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Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

Cloud Storage and Collaboration

Wednesday, May 28th, 2014

Computer connected to clouds

Cloud storage continues to receive attention from industries around the world. While cloud storage is not a new technology, new advances in cloud technology, including better privacy controls and easy to use collaboration tools are generating  renewed interest. To address uses of cloud computing in education settings EDUCASE recently released the new 7 Things You Should Know About Cloud Storage and Collaboration publication. As with other 7 Things You Should Know About publications, this publication provides a brief scenario designed to address cloud storage and collaboration uses in a higher education setting. The scenario follows Dev, a grad student, who is impressed that his university’s new enterprise installation cloud storage platform has simplified his workflow and allowed him to more easily collaborate with his colleagues.

The publication goes on to address real world examples of institutions using cloud solutions on campus. Platforms including Google Drive, Box, Amazon Web Services, and Microsoft OneDrive are mentioned. Downsides of cloud solutions including storage of sensitive data as well as questions about data ownership are also addressed.

EDUCAUSE addresses the importance of cloud computing for storage and collaboration in higher education. The publication indicates that cloud solutions will create “new opportunities for how academic assignments are conceived, completed, and submitted.” In data rich enterprises such as health and medicine the use of cloud storage and collaboration are technologies which should not be overlooked as they may lead to ground breaking discoveries.

Password Tips, Tools, and Managers

Tuesday, May 13th, 2014

Heartbleed Bug LogoRecent attacks on online services such as bit.ly and vulnerabilities discovered in other sites due to the Heartbleed Bug have resulted in a wave of requests from online services for users to reset their password. The password is the most important piece of information any online user creates and should be carefully crafted. If your password has been discovered by those with malicious intent it could lead to compromised security of your personal information. Users should create strong passwords which make it difficult for their account to be hacked. Microsoft provides tips for creating a strong password which should be reviewed as your reset your password. You can also benefit from Microsoft’s Password Checker which will allow you to test the strength of the password you have created.  The United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) lists the following security tips for choosing and protecting passwords:

  • Don’t use passwords that are based on personal information that can be easily accessed or guessed.
  • Don’t use words that can be found in any dictionary of any language.
  • Develop a mnemonic for remembering complex passwords.
  • Use both lowercase and capital letters.
  • Use a combination of letters, numbers, and special characters.
  • Use passphrases when you can.
  • Use different passwords on different systems.

Despite all the online tips and services for creating strong passwords users are still leaving themselves vulnerable to hacking and attacks. An October 2013 security breach at Adobe that gave hackers access to 130 million passwords revealed that despite tips and tools for creating strong password many users are not following through on creating strong passwords. The top five passwords stolen from Adobe included the following:

  1. 123456
  2. 123456789
  3. password
  4. adobe123
  5. 12345678

Many people have trouble keeping up with passwords and as such often reuse the same password on multiple platforms which only puts their data at higher risk. Password managers are one way to help users maintain different passwords across multiple sites. With so many sites needing passwords a password manager is a great tool to organize this information and keep it safe. A PC Magazine post recently reviewed various password managers to help users decide which one is right for them. The editors of the post warn that moving to and setting up a password manager can “involve some serious work.” The post going into detail about each manager as well as those which include an added layer of security such as fingerprint recognition for the password manager password.  The top three password managers from the article include:

  1. LastPass 3.0 (Free)
  2. LastPass 3.0 Premium ($12.00/year)
  3. Dashlane 2.0 ($19.95/year; free edition available)

A comparison chart of password managers can also be found online from TopTenReviews.

MedlinePlus Connect Now Supports ICD-10-CM

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

MedlinePlus Connect Logo

MedlinePlus Connect now supports queries using ICD-10-CM codes. Upon receiving a problem code request with an ICD-10-CM code, MedlinePlus Connect returns relevant, patient-friendly health information from MedlinePlus, Genetics Home Reference, and other reliable health resources. MedlinePlus Connect will continue to support ICD-9-CM and SNOMED CT codes for problem code requests.

