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Parents' Privacy Concerns Kill Bill Gates' $100M inBloom Initiative

theodp (442580) writes | about 6 months ago

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theodp (442580) writes "As things turn out, All Your Child's Data Are Not Belong To inBloom, the Bill Gates-bankrolled and News Corp. subsidiary-implemented data initiative that sought to personalize learning. GeekWire's Tricia Duryee reports that inBloom, which was backed by $100 million from The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and others, is closing up shop after parents worried that its database technology was violating their children's privacy. According to NY Times coverage (reg.), the inBloom database tracked 400 different data fields about students — including family relationships ("foster parent" or "father's significant other”") and reasons for enrollment changes ("withdrawn due to illness" or "leaving school as a victim of a serious violent incident") — that parents objected to, prompting some schools to recoil from the venture. In a statement, inBloom CEO Iwan Streichenberger said that personalized learning was still an emerging concept, and complained that the venture had been "the subject of mischaracterizations and a lightning rod for misdirected criticism." He added, "It is a shame that the progress of this important innovation has been stalled because of generalized public concerns about data misuse, even though inBloom has world-class security and privacy protections that have raised the bar for school districts and the industry as a whole [although it was still apparently vulnerable to Heartbleed]." As far as Gates goes, the world's richest man has a couple of irons left in the data-driven personalized learning fire via his ties to Code.org, which seeks 7 years of participating K-12 students' data, and Khan Academy, which recently attracted scrutiny over its data-privacy policies. Khan Academy — which counted the managing partner of Gates' bgC3 think-tank and Google CEO Eric Schmidt as Board members in a recent tax filing — just struck an exclusive partnership with CollegeBoard to prepare students for the redesigned SAT."

Scammers Lower Bills to Comcast Customers, Get Jail Time

Anonymous Coward writes | about 6 months ago

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An anonymous reader writes "Alston Buchanan, the mastermind of a two-man scam to lower the bills of Comcast customers for a price, pleaded guilty last week and awaits sentencing. His accomplice, Richard Justin Spraggins, who also pleaded guilty in February, will serve 11-23 months in prison and pay Comcast $66,825. Their operation purportedly cost Comcast $2.4 million, and Comcast claims that the loss has forced them to raise the rates on all their customers. However, the allegedly huge financial loss went undetected until a Comcast customer reported his/her suspicions to Comcast customer service."

GitHub Founder Resigns Following Sexual Harassment Investigation

Anonymous Coward writes | about 6 months ago

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An anonymous reader writes "Today, GitHub concluded its investigation regarding sexual harassment within its work force, and although it found no evidence of 'legal wrongdoing', Tom Preston-Werner, one of its founding members implicated in the investigation along with his wife (not a GitHub employee), turned in his resignation and was let go. In its statement, GitHub vows to implement 'a number of new HR and employee-led initiatives as well as training opportunities to make sure employee concerns and conflicts are taken seriously and dealt with appropriately'. Julie Ann Horvath, the former GitHub employee whose public resignation last month inspired the sexual harassment investigation, found the company's findings to be gratuitous and just plain wrong."

Google breaks its own reCAPTCHA

ras (84108) writes | about 6 months ago

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ras (84108) writes "Google researchers working on recognising street numbers for Street View pointed their creation at images generated by reCAPTCHA:

To further explore the applicability of the proposed system to broader text recognition tasks, we apply it to synthetic distorted text from reCAPTCHA. reCAPTCHA is one of the most secure reverse turing tests that uses distorted text to distinguish humans from bots. We report a 99.8% accuracy on the hardest category of reCAPTCHA.

"
Link to Original Source

15-Year-Old Boy Stows Away On Hawaiian Airlines and Makes it to Maui Alive

Anonymous Coward writes | about 6 months ago

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An anonymous reader writes "A 15-year-old boy stowed away in the wheel well of a Hawaiian Airlines aircraft parked at the San Jose International Airport and managed to survive the flight to Maui in sub-zero conditions. The boy indicated that he fell asleep during the flight and only remembers getting out when the plane landed. The image of him making his way to the aircraft in the dark was captured on film, but airport security failed to notice until forced to look more closely at the footage following the boy's detainment on the Maui tarmac. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) oversees checkpoints inside airports, while airport perimeters are under the purview of local and federal law enforcement."

