boulder County. Boulder Fire-Rescue is offering tips to help keep people safe during the outage.

ü  If your pilot light is out after gas service is restored and you don’t know how to re-light it, you may contact Xcel to come to your home to relight the pilot for you. Xcel is asking individuals who need assistance to call 1-800-295-4999 to provide a cell phone for crews to contact you; if you will be home when crews come by, please leave your porch light. Call a professional contractor if you don’t wish to wait for Xcel.

A gas outage hit Boulder Friday

A gas outage hit Boulder Friday

ü  If your pipes freeze, avoid using blow torches or open flames to try to heat them. Just yesterday, Dec. 5, 2013, someone caused a fire in a mobile home while using a blow torch to heat frozen pipes. Although no one was injured, the mobile home suffered extensive damage from the fire.

ü  If you have neighbors who are elderly or who are physically/mentally challenged, please check on them to make sure they’re okay. If they are in need of medical attention, call 9-1-1.

ü  If you plan to  use an electric space heater, consider the following precautions:

·         Keep space heaters at least 3 feet away from flammable objects like curtains, furniture and bedding.

·         Make sure to keep a 3-foot “kid-free zone” around space heaters and fires.

·         Use space heaters only when you’re present in your home or business, and only while you’re awake. Never use space heaters while you sleep.

How to Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas which can be produced when a furnace or other appliances are not working properly. It can also be produced when wood-burning fireplaces are not vented properly.
Carbon monoxide is a colorless and odorless gas, and inhaling it can cause death. Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include feeling out of breath, dizziness, nausea and headaches. If you or any of your family members experience these symptoms, leave the building immediately and call 9-1-1.

ü  Make sure to install a carbon monoxide detector in your home or business. Check the batteries regularly to ensure that it’s working properly.

ü  Don’t use a charcoal or wood grill indoors or in a garage.

ü  Never operate kerosene or propane heaters indoors without proper venting.

ü  Never use your oven to heat your home.

Emergency Contacts and Shelter Information
In case of emergency, contact 9-1-1. For other calls, the non-emergency dispatch number is 303-441-3333. To report outages, please contact Xcel directly at 1-800-895-2999.

The American Red Cross will be opening a warm shelter for people impacted by this emergency. The shelter will be available starting at 3 p.m. today and is located at Douglass Elementary School, 840 75th St. near 75th Street and Baseline Road.

–CITY–

warning siren

Campus Alerts system gets a test Friday

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The University of Colorado Boulder will test the Campus Alerts system on Friday, Dec. 6, at noon to raise awareness of how the campus community will be notified in case of a campus emergency. The test will include text messages, emails, social media and website announcements. Annual testing of emergency notification systems is required by the Clery Act, a federal law.

“As we saw during the recent floods, emergencies can happen quickly and without warning,” said Stuart Pike, CU-Boulder emergency management director. “The Campus Alerts system is our most effective means of communicating key safety messages to the campus community. It’s important for students, faculty and staff to be aware of this critical messaging platform.”

campusalerts

If the emergency involves a threat to personal safety or a campus closure, a campus alert will be sent using one or all of the communication methods available. Text messaging is the backbone of the system as it reaches the most individuals in the least amount of time.

More than 90 percent of CU-Boulder students, faculty and staff are registered for the Campus Alerts system and over 90 percent of those have at least one mobile device registered, according to Pike.

During an emergency that affects the campus, critical updates, additional details, and any necessary instructions regarding the nature of the emergency will be posted at http://alerts.colorado.edu, university social media sites, and on the campus Emergency Information Line at 303-492-4636 (303-492-INFO).

Active CU-Boulder student email addresses (@colorado.edu) are automatically registered and the university encourages students to add mobile phone numbers in order to receive text notifications as well. Faculty, staff, or affiliates of the CU-Boulder community with an @colorado.edu (or cufund.org, or cu.edu) e-mail address are encouraged to register on a voluntary basis. Additional information is available at http://alerts.colorado.edu.

Details on the decision process for determining a closure, how administrative leave should be handled for essential personnel and other employees, and answers to questions that frequently arise are covered in “Campus Closing Procedures During Emergencies” located at http://www.colorado.edu/policies/campus-closing-procedures-during-emergencies.

