Technology

How We Grieve
7:33 am
Wed July 23, 2014

On Social Media, a New Way to Mourn the Loss of Loved Ones

Ginny Kleker (left) pictured with her mother Teresa Ferguson in 2006. Following Ginny's suicide in 2008, Ferguson said Facebook helped her cope with her daughter’s death.
Credit Courtesy photo

Teresa Ferguson was not on Facebook before October 2008. Now she finds it indispensable.

Ferguson uses the site to manage the Facebook page of her daughter Ginny Kleker, who after years of battling a deep depression, ended her life at age 31.

Shortly after her daughter’s death, Ferguson accessed Ginny’s Facebook profile and posted a soul-baring letter describing her daughter's vibrant personality and mental health struggles. She also shared her thoughts as a mother about Ginny's suicide.

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Essential Pittsburgh
6:13 pm
Mon July 21, 2014

How Soon Are 3D Printers Likely to Become a Household Product?

Piece Maker Technologies shows the result of 3D Printing the Essential Pittsburgh Logo.
Credit Piece Maker Technologies

    

Unless you are a researcher or technology professional, 3D printers are probably an unknown technology for you. But now Home Depot will carry and sell desktop 3D printers.

Locally, the Carnegie Library has offered sessions on the basics of how 3D printing works. It’s the latest innovation in high-tech manufacturing for the masses.

Senior Librarian Wes Roberts runs the Job and Career Education Center at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh and said that the 3D printing workshops show computing education workshop participants a new world.

"Providing access to education in this new realm of digital manufacturing. So that was the whole crux. To get people connected we do a lot of classes on general computing, Microsoft Office, but to bring them to this higher tier of creative design, the idea was to kind of welcome people to the new world of technology."

Despite the already big benefits of the workshop Roberts said that the programs will continue to grow and develop.

"Moving forward, it's at a pretty beginning stage with this technology, but I think we've got a really good ground work for what we're doing with our children's and our teen programs. So that we'll keep building on it for the adult level and really kind of merge them all together."

With patents expiring and more companies getting on board with the product, Roberts predicts that the price of 3D printers will drop from thousands of dollars into the hundreds of dollars range.

But until that time, Arden Rosenblatt, co-founder and CEO of Pittsburgh-based Piece Maker Technologies said you can create and design items for 3D printing at Piece Maker Technologies.

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City Government
12:04 pm
Wed July 16, 2014

Peduto and Staff to Participate in Reddit 'Ask Me Anything' Forum Thursday

From pension plans to Act 47 and dog parks to bike lanes – many Pittsburghers have questions about the future of the city and Mayor Bill Peduto and his staff hope to have the answers.

That’s why he is taking to popular social media forum Reddit Thursday from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. for the city’s first “Mayor’s Night On(line).”

Peduto has used Reddit in the past to connect to the community – especially while campaigning – but this is the first time he’s done so as mayor, and this time he’s doing it differently.

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Science & Technology
5:55 pm
Mon June 9, 2014

Peduto Hosts Roundtable On Maker Movement

President Barack Obama wants some advice from Pittsburgh’s “maker” community.

That’s why Mayor Bill Peduto hosted a roundtable Monday afternoon to discuss the achievements and future of the city's “Maker Movement,” which refers to using tools such as 3D printers and computer-aided designs to build everything from circuitry to jewelry.

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Science & Technology
3:30 am
Tue May 27, 2014

Tech Conference To Bring Developers And Operators Together

Some of the brightest minds in software development and information technology (IT) will gather in Pittsburgh this week for DevOpsDays.

The international conference, started in Belgium in 2009, looks to bring tech developers (Dev) and operators (Ops) together to raise the bar on how technological advances can improve people’s lives, such as the development of cloud computing.

Event organizer Andrew Clay Shafer said the conference brings more well-deserved attention to Pittsburgh’s blossoming high-tech industry.

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Education
3:03 pm
Tue May 20, 2014

Technology In Early Childhood Education Is Here To Stay, Researchers Say

The use of technology in classrooms is not new, but evolving hardware and broadband accessibility are changing how educators think about those tools in their classrooms.

At a forum on using technology in early childhood education, hosted Tuesday by the Rand Corporation, the message was clear: Researchers should continue to explore the use of technology in early childhood education, but the focus should be on how to best use it, not whether to use it.

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Tech Workforce
2:12 pm
Wed April 16, 2014

Pittsburgh Technology Council Tries to 'Win the Talent War'

Nearly one in four workers (23 percent) in the Pittsburgh region is employed by the technology industry comprising about 29 percent of the city’s total wages at $16.9 billion, according to the Pittsburgh Technology Council (PTC).

To help "win today's talent war" the PTC is introducing several initiatives to assist tech firms in attracting new workers including launching the redesigned online Career Connector. The site claims it's the “largest Pittsburgh region technology-specific job board” with more than 10,000 searchable resumes already available.

