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Halt and Catch Fire's COMDEX '83: Cheesy, But No More Than Real Thing

theodp BillG at COMDEX '83 (1 comments)

COMDEX '83 Pics: Halt and Catch Fire version (above), real convention (below). Yep, that's young Bill Gates.

about two weeks ago
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Facebook Fallout, Facts and Frenzy

theodp WSJ: Users seen as a willing experimental test bed (160 comments)

Facebook Experiments Had Few Limits"Thousands of Facebook Inc. users received an unsettling message two years ago: They were being locked out of the social network because Facebook believed they were robots or using fake names. To get back in, the users had to prove they were real. In fact, Facebook knew most of the users were legitimate. The message was a test designed to help improve Facebook's antifraud measures...'There's no review process, per se,' said Andrew Ledvina, a Facebook data scientist from February 2012 to July 2013. 'Anyone on that team could run a test," Mr. Ledvina said. "They're always trying to alter peoples' behavior.'...The recent ruckus is 'a glimpse into a wide-ranging practice,' said Kate Crawford, a visiting professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Center for Civic Media and a principal researcher at Microsoft Research. Companies 'really do see users as a willing experimental test bed' to be used at the companies' discretion."

about a month and a half ago
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FTC Says T-Mobile Made Hundreds of Millions From Bogus SMS Charges

theodp Aren't all SMS charges pretty much bogus? (110 comments)

These are outrageous, but even at 20 cents a text, it's gouging IMO.

about a month and a half ago
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Is K-12 CS Education the Next Common Core?

theodp CS Version of What Your 6th Grader Needs to Know? (113 comments)

Ever thumb through the series of books like "What Your Sixth Grader Needs to Know" by now-retired E. D. Hirsch, Jr. to see if your kids were missing anything "big"? With schools in NYC and Chicago rolling out K-12 CS programs starting next Fall, has anyone seen a grade-by-grade proposed syllabus or checklist along these lines showing what's going to be covered at each grade level?. BTW, Hirsch unsurprisingly supports giving Common Core the old college try, although he conceded, "Not even most prescient among us can know whether the Common Core standards will end in triumph or tragedy."

about 2 months ago
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Yahoo's Diversity Record Is Almost as Bad as Google's

theodp Correction...should be (2 comments)

with a global workforce that's 37% female and U.S. tech workforce that's 1% Black.

about 2 months ago
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EU's Top Court May Define Obesity As a Disability

theodp Another Case of Life Imitating The Simpsons (625 comments)

King-Size Homer: In the episode, Homer despises the nuclear plant's new exercise program, and decides to gain 61 pounds (28 kg) in order to claim a disability and work at home.

about 2 months ago
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Surface Pro 3 Has 12" Screen, Intel Inside

theodp $299 and I'm in... (316 comments)

...fuggedaboutit @$799

about 3 months ago
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Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Loses Deep Sea Vehicle

theodp Under Pressure (93 comments)

Under Pressure: Brings a building down / Splits a sub in two

about 3 months ago

Submissions

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Had Google Driverless Cars Existed, Would Steve Jobs Have Gotten a Liver?

theodp theodp writes  |  yesterday

theodp (442580) writes "In his biography of the late Steve Jobs, Walter Isaacson explained that drunk drivers have been very good to those awaiting organ transplants (Jobs received a liver from a young man killed in a car crash). So, with the day of an autonomous Google car in every garage perhaps not as far off as one might think, Fortune's Erin Griffith asks a dark-but-necessary question: If driverless cars save lives, where will we get organs? Citing a 2013 study by the Eno Center for Transportation, Griffith estimates that if 90% of vehicles were autonomous, an estimated 4.2 million accidents would be prevented and 21,700 lives would be saved. And then, notes Makerbot CEO Bre Pettis, "we actually have a whole other problem on our hands of, 'Where do we get organs?' I don't think we'll actually be printing organs until we solve the self-driving car issue. The next problem will be organ replacement.""
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Reading, Writing, 'Rithmetic, and Blockly

