theodp (442580) writes ""As we approach the sixtieth anniversary of the Brown decision," writes the New Yorker's Jelani Cobb in The Failure of Desegregation, "the landmark case seems, in hindsight, like a qualified victory. Racially homogenous schools remain a fact of American life." And the resegregation of schools isn't limited to the Deep South. In the New York City public-school system, Cobb notes, Black and Latino students have become more likely to attend schools with minimal white enrollment, and a majority go to schools defined by concentrated poverty. And, despite the backing of Bill Gates and other like-minded super-wealthy tech "education investors", charter schools are no panacea for integration's failures. "Three-quarters of the city’s charter schools, which were a key component of Mayor Michael Bloomberg's efforts at education reform," writes Cobb, "have fewer than one per cent white enrollment," which UCLA's Civil Rights Project terms "apartheid schools". And at KIPP Schools, a darling of Gates, Netflix's Reed Hastings, and Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, "more than 86 percent of our students are from low-income families and eligible for the federal free or reduced-price meals program, and 95 percent are African American or Latino.' So, would Bill send his own kids to a charter school? 'A family like mine should not use up the inner-city capacity of these great schools,' Gates explained, 'but if by some happenstance, my kids had to go to KIPP schools [instead of, say, BillG's alma mater], I wouldn't feel bad at all.' So, while well-intentioned, are tech's billionaire education reformers inadvertently contributing to today's separate-but-equal revival?" top
Bill Gates Patents Detecting, Responding to "Glassholes"
theodp (442580) writes "Gigaom reports tbat while speaking at the Bloomberg Energy Summit on Wednesday, former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he gives "a lot of money to the Sierra Club" to help close dirty coal plants, but added that as a society we have to "have some compassion to do it gently." Subsidies to help displaced workers are one option, said Bloomberg, while retraining is another option. But, in a slight to the tech industry's sometimes out-of-touch nature with workers outside of Silicon Valley, he said retraining needs to be realistic, "You're not going to teach a coal miner to code", argued Bloomberg. "Mark Zuckerberg says you teach them to code and everything will be great. I don't know how to break it to you...but no."" top
Google: Teach Girls Coding, Get $2,500. Teach Boys, Get $0.
theodp (442580) writes ""Public school teachers," reads the headline at Khan Academy (KA), "introduce your students to coding and earn $1000 or more for your classroom!" Read the fine print, however, and you'll see that the Google-bankrolled offer is likely to ensure that girls, not boys, are going to be their Computer Science teachers' pets. "Google wants public high school students, especially girls, to discover the magic of coding," KA explains to teachers. "You'll receive a $100 DonorsChoose.org gift code for every female student who completes the [JS 101: Drawing & Animation] course. When 4 or more female students complete it, we'll email you an additional $500 gift code as a thank-you for helping your students learn to code." While "one teacher cannot have more than 20 of the $100 gift codes activated on their DonorsChoose.org projects," adds KA, "if the teacher has more than 20 female students complete the curriculum, s/he will still be sent gift codes, and the teacher can use the additional gift codes on another teacher’s DonorsChoose.org project." So, is girls-are-golden-boys-are-worthless funding for teachers' projects incongruent with Khan Academy's other initiatives, such as its exclusive partnership with CollegeBoard to eliminate inequality among students studying for the SAT?" top
Born to RUN: Dartmouth Throwing BASIC a 50th B-Day Party
theodp (442580) writes "Still hanging on to a dog-eared copy of BASIC Computer Games? Back issues of Creative Computing? Well then, Bunky, mark your calendar for April 30th, because Dartmouth College is throwing BASIC a 50th birthday party that you won't want to miss! From the "invite" to BASIC at 50: "At 4 a.m. on May 1, 1964, in the basement of College Hall, Professor John Kemeny and a student programmer simultaneously typed RUN on neighboring terminals. When they both got back correct answers to their simple programs, time-sharing and BASIC were born. Kemeny, who later became Dartmouth's 13th president, Professor Tom Kurtz, and a number of undergraduate students worked together to revolutionize computing with the introduction of time-sharing and the BASIC programming language. Their innovations made computing accessible to all Dartmouth students and faculty, and soon after, to people across the nation and the world [video — young Bill Gates cameo @2:18]. This year, Dartmouth is celebrating 50 years of BASIC with a day of events on Wednesday, April 30. Please join us as we recognize the enduring impact of BASIC, showcase innovation in computing at Dartmouth today, and imagine what the next 50 years may hold." Be sure to check out the vintage photos on Flickr to see what real cloud computing looks like, kids!" top
Was California Law Broken in the Mozilla CEO Firestorm?