Learn more:
Web application documentation: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/connect/application.html
Web service documentation: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/connect/service.html

Try it out:
Web application demonstration page: http://apps.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/services/demo.html
Web service demonstration page: http://apps.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/services/servicedemo.cfm

Spring Cleaning for Your Computer

Monday, April 7th, 2014

Man with laptopSpring is here! With the change in season comes activities like cleaning around the home and office. This year, how about cleaning up your technology? While a previous post provides some information about disinfecting mobile devices this post explores some tips for cleaning your computers and mobile devices from the inside.

Apps

Mobile technology is everywhere and with it comes the use of  many applications. Apps are used to personalize our devices but have you ever thought to clean up and delete the old apps that you no longer use? Apps take up valuable storage space on our mobile devices and taking time to clean them up can free up space for other content. No doubt you have many apps that use for work or play. Those apps are safe from deletion but you may be able to group apps in categories or folders (depending on your device) to make finding your apps easier.

Apps often have periods of popularity. Some apps come out to rave reviews but lose their shine overtime. Taking a look at your device may reveal apps downloaded when they were free or popular but which you never really used. Taking a moment to clean up and delete these apps can make way for new apps and provide more storage space. With most mobile devices once an app has been deleted from the device you can download the app again, at no cost, as long as you are using the same account you used to download it originally.

In a recent post Mashable’s Lance Ulanoff shared valuable tips from his personal app cleaning experience. His words of wisdom, “if you can’t remember what the apps does, get rid of it.”

Computer Performance

For computers, both Mac and PC, having too many files or programs on your computer may make it preform slower. It may also be time to update anti-virus software and check for any current “infestations.” Check for updates for your computer’s anti-virus software.

For more detailed information on how to keep your PC running smoothly How to Geek has a post on PC Maintenance that provides nice screenshots of how to fine tune and clean your PC. Steps for uninstalling software and disk maintenance are also included as well as tips for safely dusting your PC. If you have a Mac, Lifehacker’s post How to Speed Up, Clean Up, and Revive your Mac is a great resource for maintenance inside and out. Disk clean up and special cleaning instructions are provided.

 Social Media

Spring Cleaning, Tech Style from the blog Recode describes ways to organize and clean up social media accounts such as Facebook and Twitter. With social media sites the it is easy to follow and like too many people, places, or things. The result is an overloaded Facebook or Twitter feed. Instead of getting all the latest information we might be missing out on information because our social media accounts are overwhelming us with updates. Lifehacker also has a recent post on How to Clean Up and Fine Tune Your Twitter feed.

Tips and Tools For Avoiding Online Tracking

Thursday, March 27th, 2014

Protection concept: Umbrella and Data Protection with optical glBy now most of us are aware that our online activities are not private. From the National Security Association (NSA) spying allegations to targeted ads, online activity including search history and private data isn’t always safe from prying eyes. Many internet users are still unaware that their online activity is being monitored or that often the data generated while browsing online is used by corporations to promote products and tailor online experiences.

Data is a hot commodity and data brokers specialize in using tracking technology to collect data about you and your online activities. Data brokers compile data and then sell that data to different groups including business clients, the general public, and even other data brokers. Business clients may use the data to market new products and services to you. Your data may also be used for search or references services such as genealogy. In some cases this data can be used with malicious intent.

In a recent post Mandi Woodruff of Yahoo Finance Today notes that “it’s nearly impossible for the average consumer to expect anonymity online or off.” Despite our best efforts the data tracking industry is always evolving and “there’s little we know about data tracking and the companies that do it.” The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) will publish the results of an investigation into nine major data brokers later this year.

Luckily there are steps you can take to limit the tracking that occurs while you are online. The tools and tips outlined below may be useful when attempting to limit online tracking of your activity.

Search Engines

Many search engines track every search that is preformed. They use this data for various purposes including improving their search algorithm but they also share this data with websites listed in the search results page. When you click on a URL from a list of results in a search engine “that website will often get a blurb of data telling them which search terms led you to their site, along with a log of your computer location and IP address.” Websites may use this data to send more ads to you based on your search history and even your IP location. This same search history data could also be used to alert authorities to individuals with suspicious searches on topics that relate to public safety such as bomb making.

