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March 12th, 2013
01:04 PM ET

How data stopped SARS

10 years on, SARS survivor Cathy Kong is still haunted by the outbreak.

Outside the Amoy Gardens housing estate, her former home and site of the biggest community outbreak of SARS in Hong Kong, Cathy tells me how she used her willpower to cast the virus away.

“I talked to the virus,” she tells me. “I talked to the disease: ‘go away, go away.”

The SARS outbreak killed 780 people and infected over 8,000 more. It crossed borders and triggered an international health scare.

A decade ago this week, the World Health Organization first named SARS - the deadly virus that would infect 29 countries before it was finally contained four months later.

And, looking back, what was the most indispensable tool that ended the outbreak?

According to Dr. Isabelle Nuttall, WHO Director of Global Capacities Alert and Response, it was data.

FULL POST

March 6th, 2013
02:29 PM ET

One in a million: The plight of Syria's refugees

The United Nations says more than one million Syrians are now refugees. That means nearly one out of every 22 citizens have fled for safety.

The news come as the country approaches the second anniversary of its civil war.

The U.N.'s refugee agency tweeted this picture after announcing the alarming new number. It says, "Meet Bushra, the millionth registered refugee from Syria."

The sign in her hands says, "One in a million." It's a reminder of the many, many others who share her desperate situation.

She also holds a small child. The U.N. says around half of the refugees are children. Most are under the age of eleven. It's hard to imagine the things they have seen and experienced in their young lives.

As Syria's deadly conflict grinds on, more and more people are making the difficult decision to seek shelter in another country. The UNHCR notes, "They arrive traumatized, without possessions and having lost members of their families."

The U.N. estimated there would be 1.1 million refugees by the end of June. But more than 400,000 Syrians have fled their homes since the start of 2013. And it's only March.

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Filed under: Arab Unrest • Data
January 24th, 2013
11:27 PM ET

Apple's results send shares tumbling

It's hard to imagine that the second-best quarterly profit ever made by a U.S. company wasn't good enough for investors.

But Apple isn't an ordinary company. And signs that the tech giant's unbelievable growth might be slowing is enough for investors to flee the stock. FULL POST

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Filed under: Data • Gadgets • General • Technology
October 29th, 2012
06:54 PM ET

Understanding Hurricane Sandy

As of 2 pm EDT, Hurricane Sandy packed 145 kph (90 mph) winds. At the time, 23 states had issued a Warning or Advisory for wind related to Sandy’s circulation.

The storm is expected to make landfall later Monday evening.

Based on pressure, Sandy is likely to be the strongest storm to make landfall north of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina.

When it hits, Sandy will be undergoing a transition from a "tropical cyclone" to a "wintertime cyclone." Mari Ramos explains the difference.

Sandy’s field of tropical storm-force or greater winds extends nearly 620 1,600 kilometers (1000 miles). That's roughly twice the size of the U.S. state of Texas.

To put it another way, if that wind field were a country, it would be the 20th largest country in the world.

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Filed under: Data • General • Weather
July 20th, 2012
01:30 PM ET

Checking out Kickstarter's stats

Kickstarter calls itself "the world's largest funding platform for creative projects." And last month, it rolled out a new page to share its data.

The site says its numbers are updated at least once a day. Right now:

  • 64,389 projects have been launched
  • 44% of those were successful
  • 12% did not receive a single pledge
  • Most successfully funded projects raise less than $10,000

Seven completed projects have raised more than $1 million. Another recently passed that milestone... and did it in record time. Ouya, a video game project, hit seven figures in just 8 hours and 22 minutes.

Another tech project is hoping to have similar success. The online comic, Penny Arcade, is seeking $1 million to go ad-free.

Don't forget, Kickstarter is an all-or-nothing deal. So Penny Arcade won't get a penny unless it reaches its goal.

The site's co-founder, Yancey Strickler, spoke to us back in March.

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Filed under: Data • Social networking • Technology
May 29th, 2012
03:57 PM ET

Did you feel it?

Image

AFP/Getty Images

When you look at the USGS website after an important earthquake has occurred, you will see a little tab at the top that says: DYFI? That means “Did You Feel It?”

The USGS uses this information to determine the “intensity” of the quake. How bad was the shaking? What did you feel? Was there any damage?

This data helps assess the quake on a real-time basis by those affected by the shaking. By responding to the questions, you in effect, are helping in the study of earthquakes. Some of that information can be used to make future “shake maps” and determine seismic hazards.

Even if you didn’t feel the quake in your area, or felt only very little, they want to know!

Here is why and how they use the info.

And here is the survey.

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Filed under: Data • General • Science
December 3rd, 2011
03:10 AM ET

Smartphone spyware triggers privacy scare

How would you feel if your smartphone was spying on you?

Millions of people around the world got a taste of that earlier this week.

The cause for this ongoing privacy scare: an analytics company called Carrier IQ.

A video posted by security researcher Trevor Eckhart reveals that Carrier IQ can log nearly all your phone activities including calls, messages, location and even keystrokes. FULL POST

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Filed under: Data • Gadgets • General • Technology
U.S. Troop Deployments: Digging into the data
November 17th, 2011
02:35 PM ET

U.S. Troop Deployments: Digging into the data

When U.S. President Barack Obama addressed Australian troops at a naval base in Darwin after promising to deploy 2,500 U.S. marines to northern Australia over the next several years, it got us thinking: which other surprising locations are American soldiers sent to?

So I found some statistics from the U.S. Department of Defense from December 2010, got hold of a couple of highlighter pens, and got to work.

FULL POST

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Filed under: Data • General • Personal musings
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