Experts Say Hitching a Ride in an Airliner's Wheel Well Is Not a Good Idea

Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes | about 6 months ago

2

Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes "Hasani Gittens reports that as miraculous as it was that a 16-year-old California boy was able to hitch a ride from San Jose to Hawaii and survive, it isn't the first time a wheel-well stowaway has lived to tell about it. The FAA says that since 1947 there have been 105 people who have tried to surreptitiously travel in plane landing gear world-wide on 94 flights — with a survival rate of about 25 percent. But agency adds that the actual numbers are probably higher, as some survivors may have escaped unnoticed, and bodies could fall into the ocean undetected. Except for the occasional happy ending, hiding in the landing gear of a aircraft as it soars miles above the Earth is generally a losing proposition. According to an FAA/Wright State University study titled “Survival at High Altitudes: Wheel-Well Passengers,” at 20,000 feet the temperature experienced by a stowaway would be -13 F, at 30,000 it would be -45 in the wheel well — and at 40,000 feet, the mercury plunges to a deadly -85 F (PDF). "You’re dealing with an incredibly harsh environment,” says aviation and security expert Anthony Roman. “Temperatures can reach -50 F, and oxygen levels there are barely sustainable for life.” Even if a strong-bodied individual is lucky enough to stand the cold and the lack of oxygen, there’s still the issue of falling out of the plane. “It’s almost impossible not to get thrown out when the gear opens,” says Roman.

So how do the lucky one-in-four survive? The answer, surprisingly, is that a few factors of human physiology are at play: As the aircraft climbs, the body enters a state of hypoxia—that is, it lacks oxygen—and the person passes out. At the same time, the frigid temperatures cause a state of hypothermia, which preserves the nervous system. “It’s similar to a young kid who falls to the bottom of an icy lake,” says Roman. "and two hours later he survives, because he was so cold.""

The Science Behind Powdered Alcohol, the Latest Way to Get Drunk

Daniel_Stuckey (2647775) writes | about 6 months ago

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Daniel_Stuckey (2647775) writes "Last week, the US Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau approved Palcohol, a powdered alcohol product that you can either use to turn water into a presumably not-that-delicious marg or to snort if you don’t care too much about your brain cells. It’s the first time a powdered alcohol product has been approved for sale in the US, but not the first time someone has devised one, and such products have been available in parts of Europe for a few years now. Now you may be wondering, as I was, how the heck do you go about powdering alcohol? As you might expect, there’s quite a bit of chemistry involved, but the process doesn’t seem overly difficult; we’ve known how to do it since the early 1970s, when researchers at the General Foods Corporation (now a subsidiary of Kraft) applied for a patent for an “alcohol-containing powder.”"
Link to Original Source

Eyes Over Compton: How Police Spied on a Whole City

Advocatus Diaboli (1627651) writes | about 6 months ago

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Advocatus Diaboli (1627651) writes "n a secret test of mass surveillance technology, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department sent a civilian aircraft* over Compton, California, capturing high-resolution video of everything that happened inside that 10-square-mile municipality. Compton residents weren't told about the spying, which happened in 2012. "We literally watched all of Compton during the times that we were flying, so we could zoom in anywhere within the city of Compton and follow cars and see people," Ross McNutt of Persistence Surveillance Systems told the Center for Investigative Reporting, which unearthed and did the first reporting on this important story. The technology he's trying to sell to police departments all over America can stay aloft for up to six hours. Like Google Earth, it enables police to zoom in on certain areas. And like TiVo, it permits them to rewind, so that they can look back and see what happened anywhere they weren't watching in real time."
Link to Original Source

Risk and the Android Heartbleed vulnerability

Steve Patterson (2850575) writes | about 6 months ago

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Steve Patterson (2850575) writes "Less than 10% of Android devices were affected by the Heartbleed vulnerability.

