Friday, February 26, 2010

Apple pursuing cloud-based media delivery strategy?

Apple has been in talks with some of the major film studios recently about enabling iTunes users to store their content on Apple-controlled servers, according to a new report. Citing two people familiar with the discussions, Cnet reports that the service would be offered alongside similar cloud-based offerings for TV shows and music, and that Apple’s plan would involve having users access video from various Internet-connected devices, including, most prominently, the iPad. “Basically, they want to eliminate the hard drive,” one source said. The report notes that there is some indication consumers purchasing large amounts of media, including music, videos, and applications, are beginning to max out their hard drives, leading to a possible fall in sales due to the lack of available storage. Notably, the movie studios are said to be concerned about ensuring that purchased media is accessible from a number of devices, including those not made by Apple; this despite the fact that the DRM placed on the companies’ current iTunes Store offerings prohibits them from being played on any non-Apple device.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

FDA Collaboration Seeks to Speed Development of Pneumococcal Vaccines for Children in Developing Countries

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recently announced a collaboration with PATH to advance development of a vaccine to protect children against diseases caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococcus), especially pneumonia.

Worldwide, the bacterium also causes infections of the brain (meningitis), blood (sepsis), and middle ear (otitis media) and each year kills about 1 million children younger than 5 years of age. The collaboration aims to improve the techniques used to produce effective, safe, and affordable vaccines against pneumococcal disease for children in the developing world.

PATH is an international nonprofit organization based in Seattle that creates sustainable, culturally relevant, and affordable solutions to help communities worldwide to break cycles of poor health.

The collaborative project, expected to run for two years, is being conducted under the Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) program. The program allows federal laboratories and businesses to form partnerships that help expedite research activities.

Under the agreement, PATH will help the FDA obtain materials needed for the agency to develop the conjugate vaccine technology. PATH also will provide approximately $480,000 to the FDA for the development of both the conjugation technology and tests to determine if the carrier proteins are properly linked to the polysaccharides.

The goal of the CRADA is to evaluate the application of Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research (CBER) conjugation technology to pneumococcal vaccines. If it holds promise for fulfilling the goal of providing safe, effective, and affordable pneumococcal vaccines, the CRADA permits transfer of the technology to the China National Biotec Group’s Chengdu Institute of Biological Products, and eventually to groups in other developing countries as appropriate.

"CBER will use its scientific expertise to develop technology for a vaccine against pneumococcal disease that is safe and effective,” said Karen Midthun, M.D., acting director of the FDA's CBER. "The collaboration with PATH is an example of how the FDA applies technologies it develops to public health issues in the United States and throughout the world under the agency’s Critical Path Initiative."
The goal of the FDA’s work is to improve the efficiency of a key technology in the development of pneumococcal conjugate vaccine candidates. The technology is used to link a piece of the bacterium’s surface coating, a polysaccharide made up of long chains of sugars, to a special molecule called a carrier protein in a process called conjugation.

When carrier proteins are joined with the polysaccharides, they significantly increase the strength of the immune response. Without these proteins, the polysaccharides by themselves would not trigger an adequate immune response in young children.

CBER conjugation technology has already been used by the Meningitis Vaccine Project—a partnership between PATH and the World Health Organization—for the development of a conjugate vaccine to prevent meningococcal meningitis in Africa.

For more information:

