Network hub in Piatt office building requires rezoning

MONTICELLO — The Piatt County Office Building could serve as a hub for a fiber optic network being constructed in Monticello, but the county will need a zoning change before that happens.

"We're not zoned to collect rent," said county board member Randy Keith at a public meeting Tuesday to get input from residents adjacent to the building, which once housed Kirby Hospital.

UI Solar Decathlon team taking home to away game

URBANA — Designing a "net zero" solar-powered house is challenging enough without trying to do it in two languages across two continents with a 13-hour time difference.

The latest University of Illinois solar house, dubbed "Etho," is being built in conjunction with a team at Peking University for the first-ever Solar Decathlon China competition in early August.

Champaign's computer network to go down for upgrade

CHAMPAIGN — Some city services and online features will be inaccessible this week as officials upgrade their computer network to fiber.

The network will be down at all city facilities beginning at 7 a.m. Thursday and should remain that way until Monday.

During the outage, the following services are expected to be unavailable when residents visit the Champaign City Building:

UI researchers developing medical sensor for smartphones

Researchers at the University of Illinois are making smartphones even smarter in the medical field.

UI Professor Brian Cunningham and his team of engineers have made a sensor and app for the iPhone that can be used to detect things like bacteria, cells and viruses.

Monticello library gets $100,000 for digitization

MONTICELLO — The Allerton Public Library District has received a $100,000 grant from the local Robert Mulligan Trust to digitize old Piatt County newspapers and yearbooks.

A digital image is an electronic snapshot scanned from a document. The process allows for the images to be made searchable and available online.

Rich Warren: Wi-Fi all about channeling some creativity

Radio. Read it and think of your favorite station, such as WDWS or WILL. We're all familiar with the concept of a radio and its attendant reception issues. Radio actually encompasses a chunk of the electro-magnetic spectrum. We humans use it for a multitude of purposes, sharing the spectrum with radio waves generated by stars, including the sun, and Earth's natural phenomena.

High-speed frustration

CHAMPAIGN — It took three tries to a call center in Charleston before one Urbana-Champaign Big Broadband customer got much help.

On the first call, he spoke to "Jody," who bounced him to "Jane." Jane set up a 3 p.m. same-day appointment for a technician to visit and solve the customer's problem.

Nobody ever showed up.

Phones could become diagnostic tools

URBANA — Are there allergens in your food? Could you be developing heart disease?

One day, a smartphone could be used to help find out.

Educating and entertaining your kids? There's an app for that

Students in a third-grade enrichment class at Robeson Elementary in Champaign recently spent a morning dressing as book characters, acting out scenes from chapter books and thinking about setting and plot.

Apps that may be worth your children's time

A list of education apps:


BrainPop Jr.: Offers a free movie of the week, for pre-kindergartners through second-graders. Free for iPhone, iPad and Android.

Martha Speaks Storymaker: Kids ages 4 and older can write stories for Martha from the PBS show. $1.99 for iPhone and iPod Touch.