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Microsoft Cheaper To Use Than Open Source Software, UK CIO Says

Unknown Lamer posted about 6 months ago | from the cliche-about-free-time dept.

United Kingdom 589

colinneagle (2544914) writes "Jos Creese, CIO of the Hampshire County Council, told Britain's 'Computing' publication that part of the reason is that most staff are already familiar with Microsoft products and that Microsoft has been flexible and more helpful. 'Microsoft has been flexible and helpful in the way we apply their products to improve the operation of our frontline services, and this helps to de-risk ongoing cost,' he told the publication. 'The point is that the true cost is in the total cost of ownership and exploitation, not just the license cost.' Creese went on to say he didn't have a particular bias about open source over Microsoft, but proprietary solutions from Microsoft or any other commercial software vendor 'need to justify themselves and to work doubly hard to have flexible business models to help us further our aims.'"

Students Remember Lectures Better Taking Notes Longhand Than Using Laptops

Unknown Lamer posted about 6 months ago | from the blame-keyboards dept.

Education 191

Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes "Walk into any university lecture hall and you're likely to see row upon row of students sitting behind glowing laptop screens. Laptops in class have been controversial, due mostly to the many opportunities for distraction that they provide (online shopping, browsing Reddit, or playing solitaire, just to name a few). But few studies have examined how effective laptops are for the students who diligently take notes. Now Robinson Meyer writes at The Atlantic that a new study finds that people remember lectures better when they've taken handwritten notes, rather than typed ones. The research suggests that even when laptops are used solely to take notes, they may still be impairing learning because their use results in shallower processing. 'Our new findings suggest that even when laptops are used as intended — and not for buying things on Amazon during class — they may still be harming academic performance,' says psychological scientist Pam Mueller of Princeton University, lead author of the study. Laptop note takers' tendency to transcribe lectures verbatim rather than processing information and reframing it in their own words is detrimental to learning. If you can type quickly enough, word-for-word transcription is possible, whereas writing by hand usually rules out capturing every word. 'We don't write longhand as fast as we type these days, but people who were typing just tended to transcribe large parts of lecture content verbatim,' says Mueller. 'The people who were taking notes on the laptops don't have to be judicious in what they write down.'"

The Feds Accidentally Mailed Part of A $350K Drone To Some College Kid

Unknown Lamer posted about 6 months ago | from the finders-keepers dept.

Government 157

Jason Koebler (3528235) writes "A Redditor got more than he bargained for in the mail today: He was accidentally mailed parts to a $350,000 environment and wildlife monitoring drone owned by the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration. 'We sent a set of about eight boxes for this one aircraft system, and one was misdelivered by UPS. We're working with UPS to find it,' the federal agency says."

Sony Warns Demand For Blu-Ray Diminishing Faster Than Expected

Unknown Lamer posted about 7 months ago | from the can-we-just-have-emusic-for-video-already dept.

Data Storage 477

Lucas123 (935744) writes "Sony has warned investors that it expects to take a hit on expected earnings (PDF), due in part to the fact that demand for Blu-ray Disc media is contracting faster than anticipated. In two weeks, Sony will announce its financial results. The company expects to post a net loss. Sony's warning is in line with other industry indicators, such as a report released earlier this year by Generator Research showed revenue from DVD and Blu-ray sales will likely decrease by 38% over the next four years. By comparison, online movie revenue is expected to grow 260% from $3.5 billion this year to $12.7 billion in 2018, the report states. Paul Gray, director of TV Electronics & Europe TV Research at market research firm DisplaySearch, said consumers are now accustomed to the instant availability of online media, and 'the idea of buying a physical copy seems quaint if you're under 25.'" Especially when those copies come with awful DRM.

Chernobyl's Sarcophagus, Redux

samzenpus posted about 7 months ago | from the looking-back dept.

Earth 121

Lasrick (2629253) writes "With the news that a multinational consortium is to the halfway point in constructing a huge stainless steel hangar that will sit over the ruined site of the Chernobyl nuclear reactor, Dan Drollette looks in the archives of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists and compares notes on the sarcophagus that was built 25 years ago, and the one that is being built now. 'No one really knows what went into the "concrete cube;" even the amount of concrete claimed to have been used is suspect, as it would form a volume larger than the sarcophagus, wrote nuclear engineer and author Alexander R. Sich in his 11-page article, "Truth was an early casualty."' Let's hope this new sarcophagus lasts longer."

US Government To Study Bitcoin As Possible Terrorist Threat

samzenpus posted about 7 months ago | from the taking-a-good-look dept.

Bitcoin 210

randomErr (172078) writes "The US Department of Defense is investigating whether Bitcoin and other virtual currencies are a potential terrorist threat. The Combating Terrorism Technical Support Office (CTTSO), a division within DOD that identifies and develops counter terrorism abilities and investigates irregular warfare and evolving threats, has listed Bitcoin among its topics for research and mission critical analysis related to terrorism."

Book Review: Extending Bootstrap

samzenpus posted about 7 months ago | from the read-all-about-it dept.

