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Thursday, September 13, 2007

Web TV show

MySpace still has a few cards up its sleeve -- including the connections it has to some of the top names in traditional media, thanks to its parent company, media and entertainment giant News Corp.

The social-networking site announced today that it has signed an exclusive deal with Ed Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz, the Hollywood duo that produced such hit TV shows as Thirtysomething and My So-Called Life, for the rights to a new Internet drama the pair are working on, called Quarterlife.

Episodes -- or webisodes -- of the show, which follows a group of twentysomethings through the eyes of one young girl with a video-blog, will appear first on MySpaceTV, and then on the website.

Jeff Berman, the general manager of MySpaceTV, said in an interview that the show was a "landmark moment" for MySpace, and that it would be "the highest-quality serialized content ever to appear on the Internet. We're talking about the same production values as 24 or Prison Break."

There have been a number of episodic TV-style shows created for the Internet, including the popular Lonelygirl15 show, which was developed by a trio of unknowns and also appears on MySpaceTV. More recently, former Walt Disney CEO Michael Eisner's company created a show called Prom Queen, which aired on MySpaceTV and drew a large following.

Entertainment websites have been speculating for several months about a possible Internet offering from Mr. Zwick and Mr. Herskovitz, after a number of reports leaked out about TV writers and production staff working on something called Quarterlife. The Hollywood duo had a traditional TV show of the same name that ran briefly in 2005.

"We've been talking to [Zwick and Herskovitz] for the past several weeks, and we're delighted to be able to announce this," Mr. Berman said. The first "webisode" will be posted on MySpaceTV on November 11, he said.

Under the terms of the deal, the social-networking site has a 24-hour window during which the webisode will only be available on MySpaceTV. After that, it will appear on Both sites will have interactive features, Mr. Berman said, but on MySpace viewers will be able to interact with the cast through their MySpace pages.

MySpace users and bloggers on other sites will also be able to "embed" the webisodes in their pages by pasting in a small chunk of code, as they can with video clips on other sites such as YouTube, and DailyMotion.

When asked whether the new show would have a mobile component involving cellphones, Mr. Berman said "stay tuned." He also said that MySpaceTV was working on several other projects with content creators in the entertainment community.

According to Mr. Berman, more than 50 million users stream video each month from their MySpace webpages, and the social-networking site as a whole produces 500 million individual video streams

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Faced with Facebook's exponential growth, MySpace hopes to keep its users onside with what it says is the first network-quality television series produced directly for the internet.

The social network announced today it had secured the exclusive international distribution rights for Quarterlife, a new series from Emmy award-winning producers Marshall Herskovitz and Edward Zwick.

MySpace Australia spokesman Darain Faraz said the deal was just the first of many shows it planned to offer through MySpace TV, which up until now has consisted mainly of user-submitted clips.

He said within the next few weeks the site would announce a number of "local content sharing deals" with Australian content providers.

"We are on the verge of announcing some fairly huge stuff," he said.

MySpace has 3.8 million registered Australian users but its growth rate now lags well behind Facebook's, which earlier this year surpassed 200,000 Australian users.

But where Facebook's expansion is now being driven by third-party applications, which have rapidly expanded the functionality of the site, MySpace is looking to hold on to its users through new features such as MySpace TV and Instant Messenger.

Quarterlife, which will premier in seven languages on MySpace's global sites on November 11, delves into the lives of six people in their 20s and charts their "coming of age as a part of the digital generation".

The show was unashamedly written to appeal to today's tech-savvy youth - the central character, a young woman named Dylan, is a blogger whose video diary divulges a few too many of her friends' closest secrets.

It purports to be a "truthful depiction of the way young people speak, work, think, love, argue and express themselves".

To that end, Herskovitz and Zwick - the force behind My So-Called Life, thirtysomething, Legends of the Fall and Blood Diamond - will invite their audience to participate in the ongoing development of the series "through writing and video submissions".

