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UK Schools Consider Searching Pupils' Smartphones
Posted by News Fetcher on March 07 '11 at 03:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's deptartment:
An anonymous reader writes "What right to privacy do school pupils have on their mobile phones? UK education officials are considering ways to clamp down on cyber-bullying and classroom disruption by allowing teachers to search and delete content from student handsets if it is deemed unsuitable. However, questions remain whether such a move would give teachers too much power and infringe on student rights."

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The Car Faster Than a Speeding Bullet
Posted by News Fetcher on March 07 '11 at 02:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's deptartment:
pbahra writes "Formula 1 is seen as the apogee of engineering excellence and automotive power. So it says something that in Bloodhound SSC — the car that, if all goes well, in 2013 will shatter the current land speed record — the Cosworth Formula 1 engine is just the fuel pump. 'We are creating the ultimate car; we're going where no-one has gone before,' said Richard Noble, the project director. The car, which Mr. Noble says takes £10,000 a day just to keep it ticking over, will be powered by not one, but two other engines. The smaller one, the EJ200, is normally found in the British Royal Air Force's Typhoon jet. Its job is to get the 13.4 meter long car up to 350 mph. That's when the big one kicks in. The big one is the 18-inch diameter, 12-foot-long Falcon rocket, the largest of its kind ever made in the UK. Its job is to catapult the car through the sound barrier to its maximum speed of 1,050 mph. That is, literally, faster than a speeding bullet."

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Facebook May Bust Up the SMS Profit Cartel
Posted by News Fetcher on March 07 '11 at 01:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's deptartment:
AndyAndyAndyAndy writes "Fortune had an interesting article recently about wireless providers and their exorbitant profit margins for SMS handling, especially when looking at modern data plans. 'Under the cell phone industry's peculiar pricing system, downloading data to your smartphone is amazingly cheap — unless the data in question happens to be a text message. In that case the price of a download jumps roughly 50,000-fold, from just a few pennies per megabyte of data to a whopping $1000 or so per megabyte.' A young little application called Beluga caught the attention of Facebook, which purchased the company a Thursday. The app aims to bring messaging under the umbrella of data plans, and features group messaging, picture and video messaging, and integration with other apps. The author argues that, if successful, Beluga (or whatever Facebook ends up calling it) could potentially be the Skype/Vonage or Netflix-type competitor to the old-school cellular carriers and their steep pricing plans."

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Go For It On Fourth Down? Ask Coach Watson
Posted by News Fetcher on March 07 '11 at 01:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's deptartment:
jbrodkin writes "If humans can't beat a computer at 'Jeopardy!' why should we trust them to make the right call on fourth down in the Super Bowl? That was the fundamental question asked by some researchers at the recent MITSloan Sports Analytics Conference. With thousands of variables to consider on the basketball court or other fields of play, it only makes sense to let computers handle questions of strategy, says Tarek Kamil, whose company built a chip-containing basketball which takes 6,000 measurements per second. 'Fifty years from now, we're going to laugh about how we used to give coaches this much responsibility,' he says."

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Crew Builds a Flying House Modeled After UP!
Posted by News Fetcher on March 07 '11 at 01:15 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's deptartment:
The people at National Geographic have built a house modeled after the one in the movie UP! for a new TV series called How Hard Can It Be?. The house flew for about an hour and reached 10,000 feet. There was no report of anyone spotting The Beast of Paradise Falls.

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Scientist Records First 5 Years of His Son's Life, Analyzes Language Development
Posted by News Fetcher on March 07 '11 at 12:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's deptartment:
jamie tips a story about MIT cognitive scientist Deb Roy, who started a project five years ago, upon bringing his newborn son home from the hospital, to record his family's movement and speech inside their house. Since then, Roy has used various techniques to analyze and distill the 200 terabytes of raw data into useful and interesting visualizations."For example, Roy was able to track the length of every sentence spoken to the child in which a particular word — like 'water' — was included. Right around the time the child started to say the word, what Roy calls the 'word birth,' something remarkable happened. 'Caregiver speech dipped to a minimum and slowly ascended back out in complexity.' In other words, when mom and dad and nanny first hear a child speaking a word, they unconsciously stress it by repeating it back to him all by itself or in very short sentences. Then as he gets the word, the sentences lengthen again. The infant shapes the caregivers’ behavior, the better to learn."Roy also compiled videos showing each time his son used certain words over a period of many months, clearly illustrating how those parts of the child's linguistic capabilities evolved over time.