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Essential Pittsburgh
3:04 pm
Thu February 27, 2014

Google's Ross LaJeunesse on Freedom in the Digital Age

A computer cafe in Monrovia, Liberia
Credit http://www.flickr.com/photos/whiteafrican/

The internet is used globally by over 2.7 billion people. In the next decade it’s expected that 5 billion people will come online, continuing the change in how we communicate with each other, as well as who controls the internet.

Google Head of Free Expression and International Relations Ross LaJeunesse joined us for a discussion of freedom and power in the digital age.

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Essential Pittsburgh
3:33 pm
Mon November 25, 2013

Open Source Design Offers Greater Control Over Personal Gadgets

Credit Mariano Real Pérez / flickr

As the devices we use on a regular basis become more advanced and intuitive to use, they’ve also become easier to personalize. As a result, consumers wield more power over their own technology.

Matthew Casebeer Computer Scientist for MAYA Design, a consulting group that’s focused on simplifying devices and data. He finds that open source  design benefits all who share information through their devices, not just computer scientists that work on fixing problems for large groups of users.

He's interested in creating user-friendly authoring tools that allow consumers to write their own code.

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Eduation and Technology
4:09 pm
Wed November 20, 2013

Tech Conference Aims to Improve Traditional Education, But Connectivity Still an Issue

It’s no question that technology has changed the world over the last few decades, from how we shop to how we share our lives. In the U.S., many public school districts are in the process of making major changes thanks to technology. Leaders in education and technology are hoping schools get it right because a lot is at stake.

In the not-so-distant past it was pretty commonplace to be taught solely out of a text book and worksheets in the classroom – maybe you’d get a video on a sub day. Today, there are many more options thanks to computers, tablets and other smart devices.

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Essential Pittsburgh
5:16 pm
Fri November 15, 2013

What's the Big Deal About Big Data?

Credit Flickr

Day in and day out, we generate data through credit card transactions, mobile Apps, even when we’re commuting to work, we’re generating data. And all of that data has potential uses for the private or public sector.

This week, some of the leading minds in what’s now called big data gathered in Pittsburgh to talk about ways to utilize this information.

Jerome Pesenti, Chief Scientist of big data at IBM, Pittsburgh DataWorks board member and co-founder of Vivisimo, says he wants to make big data more accessible and make it possible to draw more insight from the data generated.

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Essential Pittsburgh
2:42 pm
Thu September 26, 2013

Geeks on a Mission: CMU Grads Engage in Technological Humanitarian Work

Dr. Alex Hills talks about the challenges and rewards of bringing technological systems to NGOs in developing nations.
Credit Katie Blackley / 90.5WESA

At the Carnegie Mellon University Technology Consulting in the Global Community program, students are matched with worldwide non-governmental organizations to assist these humanitarian groups with technological support.

Dr. Alexander Hills, senior adviser for the program, has compiled a book of five essays by these young professionals. The book Geeks on a Mission: In Their Own Words, reflects the students amazing experiences and the impact on the global communities they aid.

“Yes, we help people and that’s a good thing, but what it does for the student is really, really impressive,” he says.

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Essential Pittsburgh
5:04 pm
Wed September 25, 2013

Innovative Concussion Evaluation Technology

Evaluating concussions on the field with an iPad app
Credit GENuine 1986 / Flickr

According to the Center for Disease Control, almost 2 million people each year suffer from concussions and other traumatic brain injuries.

In the sports world, concussions have been in the limelight as athletes come forward with reports of lasting affects from the brain injuries they sustained while playing. As a result, the sports community is becoming increasingly aware of how important it is to properly treat a concussion and gather as much data as possible close to the time of impact.

C3 Logix is a new, innovative concussion evaluation technology that provides on site data collection at the time of injury, to better aid physicians in diagnosis and treatment. The program is loaded into an iPad and before the season starts, athletes perform a series of neurocognitive tests. The program tracks the athlete’s visual reflexes and their ability to focus on moving objects. Results of these baseline tests can then be compared to data logged in incident reports at the time of suspected brain injury.

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Essential Pittsburgh
4:08 pm
Mon September 9, 2013

Military Level Technology Protects Athletes At All Levels

Unequal technologies puts their special padding in more than just football helmets. Baseball players, soccer players and even golfers can be protected from potential concussions.
Credit Unequal Technologies

According to Rob Vito CEO of Unequal Technologies, his company mission is to protect soldiers and athletes from severe blunt force trauma. The idea began ten years ago when, as a professor at Penn State, a student asked Vito, “What if you could make a kevlar vest lighter, thinner and more flexible?”

Since then, Vito and his company have designed Unequal gear for high profile celebrities such as Sidney Crosby, Troy Polamalu, Michael Vick, Tony Romo and even Tom Cruise. When their material is placed inside a helmet or layered into protective apparel, Vito says it may reduce the severity index of impact by 50 percent.

