Posts tagged software


Mining big data for performance clues as a study guide


CU-built software uses big data to battle
forgetting with personalized content review

Computer software similar to that used by online retailers to recommend products to a shopper can help students remember the content they’ve studied, according to a new study by the University of Colorado Boulder.

The software, created by computer scientists at CU-Boulder’s Institute for Cognitive Science, works by tapping a database of past student performance to suggest what material an individual student most needs to review.

For example, the software might know that a student who forgot one particular concept but remembered another three weeks after initially learning them is likely to need to review a third concept six weeks after it was taught. When a student who fits that profile uses the software, the computer can pull up the most useful review questions.

Using computers to battle forgwtting

Using computers to battle forgwtting

“If you have two students with similar study histories for specific material, and one student couldn’t recall the answer, it’s a reasonable predictor that the other student won’t be able to either, especially when you take into consideration the different abilities of the two students,” said CU-Boulder Professor Michael Mozer, senior author of the study published in the journal Psychological Science.

The process of combing “big data” for performance clues is similar to strategies used by e-commerce sites, Mozer said.

“They know what you browsed and didn’t buy and what you browsed and bought,” Mozer said. “They measure your similarity to other people and use purchases of similar people to predict what you might want to buy. If you substitute ‘buying’ with ‘recalling,’ it’s the same thing.”

The program is rooted in theories that psychologists have developed about the nature of forgetting. Researchers know that knowledge—whether of facts, concepts or skills—slips away without review, and that spacing the review out over time is crucial to obtaining robust and durable memories.

Still, it’s uncommon for students to do the kind of extended review that favors long-term retention. Students typically review material that was presented only in the most recent unit or chapter—often in preparation for a quiz—without reviewing previous units or chapters at the same time.

This leads to rapid forgetting, even for the most motivated learners, Mozer said. For example, a recent study found that medical students forget roughly 25 to 35 percent of basic science knowledge after one year and more than 50 percent by the next year.

Over the last decade, Mozer has worked with University of California, San Diego, psychologist Harold Pashler, also a co-author of the new study, to create a computer model that could predict how spaced review affects memory. The new computer program described in the study is an effort to make practical use of that model.

Robert Lindsey, a CU-Boulder doctoral student collaborating with Mozer, built the personalized review program and then tested it in a middle school Spanish class.

For the study, Lindsey and Mozer divided the material students were learning into three groups.  For material in a “massed” group, the students were drilled only on the current chapter. For material in a “generic-spaced” group, the students were drilled on the most recent two chapters. For material in a “personalized-spaced” group, the algorithm determined what material from the entire semester each student would benefit most from reviewing.

In a cumulative test taken a month after the semester’s end, personalized-spaced review boosted remembering by 16.5 percent over massed study and by 10 percent over generic-spaced review.

In a follow-up experiment, Mozer and his colleagues compared their personalized review program to a program that randomly quizzes students on all units that have been covered so far. Preliminary results show that the personalized program also outperforms random reviews of all past material.

So far, the program has been tested only in foreign language classes, but Mozer believes the program could be helpful for improving retention in a wide range of disciplines, including math skills.

It’s not necessary to have a prior database of student behavior to implement the personalized review program. Students can begin by using the program as a traditional review tool that asks random questions, and as students answer, the computer begins to search for patterns in the answers. “It doesn’t take long to get lots and lots of data,” Mozer said.

The research was funded by the National Science Foundation and the McDonnell Foundation.




CU: more computers for more kids


CU-Boulder expands popular
Computers To Youth program

The University of Colorado Boulder Environmental Center is expanding its Computers To Youth program to include more students and more interactive activities.

Computers To Youth provides high school students from underrepresented communities with upgraded used computers and hands-on training from CU-Boulder student mentors. Its purpose is to benefit underserved youth in Colorado and protect the environment. The computer systems received by the high school students through the program are designed to enable academic achievement that will encourage students to attend college.


“Not only do the high school students but also the college student mentors see this as an inspiring learning experience,” said CU-Boulder engineering student and Computers To Youth mentor Rebecca Miller. “The fact that CU-Boulder put together this program that saves resources, prevents waste and enables future scientists and engineers is completely brilliant.”

The next Computers To Youth event will be held Saturday, Nov. 9. Fourteen high school students from the Family Learning Center in Boulder, guided by CU-Boulder student mentors, will go through surplus computer components, bundle parts, load the latest software and take their newly built computer systems with them. The day also will include a new competition in which teams will race to disassemble and reassemble a demonstration computer.