Any user who expected to receive an alert and didn’t, or who needs help signing up for the system, should call the IT Service Center at 303-735-HELP or email help@colorado.edu.

cuseal

CU’s nLab breeds real-world innovation among all walks of students

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Interdisciplinary thinking bolsters innovation. That’s the concept behind the University of Colorado Boulder’s new nLab, a mobile hub that allows students to develop their entrepreneurial ideas through peer and mentor-based collaboration, sustainability resources and other tools.

The free resource, launched last fall by CU-Boulder’s Deming Center for Entrepreneurship at the Leeds School of Business, is designed to help students campus wide tap into communities beyond their academic spheres. The CU Environmental Center, an nLab partner, offers specialized support to integrate sustainability into student ideas.

A passerby chats with Sarah Dawn Haynes (right) of the CU Environmental Center near the kiosk that is part of nLab -- a free resource that allows students to explore their ideas through interdisciplinary collaboration and mentorship. (Photo by Patrick Campbell/University of Colorado)

A passerby chats with Sarah Dawn Haynes (right) of the CU Environmental Center near the kiosk that is part of nLab — a free resource that allows students to explore their ideas through interdisciplinary collaboration and mentorship. (Photo by Patrick Campbell/University of Colorado)

The nLab supports cross-campus entrepreneurship curricula, the CU New Venture Challenge business plan competition and individuals who want to explore ideas.

“You don’t have to be a business major to think like an entrepreneur,” said Costa Raptis, a junior in geography at CU-Boulder. “You just have to be driven and have a versatile mind and kind of know what you’re after.”

Raptis, who’s interested in cultural anthropology and marketing, is exploring his idea — a talent agency that operates without a traditional hierarchy — using the nLab. He’s been paired through nLab with an employee-owned solar company for mentorship.

Other student ideas that have been brought to the nLab are a cosmetic line and a job-search website called Startups 2 Students, which matches students with position openings at unique companies.

The nLab includes a website where users can post ideas and browse existing projects. It also hosts weekly co-working sessions on campus and provides a mobile kiosk intended to spark both planned and impromptu meetings, and to serve as a workspace. Faculty also can enlist nLab.

“I’m beginning to use nLab as an additional tool to give my students a safe, welcoming and helpful place to apply course material to ideas of their own and others,” said Eben Johnson, a CU-Boulder lecturer in the Lockheed Martin Engineering Management Program. “The value of nLab is that it’s for the whole campus. From music to biology, history and finance, great ideas for new products and services are found everywhere.”

Johnson teaches an undergraduate and graduate-level course called Marketing and High-Tech Ventures. Each semester, his students conceptualize new ideas from lithium ion batteries for cell phones to algae nutritional supplements, and nLab will be a resource for such projects, he said.

Other campus supporters of nLab are CU’s Technology Transfer Office; the Silicon Flatirons Center for Law, Technology and Entrepreneurship; the Alliance for Technology, Learning and Society, or ATLAS; and the Lockheed Martin Engineering Management Program.

For more information about nLab visit http://nlab.colorado.edu/. For more information about the Deming Center for Entrepreneurship visit http://deming.colorado.edu/.

Wallet-002

CU police: Suspect in rash of thefts is arrested

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Raymond Webster Hamilton, wanted for questioning in a pattern of recent wallet thefts at three university campuses, is in custody.

Hamilton, 26, of Denver, is a suspect wanted in connection with the theft of an iPad at the University of Colorado Boulder over the summer. He is also a person of interest in at least 23 cases of wallet and laptop thefts at CU-Boulder, CU Anschutz Medical Campus and the Colorado School of Mines.

State parole officers arrested Hamilton in Denver on Monday, November 19, 2012. He declined to speak to a CU-Boulder police detective on scene. The investigation into the wallet and laptop thefts is ongoing. Hamilton was booked into the Denver County Downtown Detention Center on charges of providing false information to a pawn broker, three fugitive holds and a parole violation. He is being held without bond.

“We thank the media for their assistance in publicizing these cases, and we thank the public for their tips that led to this arrest,” said CU-Boulder Police spokesman Ryan Huff. “At the same time, we remind the campus community that they need to stay vigilant in protecting their valuable items.”