theodp theodp writes  |  4 days ago

theodp (442580) writes "As teachers excitedly tweet about completing their summer CS Professional Development at Google and Microsoft, and kids get ready to go back to school, Code.org is inviting educators to check out their K-5 Computer Science Curriculum (beta), which is slated to launch in September (more course details). The content, Code.org notes, is a blend of online activities ("engineers from Google, Microsoft, Facebook, and Twitter helped create this tutorial," footnotes explain) and 'unplugged' activities, lessons in which students can learn computing concepts with or without a computer. It's unclear if he's reviewed the material himself, but Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is grateful for the CS effort ("Thank you for teaching our students these critical skills"). By the way, if you missed Lollapalooza, the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) will partner with Google next week to offer the two-day CPS Googlepalooza Conference."
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Tech Leaders Accept ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

theodp theodp writes  |  4 days ago

theodp (442580) writes "Everybody's taking the Ice Bucket Challenge to raise awareness and money to fight ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, aka Lou Gehrig's disease), reports The Verge, and tech celebs are no exception, including the likes of Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Tim Cook, Jeff Bezos, Larry Page & Sergey Brin, Satya Nadella, and Dick Costolo. What's perhaps telling in some way is how the tech leaders accepted the challenge — e.g., in private (Zuck, Gates, Costolo) or before crowds (Cook, Bezos, Page, Brin, Nadella), self-dousing (Zuck, Costolo, Bezos) or doused by employees (Page, Brin, Nadella) or machines (Gates) or famous musicians (Cook), mostly ice cubes (Page & Brin) or ice & water (everyone else got soaked). Vice calls the craze he latest case of millennial 'hashtag activism". "There are a lot of things wrong with the Ice Bucket Challenge, but the most annoying is that it's basically narcissism masked as altruism," argues Arielle Pardes. "By the time the summer heat cools off and ice water no longer feels refreshing, people will have completely forgotten about ALS. It’s trendy to pretend that we care, but eventually, those trends fade away.""
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Microsoft: Coding Bootcamp Grads May Not Be Considered for Jobs They Can Do

theodp theodp writes  |  about a week ago

theodp (442580) writes ""Despite investments from the tech industry in efforts to teach children how to code," laments Microsoft in a post on The NYC Tech Talent Summit and Making Coders, "the present-day 'pipeline problem' remains." So what's the answer? "Bootcamps offer an innovative approach to growing the supply of coders while opening opportunity to groups historically underrepresented in software development jobs," Microsoft concedes. "Still, bootcamps are somewhat unknown and face real challenges," warns Microsoft, and "human resources departments at potential employers might be unaccustomed to assessing skills in less-traditional ways, meaning that skilled graduates of coding bootcamps might not have access to all of the jobs they could successfully do." For its part, Microsoft has proposed solving the 'pipeline problem' via its National Talent Strategy, "a two-pronged approach that couples long-term improvements in U.S. STEM education with short-term, high-skilled immigration reform.""
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Chicago Mayor Praises Google for Buying Kids Microsoft Surfaces

theodp theodp writes  |  about two weeks ago

theodp (442580) writes "Google earned kudos from Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel this week for teaming up with Staples to fund the projects of 367 of the city's 22,519 public school teachers on "begfunding" site DonorsChoose.org. "Everything that you asked for...every project that the teachers put on to help their students learn, exceed and excel here in the city of Chicago, you now have fully funded," Mayor Emanuel said. "Chicago's hardworking public school teachers are doing all that they can-and more-to support their students, but they need more help," said Rob Biederman, head of Chicago Public Affairs at Google. "We jumped at the chance to join with DonorsChoose.org and Staples to make Chicago's local classroom wishes come true." So what kind of dreams did Google make possible? Ironically, a look at Google Chicago's Giving Page shows that the biggest project funded by Google was to outfit a classroom with 32 Microsoft Surface RT tablets for $12,531, or about 6.5% of the $190,091 Google award. Other big ticket projects funded by Google included $5,931 for a personal home biodiesel kit and $5,552 for a marimba (in the middle of the spectrum was $748 for "Mindfulness Education"). In addition to similar "flash-funding" projects in Atlanta (paper towels!) and the Bay Area, Google and DonorsChoose have also teamed up this year to reward teachers with $400,000 for recruiting girls to learn to code (part of Google's $50 million Made With Code initiative) and an unknown amount for AP STEM teachers who passed Google muster (part of Google's $5 million AP STEM Access grant)."
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Teachers: There's Gold in Them Thar Girl Coders!