theodp (442580) writes "While the rise and fall of Brendan Eich at Mozilla sparked a debate over how to properly strike a balance between an employee's political free speech and his employer's desire to communicate a particular corporate 'culture,' notes Brian Van Vleck at the California Workforce Resource Blog, the California Labor Code has already resolved this debate. "Under California law," Van Vleck explains, "it is blatantly illegal to fire an employee because he has donated money to a political campaign. This rule is clearly set forth in Labor Code sections 1101-1102". Section 1102 begins, "No employer shall coerce or influence or attempt to coerce or influence his employees through or by means of threat of discharge or loss of employment to adopt or follow or refrain from adopting or following any particular course or line of political action or political activity." Corporate Counsel's Marlisse Silver Sweeney adds, "Mozilla is adamant that the board did not force Eich to resign, and asked him to stay on in another role. It also says that although some employees tweeted for his resignation, support for his leadership was expressed by a larger group of employees. And this is all a good thing for the company from a legal standpoint." As Eich stepped down, Re/code reported that Mozilla Executive Chairwoman Mitchell Baker said Eich's ability to lead the company had been badly damaged by the continued scrutiny over the hot-button issue. "It's clear that Brendan cannot lead Mozilla in this setting," Baker was quoted as saying. "I think there has been pressure from all sides, of course, but this is Brendan's decision. Given the circumstances, this is not surprising." Van Vleck offers these closing words of advice, "To the extent employers want to follow in Mozilla's footsteps by policing their employees' politics in the interests of 'culture,' 'inclusiveness,' or corporate branding, they should be aware that their efforts will violate California law."" top
Apple: Dumb as a Patent Trolling Fox on iPhone Prior Art?
theodp (442580) writes "As Facebook and Google battle to bring the Internet to remote locations, Alicia Levine takes an interesting look at the dual strategy of Zero Rating and Consolidated Use employed by Google's FreeZone and Facebook's 0.facebook.com, websites which offer free access to certain Google and Facebook services via partnerships with mobile operators around the world. By reducing the cost to the user to zero, Levine explains, the tech giants not only get the chance to capture billions of new eyeballs to view ads in emerging markets, they also get the chance to effectively become "The Internet" in those markets. "If I told you that Facebook's strategy was to become the next Prodigy or AOL, you'd take me for crazy," writes Levine. "But, to a certain degree, that's exactly what they're trying to do. In places where zero-rating for Facebook or Google is the key to accessing the Internet, they are the Internet. And people have started to do every normal activity we would do on the Internet through those two portals because it costs them zero. This is consolidated use. If Facebook is my free pass to the Internet, I’m going to try to do every activity possible via Facebook so that it's free." The race to zero presents more than just a business opportunity, adds Levine — it also presents a chance for tech companies to improve lives. And if Google and Facebook fall short on that count, well, at least there's still Wikipedia Zero." top
Was Eich a Threat to Mozilla's $1B Google "Trust Fund"?