I haven’t written about the Heartbleed vulnerability. Anything I had to say would have just added to the atmosphere of fear, uncertainty, and doubt, or might have caused a 15-year-old who has been coding since he was five to track me down through stackoverflow to reprimand me for some inexcusable oversight. Don’t laugh, it happens. But now that the dust has settled, here are a few thoughts about the OpenSSL vulnerability, aka Heartbleed, in Android 4.1.1"

Link to Original Source

Get paid to ruin a violent whackadoodle's day

Tise (110999) writes | about 6 months ago

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Tise (110999) writes "The Department of Justice is finally willing to pay people to study violent extremists who are not Muslim, such as "Sovereign citizen groups" and "eco-terrorist groups". There are several types of projects they are interested in, but this seemed the most pertinent to this venue:

"...the majority of studies of how violent extremists use the Internet has focused on alQaida and other Islamic inspired violent extremists at the detriment to [sic] those inspired by other violent extremist ideologies. NIJ seeks applications that will test empirically the assumption that the Internet is a driver of radicalization to violent extremism. Applicants might develop a broad approach to cataloguing how the Internet did or did not factor into radicalization to violent extremism within and outside the United States. NIJ is interested especially in proposals that can parse out how different types of violent extremist groups use specific types of Internet functionalities (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, Vine, chat-rooms). If applicable, applicants might explore whether the use of the Internet by violent extremists is in any way different from how everyday individuals, and especially youths, use the Internet and social media."

"
Link to Original Source

404-No-More project seeks to rid the Web of '404 not found' pages

blottsie (3618811) writes | about 6 months ago

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blottsie (3618811) writes "A new project proposes an do away with dead 404 errors by implementing new HTML code that will help access prior versions of hyperlinked content. With any luck, that means that you’ll never have to run into a dead link again. ...

The new feature would come in the form of introducing the mset attribute to the element in HTML, which would allow users of the code to specify multiple dates and copies of content as an external resource."

Link to Original Source

Our Education System is Failing IT

Nemo the Magnificent (2786867) writes | about 6 months ago

1

Nemo the Magnificent (2786867) writes "In this guy's opinion most IT workers can't think critically. They are incapable of diagnosing a problem, developing a possible solution, and implementing it. They also have little fundamental understanding of the businesses their employers are in, which is starting to get limiting as silos are collapsing within some corporations and IT workers are being called upon to participate in broader aspects of the business. Is that what you see where you are?"

Monkeys Can Do Basic Math

sciencehabit (1205606) writes | about 6 months ago

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sciencehabit (1205606) writes "It looks like a standardized test question: Is the sum of two numbers on the left or the single number on the right larger? Rhesus macaques that have been trained to associate numerical values with symbols can get the answer right, even if they haven’t passed a math class. The finding doesn’t just reveal a hidden talent of the animals—it also helps show how the mammalian brain encodes the values of numbers."
Link to Original Source

Reinventing the Axe

Nerval's Lobster (2598977) writes | about 6 months ago

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Nerval's Lobster (2598977) writes "The axe has been with us for thousands of years, with its design changing very little during that time. After all, how much can you really alter a basic blade-and-handle? Well, Finnish inventor Heikki Karna has tried to change it a whole lot, with a new, oddly-shaped axe that he claims is a whole lot safer because it transfers a percentage of downward force into rotational energy, cutting down on deflections. "The Vipukirves [as the axe is called] still has a sharpened blade at the end, but it has a projection coming off the side that shifts the center of gravity away from the middle. At the point of impact, the edge is driven into the wood and slows down, but the kinetic energy contained in the 1.9 kilogram axe head continues down and to the side (because of the odd center of gravity)," is how Geek.com describes the design. "The rotational energy actually pushes the wood apart like a lever." The question is, will everyone pick up on this new way of doing things?"
Link to Original Source

The Ethical Dilemmas Today's Programmers Face

snydeq (1272828) writes | about 6 months ago

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snydeq (1272828) writes "As software takes over more of our lives, the ethical ramifications of decisions made by programmers only become greater. Unfortunately, the tech world has always been long on power and short on thinking about the long-reaching effects of this power. More troubling: While ethics courses have become a staple of physical-world engineering degrees, they remain a begrudging anomaly in computer science pedagogy. Now that our code is in refrigerators, thermostats, smoke alarms, and more, the wrong moves, a lack of foresight, or downright dubious decision-making can haunt humanity everywhere it goes. Peter Wayner offers a look at just a few of the ethical quandaries confronting developers every day. 'Consider this less of a guidebook for making your decisions and more of a starting point for the kind of ethical contemplation we should be doing as a daily part of our jobs.'"

