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Reading, Writing, Arithmetic, and Lately, Coding
Posted by News Fetcher on May 11 '14 at 12:01 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's show-and-tell department:
theodp (442580) writes "The NY Times reports that the national educational movement in computer coding instruction is growing at Internet speeds. 'There's never been a move this fast in education,' said Elliot Soloway, a professor of education and computer science at the Univ. of Michigan. But, cautions the NY Times' Matt Richtel, it is not clear that teaching basic computer science in grade school will beget future jobs or foster broader creativity and logical thinking, as some champions of the movement are projecting. And particularly for younger children, the activity is more like a video game — better than simulated gunplay, but not likely to impart actual programming skills. 'Some educators worry about the industry's heavy role,' adds Richtel. 'Major tech companies and their founders, including Bill Gates and Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, have put up about $10 million for Code.org,' which recently announced its CS programs will be rolled out to more than 2 million students — nearly 5% of all U.S. K-12 students — at 30 school districts this fall. Among the 20,000 teachers who Code.org says have signed on is Alana Aaron, a fifth-grade math and science teacher who, with her principal's permission, swapped a two-month earth sciences lesson she was going to teach on land masses for the Code.org curriculum. 'Computer science is big right now — in our country, the world,' she said. 'If my kids aren't exposed to things like that, they could miss out on potential opportunities and careers.'"

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Scientists Discover Nickel-Eating Plant Species
Posted by News Fetcher on May 11 '14 at 11:00 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's what's-for-dessert? department:
An anonymous reader writes "A new species of metal-eating plant has been discovered in the Philippines, and the plant loves to eat nickel. From the article: 'Scientists from the University of the Philippines, Los Baños have discovered Rinorea niccolifera, a plant species that accumulates up to 18,000 ppm of the metal in its leaves without poisoning itself, according to Edwino Fernando, lead author of the report and professor, said in a statement. Fernando and his team say that the hyper-accumulation of nickel is a very rare phenomenon, with only about 0.5 percent to 1 percent of plant species native to environments with nickel-rich soil.'"

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Norwegian Infectious Disease Specialists Have New Theory On HIV In Africa
Posted by News Fetcher on May 11 '14 at 10:00 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's snail-problem department:
mdsolar (1045926) writes in about a Norwegian team who believe the have an explanation about the unique distribution of HIV in Africa. "While around the world a vast majority of AIDS victims are men, Africa has long been the glaring exception: Nearly 60 percent are women. And while there are many theories, no one has been able to prove one. In a modest public health clinic behind a gas station here in South Africa's rural KwaZulu/Natal Province, a team of Norwegian infectious disease specialists think they may have found a new explanation. It is far too soon to say whether they are right. But even skeptics say the explanation is biologically plausible. And if it is proved correct, a low-cost solution has the potential to prevent thousands of infections every year. The Norwegian team believes that African women are more vulnerable to H.I.V. because of a chronic, undiagnosed parasitic disease: genital schistosomiasis (pronounced shis-to-so-MY-a-sis), often nicknamed 'schisto.' The disease, also known as bilharzia and snail fever, is caused by parasitic worms picked up in infested river water. It is marked by fragile sores in the far reaches of the vaginal canal that may serve as entry points for H.I.V., the virus that causes AIDS. Dr. Eyrun F. Kjetland, who leads the Otimati team, says that it is more common than syphilis or herpes, which can also open the way for H.I.V."

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Malaysia Airlines Flight 370: Experts Unable To Replicate Satellite Company's An
Posted by News Fetcher on May 11 '14 at 09:00 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's mystery-continues department:
McGruber (1417641) writes "The lynchpin of the investigation of the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 has been the pings from the plane to one of Inmarsat's satellites. The pings are the sole evidence of what happened to the plane after it slipped out of radar contact. Without them, investigators knew only that the plane had enough fuel to travel anywhere within 3,300 miles of the last radar contact—a seventh of the entire globe. Inmarsat concluded that the flight ended in the southern Indian Ocean, and its analysis has become the canonical text of the Flight 370 search. It's the bit of data from which all other judgments flow—from the conclusive announcement by Malaysia's prime minister that the plane has been lost with no survivors, to the black-box search area, to the high confidence in the acoustic signals, to the dismissal by Australian authorities of a survey company's new claim to have detected plane wreckage. But scientists and engineers outside of the investigation have been working to verify Inmarsat's analysis and many say that it just doesn't hold up."