theodp (442580) writes "Over the years, Mozilla's reliance on Google has continued to grow. Indeed, in its report on Brendan Eich's promotion to CEO of Mozilla, the WSJ noted that "Google accounted for nearly 90% of Mozilla’s $311 million in revenue." So, with its Sugar Daddy having also gone on record as being virulently opposed to Proposition 8, to think that that Google's support didn't enter into discussions of whether Prop 8 backer Eich should stay or go seems, well, pretty much unthinkable. "It is the chilling and discriminatory effect of the proposition on many of our employees that brings Google to publicly oppose Proposition 8," explained Google co-founder Sergey Brin in 2008. "We should not eliminate anyone's fundamental rights, whatever their sexuality, to marry the person they love." Interestingly, breaking the news of Eich's resignation was journalist Kara Swisher, whose right to marry a top Google exec in 2008 was nearly eliminated by Prop 8. "In an interview this morning," wrote Swisher, "Mozilla Executive Chairwoman Mitchell Baker said that Eich's ability to lead the company that makes the Firefox Web browser had been badly damaged by the continued scrutiny over the hot-button issue, which had actually been known since 2012 inside the Mozilla community." Swisher, whose article was cited by the NY Times in The Campaign Against Mozilla’s Brendan Eich, added that "it was not hard to get the sense that Eich really wanted to stick strongly by his views about gay marriage, which run counter to much of the tech industry and, increasingly, the general population in the U.S. For example, he repeatedly declined to answer when asked if he would donate to a similar initiative today." So, was keeping Eich aboard viewed by Mozilla — perhaps even by Eich himself — as a possible threat to the reported $1 billion minimum revenue guarantee the organization enjoys for delivering search queries for Google?" top
Is a Shirtless Ryan Gosling the Future of CS Education?
theodp (442580) writes "GeekWire reports that a Microsoft contractor has been charged with two counts of voyeurism after investigators discovered that he took 'upskirt' videos of 93 victimized women over the course of a year. Court documents show that the Microsoft vendor employee used a Muvi USB video camera to secretly film "female victim's buttocks, groin area or underwear." Investigators met with the contractor on August 15, at which time he admitted to visiting upskirting websites on his assigned Microsoft computer and taking upskirting videos on the Microsoft campus. They later looked through his computer and found 86 videos. (Note to Self: Stop using restroom at work.)" top
FWD.us Wants More H-1B Visas, But 50% Go To Offshore Firms
theodp (442580) writes "Hired by the family of Brooke Melton in their wrongful-death lawsuit against GM, engineer Mark Hood was at a loss to explain why the engine in Melton's 2005 Chevy Cobalt had suddenly shut off, causing her fatal accident in 2010. Hood had photographed, X-rayed and disassembled the two-inch ignition switch, focusing on the tiny plastic and metal switch that controlled the ignition, but it wasn't until he bought a replacement for $30 from a local GM dealership that the mystery quickly unraveled. Eyeing the old and new parts, Hood quickly figured out a problem now linked to 13 deaths that GM had known about for a decade. Even though the new switch had the same identification number — 10392423 — Hood found big differences — a tiny metal plunger in the switch was longer in the replacement part, the switch's spring was more compressed, and most importantly, the force needed to turn the ignition on and off was greater. "It's satisfying to me because I'm working on behalf of the Meltons," Hood said. "It won't bring their daughter back, but if it goes toward a better understanding of the problem, it might save someone else." Next week, GM CEO Mary Barra will testify before Congress about events leading up to the wide-ranging recall of 2.6 million vehicles." top
Apple, Google Go On Trial for Doing HR Evil on May 27th
