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4 days ago

Galveston News Reviews: Rosenberg Library's March Treasure

Antique Pocket Watches


Today’s watches - worn on the wrist - are increasingly high-tech, providing not only the time and date, but also GPS navigation, fitness tracking, and internet access. However, for most of history, people carried simple watches in their pockets in order to tell time. Also called “pocket clocks” pocket watches were used until WWI when the wrist watch was developed.


During the month of March, Rosenberg Library will exhibit an assortment of antique pocket watches from its museum collection.


Pocket Clocks


By the late 1400s, small, spring-driven clocks were being manufactured in Italy and Germany. The earliest European watches only had an hour hand; the minute hand did not appear until the late 1600s. Typically, the watch face was covered by a hinged brass plate rather than with glass. These watches were often worn on a chain around a neck, and only later were watches carried in a pocket. Pocket watches were usually attached to a chain to prevent them from being dropped or broken.


Pocket Watch Styles


There are three main types of pocket watches: open-face, hunter, and demi-hunter. An open-face watch lacks a protective cover over the crystal but is covered by a thick piece of glass. Conversely, hunter watches have a thin glass face but are protected by a metal cover which opens with a springed hinge. This keeps the watch from getting dirty or scratched. A demi-hunter also has a springed hinge cover, but it features a glass panel on the outer cover so that the time can be read without opening it. Cases for pocket watches were most often made from metal, though less durable ceramic and glass cases were also manufactured.


American Watch Makers


Although early Americans owned watches imported from Europe, pocket watches were not manufactured in America until the 1830s. Even then, American-made watches were only produced on a small scale and many people could not afford to purchase them. However, by the mid-1850s, innovative American companies (including Elgin, Waltham, and Hamilton) had developed machine-made, interchangeable watch parts and had begun to utilize assembly-line production. This enabled American watch makers to offer mass-produced watches at a low price to consumers.


In 1896, the mail order firm of R.H. Ingersoll and Bros. began selling wholesale watches for $1 apiece. Dubbed “The Watch that Made the Dollar Famous” Ingersoll’s dollar watches became wildly popular and within 20 years, 40 million units had been sold. Despite this initial success, Ingersoll and Bros. declared bankruptcy in 1921 during the post WWI recession.


For higher-end consumers, the iconic American jewelry firm Tiffany and Co. also produced pocket watches. Tiffany partnered with Patek Phillipe, a prestigious Swiss watchmaking firm which produced a line of luxury, handcrafted watches for the Tiffany brand in its Geneva factory.


The Emergence of the Wristwatch


During WWI, the trench watch was developed. This was a transitional design combining elements of both the pocket watch and the wrist watch. Military personnel found it more convenient to wear a watch on the wrist than to carry it in a pocket. This trend spread to the general public, and by the 1940s, wrist watches had become the much preferred timekeeping accessory.

1 week ago

Galveston News: Researchers Find New Gene Interaction Associated With Increased MS Risk

A person carrying variants of two particular genes could be almost three times more likely to develop multiple sclerosis, according to the latest findings from scientists at The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston and Duke University Medical Center.


One of these variants is in IL7R, a gene previously associated with MS, and the other in DDX39B, a gene not previously connected to the disease. 


The discovery could open the way to the development of more accurate tests to identify those at greatest risk of MS, and possibly other autoimmune disorders, the researchers said. 


The findings are published in the latest issue of Cell.


A disease in which the body’s own immune system attacks nerve cells in the spinal cord and brain, MS is a major cause of neurological disease in younger adults, from 20 to 50 years of age, and disproportionally affects women. While treatable, there is no cure for MS, which can lead to problems with vision, muscle control, balance, basic body functions, among other symptoms, and could lead to disability.


Available treatments have adverse side effects as they focus on slowing the progression of the disease through suppression of the immune system.


Thanks to the collaboration between scientists at UTMB, Duke, University of California, Berkeley, and Case Western Reserve University, researchers found that when two particular DNA variants in the DDX39B and IL7R genes are present in a person’s genetic code, their interaction can lead to an over production of a protein, sIL7R. That protein’s interactions with the body’s immune system plays an important, but not completely understood, role in MS.  


“Our study identifies an interaction with a known MS risk gene to unlock a new MS candidate gene, and in doing so, open up a novel mechanism that is associated with the risk of multiple sclerosis and other autoimmune diseases,” said Simon Gregory, director of Genomics and Epigenetics at the Duke Molecular Physiology Institute at Duke University Medical Center and co-lead author of the paper in Cell.