Books 27

First time accepted submitter ericnishio (3641743) writes "Extending Bootstrap is a concise, step by step manual that introduces some of the best practices on how to customize Twitter Bootstrap for your projects. As the title suggests, you will be learning how to extract the good parts of Bootstrap to create a fully customized package. But be advised: the book is not for beginners." Read below for ericnishio's review.

Mozilla Offers FCC a Net Neutrality Plan With a Twist

samzenpus posted about 7 months ago | from the how-about-this? dept.

United States 123

An anonymous reader writes "The Mozilla Foundation is filing a petition asking the FCC to declare that ISPs are common carriers, with a twist. 'The FCC doesn't have to reclassify the Internet access ISPs offer consumers as a telecommunications service subject to common carrier regulations under Title II of the Communications Act, Mozilla says. Instead, the FCC should target the service ISPs offer to edge providers like Netflix and Dropbox, who need to send their bits over ISP networks to reach their customers. Classifying the ISP/edge provider relationship as a common carrier service will be a little cleaner since the FCC wouldn't have to undo several decade-old orders that classified broadband as an "information" service rather than telecommunications, Mozilla argues.'" Here's the Mozilla blog post and the 13-page petition.

California City Considers Restarting Desalination Plant To Fight Drought

samzenpus posted about 7 months ago | from the water-water-everywhere dept.

Earth 420

First time accepted submitter SaraLast (3619459) writes in with news about Santa Barbara considering the restart of its desalination plant. "This seaside city thought it had the perfect solution the last time California withered in a severe drought more than two decades ago: Tap the ocean to turn salty seawater to fresh water. The $34 million desalination plant was fired up for only three months and mothballed after a miracle soaking of rain. As the state again grapples with historic dryness, the city nicknamed the "American Riviera" has its eye on restarting the idled facility to hedge against current and future droughts. "We were so close to running out of water during the last drought. It was frightening," said Joshua Haggmark, interim water resources manager. "Desalination wasn't a crazy idea back then." Removing salt from ocean water is not a far-out idea, but it's no quick drought-relief option. It takes years of planning and overcoming red tape to launch a project. Santa Barbara is uniquely positioned with a desalination plant in storage. But getting it humming again won't be as simple as flipping a switch."

Ask Stewart Brand About Protecting Resources and Reviving Extinct Species

samzenpus posted about 7 months ago | from the go-ahead-and-ask dept.

Earth 59

samzenpus (5) writes "Stewart Brand trained as a biologist at Stanford, was associated with Ken Kesey and the "Merry Pranksters", and served as an Infantry officer in the U.S. Army. His books include Whole Earth Discipline: The Rise of Ecopragmatism, The Clock of the Long Now, How Buildings Learn, and The Media Lab. He is the founder/editor of the Whole Earth Catalog, the co-founder of The Long Now Foundation, The WELL, and the Global Business Network. His latest project, Revive & Restore, may be his most ambitious yet. Revive and Restore aims to bring back extinct species and provide genetic rescue for endangered species that are spiraling down with inbreeding problems. Mr. Brand has agreed to answer any questions you may have but please limit yourself to one question per post."

Kerry Says US Is On the "Right Side of History" When It Comes To Online Freedom

samzenpus posted about 7 months ago | from the everything-is-good dept.

United States 261

An anonymous reader writes "Addressing the audience at the Freedom Online Coalition Conference, Secretary of State John Kerry defended NSA snooping actions saying: 'Let me be clear – as in the physical space, cyber security cannot come at the expense of cyber privacy. And we all know this is a difficult challenge. But I am serious when I tell you that we are committed to discussing it in an absolutely inclusive and transparent manner, both at home and abroad. As President Obama has made clear, just because we can do something doesn't mean that we should do it. And that's why he ordered a thorough review of all our signals intelligence practices. And that's why he then, after examining it and debating it and openly engaging in a conversation about it, which is unlike most countries on the planet, he announced a set of concrete and meaningful reforms, including on electronic surveillance, in a world where we know there are terrorists and others who are seeking to do injury to all of us. And finally, transparency – the principles governing such activities need to be understood so that free people can debate them and play their part in shaping these choices. And we believe these principles can positively help us to distinguish the legitimate practices of states governed by the rule of law from the legitimate practices of states that actually use surveillance to repress their people. And while I expect you to hold the United States to the standards that I've outlined, I also hope that you won't let the world forget the places where those who hold their government to standards go to jail rather than win prizes.' He added: 'This debate is about two very different visions: one vision that respects freedom and another that denies it. All of you at the Freedom Online Coalition are on the right side of this debate, and now we need to make sure that all of us together wind up on the right side of history."

Scientists Race To Develop Livestock That Can Survive Climate Change

timothy posted about 7 months ago | from the just-need-to-outrun-you dept.

Earth 291

Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes "Evan Halper writes in the LA Times that with efforts to reduce carbon emissions lagging, researchers, backed by millions of dollars from the federal government, are looking for ways to protect key industries from the impact of climate change by racing to develop new breeds of farm animals that can stand up to the hazards of global warming. ""We are dealing with the challenge of difficult weather conditions at the same time we have to massively increase food production" to accommodate larger populations and a growing demand for meat, says Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. For example a team of researchers is trying to map the genetic code of bizarre-looking African naked-neck chickens to see if their ability to withstand heat can be bred into flocks of US broilers. "The game is changing since the climate is changing," says Carl Schmidt. "We have to start now to anticipate what changes we have to make in order to feed 9 billion people," citing global-population estimates for 2050." (More below.)