To prevent search engines from tracking your searches consider taking the following steps:

  • Make a habit of deleting your search history and cookies;
  • Enable the “Do Not Track” (DNT) feature

    Duck Duck Go Logo

    • To initiate “DNT” on your browser, go into your browser preferences and look for the tab labeled “Privacy.”
    • Check the box to enable the DNT feature.
    • DNT is available on Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Explorer, and Safari.
    • If you use a mobile device you will need to turn this feature on using the privacy settings on the mobile browser.
  • Use a search engine such as DuckDuckGo or Ixquick which report that they do not track searches

Plugins

Ghostery

Browser plugins like Ghostery and Disconnect.me allow you access to the world of data brokers. These plugins will allow you to see the data tracking sites that may be watching you while you search. These plugins allow you to see if a site is tracking you for analytics, advertisements or social media requests and lets you decide which sites to block and which ones to allow. The plugins do not stop ads from appearing but they do keep sites from tracking our online behavior in order to tailor ads to you.

Encryption

Always look to be sure the URL for your connections begins with “https”. If you are sharing credit card or personal information it is important to check for this secure encryption. Using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) or all your online activity is another option to ensure your data is encrypted. Information sent over a VPN is encrypted and better protected from hackers and malware. Read the Why You Should Start Using a VPN post from Lifehacker for more information on VPNs including a list of VPN clients and apps.

Opt-Out

While data brokers keep their work secrete the World Privacy Forums keeps a page of data broker opt out options. While it can be time consuming to go through the opt-out options on all the listed sites it is another step to take ensure you are not being tacked.

Mobile

Don’t forget about the settings on your mobile devices. You will need to check your device and the apps that you use. Some apps, with access to your data, use your activity to tailor ads to you. You can adjust each app’s access to your data on the device. “The latest iPhone and Android updates also offer a new feature that stops apps from using ad tracking, but you’ll need to turn it on yourself.”

You can learn more about tracking from DuckDuckGo’s Don’t Track Us site and from the World Privacy Forum.

SXSW Interactive: Notes from the Field

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

SXSW Interactive BadgeEach March Austin, Texas hosts thousands as part of the South by Southwest (SXSW) festival. The event which has grown in size over the years now hosts three distinct programs, Interactive, Film, and Music. Because Austin is known as an academic and technology hub the Interactive portion of SXSW (SXSWi) has been a big draw for those interested in technology focused start-up businesses and innovations. In recent years SXSWi has helped launched popular apps, games, and other emerging technologies. SXSWi also attracts leaders in design, business, healthcare, and industry, who speak about their experiences and look to the event as a way to promote their projects as well as connect with future innovators. SXSWi is also anchored by a large trade show which features technology products, apps, and services from around the globe. SXSWi is a large event, in 2012 it was estimated that 20,000 people attended the Interactive portion alone.

This was my second year attending SXSWi and I was able to find a number of informative sessions and speakers that provided information on topics related to health sciences, technology, and emerging trends.

Comparing the health related sessions from 2013 and 2014 I noticed that the number of people interested in the same topics had more than doubled in size and the room where most of these health speaker panels took place was much larger than the year before. In addition, keynotes speakers such as 23andMe‘s Anne Wojcicki, who focused on health and technology attracted a large crowd.

The Future of Citizen Science, an emerging trend at SXSWi, supported by keynote speaker Adam Savage from the TV show Mythbusters, also received attention in health sessions. Jessica Richman, CEO of uBiome, provided an overview of resources and tools that are helping citizens become more involved with science. Tools discussed include SciStarter, “a service to find out about, take part in, and contribute to science through recreational activities and research projects,” Science Exchange, “a marketplace for scientific collaboration, where researchers can order experiments from the world’s best labs,” and many more.