CU-Boulder police worked with Lakewood police to obtain an arrest warrant for Hamilton. He is not a CU student. The following is a chronology of recent thefts at the three universities:

  • Hamilton pawned an iPad just hours after it was stolen from a CU-Boulder Visual Arts Complex office on July 25, 2012. As a result of that case, Hamilton had an active arrest warrant for pawning stolen property (a Class 6 felony) to a Lakewood pawn broker.
  • On Oct. 17, 2012, someone stole five wallets and a laptop from CU-Boulder academic building offices and the University Memorial Center.
  • On Oct. 19, 2012, someone stole three wallets from offices at the Colorado School of Mines. A CSM Police Department investigation determined that Hamilton is a person of interest in at least one of those cases.
  • On Oct. 24, 2012, someone stole wallets and purses from 14 offices at CU Anschutz Medical Campus. Surveillance video of the suspect resembles Hamilton.

From Oct. 2 to Oct. 20, 2012, UCPD recorded 15 cases of a suspect or suspects stealing laptops and wallets from common areas or unlocked offices. For a Google Map with dates, locations and stolen items, see http://bit.ly/Oct2012CUthefts.

The CU Police Department reminds the campus community to keep lockers and offices secured when unattended. In common areas, such as dining facilities, libraries or the University Memorial Center, never leave laptops, mobile phones or other valuable items unattended – even if just stepping away for a few minutes.  For more crime prevention tips, see http://police.colorado.edu/crime-prevention-and-safety.

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Wallet-002

CU police name a suspect in rash of wallet, laptop thefts

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The University of Colorado Boulder Police Department has identified a suspect wanted in connection with the theft of an iPad over the summer. This suspect is also wanted for questioning in a pattern of recent wallet thefts at three university campuses: CU-Boulder, CU Anschutz Medical Campus and the Colorado School of Mines.

 

CU-Boulder police worked with Lakewood police to obtain an arrest warrant for Raymond Webster Hamilton, 26, of Denver. He is not a CU student. He has active warrants out of Lakewood (providing false information to a pawn broker), Denver (possessing stolen property) and the Department of Corrections (parole violation).

 

Hamilton is 5-feet, 11-inches tall and weighs approximately 185 pounds. If you know of Hamilton’s whereabouts or see him on campus, contact CU Police dispatch at 303-492-6666.

 

The following is a chronology of recent thefts at the three universities:

 

  • Hamilton pawned an iPad just hours after it was stolen from a CU-Boulder Visual Arts Complex office on July 25, 2012.
  • As a result of that case, Hamilton has an active arrest warrant for pawning stolen property (a Class 6 felony) to a Lakewood pawn broker.
  • On Oct. 17, 2012, someone stole five wallets and a laptop from CU-Boulder academic building offices and the University Memorial Center.
  • On Oct. 19, 2012, someone stole three wallets from offices at the Colorado School of Mines. A CSM Police Department investigation determined that Hamilton is a person of interest in at least one of those cases.
  • On Oct. 24, 2012, someone stole wallets and purses from 14 offices at CU Anschutz Medical Campus. Surveillance video of the suspect resembles Hamilton.

From Oct. 2 to Oct. 20, 2012, CU-Boulder police recorded 15 cases of a suspect or suspects stealing laptops and wallets from common areas or unlocked offices. For a Google Map with dates, locations and stolen items, see http://bit.ly/Oct2012CUthefts.

 

“Students and employees should not allow their valuable items to go unattended,” said CU-Boulder Police Chief Joe Roy. “Doing so provides thieves a crime of opportunity.”

 

CU-Boulder police recently solved an unrelated theft case from late September. The CU and Arvada police departments identified an individual who stole wallets from hockey locker rooms at the CU Recreation Center and Apex Center in Arvada. CU-Boulder student Christopher David Gudmundson was arrested on suspicion of three counts of felony burglary and 12 counts of theft. He is not suspected in the CU academic building thefts.

 

The CU-Boulder Police Department reminds the campus community to keep lockers and offices secured when unattended. In common areas, such as dining facilities, libraries or the University Memorial Center, never leave laptops, mobile phones or other valuable items unattended – even if just stepping away for a few minutes.  For more crime prevention tips, see http://police.colorado.edu/crime-prevention-and-safety.

