Niagara Gazette

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December 12, 2008

TECHNOLOGY: TechBits package 12/3/2008

(Continued)



The "Zicam Cold & Flu Companion" will say, for instance, that 8 percent to 14 percent of the people in your ZIP code have respiratory illnesses, representing a "Moderate" risk level. To give germophobes and hypochondriacs even more of a thrill, it also says what symptoms are common, like coughing and sore throat.

Matrixx Initiatives Inc., the Arizona company that makes products under the Zicam brand, gets the information on disease levels from Surveillance Data Inc. — which gets its data from polling health care providers and pharmacies.

Users can also ask the application about risk levels in other ZIP codes, so they can steer clear of, for instance, Atlanta, one of the five most infected cities in the nation right now, according to Zicam.

The "Companion" is available for free from the Android Marketplace, the repository of downloadable programs for the G1. Later this month, the program will be available for the iPhone, according to Matrixx.

Google Inc., which created the G1's operating system, launched its own state-by-state Web-based flu tracker recently. It's based on the number of people plugging flu-related searches into Google's search engine.

—Peter Svensson, AP Technology Writer.

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Professors aim to get students a Web analysis tool

NEW YORK (AP) — For anyone who remembers sifting through yellowed card catalogs in the library for that 10th-grade history project, the abundance of information available online is astounding — as is the task of sifting out unreliable information.

Now researchers hope to give students a method for assessing the reliability of material they find on the Internet, whether it's in Wikipedia articles, YouTube videos or blogs.

In a paper they recently presented at a teaching symposium, North Carolina State University English professor Susan Miller-Cochran and Rochelle Rodrigo, of Maricopa Community Colleges in Tempe, Ariz., suggest that students be given a sort of checklist to explore as they consider online — and offline — texts.

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