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Fall Journal

Volume 27, Issue 4

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Jon Seals

One of the reasons I enjoy writing about technology, particularly data technology, is because I believe it can illuminate real-world problems. So you can imagine my frustration when I tried to fact-check the conflicting data on Ebola’s infection rates. One article claimed a case fatality rate of 25 percent, while another cited 90 percent.

I checked and, surprisingly, both are right — well, sort of. WHO states:

"The average EVD case fatality rate is around 50%. Case fatality rates have varied from 25% to 90% in past outbreaks.”

This week, WHO bumped that fatality rate to 70 percent.

The reason the numbers range so widely is simple: West African health care systems and reporting structures aren’t advanced enough to properly track it, according to the CDC.

That’s a rational explanation, but it doesn’t resolve the confusion. Surely, if we’re serious about stopping the spread of Ebola and finding a cure, we’re going to need real data.



It took home improvement retailing giant Home Depot about a week before it finally confirmed it had suffered a data breach. Home Depot first reported the possibility of a breach on 2 September 2014, but did not actually confirm the hacking until 8 September. During that time, the company made somewhat vague statements that it was still carrying out an investigation to determine whether or not its systems had actually been compromised.

Based on the company’s recent press release confirming the breach (see “The Home Depot Provides Update on Breach Investigation“), it appears that Home Depot’s internal IT security team was unaware that its payment data systems had been compromised. Instead, it looks as if the company only caught on to the breach, and then launched its investigation, once it had received reports from banking partners and law enforcement officials notifying the company of suspicious activity with payment cards used at the retailer’s various stores. (This is a trend we are seeing more often, and it is disturbing because it signals that the malware used to infect store POS systems is very difficult to detect.) The company believes the breach took place initially sometime in April 2014. No information regarding the size of the breach was included in the press release.



(MCT) — When hurricanes sweep across the ocean’s surface, they whip up a foamy mix of sea and air, swapping energy in a loop that can crank up the force of powerful storms.

The physics of that exchange — nearly impossible to measure in the dangerous swirl of a real storm — has remained largely a mystery, vexing meteorologists who have struggled to improve intensity predictions even as they bettered forecast tracks. Now scientists have a shot at solving that puzzle with a new 38,000-gallon research tank unveiled this month at the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science at the University of Miami.

Powered by a 1,400-horsepower engine, the tank will let scientists map Category 5 hurricanes in three dimensions for the first time.

“It can really help us understand why this behavior is occurring,” said Mark Powell, an atmospheric scientist with the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration who published a study on the exchange in the journal Nature in 2003.



WARREN, Mich. – The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) encourages disaster survivors to visit one of the four Disaster Recovery Centers in Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties to learn about the many paths toward recovering from the August severe storms and flooding.

The recovery centers are one-stop shops where disaster survivors can register for assistance, discuss types of disaster assistance programs with specialists, receive the status of their existing application and obtain other information.

The advantage of already being registered before visiting a recovery center is that FEMA staff can look up an applicant’s case and tell how it is progressing. The same information is available at FEMA’s toll-free number, but the face-to-face experience at the centers makes it easier.

U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) customer service representatives at the recovery centers can explain the several different kinds of low-interest, long-term disaster assistance loans available. Not only businesses and private nonprofit organizations, but homeowners and renters can apply for SBA disaster recovery loans.

Rebuilding stronger and safer homes is the specialty of FEMA’s mitigation specialists. They are at the centers and can explain how to protect property against damaging winds and floods, and reduce damages from future events.

The centers should not be confused with the recovery support sites located throughout neighborhoods in southeast Michigan. The support sites are open for a short period of time and are staffed with FEMA personnel who can help survivors register and quickly answer questions about disaster assistance programs.

It is not necessary to go to a recovery center to register for the various federally-funded recovery programs that can be accomplished better by phone or on the web.

Register at www.DisasterAssistance.gov or via smart phone or Web-enabled device at m.fema.gov. Applicants may also call 1-800-621-3362. TTY users may call 1-800-462-7585.