ISS Studies Show Bacteria From Earth Could Colonize Mars

timothy posted about 7 months ago | from the let's-get-this-process-underway dept.

Mars 103

As reported by Tech Times, research conducted aboard the ISS has shown that Earth bacteria could survive the rigors of travel to Mars better than might be expected. "Research into bacterial colonization on the red planet was not part of the plan to terraform the alien world ahead of human occupation. Instead, three teams investigated how to prevent microbes from Earth from hitching a ride to the red planet aboard spacecraft. It is nearly impossible to remove all biological contaminants from equipment headed to other planets. By better understanding what organisms can survive in space or on the surfaces of other worlds, mission planners can learn which forms of microscopic life to concentrate on during the sanitation process. 'If you are able to reduce the numbers to acceptable levels, a proxy for cleanliness, the assumption is that the life forms will not survive under harsh space conditions,' Kasthuri Venkateswaran of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and co-author of all three papers, said."

Finally, Hi-Def Streaming Video of the ISS's View of Earth

timothy posted about 7 months ago | from the extra-monitor-over-the-crib dept.

Earth 97

An anonymous reader writes with a snippet from ExtremeTech: "After being continuously inhabited for more than 13 years, it is finally possible to log into Ustream and watch the Earth spinning on its axis in glorious HD. This video feed [embedded at ExtremeTech] comes from from four high-definition cameras, delivered by last month's SpaceX CRS-3 resupply mission, that are attached to the outside of the International Space Station. You can open up the Ustream page at any time, and as long as it isn't night time aboard the ISS, you'll be treated to a beautiful view of the Earth from around 250 miles (400 km) up."

Linus Torvalds Receives IEEE Computer Pioneer Award

timothy posted about 7 months ago | from the what's-that-guy-done-anyhow dept.

Open Source 141

mikejuk (1801200) writes "Linus Torvalds, the 'man who invented Linux' is the 2014 recipient of the IEEE Computer Society's Computer Pioneer Award, '[f]or pioneering development of the Linux kernel using the open-source approach.' According to Wikipedia, Torvalds had wanted to call the kernel he developed Freax (a combination of 'free,' 'freak,' and the letter X to indicate that it is a Unix-like system), but his friend Ari Lemmke, who administered the FTP server it was first hosted for download, named Torvalds' directory linux. In some ways Git can be seen as his more important contribution — but as it dates from 2005 it is outside the remit of the IEEE Computer Pioneer award."

Let's Call It 'Climate Disruption,' White House Science Adviser Suggests (Again)

timothy posted about 7 months ago | from the let's-just-settle-on-nuclear-winter dept.

Earth 568

sciencehabit (1205606) writes "First there was 'global warming.' Then many researchers suggested 'climate change' was a better term. Now, White House science adviser John Holdren is renewing his call for a new nomenclature to describe the end result of dumping vast quantities of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases into Earth's atmosphere: 'global climate disruption.'"

Is There a Limit To a Laser's Energy?

timothy posted about 7 months ago | from the of-course-there-isn't dept.

Shark 135

StartsWithABang (3485481) writes "For normal matter — things like protons, neutrons and electrons — there's a fundamental limit to the number of particles you can fit into a given region of space thanks to the Pauli exclusion principle. But photons aren't subject to that limit; in theory, you could cram an infinite number of them into the same exact state. In principle, then, couldn't you create a laser (or lasing cavity) with an infinite amount of energy inside? Perhaps, but there are some big challenges to be overcome!"

How To Find Nearby Dark Skies, No Matter Where You Are

timothy posted about 7 months ago | from the look-for-the-planetarium-signs dept.

Space 55

StartsWithABang (3485481) writes "For those of us living in or around large cities — and that's most of us — we're completely divorced from dark, clear night skies as part of our routine experience. But even though our skies may typically rate a seven or higher on the Bortle Dark Sky Scale, that doesn't mean that significantly darker skies aren't accessible. Here's how to install an interactive light pollution map for yourself, and find the darkest skies near you no matter where you are! (North American-centric, but resources are provided for those elsewhere in the world.)"

Ask Slashdot: Which VHS Player To Buy?

timothy posted about 7 months ago | from the and-which-8-track dept.

Media 201

stkpogo (799773) writes "I have several old VHS tapes that I'd like to digitize but my old VHS machine died years ago. What's a good VHS player to get so I can make nice clean digital videos from my old tapes before they're gone? I have a few TV -> USB adapters." How would you go about this, especially with tapes (like old home movies) you might be worried about sticking into a low-end VCR? And with what number of tapes does it make sense to outsource the digitizing?

Kids To Get the Best CS Teachers $15/Hr Can Buy

timothy posted about 7 months ago | from the what-about-great-volunteers dept.