This new information has potentially important applications.


“We can use this information at hand to craft tests that could allow earlier and more accurate diagnoses of multiple sclerosis, and uncover new avenues to expand the therapeutic toolkit to fight MS, and perhaps other autoimmune disorders,” said Gaddiel Galarza-Muñoz, first author on the study and postdoctoral fellow at UTMB.


It can sometimes take years before an MS patient is properly diagnosed allowing the diseases to progress and resulting in further damage to the nervous system before treatment begins.  


With more accurate measures of risk, health care providers would be able to screen individuals with family histories of MS or with other suspicious symptoms. It could lead those with certain genotypes to be more vigilant. 


“One could envision how this type of knowledge will someday lead to diagnose multiple sclerosis sooner and, now that we have promising therapies, a doctor could start the appropriate treatment more quickly. It is not out the realm of possibility to imagine a path for screening for other autoimmune diseases such as Type 1 Diabetes,” said Dr. Mariano Garcia-Blanco, Professor and Chair of the department of biochemistry and molecular biology at UTMB, and co-lead author of the paper.


For Garcia-Blanco the fight against MS is personal. He was already working on research related to MS when in 2012 he found out his daughter, then in her late 20s, had been diagnosed with the disease. Garcia-Blanco said this refocused his efforts on his MS related work.


“I’m much more aware now of how the work we do in the lab could someday lead to something that can be used to help those who have to live with MS”, Garcia-Blanco said.


Other study authors include Farren B.S. Briggs, Irina Evsyukova, Geraldine Schott-Lerner, Edward M. Kennedy, Tinashe Nyanhete, Liuyang Wang, Laura Bergamaschi, Steven G. Widen, Georgia D. Tomaras, Dennis C. Ko, Shelton S. Bradrick and Lisa F. Barcellos.


The research was supported by the National Institutes of Health, National MS Society Pilot Award, Duke University Whitehead Scholarship, Ruth and A. Morris Williams Faculty Research Prize funds from Duke University School of Medicine, start-up funds from UTMB and funds from Mr. Herman Stone and family for MS research.

2 months ago

Careconnect Health Insurance Group Review: How Much Water Do You Really Need?

Google “how much water should I drink each day,” and you get upwards of six million hits -- half of them, probably, telling you to drink eight 8-ounce glasses every day and the other half telling you to ignore that advice. Here’s the good news: Most healthy people drink enough water and other liquids by simply responding to their thirst (which is the first sign of dehydration), says Nancy Copperman, RD, assistant vice president of public health and community partnerships for Northwell Health. Still, Copperman says, people do make a number of common mistakes when it comes to staying hydrated in the heat. Here are her rules for healthy summer drinking:


1. Eight isn’t enough.


The eight-by-eight rule (eight 8-ounce glasses of water daily) may be easy to remember, but the current recommendations for daily fluid intake from the Institute of Medicine are actually even higher: about 13 cups a day for men and 9 cups a day for women. That may sound like a lot, but it becomes less daunting if you spread your liquid refreshment throughout the day -- definitely the best way to do it, says Copperman.


2. Your needs change with the weather (and your altitude…and other factors).


Think of the IOM recommendation as a baseline, but know that you may need to drink extra if you’re exercising, or if you’re in a hot or humid environment. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should also get additional fluids, as should anyone at a high altitude. “If you live on Long Island and you’re vacationing in the mountains, you should drink more than you normally would,” says Copperman.


3. Tea and coffee count toward your total...


“We used to think that coffee and tea were dehydrating because caffeine is a diuretic,” says Copperman, “but studies have found it really doesn’t have a major effect.” So it’s fine to drink coffee and tea as part of your daily fluid intake. Just make sure you’re not only drinking caffeinated beverages throughout the day, because that can cause other health issues. And limit milk and sugar, which add calories.


4. …but steer clear of soda.


Yes, soda is a tasty way to rehydrate – but it’s a major source of empty calories. What’s more, studies have shown that a habit of drinking soda or other sweetened beverages raises your risk of diabetes. If you’re engaging in strenuous activity for more than 30 minutes, a sports drink containing electrolytes and a modest amount of sugar can be helpful. In general, though, your best defense against dehydration is water.


5. Tired of drinking? Try eating your water.


Watermelon is about 92% water, according to the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine – and cucumber has it beat at 97% water. Even fruits and veggies that are less obviously water-logged, like cauliflower and spinach, can be good sources of H2O. So are liquid-based foods like soups, puddings, and popsicles. Want to get your fluid the trendy way? Coconuts are a hydration gem, says Copperman. She recommends plain coconut water (with no sugar added). Not only does it contain electrolytes like potassium, it has a naturally sweet taste. To your health!

