Many categories of web sites continue to be inaccessible for people with perceptual and motor disabilities. Ninety percent of federal government web sites, many social media tools, many e-commerce web sites, and online employment applications are often inaccessible, denying people with disabilities access to the complete power of the web. In this twenty-one minute presentation Dr.Jonathan Lazar — Professor of Computer and Information Sciences at Towson University — provides an overview of web accessibility for people with disabilities, including the technical standards and laws, as well as reporting on recent research projects documenting how inaccessible web sites lead to various forms of discrimination against disabled people.
“A Former Lobbyist Tells All” in this fifteen minute session of NPR’s Planet Money. Download by right clicking “npr_146005715.mp3 for #341” and “Save File as…,” or listen online here. It’s a good discussion about how lobbyists work, what kind of salary they earn, and why this is a good time to reduce their role in Government.
Sir Paul Nurse, a British geneticist and cell biologist, 2001 Nobel Prize winner in Physiology for Medicine, and president of the Royal Society discusses four great ideas of biology in this hour-plus talk. The ideas are well-known, but Sir Nurse adds practical insights that impact on current thought, such as DNA being a digital information storage device, and the idea of “wet ware” where connections are by diffusable chemicals rather than the wires of hard ware. It was interesting to learn that bad fermentation is caused by bacteria which creates sour lactic acid while successful fermentation by yeast produces the familiar alcohol. This talk makes reference to visual aids which are not available and includes patches of poor sound when the speaker turns from the microphone, but it’s still usable. More British podcasts are available from the University of Bath.
Nurse was named the first head of the UK Center for Medical Research and Innovation which was quickly changed to The Francis Crick Institute Crick Institute and from there you’ll find a link to British cancer research with numerous podcasts and transcripts such as these. Any downloads require a right click and selection of “Save as….”
The US health care program is changing. In the future we will pay for value, not per visit. Details about this process are presented in a thirty-three minute talk here. Two means of learning more and communicating your concerns and suggestions are called the Direct Project and the Blue Button that are already available for veterans and for Medicare and Medicaid patients. For example, the Blue Button upload service allows any Medicare/Medicaid or Veteran Administration patient to upload their Blue Button data file to HealthVault so that the included medications, labs, conditions, and other information can be used in a wide range of HealthVault-connected applications. The talk also mentions Itriage Health where you can check out symptoms, locate a doctor or find the closest clinic at. The health care change is also discussed in this forty-seven minute video on YouTube by a three-person panel and is called “Citizen-Centric Health: How Public/Private Partnerships are Changing the Game”.
Gamification is the application of game concepts to everyday problems. Gabe Zichermann, an advocate of the concept, presents a sixteen minute discussion on the topic which includes the use of a speed lottery concept that reduced speeding in Sweden by twenty percent, and Mozilla’s use of badges to motivate students. The link to Zichermann’s talk includes links for a video of the same thing, a blog, Twitter, and the Tamagotchi game toy he mentions. For more discussion and many examples go to gamification. One of them is Foldit where players solve puzzles for science.
TWINE can tie the world together. “Twine is a wireless module tightly integrated with a cloud-based service. The module has WiFi, on-board temperature and vibration sensors, and an expansion connector for other sensors.” Developer John Kestner in a forty-six minute talk describes the device and its development here. He reviews how it works, what decisions were made in its design, and how it allows you to connect things to the Internet. He also discusses the community that is working to make the product better. A video of a similar discussion adds images, although at the time it was still in a prototype stage. Twine is a recent successful funding venture from the five-year-old Kickstarter organization. The WiFi used with Twine is the shorter range 802.11g version which is limited to some 300 feet versus the longer range 802.11n that’s too power hungry. A similar product, called Ninja Blocks is presently being funded by Kickstarter and will launch about the same time as Twine. No price has been advertised unlike the preorder price that can be paid for Twine.
The infiltration of mobile technology into every nook and cranny of our professional and personal lives is irrefutable and irreversible. SiNae Pitts, CEO at Amphetamobile, who specializes in mobile app development for education and scholarly publishing provides her top five mobile trends to watch for in 2012, based on reports from industry analysts and observing end-user usage patterns. Pitts foresees the rise of an “app-internet” that offers faster, simpler and better user Internet experience in a 12:25 minute talk.
Instapaper for PC, iPhone, and Kindle, but not Android devices was created as a hobby by Marco Arment and turned into a one-man business. That story and how it applies to potential app developers is a twenty-five minute Planet Money topic that can be heard here as “The App Economy”, or downloaded by right clicking the download button and selecting “Save As…”
Facebook users are approaching the billion mark. Some call it Facebookistan and others contrast it with The Epiphanator, a vast media contraption which excels at drawing conclusions. In Europe a law now allows a user to request all information Facebook has collected about them. So far forty thousand requests for information have been made. Max Schrems filed one, got 1500 pages of information and reported he knew even more existed. Farmville was stolen from the Chinese and Danwei is a source of media information in China including efforts similar to Facebook going on in that country. All of this and more is in an hour-long discussion from On The Media, under the title, “The Facebook Show,” or download here from WNYC.