The Almighty Buck 157

theodp (442580) writes "Billionaire-backed Code.org, enthusiastically tweets U.S. Dept. of Education Chief Arne Duncan, is 'providing tremendous leadership in bringing coding & computer science to our nation's schools.' Including bringing kids in Broward County Public Schools the best computer science teachers $15.00-an-hour can buy, according to a document on the school district's website. One wonders how the Broward teachers feel about Code.org apparently coughing up $38.33-an-hour for Chicago teachers who attend the required Code.org professional development, which ironically covers equity issues. Duncan's shout-out comes days after Code.org claimed in its Senate testimony that 'our students have voted with their actions [participating in an hour-long, Angry Birds-themed Blockly tutorial starring Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates]: that learning computer science is this generation's Sputnik moment, that it's part of the new American Dream, and that it should be available to every student, in every school, as part of the standard curriculum.'"

VHS-Era Privacy Law Still Causing Headaches For Streaming Video

timothy posted about 7 months ago | from the again-with-the-like-button dept.

Privacy 62

jfruh (300774) writes "The Video Privacy Protection Act, a 1988 law that made it illegal for a video store to share your rental history, has thrown up roadblocks for modern-day streaming video sites. Last year Congress amended the law to make it possible for you to share your Netflix viewing history with your social media friends, as long as you opt in. But what does "opting in" entail? Hulu is now on the receiving end of a lawsuit over the fact that clicking the Facebook "like" button on a viewing page shares that viewing activity on Facebook."

Steve Jobs Defied Convention, and Perhaps the Law

timothy posted about 7 months ago | from the howso-perhaps? dept.

Businesses 311

Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes "James B. Stewart writes in the NYT that recent revelations that Steve Jobs was the driving force in a conspiracy to prevent competitors from poaching employees raises the question: If Steve Jobs were alive today, should he be in jail? Jobs 'was a walking antitrust violation. I'm simply astounded by the risks he seemed willing to take,' says Herbert Hovenkamp, a professor at the University of Iowa College of Law and an expert in antitrust law. 'Didn't he have lawyers advising him? You see this kind of behavior sometimes in small, private or family-run companies, but almost never in large public companies like Apple.' In 2007, Jobs threatened Palm with patent litigation unless Palm agreed not to recruit Apple employees, even though Palm's then-chief executive, Edward Colligan, told him that such a plan was 'likely illegal.' That same year, Jobs wrote Eric E. Schmidt, the chief executive of Google at the time, 'I would be extremely pleased if Google would stop doing this,' referring to its efforts to recruit an Apple engineer. When Jobs learned that the Google recruiter who contacted the Apple employee would be 'fired within the hour,' he responded with a smiley face. 'How could anyone have approved that?' says Hovenkamp. 'Any competent antitrust counsel would know that's illegal. And they had to know they'd get caught eventually.'" (Read more, below.)

Free Can Make You Bleed: the Underresourced Open Source

timothy posted about 7 months ago | from the superheroes-of-the-real-world dept.

Security 175

jones_supa (887896) writes "After the Heartbleed fiasco, John Walsh brings attention to the lack of proper manpower and funding to run various open source projects. Free is not usually a bad thing, but it can be when it causes the software your business depends on to be under resourced. 'OpenSSL for example is largely staffed by one fulltime developer and a number of part-time volunteer developers. The total labor pool for OpenSSL maybe adds up to two fulltime developers. Think about it, OpenSSL only has two people to write, maintain, test, and review 500,000 lines of business critical code. Half of these developers have other things to do.' Theo de Raadt has also spoken about too much donations coming from the little people instead of companies, and not too long ago even the OpenBSD project almost couldn't pay its power bills. Walsh goes on to ponder security of open source software, the 'many eyes' phenomenon, dedicating people to review code, and quality control."

Pirate Bay Sports-Content Uploader Faces $32m Lawsuit

timothy posted about 7 months ago | from the a-matter-of-scale dept.

Piracy 149

As reported by TorrentFreak, a New York man's large-scale pirating of Ultimate Fighting Championship videos via The Pirate Bay and KickassTorrents has landed him on the uncomfortable end of a $32 million lawsuit. From the article: "Known online as Secludedly, the man uploaded at least 124 events. As a result UFC parent Zuffa is hitting him with everything from copyright infringement, to fraud, to breach of contract. ... The lawsuit, which includes two other doe defendants and an unknown company Zuffa refers to as XYZ Corp (“a business entity, the exact nature of which is unknown”), centers around the unlawful recording (“capping”), uploading and distribution of more than 120 UFC events via two of the world’s biggest torrent sites. ... Also receiving a prominent mention from Zuffa is the fact that Secludedly allowed people to donate via a PayPal in order to help with the financing of future ripping and uploading activities."

Reason Suggests DoJ Closing Porn Stars' Bank Accounts

timothy posted about 7 months ago | from the moral-crisis dept.