There will be 36 episodes in total and the producers plan to create a mini social network around the show through a website, It will also have its own profile page on MySpace, which MySpace says will include bonus content such as character profiles, behind-the-scenes video footage and storyline secrets.

Herskovitz and Zwick said the fact Quarterlife was an independent project meant they had full "creative autonomy", which isn't always possible when producing shows for traditional TV networks.

"For better or worse, Quarterlife is truly our own vision," Herskovitz said.

The Quarterlife concept was originally conceived three years ago as a TV pilot called "¼ life", developed for the US network ABC. The project was axed due to "creative differences" between the producers and ABC, after which the script was completely rewritten for an internet audience.

"When Emmy award-winning producers come to MySpace TV - you know this is reaching a whole new level," Myspace CEO Chris DeWolfe said in a statement.

In the US, MySpace has already dabbled extensively in digital broadcasting, securing the rights to a number of smaller series and short clips including the web series Prom Queen, a teen-oriented serial drama made by a US studio owned by former Disney boss Michael Eisner.

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AMD with quad-core processor -Intel new invention

24hoursnews : Intel is aiming to extend its performance lead over AMD with the introduction of the industry's first quad-core processors designed for multi-processor servers.
The chip giant has rolled out six quad-core Xeon 7300 series processors, which deliver more than twice the overall performance and more than three times the performance per watt of its previous generation of dual-core server chips. The chips are the last to be converted to Intel's Core micro-architecture, a process that has been under way since 2006.
The 7300 series are more energy efficient than previous chips. It comprises chips that run at clock speeds of up to 2.93GHz at 130W, several 80W processors and a 1.8GHz, 50W version that is targeted specifically at four-socket blade servers.
In addition to having twice as many cores, the 7300 chips come with up to four times the memory capacity of the dual-core multi-processor platforms, which Intel maintained will allow businesses to consolidate their server environments to reduce space, power and running costs.
"Intel Xeon-based multi-processor servers are the backbone of the enterprise," said Tom Kilroy, Intel vice president and co-general manager of the digital enterprise group.
"With the Xeon 7300 series, Intel is delivering new levels of performance and performance per watt, and is driving the Intel Core micro-architecture into such innovative systems as four-socket, 16-core blades that use less energy than our older models."
The Xeon 7300 series means IT managers can pool their single, dual- and quad-core Core-based servers into a dynamic virtual server infrastructure that allows for live, virtual machine migration. This should improve situations including failover, load balancing, disaster recovery and server maintenance.
Brian Byun, VMware's vice president of global partners and solutions, said: "VMware and Intel have worked together to optimise VMware ESX Server on the Xeon 7300. Our partners and customers benefit from increased platform choice and performance headroom from the quad-core four-socket server systems."
Intel said that the 7300 series running the VMmark benchmark designed for measuring virtualisation performance, achieved the highest single server result so far. Results from key server manufacturers testing the 7300 series are also proving encouraging.
HP has proclaimed world-record results for a ProLiant DL580 G5 server running the TPC-C benchmark for database performance, while IBM claimed its 7300-based, System x3850 M2 server using the SPECint*_rate_base2006 benchmark for integer throughout, also set a new world record.
Intel claims silicon crown despite AMD Barcelonaa.

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AMD's Barcelona Chip to Get Speed Boost This Year.

On the same day that Advanced Micro Devices Inc. officially released its Barcelona server processor, the company said it would have a faster version of the quad-core Opteron device out by year's end.

Initially, the top clock speed on the quad-core chip is 2 GHz. But Randy Allen, vice president and general manager of AMD's server and workstation division, said at the Barcelona launch event here Monday evening that the company will have a 2.5-GHz version ready for shipment in December.

The confirmation of the planned speed bump may have been the most significant bit of news out of the product launch, which was held at the Letterman Digital Arts Center on the grounds of the Presidio, a former U.S. Army base that now is part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

The announcement mostly featured a long list of executives from hardware vendors offering support and praise for AMD without taking any shots at its main processor rival, Intel Corp. That was left to AMD officials, but even they rarely if at all mentioned Intel by name.

