theodp (442580) writes ""Good artists copy, great artists steal," Steve Jobs used to say. Having launched a perfectly-timed attack against Samsung and phablets with its iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, Leonid Bershidsky suggests that the next big thing from Apple will be a tablet-laptop a la Microsoft's Surface Pro 3. "Before yesterday's Apple [iPad] event," writes Bershidsky, "rumors were strong of an upcoming giant iPad, to be called iPad Pro or iPad Plus. There were even leaked pictures of a device with a 12.9-inch screen, bigger than the Surface Pro's 12-inch one. It didn't come this time, but it will."" top
Microsoft, Facebook Declare European Kids Clueless About Coding, Too
theodp (442580) writes "Having declared U.S. kids clueless about coding, Facebook and Microsoft are now turning their attention to Europe's young 'uns. "As stewards of Europe's future generations," begins the Open Letter to the European Union Ministers for Education signed by Facebook and Microsoft, "you will be all too aware that as early as the age of 7, children reach a critical juncture, when they are learning the core life skills of reading, writing and basic maths. However, to flourish in tomorrow's digital economy and society, they should also be learning to code. And many, sadly, are not." Released at the launch of the European Coding Initiative — aka All You Need is Code! — in conjunction with the EU's Code Week, the letter closes, "As experts in our field, we owe it to Europe's youth to help equip with them with the skills they will need to succeed — regardless of where life takes them." Hopefully, life won't take them to a massive layoff, like the one that left 12,500 Nokia workers jobless just three months after joining Microsoft. By the way, the "All You Need is Code" initiative, explained an SAP press release, was conceived at the 2014 World Economic Forum, where EU Commission vice president Neelie Kroes — who yukked-it-up at the event with former nemesis Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith — called on the private sector to endorse the Davos Declaration to deepen support for the Grand Coalition for Digital Jobs." top
Despite Push from Tech Giants, AP CS Exam Counts Don't Budge Much in Most States
theodp (442580) writes "The WSJ reports that billionaire-backed Code.org is turning to crowdfunding to fix tech's diversity problem. "Our goal this year is to train 10,000 computer science teachers, and to get 100 million students to try one Hour of Code, across all grades, worldwide. We need $5 million to do this," explains the Indiegogo project for An Hour of Code for Every Student. Code.org’s wealthy individual and corporate supporters — including Bill Gates, LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman, Microsoft, Google, the Omidyar Network and the Salesforce.com Foundation — have agreed to kick in $2.5 million of matching funds. According to the press release, participating companies include Atlassian, Chegg, Dice.com, Disney Interactive, Dropbox, Eventbrite, Facebook, GoDaddy, Google, JPMorgan Chase, Juniper Networks, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Optimizely, Pearson, Pluralsight, Redfin, salesforce.com, Target, TASER, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), viagogo, Whitepages, Workday, Yelp, Zappos, Zillow, zulily, and Y Combinator. So, is crowdfunding the new school tax? And is this a good thing, or just one more way that millionaires and billionaires are ruining our schools?" top
Computing Drove Grace Hopper to Alcohol and Suicide Attempts
theodp (442580) writes "As 8,000 attendees from academia, government and industry gather Wednesday in Phoenix for the 2014 Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, one wonders if a recently-crowdfunded documentary entitled Born With Curiosity, which promises an intimate look at the conference's namesake, computer pioneer and US Navy Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper, might change perceptions of Hopper. "By taking a real look at the complexities of Grace's rise to fame," explain filmmakers Melissa Pierce and Marian Mangoubi, we hope to dispel the myth of the anomalous hero and create the opportunity for women and girls to see themselves in her place." There's certainly fodder for a compelling tale if one looks beyond the Google Doodle-inspired bios of Hopper. Take one passage from Grace Hopper and the Invention of the Information Age, which Kurt Beyer read to the handful of Googlers who showed up at a 2010 Authors@Google event (transcript): "On a cold night in November 1949," Beyer read, "only 6 months after leaving Harvard and joining the Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation, Grace Murray Hopper found herself behind bars at the central Philadelphia police station. The programming pioneer was arrested at 3 a.m. for drunk and disorderly conduct. She was eventually placed in the custody of Pennsylvania General Hospital for treatment. Hopper's life was unraveling. At the age of 43 she had accomplished much, yet her growing dependency on alcohol was jeopardizing her career and her relationships. As winter approached, she attempted to commit suicide 2 different times." Beyer, a big fan of Grace, adds, "I wanted to include that in the book because I think it's important for us to realize that pioneers and innovators are human. And Hopper went through a lot during those years. She accomplished much, but it had a grave toll on her personally." By the way, it's kind of ironic that CSEdWeek, the annual celebration of Hopper's birthday, has become far better known over the last year as Code.org's Hour of Code, which has earned shout-outs from the President and U.S. Education Chief. "Code.org is dedicated to the vision that every student in every school should have the opportunity to learn to code," explains the tech billionaire-backed nonprofit. Perhaps they should add that Grace Hopper articulated the same vision in 1980 ("We’ve got to push computers into schools. They should be in every school, so kids can grow up with them...You give them a computer to play games with and they get tired of it and pretty soon they’re programming it to do everything under the sun."). Hey, everything old is new again!" top