3 months ago

Security and Risk Online: The rising threat of mobile malware

Cath's day was like any other - until she picked up her phone. It was dead except for a spinning penguin on its screen. 


Her phone was locked and trapped inside was a year's worth of irreplaceable photos, messages, appointments and contacts. 


For Cath this proved devastating: "I thought I had everything saved to the SIM, but that had been completely stripped of all information, photos, contacts, and texts. The photos in particular were the hardest loss to bear."


Sending her phone to her telco proved fruitless - they were unable to fix it. It wasn't a hardware failure. The only option that made any sense was malware, malicious software that is used to disrupt devices.


Mobile malware is becoming more commonplace both in New Zealand and overseas. 


Mark Gorrie, Symantec's Australasian manager, said ransomware attacks (which sees PCs smartphones and other devices encrypted and locked until a fee gets paid) has increased by 163 per cent in the last 12 months.


Our part of the world is the third-most targeted region for ransomware attacks.


According to Symantec, cyber-crime is also growing. Identity thefts happen on average every two seconds. 


Cybercrime affected 668 million people from 21 countries this year. Phishing attacks and other cyber-fraud cost US$126 billion globally last year.


Phones are increasingly targeted by cyber criminals as more people use them for online shopping. 


The trouble is, it can difficult to tell if a website is genuine with a mobile browser and it can be easy to click an innocent-looking link or advert that then installs malware on your phone. 


Vodafone offers six tips to avoid malware.


•    Only install applications from official app stores: If you own an Android device, you can set it to only allow authorised apps to be download from the Google Play store. Apple devices only allow apps from its store.
•    Do not jailbreak/root your device as this exposes it to threats.
•    Do not use the same username/passwords across all your apps or sites.
•    Ensure your device has a  password or PIN enabled. If it has a fingerprint scanner, use it
•    Keep the operating system up to date. Doing so ensures your device gets protected against any current vulnerabilities that could be exploited by malware.
•    Install mobile a security app (it'll detect and block malware) as well as a cloud-based photo app which will back up photos so they're not lost should your phone be stolen/broken or hacked.


One option as a security app is Symantec's latest version of Norton Mobile Security.


It can protect up to five devices so it should cover an entire household's PCs, smartphones and tablets.


The app offers basic malware protection at no cost but to get more advanced protection if you pay an annual fee of $99.


The free version includes antivirus/malware/spyware detection and removal, anti-theft capabilities, web protection plus call blocking.


The paid version features App Advisor which checks out apps installed on your phone and vets apps before you install them.

3 months ago

Online Security: ‘No refund if you lose money to cyber fraud through your fault’

Losing money to a cyber fraud may not earn you a refund from your bank if proven that you were at fault in the transaction, a consumer forum ruled recently.


The Additional Thane District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum last week dismissed a complaint by a Navi Mumbai couple, stating that they had not taken due care in handling their bank account.


The couple had filed the complaint against a multi-national private bank, alleging that it was responsible for fraudulent transfer of money from their account. The complaint stated that the couple was deceived by a fraudster who used the bank’s name. When they brought this to the attention of the bank, they did not receive a positive response, which constituted a deficiency in service, they claimed.


According to the complaint, the couple, who had a joint NRI account, received text messages from the bank informing them of four withdrawals from their account, which they did not make. When they tried to log in to their account to change the user ID for Internet banking, they found the password changed. The couple immediately informed the bank and asked them to disable their net banking facility and debit card. A complaint too was made with the bank and an FIR lodged with the cyber cell of the Mumbai police and the local Rabale police station. The cyber police investigated and found who the money had been transferred to, the plea stated. The bank, however, did not give a positive response to their complaint, it added.


“On perusal of the complaint, it appears that the complainant received a mail allegedly from the opposite party and he clicked on the link mentioned in the said mail and furnished details about his user id and password and other details as were asked in the email. Thereafter, the fraudster carried out fraudulent transactions,” the order states.


“It is apparent that the complainant has not been diligent in his operations related to banking and has given his user id and password to the fraudster/hacker on his own. The opposite party, the bank, always reminded its customers never to share user id and passwords of their bank accounts with anyone to prevent any unauthorised access to bank accounts,” the forum states, adding that the complainant had therefore given up protection to his bank account by giving the details to the fraudster. The forum dismissed the plea stating it was not maintainable.