Hector Ruiz, AMD's chairman and CEO, said the company's initial development in 2003 of an x86-compatible Opteron that could run both 32-bit and 64-bit applications raised the bar "for what an industry should expect from a processor company."

Ruiz claimed that the new Opteron would have "a similarly profound effect on computing," even though Intel turned the tables on AMD and beat it to market with quad-core processors by 10 months. Last week, Intel released a new Xeon 7300 line of quad-core chips with clock speeds of up to 2.93 GHz.

Executives from IBM, Hewlett-Packard Co., Sun Microsystems Inc. and Dell Inc. appeared at AMD's launch event in person or via video to announce plans to add the Barcelona chip to their server product lines, with shipments scheduled to begin as early as next month. Among them was Dell Chairman and CEO Michael Dell, who said his company intends to double its lineup of AMD-based systems by year's end.

Jonathan Schwartz, Sun's president and CEO, said his company is aiming to use the quad-core Opteron to double its AMD-based server business. However, Sun in January announced a deal with Intel to develop a full of line of Xeon-based servers and workstations. That ended a two-year-old strategy under which Sun had exclusively used Opterons in its x86 systems.

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Health research on space station

The U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) and NASA signed a memorandum of understanding on Wednesday to use the International Space Station (ISS) as a new platform for health research.

The two agencies entered into an agreement that can "help American scientists use the ISS to answer questions about human health and diseases," said a statement released by NASA on Wednesday.

"The pact signals to researchers the availability of a remarkable platform on which to conduct experiments." it said.

"Not only will the station help in our efforts to explore the moon, Mars and beyond, its resources also can be applied for a much broader purpose -- improving human health," said Michael Griffin, NASA Administrator.

NIH Director Elias A. Zerhouni said that the station provides a unique environment where researchers can explore fundamental questions about human health issues including how the human body heals itself, fights infection or develops diseases such as cancer or osteoporosis.

Compared with the Earth-bound laboratories where researchers conduct experiments every day, the facility at the station provides a virtually gravity-free environment where the cellular and molecular mechanisms that underlie human diseases can be explored.

NASA sent U.S. Congress a plan in May describing how the U.S. segment of the ISS can be used as a national laboratory. The report outlines possible partnerships with other government agencies and private companies to conduct research aboard the station.

As part of the agreement, NIH and NASA will encourage space-related health research by exchanging information and providing technical expertise in areas of common interest. The two agencies will also facilitate and share each other's research and development efforts.

In addition, NIH and NASA have agreed to coordinate publicity of mutually beneficial activities, publications and research results.

less meat eases global warming

Study in U.S. shows eating less meat could not only improve health in general but also help slow global warming by reducing the number of livestock and thereby decreasing the amount of methane flatulence from the animals, media reported Thursday.

Researchers said reducing global red meat consumption by 10 percent would cut the gases emitted by cows, sheep and goats that contribute to global warming.

"If people knew that they were threatening the environment by eating more meat, they might think twice before ordering a burger," said Geri Brewster, a nutritionist at Northern Westchester Hospital in New York,U.S.

Other ways of reducing greenhouse gases from farming practices, like feeding animals higher-quality grains, would only have a limited impact on cutting emissions. Gases from animals destined for dinner plates account for nearly a quarter of all emissions worldwide.

Experts said that it would probably take decades to wane the public off of its meat-eating tendency. "We need to better understand the implications of our diet," said Dr. Maria Neira, director of director of the World Health Organization's department of public health and the environment.

"It is an interesting theory that needs to be further examined," she said. "But eating less meat could definitely be one way to reduce gas emissions and climate change

Howard Scott Keynotes Sierra Energy Group & Cognyst 2nd Annual AMI/AMR Insights Executive Briefing

Sierra Energy Group, a Division of Energy Central announces the speakers for its second annual AMI/AMR Insights Executive Briefing. Speakers for the Briefing include Howard Scott, Ph.D, Managing Partner at Cognyst Consulting, and Howard Scott, Vice President at Sierra Energy Group. The Briefing is scheduled for Tuesday, October 2, 2007, in Reno, NV, at the Peppermill Hotel.