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Essential Pittsburgh
4:46 pm
Fri August 30, 2013

The Thrill Mill: Contributing to Pittsburgh's Business Ecosystem

The Thrival Festival is a highly anticipated music and innovation event coming to Bakery Square in East Liberty this September.
Credit Somenametoforget / Flickr

Startup incubators provide entrepreneurs with opportunities to grow their ideas in an affordable space, with resources, mentoring and sometimes funding. They’ve sprung up all over Pittsburgh, especially in East Liberty. 

The Thrill Mill and its incubator space, the Hustle Den, is one of the new kids on the block. And while many incubators are focused on technology, Thrill Mill is supporting some diverse innovators.

For Bobby Zappala founder of the Thrill Mill, it all started when he moved back to Pittsburgh from Washington D.C. in 2006. He says he and his friends wanted to connect with other young people who had interesting business ideas. He says they host regular gatherings which became very popular.

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Public Safety
7:27 am
Mon July 29, 2013

As Technology Advances, 911 Centers Struggle to Keep Up

State lawmakers want Pennsylvanians to be able to contact 911 via Skype on their computers or Facetime on their smartphones, but they haven't figured out how to pay for it.

A hearing on Tuesday will bring county emergency responders into the mix as lawmakers discuss how to change the funding mechanisms for the statewide network of county-run 911 response centers.

Rep. Steve Barrar (R-Delaware) said the scheduled end of one revenue source for the centers is prompting the evaluation of the overall funding model.

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Essential Pittsburgh
7:47 pm
Fri June 28, 2013

App Certain: Internet Security On Mobile Devices

App Certain is an app which monitors other apps
Credit Heather McClain / 90.5 WESA

Many parents find it’s important to monitor their child's screen time on the home computer.

But they may not consider the fact that mobile devices such as smart-phones and tablets are swiftly becoming our most prominently used computers.

Spencer Whitman, CEO of App Certain says most parents don’t realize what their kids are doing on mobile devices, especially when it comes to apps.

So App Certain gives parents a window into the behavior of the mobile apps their kids are downloading.

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Essential Pittsburgh
9:00 pm
Tue May 21, 2013

Pop City Innovation News

Debra Diamond Smit is the tech and innovation reporter for the ezine Pop City
Credit Pop City Media

Innovative product development and manufacturing is not new in Pittsburgh. Each week, Pop City tech and innovation reporter Deb Smit has a plethora of companies and concepts to choose from when reporting on the next big thing.

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Physical Therapy
3:37 pm
Fri April 5, 2013

Electrical Stimulation Could Zap the Need for Some Physical Therapy

A study completed at Forbes Regional Hospital in Monroeville could lead to physical therapy sessions being replaced with a device you would use in your home.

The study was done to see if electrical muscle stimulation, or EMS, is as effective as standard physical therapy in helping patients recover from joint replacement surgery.

Dr. Michael Levine, the principal investigator, said he wanted to have an alternative treatment for patients.

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Robotics
7:20 am
Mon March 25, 2013

CMU Robot Designed to Deal with Disaster, and Some Competition

A team at Carnegie Mellon University is building CHIMP, a robot they say will be able to grab with both its hands and feet in order to operate tools in situations too dangerous for humans.
Credit Carnegie Mellon University

Imagine this situation: There is a fire in a warehouse creeping toward explosive material.

But instead of the fire department sending in firefighters, a robot saves the day by moving the material to a safe location.

A robotics team at Carnegie Mellon University is working to create that robot.

The team says the robot looks like a monkey and is named CHIMP (CMU Highly Intelligent Mobile Platform).

The machine is being built to work in human situations with tools normal responders would work with.

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Government & Politics
10:17 am
Mon March 11, 2013

PA Lawmaker Wants to Draw Game Developers to the State, Proposes Video Game Tax Credit

The video gaming industry is huge and growing, moving beyond what people think of as traditional video games. PA lawmaker wants to encourage growth in that sector in the commonwealth.
Credit Deanna Garcia/90.5 WESA

Pennsylvania’s film tax credit program is lauded by state and local officials as a success, and one state lawmaker wants to implement a similar tax credit program for another entertainment industry – video games.

State Senator Daylin Leach (D-Montgomery) has introduced the Video Game Tax Production Credit bill aimed at attracting game developers to the state. He said the video gaming industry is huge and growing.  

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Essential Pittsburgh
10:54 am
Thu February 28, 2013

Gavin Newsom on Citizenville

Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom explores the many ways technology can transform democracy, such as opening government data and letting people create apps to use it wisely.
Credit Gavin Newsom / Facebook

WESA 90.5 reporter Kevin Gavin interviews California Lieutenant Governor and former Mayor of San Francisco Gavin Newsom about his book Citizenville: How to Take the Town Square Digital and Reinvent Government. Newsom discusses how ordinary citizens can use new digital tools to dissolve political gridlock and transform American democracy.