 

Those who have information on these crimes but wish to remain anonymous may contact the Northern Colorado Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or 1-800-444-3776. Tips can also be submitted via the Crime Stoppers website at http://www.crimeshurt.com. Those submitting tips through Crime Stoppers that lead to the arrest and filing of charges on a suspect(s) may be eligible for a cash reward of up to $1,000 from Crime Stoppers.

 

To get updates on crime alerts and other public safety information, see UCPD’s social media pages at www.twitter.com/CUBoulderPolice andwww.facebook.com/CUBoulderPolice.

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AFwheat

CU-Boulder startup company receives Gates Foundation exploration grant

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A new startup company that sprang from the University of Colorado Boulder this year is a Grand Challenges Exploration winner, an initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Psychology and neurosciences department Associate Professor Don Cooper, co-founder and chief science officer of Mobile Assay Inc. of Boulder who developed the technology in his laboratory at CU’s Institute for Behavioral Genetics, will pursue an innovative global health and development research project titled “A Lab on Mobile Device Platform for Seed Testing.”

Grand Challenges Explorations, or GCE, funds individuals worldwide who are taking innovative approaches to some of the world’s toughest and most persistent global health and development challenges.  GCE invests in the early stages of bold ideas that have real potential to solve problems people in the developing world face every day.  Cooper and Mobile Assay Inc. are one of more than 80 Grand Challenges Exploration Round 9 grants for $100,000 each announced today by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Cooper’s Mobile Assay Inc. team has developed new technology — which includes using mobile devices, test strips (similar to pregnancy test strips), geographical tagging and “cloud computing” — to rapidly detect, quantify and track common seed-borne pathogens in real time to address the economic impact of seed-borne diseases in developing countries.  “This will ultimately allow farmers in developing countries to identify and track pathogens infecting seeds and share their data, which could improve crop yields and prevent crop losses,” he said.

“Investments in innovative global health research are already paying off,” said Chris Wilson, director of the Global Health Discovery and Translational Sciences at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “We continue to be impressed by the novelty and innovative spirit of Grand Challenges Explorations projects and are enthusiastic about this exciting research. These investments hold real potential to yield new solutions to improve the health of millions of people in the developing world, and ensure that everyone has the chance to live a healthy productive life.”

To receive funding, Grand Challenge Exploration Round 9 winners demonstrated in a two-page online application a creative idea in one of five critical global health and development topic areas that included agricultural development, immunization and communications.  Applications for the current open round, Grand Challenges Exploration round 10, will be accepted through Nov. 7, 2012.

Test strips are typically plastic with chemically impregnated pads designed to react with specific antibodies to produce a specific visual signal. Once the reaction takes place, the strip is developed in less than 10 minutes and the visual signal is quantified using the camera on a smartphone or mobile tablet device and proprietary software. There are now Lab on Mobile Device-compatible tests strips that are used to identify more than 1,000 different pathogens and pollutants.

A crucial part of the LMD project developed by Cooper and his team is Mobile Image Ratiometry, or MIR, which is a unique software algorithm that analyzes images and can precisely quantify the level of infection of crop pathogens, which are then mapped and shared via cloud computing that uses both software and hardware over the Internet. The LMD technology will allow for the creation of electronic “push-pin” maps where data will be made available on an openly shared website, enabling anyone to upload results and track outbreaks and infestations of seed-borne pathogens, ultimately helping people better regulate the informal exchanges of seeds, he said.

Cooper said the team will initially target the fungus Botrytis — which can devastate crops like yams, potatoes, wheat, soybeans, onions and sorghum around the world — as well as aflotoxins, which can contaminate seeds during storage and which are among the most carcinogenic substances known. Cooper said the MIR imaging technology can be used to increase the sensitivity of test strips — including those for Botrytis and for aflotoxins produced by Aspergillis fungi — by a factor of 100.

Experts estimate seed-borne diseases cause a loss of 50 million tons of food annually and that losses in developing countries are 60 to 80 percent higher than in industrialized countries. Estimates show 90 to 95 percent of seed used by small-scale and subsistence farmers is acquired through informal sources at the farm and community level.