Collaborative Opportunities–FDA Technology Transfer Program

PATH Web site
http://www.path.org2 Exit Disclaimer

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Tips For Online Shopping

Shopping online does carry some risk, but so does shopping at brick-and-mortar stores. At least online shoppers don't need to worry about fender-benders in the parking lot, pick pockets at the mall, or getting the flu from all those fellow shoppers.
But the nice thing about shopping online is that by following some basic guidelines you can be reasonably sure you'll have a safe experience.
Secure your PC: The first thing you need to do is be sure your computer is secure. Trend Micro's education director David Perry, says that "bad guys these days are operating by planting a keylogger on your system that listens in, surreptitiously waiting for you to use your credit card or your bank password so that they can steal your money." So, even if you're dealing with a legitimate merchant, you're at risk if your computer is infected. Your best protection from these attacks is to keep your operating system and browsers updated and use a good and up-to-date security program.
Click with care: Be cautious with all those offers you receive via e-mail. While they might be legitimate, there is the possibility of some offers coming from criminals trying to trick you into giving your password to a rogue site or visiting a site that can put malicious software on your computer. Your best protection is to not click on any links--even if the message looks legitimate--but to type in the merchant's URL manually.
Know the merchant: : If you're not familiar with the merchant, do a little research like typing its name (and perhaps the word "scam") into a search engine to see if there are any reports of scams. Look for user reviews on sites like Look for seller ratings if you locate the merchant through a shopping search engine like Google Shopping . Google doesn't certify the integrity of the sites that come up in its searches, but if you see lots of seller ratings that are mostly positive, that's a pretty good sign. You're generally pretty safe with sellers that are affiliated with shopping aggregators like, Yahoo Shopping, Retrevo or BizRate. Microsoft's new Bing search engine offers a cash-back program with affiliated merchant
It's a good idea to look for seals of approval from Truste or Better Business Bureau Online,  (see BBB seal on the left) but remember that a seal is only a graphic. It can be counterfeit. To be sure, visit the certifying agency's site to look up the merchant.
When you're about to enter your credit card, make sure you're on a "secure "site. The URL should have an https at the beginning (s for "security") and there should be a small gold lock in the lower right corner of the browser. This isn't an iron-clad guarantee, but still worth looking for.
If you're still not sure, look for a phone number and call them. Aside from eliminating the chance of a keylogger grabbing your information, you may get a little more assurance talking to a human being.
Pay by credit card: Credit cards offer you an extra level of protection including the right to "charge back" if you feel you're a victim of fraud. The credit company will investigate your claim and permanently remove the charge if fraud can be proven.
Also some credit card companies offer extra protections including extended warranties and protection against loss or theft. Federal law limits your liability for misuse of a credit card to $50 but many credit card companies will waive that limit. Unless you're very sure about the merchant, don't provide them with a checking account number and never disclose your social security number to online merchants.
It's also a good idea to check your online credit card statement frequently. Most credit card companies will display recent charges online within a few days of the actual transaction. While you're on your credit card company's site, check your interest rate. Credit card companies have been known to "adjust" rates (usually upward) for a variety of reasons.
Know the real price: Be sure you understand the actual cost of the item, including shipping, handling, and sales tax. That can have an enormous impact on the final price. Many merchants are offering free shipping during the holidays and some merchants that have both online physical stores will let you pick up the item in the store for free. In most states if you do business with a merchant that has a physical presence in your state, the merchant is required to collect state sales taxes. Although it's tough to enforce, some states expect you to self-report all of your online purchases and pay sales taxes when you file your state income tax return.
Happy returns: Be sure you understand the merchant's return policies including the deadline for returns and what documentation you'll need. In most cases, they won't refund the shipping charges and you'll have to pay to ship it back. Always keep your packing until you're sure you're not going to return it.
Read the privacy policy: The policy, according to the American Bar Association's, should disclose "what information the seller is gathering about you, how the seller will use this information; and whether and how you can "opt out" of these practices."
Pay attention to these tips and the chances of you being victimized by online fraud would be extremely low.

Originally posted at Safe and Secure 

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Indian Workers Rebuke Quebec Over Asbestos

'It will be remembered as an act of barbarism in the history of industrial development where asbestos was knowingly allowed to be used, and where workers were knowingly subjected to it.'—Gobal Krishna, activist

 Unionized workers gathered in Mumbai on Monday to denounce Quebec's asbestos industry.

Unionized workers and activists in India capitalized on Quebec's trade mission this week to blast the province for its active role on the global asbestos market.

While Quebec Premier Jean Charest led his 130-person mission through meetings with local business leaders and entrepreneurs, Indian opponents spoke out against the asbestos industry, blaming it for making workers in the subcontinent ill.

It's hypocritical for Quebec to ban the use of chrysotile asbestos at home, while selling it to countries in the developing world, said activist Gobal Krishna.

"It will be remembered as an act of barbarism in the history of industrial development where asbestos was knowingly allowed to be used, and where workers were knowingly subjected to it," Krishna told reporters at the news conference in Mumbai.

Asbestos has been banned by nearly every developed country and a growing number of developing nations, but countries like India still rely on the flame-resistant mineral for construction projects.

Unionized workers gathered in Mumbai on Monday to denounce Quebec's asbestos industry.Unionized workers gathered in Mumbai on Monday to denounce Quebec's asbestos industry. At least 20 per cent of workers in India are exposed to asbestos on a regular basis, and the building material is responsible for making many Indian workers sick, accused Sanjay Singhvi, secretary general of the Trade Union Centre of India, a labour federation.

Asbestos can't be used safely in India, he said.

The United Nations says chrysotile asbestos, widely used in building materials, accounted for about 94 per cent of global asbestos production and is considered a carcinogen by the World Health Organization. At least 90,000 people die each year from asbestos-related diseases such as lung cancer and mesothelioma, the UN said.

Singhvi said he was disappointed Charest refused to meet with his organization during the weeklong trade mission.

Charest's office said Quebec promotes the responsible use of asbestos. Quebec exports to India hit $427M

Charest arrived in Mumbai on Sunday with 130 Quebecers participating in the trade mission.

Quebec Premier Jean Charest is on a trade mission to India. The premier said the mission aims to promote Quebec expertise in infrastructure, environmental technologies and telecommunications to the Indian market, which counts more than 1.2 billion people.

Thirteen deals were penned between Quebec and Indian companies on Monday, including an agreement with a Quebec City company specializing in cleaning industrial waste water.

Quebec exported $427 million in goods to India in 2008, including airplanes, paper, asbestos and electronics.

Opposition Parti Québécois members accuse Charest of fleeing to foreign lands in order to avoid political pressure at home, including calls for a public inquiry into the province's dysfunctional construction industry.

Quebec operates two asbestos mines.

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