Gregory Downing from the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) spoke about the emerging role of open health data with a focus on the website Healthdata.gov. Joining the panel was Beverley Bryant, Director of Strategic Systems & Technology, for the National Health Service (NHS) England who was interested doing more to digitize specialized health services at the NHS by using strategies used by HHS to encourage the development of new Electronic Health Record (EHR) tools through government backed data challenges.

In areas of outreach the collaboration between private and non-profit entities was  another growth area. In the panel Mobile Technology Solutions for the Marginalized, a project aimed at creating a resource tool for a primarily homeless population in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood was realized only when a collaborative team made up of technology experts from a local technology company partnered with the non-profit Tenderloin Technology Lab as well as with professionals and social workers from the area. LinkSF provides a mobile interface with information not only for the homeless living in the area but also for social services and concerned citizens. The realization of this project serves as an example of the outreach efforts that can be created when technology and information come together to serve the specific needs of a special population.

SXSW Interactive Logo

Networking, an important part of SXSWi, allowed me to meet with some of the panel speakers as well as other entrepreneurs in the health start-up field. As one of the only medical librarians in attendance networking with these start-ups exposed them to the role of research librarians and health data. As healthcare and health data continue to evolve the need for information experts becomes obvious. In addition, many of those interested in the health start-up field do not have a medical or even research backgrounds. Many innovators have experience with programming, data, or design but not the resources that are available to assist with the projects they are developing. Again, the librarian can play a vital role in connecting these entrepreneurs with the information they need. For those interested in citizen science and even forming collaborative relationships to serve the needs of a community, the library is again another resource and community partner to be explored. Many libraries are now providing not only resources such as books or access to the internet, many are taking part in the marker movement, providing tools, special events, and even the space for individuals to learn and explore creative ideas.

Not surprising libraries and librarians make up a growing number of those in attendance at SXSWi. This year a section of SXSWi was devoted to maker spaces. Libraries had a presence in sessions speaking about the role of the library in the maker movement as well as in sessions devoted to data and privacy. Support for libraries was also seen on the trade show floor with the “Innovative Booth for Libraries” which was co-hosted by the Association of Rural and Small Libraries (ARSL), the Digital Library Federation (DLF), the Electronic Resources & Libraries conference, EveryLibrary, the Freedom to Read Foundation (FTRF), Urban Libraries Council (ULC), and Urban Librarians Unite (ULU) and supported by Innovative Interfaces. To learn more about libraries, archives, and museums and SXSWi visit the sxswLAM webpage.

Congratulations Cheryl Rowan and Emily Hurst

Tuesday, March 18th, 2014

Emily Hurst Cheryl Rowan

Congratulations to Cheryl Rowan, NN/LM SCR Consumer Health Coordinator, and Emily Hurst, NN/LM SCR Technology Coordinator, both of whom were accepted to the 2014 TALL Texans Leadership Development Institute. The Institute provides advanced leadership and management education in service to all the libraries of Texas and the communities they serve. Participants study strategic planning, risk-taking, conflict negotiation, team building, coaching, ethics, advocacy, personal career planning, and more. This transformational program helps attendees learn and embrace their potential to take new initiative for their institutions, their profession, and their stakeholders.

25 Years of the World Wide Web

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014

Web 25th Anniversary25 years ago, on March 12, 1989, Tim Berners-Lee wrote a proposal for a “global hypertext system” which would lead to the development of what would become known as the World Wide Web. In 1990 the proposal took a more formalized shape and Berners-Lee finished the first known website in December of that year.

According to Berners-Lee “the Web is a powerful enabler of people, economic activity, and democracy…” The Web has clearly transformed the way we interact with one another was well as find and use information.

On the 25th anniversary of the Web’s conception Berners-Lee is asking users of the Internet to think about the following questions and help shape the future of the Web:

  • How do we make the Web truly globally available to all people?
  • How do we secure the web?
  • What does the Web need to be more useful in education, commerce, entertainment, and social interactions?
  • How do we build a universal web, accessible to all regardless of physical or cognitive capability?

The World Wide Web Consortium or W3C invites all to send a message for a virtual birthday card as well as visit the Web at 25 website to find out about upcoming events and ways to be involved in shaping the future of the web.