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Anti-Surveillance Mask Lets You Pass As Someone Else
Posted by News Fetcher on May 11 '14 at 08:30 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's I-thik-I've-seen-you-before department:
SonicSpike (242293) points out this article about a mask that can foil surveillance cameras and provide fuel for nightmares. "If the world starts looking like a scene from Matrix 3 where everyone has Agent Smith's face, you can thank Leo Selvaggio. His rubber mask aimed at foiling surveillance cameras features his visage, and if he has his way, plenty of people will be sporting the Personal Surveillance Identity Prosthetic in public. It's one of three products made by the Chicago-based artist's URME Surveillance, a venture dedicated to 'protecting the public from surveillance and creating a safe space to explore our digital identities.' 'Our world is becoming increasingly surveilled. For example, Chicago has over 25,000 cameras networked to a single facial recognition hub,' reads the URME (pronounced U R Me) site. 'We don't believe you should be tracked just because you want to walk outside and you shouldn't have to hide either. Instead, use one of our products to present an alternative identity when in public.'"

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Percentage of Elderly In Japan Continues to Grow as Number of Children Drops
Posted by News Fetcher on May 11 '14 at 08:00 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's older-every-day department:
First time accepted submitter Cornelie Roe (3627609) writes in with some bad news about the population of Japan. "The number of children in Japan has fallen to a new low, while the amount of people over 65 has reached a record high as the population ages and shrinks, the government said.

There were an estimated 16.33 million children aged under 15 as of 1 April, down 160,000 from a year earlier, the internal affairs and communications ministry said on Sunday. It was the 33rd straight annual decline and the lowest level since records began in 1950.

Children accounted for 12.8% of the population, the ministry said. By contrast, the ratio of people aged 65 or older was at a record high, making up 25.6% of the population. Jiji Press said that, of countries with a population of at least 40 million, Japan had the lowest ratio of children to the total population – compared with 19.5% for the United States and 16.4% for China.

Last month, the government said the number of people in the world's third largest economy dropped by 0.17% to 127,298,000 as of 1 October 2013. This includes long-staying foreigners.

The proportion of people aged 65 or over is forecast to reach nearly 40% in 2060, the government has warned."


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Percentage of Elderly In Japan Continues to Grow as Number of Children Drops
Posted by News Fetcher on May 11 '14 at 07:45 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's older-every-day department:
First time accepted submitter Cornelie Roe (3627609) writes in with some bad news about the population of Japan. "The number of children in Japan has fallen to a new low, while the amount of people over 65 has reached a record high as the population ages and shrinks, the government said.

There were an estimated 16.33 million children aged under 15 as of 1 April, down 160,000 from a year earlier, the internal affairs and communications ministry said on Sunday. It was the 33rd straight annual decline and the lowest level since records began in 1950.

Children accounted for 12.8% of the population, the ministry said. By contrast, the ratio of people aged 65 or older was at a record high, making up 25.6% of the population. Jiji Press said that, of countries with a population of at least 40 million, Japan had the lowest ratio of children to the total population – compared with 19.5% for the United States and 16.4% for China.

Last month, the government said the number of people in the world's third largest economy dropped by 0.17% to 127,298,000 as of 1 October 2013. This includes long-staying foreigners.

The proportion of people aged 65 or over is forecast to reach nearly 40% in 2060, the government has warned."


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Feds: Sailor Hacked Navy Network While Aboard Nuclear Aircraft Carrier
Posted by News Fetcher on May 11 '14 at 05:30 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's to-the-hacking-station department:
ClownP (1315157) writes in with this story about a hacker who did some of his work while aboard a nuclear aircraft carrier. "
A former sailor assigned to a US nuclear aircraft carrier and another man have been charged with hacking the computer systems of 30 public and private organizations, including the US Navy, the Department of Homeland Security, AT&T, and Harvard University.