theodp theodp writes  |  about two weeks ago

theodp (442580) writes "DonorsChoose CEO Charles Best has provided an update on the partnership his organization formed with Codecademy and Khan Academy to reward teachers who recruit high school girls to learn to code as part of Google's $50 million Made with Code initiative. "To date," reports Best, "more than 2,500 girls have completed a coding course, and nearly $400,000 in classroom funding credits have been unlocked as a result." Best shared the success story of a Chicago public high school teacher who used the program to start an after-school coding club, which the teacher notes is "mostly girls (2 boys have joined)." Thanks to $5,500 in DonorsChoose contributions for her Teach Girls To Code I-II-III projects, the teacher was able to purchase 21 Google Chromebooks."
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High School Teachers Spinning Girl Student Coders into Google Gold

theodp theodp writes  |  about two weeks ago

theodp (442580) writes "Remember how Rumpelstiltskin spun straw into gold? Well, DonorsChoose CEO Charles Best reports that high school teachers are, in essence, spinning their girl student coders into Google gold. "In conjunction with Google's Made with Code initiative, we've partnered with Codecademy and Khan Academy to reward teachers who recruit girls to learn to code," explains Best, "To date, more than 2,500 girls have completed a coding course, and nearly $400,000 in classroom funding credits have been unlocked as a result." Best shares the success story of a high school physics teacher in Chicago who used the program to start an after-school coding club, which the teacher notes is "mostly girls (2 boys have joined)." And, completing the Circle-of-Google-Life, the $5,500 donated to fund the Teach Girls To Code I-II-III projects made it possible for the teacher to buy 21 Chromebooks. Hey, if this keeps up, education sector Chromebook sales could soar even higher!"
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Halt and Catch Fire's COMDEX '83: Cheesy, But No More Than Real Thing

theodp theodp writes  |  about two weeks ago

theodp (442580) writes "AMC's Halt and Catch Fire, the fictionalized insider's view of the personal computer revolution, has its season finale Sunday night. In last week's episode, the Cardiff Electric gang took their "featherweight" 15-lb. 'Giant' luggable PC clone to COMDEX 1983 for its debut. It'd be easy to write off the episode's cheesy Vegas hospitality suites, garish attire, and funky trade show floor displays, booths, and exhibits as the flights of fancy of the show's designers, were it not for Dan Bricklin's videos of Fall COMDEX 1983. You'll see 28-year-old Bill Gates talking about Xenix development, a pre-Mac mouse and paint program on an Apple IIe, a demo of pre-1.0 Microsoft Windows, and see why Lotus 1-2-3 Rocks. There's no doubt that Cardiff Electric's 'Giant' could have held its own against the Pied Piper ("leads your business exactly where you want to go," reads the brochure) or even IBM's humorless hands-on demo of 72 IBM PC Jr.'s (holy cow, a clock program!). While there was some Buck Rogers tech on display, e.g., HP's Touch 150 and speech on the T.I. Professional Computer, those were simpler times — it's hard to believe the Mac was waiting in the wings!"
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How Many Members of Congress Does it Take to Screw in a $400MM CS Bill?

theodp theodp writes  |  about three weeks ago

theodp (442580) writes "Over at Code.org, they're banging the gong to celebrate that more than 100 members of Congress are now co-sponsoring the Computer Science Education Act (HR 2536), making the bill "to strengthen elementary and secondary computer science education" the most broadly cosponsored education bill in the House. By adding fewer than 50 words to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, HR 2536 would elevate Computer Science to a "core academic subject" (current core academic subjects are English, reading or language arts, mathematics, science, foreign languages, civics and government, economics, arts, history, and geography), a status that opens the doors not only to a number of funding opportunities, but also to a number of government regulations. So, now that we know it takes 112 U.S. Representatives to screw in a CS education bill, the next question is, "How many taxpayer dollars will it take to pay for the consequences?" While Code.org says "the bill is cost-neutral and doesn’t introduce new programs or mandates," the organization in April pegged the cost of putting CS in every school at $300-$400 million. In Congressional testimony last January, Code.org proposed that "comprehensive immigration reform efforts that tie H-1B visa fees to a new STEM education fund" could be used "to support the teaching and learning of more computer science in K-12 schools," echoing Microsoft's National Talent Strategy."
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CDC Issues Ebola Guidance for Airlines