“As technology increasingly becomes a part of daily life, those without computer access risk falling behind,” said Jack DeBell, the CU Environmental Center’s recycling program development director. “This consequence, known as the digital divide, tends to affect economically disadvantaged populations, especially youth. With such a great amount of computer equipment being discarded by a technologically advanced campus, it only makes sense that some of this equipment be “upcycled” to bridge the digital divide.”

The CU-Boulder student mentors are part of the statewide MESA (Mathematics Engineering Science Achievement) program. CU-Boulder’s MESA Center is headquartered in the Department of Pre-College Outreach Services in the Office of Diversity, Equity and Community Engagement (ODECE).

MESA Colorado also refers high school students to the Computers To Youth program.

With two additional Computers To Youth events slated for the spring semester, about 55 youth will be served by the program this academic year. The Denver Area Telecommunications Educational Telecommunication Consortium (DAETC) has enabled the increase in the number of participants, up from 48 last year, according to DeBell.

The CU Environmental Center has held numerous computer-build events since it began restoring and redistributing computers in 2001. In 2005, it received the Dell Higher Education Leadership Award to fund the collection of unused personal computers from the campus community and divert the equipment from landfills.

Also part of the Computers To Youth program is CU’s Property Services department. Other contributors have included the Community Computer Connection and Microsoft Corp.

“Hopefully this project will create additional collaboration with community groups and corporate sponsors in Colorado,” said St. Vrain School District teacher Karen Hunter, whose high school participated in Computers To Youth last year. “The students’ new-found confidence as a result of the amazing folks at CU-Boulder tells it all.”

For more information about Computers To Youth visit



Boulder County: Emergency warning sirens to be tested beginning April 1


Boulder County, Colo. – Boulder County and the City of Boulder will begin audible testing of the countywide emergency sirens at 10 a.m. on Monday, April 1. The test is the first of the annual season of monthly emergency audible siren tests, which take place on the first Monday of each month from April through August.

The audible siren tests will occur twice on each testing day, at 10 a.m. and 7 p.m., on April 1, May 6, June 3,July 1 and Aug. 5.

emergency warn

Siren tests ensure that all systems and procedures are working properly during the season of peak flood danger. The tests also promote public awareness of the warning sirens located throughout Boulder County.

Louisville, Superior and Jamestown sirens will only participate in the first audible test of the season on April 1. After this test, residents in these communities will not hear the sirens unless there is an emergency.

Should Boulder County experience severe weather during one of the planned audible tests, the siren tests for that day may be cancelled. For updated information, visit

Residents are encouraged to review their own emergency preparedness plans and discuss what they would do in the event of a flash flood or other emergency. For more information about personal preparedness,

About the countywide alert system

Used to alert residents to potential danger from a flood or other immediate threat, there are 25 outdoor warning sirens in place across Boulder County, including in Boulder, Erie, Jamestown, Lafayette, Louisville, Lyons, Marshall, Eldorado Springs, Superior and the University of Colorado at Boulder.

All Boulder County sirens undergo weekly tests throughout the year, using a software program that performs a “silent” test.

For more information, visit


CU-Boulder startup company receives Gates Foundation exploration grant


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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CIP bonds building a head of steam


City makes progress on Capital Improvement Bond projects throughout Boulder

Just six months into the implementation of the Capital Improvement Bond, three projects have already been completed and 13 more are currently under construction. The community projects are funded by the voter-approved bond, a citywide initiative to address significant deficiencies and high priority infrastructure improvements throughout Boulder.

The city first completed a missing sidewalk link on Gillaspie Drive, along the border of Harlow Platts Park, between Greenbriar Boulevard and Juilliard Street. Next, a new pedestrian crossing was installed at the intersection of Canyon Boulevard and 21st Street. In addition, all of the city’s traffic signalincandescent lamps have been replaced with light-emitting diode (LED) lamps.


“Replacing all of the city’s traffic signals with LEDs is a significant improvement that will make our transportation system more energy efficient and will require less frequent maintenance,” said Director of Public Works for Transportation Tracy Winfree. “Each of the LED lamps will use approximately 80 percent less energy, which will save the city thousands of dollars per year.”


During the next three years, the city will continue to utilize Capital Improvement Bond funds to implement 89 individual projects throughout the community. The projects include roadway reconstruction, park facility upgrades, critical software updates, police equipment needs and a renovation of the Main Boulder Public Library.