Dr. Scott, a renowned expert on the AMI/AMR market, will be providing his insights on the current and future state of the burgeoning AMI/AMR market, with supporting market data from his annual "Scott Report on AMI/AMR Deployments." Mr. Causey will be presenting perspectives on the evolution of the Intelligent Utility Enterprise™, including results of various research efforts conducted by Sierra Energy Group.

The AMR/AMI Insights Executive Briefing includes a networking breakfast and is followed by the interactive speaker presentations.

Sierra Energy Group has been holding these intimate Insights briefings at locations across the country over the last two years, providing technical and business insights for executives of Fortune 500 through niche specialty firms and the response has been overwhelming. Working closely with partners, clients, and industry colleagues, Sierra Energy Group has delivered top-notch content and insights to hundreds of industry executives in a low-key, networking-friendly format.

For information on attending, contact Mike Smith, Senior Vice President, Sierra Energy Group, at

About Sierra Energy Group

Formed in 2005 as the Research & Analysis Division of Energy Central, Sierra Energy Group provides analysis and intelligence in utility and energy business and technology markets. Services from Sierra Energy Group include the renowned Causey Reports, Market Intelligence and research programs, and proprietary research offerings. The Group is composed of utility and energy industry veterans with backgrounds in utility IT and business operations, solution provider management, and market research. Additional information on Sierra Energy Group can be found at

About Energy Central

In business since 1995, Energy Central is an energy information services and media company that has developed a membership base of 140,000+ power industry professionals. These members have access to a variety of news and information products, including daily and weekly e-newsletters, five web sites (including and and publications such as EnergyBiz magazine.

University of Kansas Professor Issues White Paper Evaluating RMI Consulting, Inc.'s Budget Cycle Value-at-Risk (VaR) Methodology for Commodity Portfol

RMI Consulting, Inc. has added a long term VaR modeling application to its proprietary online risk management system, Know-Risk™. Developed in response to suggestions by companies that face commodity exposure as a natural course of business, the application provides a statistical measure of risk over a long time horizon such as a budget or planning cycle. The system can handle a wide range of commodities including electricity, natural gas, diesel, grains, meats, and metals.

By examining the model's assumptions, parameters, and characteristics, the white paper presents a validation of the Know-Risk™ VaR model and discusses its applications.

To view a full copy of the white paper "Budget Cycle Value-at-Risk (VaR) for a Commodity Portfolio" go to

For Additional Information Contact:

Shane Mathis, Principal
RMI Consulting, Inc.
Phone: 785.232.2252

Stroke victim aims to build awareness

When you are having a stroke, time is of the essence.

That's the lesson Lily Burns, a staff associate in the Office of the Chair of the Faculty, learned after suffering a stroke last year at the age of 33, and now she is trying to share that lesson with others.

This fall, she plans to start speaking at American Heart Association events to help educate people about the signs of stroke and how to respond to them. And on Sept. 15, she will lead 10,000 walkers in a warmup before the 2007 Start! Boston Heart Walk.

Burns, who has been at MIT for six years, also plans to captain a team of about 10 friends and relatives in the six-mile Boston Heart Walk, which starts at the Hatch Shell.

Raising awareness of the dangers of stroke is especially important considering that heart disease and stroke are the No. 1 and No. 3 killers, respectively, in the United States, Burns said.

"When it comes to something like heart attack or stroke, I think it's safe to say everyone knows someone directly or indirectly who's affected, or could be affected," she said.

Burns was in perfect health until her stroke on July 21 last year. She is trim, doesn't smoke and teaches aerobics classes twice a week. "If it could happen to me, it could happen to anybody," she said.

Burns had just finished teaching an aerobics class and was on her way to lunch with her boyfriend and a friend when she started to have difficulty walking and speaking. Her boyfriend recognized what was happening and immediately took her to the hospital, where doctors realized she had had a stroke. She received treatment within 15 minutes of the stroke and as a result, she was able to recover fairly quickly.