The Almighty Buck 548

MouseTheLuckyDog (2752443) writes "In a recent story on reason.com it was reported that the DoJ is closing down the bank accounts of porn stars. Not knowing the site I googled around and found another site, the Guardian. The story does not end there. It turns out that this is part of a larger scheme (ironically) called Operation Choke Point. Also reported in a Washington Post article that downplays the practice. According to Cryptocoin news. There are thirty industries the DoJ is now targeteting: Ammunition Sales; Cable Box De-scramblers; Coin Dealers; Credit Card Schemes; Credit Repair Services; Dating Services; Debt Consolidation Scams; Drug Paraphernalia; Escort Services; Firearms Sales; Fireworks Sales; Get Rich Products; Government Grants; Home-Based Charities; Life-Time Guarantees; Life-Time Memberships; Lottery Sales; Mailing Lists/Personal Info; Money Transfer Networks; On-line Gambling; PayDay Loans; Pharmaceutical Sales; Ponzi Schemes; Pornography; Pyramid-Type Sales; Racist Materials; Surveillance Equipment; Telemarketing; Tobacco Sales; and Travel Clubs. But more can be added. (I notice alcohol sales is not on the list)." The Reason article stops short of saying that Choke Point is proven to be the reason for the account closures, but it seems very plausible.

Washington Files First Consumer Protection Lawsuit Over Kickstarter Fraud

Soulskill posted about 7 months ago | from the reckoning-comes-due dept.

The Courts 47

An anonymous reader writes "In 2012, a card game called Asylum was successfully funded on Kickstarter. Two months later, its expected delivery date came and passed without a product. In July 2013, the company behind the game stopped communicating with backers. Now, the Washington state Attorney General has filed a consumer protection lawsuit against the makers. This is the first time a project from a crowdfunding site has been the target of such a lawsuit. The AG said, 'Consumers need to be aware that crowdfunding is not without risk. This lawsuit sends a clear message to people seeking the public's money: Washington state will not tolerate crowdfunding theft. The Attorney General's Office will hold those accountable who don't play by the rules.' Here's the legal document (PDF)."

Talking To the Public: the Biggest Enemy To Reducing Greenhouse Emissions

Soulskill posted about 7 months ago | from the none-of-us-are-as-dumb-as-all-of-us dept.

Earth 324

Lasrick writes: "Lucien Crowder is fed up with the notion that solutions for climate change would be easier to enact if only the public (especially the American public) understood the science better. Crowder looks to nuclear disarmament advocates as a model, as the move to reduce nuclear weapons has seen comparatively greater success even without public awareness and understanding: 'Indeed, in the nuclear and climate realms, desirable policy often seems to flow less from public engagement than from public obliviousness. Disarmament advocates, no matter how they try, cannot tempt most ordinary people into caring about nuclear weapons—yet stockpiles of weapons steadily, if still too slowly, decrease. Climate advocacy provokes greater passion, but passion often manifests itself as outraged opposition to climate action, and atmospheric carbon has reached levels unseen since before human beings evolved.'"

Rand Paul Suggests Backing Bitcoin With Stocks

Soulskill posted about 7 months ago | from the back-it-with-waffles-instead dept.

Bitcoin 404

SonicSpike writes: "In a recent interview, Senator Rand Paul said there's one thing he would change about Bitcoin: it should be backed by something with intrinsic value, like stocks. He said, 'I was looking more at it until that recent thing [sic]. And actually my theory, if I were setting it up, I'd make it exchangeable for stock. And then it'd have real value. And I'd have it pegged, and I'd have a basket of 10 big retailers I think it would work, but I think, because I'm sort of a believer in currency having value, if you're going to create a currency, have it backed up by — you know, Hayek used to talk about a basket of commodities? You could have a basket of stocks, and have some exchangeability, because it's hard for people like me who are a bit tangible. But you could have an average of stocks, I'm wondering if that's the next permutation.'"

Most of What We Need For Smart Cities Already Exists

samzenpus posted about 7 months ago | from the using-what-we-have dept.

Earth 65

An anonymous reader writes "Looking to a day when modern infrastructure is network addressable, Glen Martin considers that, lacking only requisite content and relatively simple augmentation, most of what we need for smart cities already exists: 'Using smart phones, pedestrians could "wake up" the objects by accessing codes generally used by the city to identify street items that required repair. Each bit of infrastructure would make some kind of declamatory statement — sometimes gracious and welcoming, sometimes didactic, sometimes peevish. The "interlocutor" would then respond, and a brief exchange would ensue. The object would then invite the passerby to return for more conversation.'"

Lessig Launches a Super PAC To End All Super PACs

samzenpus posted about 7 months ago | from the biggest-fish dept.

The Almighty Buck 465

An anonymous reader writes "Lawrence Lessig has announced plans to kickstart a SuperPAC big enough to make it possible to win a Congress committed to fundamental reform by 2016. From the article: 'If you can’t beat them, join them. Then take them down from the inside. That’s the basic idea behind a super PAC launching Thursday that wants to destroy super PACs for good. The Mayday PAC, as it’s called, seeks to raise enough money to sway five House elections in 2014 and elect representatives who have committed to pressing for serious reform of the campaign finance system. If that endeavor—a sort of test case—is successful, the PAC will then try to raise an enormous amount of money for the 2016 cycle—enough, PAC organizers hope, to buy Congress."

An MIT Dean's Defense of the Humanities

timothy posted about 7 months ago | from the she-oughtta-know dept.