The 89 individual projects are grouped into 26 categories and three status types. Three projects have been completed, 13 are under construction, and 73 are in the planning and design phase. Since 85 percent of the bond money must be spent within three years, the city will provide the community with continuous project updates and regular reports on progress toward overall completion.


Other construction project updates include:

  • Police equipment replacements are underway, including the assembly of a bomb robot.
  • Park shelter replacements and improvements are ongoing at Valmont Park, Palo East Park and Valmont Dog Park.
  • Substandard traffic signs are being replaced throughout the city.
  • A new multi-use path connection is being constructed on Baseline Road from the Bear Creek Path to U.S. 36.
  • Renovations and replacements of existing Parks and Recreation facilities are in progress at Canyon Park, Columbine Park and Palo East Park.
  • The South Boulder Recreation Center gym floor and racquetball courts have been replaced and are now being upgraded to achieve full compliance with ADA requirements.
  • Deteriorating road pavements are being reconstructed and repaired throughout the city.
  • The Columbia Cemetery is being upgraded and enhanced, including irrigation system improvements, new fencing and headstone repairs.
  • A new sidewalk is being built on the east side of Folsom Street from Arapahoe Avenue to 200 feet south of Arapahoe Avenue.


“The Capital Improvement Bond is allowing the city to make some significant investments in the community,” said City Manager Jane Brautigam. “These investments help to maintain our valuable existing assets and will improve our quality of life in Boulder.”


Keep an eye out for projects around town!
Capital Improvement Bond signs are posted on site as construction begins so that the community can identify the projects that are funded by the bond. The community can also track the progress of the bond implementation online at


Boulder’s Capital Improvement Bond
In the November 2011 election, Boulder voters approved a ballot measure that allowed the city to leverage existing revenues to bond for up to $49 million to fund projects that address significant deficiencies and high priority infrastructure improvements. Because the bond was paid for using existing revenues, the measure did not raise taxes.


The bond sale was completed on March 22, 2012. The $49 million bond has a 20-year payback and 85 percent of the total is required be spent by March 22, 2015. As of July 2012, 10 percent of the total funding towards the 85 percent goal has been spent.


For the latest information on construction traffic impacts associated with the bond projects, visit


Capital Improvement Bond video series
The website hosts an online video series that highlights what the community can expect to see during the next few years as a result of the Capital Improvement Bond. Each video focuses on different types of investments that the bond will allow the city to make, including transportation, parks, parking, library and downtown. Watch the Capital Improvement Bond videos.




Get free music downloads at BPL


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:


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,  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:

Boulder Chamber of Commerce

Boulder Chamber Awards dinner March 15 2012 New video and story


The Virginia Patterson Businessperson of the Year The recipient of this award has consistently contributed business expertise and experiences to connect the Boulder business world to city, charitable, or other public-spirited causes and is a leader in making Boulder a better place to do business. 
Brad Feld
Foundry Group
Brad has been an early stage investor and entrepreneur for over twenty years. Prior to co-founding Foundry Group, he co-founded Mobius Venture Capital and, prior to that, founded Intensity Ventures, a company that helped launch and operate software companies. Brad is also a co-founder of TechStars.
Brad currently serves on the board of directors of BigDoor Media, Cheezburger Networks, Fitbit, Gnip, MakerBot Oblong, Orbotix, and Standing Cloud for Foundry Group. Previously, Brad served as chief technology officer of AmeriData Technologies. AmeriData acquired Feld Technologies, a firm he founded in 1987 that specialized in custom software applications. Brad had grown Feld Technologies into one of Boston’s leading software consulting firms prior to the acquisition. He also directed the diversification into software consulting at AmeriData, a $1.5 billion publicly-traded company which was acquired by GE Capital in 1995.

In addition to his investing efforts, Brad has been active with several non-profit organizations and currently is chair of the National Center for Women & Information Technology, co-chair of Startup Colorado, and on the board of Startup Weekend. Brad is a nationally recognized speaker on the topics of venture capital investing and entrepreneurship and writes the widely read blogs Feld Thoughts and Ask the VC.

