All posts by Mary Helen Miller


Purdue Professor Embeds Hyperlinks in Printed Books

People who prefer print books over e-books may still want extra digital material to go with them. That’s the idea behind Sorin Matei’s project, Ubimark, which embeds books with two-dimensional codes that work as hyperlinks when photographed.

So far there’s just one book available in English, Around the World in 80 Days, with the bar-like codes. (See a YouTube demo here.) A collection of scholarly essays in Romanian, Mr. Matei’s native language, will be available soon. Mr. Matei, an associate pro…


Researcher Infects Himself With Computer Virus

Ever since Mark Gasson got a virus, his cellphone won’t work, and he can’t unlock the door to his building on campus. But those are the kind of symptoms humans can expect when they get infected with computer viruses. 

Mr. Gasson, a research fellow at the University of Reading, in England, has a radio-frequency identification chip implanted in his hand. It’s the kind of computer chip that is sometimes used to track animals, but Mr. Gasson uses it to activate his cellphone and unlock doors. He als…


U. of Michigan Professor Designs Software for Student Engagement

Perry Samson, a professor of atmospheric science at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, liked the concept of personal “clickers” in class, but he felt that they weren’t dynamic enough for the kinds of questions he wanted to ask in his meteorology courses. So he created Web-based software that combine personal-response technology with other kinds of interactive tools that students can use on their laptops in classrooms.

Lecture Tools, the system Mr. Samson created, lets students use their co…


Students at U. of Florida Use Facebook to Find Tutors

At the University of Florida, a Facebook application lets students be choosy when looking for tutors.

The application, Tutor Matching Service, lets students search for tutors by subject, class, or tutor name. They can see ratings and comments on tutors, when tutors are available, and how much they charge. Tutors can also post pictures and videos of themselves.

A little more than a year ago, the student-government president at the time created the application with Group Interactive Networks, a te…


App From San Diego State U. to Map Oil Spill on Coast

An ordinary person can’t do much to help with the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, but for an ordinary person with a smartphone, it’s a different story.

The Visualization Center at San Diego State University and Crisis Commons, an online community that uses technology to respond to crises, will release a free smartphone application in the next few days that people can use to document the oil spill’s effects on the coastline. When users take pictures of the coast with the new application, Slick V…


Student Start-Up Helps Syracuse U. Graduates With Their Personal Brands

Four students at Syracuse University have made a job out of helping graduating seniors there find one.

Syracuse University recently bought a six-month subscription for each of its 4,100 graduating seniors to Brand-Yourself, a Web site the students created to help customers manage their online presence.

The company was created by two Syracuse undergraduate students, a graduate student, and a recent graduate. They started the project about a year and a half ago and put the Web site up nine weeks a…


Archive Makes Over a Million Digital Books Available for Those Who Can’t Use Print

With a service it started Thursday, the Internet Archive has more than doubled the number of books available to blind people and others who cannot read print books. The nonprofit organization, based in San Francisco, has made more than a million digital books available free in a format that can be downloaded to a device that reads them aloud.

The Internet Archive has been scanning books and making them available free online since 2005, and the books in the new format are part of the organization’…


Online Evaluations Show Same Results, Lower Response Rate

Students give the same responses on paper as on online course evaluations but are less likely to respond to online surveys, according to a recent study.

The study was conducted at Kansas State University’s IDEA Center, a  nonprofit group that tries to improve how colleges use course evaluations. It examined data that the center collected from classes at nearly 300 institutions between 2002 and 2008, of which 89.9 percent used paper surveys and 10.1 percent posted surveys online. The study analyz…


Imagine Cup Finalists Make Video Games and Software to Solve World’s Woes

Washington—At the finals for Microsoft’s U.S. Imagine Cup competition, which took place here today, 20 student teams displayed video-game and software projects that attempt to solve the world’s greatest problems with technology. James Cameron, the Academy Award winner who most recently directed Avatar, spoke at the awards ceremony.

Some projects had a very practical use, such as software that would make medical data more available to researchers around the world. Other projects, however, were de…


Is Your Thesis Hot? Or Not?

Writing a thesis about animal intentionality and tool use is totally hot right now. A thesis about Robert Louis Stevenson’s use of the supernatural to symbolize evil? Not so much.

For graduate students who want to take the temperature of their dissertation’s thesis statement, there’s a Web site that went up earlier this week allowing students to vote on how hot each others’ theses are. The site offers no criteria for judging a thesis statement, and the voter has only two choices: “hot” or “not.”…