Education 264

AthanasiusKircher (1333179) writes "Deborah Fitzgerald, a historian of science and dean of MIT's School of the Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences, speaks out in a Boston Globe column about the importance of the humanities, even as STEM fields increasingly dominate public discussion surrounding higher education. '[T]he world's problems are never tidily confined to the laboratory or spreadsheet. From climate change to poverty to disease, the challenges of our age are unwaveringly human in nature and scale, and engineering and science issues are always embedded in broader human realities, from deeply felt cultural traditions to building codes to political tensions. So our students also need an in-depth understanding of human complexities — the political, cultural, and economic realities that shape our existence — as well as fluency in the powerful forms of thinking and creativity cultivated by the humanities, arts, and social sciences.' Fitzgerald goes on to quote a variety of STEM MIT graduates who have described the essential role the humanities played in their education, and she concludes with a striking juxtaposition of important skills perhaps reminscent of Robert Heinlein's famous description of an ideal human being: 'Whatever our calling, whether we are scientists, engineers, poets, public servants, or parents, we all live in a complex, and ever-changing world, and all of us deserve what's in this toolbox: critical thinking skills; knowledge of the past and other cultures; an ability to work with and interpret numbers and statistics; access to the insights of great writers and artists; a willingness to experiment, to open up to change; and the ability to navigate ambiguity.' What other essential knowledge or skills should we add to this imaginary 'toolbox'?"

Canonical (Nearly) Halts Development of Ubuntu For Android

timothy posted about 7 months ago | from the go-all-the-way dept.

Cellphones 55

rjmarvin (3001897) writes "In a since-removed bug report on Launchpad, Ubuntu's issue tracker, Canonical's Matthew Paul Thomas stated that Ubuntu for Android is no longer in active development. In a statement, Canonical stated that while the project is not completely dead, Canonical is currently focusing on pushing Ubuntu for Phones. The company is open to working with partners on Ubuntu for Android, but will not proceed with further U4A development unless they can form a partnership with an OEM partner to launch it. The Ubuntu for Android project was first announced in early 2012."

Really, Why Are Smartphones Still Tied To Contracts?

timothy posted about 7 months ago | from the be-the-change-you-want-to-see-in-the-world dept.

Cellphones 482

Bennett Haselton writes: "It's not trivial to explain why cell phone companies find it profitable to sell phones at a deep up-front discount and make it back over a two-year contract. Why don't other companies sell similarly-priced goods the same way? (And why, for that matter, has T-Mobile found it more profitable to do the opposite, selling the phone and the service separately?) I'm trying to come up with an explanation that makes realistic and consistent assumptions about the stupidity of the buying public, and still makes sense." Read on for the rest of Bennett's thoughts.

OpenBSD 5.5 Released

timothy posted about 7 months ago | from the always-just-in-time dept.

Operating Systems 128

ConstantineM (965345) writes "Just as per the schedule, OpenBSD 5.5 was released today, May 1, 2014. The theme of the 5.5 release is Wrap in Time, which represents a significant achievement of changing time_t to int64_t on all platforms, as well as ensuring that all of the 8k+ OpenBSD ports still continue to build and work properly, thus doing all the heavy lifting and paving the way for all other operating systems to make the transition to 64-bit time an easier task down the line. Signed releases and packages and the new signify utility are another big selling point of 5.5, as well as OpenSSH 6.6, which includes lots of DJB crypto like chacha20-poly1305, plus lots of other goodies."

"Smart" Gun Seller Gets the Wrong Kind of Online Attention

timothy posted about 7 months ago | from the or-maybe-that's-exactly-the-right-kind dept.

United States 1374

R3d M3rcury (871886) writes "How's this for a good idea? A gun that won't fire unless it's within 10 inches of a watch? That's the iP1 from Armatrix. Of course, don't try to sell it here in the United States." From the NY Times article linked: "[Armatrix employee] Belinda Padilla does not pick up unknown calls anymore, not since someone posted her cellphone number on an online forum for gun enthusiasts. Then someone snapped pictures of the address where she has a P.O. box and put those online, too. In a crude, cartoonish scrawl, this person drew an arrow to the blurred image of a woman passing through the photo frame. 'Belinda?" the person wrote. "Is that you?" ... "I have no qualms with the idea of personally and professionally leveling the life of someone who has attempted to profit from disarming me and my fellow Americans," one commenter wrote." The article paints a fairly rosy picture of the particular technology that Armatrix is pushing, but their ID-checking gun seems to default to an unfireable state, which might not always be an attractive feature. And given that at least one state — New Jersey — has hinged a gun law on the commercial availability of these ID-linked guns, it's not surprising that some gun owners dislike a company that advertises this kind of system as "the future of the firearm."

Drone Camera Tornado Coverage Raises Press Freedom Questions

timothy posted about 7 months ago | from the you-may-only-look-toward-the-horizon dept.

The Media 143

retroworks (652802) writes "In the latest tornado and storm tragedy to hit the U.S.'s south and midwest, small drone cameras steered by storm-tracker and videographer Brian Emfinger gathered stunning bird's-eye footage of the wreckage. Forbes magazine covers the [paywalled] Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's speculation that Emfinger has violated FAA rules which prohibit commercial use of small drones. The laws, designed years ago to restrict hobbyists use of model airplanes, may conflict with U.S. First Amendment free press use. So far, nothing in the article says that the FAA is enforcing the rule on the media outlets that may pay Emfinger for his video coverage, but interest in the footage will probably create a business economy for future commercial drone use if the FAA does not act."