Watch the full video message from Berners-Lee below:

Net Neutrality and Libraries

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

Internet Browser Network Neutrality (often called Net Neutrality) has been in the news recently as the result of the January 14 ruling by the US Court of Appeals which struck down most of the Open Internet Order. But what is net neutrality and what does it have to do with libraries? According to the American Library Association (ALA) net neutrality “is the concept of online non-discrimination. It is the principle that consumers/citizens should be free to get access to – or to provide – the Internet content and services they wish, and that consumer access should not be regulated based on the nature or source of that content or service.” The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) uses the concept of “Open Internet” to reflect net neutrality.

The Open Internet Rules adopted by the FCC included the following:

  • Transparency. Broadband providers must disclose information regarding their network management practices, performance, and the commercial terms of their broadband services.
  • No blocking. Fixed broadband providers (such as DSL, cable modem, or fixed wireless providers) may not block lawful content, applications, services, or non-harmful devices. Mobile broadband providers may not block lawful websites, or applications that compete with their voice or video telephony services.
  • No unreasonable discrimination. Fixed broadband providers may not unreasonably discriminate in transmitting lawful network traffic over a consumer’s broadband Internet access service. Unreasonable discrimination of network traffic could take the form of particular services or websites appearing slower or degraded in quality.

According to a recent post by ALA member Larra Clark, the recent ruling struck down most of the FCC’s Open Internet Rules and would in essence allow “commercial companies the legal authority to block Internet traffic, give preferential treatment to certain Internet services or applications, and steer users to or away from certain web sites based on their own commercial interests.” The court ruling did encourage the FCC to “act to preserve the free and open Internet.”

Net Neutrality is an important concept for libraries for several reasons. ALA presents the case that libraries are important access points for information for many people. The ALA itself advocates for “intellectual freedom, which is the ‘right of all peoples to seek and receive information from all points of view without restriction.'” The Internet is a tool which can be used to connect people and allows for the free flow of information and ideas. While many libraries are access points for the Internet, libraries are also looking at ways to leverage technology such as the Internet to better connect, inform, and inspire their users. In higher education unrestricted access to information on the Internet may lead to research and development which will have an impact on society. By allowing business and service providers to determine who has access to the Internet, what content can be viewed, or what type of quality of access a user can have the limitless possibilities of Internet connectivity and research which are supported by Net Neutrality and the principles of the Open Internet are restricted.

Organizations including ALA, EDUCAUSE, and ARL have released a joint letter to the FCC advocating for the preservation of the Open Internet.

On January 19, 2014 FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler issued a statement on plans to update the FCC’s Open Internet Rules and continue to support the goals of the Open Internet.

NLM Health and Medicine Blog Collection Continues to Grow

Friday, February 21st, 2014

BlogLaunched in 2009 this unique collection of blogs is a growing array of insightful perspectives on health and healthcare. The National Library of Medicine’s (NLM) Health and Medicine Blog Collection was conceived of and is managed by the NLM Web Collecting and Archiving Working Group. The nine-member multidisciplinary team was tasked with not only looking for online content to archive but with creating the collection criteria, quality control standards, and much more. Since this was as new project and the field of born digital archives was also new standards for metadata and copyright also needed to be explored as the project moved forward.

Began as a pilot project, the initial focus included only 12 blogs but the collection has since expanded to include 31 blogs. The project utilizes Internet Archive’s Archive-It service. Archive-It is a subscription web archiving service that helps organizations to harvest, build, and preserve collections of digital content and is used by over 275 organizations across the globe.

Blogs currently archived in the project include e-Patient Dave and The Adventures of an Ambulance Riding Librarian. Both healthcare professionals as well as patients use blogs for communications and this project attempts to archive blogs from both perspectives. Some of the blogs include first hand perspectives about living with illness.

Because online communications through blogs has become an important point of information exchange about the fast changing topics of health and medicine the NLM’s blog archive project continues to grow. In the future the NLM envisions collaborating with other groups to capture important but unpublished studies and other information including scientific news and content communicated during natural disasters and emergencies.