It is estimated that by 2015 there will be more than 2 billion people in the world using smartphones, including more than 40 percent of the people in Africa. The Mobile Assay Inc. team also is developing a web application capable of performing test image analysis for those without smartphones but who have cell phones with cameras.  Such an application would be extremely useful in Africa, said Cooper, where there are now an estimated 700 million cell phone subscribers — nearly 70 percent of the continent’s population. The vast majority of cell phones today are equipped with cameras.

CU owns exclusive license to the technology developed by Cooper and his team and has an equity share in Mobile Assay Inc. Cooper and Lee Burnett, the CEO of Mobile Assay Inc., worked closely with CU’s Technology Transfer Office, CU’s Entrepreneurial Law Clinic and the Innovation Center of the Rockies to develop a corporate structure and commercialization plans for the CU spinoff company.

Cooper said Mobile Assay Inc. will seek matching funds for the first phase of the project from the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade. In addition to the Gates Foundation grant for seed testing, Mobile Assay Inc. is in the process of applying the company’s new technology to detect water pollutants, drugs, contaminants in dairy products and other biological and chemical pathogens across the globe.

The LMD platform, which can target multiple pathogens like fungi, bacteria and parasites, also could conceivably be used to help monitor chronic diseases in humans, Cooper said. While ill people often go to doctors for diagnoses and additional tests that can take days or weeks, a number of health tests ranging from high cholesterol to abnormal thyroid-stimulating hormone levels could be conducted at home using specific test strips, with the data made available immediately to their health care providers over the Internet.

Grand Challenges Explorations is a $100 million initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.  Launched in 2008, over 700 people in 45 countries have received Grand Challenges Explorations grants. The grant program is open to anyone from any discipline and from any organization.  The initiative uses an agile, accelerated grant-making process with short two-page online applications and no preliminary data required.  Initial grants of $100,000 are awarded two times a year.  Successful projects have the opportunity to receive a follow-on grant of up to $1 million.

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laptop-theft

CU police: Rash of thefts plague campus

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The University of Colorado Police Department has received reports of a high number of thefts during the month of October. Since Oct. 2, UCPD has recorded 15 cases of a suspect or suspects stealing laptops and wallets from common areas or unlocked offices. The thief has targeted academic building offices, as well as the University Memorial Center. The following buildings have seen thefts in recent weeks: Benson Earth Sciences, Continuing Education, Engineering Center, Environmental Design, Imig Music, Koelbel Building, Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences, University Theatre, Visual Arts Complex and Woodbury Arts and Sciences. For a Google Map with dates, locations and stolen items, see http://bit.ly/Oct2012CUthefts.

From Oct. 1-18 this year, UCPD has recorded 86 stolen pieces of property. During that same period last year, 68 items were stolen. CU Police have also seen a higher number of bike thefts in recent weeks. In nearly all cases, thieves have cut cable locks.

“Officers will be increasing their presence around bike racks and academic buildings, but we need the public’s help, too,” said CU Police spokesman Ryan Huff. “These are crimes of opportunity. Leaving your valuable items unattended or unprotected makes you a target for theft.”

The Police Department offers the following safety tips:

  • Always keep your office locked when unattended. That includes when leaving for lunch or using the restroom.
  • In common areas, such as dining facilities, libraries or the University Memorial Center, never leave laptops, mobile phones or other valuable items unattended.
  • Record serial numbers of bikes, desktop computers, laptops, mobile phones and other items that could be stolen. If these items are recovered, it is easier to return them to you.
  • Register your bike at the CU Bike Stations – east of the UMC or west of the Engineering Center. Register your laptop at the Telecommunications Center, also east of the UMC.
  • For more crime prevention tips, see http://police.colorado.edu/crime-prevention-and-safety
xinsrc_052070424210125008551

CU researchers plotting the "Map of Life

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Effort could be a  key to preserving rare species

 

A research team involving Yale University and the University of Colorado Boulder has developed a first public demonstration version of its “Map of Life,” an ambitious Web-based endeavor designed to show the distribution of all living plants and animals on the planet.