theodp theodp writes  |  about three weeks ago

theodp (442580) writes "In response to the Ebola outbreak, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued Interim Guidance about Ebola Virus Infection for Airline Flight Crews, Cleaning Personnel, and Cargo Personnel. "Ebola virus is transmitted by close contact with a person who has symptoms of Ebola," the CDC explains. "Close contact is defined as having cared for or lived with a person with Ebola or having a high likelihood of direct contact with blood or body fluids of an Ebola patient. Examples of close contact include kissing or embracing, sharing eating or drinking utensils, close conversation (3 feet), physical examination, and any other direct physical contact between people. Close contact does not include walking by a person or briefly sitting across a room from a person.""
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Jackson: Tech Diversity is Next Civil Rights Step

theodp theodp writes  |  about three weeks ago

theodp (442580) writes "Having seen this movie before, U.S. civil rights leader Rev. Jesse Jackson called on the Obama administration Monday to scrutinize the tech industry's lack of diversity. "There's no talent shortage. There's an opportunity shortage," Jackson said, calling Silicon Valley "far worse" than many others, such as car makers that have been pressured by unions. He said tech behemoths have largely escaped scrutiny by a public dazzled with their cutting-edge gadgets. Jackson spoke after meeting with Labor Secretary Tom Perez to press for a review of H-1B visas, arguing that data show Americans have the skills and should have first access to high-paying tech work. Jackson's Rainbow Push Coalition plans to file a freedom-of-information request next month with the EEOC to acquire employment data for companies that have not yet disclosed it publicly, which includes Amazon, Broadcom, Oracle, Qualcomm and Yelp. Unlike the DOL, Jackson isn't buying Silicon Valley's argument that minority hiring statistics are trade secrets. Five years after Google's HR Chief would only reassure Congress the company had "a very strong internal Black Googler Network" and its CEO brushed off similar questions about its diversity numbers by saying "we're pretty happy with the way our recruiting work," Google — under pressure from Jackson — fessed up to having a tech workforce that's only 1% Black, apparently par for the course in Silicon Valley."
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AP Computer Science Test Takers Up 8,000, Pass Rate Down 6.8%

theodp theodp writes  |  about three weeks ago

theodp (442580) writes "Code.org reports that preliminary data on students who took the Advanced Placement (AP) Computer Science Exam in 2014 show an increase of 8,276 students over 2013 and represent what the College Board called "the first real indication of progress in AP CS enrollment for women and underserved minorities in years." Girls made up 20% of the 39,393 total test takers, compared to 18.7% of the 31,117 test takers in 2013. Black or African American students saw their share increase by 0.19%, from 3.56% to 3.75% (low, but good enough to crush Twitter). Code.org credits the increased enrollment to its celebrity-studded CS promo film starring Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg ("I even made a personal bet (reflected in my contractual commitment to Code.org donors) that our video could help improve the seemingly immovable diversity numbers in computer science," Code.org founder Hadi Partovi notes). However, some of the increase is likely attributable to the other efforts of Code.org's donors. Microsoft ramped up its TEALS AP CS program in 2013-2014, and — more significantly — Google helped boost AP CS study not only through its CS4HS program, but also by funding the College Board's AP STEM Access program, which offered $5 million to schools and teachers to encourage minority and female students to enroll in AP STEM courses. This summer, explains the College Board, "All AP STEM teachers in the participating schools (not just the new AP STEM teachers), who increase diversity in their class, receive a [$100] DonorsChoose.org gift card for each student in the course who receives a 3, 4, or 5 on the AP Exam." The bad news for AP CS teachers anticipating Google "Excellence Funding" bounties (for increasing course enrollment and completion "by at least five underrepresented students") is that AP CS pass rates decreased to 60.8% in 2014 (from 67.6% in 2013), according to Total Registration. Using these figures and a back-of-the-envelope calculation, while enrollment saw a 26.6% increase over last year, the total number of students passing increased by 13.9%."
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Veep Joe Biden Briefs U.S. Governors on H-1B Visas, IT, and Coding