Getting treatment within three hours can reduce long-term disability for the most common type of stroke, according to the American Stroke Association.

"I was very lucky that I didn't have to go to rehab because I was brought to the hospital straightaway and started getting treatment right away," Burns said.

Doctors discovered that a 2.5-centimeter clot had traveled to her head. Further tests revealed that Burns had a small hole in her heart, which she had not known about before the stroke.

Last December, she underwent successful open heart surgery to repair the hole. Her surgeon, Ralph De La Torre, is a graduate of the Harvard and MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology and chief of cardiac surgery at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. He developed the technique that he used to operate on her, which allows for open heart surgery without the ribs being cracked open. The procedure is less invasive and leaves a much smaller scar.

After her experience, Burns decided that she wanted to help make other people more aware of the symptoms of a stroke, the need for immediate treatment, and ways to prevent stroke and heart disease.

Only 13 percent of women view heart disease as a health threat, even though it is the No. 1 killer for women, according to the American Heart Association. The AHA recently launched a "Go Red for Women" campaign to educate women about heart disease.

"For women, the symptoms for heart disease are very different than they are for men," said Burns, who will be participating in the "Go Red" campaign.

To learn more about heart disease and stroke and the Heart Walk, visit the AHA web site and the Sept. 15 Boston Heart Walk site.

Stroke warning signs:

Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
Sudden, severe headache with no known cause
(Source: American Stroke Association)

Heart attack warning signs:

Chest discomfort. Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or that goes away and comes back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain.
Discomfort in other areas of the upper body. Symptoms can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.
Other signs may include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.
(Source: American Heart Association)

Herr wins $250,000 Heinz Award

Professor Hugh Herr, a double amputee whose work has led to the development of new prosthetic innovations that merge body and machine, has won the 13th annual Heinz Award for Technology, the Economy and Employment. The award is among the largest individual achievement prizes in the world.

Herr, of the Media Lab, was recognized for "breakthrough innovations in prosthetics and orthotics." He is among six distinguished Americans to receive one of the $250,000 awards presented in five categories by the Heinz Family Foundation.

Herr is the fifth member of the MIT faculty to receive a Heinz Award. The others are Institute Professor Mildred Dresselhaus, Institute Professor Robert Langer, Institute Professor Mario Molina and Institute Professor John Harbison.

"Everything about Dr. Herr is an expression of the triumph of the human spirit over adversity," said Teresa Heinz, chairman of the Heinz Family Foundation. "His breakthrough advances in rehabilitation technologies are immeasurably improving the quality of life for thousands of people with physical challenges, but for him, every breakthrough is just an invitation to push harder and do more. Accomplished yet modest, determined yet good natured, he approaches his work with great skill and great wonder. Both his life and his inventions demonstrate what an unbeatable combination that is."

With more than 36,000 new amputees in the United States every year--including hundreds of American soldiers who have lost limbs in the War in Iraq and Afghanistan--Herr is helping improve mobility and enhance the quality of life for many physically challenged people around the world. The holder (or co-holder) of numerous patents, including the Computer-Controlled Artificial Knee (commercially available as the Rheo Knee), the Active Ankle-Foot Orthosis, and the world's first Powered Ankle-Foot Prosthesis, he is advancing an emerging field of science that applies the principles of muscle mechanics, neural control and human biomechanics to guide the design of biomimetic robots, human rehabilitation devices and other technologies.

Most recently, Herr and his Biomechatronics research group at the Media Lab have developed a robotic ankle-foot prosthesis capable of propelling the wearer forward and varying its stiffness over irregular terrain, successfully mimicking the action of a biological ankle, and, for the first time, providing amputees with a truly humanlike gait. This new ankle is light, flexible, and--most importantly--generates energy for walking beyond that which can be released from a spring alone. "It mimics the elegance of nature," explains Herr, "where a muscle-like robotic assist releases three times the power of conventional prostheses to propel the body upward and forward in walking."