Google Halts Gmail Scanning for Education Apps Users

timothy posted about 7 months ago | from the but-we-were-only-peeking dept.

Education 67

itwbennett (1594911) writes "Google will no longer scan the email messages of students and other school staff who use its Google Apps for Education suite, exempting about 30 million users from the chronically controversial practice for Gmail advertising. In addition, Google is removing the option for Apps for Education administrators to allow ads to be shown to their users. Until now, ads were turned off by default, but admins could turn on this feature at their discretion. A Google spokesperson called the move part of a 'continued evolution of our efforts to provide the best experience for our users, including students' and not a response to a recent lawsuit alleging that by scanning Gmail messages Google violated wiretapping laws and breached users' privacy."

WSJ Reports AT&T May Be Eying a $40B DirecTV Acquisition

timothy posted about 7 months ago | from the you-are-my-eyeballs-my-only-eyeballs dept.

AT&T 73

New submitter rcht148 (2872453) writes with this excerpt from The Verge:"If the idea of Comcast buying out Time Warner Cable to become the largest cable company in America wasn't enough to make you worry about media consolidation, news [Wednesday] from the Wall Street Journal just might. Reportedly, AT&T has approached DirecTV to begin 'possible acquisition' talks, a deal that the WSJ says could be worth over $40 billion. If it were to happen, it would give the combined company something on the order of 26 million TV subscribers, making it second only to the hypothetical Comcast/TWC combination of 30 million."

US Should Use Trampolines To Get Astronauts To the ISS Suggests Russian Official

samzenpus posted about 7 months ago | from the space-men-can't-jump dept.

United States 272

Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes "The Washington Post reports that Russia's Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin has lashed out again, this time at newly announced US ban on high-tech exports to Russia suggesting that 'after analyzing the sanctions against our space industry, I propose the US delivers its astronauts to the ISS with a trampoline.' Rogozin does actually have a point, although his threats carry much less weight than he may hope. Russia is due to get a $457.9 million payment for its services soon and few believe that Russia would actually give it up. Plus, as Jeffrey Kluger noted at Time Magazine, Russia may not want to push the United States into the hands of SpaceX and Orbital Sciences, two private American companies that hope to be able to send passengers to the station soon. SpaceX and Orbital Sciences have already made successful unmanned resupply runs to the ISS and both are also working on upgrading their cargo vehicles to carry people. SpaceX is currently in the lead and expects to launch US astronauts, employed by SpaceX itself, into orbit by 2016. NASA is building its own heavy-lift rocket for carrying astronauts beyond low-Earth orbit, but it won't be ready for anything but test flights until after 2020. 'That schedule, of course, could be accelerated considerably if Washington gave NASA the green light and the cash,' says Kluger. 'America's manned space program went from a standing start in 1961 to the surface of the moon in 1969—eight years from Al Shepard to Tranquility Base. The Soviet Union got us moving then. Perhaps Russia will do the same now.'"

Graphene Could Be Dangerous To Humans and the Environment

samzenpus posted about 7 months ago | from the keep-out-of-eyes-and-mouth dept.

Earth 135

Zothecula (1870348) writes "It's easy to get carried away when you start talking about graphene. Its properties hold the promise of outright technological revolution in so many fields that it has been called a wonder material. Two recent studies, however, give us a less than rosy angle. In the first, a team of biologists, engineers and material scientists at Brown University examined graphene's potential toxicity in human cells. Another study by a team from University of California, Riverside's Bourns College of Engineering examined how graphene oxide nanoparticles might interact with the environment if they found their way into surface or ground water sources."

British Spy Chiefs Secretly Begged To Play In NSA's Data Pools

samzenpus posted about 7 months ago | from the please-sir-I-want-some-data dept.

United Kingdom 43

Advocatus Diaboli (1627651) writes "Britain's electronic surveillance agency, Government Communications Headquarters, has long presented its collaboration with the National Security Agency's massive electronic spying efforts as proportionate, carefully monitored, and well within the bounds of privacy laws. But according to a top-secret document in the archive of material provided to The Intercept by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, GCHQ secretly coveted the NSA's vast troves of private communications and sought 'unsupervised access' to its data as recently as last year – essentially begging to feast at the NSA's table while insisting that it only nibbles on the occasional crumb."

Coding Bootcamps Already 1/8th the Size of CS Undergraduates

samzenpus posted about 7 months ago | from the everybody-code dept.

Programming 92

First time accepted submitter Valejo (689967) writes "According to a study released today by Course Report, programming bootcamps are expected to grow by 2.8x in 2014, meaning that bootcamps will graduate a student for every 8 CS undergraduates. The survey (PDF) also found that 57% of the schools teach in Ruby and that the average tuition is $9,900. The authors collected responses from 95% of US schools, including General Assembly, Dev Bootcamp, and Flatiron School."

Grading Software Fooled By Nonsense Essay Generator

samzenpus posted about 7 months ago | from the it-is-good-report dept.