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Hard Disk Sector Consolidates Amid Uncertain Future
Posted by News Fetcher on March 07 '11 at 11:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's deptartment:
Hugh Pickens writes writes "The WSJ reports that Western Digital will buy Hitachi Global Storage Technologies for about $4.3 billion in cash and stock, leaving only four key hard disk drive vendors — Seagate, Western Digital, Toshiba and Samsung. The hard drive world has been seen as ripe for consolidation, particularly as the rise of tablet computers such as the Apple iPad — which don't use hard drives for data storage — is casting doubt on the future of hard disks. Compared to hard drives, solid-state drives promise greater power efficiency, performance, resistance to physical shock, and run more quietly since they contain no moving parts. But one area that solid-state drives do not improve on their spinning predecessors is in their inevitable movement towards failure. 'SSDs are going to fail just like hard drives will,' says Chris Bross, Senior Enterprise Recovery engineer at Drivesavers Data Recovery. 'Every storage device will have issues regardless of their underlying technology.'"

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William Shatner Wakes Up Crew for Final Discovery Mission
Posted by News Fetcher on March 07 '11 at 11:15 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's deptartment:
The Space Shuttle Discovery left the International Space Station this morning for the last time. To commemorate the ship's accomplishments over 27 years of service, the crew was greeted to a morning wake-up message from Capt. Kirk. "Space, the final frontier," Shatner said in a prerecorded message. "These have been the voyages of the space shuttle Discovery. Her 30-year mission: to seek out new science, to build new outposts, to bring nations together on the final frontier, to boldly go and do what no spacecraft has done before."

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Piracy In Developing Countries Driven By High Prices
Posted by News Fetcher on March 07 '11 at 11:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's deptartment:
langelgjm writes "The Social Science Research Council, an independent, non-profit organization, today released a major report on music, film and software piracy in developing economies. It's a product of three years of work, and the authors conclude that piracy is primarily driven by excessively high prices and that anti-piracy education and enforcement efforts have failed. Still, chief editor Joe Karaganis believes that businesses can survive in these high piracy environments. The report is free to readers in low-income countries, but behind a paywall for certain high-income countries, although the SSRC notes, 'For those who must have it for free anyway, you probably know where to look.'"

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Software Matches Police Sketches To Mugshots
Posted by News Fetcher on March 07 '11 at 10:30 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's deptartment:
Zothecula writes "We've seen it in numerous TV shows and movies – the witness to a crime looks through a book of mug shots, then works with a police sketch artist to come up with a likeness of the nasty person they saw. After looking through hundreds of mug shots, however, it's possible that the tired-brained witness could look right at a photo of the guilty party and not recognize them. It's also possible that there is a mug shot of the criminal on a database somewhere out there, but that this particular witness will never see it. A computer system being pioneered at Michigan State University, however, could be the solution to such problems – it automatically matches faces in police sketches to mug shots."

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Hungary Uses iPad To Draft New Constitution
Posted by News Fetcher on March 07 '11 at 10:00 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's deptartment:
An anonymous reader writes "Hungary is drafting its new constitution on, believe it or not, an iPad. Jozsef Szajer, a Hungarian politician and member of the European Parliament, wrote an enthusiastic blog post last week detailing how he's using Apple's tablet device to flesh out Hungary's new constitution, the country's first since 1949. Not only is Szajer using the iPad to churn out new constitutional drafts, but he's also using it to review new draft proposals. Apparently all aspects of the new Hungarian constitution are being vetted via the iPad in one form or another."

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Hackers Target French Government Computers For G20
Posted by News Fetcher on March 07 '11 at 10:00 AM
By CmdrTaco from Slashdot's deptartment:
An anonymous reader wrote in to say that "IT staff spent the weekend in a massive cleaning effort to remove traces of a 'spectacular' attack on computers at Bercy, the head office of the French Ministry of Economy, Finance and Industry, a government minister said Monday."

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Firefox 4 RC Vs. IE9 RC: the First Duel
Posted by News Fetcher on March 07 '11 at 09:45 AM
By CmdrTaco from Slashdot's deptartment:
An anonymous reader writes "Firefox 4 vs. IE9 is going to be an epic battle in a reigniting browser war in which Microsoft wants its IE to be seen as a capable browser again. Mozilla struggled to keep the pace with Chrome and IE9, but is about to release the first release candidate, which is expected to be the final version of Firefox as well. This first review of JavaScript, Flash and HTML5 tests seems to indicate that both browsers are about even at the bottom line, while Firefox has the JavaScript edge and IE is ahead in HTML5 performance."