theodp theodp writes  |  about a month ago

theodp (442580) writes "Back in 2012, Computerworld blasted Vice President Joe Biden for his ignorance of the H-1B temporary work visa program. But Joe's got his H-1B story and he's sticking to it, characterizing the visa program earlier this month in a speech to the National Governors Association as "apprenticeships" of sorts that companies provide to foreign workers to expand the Information Technology industry only after proving there are no qualified Americans to fill the jobs. Biden said he also learned from his talks with tech's top CEOs that 200,000 of the jobs that companies provide each year to highly-skilled H-1B visa holders could in fact be done by Americans with no more than a two-year community college degree."
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No RIF'd Employees Need Apply for Microsoft External Staff Jobs for 6 Months

theodp theodp writes  |  about a month ago

theodp (442580) writes "So, what does Microsoft do for an encore after laying off 18,000 employees with a hilariously bad memo? Issue another bad memo — Changes to Microsoft Network and Building Access for External Staff — "to introduce a new policy [retroactive to July 1] that will better protect our Microsoft IP and confidential information." How so? "The policy change affects [only] US-based external staff (including Agency Temporaries, Vendors and Business Guests)," Microsoft adds, "and limits their access to Microsoft buildings and the Microsoft corporate network to a period of 18 months, with a required six-month break before access may be granted again." Suppose Microsoft feels that's where the NSA went wrong with Edward Snowden? And if any soon-to-be-terminated Microsoft employees hope to latch on to a job with a Microsoft external vendor to keep their income flowing, they best think again. "Any Microsoft employee who separated from Microsoft on or after July 1, 2014," the kick-em-while-they're-down memo explains, "will be required to take a minimum 6-month break from access between the day the employee separates from Microsoft and the date when the former employee may begin an assignment as an External Staff performing services for Microsoft.""
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Too Old to Speak at CS Career Day, Too Young to Die

theodp theodp writes  |  about 1 month ago

theodp (442580) writes "After posting a screed on Why Age in Software is Bullshit ("People who love to create software will be doing it a lot longer than you think. And if you think this is something that only young people can do, you are wrong."), Dave Winer probably didn't figure on having his assertion challenged by the NY Times' Farhad Manjoo ("Do you think there's any part of coding you've gotten worse at as you age?" Manjoo asked. "Eg, maybe less open to new ideas?"). "I'm very good at adapting to new things," a frustrated Dave testily reassured Manjoo. Unfortunately, ageist attitudes in tech persist. Indeed, a presentation for Microsoft's TEALS program (Technology Education And Literacy in Schools), a fave of new Microsoft CEO Satyam Nadar and Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith which aims to put computer science into every high school, seems to suggest that now even High School Career Day is No-Country-For-Old-CS-Men-And-Women. "Get good people [software engineers for college & career panels]," the presentation (6.5MB .pptx) advises its teacher audience. "Younger is good." Hey, never trust CS Career Day to anyone over 30!"
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Google, CNN Leaders in "Advertising Pollution"

theodp theodp writes  |  about a month ago

theodp (442580) writes ""Everyone gets that advertising is what powers the internet, and that our favorite sites wouldn't exist without it," writes longtime ad guy Ken Segall in The Relentless (and annoying) Pursuit of Eyeballs. "Unfortunately, for some this is simply license to abuse. Let's call it what it is: advertising pollution." CNN's in-your-face, your-video-will-play-in-00:25-seconds approach, once unthinkable, has become the norm. "Google," Segall adds, "is a leader in advertising pollution, with YouTube being a showcase for intrusive advertising. Many YouTube videos start with a mandatory ad, others start with an ad that can be dismissed only after the first 10 seconds. Even more annoying are the ad overlays that actually appear on top of the video you're trying to watch. It won't go away until you click the X. If you want to see the entire video unobstructed, you must drag the playhead back to start over. Annoying. And disrespectful." Google proposed using cap and trade penalties to penalize traditional polluters — how about for those who pollute the Internet?"
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Microsoft TEALS Presentation: "Get Good People...Younger is Good"