Education 187

An anonymous reader writes "A former MIT instructor and students have come up with software that can write an entire essay in less than one second; just feed it up to three keywords.The essays, though grammatically correct and structurally sound, have no coherent meaning and have proved to be graded highly by automated essay-grading software. From The Chronicle of Higher Education article: 'Critics of automated essay scoring are a small but lively band, and Mr. Perelman is perhaps the most theatrical. He has claimed to be able to guess, from across a room, the scores awarded to SAT essays, judging solely on the basis of length. (It’s a skill he happily demonstrated to a New York Times reporter in 2005.) In presentations, he likes to show how the Gettysburg Address would have scored poorly on the SAT writing test. (That test is graded by human readers, but Mr. Perelman says the rubric is so rigid, and time so short, that they may as well be robots.).'"

SpaceX Looking For Help With "Landing" Video

samzenpus posted about 7 months ago | from the clean-it-up dept.

Space 110

Maddog Batty (112434) writes "SpaceX recently made the news by managing to soft land at sea the first stage of rocket used to launch its third supply mission to the International Space Station. Telemetry reported that it was able to hover for eight seconds above the sea before running out of fuel and falling horizontal. Unfortunately, due to stormy weather at the time, their support ship wasn't able to get to the "landing" spot at the time and the first stage wasn't recovered and is likely now on the sea bed. Video of the landing was produced and transmitted to an aeroplane but unfortunately it is rather corrupted. SpaceX have attempted to improve it but it isn't much better. They are now looking for help to improve it further."

Interview: Ask Ben Starr About the Future of Food

samzenpus posted about 7 months ago | from the ask-me-anything dept.

News 137

samzenpus (5) writes "Ben Starr is a chef, travel writer, reality TV star, wine and beer brewer, cheesemaker, and ultimate food geek. Ben traveled all 7 continents in his early 20s, staying with local families and learning to cook the cuisines of the world in home kitchens and local markets. FRANK, his underground Dallas restaurant, has a waitlist of 3,000 and reservations are selected by random lottery. He is a passionate local and sustainable food advocate. Ben is a flag waver for the new generation of chefs who embrace modern technology, and his Camp Potluck feeds hundreds of hungry Burning Man attendees every year. Ben has agreed to put down his chef's knife and answer your questions. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one question per post."

DreamWorks Animation CEO: Movie Downloads Will Move To Pay-By-Screen-Size

Unknown Lamer posted about 7 months ago | from the uh-huh dept.

The Media 347

Rambo Tribble (1273454) writes "Jeffrey Katzenberg, the head of Dreamworks Animation, speaking at the Milken Global Conference in California, opined that the future pricing model for movie downloads will revolve around screen size. In his view, larger screens will incur larger download prices. As he says, 'It will reinvent the enterprise of movies.' Unclear is how physical dimensions, rather than just resolution matrix, will be determined. Will we soon be saying 'hello' to screen spoofing?" Can you fake the physical dimensions reported in the EDID block when the connection is using HDCP? Aside from the implication that this would mean more DRM (and seems pretty unworkable, but with the rise of locked bootloaders on even x86 hardware...), the prices he predicts seem alright: "A movie screen will be $15. A 75-inch TV will be $4. A smartphone will be $1.99."

Target Moves To Chip and Pin Cards To Boost Security

Unknown Lamer posted about 7 months ago | from the likely-a-communist-plot dept.

The Almighty Buck 210

jfruh (300774) writes "U.S. retailers must accept chip-and-pin charge cards by the end of 2015 or become liable for fraudulent purchases made with chip cards. Target, still smarting from its recent embarrassing security breach, is moving to get ahead of that trend. The company will be installing chip-and-pin terminals in all its stores, and will also be issuing chip-and-pin versions of its own branded cards, which account for about 20 percent of Target sales. Will this move by a huge retailer push the U.S. into parity with the rest of the world?"

One-a-Day-Compiles: Good Enough For Government Work In 1983

Unknown Lamer posted about 7 months ago | from the could-have-had-a-lisp-machine dept.

Government 230

theodp (442580) writes "Simon Allardice takes a stroll down coding memory lane, recalling that when he got started in programming in 1983, hand-writing one's programs with pencil on IBM coding sheets was still considered good enough for British government work (COBOL, Assembler forms). Allardice writes, 'And when you were finished handwriting a section of code — perhaps a full program, perhaps a subroutine — you'd gather these sheets together (carefully numbered in sequence, of course) and send them along to the folks in the data entry department. They'd type it in. And the next day you'd get a report to find out if it compiled or not. Let me say that again: the next day you could find out if your code compiled or not.' So, does anyone have 'fond' memories of computer programming in the punched card era? And for you young'uns, what do you suppose your C++ or Java development times would be like if you got one compile a day?" The other way you could program in 1983.

Bloomberg's Trading Terminals Now Providing Bitcoin Pricing

Unknown Lamer posted about 7 months ago | from the internet-people-taking-over-world dept.

Bitcoin 119

New submitter Raystonn (1463901) writes "Bloomberg has announced the release of Bitcoin support in their trading terminals, used worldwide by over 320,000 trading professionals. The market makers of the world will now have instant access to immediate Bitcoin prices on an industry-standard trading platform. This places the virtual currency before the eyes of the movers and shakers of most of the world's money supply as they decide where to invest their USD holdings."

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