Administration ordered to divulge legal basis for killing Americans with drones

Anonymous Coward writes | about 6 months ago

0

An anonymous reader writes "In a claim brought by The New York Times and the ACLU, the Second US Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that the administration must disclose the legal basis for targeting Americans with drones. From the article: 'Government officials from Obama on down have publicly commented on the program, but they claimed the Office of Legal Counsel's memo outlining the legal rationale about it was a national security secret. The appeals court, however, said on Monday that officials' comments about overseas drone attacks means the government has waived its secrecy argument. "After senior Government officials have assured the public that targeted killings are 'lawful' and that OLC advice 'establishes the legal boundaries within which we can operate,'" the appeals court said, "waiver of secrecy and privilege as to the legal analysis in the Memorandum has occurred" (PDF)."

Will The Nissan Leaf Take On The Tesla Model S At Half The Price?

cartechboy (2660665) writes | about 6 months ago

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cartechboy (2660665) writes "Ask most people why they won't consider an electric car, and they talk about range anxiety. And I can easily imagine why 84 miles of range isn't enough. Now it sounds like Nissan is listening, as well as watching Tesla's success. The company plans to boost the Leaf electric car's driving range with options for larger battery packs. Not long ago Nissan surveyed Tesla Model S owners, and they probably heard loud and clear that longer driving range is very, very important. So it looks like the Leaf might get up to 150 miles of range, possibly by the 2016 model year. The range increase will come from a larger battery pack, possibly 36 or 42 kWh, and more energy-dense cells. Either way, clearly Nissan is looking to expand the appeal of the world's best-selling electric car, and increasing its driving range is pretty clearly a key to doing so. I just wish Nissan would ditch the weird styling while they're at it."

Later, Baby: Will Freezing Your Eggs Free Your Career?

Lasrick (2629253) writes | about 6 months ago

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Lasrick (2629253) writes "Really interesting piece by Emma Rosenblum about women freezing their eggs in order to take "biological clock" pressure off while they pursue careers: 'Not since the birth control pill has a medical technology had such potential to change family and career planning. The average age of women who freeze their eggs is about 37, down from 39 only two years ago... And fertility doctors report that more women in their early 30s are coming in for the procedure. Not only do younger women have healthier eggs, they also have more time before they have to use them.'"
Link to Original Source

Next-Gen Intel "Alpine Ridge" Thunderbolt Controller Detailed

Anonymous Coward writes | about 6 months ago

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An anonymous reader writes "The controller leverages PCI-Express gen 3.0 to double bandwidth of the interface. It will launch around the same time as Intel's next-generation Core "Skylake" processors (some time in 2015), and in a typical implementation, will be wired to the CPU's root-complex, and not that of the PCH. With PCIe 3.0 x4 or PCIe 3.0 x2 links at its disposal, the controller can push data at a staggering 40 Gbps. The link can also ferry DisplayPort, HDMI 2.0, and USB 3.0 data through its link layer. That bandwidth should enable you to plug in up to two Ultra HD displays, apart from your storage array."
Link to Original Source

Venus' crust heals too fast for plate tectonics

Anonymous Coward writes | about 6 months ago

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An anonymous reader writes "Without plate tectonics, carbon would build up in the atmosphere. Venus, which does not have tectonics, shows the results: an atmosphere that is 96 percent carbon dioxide. It's toxic. Yet Venus is about the same size and composition as our planet, so why doesn't it have plate tectonics? Some researchers made a model to explore how Earth initiated plate movements, and these same researchers made one model of its neighbor for comparison. A 1.5-billion-year-old Earth and a similarly aged Venus were modeled as a hot, mushy material made of tiny particles of rock. The model uses physics at the one-millimeter rock grain scale to explain how the whole planet behaves. According to David Bercovici, a geophysicist at Yale who was an author on the paper, the model also shows how plate tectonics emerged on Earth but not on her twin."