At age 17, Herr lost both legs below the knee in a mountain climbing accident, but returned to the classroom after a few years to earn an undergraduate degree in physics, a master's degree in mechanical engineering from MIT and a Ph.D. in biophysics from Harvard. Today, his work at the Media Lab focuses on human amplification and rehabilitation systems - technologies that interact with human limbs, mimicking biological performance and amplifying function.

Herr predicts that in 5 to 10 years, leg amputees will be able to run faster and move with a lower metabolic rate than people with biological limbs.

"The nature of my work has been incredibly gratifying, not only by virtue of the impact it has on those of us with physical challenges, but also for its potential impact on the larger population as a whole," Herr said. "This field is still in its infancy, and I have great hope that it can be applied to a broad range of utility--to make healthy bodies better and stronger, to create new forms of mobility and to expand our capacity to perform beyond human limits. My thanks go out to the Heinz Family Foundation for recognizing me--and by extension my many colleagues over the years--with this magnificent honor."

The Heinz Awards will be presented Oct. 22 at a private ceremony in Pittsburgh.

Leveraging learning for artificial respiration

MIT research could lead to better, more cost-efficient ventilators
MIT researchers have found that the body's innate ability to adapt to recurring stimuli could be leveraged to design more effective and less costly artificial respirators. The new approach could minimize the need for the induced sedation or paralysis currently necessary for some patients on mechanical ventilation.

Nonassociative learning, or our innate ability to adapt to recurring stimuli, is the focus of work to be described in the September 12 issue of PLoS ONE, the online, open-access journal from the Public Library of Science.

Specifically, Chi-Sang Poon, a research scientist at the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology (HST), and colleagues examined rats under mechanical ventilation to see how they applied different forms of nonassociative learning to adapt to the rhythm imposed by the respirator.

Existing respirators do not consider the adaptive nature of breathing in their design. Some ignore the patient's natural rhythm and pump air in and out of the lungs on set intervals. As a result, doctors often must sedate or paralyze patients to prevent them from fighting an unfamiliar rhythm. Other respirator designs rely entirely on the patient to trigger the airflow. These systems, however, are costly and tend to be unreliable for weak patients such as newborns or those in critical care.

The MIT research suggests, however, that if a doctor takes the patient's natural breathing rhythm into account and sets the ventilator's rhythm in that same range, the patient will adapt and synchronize with the ventilator. This new approach could minimize the need for induced sedation or paralysis.

"We have intrinsic nonassociative learning capabilities, called habituation and desensitization, that [can] make up for changes in the spontaneous rhythm due to artificial lung inflation," says Poon.

In tests of rats under artificial respiration, Poon found that, if using a suitable rhythm, rats adapted to the mechanical ventilation. He also found that this learning capability enabled mice to adapt to an artificial rhythm even when the mechanical respirators applied constant air pressure. The rats effectively "tuned out" this extra pressure, filtering it out as background noise. When Poon disabled the neural pathways involved in nonassociative learning, the rats' ability to adapt was either eliminated or compromised.

Though nonassociative learning is familiar and commonly applied to smelling roses and adjusting to sunlight after emerging from a dark movie theater, it is not usually applied in a clinical environment. Because of their focus on stabilizing patients, clinicians often discount the power of learning. "Many ventilators are designed as if the patient were never in the equation," says Poon. "But it turns out, our vital functions can learn to adapt in order to survive."

Poon's coauthors of the PLoS ONE paper are Shawna M. MacDonald of MIT's Department of Mechanical Engineering and Gang Song, an HST research scientist.

This work was supported by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health.

Photo / Donna Coveney
Chi-Sang Poon (left), principal research scientist in the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology, stands next to Shawna MacDonald of mechanical engineering and Gang Song, an HST research scientist. The group has found that the body's innate ability to adapt to recurring stimuli may help in designing better artificial respirators. Enlarge image

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Chi-Sang Poon Laboratory - Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences & Technology


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