Nicholas Paul Knight, 27, of Chantilly, VA, and Daniel Trenton Krueger, 20, of Salem, IL, were members of a crew that hacked protected computers as part of a scheme to steal personal identities and obstruct justice, according to a criminal complaint unsealed earlier this week in a US District Court in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The gang, which went by the name Team Digi7al, allegedly took to Twitter to boast of the intrusions and publicly disclose sensitive data that was taken. The hacking spree lasted from April 2012 to June 2013, prosecutors said."


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Wyoming Is First State To Reject Science Standards Over Climate Change
Posted by News Fetcher on May 11 '14 at 04:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's in-the-case-of-science-v-politics department:
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes: "Time Magazine reports that Wyoming, the nation's top coal-producing state, has become the first state to reject new K-12 science standards proposed by national education groups mainly because of global warming components. The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) are a set of science standards developed by leading scientists and science educators from 26 states and built on a framework developed by the National Academy of Sciences. The Wyoming science standards revision committee made up entirely of Wyoming educators unanimously recommended adoption of these standards to the state Board of Education not once but twice and twelve states have already adopted the standards since they were released in April 2013. But opponents argue the standards incorrectly assert that man-made emissions are the main cause of global warming and shouldn't be taught in a state that ranks first among all states in coal production, fifth in natural gas production and eighth in crude oil production deriving much of its school funding from the energy industry.

< article continued at Slashdot >

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Traffic Optimization: Cyclists Should Roll Past Stop Signs, Pause At Red Lights
Posted by News Fetcher on May 11 '14 at 02:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's if-they-could-just-stop-texting-i'd-be-happy department:
Lasrick writes: "Joseph Stromberg at Vox makes a good case for changing traffic rules for bicyclists so that the 'Idaho stop' is legal. The Idaho stop allows cyclists to treat stop signs as yields and red lights as stop signs, and has created a safer ride for both cyclists and pedestrians. 'Public health researcher Jason Meggs found that after Idaho started allowing bikers to do this in 1982, injuries resulting from bicycle accidents dropped. When he compared recent census data from Boise to Bakersfield and Sacramento, California — relatively similar-sized cities with comparable percentages of bikers, topographies, precipitation patterns, and street layouts — he found that Boise had 30.5 percent fewer accidents per bike commuter than Sacramento and 150 percent fewer than Bakersfield.' Oregon was considering a similar law in 2009, and they made a nice video illustrating the Idaho Stop that is embedded in this article."

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Silicon Valley's Love-Hate Relationship With President Obama
Posted by News Fetcher on May 10 '14 at 11:00 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's getting-along-because-the-alternative-is-worse department:
theodp writes: "Covering President Obama's visit to Silicon Valley, the AP reports that the relationship between the White House, Silicon Valley and its money is complicated. Less than a year after David Kirkpatrick asked, "Did Obama Just Destroy the U.S. Internet Industry?", and just two months after Mark Zuckerberg gave the President a call complaining about NSA spying, Silicon Valley execs hosted two high-stakes Democratic Party fundraisers for the President. The White House declined to identify the 20 high-rollers who paid $32,400 per head to sit at the Tech Roundtable. The President also attended an event hosted by Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer and Y Combinator president Sam Altman, where the 250 or so guests paid $1,000 to $32,400 a head for bar service that featured wine, beer and cognac. The following day, Obama celebrated solar power at a Mountain View Walmart before jetting out of NASA's Moffett Field."