4 months ago

Tyre&Auto Southbourne Group: Properly taking care of your car is beneficial

Keeping the good condition of your car requires regular maintenance, and if repair is needed, it should be done correctly to make sure of the safety of everyone concerned. Tyre&Auto Southbourne Group suggests that you maintain the safety standards of your car and ensure that it is always in perfect running condition.


Knowing how to brake a car properly usually comes first before learning how to move it forward or backward, which indicates that a person should be responsible for his or her own protection as well as of other people. Tyre&Auto also views this as an essential aspect of driving a car.


The local residents of South Coast of Hampshire trust the automobile services of Tyre&Auto Southbourne Group – a family-operated company that has a great background in trading car accessories and parts. They offer services such as car servicing, tyres, brake checks, MOT’s and free seasonal tune-ups and check-ups.


Need quick tyre fitting? Tyre&Auto caters online transactions that can deliver fast tyre quotation. They can provide local collect and delivery of your car with high-quality maintenance and repair. How about an MOT test? Tyre&Auto also has it wherein it involves checking the safety of your car and the amount of exhaust emission.


The company also provides necessary assistance to your annual MOT certificate requirements through their regular reminders, which includes the due of your test, to ensure that you will renew your road tax and car insurance at the right time.


Ease, mobility, personal comfort as well as financial returns are some of the benefits of owning a car, but such vehicle can also provide emotional or psychological benefits to an individual or a family. With this in mind, Tyre&Auto Southbourne Group will continue to provide trustworthy services to their customers and will make sure that they will only deliver the best automobile services to them.

5 months ago

Security and Risk Online: Fake Retail Apps Are Surging Before Holidays

Hundreds of fake retail and product apps have popped up in Apple’s App Store in recent weeks — just in time to deceive holiday shoppers.


The counterfeiters have masqueraded as retail chains like Dollar Tree and Foot Locker, big department stores like Dillard’s and Nordstrom, online product bazaars like and Polyvore, and luxury-goods makers like Jimmy Choo, Christian Dior and Salvatore Ferragamo.


“We’re seeing a barrage of fake apps,” said Chris Mason, chief executive of Branding Brand, a Pittsburgh company that helps retailers build and maintain apps. He said his company constantly tracks new shopping apps, and this was the first time it had seen so many counterfeit iPhone apps emerge in a short period of time.


Some of them appeared to be relatively harmless — essentially junk apps that served up annoying pop-up ads, he said.


But there are serious risks to using a fake app. Entering credit card information opens a customer to potential financial fraud. Some fake apps contain malware that can steal personal information or even lock the phone until the user pays a ransom. And some fakes encourage users to log in using their Facebook credentials, potentially exposing sensitive personal information.


The rogue apps, most of which came from developers in China, slipped through Apple’s process for reviewing every app before it is published.


That scrutiny, which Apple markets as an advantage over Google’s less restrictive Android smartphone platform, is supposed to stop any software that is deceitful, that improperly uses another company’s intellectual property or that poses harm to consumers.


In practice, however, Apple focuses more on blocking malicious software and does not routinely examine the thousands of apps submitted to the iTunes store every day to see if they are legitimately associated with the brand names listed on them.


With apps becoming more popular as a way to shop, it is up to brands and developers themselves to watch for fakes and report them, much as they scan for fake websites, said Ben Reubenstein, chief executive of Possible Mobile, a Denver company that makes apps for JetBlue Airways, the PGA Tour and the Pokémon Company, among others.


“It’s important that brands monitor how their name is being used,” he said.


Apple removed hundreds of fake apps on Thursday night after The New York Times inquired about the specific app vendors that created many of them. Other apps were removed after a New York Post article last week drew attention to some of the counterfeits.


“We strive to offer customers the best experience possible, and we take their security very seriously,” said an Apple spokesman, Tom Neumayr. “We’ve set up ways for customers and developers to flag fraudulent or suspicious apps, which we promptly investigate to ensure the App Store is safe and secure. We’ve removed these offending apps and will continue to be vigilant about looking for apps that might put our users at risk.”


In September, Apple also embarked on a campaign to review all two million apps in the App Store and remove “apps that no longer function as intended, don’t follow current review guidelines or are outdated.” The company says that a significant number of apps have been removed and that the review is continuing.


Despite Apple’s efforts, new fake apps appear every day. In some cases, developers change the content of an app after it has been approved by Apple’s monitors. In other instances, the counterfeiters change their names and credentials, and resubmit similar apps after one round of fakes is discovered.