The demonstration version allows anyone with an Internet connection to map the known global distribution of almost 25,000 species of terrestrial vertebrate animals, including mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles and North American freshwater fish.  The database, which continues to expand, already contains hundreds of millions of records on the abundance and distribution of the planet’s diverse flora and fauna.

“We are taking 200 years of different types of knowledge coming from different sources, all documenting the locations of species around the world and compiling them in a way that will greatly enhance our knowledge of biodiversity,” said CU-Boulder Associate Professor Robert Guralnick of the ecology and evolutionary biology department, part of the Map of Life research team.  “Such information could be used by any organization that needs to make informed decisions regarding land management, health, conservation and climate change.”

The initial version of the map tool being released today is intended to introduce it to the broader public, according to the researchers. It allows users to see several levels of detail for a given species — at its broadest, the type of environment it lives in, and at its finest, specific locations where the species’ presence has been documented. One function allows users to click a point on the map and generate a list of vertebrate species in the surrounding area. More functions will be added over time, according to the team.

The bryozoa fish are found in the Connecticut River

“It is the where and the when of a species,” said Walter Jetz, associate professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at Yale and the project lead. “It puts at your fingertips the geographic diversity of life. Ultimately, the hope is for this literally to include hundreds of thousands of animal and plant species and show how much or indeed how little we know of their whereabouts.”

A paper by Jetz, Guralnick and Jana McPherson of the Calgary Zoological Society describing the evolving Map of Life technology tool appeared in a recent issue of the journal Trends in Ecology and Evolution.

By highlighting the known abundance and distribution of species, the researchers hope to identify and fill knowledge gaps and also offer a tool for detecting change over time. They expect the map tool will prove useful for professional scientists, wildlife and land managers, conservation organizations and the general public.

The team is using information gleaned from a wide variety of sources, including field guides, museum collections and wildlife checklists that involved scientists, conservation organizations and “citizen scientists.” The project’s success will depend on participation by other scientists and informed amateurs, and subsequent versions of the mapping tool will offer mechanisms for users to supply new or missing information about the distribution and abundance of particular species.

Snow Leopards of Tibet are nearly extinct

Jetz called the Map of Life “an infrastructure, something to help us all collaborate, improve, share and understand the still extremely limited geographic knowledge about biodiversity.”  The team continues to work on several other tasks and challenges, including who will be contributing data and how information supplied by the contributors will be verified and curated.

“A small but powerful next step is to provide a means for anyone, anywhere on the globe to use their mobile devices to instantly pull up animal and plant distributions and even get a realistic assessment on the odds of encountering a particular species of wildlife,” said Guralnick, who also is the curator of invertebrate zoology at the University of Colorado Museum of Natural History.

Guralnick said the Map of Life project is following in the footsteps of other knowledge repositories like the GenBank project, a National Institutes of Health-funded effort with a public database of more than 135 million gene sequences from more than 300,000 organisms that allows users to explore genes and genomes using bioinformatics tools. In the biodiversity arena, the Global Biodiversity Information Facility in Copenhagen has developed an important resource that provides access to more than 300 million records of plant and animal occurrences, which is one of the distributional databases being used by the Map of Life team.

The National Science Foundation has provided initial support for the Map of Life project. Other supporters are the Encyclopedia of Life; the International Union for the Conservation of Nature; and the Senckenberg Research Institute and Natural History Museum, and the Biodiversity and Climate Research Center, both in Germany.

The public demonstration version of Map of Life can be found at http://www.mappinglife.org/ and more information about the project is available at http://www.mappinglife.org/about.

musicnotes4wq6

Get free music downloads at BPL

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Free music downloads now available from Boulder Public Library via Freegal

 

For everyone who’s ever heard a song on the radio and wanted to add it their collection, wanted a hit single off an album, or just wanted to explore the work of new musical artists, Boulder Public Library offers a new, free online music download service.  Freegal Music, a downloadable music service designed for libraries, is now available through the library’s website at: http://boulderlibrary.freegalmusic.com/.

 

Freegal is free for all Boulder Public Library (BPL) cardholders who live in Boulder County, and all downloads may be kept permanently. Each library cardholder may download up to three songs per week (156 per year) and keep the songs forever. All that is needed to access this service is a Boulder Public Library card number in good standing.