theodp theodp writes  |  about a month ago

theodp (442580) writes "After Dave Winer posted his screed on Why Age in Software is Bullshit ("People who love to create software will be doing it a lot longer than you think. And if you think this is something that only young people can do, you are wrong."), NY Times tech writer Farhad Manjoo took to Twitter to challenge Dave's assertion. "Do you think there's any part of coding you've gotten worse at as you age?" Manjoo asked. "Eg, maybe less open to new ideas?" "I'm very good at adapting to new things," Dave testily reassured Manjoo. Unfortunately, ageist attitudes in tech persist. Indeed, a presentation for Microsoft's TEALS program (Technology Education And Literacy in Schools), a fave of CEO Satyam Nadar which aims to put computer science into every high school, seems to suggest that even High School Career Day is No Country For Old CS Men. "Get good people [software engineers for college & career panels]," the presentation (6.5MB .pptx) advises its teacher audience. "Younger is good.""
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Solving the K-5 Scholastic Chess Facilitation Puzzle

theodp theodp writes  |  about a month ago

theodp (442580) writes "The good news, writes Michael Thomas, is that wired kids are learning chess at an unprecedented rate. Young children learning chess from tablets can quickly become more knowledgeable than their parents. But the bad news, laments Thomas, is there is so much demand for scholastic chess that there are not enough experienced chess facilitators to go around. Could technology like RFID-tagged chess pieces or services like ChessStream.com be employed to referee second-grader chess matches, Thomas wonders, or are more well-meaning-but-not-necessarily-expert human facilitators — a la T-ball coaches — the answer?"
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Google: You Can't Handle the Brazil Defeat Truth!

theodp theodp writes  |  about a month ago

theodp (442580) writes "After Brazil's dramatic World Cup defeat by Germany, writes NPR's Aarti Shahani, Google's experimental newsroom focused on search trends that didn't rub salt in Brazil's wounds, choosing to not publish a single trend on Brazilian search terms. Copywriter Tessa Hewson said they were just too negative. "We might try and wait until we can do a slightly more upbeat trend." It's a decision that puzzles Shahani, but producer Sam Clohesy explained, "a negative story about Brazil won't necessarily get a lot of traction in social." In old-school newsrooms, if it bleeds, it leads. But because this new newsroom is focused on getting content onto everyone's smartphone, marketing expert Rakesh Agrawal says, editors may have another bias: to comb through the big data in search of happy thoughts."
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Normal Humans Effectively Excluded from Developing Software

theodp theodp writes  |  about a month and a half ago

theodp (442580) writes "Over at Alarming Development, Jonathan Edwards has an interesting rant entitled Developer Inequality and the Technical Debt Crisis. The heated complaints that the culture of programming unfairly excludes some groups, Edwards feels, is a distraction from a bigger issue with far greater importance to society. "The bigger injustice," Edwards writes, "is that programming has become an elite: a vocation requiring rare talents, grueling training, and total dedication. The way things are today if you want to be a programmer you had best be someone like me on the autism spectrum who has spent their entire life mastering vast realms of arcane knowledge — and enjoys it. Normal humans are effectively excluded from developing software. The real injustice of developer inequality is that it doesn’t have to be this way." Edwards concludes with a call to action, "The web triumphalists love to talk about changing the world. Well if you really want to change the world, empower regular people to build web apps. Disrupt web programming! Who’s with me?" Ed Finkler, who worries about his own future as a developer in The Developer's Dystopian Future, seconds that emotion. "I think about how I used to fill my time with coding," Finkler writes. "So much coding. I was willing to dive so deep into a library or framework or technology to learn it. My tolerance for learning curves grows smaller every day. New technologies, once exciting for the sake of newness, now seem like hassles. I’m less and less tolerant of hokey marketing filled with superlatives. I value stability and clarity.""

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