theodp (442580) writes "PandoDaily's Mark Ames reports that U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh has denied the final attempt by Apple, Google, Intel, and Adobe to have the class action lawsuit over hiring collusion practices tossed. The wage fixing trial is slated to begin on May 27. "It's clearly in the defendants' interests to have this case shut down [Pixar, Intuit and LucasFilm have already settled] before more damaging revelations come out," writes Ames. The wage fixing cartel, which allegedly involved dozens of companies and affected one million employees, also reportedly stifled innovation. "One the most interesting misconceptions I've heard about the 'Techtopus' conspiracy," writes Ames of Google's agreement to cancel plans for an engineering center in Paris after Jobs expressed disapproval, "is that, while these secret deals to fix recruiting were bad (and illegal), they were also needed to protect innovation by keeping teams together while avoiding spiraling costs." Ames adds, "In a field as critical and competitive as smartphones, Google's R&D strategy was being dictated, not by the company's board, or by its shareholders, but by a desire not to anger the CEO of a rival company." Jobs, who Ames notes e-mailed only an evil 'smiley' to Apple’s head of HR in response to an e-mail from Google CEO Eric Schmidt informing Jobs that a Google recruiter had been fired to please him, was apparently viewed as one not to be trifled with. Asked by lawyers last year to describe Jobs' view on hiring in Silicon Valley, Google co-founder Sergey Brin responded, "I think Mr. Jobs' view was that people shouldn't piss him off. And I think that things that pissed him off were — would be hiring, you know — whatever."" top
Google Sacrificed Innovation to Avoid Pissing Off Steve Jobs
theodp (442580) writes "In addition to affecting one million employees, reports PandoDaily's Mark Ames, Apple and Google's wage-fixing cartel also sacrificed innovation so as not to anger Steve Jobs. "One the most interesting misconceptions I've heard about the 'Techtopus' conspiracy," writes Ames, "is that, while these secret deals to fix recruiting were bad (and illegal), they were also needed to protect innovation by keeping teams together while avoiding spiraling costs." Not so, argues Ames, who describes how Google cancelled plans to have former Apple employee Jean-Marie Hullot run a small engineering center in Paris after Jobs expressed his disapproval. A promise from Google Sr. VP of Knowledge Alan Eustace that "Jean-Marie will not be working on anything to do with cell phone handsets" wasn't good enough for Jobs, who told Eustace, "We’d strongly prefer that you not hire these guys [Hullot and his team]." Breaking the news to Hullot, Eustace wrote, "Steve is opposed to Google hiring these engineers. He didn't say why, and I don't think it is appropriate for me to go back for clarification. I can’t risk our relationship with Apple to make this happen over his objections." In a follow-up e-mail to Jobs, Eustace wrote, "Based on your strong preference that we not hire the ex-Apple engineers, Jean-Marie and I decided not to open a Google Paris engineering center. I appreciate your input into this decision, and your continued support of the Google/Apple partnership." Ames notes, "It's worth taking a moment to reflect, again, on what was happening here: in a field as critical and competitive as smartphones, Google's R&D strategy was being dictated, not by the company's board, or by its shareholders, but by a desire not to anger the CEO of a rival company." Jobs, who reportedly took glee in Google's only-too-eager termination of an employee who crossed his path, was apparently viewed as one not to be trifled with. Asked by lawyers last year to describe Steve Jobs' view on hiring in Silicon Valley, Google co-founder Sergey Brin responded, "I think Mr. Jobs' view was that people shouldn't piss him off. And I think that things that pissed him off were — would be hiring, you know — whatever."" top
Why Buy Microsoft Milk When The Google Cow Is Free?
theodp (442580) writes "Touring a high school with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Google Chairman Eric Schmidt informed students they're eating Google "dog food" because Microsoft's costs money. "Why would we use Google Docs over like Microsoft Word?" a teacher asked the class. “Because it’s free!" exclaimed a grinning Schmidt. "Schmidt’s comment," writes GeekWire's Blair Hanley Frank, "highlights one of the risks Microsoft faces in the academic world. While Microsoft has started offering schools incentives to use Office 365, including free licenses for their pupils, the company is under greater pressure from its competitors. As more schools like Chicago’s face budget shortfalls, free and discounted products from companies like Google and Apple, especially when attached to financial assistance, start looking better and better." Chicago Teachers Union president Karen Lewis said she’d rather see companies pay more in taxes and fund schools that way, rather than relying on their charity or free software."