 

Freegal Music provides access to the Sony Music Entertainment catalog, which includes hundreds of thousands of songs, more than 100 genres of music, and more than 50 record labels. No special software is needed to use the service, and there are no digital rights management restrictions. Downloading of songs is completely free and legal for library cardholders. Songs are downloaded in a universally compatible MP3 format, so they can be saved to any computer, mobile device or MP3 player, including an iPod. Songs can be downloaded at home or at computer stations in libraries via a USB device, such as a flash drive or MP3 player.  One click and you can save the songs to your iTunes or Windows Media Player.

 

“We are excited to be able to offer this free music download service to Boulder Public Library cardholders,” said Valerie Maginnis, library director. “It gives our patrons access to more of the materials they want, in a convenient, accessible format, while also being highly efficient for the library. We anticipate that this will be a very popular new service.”

More information and answers to frequently asked questions about Freegal are available on the BPL website, www.boulderlibrary.org.  Music can also be found in the library’s catalog by searching for “Freegal.”  BPL offers other music and film streaming services, such as Alexander Street, which offers 30,000 albums for streaming, at: http://research.boulderlibrary.org/music_film.

CU’s Android App tweets disaster aid

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CU-DEVELOPED ANDROID APP HELPS
PEOPLE TWEET DURING DISASTERS

Just as codes once were developed for public safety communication via citizens band radios, a common language now is being formulated for disaster communication via Twitter — posing a challenge for people who haven’t yet learned or can’t recall it.

Daniel Schaefer, a University of Colorado Boulder doctoral student in communication, recently created a solution to this problem in the form of a software application, or app, for mobile devices. It turns everyday language into a Twitter syntax used during disasters through a special smart phone keyboard.

“Twitter has become popular during disasters because it offers a concise and efficient communication medium,” said Schaefer, who was inspired by the 2010 Fourmile Canyon Fire near Boulder. “However, a need to standardize the syntaxes used on Twitter has surfaced particularly for the emergency personnel, affected individuals, concerned loved ones, information officers and journalists who use it to provide and monitor information and collaborate on rescue efforts.”

The free app, called the Bucket Brigade Keyboard, is designed for Android devices. It transforms the standard smart phone keyboard display into a keypad of 12 message choices such as “help,” “location” and “request.” When these messages are selected, corresponding tweets — about one’s status, needs and offers to help — are queued for posting online.

“In a disaster, communication and working together can save lives,” said Schaefer. “Just as a bucket brigade fills and passes buckets of water to help put out a fire, this app allows people to fill and pass buckets of tweets to help during a disaster.”

The syntax used in Schaefer’s app — which turns an “I’m Ok” key into “#imok” — is based on a concept devised in 2009 by doctoral student Kate Starbird of CU’s Project EPIC (Empowering the Public with Information in Crisis) research group. The streamlining of disaster-related Twitter communication through Starbird’s idea, called “Tweak the Tweet,” makes the information computationally easier to extract and collate, which can help connect people with needs to responders.

Nearly 3,000 tweets using the Tweak the Tweet syntax were posted in the weeks following the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. More than 500 tweets using the syntax were posted in the wake of the 2011 tornado in Joplin, Mo.

During those instances, users manually entered text that now can be deployed with the touch of a button through the Bucket Brigade Keyboard.

The app not only empowers people with a standard language, but also is designed for convenience using accessible technology, according to Schaefer.

“People are going to be holding smart phones during disasters,” he said. “They’re not going to be going to laptop computers or cafés with time to look up the syntax.”

Schaefer entered the Bucket Brigade Keyboard in the Federal Communications Commission’s Apps for Communities contest. The challenge calls for apps that help local government deliver quality-of-life-improving information to populations that are typically disenfranchised or disconnected from broadband communications.

The Bucket Brigade Keyboard has been downloaded in 20 countries.

Schaefer says a planned update to the Bucket Brigade Keyboard will add more Twitter shortcuts to the app, as well as auto-fill and auto-correction features.

For more information on the Bucket Brigade Keyboard visit https://market.android.com/details?id=com.bucketbrigade.softkeyboard&feature=search_result. For information on the Apps for Communities challenge visit http://appsforcommunities.challenge.gov/.

-CU-

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