Key Contributor of the Year
This award recognizes an individual who has made a positive impact on the community through leadership and a significant contribution of time, talent and expertise.  Bob Noun
National Renewable Energy Laboratory
Robert J. Noun formerly directed the government affairs, media relations, communications and community outreach activities for the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) located in Golden, CO.  He was the chief spokesman for NREL, the nation’s principal research center for renewable fuels and electricity. Mr. Noun has been involved with renewable energy for over 30 years. During his career he has made significant contributions to the advancement of renewable energy technologies.
Noun managed the NREL Wind Energy Research Program. He is the author of 24 technical publications on the subjects of renewable energy law and regulation, wind energy development, and renewable energy in developing countries. From 2010-2012 Noun served as Chair of CO-LABS, the confederation of national labs and research universities in Colorado doing federally sponsored science and technology innovation.
Noun has received numerous awards and recognition, including the 2005 Van Morris Award recognizing his leadership in the growth and development of NREL, the 2002 Pioneer Award for Contributions to the Development of Renewable Energy from the World Renewable Energy Network in London, and the 1996 Gold Medallion Award for the Advancement of Renewable Energy, presented by His Highness, the Emir of Bahrain. He is an adjunct professor at the University of Denver’s Sturm College of Law and has been a guest lecturer in the Iowa State University Science and Technology Lecture Series. In 1973 he was awarded the Reginald Hebersmith Fellow in Law from Howard University.

Community Sustainability Leader
This award recognizes an organization that demonstrates success at managing an integrated triple bottom line – economic success, commitment to social equity and concern for environmental footprint. 
Boulder Community Hospital
Boulder Community Hospital is a coordinated network of facilities and skilled personnel providing an expansive range of medical services to people and businesses in Boulder and Broomfield Counties.
As a locally owned and operated non-profit hospital system, Boulder Community is dedicated to meeting the constantly evolving health care needs of local citizens.  Boulder Community is known across Colorado for its clinical excellence in heart care, neurosurgery, stroke care, orthopedics and cancer care.  Some 600 physicians in 54 medical specialties have privileges at BCH.

Best Place to Work 
Awarded to a company that demonstrates proficiency in leadership, communication, respect and alignment.

Gnip is a local social media data startup that believes that no single company alone can realize the full potential of social media data. It works to align itself with others to more effectively harness and channel the power of this information.  From its corporate values to the accomplishments of its employees, the company embodies the qualities of leadership, communication, respect, and alignment.  Well-regarded by their professional colleagues, company executives regularly deliver keynote addresses to national and international audiences, just as Gnip’s software engineers share their knowledge with the local community.  Committed to diversity, the company is a member of the National Center for Women & Information Technology’s Entrepreneurial Alliance program, an effort to increase the participation of women in technological innovation.  In these ways, Gnip both provides leadership to the industry and shares its collective expertise in the area of social media data.
Gnip is a company built on respect, and all of its corporate policies are aligned with its values.  The company is an employer that seeks out the brightest lights in the field and then supports their continued growth.   The respect, trust, and support invested by Gnip in its employees, along with its spirit of collaboration and innovation, have earned it this year’s Chamber award for Boulder’s best place to work.

Boulder 2140 Young Business Person of the Year 
This award recognizes a member under the age of forty who has an impact on his/her organization, demonstrated significant contribution of time or talent to the Boulder area and shows potential for future leadership. 
Lee Shainis
Intercambio: Uniting Communities
Lee is co-founder of Intercambio and author of “What Every Immigrant Needs to Know“, a publication that is being used by 35,000 people from 350 organizations nationwide. Lee has helped Intercambio spread its model to 12 states, raise $4,000,000, train 3,500 volunteer teachers, and provide English classes to 8,000 immigrant adults since its inception in 2001. Lee’s prior experience includes the development of a volunteer program at a psychiatric treatment center, supervising of an afterschool program, mentoring developmentally challenged individuals and facilitating writing workshops for prison inmates.
Lee also has an impressive collection of interesting outfits, he loves choreographing crazy shows, and since 2008 he has been volunteering twice a week to teach multicultural dance exercise classes to encourage fun and health.

Members of Distinction 

This award recognizes members who have demonstrated a passion for and made a significant contribution to one or more Boulder Chamber councils, programs or projects; put in two or more years of significant volunteerism with the Boulder Chamber; and have the ability to motivate others.
John Regur Dutch Creek Financial
John is founder and Principal of Dutch Creek Financial Services, a financial planning and investment advisory practice.  A graduate of the University of Oklahoma, after serving overseas with the US Army, his career in financial risk management started with the Travelers Insurance Companies.  With a subsequent 25 year career with the Marsh McLennan Companies which included several US and international postings, he moved to Boulder, opening Dutch Creek in 2002, the year he joined the Chamber.
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