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U.S. Passenger Jet Nearly Collided With Drone In March
Posted by News Fetcher on May 10 '14 at 07:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's lining-up-our-next-aerial-disaster department:
SonicSpike sends word of an FAA report that a small, remote-controlled aircraft was nearly struck by an American Airlines passenger jet as the jet was preparing to land. The pilot saw it briefly as he flew by — it was close enough that he was sure it stuck the plane, but no damage was found upon inspection. Jim Williams, head of the FAA's drone office, said the incident highlights the risk of ubiquitous, unregulated drone use. He said,
"The risk for a small UAS to be ingested into a passenger airline engine is very real. The results could be catastrophic." The article notes that the FAA "currently bans the commercial use of drones in the United States and is under growing pressure to set rules that would permit their broader use. Hobby and many law-enforcement uses are permitted. Last year, the agency began establishing test sites where businesses can try out commercial uses."

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$7 USB Stick Aims To Bring Thousands of Poor People Online
Posted by News Fetcher on May 10 '14 at 04:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's one-USB-per-child-project department:
dryriver sends this BBC report:
"The USB flash drive is one of the most simple, everyday pieces of technology that many people take for granted. Now it's being eyed as a possible solution to bridging the digital divide, by two colourful entrepreneurs behind the start-up Keepod. Nissan Bahar and Franky Imbesi aim to combat the lack of access to computers by providing what amounts to an operating-system-on-a-stick. In six weeks, their idea managed to raise more than $40,000 (£23,750) on fundraising site Indiegogo, providing the cash to begin a campaign to offer low-cost computing to the two-thirds of the globe's population that currently has little or no access. The test bed for the project is the slums of Nairobi in Kenya. The typical income for the half a million people in the city's Mathare district is about $2 (£1.20) a day. Very few people here use a computer or have access to the net. But Mr Bahar and Mr Imbesi want to change that with their Keepod USB stick. It will allow old, discarded and potentially non-functional PCs to be revived, while allowing each user to have ownership of their own 'personal computer' experience — with their chosen desktop layout, programs and data — at a fraction of the cost of providing a unique laptop, tablet or other machine to each person.'"

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Former NSA Director: 'We Kill People Based On Metadata'
Posted by News Fetcher on May 10 '14 at 03:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's kill-metadata-based-on-people-instead department:
An anonymous reader writes "An article by David Cole at the NY Review of Books lays out why we should care as much about the collection of metadata as we do about the collection of the data itself. At a recent debate, General Michael Hayden, who formerly led both the NSA and the CIA, told Cole, 'we kill people based on metadata.' The statement is stark and descriptive: metadata isn't just part of the investigation. Sometimes it's the entire investigation. Cole talks about the USA Freedom Act, legislation that would limit the NSA's data collection powers if it passes. The bill contains several good steps in securing the privacy of citizens and restoring due process. But Cole says it 'only skims the surface.' He writes, 'It does not address, for example, the NSA's guerilla-like tactics of inserting vulnerabilities into computer software and drivers, to be exploited later to surreptitiously intercept private communications. It also focuses exclusively on reining in the NSA's direct spying on Americans. ... In the Internet era, it is increasingly common that everyone's communications cross national boundaries. That makes all of us vulnerable, for when the government collects data in bulk from people it believes are foreign nationals, it is almost certain to sweep up lots of communications in which Americans are involved.' He concludes, '[T]he biggest mistake any of us could make would be to conclude that this bill solves the problem.'"

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Eavesdropping With a Smart TV
Posted by News Fetcher on May 10 '14 at 02:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's i'll-stick-with-a-dumb-tv,-thanks department:
An anonymous reader writes "A article on The Register titled talks about a demo that was given in London last month by NCC Group where they turned a modern TV into an audio bug. 'The devices contain microphones and cameras that can be utilized by applications — Skype and similar apps being good examples. The TV has a fairly large amount of storage, so would be able to hold more than 30 seconds of audio – we only captured short snippets for demonstrations purposes. A more sophisticated attack could store more audio locally and only upload it at certain times, or could even stream it directly to a server, bypassing the need to use any of the device’s storage.' Given the Snowden revelations and what we've seen previously about older tech being deprecated, how can we protect ourselves with the modern devices (other than not connecting them to the Internet)?"