Boeing's Phantom Badger Packs a Lot of Combat Vehicle Into a Small Package

Zothecula (1870348) writes | about 6 months ago

2

Zothecula (1870348) writes "The US military fields some pretty impressive vehicles, but they aren't worth much if they don’t fit on the aircraft intended to transport them. Last month, the US Navy removed one obstacle when it cleared the Boeing Phantom Badger combat support vehicle for transport inside a V-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft. After a battery of tests, including form-fit checks, pressure tests and structural evaluations of over four G’s, the modular vehicle was a step closer to deployment by the US Marine Corps and US Air Force Special Operations."
Link to Original Source

Oklahoma Moves To Discourage Solar and Wind Power

Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes | about 6 months ago

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Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes "Paul Monies reports at NewsOK that Oklahoma's legislature has passed a bill that allows regulated utilities to apply to the Oklahoma Corporation Commission to charge a higher base rate to customers who generate solar and wind energy and send their excess power back into the grid reversing a 1977 law that forbade utilities to charge extra to solar users. "Renewable energy fed back into the grid is ultimately doing utility companies a service," says John Aziz. "Solar generates in the daytime, when demand for electricity is highest, thereby alleviating pressure during peak demand."

The state’s major electric utilities backed the bill but couldn’t provide figures on how much customers already using distributed generation are getting subsidized by other customers. Oklahoma Gas and Electric Co. and Public Service Co. of Oklahoma have about 1.3 million electric customers in the state. They have about 500 customers using distributed generation. Kathleen O’Shea, OG&E spokeswoman, said few distributed generation customers want to sever their ties to the grid. “If there’s something wrong with their panel or it’s really cloudy, they need our electricity, and it’s going to be there for them,” O’Shea said. “We just want to make sure they’re paying their fair amount of that maintenance cost.” The prospect of widespread adoption of rooftop solar worries many utilities. A report last year by the industry’s research group, the Edison Electric Institute, warns of the risks posed by rooftop solar (PDF). “When customers have the opportunity to reduce their use of a product or find another provider of such service, utility earnings growth is threatened,” the report said. “As this threat to growth becomes more evident, investors will become less attracted to investments in the utility sector.”"

AMD Not Trying To Get Its Chips Into Low-Cost Tablets

jfruh (300774) writes | about 6 months ago

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jfruh (300774) writes "While Intel is going after low-end Android tablets in a big way chipmaking x86 rival AMD is taking a more judicious approach, looking to focus on the high end. "This idea of contra revenue is foreign to us," said AMD's CEO, referring to Intel's strategy of selling chips at a loss to boost market share. But will Intel's vast resources keep AMD in its niche?"
Link to Original Source

A Wikipedia content-abuse story -- only with real-world violence

metasonix (650947) writes | about 6 months ago

1

metasonix (650947) writes "Once again, the Wikipediocracy website has uncovered a substantial abuse of the truth on Wikipedia. Like the "Qworty" debacle that ran in the news media last year, this post describes people who are deliberately inserting misinformation and attacking anyone who criticizes them for it. Unlike Qworty, it involves two editors — one is simply not very competent, the other (called only "Henry" here, possibly for fear of the author's safety) is not only protecting her, he is also posting his own phony articles and outright lies on Wikipedia. By the way, he spent years in prison for beating a woman with a pool cue."

Google: Better to be a 'B' CS Grad than an 'A+' English Grad

theodp (442580) writes | about 6 months ago

1

theodp (442580) writes "In a NY Times interview on How to Get a Job at Google with Laszlo Bock, who is in charge of all hiring at Google, the subject of grit-based hiring came up. Bock explained: "I was on campus speaking to a student who was a computer science and math double major, who was thinking of shifting to an economics major because the computer science courses were too difficult. I told that student they are much better off being a B student in computer science than an A+ student in English because it signals a rigor in your thinking and a more challenging course load. That student will be one of our interns this summer." Bock also advised, "You need to be very adaptable, so that you have a baseline skill set that allows you to be a call center operator today and tomorrow be able to interpret MRI scans." Hey why not require an I.Q. of 300, two centuries of Unix experience, and a track record of winning Nobel Prizes, too? Oops, wrong HR Director."

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