When Technology Fails

It’s been one of those kinds of weeks (or months) — at any given time, one or more of the 10 workstations I’m responsible for is misbehaving in some fashion. They’re all “locked down,” so even if I knew how to solve the problem, I would still have to call corporate headquarters across the state to “log an issue” (don’t you love techspeak) so a tech guy in my building will come upstairs and fix it.

So I was intrigued by a Pew Internet survey report, When technology fails.

As gadgets become more important to people, their patience wears thin when things break.

No surprise there.

The survey looks at how users respond to breakdowns of home Internet access, desktop/laptop computers, cell phones, Blackberries/PDAs, and mp3 players: how they react, how they feel, how they resolve the problems.

I found it interesting that adults over 50 years of age are significantly more likely to contact user support for help. Learned behavior, I would think, for those of use who have worked in corporate America for a while….


Epidemiology in the age of Google

Canadian researchers, back in 2006, called it Infodemiologyusing volume and locations of Internet searches to track influenza outbreaks. Dr. Gunther Eysenbach’s paper notes that:

The “Google ad sentinel method” proved to be more timely, more accurate and – with a total cost of Can$365.64 for the entire flu-season – considerably cheaper than the traditional method of reports on influenza-like illnesses observed in clinics by sentinel physicians.

Now, Google makes this disease-tracking information available directly to the public. The New York Times this month reports that Google uses searches to track flu’s spread. Google’s new service, Google Flu Trends, aggregates data from user searches to create national and state-by-state charts showing levels of interest in a variety of flu-related terms, such as “muscle aches” and “chest congestion.” A comparison of historical data from the CDC and past years’ Google searches shows a correlation between the two, with Google data actually showing the trends two weeks before the CDC data.

via David Rothman

Recent Developments in Open Access Publishing

U.K. scientist Cameron Neylon writes, at his Science in the Open blog, that good communication is just good science. He makes the case that open access furthers scientific discourse by reducing the barriers in accessing the scientific record for review, criticism, and discussion.

In the U.S. House of Representatives, meanwhile, legislation has been introduced to curtail or eliminate the NIH policy requiring that federally funded research articles be submitted for publication in PubMed Central after a year’s embargo.  John Timmer at Ars Technica posts that “Congress’s copyright fight puts open access science in peril.”  Timmer reports that aggressive lobbying efforts may have paid off in getting this bill introduced, and summarizes testimony for and against the continuation of the open access policy.

via Hardin Scholarly Communication News

On another note, Scientific American reports: Open access publisher Biomed Central sold to Springer.  Check out the details at BioMed Central’s Springer Acquisition FAQ.

LeaAnn’s retirement party



Janet, Marilyn, Carole

Janet, Marilyn, Carole

Arlene, John and LeaAnn

Arlene, John and LeaAnn

LeaAnn, Mary, Marilyn

LeaAnn, Mary, Marilyn


Thanks to Mike S. for the photos