The toll-free telephone numbers will operate from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. EDT seven days a week until further notice.

The deadline for individuals to apply for disaster assistance is Nov. 24, 2014.


FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards. Follow FEMA online at twitter.com/femaregion5, www.facebook.com/fema, and www.youtube.com/fema.  Also, follow Administrator Craig Fugate's activities at twitter.com/craigatfema. The social media links provided are for reference only. FEMA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies or applications.

English: http://www.fema.gov/disaster/4195

Spanish: http://www.fema.gov/es/disaster/4195

The hurricane season always is a good time to take a look at disaster recovery and business continuity (DR/BC). These twin endeavors are aimed at keeping organizations operational, and if that doesn’t work out, getting them back up and running as quickly as possible.

Recently, virtualization has given DR/BC some new tools and new challenges. Through virtualization, network operators can break functions and collected data into little pieces to be scattered in a variety of places. They also have the ability to reroute and otherwise change networks on the fly.

ComputerWeekly recently discussed the value of virtualization for DR/BC and the players involved in the sector. The case for virtualization was made near the start:

Virtualisation changes everything and increases the number of options. First, data can be easily backed-up as part of an image of a given virtual machine (VM), including application software, local data, settings and memory. Second, there is no need for a physical server rebuild; the VM can be recreated in any other compatible virtual environment. This may be spare in-house capacity or acquired from a third-party cloud service provider. This means most of the costs of redundant systems disappear.



(MCT) — If, or more likely when, another Hurricane Hazel hits the Carolinas, experts say many things would be different than they were in 1954.

Sadly, they note, the outcome would be the same.

Despite more than a half-century's advances in technology, communication and the lessons learned from other storms, there is only so much people can do to prepare for a tropical buzz saw with a two-story storm surge and winds of 140 mph.

"We've come light-years in terms of prediction and preparation," said Gene Booth, Cumberland County Emergency Management coordinator. "But ultimately, there would still be a tremendous amount of damage.

"The biggest difference now is we have planning in place. Back then, there wasn't the level of planning because there wasn't a history of anything like Hazel."



October 17, 2014

Earthquake Risk Rising

Some 25 years after the Loma Prieta earthquake, the San Francisco Bay area faces increased risk of a major quake, two separate studies suggest.

A study published online in the Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America says that sections of the San Andreas fault system—the Hayward, Rodgers Creek and Green Valley faults—are nearing or past their average earthquake recurrence intervals.

It says the faults ‘are locked and loaded’ and estimates a 70 percent chance that one of them will rupture within the next 30 years. This would trigger an earthquake of magnitude 6.7 or larger, the study’s authors say.

A second study by catastrophe modeler RMS says the next major quake could be financially devastating to the Bay Area economy in part because of low earthquake insurance penetration.



NEWTOWN SQUARE, Penn. – PPT Consulting, a leading provider of business management and IT consulting, announced that it has won the prestigious 2014 Philadelphia 100 award.  The Philadelphia 100 is a merit based program and only companies that are among the fastest growing privately-held companies are awarded the Philadelphia 100 designation. The integrity of the process and the resulting list makes the Philadelphia 100 one of the most sought awards in the region.  PPT celebrated the award with the other winners at the annual Philadelphia 100 awards presentation at the Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on October 16.  It was then that PPT found out that they placed 46th on this prestigious list of 100. 

Kathy Bellwoar, President of PPT Consulting, remarked “We are thrilled to have been chosen to be part of the Philly100 awards among a list of standout companies around the Philadelphia region.  We hope to continue to expand our contributions in the region and remain a part of this group for many years to come.”

The Philadelphia 100 has been the hallmark of entrepreneurial achievement in the region since 1988. The project, which is run by the Wharton Small Business Development Center, The Entrepreneurs' Forum of Greater Philadelphia, and the Philadelphia Business Journal, identifies and honors the 100 fastest growing, privately held entrepreneurial companies in the Greater Philadelphia Region.  More information about the Philadelphia 100 can be found here:  www.philadelphia100.com.