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Hackers Target French Government Computers For G20
Posted by News Fetcher on March 07 '11 at 09:00 AM
By CmdrTaco from Slashdot's deptartment:
An anonymous reader wrote in to say that "IT staff spent the weekend in a massive cleaning to remove traces of 'spectacular' attack on computer at Bercy, headoffice of the French Ministry of Economy, Finance and Industry Ministry, a government minister said Monday."

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Can For-Profit Tech Colleges Be Trusted?
Posted by News Fetcher on March 07 '11 at 08:15 AM
By CmdrTaco from Slashdot's deptartment:
snydeq found a story questioning "the quality of education on offer at institutions such as University of Phoenix, DeVry, ITT Tech, and Kaplan in the wake of increasing scrutiny for alleged deceptive practices [PDF] that leave students in high debt for jobs that pay little. 'For-profit schools carry a stigma in some eyes because of their reputation for hard sales pitches, aggressive marketing tactics, and saddling students with big loans for dubious degrees or certificates,' Robert Scheier writes. 'Should IT pros looking to increase their skills, or people seeking to enter the IT profession, consider such for-profit schools? And should employers trust their graduates' skills?'"

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Intel's New Core I7-990X Extreme Edition Tested
Posted by News Fetcher on March 07 '11 at 07:30 AM
By CmdrTaco from Slashdot's deptartment:
MojoKid writes "Intel recently launched a speed bump of their flagship Extreme EditionCore i7 processor,known as the Core i7-990X. Its multiplier is unlocked and it's clocked at 3.45GHz stock speed with a Turbo Boost top-end speed of 3.73GHz. Intel claims its the fastest desktop chip on the planet; like geektiger blood for your PC. The new Core i7-990X is also based on the 32nm Gulftown core and theperformance metrics show it's easily the fastest 6-core chip for the desktop currently but of course it'll cost you as well."

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The Encroachment of Fact-Free Science
Posted by News Fetcher on March 07 '11 at 06:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's deptartment:
G3ckoG33k writes "Fact-free science is not a joke; it is very much on the move, and it is quite possibly the most dangerous movement in centuries, for the entirety of mankind. One can say it began as counter-movement to Karl Popper's ground-breaking proposals in the early 20th century, which insisted that statements purporting to describe the reality should be made falsifiable. A few decades later, some critics of Popper said that statements need peer acceptance, which then makes also natural science a social phenomenon. Even later, in 1996, professor Alan Sokal submitted a famous article ridiculing the entire anti-science movement. Now New York Times has an article describing the latest chilling acts of the socially relativistic, postmodern loons. It is a chilling read, and they may be swinging both the political left and right. Have they been successful in transforming the world yet? How would we know?"

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Nokia Sells Qt
Posted by News Fetcher on March 07 '11 at 06:15 AM
By CmdrTaco from Slashdot's deptartment:
Google85 writes "Now that Nokia has shifted to a Windows Phone-centric smartphone strategy, it's only natural for the company to divest itself of responsibility with regard to the Qt framework. It has been announced Digia will acquire the Qt commercial licensing and services business from Nokia, including the transfer of some 3,500 desktop and embedded customers actively using Qt today."

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Is Software Driving a Falling Demand For Brains?
Posted by News Fetcher on March 07 '11 at 05:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's deptartment:
Hugh Pickens writes writes "Paul Krugman writes in the NY Times that information technology seems to be reducing, not increasing, the demand for highly educated workers (reg. may be required), because a lot of what highly educated workers do could actually be replaced by sophisticated information processing. One good recent example is how software is replacing the teams of lawyers who used to do document research. 'From a legal staffing viewpoint, it means that a lot of people who used to be allocated to conduct document review are no longer able to be billed out,' says Bill Herr, a lawyer at a major chemical company who used to muster auditoriums of lawyers to read documents for weeks on end. 'People get bored, people get headaches. Computers don't.' If true this raises a number of interesting questions. 'One is whether emphasizing education — even aside from the fact that the big rise in inequality has taken place among the highly educated — is, in effect, fighting the last war,' writes Krugman. 'Another is how we [can] have a decent society if and when even highly educated workers can't command a middle-class income.' Remember the Luddites weren't the poorest of the poor, they were skilled artisans whose skills had suddenly been devalued by new technology."

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Facebook Said To Resume Talks With Skype
Posted by News Fetcher on March 07 '11 at 02:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's deptartment:
An anonymous reader writes "You may soon be able to start a Skype video call with your friends on Facebook. The latest rumor suggests that Facebook and Skype have resumed talks about integrating the video conferencing technology on the social network. The two companies first talked about a potential partnership in September 2010, but they could not reach an agreement. When Skype 5.0 was released in October 2010, the new version offered voice calling between Facebook friends, but it did not include a video chatting feature."

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