Code.org: Blame Tech Diversity on Education Pipeline, Not Hiring Discrimination
theodp (442580) writes "So, what's the dumbest f-ing idea Bill Gates has heard lately? Opposition to Common Core academic standards, apparently. Setting national standards for what students should know at various grades is a "very basic idea," argued Gates at a POLITICO event. "Should Georgia have a different railroad width than anybody else? Should they teach multiplication in a different way? Oh, that's brilliant. Who came up with that idea?" Gates said, adding that he thought of Common Core as "a technocratic issue," akin to making sure all states use the same type of electrical outlet. At the event, Gates also gave a shout-out to his partner-in-Common-Core-crime, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan. In a nice Common Core tie-in, 49-year-old Duncan complained last December that he "didn't have the opportunity to learn computer skills" at the University of Chicago Lab Schools (tuition, $29,424), while 58-year-old Gates did get the chance to acquire coding skills at Lakeside School (tuition, $29,800). Duncan subsequently noted he is finally learning to code with his children (perhaps with BillG as their iF-fy teacher!). By the way, in June the Washington Post reported that "Bill and Melinda Gates, [President] Obama and Arne Duncan are parents of school-age children, although none of those children attend schools that use the Common Core standards. Still, Gates said he wants his children to know a 'superset' of the Common Core standards — everything in the standards and beyond."" top
Microsoft Co-opts Ice Bucket Challenge Idea to Promote Coding in Latin America
theodp (442580) writes ""On a recent trip to my childhood home in New Jersey," writes GOOD's Joshua Neuman in This Comic Book Made Me Say No to Drugs, "I discovered a stack of comic books in an old shoebox, one of which was DC Comics' The New Teen Titans (Drug Abuse Awareness) Issue #1, a promotional giveaway that was part of President Reagan’s Drug Awareness Campaign." While the cool kids in his class wearing rock t-shirts snickered at the corporate and government-sponsored comics (circa-1984 DC Marketing promo video), Neuman confesses the propaganda did the job on his naive, overprotected, 10-year-old in suburbia self. "Entering the fictitious, urban world of this comic book was like diving into a drugged-out version of Sesame Street where cute kids from a veritable rainbow of backgrounds played together, studied together, and took PCP together," Neuman recalls. "I can’t say that the comic book traumatized me, but looking back, something about not being in on the joke stayed with me. The experience taught me that drugs lay in the domain of the other, a kid who was much cooler than I was. However inadvertently, the collaborative effort of the Teen Titans, Nancy Reagan, and Keebler had achieved its intended effect."" top
Is Google's Non-Tax Based Public School Funding Cause for Celebration?
theodp (442580) writes "Looks like Mark Zuckerberg's Rat Pack may have to make due with just-sort-of-OK US workers until after the midterm elections in November. In an interview which will air on Sunday's Meet the Press, President Obama defended his decision to delay executive action on immigration, saying the summer's surge of unaccompanied children at the Mexican border changed the politics of the issue. "The truth of the matter is that the politics did shift midsummer because of that problem," Obama said. "I want to spend some time, even as we're getting all our ducks in a row for the executive action, I also want to make sure that the public understands why we're doing this, why it's the right thing for the American people, why it's the right thing for the American economy." To get an idea of what tech might expect from Obama after the election dust clears, an op-ed by Intel Director of Immigration Policy Peter Muller appeared in Friday's Mercury News calling for the President to use executive actions to "deliver on one of the top priorities of technology companies — reform to an outdated visa program that restricts their ability to hire key talent." Because we all know how much Intel, Google, and Apple hate restricted hiring policies, right?" top
Bill Gates Want to Remake the Way History is Taught. Should We Let Him?
theodp (442580) writes "With his Big History Project, the NY Times' Andrew Ross Sorkin reports that Bill Gates wants to remake the way history is taught (intro video). Last month, the Univ. of California system announced that a version of the Big History Project course could be counted in place of a more traditional World History class, paving the way for the state's 1,300 high schools to offer it. Still, not everyone's keen on the idea. "Is this Bill Gates's history?" asks NYU's Diane Ravitch. "And should it be labeled 'Bill Gates's History'? Because Bill Gates's history would be very different from somebody else's who wasn't worth $50-60 billion." Of the opposition to Gates, Scott L. Thomas of Claremont Graduate University explains, 'Frankly, in the eyes of the critics, he's really not an expert. He just happens to be a guy that watched a DVD and thought it was a good idea and had a bunch of money to fund it."" top
How The Outdated TI-84 Plus Still Holds a Monopoly on Classrooms
theodp (442580) writes "Electronics almost universally become cheaper over time, but with essentially a monopoly on graphing calculator usage in classrooms, Texas Instruments still manages to command a premium for its TI-84 Plus. Texas Instruments released the TI-84 Plus graphing calculator in 2004. Ten years later, the base model still has 480 kilobytes of ROM and 24 kilobytes of RAM, its black-and-white screen remains 96×64 pixels, and the MSRP is still $150. "Free graphing calculator apps are available," notes Matt McFarland. "But smartphones can’t be used on standardized tests such as the SAT and ACT. Schools are understandably reluctant to let them be used in classrooms, where students may opt to tune out in class and instead text friends or play games. So for now, overpriced hardware and all, the TI-84 family of calculators remains on top and unlikely to go anywhere." So, to paraphrase Prof. Norm Matloff, is it stupid to buy expensive TI-8x milk when the R cow is free?"