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News 01-30-2001

Syllabus Spring2001 Conference to Address Infrastructure, IT Planning, and Strategic Issues

The Syllabus Spring2001 conference, to be held April 5-8 in Cincinnati, Ohio, will encompass five tracks. Track 3, Infrastructure, IT Planning, and Strategic Issues, will explore the various implications of campus-wide technology decisions and consider what it takes to upgrade a whole campus in its technology use, what kinds of coordination we might employ, and what models are available for the planning process.

This year's latest hot application or device may be forgotten next year, and investing in the wrong direction now can make it difficult to adjust course next year. The key challenge for technology planners is to identify available options for campus-wide integration of technology and determine how best to involve principal academic leadership in technology planning.

Sessions will cover a variety of issues, including:

  • What students really thought about the laptop program at Seton Hall: some surprises
  • How to prepare for changes in technology
  • How to inform people on campus about technology changes
  • Effects on the registration process of distance learning
  • Case studies in planning
  • An approach to technology planning

The Syllabus spring2001 conference will be held at the Albert B. Sabin Convention Center in Cincinnati, Ohio April 5-8. The five conference tracks to be presented are Wireless Technologies; Interactive Communications, Conferencing, and Collaboration; Infrastructure, IT Planning, and Strategic Issues; Web Technologies: Portals, Resources, and Development; and Distance Learning: Issues and Programs, as well as a featured track concerning Virtual Teaching, Learning, and Technology Centers.

For detailed session descriptions and online registration, visit Also, be sure to check out the conference brochure in the January issue ofSyllabus magazine.

Adobe and Barnes & to Offer PDF-Based eBooks

Adobe Systems Incorporated and Barnes & recently announced the availability of the free Adobe Acrobat eBook Reader 2.0 and a range of new graphics-rich Portable Document Format (PDF)-based eBooks. The Acrobat eBook Reader 2.0, an upgrade to the Glassbook Reader acquired by Adobe last year, offers consumers visually accurate representations of graphics-intensive eBooks, such as cookbooks, children's books, college textbooks and travel books. eBooks delivered in Acrobat eBook Reader 2.0 and Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) can display print electronic titles with colorful pictures, complex graphics and rich fonts, exactly as intended by the publisher.

For more information, visit

Stroke Prevention and Robots

New treatments to prevent stroke and robots assisting surgeons with heart surgery were featured last week at the International Symposium on Endovascular Therapy (ISET) hosted by Miami Cardiac & Vascular Institute. Physicians at Miami Cardiac & Vascular Institute are researching a new protection device that is used to clear blocked carotid arteries, the vessels that carry blood from the heart to the brain. According to the American Heart Association, 600,000 strokes are reported each year and 20-30 percent are caused when particles of plaque break off and travel to the brain. The Institute is one of 30 sites in the nation participating in FDA-approved clinical trials researching a protection system that filters fragments of plaque that may be - during a procedure, thus decreasing the risk of stroke.

Also featured at the conference is a robotic arm that assists heart surgeons in the operating room. The robot positions and maneuvers a camera and light through voice commands from the surgeon. The robotic arm enables heart surgeons to make a small incision between the ribs to perform the surgery. Since the chest in not completely opened, there is less pain and a quicker recovery for patients.

IMAGE Spacecraft Spots Earth's Tail

The first large-scale pictures of the hidden machinations of the Earth's magnetic force field are now available, including confirmation of a suspected--but previously invisible-- "tail" of electrified gas. The tail, which streams from Earth towards the Sun, was spotted by NASA's Imager for Magnetopause to Aurora Global Exploration (IMAGE) spacecraft. IMAGE is offering researchers a view of the transparent, electrified gas trapped within Earth's magnetic field, providing the first visual, global perspective on magnetic storms.

The Earth's magnetosphere traps electrified gas, called plasma. The new IMAGE pictures show a tail-like structure in the Earth's own plasma cloud that forms as some of the gas streams toward the Sun. The structure was predicted 30 years ago, but previous spacecraft were unable to confirm its existence.

The tail structure is believed to be a return flow of plasma that occurs when the solar wind buffets the magnetosphere and distorts its shape. For example, a falling raindrop is at first roughly spherical. As it falls and gains speed, air resistance causes the droplet to change shape as water is dragged from the bottom (head) to the top (tail). Surface tension prevents most of the water from simply dispersing from the tail, so it is forced instead to flow within the raindrop and return to the head.

For more information, visit

Virtual Pen Enables Writing Into Digital Devices

GOU Lite, an Israeli company specializing in optical technology, has developed apen-like product that enables writing messages into digital devices--anywhere and at any time. Instead of having to hit the buttons on a cellular phone, users will be able to write text --SMS, e-mail or signature--on any surface available. The Virtual Pen is based on patented optical technology: Called the Vpen, it measures its motion relative to any writing surface and transmits the information via Bluetooth link to cell phones, PDAs, set-top boxes, or PCs. The Vpen is expected to hit the market within a year.

For more information, visit

Celera Genomics to Provide Database Subscription

Celera Genomics, an Applera Corporation business, announced recently a multi-year agreement with the University of California (UC) system allowing UC investigators access to all of Celera's database products. The UC subscribers will access Celera's database information through its Celera Discovery System, an integrated, web-based system that allows subscribers to use Celera generated databases, additional non-proprietary genome and biological datasets, computational tools, and super-computing power to advance the discovery programs of researchers.

Celera intends to enable therapeutic discoveries both through its own application of its scientific capabilities and in partnership with pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies. The Applied Biosystems Group develops and markets instrument-based systems, reagents, software, and contract services to the life science industry and research community. Customers use these tools to analyze nucleic acids (DNA and RNA) and proteins in order to make scientific discoveries, develop new pharmaceuticals, and conduct standardized testing.

For more information, visit

SolidWorks Donates Software to Universities in China

SolidWorks Corporation recently announced that it has donated 123 licenses of its 3D CAD software to the China Education Association of Mechanical Engineering (CEAME) in Shanghai, China. The CEAME oversees the educational and technical curriculum for 12 universities throughout Shanghai. In addition to the software donation, SolidWorks is working with the CEAME to establish two CAD training facilities at the Shanghai University of Science and Technology and the Shanghai Vocational Training Directive Center. Students from universities in Shanghai will have access to these CAD training centers.

For more information, visit

Report to Congress: Financial-Aid Rules Hurt Distance Education

The U.S. Department of Education said in a report to Congress last week that the inflexibility of financial-aid regulations hurts the advancement of distance-education programs. Regulations determining which institutions can provide federal financial aid are complex and inhibiting, the report says, and should be updated to reflect the growth of alternative education.

One rule prevents institutions offering more than 50 percent of their courses as distance education from providing federal student aid. Another rule requires that students enroll in at least 12 hours of course work per week to qualify for full-time status and maximum student aid.

For more information about the report, visit

Technology Review Re-Launches Web Site

Technology Review, MIT's Magazine of Innovation, recently announced the re-launch of its Web site,, as its flagship print publication increases its frequency to monthly.

The redesigned and expanded site will complement Technology Review's print coverage of emerging technologies with Web-exclusive stories and columns, in addition to featured vertical topic channels covering info-technology, biotechnology, and nanotechnology. Features will include in-depth discussion forums, mailing lists, polls, and reader surveys.

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