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Ask Slashdot: Does Your Job Need To Exist?
Posted by News Fetcher on May 10 '14 at 02:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's professional-soap-cleaner department:
An anonymous reader writes "PBS has an article about the growth of jobs that really don't need to exist. It includes an interview with professor David Graebner, who's known for his 2013 article 'BS jobs.' The premise is simple: as technology has automated huge portions of work that used to fill the days for millions of workers, many jobs simply involve less work. How often have you sat at your desk browsing the internet instead of being productive? If your company is such that you can aggregate that lost time across a bunch of workers, you could probably reduce the headcount significantly if everybody just stayed on task all the time. But that's not even an expectation at a lot of companies. Graebner ballparks the number of effectively useless jobs at around 20%. (It's not that the individual workers are useless, just that there are, for example, 12 people doing the work of 10.) So, how about it: how much actual productivity goes into your 40-hour workweek? What about your co-workers? How many people could your company fire if everybody just paid attention all the time?"

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German Pranksters Spoof Google Nest At Tech Conference
Posted by News Fetcher on May 10 '14 at 12:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's not-enough-skydiving-for-a-real-google-demo department:
phmadore writes: "Some clever German pranksters managed to put one over on a sect of the intelligentsia just the other day. In this 30-minute presentation (video) at the re:publica 2014 tech conference, activists going under the pseudonyms of Paul von Ribbeck and Gloria Spindle presented four new (and moderately credible) Google products making up the 'Google Nest': Google Trust, Google Hug, Google Bee, and Google Bye. 'We can't really guarantee that we protect your information, but we can do our very best to protect you,' says Spindle about eight minutes in. Google is reportedly rather upset about the whole affair. The conference organizers were in on the joke — the audience were clued in afterward and asked to participate in order to fool the media. For me, the discussion-worthy items here are: data insurance and the value of data."

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Foam-Spraying Quadcopter Becomes a Flying 3D Printer
Posted by News Fetcher on May 10 '14 at 11:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's because-we-definitely-need-one-of-those department:
Zothecula writes "The swiftlet may not look much different than other little birds, but it has one unique ability – it builds its nest out of its own saliva. Inspired by the swiftlet, scientists at Imperial College London's Aerial Robotics Lab have created a robotic quadcopter that can extrude polyurethane foam while in flight. By targeting where that foam goes, it can build up simple structures, essentially becoming a flying 3D printer."

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Why Disney Can't Give Us High-Def Star Wars Where Han Shoots First
Posted by News Fetcher on May 10 '14 at 10:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's i-find-your-lack-of-distribution-rights-disturbing department:
An anonymous reader writes "Lost amid the disappointment of the Star Wars prequels were the unfortunate edits George Lucas has made to the original trilogy when he re-released them. Lee Hutchinson points out a few of the worst: 'In Return of the Jedi, Jabba's palace gains an asinine CGI-filled song-and-dance interlude. Dialogue is butchered in Empire Strikes Back. And in the first movie, perhaps most famously, Han no longer shoots first.' Lucas flat-out refused to spend time and money remastering the original versions of the movies. But now Disney is in control of the franchise (and the business case for releasing different versions of the same films has been proven). So there's hope, right? According to Hutchinson: maybe, but not for a while. While technological advances have reduced the price tag for such an endeavour, lawyers will keep it expensive. It turns out 20th Century Fox still owns distribution rights to the Star Wars films. Because of complex and irritating legal reasons, Disney was not able to acquire those as well. Thus, Disney will have to get Fox's approval and probably cut Fox in for some of the profits, if they were to re-release the series."

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Mozilla Ditches Firefox's New-Tab Monetization Plans
Posted by News Fetcher on May 10 '14 at 08:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's benefits-of-asking-for-feedback department:
hypnosec writes "Mozilla has ditched Firefox's new-tab monetization plans because they 'didn't go over well' with the community. Johnathan Nightingale, Mozilla's VP of Firefox, said much of Firefox's community was worried Mozilla would 'turn Firefox into a mess of logos sold to the highest bidder' and that users wouldn't have control over this or see any actual benefit. 'That's not going to happen. That's not who we are at Mozilla.'"

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