SAN FRANCISCO – IObit, the expert in PC performance and PC security, today announced the launch of Driver Booster 2, a free driver updating tool for PCs. Driver Booster 2 puts emphasis up on the online databases expanding and game drivers supporting. This truly extends the power of the database for more driver updates.

In a recent user survey, nearly 40% PC users thought driver tools on the PC market should offer better coverage on the driver databases. To well meet those users' demand, Driver Booster 2 added the new feature "online databases expanding". This online database update method will make sure drivers are always the latest. Also make the entire database online not only reduced the driver installation packages for users to save more space, but also enlarged the database space to support more devices.

Driver Booster 2 added the game driver database to help users avoid of computer issues caused by outdated drivers, and improve game performance. Taking one of the driver update data in our game driver database as an example, the game performance will be increased up to 6% - 19% after updating drivers. Stronger restore options make Driver Booster 2 more humanized as well. Easily restore drivers to previous version can maximally ensure computer's security once unexpected happens. A faster download speed can reduce the time in driver scanning and downloading, also it depends on the network environments. According to users' testing on beta version, the brand-new interface makes one-click operation more vivid and succinct.

"Driver Booster 2 now supports more drivers for players, but it won't turn to another game booster," said Antonio Zhang, the Marketing director at IObit, "driver updates is still the priority among priorities. So we made the Online Database Update, better solved the time problem in detecting driver versions, and also avoid of a heavy package. We believe Driver Booster 2 will be more popular, it's more effective on the features, also with no toolbar or bundled application joined in."

Now Driver Booster 2 is available on IObit.com and Download.com. It provides full support for Window 8/8.1, Windows 7, Windows XP and Vista, also runs smoothly on Windows 10 Preview. Besides, users from French, Deutsch, Italian, Spanish as well as other 36 countries can get a localized Driver Booster 2.

About Driver Booster 2

Driver Booster 2 is an effective and easy-to-use driver updater, which analyzes outdated drivers automatically, and installs the right update for PCs with just ONE click. The newly adopted online database ensures drivers are always the latest. Moreover, it's specially designed to tweak drivers for peak gaming performance. It's the right driver update tool to protect PCs from hardware failures, conflicts, and system crashes. To download the program, please visit: http://www.iobit.com/driver-booster.php

About IObit

Founded in 2004, IObit provides consumers with innovative system utilities for Windows, Mac, and Android OS to greatly enhance their performance and protect them from security threats. IObit is a well-recognized industry leader with more than 100 awards, 200 million downloads and 10 million active users worldwide.


WARMINSTER, Pa. — Mail-Gard®, a division of IWCO Direct and one of the nation’s leading providers of critical communication recovery solutions, announced it has increased its main recovery center in Warminster, Pa. by more than 41,000-square-feet, bringing total operations at the facility to 105,000-square-feet. The additional space allows Mail-Gard to continue expanding its capabilities, while offering current customers the continuity and recovery services they rely on.

Mail-Gard has successfully grown its business by adapting to the changing disaster recovery landscape. It has experienced increased demand for its print-to-mail disaster recovery services; including customer declarations, more frequent “live testing” of disaster recovery plans, and operational recovery support.

“As businesses recognize the need for disaster recovery plans to compensate for natural disasters, human error or cyber-attacks, Mail-Gard has experienced growing demand for our disaster recovery and business continuity services,” explained Jerry Montella, executive vice president of sales and marketing at Mail-Gard. “The additional space allows Mail-Gard to grow our business while continuing to fully support current customers’ critical communications recovery needs.”


About Mail-Gard

Mail-Gard, a division of IWCO Direct, is one of the nation's leading providers of print-to-mail continuity and recovery services. With locations in Pennsylvania and Minnesota, Mail-Gard maintains fully-secured and dedicated recovery facilities that support cut sheet, continuous form, duplex, MICR and color printing as well as accumulating, folding and inserting capabilities in conjunction with on-site U.S. postal substations and warehousing. In case of any business interruption – human error, power outage, natural disaster – Mail-Gard can ensure that a company's invoices, statements and other critical documents will reach customers and vendors.